Species Delimination

Primary researcher: Jenny Archibald

Species delimitation and evolutionary relationships are being investigated in two sister genera: Camassia (camas) and Hastingsia (rush lilies) of Agavaceae (or Agavoideae of Asparagaceae). The first step has been to develop a broad evolutionary tree using DNA sequence characters, to solidify our understanding of the place of these genera among relatives, primarily in subfamily Chlorogaloideae. Diversification within Camassia and Hastingsia is being studied from multiple angles, including genetic, morphological, ecological, and reproductive isolation. Although the concept of "species" is fundamental for biological studies, it has also been widely debated, with actual species boundaries being unclear for many organisms. Integrated study of multiple criteria of divergence allows a more thorough view of how biodiversity forms and is meaningfully divided.