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Robert Cowie
Research Professor, PBRC
Graduate Faculty, Zoology Program, School of Life Sciences
Graduate Faculty, Ecology, Evolution and Conservation Biology Program, School of Life Sciences

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


  • University of Cambridge, UK – BA Natural Sciences (Zoology) – 1975
  • University of Cambridge, UK – MA Natural Sciences (Zoology) – 1979
  • University of Liverpool, UK – PhD Zoology – 1982

Curriculum Vitae

A favorite restaurant in Paris
An apple snail, Pomacea guyanensis, collected near Belém, a city near the mouth of the Amazon, Brazil

Research Interests

My research focus has shifted somewhat in recent years, as I have become much more involved in research on an emerging parasitic disease vectored primarily by alien species – rat lungworm disease, which is vectored by snails, the organisms I have studied for most of my career. Nonetheless, I continue to be involved in all components of the over-arching broad theme of my previous research, which has been to advance understanding of non-marine biodiversity, both native and alien, primarily in the Pacific. Systematics provides the essential framework for this research and conservation underlies many aspects of the research, which integrates a range of subdisciplines and approaches, including taxonomy, phylogenetics, biogeography, invasion biology, ecology and climate change. Most recently I have focused on extinction of biodiversity both in Hawaii and the Pacific, and globally. The five main focuses are:

  • Emerging disease ecology – Eosinophilic meningitis in humans caused by Angiostrongylus cantonensis, the rat lungworm, specifically aspects involving the snail intermediate hosts. Taxonomy of metastrongyloid nematodes
  • Biodiversity – Ecology and evolution of the immense native Pacific island biodiversity. Systematics of Hawaiian land snails and of freshwater apple snails.
  • Extinction and conservation – The Sixth Mass Extinction, focusing on invertebrates and molluscs in particular. Conservation of Pacific island land snails.
  • Invasion biology – Spread and impacts, invasion dynamics and origins of alien species, primarily in the Pacific.
  • Apple snails – Systematics, evolution, biogeography, invasion biology and behavioral ecology of this important group of freshwater snails, some introduced species of which have become major pests.

Department and Laboratory Webpages

EECB graduate program

Shells of endemic and mostly extinct Hawaiian land snails of the family Amastridae in the Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle, Paris
Adult rat lungworms, Angiostrongylus cantonensis, in the pulmonary artery of a rat, collected in Hawaii

Selected Publications

This is just a short list of a few of the Cowie lab’s recent publications. Click for a full list of lab publications.

Rollins, R.L., Medeiros, M.C.I. & Cowie, R.H. Stressed snails release Angiostrongylus cantonensis (rat lungworm) larvae in their slime. One Health 17: 100658.

Cowie, R.H., Malik, R. & Morgan, E.R. 2023. Comparative biology of parasitic nematodes in the genus Angiostrongylus and related genera. Advances in Parasitology 121: 65-197.

Turck, H.C., Fox, M.T. & Cowie, R.H. 2022. Paratenic hosts of Angiostrongylus cantonensis and their relation to human neuroangiostrongyliasis globally. One Health 15. [IF 8.28]

Miyahira, I.C., Clavijo, C., Callil, C.T., Cuezzo, M.G., Darrigran, G., Gomes, S.R., Lasso, C.A., Mansur, M.C.D., Pena, M.S., Ramírez, R., Santos, R,C.L., Santos, S.B., Scarabino, F., Torres, S.H., Vogler, R.E. & Cowie, R.H. 2022. The conservation of non-marine molluscs in South America: where we are and how to move forward. Biodiversity and Conservation 31: 2543-2574. [IF 4.296]

Rollins, R.L., Qader, M., Gosnell, W.L., Wang, C., Cao, S. & Cowie, R.H. 2022. A validated high-throughput method for assaying rat lungworm (Angiostrongylus cantonensis) motility when challenged with potentially anthelmintic natural products from Hawaiian fungi. Parasitology 149: 765-773. [IF 3.243]

Cowie, R.H., Bouchet, P. & Fontaine, B. 2022. The Sixth Mass Extinction: fact, fiction or speculation? Biological Reviews 97(2): 640-663. [IF 14.350]

Rollins, R.L., Cowie, R.H., Echaluse, M.V. & Medeiros, M.C.I. 2021. Host snail species exhibit differential Angiostrongylus cantonensis prevalence and infection intensity across an environmental gradient. Acta Tropica 216: 105824.

Medeiros, M.C.I., Rollins R.L., Echaluse, M.V. & Cowie, R.H. 2020. Species identity and size are associated with rat lungworm infection in gastropods. EcoHealth 17(2): 183-193.

Curry, P.A., Yeung, N.W., Hayes, K.A. & Cowie, R.H. 2020. The potential tropical island distribution of a temperate invasive snail, Oxychilus alliarius, modeled on its distribution in Hawaii. Biological Invasions 22: 307-327.

Tripathy, B. Sajan, S. & Cowie, R.H. 2020. Illustrated catalogue of types of Ampullariidae Gray, 1824 (Mollusca, Gastropoda) in the National Zoological Collection of the Zoological Survey of India, with lectotype designations. Zoosystematics and Evolution 96(1): 1-23.

Cowie, R.H. 2019. Annotated catalogue of species of Angiostrongylus and the related genera Gallegostrongylus, Rodentocaulus and Stefanskostrongylus (Nematoda: Metastrongyloidea, Angiostrongylidae). Journal of Helminthology 93(4): 389-423.

Kim, J.R., Wong, T.W., Curry, P.A., Yeung, N.W., Hayes, K.A. & Cowie, R.H. 2019. Modelling the distribution in Hawaii of Angiostrongylus cantonensis (rat lungworm) in its gastropod hosts. Parasitology 146(1): 42-49.

Joshi, R.C., Cowie, R.H. & Sebastian, L.S. (eds.) 2017. Biology and Management of Invasive Apple Snails. Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), Maligaya, Science City of Muñoz, Nueva Ecija. xvii + 405 p.

Cowie, R.H., Régnier, C., Fontaine, B. & Bouchet, P. 2017. Measuring the Sixth Extinction: what do mollusks tell us? The Nautilus 131(1): 3-41.

Chiba, S. & Cowie, R.H. 2016. Evolution and extinction of land snails on oceanic islands. Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics 47: 123-141.

Triantis, K.A., Rigal, F., Parent, C.E., Cameron, R.A.D., Lenzner, B., Parmakelis, A., Yeung, N.W., Alonso, M.R., Ibáñez, M., Martins, A.M. de F., Teixeira, D.N.F., Griffiths, O.L., Yanes, Y., Hayes, K.A., Preece, R.C. & Cowie, R.H. 2016. Discordance between morphological and taxonomic diversity: land snails of oceanic archipelagos. Journal of Biogeography 43(10): 2050-2061.

Régnier, C., Achaz, G., Lambert, A., Cowie, R.H., Bouchet, P. & Fontaine, B. 2015. Mass extinction in poorly known taxa. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 112(25): 7761-7766.

Régnier, C., Bouchet, P., Hayes, K.A., Yeung, N.W., Christensen, C.C., Chung, D.J.D., Fontaine, B. & Cowie, R.H. 2015. Extinction in a hyperdiverse endemic Hawaiian land snail family and implications for the underestimation of invertebrate extinction. Conservation Biology 29(6): 1715-1723.

Cowie, R.H. 2014. Journey to a Waterfall. A Biologist in Africa. Lulu, Raleigh. viii + 279 p.

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