Brian Bowen

Researcher, Hawai'i Institute of Marine Biology

Phylogeography and Conservation Genetics of Marine Vertebrates






(808) 236-7426


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Awards & Honors

1990 American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, Stoye award for best student paper in herpetology

1991 Annual Marine Turtle Symposium, award for best student paper

1992 University of Georgia, Charles C. Anderson Memorial Award for research excellence in a dissertation thesis

Research Interests

My research program is designed to serve conservation goals by illuminating the evolutionary processes that generate biodiversity. In terrestrial systems, populations are usually defined by discontinuous fragments of habitat. These populations may eventually develop intrinsic reproductive barriers, the starting point for speciation. Hence habitat discontinuities may explain most cases of speciation on land, but what about speciation in the sea, where few such barriers exist? In the sea, the evolutionary rules may be different, or they may operate on a vastly different scale due to the connectivity of a trans-global aquatic medium.

My research goals include:

  • resolve the life history traits (especially dispersal ability and habitat specificity) that influence dispersal and population separations in Pacific reef organisms.
  • test evolutionary models for how biodiversity is generated in the sea, including predictions for allopatric speciation, the center of accumulation hypothesis, and the center of origin hypotheses.
  • expand and refine the library of nuclear introns available for population genetic studies of marine fishes and other aquatic organisms.
  • provide phylogeographic surveys in the service of marine conservation, particularly to define management units and to assist the design of marine protected areas.

Selected Publications

Eble, J.A., R.J. Toonen, B.W. Bowen. 2009. Endemism and dispersal: comparative phylogeography of three surgeonfish species across the Hawaiian Archipelago. Marine Biology 156:689-698.

Schultz, J.K., J.D. Baker, R.J. Toonen, B.W. Bowen. 2009. Extremely low genetic diversity in the endangered Hawaiian monk seal (Monachus schauinslandi). Journal of Heredity 100:25-33.

Schultz, J.K., K.A. Feldheim, S.H. Gruber, M.V. Ashley, B.W. Bowen. 2008. Global phylogeography and seascape genetics of the lemon sharks (genus Negaprion). Molecular Ecology 17: 5336-5348