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Robert Cowie, Ph.D.

Research Professor, PBRC
Graduate Faculty, Department of Biology


PhD, Zoology, University of Liverpool, UK

MA, Natural Sciences (Zoology), University of Cambridge, UK

BA, Natural Sciences (Zoology), University of Cambridge, UK

Research Interests

The over-arching theme of my research is to understand the origins and determinants of non-marine biodiversity, both native and alien, primarily in the Pacific. Systematics provides the essential framework and conservation underlies all aspects of the research, which integrates a range of subdisciplines and approaches, including taxonomy, phylogenetics, genetic diversity, biogeography, invasion biology, and ecology. DNA sequencing and cladistic analyses are important techniques in much of this research. The four main focuses are:

  • Biodiversity – Understanding the ecological determinants and evolutionary origins of the immense native Pacific island diversity. Systematics of apple snails.

Current projects: Nomenclature, systematics, phylogenetics, biogoegraphy, and origins of land snails throughout the Pacific. Evolution of shell size and shape in Pacific island land snail faunas. Systematics, phylogenetics, and biogeography of apple snails globally.

  • Invasion biology – Documenting the spread and impacts, understanding the invasion dynamics, and ascertaining the origins, both phylogentic and anthropogenic, of alien species, primarily in the Pacific.

Current projects: Ampullariid snails as model invaders. Molecular and morphological diversity of invasive subulinid land snails and veronicellid slugs in Hawaii. Distribution and impacts of alien snails in Hawaii.

  • Emerging disease ecology – Eosinophilic meningitis in Hawaii.

Current project: Geographic distribution of rat lungworm and its prevalence in native and alien snail/slug vectors in Hawaii.

Selected Publications

Durkan, T.H., Yeung, N.W., Meyer, W.M., III, Hayes, K.A. & Cowie, R.H. 2013.  Evaluating the efficacy of land snail survey techniques in Hawaii: implications for conservation throughout the Pacific. Biodiversity and Conservation 22: 3223-3232.

Meyer, W.M., III, Ostertag, R. & Cowie, R.H. 2013.  Influence of terrestrial molluscs on litter decomposition and nutrient release in a Hawaiian rainforest. Biotropica 45: 719-727.

Hawksworth, D.L. & Cowie, R.H. 2013.  The discovery of historically extinct, but hitherto undescribed, species: an under-appreciated element in extinction-rate assessments. Biodiversity and Conservation 22: 2429-2432.

Cowie, R.H. (ed.) 2013. Eosinophilic meningitis caused by Angiostrongylus cantonensis, the rat lungworm: biology, distribution, epidemiology, detection, diagnosis, treatment, and management. Hawaii Journal of Medicine and Public Health 72(6) Supplement 2: 1-88.

Cowie, R.H. 2013. Biology, systematics, life cycle, and distribution of Angiostrongylus cantonensis, the cause of rat lungworm disease. Hawaii Journal of Medicine and Public Health 72(6) Supplement 2: 6-9.

Cowie, R.H. 2013. Pathways for transmission of angiostrongyliasis and the risk of disease associated with them. Hawaii Journal of Medicine and Public Health 72(6) Supplement 2: 70-74.

Yeung, N.W., Hayes, K.A. & Cowie, R.H. 2013. Effects of washing produce contaminated with the snail and slug hosts of Angiostrongylus cantonensis with three common household solutions. Hawaii Journal of Medicine and Public Health 72(6) Supplement 2: 83-86.

Cowie, R.H. & Héros, V. 2012. Annotated catalogue of the types of Ampullariidae (Mollusca: Gastropoda) in the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, Paris, with lectotype designations. Zoosystema 34(4): 793-824

Hayes, K.A., Cowie, R.H., Thiengo, S.C. & Strong, E.E. 2012. Comparing apples with apples: clarifying the identities of two highly invasive Neotropical Ampullariidae (Caenogastropoda). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 166: 723-753.

Cowie, R.H., Hollyer, J.R., da Silva, A.J., Hollingsworth, R.G., Dixon, M.D., Eamsobhana, P. et al. 2012. Workshop on research priorities for management and treatment of angiostrongyliasis. Emerging Infectious Diseases [Internet]. December 2012.

Hayes, K.A., Yeung, N.W.,  Kim, J.R. & Cowie, R.H. 2012. New records of alien Gastropoda in the Hawaiian Islands: 1996-2010. Bishop Museum Occasional Papers 112: 21-28.

Cowie, R.H. & Hayes, K.A. 2012. Apple snails. In: A handbook of global freshwater invasive species (ed. Francis, R.A.), p. 207-217, pls. 18.1-18.4. Earthscan, London.

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(808) 956-4909 (ph)
(808) 956-2647 (fax)
3050 Maile Way, Gilmore 408
Honolulu, HI 96822

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