Science Enabled by Specimen Data

Smith, A. B., S. J. Murphy, D. Henderson, and K. D. Erickson. 2023. Including imprecisely georeferenced specimens improves accuracy of species distribution models and estimates of niche breadth. Global Ecology and Biogeography. https://doi.org/10.1111/geb.13628

Aim Museum and herbarium specimen records are frequently used to assess the conservation status of species and their responses to climate change. Typically, occurrences with imprecise geolocality information are discarded because they cannot be matched confidently to environmental conditions and are thus expected to increase uncertainty in downstream analyses. However, using only precisely georeferenced records risks undersampling of the environmental and geographical distributions of species. We present two related methods to allow the use of imprecisely georeferenced occurrences in biogeographical analysis. Innovation Our two procedures assign imprecise records to the (1) locations or (2) climates that are closest to the geographical or environmental centroid of the precise records of a species. For virtual species, including imprecise records alongside precise records improved the accuracy of ecological niche models projected to the present and the future, especially for species with c. 20 or fewer precise occurrences. Using only precise records underestimated loss of suitable habitat and overestimated the amount of suitable habitat in both the present and the future. Including imprecise records also improves estimates of niche breadth and extent of occurrence. An analysis of 44 species of North American Asclepias (Apocynaceae) yielded similar results. Main conclusions Existing studies examining the effects of spatial imprecision typically compare outcomes based on precise records against the same records with spatial error added to them. However, in real-world cases, analysts possess a mix of precise and imprecise records and must decide whether to retain or discard the latter. Discarding imprecise records can undersample the geographical and environmental distributions of species and lead to mis-estimation of responses to past and future climate change. Our method, for which we provide a software implementation in the enmSdmX package for R, is simple to use and can help leverage the large number of specimen records that are typically deemed “unusable” because of spatial imprecision in their geolocation.

Wu, M., J. Huang, S. R. Manchester, H. Tang, Y. Gao, T. Wang, Z. Zhou, and T. Su. 2023. A new fossil record of Palaeosinomenium (Menispermaceae) from the Upper Eocene in the southeastern margin of the Tibetan Plateau and its biogeographic and paleoenvironmental implications. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 310: 104827. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.revpalbo.2022.104827

Palaeosinomenium Chandler (Menispermaceae) was established to accommodate the fossil endocarps that share similar morphological characteristics with the tribe Menispermeae in Menispermaceae. Previous fossil records suggested that Palaeosinomenium was distributed in North America, Europe, and East Asia before the Middle Eocene. A new fossil species, Palaeosinomenium hengduanensis Meng-Xiao Wu et Zhe-Kun Zhou sp. nov., was established based on an endocarp impression fossil from the Upper Eocene (35 ± 1 Ma) Shuanghe Formation, Jianchuan Basin, southwestern China. The new species is characterized by a horseshoe-shaped endocarp, an excavated central area, surrounded by a slightly asymmetrical C-shaped lateral ridge, and an elliptic aperture located near the longer endocarp limb. The fossil site is located in the modern distribution area of the living species Sinomenium acutum (Thunb.) Rehd. et Wils, a potential nearest living relative of the new species. The finding of P. hengduanensis supports that the divergence within the tribe Menispermeae might have occurred by the Late Eocene and the species similar to modern S. acutum appeared in the southeastern margin of the Tibetan Plateau as early as in the Late Eocene.

Pelletier, D., and J. R. K. Forrest. 2022. Pollen specialisation is associated with later phenology in Osmia bees (Hymenoptera: Megachilidae). Ecological Entomology. https://doi.org/10.1111/een.13211

Species exhibit a range of specialisation in diet and other niche axes, with specialists typically thought to be more efficient in resource use but more vulnerable to extinction than generalists. Among herbivorous insects, dietary specialists seem more likely to lack acceptable host plants during the insect's feeding stage, owing to fluctuations in host‐plant abundance or phenology. Like other herbivores, bee species vary in host breadth from pollen specialisation (oligolecty) to generalisation (polylecty).Several studies have shown greater interannual variation in flowering phenology for earlier‐flowering plants than later‐flowering plants, suggesting that early‐season bees may experience substantial year‐to‐year variation in the floral taxa available to them.It was therefore reasoned that, among bees, early phenology could be a more viable strategy for generalists, which can use resources from multiple floral taxa, than for specialists. Consequently, it was expected that the median dates of collection of adult specimens to be earlier for generalist species than for specialists. To test this, phenology data and pollen diet information on 67 North American species of the bee genus Osmia was obtained.Controlling for latitude and phylogeny, it was found that dietary generalisation is associated with significantly earlier phenology, with generalists active, on average, 11–14 days earlier than specialists.This result is consistent with the generalist strategy being more viable than the specialist strategy for species active in early spring, suggesting that dietary specialisation may constrain the evolution of bee phenology—or vice versa.

Christman, M. E., L. R. Spears, J. B. U. Koch, T.-T. T. Lindsay, J. P. Strange, C. L. Barnes, and R. A. Ramirez. 2022. Captive Rearing Success and Critical Thermal Maxima of Bombus griseocollis (Hymenoptera: Apidae): A Candidate for Commercialization? J. Brunet [ed.],. Journal of Insect Science 22. https://doi.org/10.1093/jisesa/ieac064

Abstract Commercialized bumble bees (Bombus) are primary pollinators of several crops within open field and greenhouse settings. However, the common eastern bumble bee (Bombus impatiens Cresson, 1863) is the only species widely available for purchase in North America. As an eastern species, concerns have been expressed over their transportation outside of their native range. Therefore, there is a need to identify regionally appropriate candidates for commercial crop pollination services, especially in the western U.S.A. In this study, we evaluated the commercialization potential of brown-belted bumble bees (Bombus griseocollis De Geer, 1773), a broadly distributed species throughout the U.S.A., by assessing nest initiation and establishment rates of colonies produced from wild-caught gynes, creating a timeline of colony development, and identifying lab-reared workers’ critical thermal maxima (CTMax) and lethal temperature (ecological death). From 2019 to 2021, 70.6% of the wild-caught B. griseocollis gynes produced brood in a laboratory setting. Of these successfully initiated nests, 74.8% successfully established a nest (produced a worker), providing guidance for future rearing efforts. Additionally, lab-reared workers produced from wild-caught B. griseocollis gynes had an average CTMax of 43.5°C and an average lethal temperature of 46.4°C, suggesting B. griseocollis can withstand temperatures well above those commonly found in open field and greenhouse settings. Overall, B. griseocollis should continue to be evaluated for commercial purposes throughout the U.S.A.

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.

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.

Tackett, M., C. Berg, T. Simmonds, O. Lopez, J. Brown, R. Ruggiero, and J. Weber. 2022. Breeding system and geospatial variation shape the population genetics of Triodanis perfoliata. Ecology and Evolution 12. https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.9382

Both intrinsic and extrinsic forces work together to shape connectivity and genetic variation in populations across the landscape. Here we explored how geography, breeding system traits, and environmental factors influence the population genetic patterns of Triodanis perfoliata, a widespread mix‐mating annual plant in the contiguous US. By integrating population genomic data with spatial analyses and modeling the relationship between a breeding system and genetic diversity, we illustrate the complex ways in which these forces shape genetic variation. Specifically, we used 4705 single nucleotide polymorphisms to assess genetic diversity, structure, and evolutionary history among 18 populations. Populations with more obligately selfing flowers harbored less genetic diversity (π: R2 = .63, p = .01, n = 9 populations), and we found significant population structuring (FST = 0.48). Both geographic isolation and environmental factors played significant roles in predicting the observed genetic diversity: we found that corridors of suitable environments appear to facilitate gene flow between populations, and that environmental resistance is correlated with increased genetic distance between populations. Last, we integrated our genetic results with species distribution modeling to assess likely patterns of connectivity among our study populations. Our landscape and evolutionary genetic results suggest that T. perfoliata experienced a complex demographic and evolutionary history, particularly in the center of its distribution. As such, there is no singular mechanism driving this species' evolution. Together, our analyses support the hypothesis that the breeding system, geography, and environmental variables shape the patterns of diversity and connectivity of T. perfoliata in the US.

Roberts, J., and S. Florentine. 2022. Biology, distribution and management of the globally invasive weed Solanum elaeagnifolium Cav (silverleaf nightshade): A global review of current and future management challenges. Weed Research. https://doi.org/10.1111/wre.12556

Solanum elaeagnifolium Cav (silverleaf nightshade) is a deep-rooted, multi-stemmed, perennial, herbaceous woody plant that has been observed to threaten agricultural and native biodiversity worldwide. It is widely agreed that without efficient integrated management, S. elaeagnifolium will continue to cause significant economic and environmental damage across multiple scales. It is estimated that the annual economic impact of S. elaeagnifolium in Australia exceeds AUD $62 million, with this figure likely to be much higher in other countries invaded by this plant. It can also tolerate a high level of abiotic stress and survive in a range of temperatures (below freezing point to 34°C) and areas with an average yearly rainfall between 250 and 600 mm. Its extensive deep taproot system is capable of regenerating asexually and with its many seed dispersal mechanisms; it can quickly spread and establish itself within a region. This makes containment and management of the species especially challenging. Previous management has largely been focused on biological control, competition, essential oils, grazing pressure, herbicide application and manual removal. Despite the large range of available management techniques, there has been little success in the long-term control of S. elaeagnifolium, and only a handful of methods such as essential oils and herbicide application have shown reasonable success for controlling this weed. Therefore, this review aims to synthesise the identified and potentially useful approaches to control S. elaeagnifolium that have been recorded in the literature which deal with its biology, distribution and management. It also explores previous and current management techniques to ascertain the research gaps and knowledge required to assist in the effective and economically sustainable management of this invasive weed.

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.

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.