Science Enabled by Specimen Data

Vieira, M., R. Zetter, F. Grímsson, and T. Denk. 2023. Niche evolution versus niche conservatism and habitat loss determine persistence and extirpation in late Neogene European Fagaceae. Quaternary Science Reviews 300: 107896. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.quascirev.2022.107896

An increasing body of palaeobotanical data demonstrates a series of Pliocene and Pleistocene extirpations and extinctions of plant lineages in western Eurasia, which are believed to have been determined by the climatic properties of their related East Asian and North American sister lineages. We investigated the diversity of a widespread northern hemispheric plant family, Fagaceae, during the Late Pliocene of Portugal. We found a high diversity of Fagaceae comprising extant and extinct lineages. Dispersed pollen of Castanopsis and Quercus sect. Cyclobalanopsis represent the youngest records of these Himalayan-Southeast Asian groups in western Eurasia. Likewise, fossil-species of Quercus sect. Lobatae and the North American clade of sect. Quercus are the youngest records of these modern New World groups in western Eurasia. For the extinct Trigonobalanopsis, the pollen record of Portugal is the youngest known of this genus. Climate data of modern representatives demonstrate that a deterministic model can explain only a part of the Pliocene and Pleistocene extirpations. Modern cold month mean temperatures of Castanopsis and Quercus sect. Cyclobalanopsis and their last occurrences in western Eurasia in the Pliocene fit with a deterministic model (niche conservatism). In contrast, survival or extirpation of groups with high cold tolerance appear to have been more complex. Here, niche evolution, abundance and diversity of a lineage during pre-Pleistocene times, and habitat availability/loss determined the fate of Fagaceae lineages in western Eurasia.

Mai, J., and G. Liu. 2023. Modeling and predicting the effects of climate change on cotton-suitable habitats in the Central Asian arid zone. Industrial Crops and Products 191: 115838. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.indcrop.2022.115838

Climate change has significantly affected global agricultural production, particularly in arid zones of Central Asia. Thus, we analyzed changes in the habitat suitability of cotton in Central Asia under various shared socioeconomic pathway (SSP) scenarios during 2021–2060. The results showed that the average minimum temperature in April, precipitation seasonality, and distance to rivers were the main environmental factors influencing the suitable distribution of cotton. Suitable habitats expanded toward the north and east, reaching a maximum net increase of 10.85 × 104 km2 under the SSP5–8.5 scenario during 2041–2060, while habitats in the southwestern area showed a contracting trend. The maximum decreased and increased habitats were concentrated at approximately 68°E and 87°E, respectively. In addition, their latitudinal distributions were concentrated at approximately 40°N and 44°N. The longitudinal and latitudinal dividing lines of increased and decreased habitats were 69°E and 41°N, respectively. Habitats at the same altitude showed an increasing trend, excluding the elevation range of 125–325 m. Habitat shifts could exacerbate spatial conflicts with forest/grassland and natural reserves. The maximum spatial overlap between them was observed under the SSP5–8.5 scenario during 2041–2060. These findings could provide scientific evidence for rational cotton cultivation planning in global arid zones.

Campbell, L. C. E., E. T. Kiers, and G. Chomicki. 2022. The evolution of plant cultivation by ants. Trends in Plant Science. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tplants.2022.09.005

Outside humans, true agriculture was previously thought to be restricted to social insects farming fungus. However, obligate farming of plants by ants was recently discovered in Fiji, prompting a re-examination of plant cultivation by ants. Here, we generate a database of plant cultivation by ants, identify three main types, and show that these interactions evolved primarily for shelter rather than food. We find that plant cultivation evolved at least 65 times independently for crops (~200 plant species), and 15 times in farmer lineages (~37 ant taxa) in the Neotropics and Asia/Australasia. Because of their high evolutionary replication, and variation in partner dependence, these systems are powerful models to unveil the steps in the evolution and ecology of insect agriculture.

Liu, S., S. Xia, D. Wu, J. E. Behm, Y. Meng, H. Yuan, P. Wen, et al. 2022. Understanding global and regional patterns of termite diversity and regional functional traits. iScience: 105538. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.isci.2022.105538

Our understanding of broad-scale biodiversity and functional trait patterns is largely based on plants, and relatively little information is available on soil arthropods. Here, we investigated the distribution of termite diversity globally and morphological traits and diversity across China. Our analyses showed increasing termite species richness with decreasing latitude at both the globally, and within-China. Additionally, we detected obvious latitudinal trends in the mean community value of termite morphological traits on average, with body size and leg length decreasing with increasing latitude. Furthermore, temperature, NDVI and water variables were the most important drivers controlling the variation in termite richness, and temperature and soil properties were key drivers of the geographic distribution of termite morphological traits. Our global termite richness map is one of the first high resolution maps for any arthropod group and especially given the functional importance of termites, our work provides a useful baseline for further ecological analysis.

Hinojosa-Espinosa, O., D. Potter, M. Ishiki, E. Ortiz, and J. L. Villaseñor. 2021. Dichrocephala integrifolia (Astereae, Asteraceae), a new exotic genus and species for Mexico and second record for the New World. Botanical Sciences 99: 708–716. https://doi.org/10.17129/botsci.2754

Background: Dichrocephala is an Old-World genus of the tribe Astereae within the family Asteraceae. One species, D . integrifolia , has been recently reported as introduced in the New World from a pair of collections from Guatemala. During field work in the state of Chiapas in southern Mexico, the species was found and collected. This is the first record of both the genus and species in Mexico and the second record for these taxa in the Americas.
 Question: Can D . integrifolia occur in more areas in the New World besides those known from Guatemala and Chiapas?
 Studied species: Dichrocephala integrifolia 
 Study site and dates: Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean.
 Methods: An ecological niche model was made and it was projected into the New World.
 Results: The ecological niche model predicts the records of D. integrifolia in the New World in addition to other ecologically suitable areas, mostly in pine-oak forests in Mexico and Central America and zones with humid mountain and pine forest in the Caribbean. Moreover, a morphological description and illustrations of the species are provided to help with its identification.
 Conclusions: It is desirable to avoid the further spreading of D . integrifolia in the New World. Although this species is not considered as invasive, it seems to have a high dispersal potential and the ecological niche modelling indicates larger regions in the Americas that might be affected.

Yu, J., Y. Niu, Y. You, C. J. Cox, R. L. Barrett, A. Trias‐Blasi, J. Guo, et al. 2022. Integrated phylogenomic analyses unveil reticulate evolution in Parthenocissus (Vitaceae), highlighting speciation dynamics in the Himalayan‐Hengduan Mountains. New Phytologist. https://doi.org/10.1111/nph.18580

Hybridization caused by frequent environmental changes can lead to both species diversification (speciation) and speciation reversal (despeciation), but the latter has rarely been demonstrated. Parthenocissus, a genus with its trifoliolate lineage in the Himalayan‐Hengduan Mountains (HHM) region showing perplexing phylogenetic relationships, provides an opportunity for investigating speciation dynamics based on integrated evidence.We investigated phylogenetic discordance and reticulate evolution in Parthenocissus based on rigorous analyses of plastome and transcriptome data. We focussed on reticulations in the trifoliolate lineage in the HHM region using a population‐level genome resequencing dataset, incorporating evidence from morphology, distribution, and elevation.Comprehensive analyses confirmed multiple introgressions within Parthenocissus in a robust temporal‐spatial framework. Around the HHM region, at least three hybridization hotspots were identified, one of which showed evidence of ongoing speciation reversal.We present a solid case study using an integrative methodological approach to investigate reticulate evolutionary history and its underlying mechanisms in plants. It demonstrates an example of speciation reversal through frequent hybridizations in the HHM region, which provides new perspectives on speciation dynamics in mountainous areas with strong topographic and environmental heterogeneity.

Castillo, C. C., B. Fahy, and D. Q. Fuller. 2022. Star anise from a fifteenth century Indonesian shipwreck. Archaeology in Oceania. https://doi.org/10.1002/arco.5275

Maritime trade routes in Southeast Asia date to at least the last millennium BC evidenced by excavations of port‐cities, entrepôts and early coastal polities in Peninsular Thailand, the Mekong Delta and Island Southeast Asia. This trade network intensified over the next millennium and by the fifteenth century, the number of trade goods throughout Medieval Southeast Asia was prolific. The bulk of studied material comprises trade ceramics, particularly in archaeological investigations of shipwreck cargoes which provide information on regional trading patterns. Although ceramic assemblages constitute the bulk of shipwreck cargo, other types of material have also been found, including the spice star anise. In this paper, we focus on the organic contents from two jars found in the Bakau shipwreck dating to the early fifteenth century AD. The finds are significant as this spice (star anise, Illicium verum) is being transported together with items of high value for trade.

Aguirre‐Liguori, J. A., A. Morales‐Cruz, and B. S. Gaut. 2022. Evaluating the persistence and utility of five wild Vitis species in the context of climate change. Molecular Ecology. https://doi.org/10.1111/mec.16715

Crop wild relatives (CWRs) have the capacity to contribute novel traits to agriculture. Given climate change, these contributions may be especially vital for the persistence of perennial crops, because perennials are often clonally propagated and consequently do not evolve rapidly. By studying the landscape genomics of samples from five Vitis CWRs (V. arizonica, V. mustangensis, V. riparia, V. berlandieri and V. girdiana) in the context of projected climate change, we addressed two goals. The first was to assess the relative potential of different CWR accessions to persist in the face of climate change. By integrating species distribution models with adaptive genetic variation, additional genetic features such as genomic load and a phenotype (resistance to Pierce’s Disease), we predicted that accessions from one species (V. mustangensis) are particularly well‐suited to persist in future climates. The second goal was to identify which CWR accessions may contribute to bioclimatic adaptation for grapevine (V. vinifera) cultivation. To do so, we evaluated whether CWR accessions have the allelic capacity to persist if moved to locations where grapevines (V. vinifera) are cultivated in the United States. We identified six candidates from V. mustangensis and hypothesized that they may prove useful for contributing alleles that can mitigate climate impacts on viticulture. By identifying candidate germplasm, this work takes a conceptual step toward assessing the genomic and bioclimatic characteristics of CWRs.

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.