Eight Hawaiian Dubautia species grow in habitats as varied as exposed lava, dry scrub, mesic forest, wet forest, and bog. These species also differ in diploid chromosome number, with four species having 13 pairs of chromosomes and four species having 14 pairs. This ecological and chromosomal variation is paralleled by significant interspecific variation in tissue elastic properties. The four 13-paired species from dry habitats exhibit significantly lower tissue elastic moduli near full hydration (Ei) than the four 14-paired species from mesic to wet habitats. Values of Ei range from 2 to 4 MPa among the former species and from 9 to 18 MPa among the latter species. The turgor dependence of the elastic modulus also differs markedly between the two groups of species. As a result of these differences in tissue elastic properties, the capacity for maintaining high turgor pressures as tissue water content decreases is much greater in the 13-paired species from dry habitats than in the 14-paired species from mesic to wet habitats. These results indicate that the evolutionary diversification of the Dubautia species has been accompanied by a significant degree of change at the physiological level.
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