Brenden Holland, PhD

Collaborator with Rubinoff Lab

 Contact Info 
E-mail: bholland [at] hawaii [dot] edu
Phone Number: 956-6176

Assistant Researcher
Graduate Faculty in Ecology Evolution and Conservation Biology
Associate Graduate Faculty in the Department of Zoology

Mailing Address:
Center for Conservation Research & Training
Pacific Biosciences Research Center
3050 Maile Way, Gilmore 408
Honolulu, HI 96822

Lab Address:
Endangered Captive Tree Snail Breeding and Conservation Genetics Lab
336 Henke Hall, 1800 East-West Road
Honolulu, HI 96822

Areas of research: Island phylogeography, molecular systematics, genetics of
invasive species, conservation biology.

Oleander Hawk Moth, introduced to the Hawaiian Islands, native to the old world: Asia, Africa, Southern Europe.

Oahu Tree snails (Achatinella mustelina), single island endemic, endangered species, and one of perhaps 10 extant tree snail species on this island.

Female Jackson's chameleon, Waiamea, Big Island, naturalized on the main Hawaiian Islands, introduced from Kenya in the 1970's.

Ko'olau summit trail, endemic 'ie'ie (Freycinetia arborea) in the foreground.

Pacific Island land snail biodiversity.

Pacific Island land snail biodiversity.


My MS research involved evaluation of the degree of geographic isolation and SCUBA-based photometric monitoring of two outer continental shelf coral reefs in the Gulf of Mexico, as part of a long-term project which eventually led to congressional designation of these unique, high biodiversity assemblages as the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. My doctoral research used molecular and cytotaxonomic approaches to understand the rapid invasion of the Texas Gulf coast by the edible brown mussel, Perna perna.

A few days after crossing the stage to receive my doctoral diploma, I found myself on a 747 bound for Southeast Asia, where I had accepted a job as a Visiting Professor at a newly founded public university in NE Thailand. While in Thailand, I helped establish the curriculum for the MS program in Genetics and Biology, set up a Conservation Genetics Laboratory with World Bank funding, taught Population Genetics, General Genetics and Molecular Techniques to upper division undergraduates, and coordinated and participated in a number of field research projects on species such as elephants, gaur, and Malasian water monitors.

I returned to the US in 1999, to begin a postdoc with Mike Hadfield at the Kewalo Marine Lab, studying the systematics and population structure in the highly endangered Hawaiian tree snails. In 2003 I moved to UH Manoa to work with Rob Cowie on an NSF funded project studying the colonization patterns and systematics of Pacific Island succieneid land snails.


Kewalo Marine Laboratory, 1999-2003.
  Postdoct in Conservation Genetics
Texas A&M University, 1997.
  PhD in Biological Oceanography
Texas A&M University, 1991.
  MS in Biological Oceanography
University of California, San Diego, 1986
  BA in General Biology


Since joining the Rubinoff Lab in early 2008, I've been enjoying working with Dan and his research group on a number of interesting projects, including analysis and interpretation of several evolutionary puzzles, large multilocus molecular datasets and systematics projects, rearing sphingid moths and aquatic beetles, and working with students on their phylogenetics projects.

My research focus continues to seek to understanding the various roles of differential dispersal ability, population structure, local adaptation and reproductive isolation in diversification of insular species, as well as identification of systematic identity, geographic sources and evaluation of population demographics of invasive species in order to better understand and ultimately prevent these often irreversible, environmentally devastating events.

Continuing collaborations with other researchers include molecular ecology, biogeography and systematics of:

  • succineid snails (Rob Cowie, Marta deMaintenon, Gary Barker)
  • achatinelline tree snails (Mike Hadfield)
  • Hawaiian opihi (Chris Bird, Rob Toonen, Brian Bowen, Jonathan Gardner)
  • Baja bulimulid snails (Rob Cowie, Christine Parent, Carl Christensen)
  • Jackson's chameleons (Martin Whiting, J. Scott Keogh)
  • box jellyfish (Jerry Crow, Mike Dawson, Angel Yanagihara)
  • extinct Hawaiian lineages using ancient DNA (Rob Cowie, Yvonne Chan)


(In prep) Holland, B.S.& E. A. Kay. Biogeography, In: The Pacific Islands: Environment and Society. (Rapaport, M. ed). Second edition, University of Hawaii Press. Invited chapter.

(In prep) Christensen C.C., Holland, B.S., K.A. Hayes, R.H.Cowie. Biocontrol in Hawaii: Ecological and regulatory perspectives. Pacific Science.

(In review) Holland, B.S., C.C. Christensen, K.A. Hayes, R.H.Cowie. Biocontrol in Hawaii: A response to Messing. Proceedings of the Hawaiian Entomological Society.

(In press) Holland, B.S. Island flora and fauna: Snails. In: The Encyclopedia of Islands. (R. Gillespie & D.A. Clague, eds), Science Publishing Group, University of California Press. Invited chapter.

(In press) Holland, B.S. & R.H. Cowie. Land snail models in biogeography: A tale of two snails. American Malacological Bulletin. Invited review.

Cowie, R.H. & B.S. Holland. 2008. Molecular biogeography and diversification of the endemic terrestrial fauna of the Hawaiian Islands. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B 363(1508): 3363-3376. Invited review.

Bird, C.E., Holland, B.S., Bowen, B.W. & Toonen, R.J. 2007. Contrasting phylogeography in three endemic Hawaiian limpets (Cellana spp.)with similar life histories. Molecular Ecology, 16(15): 3173-3187.

Holland, B.S. & R.H. Cowie. 2007. A geographic mosaic of passive dispersal: population structure in the endemic Hawaiian amber snail Succinea caduca (Mighels 1845). Molecular Ecology, 16(12): 2422-2435.

Holland, B.S. & M.G. Hadfield. 2007. Molecular systematics of the endangered O'ahu tree snail Achatinella mustelina (Mighels 1845): Synonymization of subspecies and estimation of gene flow between chiral morphs. Pacific Science, 61(1): 53-66.

Holland, B.S. & R.H. Cowie. 2006. New island records of the endemic Hawaiian land snail Succinea caduca (Mighels 1845). Bishop Museum Occasional Papers. 88: 58-60.

Cowie, R.H. and B.S. Holland. 2006. Dispersal and vicariance in Hawaii: submarine slumping does not create deep inter-island channels. Journal of Biogeography. 33(12):2155-2156.

Cowie, R.H. and B.S. Holland. 2006. Dispersal is fundamental to evolution on oceanic islands. Journal of Biogeography 33(2): 193-198. Guest Editorial.

Rubinoff, D. and B.S. Holland. 2005. Between the two extremes: Mitochondrial DNA is neither the panacea nor the nemesis of phylogenetic and taxonomic inference. Systematic Biology 54(6): 92-961.

Holland, B.S., M.N. Dawson, G.L. Crow and D.K. Hofmann. 2004. Global phylogeography of Cassiopea (Scyphozoa: Rhizostomeae): Molecular evidence for cryptic species and multiple invasions of the Hawaiian Islands. Marine Biology. 145: 1119-1128.

Holland, B.S. and M.G. Hadfield. 2004. Origin and diversification of the endemic Hawaiian tree snails (Achatinellinae: Achatinellidae) based on molecular evidence. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 32(2): 588-600.

Hadfield, M.G., B.S. Holland and K. Olival. 2004. Contributions of Ex Situ Propagation and Molecular Genetics to the Conservation of Hawaiian Tree Snails. In: Experimental Approaches to Conservation Biology. (M.Gordon and S.Bartol, eds). University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles. Pages 16-34.

Rundell, R.J., B.S. Holland, and R.H. Cowie. 2004. Molecular phylogeny and biogeography of endemic Hawaiian succineid land snails (Pulmonata: Gastropoda). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 31: 246-255.

Holland, B.S. and M.G. Hadfield. 2002. Islands within an island: phylogeography and conservation genetics of the endangered Hawaiian tree snail Achatinella mustelina. Molecular Ecology. 11(3): 365-376.

Holland, B.S. 2001. Invasion without a bottleneck: microsatellite variation in natural and invasive populations of the brown mussel, Perna perna (L). Marine Biotechnology 3(5): 407-415.

Apte, S., B.S. Holland, L.S. Godwin, and J.P.A. Gardner. 2000. Jumping ship: a stepping stone event mediating transfer of a non- indigenous species via a potentially unsuitable environment. Biological Invasions 2: 75-79.

Holland, B.S. 2000. Genetics of Marine Bioinvasions. In: Marine Genetics. (A. Sole-Cava, C. Russo and J. Thorpe), Developments in Hydrobiologia, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Netherlands. Pages 63-71.

Holland, B.S. 2000. Genetics of marine bioinvasions. Hydrobiologia 420: 63-71.

Holland, B.S., D.S. Gallagher, D.W. Hicks, and S.K. Davis. 1999. Cytotaxonomic verification of a non-indigenous marine mussel in the Gulf of Mexico. The Veliger 42(3): 280-282.

Gittings, S.R., G.S. Boland, K.J.P. Deslarzes, C. Combs, B.S. Holland, and T.J. Bright. 1992. Mass spawning and reproductive viability of reef corals at the East Flower Garden Bank, northwest Gulf of Mexico. Bulletin of Marine Science 51(3): 420-428.

Lockwood, S.F., B.S. Holland, J.W. Bickham, B.J. Hanks, and J.J. Bull. 1992. Intraspecific genome size variation in a turtle (Trachemys scripta) exhibiting temperature-dependent sex determination. Canadian Journal of Zoology 69: 2306-2310.


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