Science Enabled by Specimen Data

Serra‐Diaz, J. M., J. Borderieux, B. Maitner, C. C. F. Boonman, D. Park, W. Guo, A. Callebaut, et al. 2024. occTest: An integrated approach for quality control of species occurrence data. Global Ecology and Biogeography. https://doi.org/10.1111/geb.13847

Aim Species occurrence data are valuable information that enables one to estimate geographical distributions, characterize niches and their evolution, and guide spatial conservation planning. Rapid increases in species occurrence data stem from increasing digitization and aggregation efforts, and citizen science initiatives. However, persistent quality issues in occurrence data can impact the accuracy of scientific findings, underscoring the importance of filtering erroneous occurrence records in biodiversity analyses.InnovationWe introduce an R package, occTest, that synthesizes a growing open‐source ecosystem of biodiversity cleaning workflows to prepare occurrence data for different modelling applications. It offers a structured set of algorithms to identify potential problems with species occurrence records by employing a hierarchical organization of multiple tests. The workflow has a hierarchical structure organized in testPhases (i.e. cleaning vs. testing) that encompass different testBlocks grouping different testTypes (e.g. environmental outlier detection), which may use different testMethods (e.g. Rosner test, jacknife,etc.). Four different testBlocks characterize potential problems in geographic, environmental, human influence and temporal dimensions. Filtering and plotting functions are incorporated to facilitate the interpretation of tests. We provide examples with different data sources, with default and user‐defined parameters. Compared to other available tools and workflows, occTest offers a comprehensive suite of integrated tests, and allows multiple methods associated with each test to explore consensus among data cleaning methods. It uniquely incorporates both coordinate accuracy analysis and environmental analysis of occurrence records. Furthermore, it provides a hierarchical structure to incorporate future tests yet to be developed.Main conclusionsoccTest will help users understand the quality and quantity of data available before the start of data analysis, while also enabling users to filter data using either predefined rules or custom‐built rules. As a result, occTest can better assess each record's appropriateness for its intended application.

Ramírez-Barahona, S. 2024. Incorporating fossils into the joint inference of phylogeny and biogeography of the tree fern order Cyatheales R. Warnock, and M. Zelditch [eds.],. Evolution. https://doi.org/10.1093/evolut/qpae034

Present-day geographic and phylogenetic patterns often reflect the geological and climatic history of the planet. Neontological distribution data are often sufficient to unravel a lineage’s biogeographic history, yet ancestral range inferences can be at odds with fossil evidence. Here, I use the fossilized birth–death process and the dispersal–extinction cladogenesis model to jointly infer the dated phylogeny and range evolution of the tree fern order Cyatheales. I use data for 101 fossil and 442 extant tree ferns to reconstruct the biogeographic history of the group over the last 220 million years. Fossil-aware reconstructions evince a prolonged occupancy of Laurasia over the Triassic–Cretaceous by Cyathealean tree ferns, which is evident in the fossil record but hidden from analyses relying on neontological data alone. Nonetheless, fossil-aware reconstructions are affected by uncertainty in fossils’ phylogenetic placement, taphonomic biases, and specimen sampling and are sensitive to interpretation of paleodistributions and how these are scored. The present results highlight the need and challenges of incorporating fossils into joint inferences of phylogeny and biogeography to improve the reliability of ancestral geographic range estimation.

Minghetti, E., P. M. Dellapé, M. Maestro, and S. I. Montemayor. 2024. Evaluating the climatic suitability of Engytatus passionarius Minghetti et al. (Heteroptera, Miridae) as a biological control agent of the invasive stinking passion flower Passiflora foetida L. in Australia through ecological niche models. Biological Control 191: 105461. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocontrol.2024.105461

Passiflora foetida is a climbing vine, native to the Neotropical Region that is causing major economic and ecological damage in Australia, where it is rapidly spreading. Traditional control options, such as cutting, manual uprooting, and herbicide applications are only effective for local management. Currently, the plant bug Engytatus passionarius is the most promising biological control agent. Specificity tests performed in its native range in Argentina suggest it is highly specific to the plant, and it has not been observed in the field associated with other plants. As climate determines the establishment of insects, knowing if the environmental conditions suit their requirements is key to introducing a species in a region. Also, an overlap between the climatic niches of species is an indicator of similar requirements. To explore the possibilities of a successful establishment of E. passionarius in Australia, ecological niche models (ENM) were built for the plant bug and for the vine and their overlap was measured. The ENM projected to Australia recognized suitable environmental conditions for the establishment of E. passionarius in several regions where P. foetida is present, both for current and future scenarios. Moreover, the niche of the plant bug is almost completely overlapped with that of the vine. All the aforementioned evidence seems to indicate that E. passionarius has a good chance to become an effective biological control agent of P. foetida.

Ziliaskopoulos, K., and C. Laspidou. 2024. Using remote-sensing and citizen-science data to assess urban biodiversity for sustainable cityscapes: the case study of Athens, Greece. Landscape Ecology 39. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10980-024-01793-4

Context Urban biodiversity is an important and growing research area as cities continue to expand and human populations concentrate in urban centers. In order to effectively conserve urban biodiversity and inform future urban planning, a thorough understanding of the patterns and underlying factors affecting biodiversity is essential. However, a methodology of assessing urban biodiversity that would be replicable to different cities has been challenging, primarily due to data limitation on habitats and species in urban areas. Objectives In response to these challenges, this work implements a biodiversity analysis framework, adapted for the municipality of Athens, Greece, a city that is facing its own unique challenges in preserving biodiversity while accommodating urban growth. The analysis granularity is at the zipcode level. Methods A k-means clustering scheme that leads to theclassification of urban habitats is incorporated using earth observation data, while citizen science-generated species occurrence data from the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) platform is used for biodiversity analysis and validation. This integrative approach allows us to account for fine-scale environmental variation, which plays a crucial role in species' abundances and distributions in urban settings. Results Our analysis shows that the fact that almost 80% of the Athens land cover is impervious and lacks vegetation has serious effects on biodiversity in the city, which is very limited and is only abundant in Urban Green areas. The city’s dense urban fabric, followed by intense cementification, lack of open streams and noisy large arterial roads take a toll on urban species occurrences, which are up to 100 times less than the green and blue areas. Conclusions This work highlights the significance of zipcode-level analyses in understanding the complex interplay between urbanization and biodiversity. Furthermore, it shows that it is possible to assess urban biodiversity using free and open satellite data, without previously acquiring a high-resolution species occurrence dataset through field surveys, thus providing a comprehensive understanding of urban biodiversity patterns in cities like Athens.

Silva-Valderrama, I., J.-R. Úrbez-Torres, and T. J. Davies. 2024. From host to host: The taxonomic and geographic expansion of Botryosphaeriaceae. Fungal Biology Reviews 48: 100352. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fbr.2023.100352

Fungal pathogens are responsible for 30% of emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) in plants. The risk of a pathogen emerging on a new host is strongly tied to its host breadth; however, the determinants of host range are still poorly understood. Here, we explore the factors that shape host breadth of plant pathogens within Botryosphaeriaceae, a fungal family associated with several devastating diseases in economically important crops. While most host plants are associated with just one or a few fungal species, some hosts appear to be susceptible to infection by multiple fungi. However, the variation in the number of fungal taxa recorded across hosts is not easily explained by heritable plant traits. Nevertheless, we reveal strong evolutionary conservatism in host breadth, with most fungi infecting closely related host plants, but with some notable exceptions that seem to have escaped phylogenetic constraints on host range. Recent anthropogenic movement of plants, including widespread planting of crops, has provided new opportunities for pathogen spillover. We suggest that constraints to pathogen distributions will likely be further disrupted by climate change, and we may see future emergence events in regions where hosts are present but current climate is unfavorable.

Qin, F., T. Xue, X. Zhang, X. Yang, J. Yu, S. R. Gadagkar, and S. Yu. 2023. Past climate cooling and orogenesis of the Hengduan Mountains have influenced the evolution of Impatiens sect. Impatiens (Balsaminaceae) in the Northern Hemisphere. BMC Plant Biology 23. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12870-023-04625-w

Background Impatiens sect. Impatiens is distributed across the Northern Hemisphere and has diversified considerably, particularly within the Hengduan Mountains (HDM) in southwest China. Yet, the infra-sectional phylogenetic relationships are not well resolved, largely due to limited taxon sampling and an insufficient number of molecular markers. The evolutionary history of its diversification is also poorly understood. In this study, plastome data and the most complete sampling to date were used to reconstruct a robust phylogenetic framework for this section. The phylogeny was then used to investigate its biogeographical history and diversification patterns, specifically with the aim of understanding the role played by the HDM and past climatic changes in its diversification. Results A stable phylogeny was reconstructed that strongly supported both the monophyly of the section and its division into seven major clades (Clades I-VII). Molecular dating and ancestral area reconstruction suggest that sect. Impatiens originated in the HDM and Southeast China around 11.76 Ma, after which different lineages dispersed to Northwest China, temperate Eurasia, and North America, mainly during the Pliocene and Pleistocene. An intercontinental dispersal event from East Asia to western North America may have occurred via the Bering Land Bridge or Aleutian Islands. The diversification rate was high during its early history, especially with the HDM, but gradually decreased over time both within and outside the HDM. Multiple linear regression analysis showed that the distribution pattern of species richness was strongly associated with elevation range, elevation, and mean annual temperature. Finally, ancestral niche analysis indicated that sect. Impatiens originated in a relatively cool, middle-elevation area. Conclusions We inferred the evolutionary history of sect. Impatiens based on a solid phylogenetic framework. The HDM was the primary source or pump of its diversity in the Northern Hemisphere. Orogeny and climate change may have also shaped its diversification rates, as a steady decrease in the diversification rate coincided with the uplift of the HDM and climate cooling. These findings provide insights into the distribution pattern of sect. Impatiens and other plants in the Northern Hemisphere.

Ambrosia trifida L. (Asteraceae) – североамериканское однолетнее растение, включенное в перечень карантинных объектов в Европе, в том числе в Российской Федерации и сопредельных странах. Об- суждаются результаты исследований 2017–2021 гг. по выявлению современного распространения и особенностей натурализации этого вида на европейской части России. Центрами массовой натура- лизации А. trifida на исследуемой территории являются Заволжье (Самарская область, юг Татарста- на), Предуралье (Оренбургская область, Башкортостан), Предволжье (запад Саратовской области), Хоперско-Бузулукская равнина (северо-запад Волгоградской области), юго-запад Окско-Донского плоскоместья и Калачская возвышенность (центр и юг Воронежской области). Анклавы в виде на- турализовавшихся популяций отмечены в Брянской и Владимирской областях, а также в городах Казань и Уфа. В дальнейшем можно ожидать распространение A. trifida на большой части европей- ской территории России.

ter Huurne, M. B., L. J. Potgieter, C. Botella, and D. M. Richardson. 2023. Melaleuca (Myrtaceae): Biogeography of an important genus of trees and shrubs in a changing world. South African Journal of Botany 162: 230–244. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sajb.2023.08.052

The number of naturalised and invasive woody plant species has increased rapidly in recent decades. Despite the increasing interest in tree and shrub invasions, little is known about the invasion ecology of most species. This paper explores the global movement of species in the genus Melaleuca (Myrtaceae; here including the genus Callistemon). We assess the global introduction history, distribution and biogeographic status of the genus. Various global species occurrence databases, citizen science (iNaturalist), and the literature were used.Seventy-two species [out of 386 Melaleuca species; 19%] have been introduced to at least 125 regions outside their native range. The main regions of global Melaleuca introductions are Southeast Asia, the southern parts of North America, south-eastern South America, southern Africa and Europe. The earliest record of a Melaleuca species outside of the native range of the genus is 1789. First records of Melaleuca species outside their native range were most commonly recorded in the 1960s, with records from all over the world. The main reasons for Melaleuca introductions were for use in the tea tree (pharmaceutical value) and ornamental horticulture industries. Melaleuca introductions, naturalizations and invasions are recent compared to many other woody plant taxa. Experiences in Florida and South Africa highlight the potential of Melaleuca species to spread rapidly and have significant ecological impacts. It is likely that the accumulating invasion debt will result in further naturalization and invasion of Melaleuca species in the future.

Kolanowska, M. 2023. Future distribution of the epiphytic leafless orchid (Dendrophylax lindenii), its pollinators and phorophytes evaluated using niche modelling and three different climate change projections. Scientific Reports 13. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-023-42573-5

The identification of future refugia for endangered species from the effects of global warming is crucial for improving their conservation. Because climate-driven shifts in ranges and local extinctions can result in a spatial mismatch with their symbiotic organisms, however, it is important to incorporate in niche modelling the ecological partners of the species studied. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of climate change on the distribution of suitable niches for the ghost orchid ( Dendrophylax lindenii ) and its phorophytes and pollinators. Thus, its five species of host trees and three pollen vectors were included in the analysis. Climatic preferences of all the species studied were evaluated. The modelling was based on three different climate change projections and four Shared Socio-economic Pathway trajectories. All the species analysed are characterized by narrow temperature tolerances, which with global warming are likely to result in local extinctions and range shifts. D. lindenii is likely to be subjected to a significant loss of suitable niches, but within a reduced geographical range, both host trees and pollen vectors will be available in the future. Future conservation of this orchid should focus on areas that are likely be suitable for it and its ecological partners.

Li, Y., F. Ding, M. Hao, S. Chen, D. Jiang, P. Fan, Y. Qian, et al. 2023. The implications for potential marginal land resources of cassava across worldwide under climate change challenges. Scientific Reports 13. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-023-42132-y

The demand for energy plants is foreseen to grow as worldwide energy and climate policies promote the use of bioenergy for climate change mitigation. To avoid competing with food production, it’s critical to assess future changes in marginal land availability for energy plant development. Using a machine learning method, boosted regression tree, this study modeled potential marginal land resources suitable for cassava under current and different climate change scenarios, based on cassava occurrence records and environmental covariates. The findings revealed that, currently, over 80% of the 1357.24 Mha of available marginal land for cassava cultivation is distributed in Africa and South America. Under three climate change scenarios, by 2030, worldwide suitable marginal land resources were predicted to grow by 39.71Mha, 66.21 Mha, and 39.31Mha for the RCP4.5, RCP6.0, and RCP8.5 scenarios, respectively; by 2050, the potential marginal land suitable for cassava will increase by 38.98Mha, 83.02 Mha, and 55.43Mha, respectively; by 2080, the global marginal land resources were estimated to rise by 40.82 Mha, 99.74 Mha, and 21.87 Mha from now, respectively. Our results highlight the impacts of climate change on potential marginal land resources of cassava across worldwide, which provide the basis for assessing bioenergy potential in the future.