University of Hawaii at Hilo

Fungal Diversity and the Hawaiian Islands

The Hawaiian Archipelago is the largest and most isolated oceanic island group in the world. Located between 18° and 30° North latitude in the central Pacific Ocean, the Islands are more than 4000 km from the nearest continent and about 3200 km from the nearest high-island group. The Archipelago, spanning approximately 2400 km, is composed of eight main islands in the southeastern region (Ni`ihau, Kaua`i, O`ahu, Moloka`i, Lana`i, Kaho`olawe, Maui, and Hawai`i) and the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (Nihoa to Kure Atoll). The Hawaiian Islands are volcanic in origin, with the oldest of the high islands, Kaua`i, being about 5.1 million years in age, and the youngest and still volcanically active Hawai`i being about 0.5 million years. Because of their isolated nature and relatively recent volcanic origin, the Hawaiian Islands are excellent natural laboratories of considerable interest to scientists investigating biodiversity, biogeography, species dispersal mechanisms, and evolutionary processes. There has evolved a spectacular array of species and unique ecosystems, with a level of endemism in its biota that is higher than that in any other region of the world. For this reason, the Hawaiian Islands are considered the world's premier showcase for examples of adaptive radiation.

The goal of this site is to document the diversity of fungi found in the Hawaiian Archipelago and distribute this information to reesearchers, students and all other interested parties. Much of the information currently presented here are the results of a National Science Foundation grant awarded to Drs. Dennis E. Desjardin, Don E. Hemmes and George J. Wong (DEB-9300874, 1993-1996) to document the diversity, distribution and ecology of Agaricales (Basidiomycota) in the Hawaiian Islands. Since the completion of that project in 1996, our eforts to document and understand the diversity, evolution and ecology of Hawaiian fungi has continued. Today, research being conducted in the laboratories of Dr. Brian Perry (California State University East Bay), as well as Drs. Nicole Hynson and Anthony Amend (University of Hawai‘i at Manoa), are adding to the rich legacy of mycological exploration in Hawai‘i. Through the research being conducted in these laboratories, the laboratories of our collaborators, and our students, we will continue to expand and update the information presented here as we learn more about these incredible organisms.