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Graduate Interdisciplinary Specializations

Graduate specializations offer graduate students the opportunity to complete a course of study utilizing courses and faculty from several different fields. Participants must apply for admission and be admitted to a 'regular' graduate program.

Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation Biology

Snyder 407
2538 McCarthy Mall
Honolulu, HI 96822
Tel: (808) 956-4602
Fax: (808) 956-4707
Email: eecb@hawaii.edu
Web: www.hawaii.edu/eecb/

Graduate Faculty

R. H. Cowie, PhD (Chair)—evolutionary biology and conservation of land and freshwater snails
L. Arita-Tsutsumi, PhD—behavioral ecology of insects
W. W. Au, PhD—sensory biology of cetaceans
K. E. Barton, PhD—evolutionary ecology
C. Birkeland, PhD—coral reef ecology and management, marine community ecology
B. Bowen, PhD—phylogeography, evolution and conservation, genetics of marine vertebrates
R. L. Cann, PhD—conservation genetics and molecular evolution
D. Carlon, PhD—population regulation, life-history evolution and speciation
K. S. Cole, PhD—evolution of sexual patterns, behavioral ecology
S. Conant, PhD—conservation biology, life history and ecology of Hawaiian birds
C. C. Daehler, PhD—invasive plants, plant-insect interactions
J. A. Davidson, PhD—ecology of plant diseases in natural ecosystems
M. J. deMaintenon, PhD—evolution of gastropod organogenetic patterns
D. Drake, PhD—plant ecology, conservation biology, plant-animal interactions
D. C. Duffy, PhD—conservation biology (basic and applied)
L. A. Freed, PhD—evolutionary ecology, behavioral ecology and conservation biology
M. G. Hadfield, PhD—larval biology of marine invertebrates, conservation and demography of Hawaiian tree snails
D. Haymer, PhD—molecular evolution
B. S. Holland, PhD—molecular ecology, systematics and conservation genetics
T. Hunt, PhD—evolutionary theory, including ecology and biogeography
T. Idol, PhD—forest soils and nutrient cycling
K. Y. Kaneshiro, PhD—sexual selection and biology of small populations
D. D. Kapan, PhD—evolution and genetics of warning color and mimicry in Lepidoptera and applied evolutionary ecology and molecular population genetics
S. C. Keeley, PhD—plant molecular systematics and evolution
R. A. Kinzie, PhD—aquatic ecology, coral reefs and tropical streams
C. A. Lepczyk, PhD—wildlife ecology, landscape ecology, human dimensions of natural resources
C. M. Litton, PhD—ecosystem ecology and biogeochemistry of forested systems
T. W. Lyttle, PhD—population genetics and chromosome evolution
W. J. Mautz, PhD—environmental physiology, environmental toxicology, ecological energetics, respiration physiology, and herpetology
M. D. Merlin, PhD—biogeography, ethnobotany, Pacific natural history
C. W. Morden, PhD—molecular systematics and evolution of plants and algae
R. Ostertag, PhD—community structure and nutrient dynamics of tropical forests
D. K. Price, PhD—evolutionary genetics of behaviors
M. A. Ridgley, PhD—human-environment systems analysis: modeling and evaluation of society-environment interactions
D. Rubinoff, PhD—insect systematics, conservation biology, and the evolution of ecological traits
A. R. Sherwood, PhD—evolution, systematics and population genetics of Hawaiian algae
C. M. Smith, PhD—physiological ecology of marine macrophytes, marine ecology
J. S. Stimson, PhD—population ecology
A. D. Taylor, PhD—population ecology
A. Teramura, PhD—environmental stress physiology, global climate change, ecosystem analysis and biodiversity
T. Ticktin, PhD—ethnoecology and conservation
R. Toonen, PhD—population biology and larval ecology of marine invertebrates
T. Tricas, PhD—behavior and sensory biology of sharks, rays and reef fishes
L. Wester, PhD—plant geography, biogeography of islands, human-plant relationships
B. A. Wilcox, PhD—natural resource management, ecology of infectious diseases
C. Womersley, PhD—environmental physiology, biochemical adaptation, parasitology

Affiliate Graduate Faculty

A. Allison, PhD—systematics and population biology
L. V. Basch, PhD—ecology, evolution and conservation of marine life histories and benthic communities
N. L. Evenhuis, PhD—systematics and evolution of Diptera
A. M. Friedlander, PhD—nearshore fisheries
F. G. Howarth, PhD—evolutionary biology of cave ecosystems and insect conservation
L. L. Loope, PhD—conservation biology, plant ecology
J. E. Maragos, PhD—human impact on marine ecosystems and coral reefs
K. L. Palmer, PhD—global public health and tropical diseases
D. Ragone, PhD—Pacific Island ethnobotany, especially conservation and use of traditional crops, focusing on breadfruit

The Academic Program

The objectives of the interdisciplinary graduate specialization in ecology, evolution, and conservation biology (EECB) are to:

  • Use the unique opportunities that Hawai'i offers to integrate tropical population biology and natural history studies with modern laboratory techniques;
  • Provide the interdisciplinary, conceptual, and technical training that will allow our graduates to participate in academic and research programs in ecology, evolution, and conservation biology; and
  • Foster scholarly training in research programs involving expertise in ecology, evolution, and conservation biology.

Modern theories of ecology, evolution, and conservation biology share a core of concepts and techniques that span classical academic disciplines. This common core, coupled with the emergence of powerful new technologies, invites cross-disciplinary approaches, which generate many of today's most exciting scientific advances.

The EECB program provides opportunities for students at UH Manoa to expand their knowledge and gain experience in this integrative discipline. Our interdisciplinary graduate program brings together faculty members from agronomy and soil science, anthropology, biomedical sciences (genetics and molecular biology), botanical sciences, entomology, geography, horticulture, microbiology, oceanography, and zoology–with all their skills and technologies–to provide the training students need to contribute effectively to this research area.

EECB is implemented as a "specialization" within existing graduate programs of the departments whose faculty participate in this program. This means that the primary duties and responsibilities of each EECB student are to satisfy the requirements of their own home academic department. The EECB specialization serves to allow students to expand beyond the traditional departmental boundaries in terms of formulating research questions, choosing thesis/dissertation committee members and taking academic courses. EECB graduate students can be enrolled in either the doctor of philosophy or master of science degree in their home department.

Students accepted to the EECB graduate specialization must already have been accepted into the graduate program of the various departments participating in the EECB program. Course work in statistics, organic chemistry, biochemistry, genetics, evolution, and ecology are considered most important for admission into the EECB program.

Details on the EECB program and application forms can be found at the EECB website www.hawaii.edu/eecb/.

Admission Procedures and Policy

All applicants must submit:

  • UH Manoa graduate application, including

    – Results of the Graduate Record Examination
    – Copy of official transcripts (UH Manoa to be included if applicant is an existing student)
    – Three letters of recommendation
    – Statement of career goals

All applicants must also submit (in this case directly to the EECB office):

  • Letter expressing your interest in EECB (up to 3 pages), including, at a minimum

– information on past academic experience
– goals for graduate study in general and graduate study in EECB in particular
– what you feel you can contribute to EECB
– what you expect to gain by participation in EECB

  • Letter of support from your EECB faculty sponsor

Only students who have been accepted by a graduate program in one of the academic departments at UH Manoa can be considered for admission to the EECB program.

New students applying to UH Manoa

Regardless of department admission deadlines, the EECB program deadline is February 1 for admission the following fall semester.

If you are applying for admission to EECB you must enter "EECB" in addition to the academic program to which you are applying (Zoology, Botany, etc.) in the box labeled "intended graduate program" on your original UH application. The Graduate Division will automatically forward your entire application (including the letters of recommendation) to the department you are applying to, and it will then be forwarded to EECB if you are accepted into that department. You do not need to submit a copy directly to EECB.

In addition, you should also submit, in this case directly to the EECB office, a letter specifically expressing your interest in EECB (see above for what it should include).

Your EECB faculty sponsor should also submit a letter of support, directly to the EECB office.

Students already at UH Manoa

Students already at UH Manoa may be admitted to EECB in either the fall or spring semester. The deadline for applications for admission in the fall semester is February 1 and for admission in the spring semester is October 15.

Your original UH Manoa application will be obtained directly by the EECB office from the Graduate Division and does not need to be submitted with your application to EECB.

You should submit, directly to the EECB office, a letter expressing your interest in EECB (see above for what it should include). In addition, if you have been a UH Manoa student for more than two semesters, you should have three new reference letters submitted directly to the EECB office by the application deadline.

Your EECB faculty sponsor should also submit, directly to the EECB office, a letter of support.

Admission criteria

Details can be found on the EECB website: www.hawaii.edu/eecb/.

Course Requirements for Specialization in Ecology, Evolution and Conservation Biology

Course requirements for ALL EECB graduate students:

  • Complete all degree requirements of the home academic department
  • Participate in EECB activities, particularly the Evoluncheon seminar series
  • One course in ecology at the 600 or 700 level (at least 2 credits with an A or B grade)
  • One course in evolution at the 600 or 700 level (at least 2 credits with an A or B grade)
  • One course in conservation biology at the 600 or 700 level (at least 2 credits with an A or B grade)

Acceptable graduate (600-700 level) courses currently being offered are listed below. Because some offerings change from semester to semester, consult the EECB webpage for an updated list.

In addition to course requirements for the specialization in EECB, each academic department has its own course requirements. Courses from the EECB course list that are taken to fulfill departmental requirements can also be used to fulfill EECB requirements, however, a single course can only satisfy one of the three EECB requirements.

Course Offerings

(Updated October 2010)

New courses or one-time offerings not listed here but approved by the EECB curriculum committee may also count towards the ecology, evolution, or conservation biology requirement. Please check the EECB website and consult with the graduate education committee.


  • ANTH 606 Anthropology of Infectious Disease (3)
  • BOT 644 Ethnoecological Methods (3)
  • BOT 651 Invasion Biology (3)
  • BOT/ZOOL 652 Population Biology (3)
  • BOT 676 Environmental Physiology Seminar (2)
  • IS 650 Principles of Applied Evolutionary Ecology (3)
  • MICR 680 Advances in Microbial Ecology (3)
  • NREM 680 Ecosystem Ecology (3)
  • NREM 682 Restoration Ecology (3)
  • NREM 691 (001) Landscape Ecology (V)
  • NREM 691 (002) Foundations of Conservation and Natural Resources
  • OCN 626 Marine Microplankton Ecology
  • OCN 627 Ecology of Pelagic Marine Animals (3)
  • OCN 628 Benthic Biological Oceanography (4)
  • OCN 629 Molecular Methods in Marine Ecology (2)
  • PEPS 671 Insect Ecology (3)
  • ZOOL 606 Principles of Animal Behavior (2)
  • ZOOL 606L Principles of Animal Behavior Lab (1)
  • ZOOL 620 Marine Ecology (3)
  • ZOOL 623 Quantitative Field Ecology (3)
  • ZOOL 652 Population Biology (3)


  • ANTH 604 Physical Anthropology (3)
  • BIOL 603 Molecular Ecology (3)
  • BOT 661 Hawaiian Vascular Plants (3)
  • BOT 669 Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution (3)
  • CMB 625 Advanced Topics in Genetics (2)
  • CMB 650 Population Genetics (3)
  • MICR 671 Bacterial Genetics (3)
  • PEPS 662 Systematics and Phylogenetics (3)
  • PEPS 691 Biogeography Seminar (2)
  • TPSS 615 Quantitative Genetics (3)
  • ZOOL 606 Principles of Animal Behavior (2)
  • ZOOL 606L Principles of Animal Behavior Lab (1)

Conservation Biology

  • ANTH 620H Ecology (3)
  • BOT 651 Invasion Biology (3)
  • BOT/ZOOL 690 Conservation Biology (3)
  • NREM 691 Advanced Topics in Natural Resources and Environmental Management(3)
  • OCN 621 Biological Oceanography (3)
  • PEPS 675 Biological Control of Pests (3)
  • TCBES 600 (UH Hilo) Conservation Biology and Environmental Science (3)

Content Varies (but may be count towards a specific area, depending the topic)

  • ANTH 620 Theory in Social and Cultural Anthropology (3)
  • BOT 612 Advanced Botanical Problems (V)
  • BOT 620 Perspectives in Modern Botany (2)
  • BOT 654 Advances in Plant Ecology (2)
  • GEOG 750 Research Seminar (3)
  • GEOG 752 Research Seminar (3)
  • GEOG 758 Research Seminar (3)
  • ZOOL 714 Topics in Animal Behavior (V)
  • ZOOL 719 Topics in Systematics and Evolution (V)
  • ZOOL 739 Topics in Ecology (V)
  • ZOOL 750 Topics in Conservation Biology (V)