UH Hilo professor’s study on flora of the Canary Island of Tenerife published in Nature

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Dr. Jonathan Price, geography professor at the University of Hawai’i at Hilo

A study by Dr. Jonathan Price, a geography professor at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo, about flora of the Canary Island of Tenerife is featured in the July 12, 2023 issue of Nature.

Price is part of an international research team and co-author of “Assembly of functional diversity in an oceanic island flora,” which examines and compares Tenerife’s plant life to mainland plants. The researchers investigated how the plants of Tenerife differ in functional terms from plants from other parts of the world. The team is led by the University of Gottingen, Germany.

“Like Hawai’i, the Canary Islands represent an isolated volcanic archipelago, with numerous unique endemic species,” Price said in a university press release. “The paper involves considering the functional traits of plants on the Island of Tenerife in the context of plants worldwide, and how they evolved in the islands.”


The work stems from a long collaboration among island-focused researchers across numerous countries.

“Our study shows, for the first time and contrary to all expectations, that species groups that evolved on the Canary Islands do not contribute to the expansion of the breadth of different traits. This means they do not lead to more functional diversity,” said the study’s lead, Professor Holger Kreft, who is with the Göttingen University’s Biodiversity, Macroecology and Biogeography research group.

The study’s first author, Dr. Paola Barajas Barbosa, with the University of Göttingen, said: “At the beginning of our research, we assumed that island plants would show fundamental differences and would be characterized by rather limited diversity in terms of function due to their geographical isolation. We were all the more surprised to find that the plants of Tenerife have a comparatively high functional diversity.”


The paper is available at:

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