J Syst Evol ›› 2017, Vol. 55 ›› Issue (1): 1-15.DOI: 10.1111/jse.12234

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Island floras as model systems for studies of plant speciation: Prospects and challenges

Daniel J. Crawford* and Jenny K. Archibald   

  1. Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and the Biodiversity Institute, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS 66045, USA
  • Received:2016-10-05 Published:2017-01-12

Abstract: Oceanic islands have long been called natural laboratories for studying evolution because they are geologically young, isolated, dynamic areas with diverse habitats over small spatial scales. Volcanic substrates of different ages permit the study of different stages of divergence and speciation within plant lineages. In addition to divergence, the dynamic island setting is conducive to hybridization. Discussion will focus on the potential of systematic/ecological studies, in combination with genomic data from high throughput sequencing and an ever-increasing array of analytical techniques, for studying evolution in island plants. These studies may include: generation of highly resolved phylogenies to clarify the biogeography of speciation and whether divergence has occurred with or without gene flow; identification of the barriers to gene flow (extrinsic vs. intrinsic) of importance during divergence; documentation of historical and current hybridization events within island lineages; and elucidation of the genomic composition and ecology of hybrid populations in order to infer the evolutionary consequences of hybridization, such as the origin of stabilized homoploid hybrid species.

Key words: genomics, hybridization, islands, plants, reproductive isolation, speciation