Science Enabled by Specimen Data

Primananda, E., D. S. Rinandio, J. T. Hadiah, and I. Robiansyah. 2022. Global extinction risk reassessment of the threatened tree Vatica venulosa (Dipterocarpaceae). Pacific Conservation Biology. https://doi.org/10.1071/pc21072

Vatica venulosa is one of the Dipterocarpaceae species that is threatened with extinction. Distributed in Peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra and Borneo, the tree is classified as Critically Endangered by IUCN Red List (International Union for Conservation of Nature) based on an assessment conducted in 1998. This assessment, however, was only based on the populations in Sumatra and Peninsular Malaysia. Therefore, this study aims to update the global conservation status of V. venulosa using all the occurrence records across the species’ natural distribution. Reduction analysis and geographic range of the species were calculated based on the occurrence data stored in the Global Biodiversity Information Facility and scientific publications. Following IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria, the category Vulnerable (VU A4c) was proposed as the new global conservation status of the species. Under this category, V. venulosa is facing a high risk of extinction in the wild. Therefore, comprehensive conservation action is needed to prevent it from extinction.

Luo, W., J. S. Strijk, M. Barstow, and A. K. S. Wee. 2022. The role of protected areas in tropical tree conservation post-2020: A case study using threatened Dipterocarpaceae. Biological Conservation 272: 109634. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2022.109634

Protected areas (PAs) are key tools to prevent extinction and preserve ecosystem functions. As countries reiterated their commitment to expand the reach of PAs by up to 30 % by 2030, stronger purpose and pertinence in the establishment of PAs is needed to ensure effective conservation. In this study, we used Dipterocarpaceae as a proxy for threatened and ecologically important trees to determine the role of PAs in tree conservation and the potential shortfalls at a global scale. We quantified the overlap between the geo-referenced occurrence data of 433 Dipterocarpaceae species and the distribution of global PAs, followed by a conservation gap analysis on Borneo, the center of diversity of the family. We found that while Southeast Asia is the hotspot for species diversity and threat to Dipterocarpaceae, a high proportion of threatened species were found at the range edges of Dipterocarpaceae. Half of all the countries with Dipterocarpaceae met the Aichi Target 11 of designating at least 17 % of their land area as PAs, and most had <10 % of their total number of PAs being relevant to Dipterocarpaceae conservation. Our conservation gap analysis demonstrated that only 5.02 % of the total area of habitat (AOH) of endemic and Critically Endangered dipterocarps was formally protected, while 18.6 % of the total AOH was included in the Heart of Borneo complex. Our data highlights the need for a more effective global conservation gap analysis for threatened trees that could inform area-based conservation post-2020.

Pang, S. E. H., Y. Zeng, J. D. T. Alban, and E. L. Webb. 2022. Occurrence–habitat mismatching and niche truncation when modelling distributions affected by anthropogenic range contractions B. Leroy [ed.],. Diversity and Distributions 28: 1327–1343. https://doi.org/10.1111/ddi.13544

Aims Human-induced pressures such as deforestation cause anthropogenic range contractions (ARCs). Such contractions present dynamic distributions that may engender data misrepresentations within species distribution models. The temporal bias of occurrence data—where occurrences represent distributions before (past bias) or after (recent bias) ARCs—underpins these data misrepresentations. Occurrence–habitat mismatching results when occurrences sampled before contractions are modelled with contemporary anthropogenic variables; niche truncation results when occurrences sampled after contractions are modelled without anthropogenic variables. Our understanding of their independent and interactive effects on model performance remains incomplete but is vital for developing good modelling protocols. Through a virtual ecologist approach, we demonstrate how these data misrepresentations manifest and investigate their effects on model performance. Location Virtual Southeast Asia. Methods Using 100 virtual species, we simulated ARCs with 100-year land-use data and generated temporally biased (past and recent) occurrence datasets. We modelled datasets with and without a contemporary land-use variable (conventional modelling protocols) and with a temporally dynamic land-use variable. We evaluated each model's ability to predict historical and contemporary distributions. Results Greater ARC resulted in greater occurrence–habitat mismatching for datasets with past bias and greater niche truncation for datasets with recent bias. Occurrence–habitat mismatching prevented models with the contemporary land-use variable from predicting anthropogenic-related absences, causing overpredictions of contemporary distributions. Although niche truncation caused underpredictions of historical distributions (environmentally suitable habitats), incorporating the contemporary land-use variable resolved these underpredictions, even when mismatching occurred. Models with the temporally dynamic land-use variable consistently outperformed models without. Main conclusions We showed how these data misrepresentations can degrade model performance, undermining their use for empirical research and conservation science. Given the ubiquity of ARCs, these data misrepresentations are likely inherent to most datasets. Therefore, we present a three-step strategy for handling data misrepresentations: maximize the temporal range of anthropogenic predictors, exclude mismatched occurrences and test for residual data misrepresentations.

Xue, T., S. R. Gadagkar, T. P. Albright, X. Yang, J. Li, C. Xia, J. Wu, and S. Yu. 2021. Prioritizing conservation of biodiversity in an alpine region: Distribution pattern and conservation status of seed plants in the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. Global Ecology and Conservation 32: e01885. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gecco.2021.e01885

The Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau (QTP) harbors abundant and diverse plant life owing to its high habitat heterogeneity. However, the distribution pattern of biodiversity hotspots and their conservation status remain unclear. Based on 148,283 high-resolution occurrence coordinates of 13,450 seed plants, w…

Whitman, M., R. S. Beaman, R. Repin, K. Kitayama, S. Aiba, and S. E. Russo. 2021. Edaphic specialization and vegetation zones define elevational range‐sizes for Mt Kinabalu regional flora. Ecography 44: 1698–1709. https://doi.org/10.1111/ecog.05873

Identifying physical and ecological boundaries that limit where species can occur is important for predicting how those species will respond to global change. The island of Borneo encompasses a wide range of habitats that support some of the highest richness on Earth, making it an ideal location for…

Wang, C.-J., and J.-Z. Wan. 2021. Functional trait perspective on suitable habitat distribution of invasive plant species at a global scale. Perspectives in Ecology and Conservation 19: 475–486. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pecon.2021.07.002

Plant invasion has been proved to threaten biodiversity conservation and ecosystem maintenance at a global scale. It is a challenge to project suitable habitat distributions of invasive plant species (IPS) for invasion risk assessment at large spatial scales. Interaction outcomes between native and …

Pang, S. E. H., J. D. T. De Alban, and E. L. Webb. 2021. Effects of climate change and land cover on the distributions of a critical tree family in the Philippines. Scientific Reports 11. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-79491-9

Southeast Asian forests are dominated by the tree family Dipterocarpaceae, whose abundance and diversity are key to maintaining the structure and function of tropical forests. Like most biodiversity, dipterocarps are threatened by deforestation and climate change, so it is crucial to understand the …

Holzmeyer, L., A.-K. Hartig, K. Franke, W. Brandt, A. N. Muellner-Riehl, L. A. Wessjohann, and J. Schnitzler. 2020. Evaluation of plant sources for antiinfective lead compound discovery by correlating phylogenetic, spatial, and bioactivity data. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 117: 12444–12451. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1915277117

Antibiotic resistance and viral diseases are rising around the world and are becoming major threats to global health, food security, and development. One measure that has been suggested to mitigate this crisis is the development of new antibiotics. Here, we provide a comprehensive evaluation of the …

Li, M., J. He, Z. Zhao, R. Lyu, M. Yao, J. Cheng, and L. Xie. 2020. Predictive modelling of the distribution of Clematis sect. Fruticella s. str. under climate change reveals a range expansion during the Last Glacial Maximum. PeerJ 8: e8729. https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.8729

Background The knowledge of distributional dynamics of living organisms is a prerequisite for protecting biodiversity and for the sustainable use of biotic resources. Clematis sect. Fruticella s. str. is a small group of shrubby, yellow-flowered species distributed mainly in arid and semi-arid areas…

Ringelberg, J. J., N. E. Zimmermann, A. Weeks, M. Lavin, and C. E. Hughes. 2020. Biomes as evolutionary arenas: Convergence and conservatism in the trans‐continental succulent biome A. Moles [ed.],. Global Ecology and Biogeography 29: 1100–1113. https://doi.org/10.1111/geb.13089

Aim: Historically, biomes have been defined based on their structurally and functionally similar vegetation, but there is debate about whether these similarities are superficial, and about how biomes are defined and mapped. We propose that combined assessment of evolutionary convergence of plant fun…