Science Enabled by Specimen Data

Huang, T., J. Chen, K. E. Hummer, L. A. Alice, W. Wang, Y. He, S. Yu, et al. 2023. Phylogeny of Rubus (Rosaceae): Integrating molecular and morphological evidence into an infrageneric revision. TAXON.

Rubus (Rosaceae), one of the most complicated angiosperm genera, contains about 863 species, and is notorious for its taxonomic difficulty. The most recent (1910–1914) global taxonomic treatment of the genus was conducted by Focke, who defined 12 subgenera. Phylogenetic results over the past 25 years suggest that Focke's subdivisions of Rubus are not monophyletic, and large‐scale taxonomic revisions are necessary. Our objective was to provide a comprehensive phylogenetic analysis of the genus based on an integrative evidence approach. Morphological characters, obtained from our own investigation of living plants and examination of herbarium specimens are combined with chloroplast genomic data. Our dataset comprised 196 accessions representing 145 Rubus species (including cultivars and hybrids) and all of Focke's subgenera, including 60 endemic Chinese species. Maximum likelihood analyses inferred phylogenetic relationships. Our analyses concur with previous molecular studies, but with modifications. Our data strongly support the reclassification of several subgenera within Rubus. Our molecular analyses agree with others that only R. subg. Anoplobatus forms a monophyletic group. Other subgenera are para‐ or polyphyletic. We suggest a revised subgeneric framework to accommodate monophyletic groups. Character evolution is reconstructed, and diagnostic morphological characters for different clades are identified and discussed. Based on morphological and molecular evidence, we propose a new classification system with 10 subgenera: R. subg. Anoplobatus, R. subg. Batothamnus, R. subg. Chamaerubus, R. subg. Cylactis, R. subg. Dalibarda, R. subg. Idaeobatus, R. subg. Lineati, R. subg. Malachobatus, R. subg. Melanobatus, and R. subg. Rubus. The revised infrageneric nomenclature inferred from our analyses is provided along with synonymy and type citations. Our new taxonomic backbone is the first systematic and complete global revision of Rubus since Focke's treatment. It offers new insights into deep phylogenetic relationships of Rubus and has important theoretical and practical significance for the development and utilization of these important agronomic crops.

Chaudhary, C., J. M. Alfaro-Lucas, M. V. P. Simões, A. Brandt, and H. Saeedi. 2023. Potential geographic shifts in the coral reef ecosystem under climate change. Progress in Oceanography 213: 103001.

The coral reefs are the most diverse marine ecosystem in the world. Considering its contribution as a natural resource for humanity and global biodiversity, it is critical to understand its response to climatic change. To date, no global predictions have been made about potential ecosystem changes in relation to its inhabiting species. Predicting changes in species' climatic suitability under increasing temperature and comparing them among species would be the first step in understanding the geographic and taxonomic coherence and discrepancies that may occur within the ecosystem. Using 57 species-specific global climate suitability models (of corals, molluscs, fish, crustaceans, and polychaetes) under present and future climate scenarios (RCP 4.5 and 8.5), we compared the potential coherence and differences and their cumulative impact on the ecosystem in warm, cold, shallow, and deep waters.Under the climatic scenarios, nearly 90% of 30 warm-water species were predicted to lose their suitability in the parts of the Indo-west Pacific, the Coast of Northern Australia, the South China Sea, the Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico, resulting in the overall southward shift in their distributions. In contrast, a mixed response occurred in 27 cold-water species, with most northern temperate/boreal ones increasing their suitability in the Arctic Ocean and the Arctic species declining overall. We noticed that irrespective of their taxonomic group, the species with wider distribution ranges (thermal and geographic) had larger predicted gains in their suitability than their stenothermal counterparts, suggesting an increase of generalist species and a decline of specialist (endemic) species of the ecosystem under a warming climate.Our coherent projections of species' climatic suitability in warm and cold habitats of the tropics, temperate, boreal, and the Arctic, represent significant taxonomic groups of the ecosystem. This might indicate mass extinction risk (local– in the tropics and northern temperate regions, and overall– in the Arctic) in native habitats and a high species turnover across the ecosystem under a warming climate. This may also destabilise predator–prey dynamics in the ecosystem, especially if foraging specialists dominate coral food webs and adversely affect the associated countries. Our global projections highlight the regions of species’ potential loss and gain; stakeholders could use the information to protect biodiversity and maintain human well-being.

Rahman, W., J. Magos Brehm, and N. Maxted. 2023. The impact of climate change on the future distribution of priority crop wild relatives in Indonesia and implications for conservation planning. Journal for Nature Conservation 73: 126368.

The analysis of climate change impact is essential to include in conservation planning of crop wild relatives (CWR) to provide the guideline for adequate long-term protection under unpredictable future environmental conditions. These resources play an important role in sustaining the future of food security, but the evidence shows that they are threatened by climate change. The current analyses show that five taxa were predicted to have contraction of more than 30 % of their current ranges: Artocarpus sepicanus (based on RCP 4.5 in both no dispersal and unlimited dispersal scenario and RCP 8.5 in no dispersal scenario by 2050), Ficus oleifolia (RCP 4.5 5 in both no dispersal and unlimited dispersal scenario by 2080), Cocos nucifera and Dioscorea alata (RCP 8.5 in both no dispersal and unlimited dispersal scenario by 2050), and Ficus chartacea (RCP 8.5 in both no dispersal and unlimited dispersal scenario by 2050 and 2080). It shows that the climate change impact is species-specific. Representative Concentration Pathways (RCP) of greenhouse gas (GHG) emission and dispersal scenarios influence the prediction models, and the actual future distribution range of species falls in between those scenarios. Climate refugia, holdout populations, and non-analogue community assemblages were identified based on the Protected Areas (PAs) network. PAs capacity is considered an important element in implementing a conservation strategy for the priority CWR. In areas where PAs are isolated and have less possibility to build corridors to connect each other, such as in Java, unlimited dispersal scenarios are unlikely to be achieved and assisted dispersal is suggested. The holdout populations should be the priority target for the ex situ collection. Therefore, by considering the climate refugia, PAs capacity and holdout populations, the goal of keeping high genetic variations for the long-term conservation of CWR in Indonesia can be achieved.

Reichgelt, T., A. Baumgartner, R. Feng, and D. A. Willard. 2023. Poleward amplification, seasonal rainfall and forest heterogeneity in the Miocene of the eastern USA. Global and Planetary Change 222: 104073.

Paleoclimate reconstructions can provide a window into the environmental conditions in Earth history when atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations were higher than today. In the eastern USA, paleoclimate reconstructions are sparse, because terrestrial sedimentary deposits are rare. Despite this, the eastern USA has the largest population and population density in North America, and understanding the effects of current and future climate change is of vital importance. Here, we provide terrestrial paleoclimate reconstructions of the eastern USA from Miocene fossil floras. Additionally, we compare proxy paleoclimate reconstructions from the warmest period in the Miocene, the Miocene Climatic Optimum (MCO), to those of an MCO Earth System Model. Reconstructed Miocene temperatures and precipitation north of 35°N are higher than modern. In contrast, south of 35°N, temperatures and precipitation are similar to today, suggesting a poleward amplification effect in eastern North America. Reconstructed Miocene rainfall seasonality was predominantly higher than modern, regardless of latitude, indicating greater variability in intra-annual moisture transport. Reconstructed climates are almost uniformly in the temperate seasonal forest biome, but heterogeneity of specific forest types is evident. Reconstructed Miocene terrestrial temperatures from the eastern USA are lower than modeled temperatures and coeval Atlantic sea surface temperatures. However, reconstructed rainfall is consistent with modeled rainfall. Our results show that during the Miocene, climate was most different from modern in the northeastern states, and may suggest a drastic reduction in the meridional temperature gradient along the North American east coast compared to today.

Rifki Hariri, M., A. S. Dwipa Irsyam, R. Ratnasih Irwanto, and K. Kusnadi. 2022. The Extended Distributional Areas of Solanum lasiocarpum (Solanaceae) in Sumatra, Indonesia. Jurnal Penelitian Hutan dan Konservasi Alam 19: 279–286.

Solanum is one of Solanaceae's largest genera, where some species are usually used as food and medicine. Until recently, 15 species of Solanum subg. Leptostemonum has been listed in Sumatra, Indonesia. Solanum lasiocarpum Dunal is a native Leptostemonum found in Indonesia. S. lasiocarpum was only recorded in Northern Sumatra by several botanists. In 2019, S. lasiocarpum was also reported from Bengkulu, but there were still doubts about these findings. During the expedition of invasive alien plant species in Padang Bindu, Sumatra Selatan, in May 2021, we discovered S. lasiocarpum with different noticeable characteristics from S. lasiocarpum, which was previously found in Bengkulu. Detailed examination of the morphological characters, our study revealed that that species was S. lasiocarpum. This finding suggested an extended distributional record for S. lasiocarpum in Sumatra.

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.

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.

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.

Moreno, I., J. M. W. Gippet, L. Fumagalli, and P. J. Stephenson. 2022. Factors affecting the availability of data on East African wildlife: the monitoring needs of conservationists are not being met. Biodiversity and Conservation.

Understanding the status and abundance of species is essential for effective conservation decision-making. However, the availability of species data varies across space, taxonomic groups and data types. A case study was therefore conducted in a high biodiversity region—East Africa—to evaluate data biases, the factors influencing data availability, and the consequences for conservation. In each of the eleven target countries, priority animal species were identified as threatened species that are protected by national governments, international conventions or conservation NGOs. We assessed data gaps and biases in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility and the Living Planet Index. A survey of practitioners and decision makers was conducted to confirm and assess consequences of these biases on biodiversity conservation efforts. Our results showed data on species occurrence and population trends were available for a significantly higher proportion of vertebrates than invertebrates. We observed a geographical bias, with higher tourism income countries having more priority species and more species with data than lower tourism income countries. Conservationists surveyed felt that, of the 40 types of data investigated, those data that are most important to conservation projects are the most difficult to access. The main challenges to data accessibility are excessive expense, technological challenges, and a lack of resources to process and analyse data. With this information, practitioners and decision makers can prioritise how and where to fill gaps to improve data availability and use, and ensure biodiversity monitoring is improved and conservation impacts enhanced.

Ng, S. Z. H., Y. X. Ow, and Z. Jaafar. 2022. Dugongs (Dugong dugon) along hyper-urbanized coastlines. Frontiers in Marine Science 9.

Coastal development and the increased anthropogenic use of sea spaces have rapidly degraded coastal habitats throughout Southeast Asia. We study how these activities impact dugong (Dugong dugon) population(s) along hyper-urbanized coastlines of the Johor and Singapore Straits through literature reviews and field surveys. Our review recovered sixty-nine live observations and carcass observations of dugongs between 1820 and 2021. The eastern Johor Strait is identified as a dugong hotspot. We observed peaks in observations coincident with the Northeast and Southwest monsoons. Distribution patterns of dugong observations were likely driven by a combination of natural and anthropogenic factors such as seasonality in seagrass abundance, tidal cycles, wind patterns and vessel traffic. Our field surveys ascertained active foraging sites along the anthropogenically disturbed Johor Strait and western Singapore Strait. Evident from our study is the importance of reef-associated seagrass meadows as refugia for foraging dugongs along areas of high anthropogenic use. This study provides an ecological baseline for dugong research along the Johor and Singapore Straits—within the data-poor western Malay Archipelago—, and aids in the design of sustainable management strategies and conservation programs for dugongs along areas where urbanization is commonplace.

Arana, C., V. Pulido, A. Arana, A. Carlos, and L. Salinas. 2022. Distribución geográfica y abundancia poblacional de Plegadis ridgwayi, el ibis de la Puna (Threskiornithidae) con énfasis en las poblaciones del Perú. Revista Peruana de Biología 29: e22533.

El ibis de la puna Plegadis ridgwayi, es una especie de Threskiornithidae que habita humedales andinos y realiza migraciones altitudinales hacia la costa. Datos propios, de GBIF, información bibliográfica y del Censo Neotropical de Aves Acuáticas (1992 a 2015) muestran que el ibis de la puna Plegadis ridgwayi se distribuye en Ecuador, Perú, Bolivia, Argentina y Chile, con las mayores densidades poblacionales en Perú y Bolivia en siete y tres localidades respectivamente, que acumulan más del 1% de la población biogeográfica. Se encuentran de 0 a 5000 m de altitud, con las mayores densidades entre 3000 a 4500 m y 0 a 500 m. La mayor incidencia de registros ocurre al sur y centro del Perú, así como costa del centro y norte del Perú. La ampliación de la distribución hacia el norte y costa peruana puede deberse a la disponibilidad ambiental y al deterioro de su hábitat andino. En cuatro humedales costeros del centro del Perú se registraron hasta 818 ibis en 2006, la gran mayoría en Pantanos de Villa y Paraíso. El número de migrantes costeros parece relacionado a la intensidad de sequías en la sierra del Perú central. La abundancia de ibis en el lago altoandino de Junín muestra una disminución histórica, con énfasis después de la sequía de 2004-2005. La expansión distribucional requiere investigar la posible hibridación con las otras especies del género antes alopátridas.