Science Enabled by Specimen Data

Pan, Y., J. García-Girón, and L. L. Iversen. 2023. Global change and plant-ecosystem functioning in freshwaters. Trends in Plant Science. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tplants.2022.12.013

Freshwater ecosystems are of worldwide importance for maintaining biodiversity and sustaining the provision of a myriad of ecosystem services to modern societies. Plants, one of the most important components of these ecosystems, are key to water nutrient removal, carbon storage, and food provision. Understanding how the functional connection between freshwater plants and ecosystems is affected by global change will be key to our ability to predict future changes in freshwater systems. Here, we synthesize global plant responses, adaptations, and feedbacks to present-day and future freshwater environments through trait-based approaches, from single individuals to entire communities. We outline the transdisciplinary knowledge benchmarks needed to further understand freshwater plant biodiversity and the fundamental services they provide.

Kolanowska, M., S. Nowak, and A. Rewicz. 2022. Will Greenland be the last refuge for the continental European small-white orchid?Niche modeling of future distribution of Pseudorchis albida. Frontiers in Environmental Science 10. https://doi.org/10.3389/fenvs.2022.912428

Climate change affects populations of plants, animals, and fungi not only by direct modifications of their climatic niches but also by altering their ecological interactions. In this study, the future distribution of suitable habitats for the small-white orchid (Pseudorchis albida) was predicted using ecological niche modeling. In addition, the effect of global warming on the spatial distribution and availability of the pollen vectors of this species was evaluated. Due to the inconsistency in the taxonomic concepts of Pseudorchis albida, the differences in the climatic preferences of three proposed subspecies were investigated. Due to the overlap of both morphological and ecological characters of ssp. albida and ssp. tricuspis, they are considered to be synonyms, and the final analyses were carried out using ssp. albida s.l. and ssp. straminea. All of the models predict that with global warming, the number of suitable niches for these orchids will increase. This significant increase in preferred habitats is expected to occur in Greenland, but habitat loss in continental Europe will be severe. Within continental Europe, Pseudorchis albida ssp. albida will lose 44%–98% of its suitable niches and P. albida ssp. straminea will lose 46%–91% of its currently available habitats. An opposite effect of global warming was predicted for pollinators of P. albida s.l., and almost all insects studied will be subject to habitat loss. Still, within the predicted potential geographical ranges of the orchid studied, some pollen vectors are expected to occur, and these can support the long-term survival of the small-white orchid.

Kroonen, G., A. Jakob, A. I. Palmér, P. van Sluis, and A. Wigman. 2022. Indo-European cereal terminology suggests a Northwest Pontic homeland for the core Indo-European languages S. Wichmann [ed.],. PLOS ONE 17: e0275744. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0275744

Questions on the timing and the center of the Indo-European language dispersal are central to debates on the formation of the European and Asian linguistic landscapes and are deeply intertwined with questions on the archaeology and population history of these continents. Recent palaeogenomic studies support scenarios in which the core Indo-European languages spread with the expansion of Early Bronze Age Yamnaya herders that originally inhabited the East European steppes. Questions on the Yamnaya and Pre-Yamnaya locations of the language community that ultimately gave rise to the Indo-European language family are heavily dependent on linguistic reconstruction of the subsistence of Proto-Indo-European speakers. A central question, therefore, is how important the role of agriculture was among the speakers of this protolanguage. In this study, we perform a qualitative etymological analysis of all previously postulated Proto-Indo-European terminology related to cereal cultivation and cereal processing. On the basis of the evolution of the subsistence strategies of consecutive stages of the protolanguage, we find that one or perhaps two cereal terms can be reconstructed for the basal Indo-European stage, also known as Indo-Anatolian, but that core Indo-European, here also including Tocharian, acquired a more elaborate set of terms. Thus, we linguistically document an important economic shift from a mostly non-agricultural to a mixed agro-pastoral economy between the basal and core Indo-European speech communities. It follows that the early, eastern Yamnaya of the Don-Volga steppe, with its lack of evidence for agricultural practices, does not offer a perfect archaeological proxy for the core Indo-European language community and that this stage of the language family more likely reflects a mixed subsistence as proposed for western Yamnaya groups around or to the west of the Dnieper River.

Foster, S. L., H. M. Kharouba, and T. W. Smith. 2022. Testing the assumption of environmental equilibrium in an invasive plant species over a 130 year history. Ecography. https://doi.org/10.1111/ecog.06284

Invasive plants are an increasing threat to global biodiversity. Effective management depends on accurate predictions of their spread. However, modelling the geographic distribution of invasive species, particularly with correlative species distribution models (SDMs), is challenging. SDMs assume that species are in equilibrium with their environment (i.e. they occur in all suitable environments); this assumption is likely to be violated for a species that is actively invading new environments. This assumption is rarely assessed, and when violated can have consequences for model reliability. Using the invasive vine Vincetoxicum rossicum, we tested the hypotheses that: 1) invasive species' distribution in environmental and geographic space increase to a plateau over time; 2) this plateau is a useful proxy for equilibrium distribution, a key assumption underlying SDMs. We compare V. rossicum's expansion in environmental and geographic space between historical and current time periods and infer equilibrium when its distribution has remained stable for an extended period. We also compare the performance of SDMs from historical time periods in predicting the current geographic distribution of V. rossicum. We found that V. rossicum has reached equilibrium in environmental space, but is still expanding its geographic distribution. SDM performance was poor in the first 30 years following introduction, but improved as V. rossicum approached environmental equilibrium. Our findings demonstrate the power of including temporal dynamics and the need to consider environmental and geographic equilibrium separately when modelling the distribution of invasive species. In light of our findings, we address shortcomings of the current approach to defining an equilibrium distribution and present a new perspective for reconciling the potentially confounding influence of dispersal limitation when assessing equilibrium distribution.

Perez‐Navarro, M. A., O. Broennimann, M. A. Esteve, G. Bagaria, A. Guisan, and F. Lloret. 2022. Comparing climatic suitability and niche distances to explain populations responses to extreme climatic events. Ecography. https://doi.org/10.1111/ecog.06263

Habitat suitability calculated from species distribution models (SDMs) has been used to assess population performance, but empirical studies have provided weak or inconclusive support to this approach. Novel approaches measuring population distances to niche centroid and margin in environmental space have been recently proposed to explain population performance, particularly when populations experience exceptional environmental conditions that may place them outside of the species niche. Here, we use data of co‐occurring species' decay, gathered after an extreme drought event occurring in the southeast of the Iberian Peninsula which highly affected rich semiarid shrubland communities, to compare the relationship between population decay (mortality and remaining green canopy) and 1) distances between populations' location and species niche margin and centroid in the environmental space, and 2) climatic suitability estimated from frequently used SDMs (here MaxEnt) considering both the extreme climatic episode and the average reference climatic period before this. We found that both SDMs‐derived suitability and distances to species niche properly predict populations performance when considering the reference climatic period; but climatic suitability failed to predict performance considering the extreme climate period. In addition, while distance to niche margins accurately predict both mortality and remaining green canopy responses, centroid distances failed to explain mortality, suggesting that indexes containing information about the position to niche margin (inside or outside) are better to predict binary responses. We conclude that the location of populations in the environmental space is consistent with performance responses to extreme drought. Niche distances appear to be a more efficient approach than the use of climate suitability indices derived from more frequently used SDMs to explain population performance when dealing with environmental conditions that are located outside the species environmental niche. The use of this alternative metrics may be particularly useful when designing conservation measures to mitigate impacts of shifting environmental conditions.

Marcussen, T., H. E. Ballard, J. Danihelka, A. R. Flores, M. V. Nicola, and J. M. Watson. 2022. A Revised Phylogenetic Classification for Viola (Violaceae). Plants 11: 2224. https://doi.org/10.3390/plants11172224

The genus Viola (Violaceae) is among the 40–50 largest genera among angiosperms, yet its taxonomy has not been revised for nearly a century. In the most recent revision, by Wilhelm Becker in 1925, the then-known 400 species were distributed among 14 sections and numerous unranked groups. Here, we provide an updated, comprehensive classification of the genus, based on data from phylogeny, morphology, chromosome counts, and ploidy, and based on modern principles of monophyly. The revision is presented as an annotated global checklist of accepted species of Viola, an updated multigene phylogenetic network and an ITS phylogeny with denser taxon sampling, a brief summary of the taxonomic changes from Becker’s classification and their justification, a morphological binary key to the accepted subgenera, sections and subsections, and an account of each infrageneric subdivision with justifications for delimitation and rank including a description, a list of apomorphies, molecular phylogenies where possible or relevant, a distribution map, and a list of included species. We distribute the 664 species accepted by us into 2 subgenera, 31 sections, and 20 subsections. We erect one new subgenus of Viola (subg. Neoandinium, a replacement name for the illegitimate subg. Andinium), six new sections (sect. Abyssinium, sect. Himalayum, sect. Melvio, sect. Nematocaulon, sect. Spathulidium, sect. Xanthidium), and seven new subsections (subsect. Australasiaticae, subsect. Bulbosae, subsect. Clausenianae, subsect. Cleistogamae, subsect. Dispares, subsect. Formosanae, subsect. Pseudorupestres). Evolution within the genus is discussed in light of biogeography, the fossil record, morphology, and particular traits. Viola is among very few temperate and widespread genera that originated in South America. The biggest identified knowledge gaps for Viola concern the South American taxa, for which basic knowledge from phylogeny, chromosome counts, and fossil data is virtually absent. Viola has also never been subject to comprehensive anatomical study. Studies into seed anatomy and morphology are required to understand the fossil record of the genus.

Canavan, S., Z. T. Brym, G. Brundu, K. Dehnen-Schmutz, D. Lieurance, T. Petri, W. H. Wadlington, et al. 2022. Cannabis de-domestication and invasion risk. Biological Conservation 274: 109709. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2022.109709

Cultivated plants provide food, fiber, and energy but they can escape, de-domesticate, colonize agroecosystems as weeds, and disrupt natural ecosystems as invasive species. Escape and invasion depend on traits of the species, type and rate of domestication, and cultivation context. Understanding this “de-domestication invasion process” is critical for managing conservation efforts to reduce unintended consequences of cultivated species in novel areas. Cannabis (Cannabis sativa L.) is an ideal case study to explore this process because it was one of the earliest plants to co-evolve with humans, has a crop to weed history, and has been introduced and cultivated globally. Moreover, recent liberalization of cannabis cultivation and use policies have raised concerns about invasion risk. Here, we synthesize knowledge on cannabis breeding, cultivation, and processing relevant to invasion risk and outline research and management priorities to help overcome the research deficit on the invasion ecology of the species. Understanding the transition of cannabis through the de-domestication-invasion process will inform policy and minimize agricultural and environmental risks associated with cultivation of domesticated species.

Lu, L.-L., B.-H. Jiao, F. Qin, G. Xie, K.-Q. Lu, J.-F. Li, B. Sun, et al. 2022. Artemisia pollen dataset for exploring the potential ecological indicators in deep time. Earth System Science Data 14: 3961–3995. https://doi.org/10.5194/essd-14-3961-2022

Abstract. Artemisia, along with Chenopodiaceae, is the dominant component growing in the desert and dry grassland of the Northern Hemisphere. Artemisia pollen with its high productivity, wide distribution, and easy identification is usually regarded as an eco-indicator for assessing aridity and distinguishing grassland from desert vegetation in terms of the pollen relative abundance ratio of Chenopodiaceae/Artemisia (C/A). Nevertheless, divergent opinions on the degree of aridity evaluated by Artemisia pollen have been circulating in the palynological community for a long time. To solve the confusion, we first selected 36 species from nine clades and three outgroups of Artemisia based on the phylogenetic framework, which attempts to cover the maximum range of pollen morphological variation. Then, sampling, experiments, photography, and measurements were taken using standard methods. Here, we present pollen datasets containing 4018 original pollen photographs, 9360 pollen morphological trait measurements, information on 30 858 source plant occurrences, and corresponding environmental factors. Hierarchical cluster analysis on pollen morphological traits was carried out to subdivide Artemisia pollen into three types. When plotting the three pollen types of Artemisia onto the global terrestrial biomes, different pollen types of Artemisia were found to have different habitat ranges. These findings change the traditional concept of Artemisia being restricted to arid and semi-arid environments. The data framework that we designed is open and expandable for new pollen data of Artemisia worldwide. In the future, linking pollen morphology with habitat via these pollen datasets will create additional knowledge that will increase the resolution of the ecological environment in the geological past. The Artemisia pollen datasets are freely available at Zenodo (https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.6900308; Lu et al., 2022).

Hirabayashi, K., S. J. Murch, and L. A. E. Erland. 2022. Predicted impacts of climate change on wild and commercial berry habitats will have food security, conservation and agricultural implications. Science of The Total Environment 845: 157341. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.157341

Climate change is now a reality and is altering ecosystems, with Canada experiencing 2–4 times the global average rate of warming. This will have a critical impact on berry cultivation and horticulture. Enhancing our understanding of how wild and cultivated berries will perform under changing climates will be essential to mitigating impacts on ecosystems, culture and food security. Our objective was to predict the impact of climate change on habitat suitability of four berry producing Vaccinium species: two species with primarily northern distributions (V. uliginosum, V. vitis-idaea), one species with a primarily southern distribution (V. oxycoccos), and the commercially cultivated V. macrocarpon. We used the maximum entropy (Maxent) model and the CMIP6 shared socioeconomic pathways (SSPs) 126 and 585 projected to 2041–2060 and 2061–2080. Wild species showed a uniform northward progression and expansion of suitable habitat. Our modeling predicts that suitable growing regions for commercial cranberries are also likely to shift with some farms becoming unsuitable for the current varieties and other regions becoming more suitable for cranberry farms. Both V. macrocarpon and V. oxycoccos showed a high dependence on precipitation-associated variables. Vaccinium vitis-idaea and V. uliginosum had a greater number of variables with smaller contributions which may improve their resilience to individual climactic events. Future competition between commercial cranberry farms and wild berries in protected areas could lead to conflicts between agriculture and conservation priorities. New varieties of commercial berries are required to maintain current commercial berry farms.

Ramirez-Villegas, J., C. K. Khoury, H. A. Achicanoy, M. V. Diaz, A. C. Mendez, C. C. Sosa, Z. Kehel, et al. 2022. State of ex situ conservation of landrace groups of 25 major crops. Nature Plants 8: 491–499. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41477-022-01144-8

Crop landraces have unique local agroecological and societal functions and offer important genetic resources for plant breeding. Recognition of the value of landrace diversity and concern about its erosion on farms have led to sustained efforts to establish ex situ collections worldwide. The degree to which these efforts have succeeded in conserving landraces has not been comprehensively assessed. Here we modelled the potential distributions of eco-geographically distinguishable groups of landraces of 25 cereal, pulse and starchy root/tuber/fruit crops within their geographic regions of diversity. We then analysed the extent to which these landrace groups are represented in genebank collections, using geographic and ecological coverage metrics as a proxy for genetic diversity. We find that ex situ conservation of landrace groups is currently moderately comprehensive on average, with substantial variation among crops; a mean of 63% ± 12.6% of distributions is currently represented in genebanks. Breadfruit, bananas and plantains, lentils, common beans, chickpeas, barley and bread wheat landrace groups are among the most fully represented, whereas the largest conservation gaps persist for pearl millet, yams, finger millet, groundnut, potatoes and peas. Geographic regions prioritized for further collection of landrace groups for ex situ conservation include South Asia, the Mediterranean and West Asia, Mesoamerica, sub-Saharan Africa, the Andean mountains of South America and Central to East Asia. With further progress to fill these gaps, a high degree of representation of landrace group diversity in genebanks is feasible globally, thus fulfilling international targets for their ex situ conservation. By analysing the state of representation of traditional varieties of 25 major crops in ex situ repositories, this study demonstrates conservation progress made over more than a half-century and identifies the gaps remaining to be filled.