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THE CHALLENGE

Conservation and management decisions depend on the successful identification of threats to native biodiversity and an understanding of the biological processes that drive them. 

KEY QUESTIONS

  • How common is hybridization between native and invasive plant species in the Galapagos?
  • Does hybridization pose a conservation threat to native Galapagos biodiversity? And if so, how?


People: Bryan Reatini, María de Lourdes Torres, Hugo Valdebenito, and Todd Vision

This project, led by UNC-CH doctoral candidate Bryan Reatini, investigates the causes and consequences of hybridization between native and introduced plant species in the Galapagos islands. Some of the most problematic invasive plants in the archipelago are closely related to endemic species. If these species are hybridizing in the areas where they co-occur, this would both pose a threat to the endemic species and could contribute to the spread of the invasive species. Currently, we are combining field observations and experiments with genetic data to investigate cases of potential hybridization within several groups, including Psidium (guava), Lantana (wild-sage), Passiflora (passionfruit), Gossypium (cotton), and Cenchrus (sandspur).

This project is funded by the Fulbright U.S. Student award and the Center for Galapagos Studies Seed Grant.