Science Enabled by Specimen Data

Kendig, A. E., S. Canavan, P. J. Anderson, S. L. Flory, L. A. Gettys, D. R. Gordon, B. V. Iannone III, et al. 2022. Scanning the horizon for invasive plant threats using a data-driven approach. NeoBiota 74: 129–154. https://doi.org/10.3897/neobiota.74.83312

AbstractEarly detection and eradication of invasive plants are more cost-effective than managing well-established invasive plant populations and their impacts. However, there is high uncertainty around which taxa are likely to become invasive in a given area. Horizon scanning that combines a data-driven approach with rapid risk assessment and consensus building among experts can help identify invasion threats. We performed a horizon scan of potential invasive plant threats to Florida, USA—a state with a high influx of introduced species, conditions that are generally favorable for plant establishment, and a history of negative impacts from invasive plants. We began with an initial list of 2128 non-native plant taxa that are known invaders or crop pests. We built on previous invasive species horizon scans by developing data-based criteria to prioritize 100 taxa for rapid risk assessment. The semi-automated prioritization process included selecting taxa “on the horizon” (i.e., not yet in the target location and not on a noxious weed list) with climate matching, naturalization history, “weediness” record, and global commonness. We derived overall invasion risk scores with rapid risk assessment by evaluating the likelihood of each of the taxa arriving, establishing, and having an impact in Florida. Then, following a consensus-building discussion, we identified six plant taxa as high risk, with overall risk scores ranging from 75 to 100 out of a possible 125. The six taxa are globally distributed, easily transported to new areas, found in regions with climates similar to Florida’s, and can impact native plant communities, human health, or agriculture. Finally, we evaluated our initial and final lists for potential biases. Assessors tended to assign higher risk scores to taxa that had more available information. In addition, we identified biases towards four plant families and certain geographical regions of origin. Our horizon scan approach identified taxa conforming to metrics of high invasion risk and used a methodology refined for plants that can be applied to other locations.

Zhang, N., Z. Liao, S. Wu, M. P. Nobis, J. Wang, and N. Wu. 2021. Impact of climate change on wheat security through an alternate host of stripe rust. Food and Energy Security 11. https://doi.org/10.1002/fes3.356

In the 21st century, stripe rust, caused by Puccinia striiformis f. sp. tritici (Pst), is still the most devastating disease of wheat globally. Despite the critical roles of the alternate host plants, the Berberis species, in the sexual reproduction and spread of Pst, the climate change impacts on t…

Popov, S. Yu. 2021. Northern distribution limits of Sphagnum wulfianum (Sphagnaceae, Bryophyta) in the Northern Palearctic – records from tundra: coincidence or rule? Novosti sistematiki nizshikh rastenii 55: 475–486. https://doi.org/10.31111/nsnr/2021.55.2.475

Sphagnum wulfianum is a widespread circumboreal species in the Northern Hemisphere. The distribution of this species in the Northern Palearctic was studied by generalizing and combining data from open sources (GBIF, literature data) and herbarium samples from LE, MW, NSK, and MHA into a single datab…

Vasconcelos, T., J. D. Boyko, and J. M. Beaulieu. 2021. Linking mode of seed dispersal and climatic niche evolution in flowering plants. Journal of Biogeography. https://doi.org/10.1111/jbi.14292

Aim: Due to the sessile nature of flowering plants, movements to new geographical areas occur mainly during seed dispersal. Frugivores tend to be efficient dispersers because animals move within the boundaries of their preferable niches, so seeds are more likely to be transported to environments tha…

Van Natto, A. C., and C. G. Eckert. 2021. Genetic and conservation significance of populations at the polar vs. equatorial range limits of the Pacific coastal dune endemic Abronia umbellata (Nyctaginaceae). Conservation Genetics 23: 255–269. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10592-021-01409-3

Whether geographically peripheral populations are worth conserving has been hotly debated yet remains unresolved. This is especially relevant in high-latitude countries where, within their political jurisdictions, many species reach their range limits as peripheral isolates and require conservation …

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…

Miller, E. F., R. E. Green, A. Balmford, P. Maisano Delser, R. Beyer, M. Somveille, M. Leonardi, et al. 2021. Bayesian Skyline Plots disagree with range size changes based on Species Distribution Models for Holarctic birds. Molecular Ecology 30: 3993–4004. https://doi.org/10.1111/mec.16032

During the Quaternary, large climate oscillations impacted the distribution and demography of species globally. Two approaches have played a major role in reconstructing changes through time: Bayesian Skyline Plots (BSPs), which reconstruct population fluctuations based on genetic data, and Species …

de Oliveira, M. H. V., B. M. Torke, and T. E. Almeida. 2021. An inventory of the ferns and lycophytes of the Lower Tapajós River Basin in the Brazilian Amazon reveals collecting biases, sampling gaps, and previously undocumented diversity. Brittonia 73: 459–480. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12228-021-09668-7

Ferns and lycophytes are an excellent group for conservation and species distribution studies because they are closely related to environmental changes. In this study, we analyzed collection gaps, sampling biases, richness distribution, and the species conservation effectiveness of protected areas i…

Goodwin, Z. A., P. Muñoz-Rodríguez, D. J. Harris, T. Wells, J. R. I. Wood, D. Filer, and R. W. Scotland. 2020. How long does it take to discover a species? Systematics and Biodiversity 18: 784–793. https://doi.org/10.1080/14772000.2020.1751339

The description of a new species is a key step in cataloguing the World’s flora. However, this is only a preliminary stage in a long process of understanding what that species represents. We investigated how long the species discovery process takes by focusing on three key stages: 1, the collection …

Prieto-Torres, D. A., A. Lira-Noriega, and A. G. Navarro-Sigüenza. 2020. Climate change promotes species loss and uneven modification of richness patterns in the avifauna associated to Neotropical seasonally dry forests. Perspectives in Ecology and Conservation 18: 19–30. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pecon.2020.01.002

We assessed the effects of global climate change as a driver of spatio-temporal biodiversity patterns in bird assemblages associated to Neotropical seasonally dry forests (NSDF). For this, we estimated the geographic distribution of 719 bird species under current and future climate (2050 and 2070) p…