Science Enabled by Specimen Data

Baltensperger, A., J. Hagelin, P. Schuette, A. Droghini, and K. Ott. 2022. High dietary and habitat diversity indicate generalist behaviors of northern bog lemmings Synaptomys borealis in Alaska, USA. Endangered Species Research 49: 145–158.

The northern bog lemming Synaptomys borealis (NBL) is a rare small mammal that is undergoing a federal Species Status Assessment (SSA) under the US Endangered Species Act. Despite a wide North American distribution, very little is known about NBL dietary or habitat needs, both of which are germane to the resiliency of this species to climate change. To quantify diet composition of NBL in Alaska, we used DNA metabarcoding from 59 archived specimens to describe the taxonomic richness and relative abundance of foods in recent diets. DNA analyses revealed a broad diet composed of at least 110 families and 92 genera of bryophytes (mosses and liverworts), graminoids, fungi, forbs, and woody shrubs. Nine bryophyte genera and Carex sedges composed the largest portions of NBL diets. To quantify habitat preference, we intersected 467 georeferenced occurrence records of NBL in Alaska with remotely sensed land cover classes and used a compositional analysis framework that accounts for the relative abundance of land cover types. We did not detect significant habitat preferences for specific land cover types, although NBL frequently occurred in evergreen forest, woody wetlands, and adjacent to water. Our research highlights the importance of bryophytes, among a high diversity of dietary components, and describes NBL as boreal habitat generalists. Results will inform the current federal SSA by quantifying the extent to which ecological constraints are likely to affect NBL in a rapidly changing boreal environment.

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.

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.

Gougherty, A. V., S. R. Keller, and M. C. Fitzpatrick. 2022. Do genetically informed distribution models improve range predictions in past climates? A case study with balsam poplar. Frontiers of Biogeography 14.

Species distribution models (SDMs) are one of the most widely used approaches to predict changes in habitat suitability in response to climate change. However, as typically implemented, SDMs treat species as genetically uniform throughout their ranges and thereby ignore potentially important genetic differences between populations. While numerous studies have used SDMs to model genetically based subgroupings within species, the ability of such models to be transferred to new times has rarely been evaluated. Here, we used standard and genetically informed distribution models (gSDMs) to predict the future and past range of balsam poplar (Populus balsamifera L.). We then assessed model transferability of standard SDMs and gSDMs using balsam poplar fossil pollen and macrofossil occurrences. In general, standard and gSDMs performed similarly through time, with both predicting a northward expanding range from refugia as glaciers receded over the past 22 ky BP and declining suitable area in future climates. Both standard and gSDMs showed moderate abilities to distinguish balsam poplar fossils from pseudo-absences but tended to predict lower suitability at fossil sites during the Pleistocene-Holocene transition. Although gSDMs applied to balsam poplar did not prove more transferable than standard SDMs, they provided numerous unique insights, such as the change in suitable area of genetic clusters through time and potential refugial locations. We argue more research is needed to determine which species may benefit most from the gSDM approach and to test gSDMs with temporally or spatially independent occurrences, as is often recommended for standard SDMs.

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.

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.

Ward, S. F., E. G. Brockerhoff, R. M. Turner, T. Yamanaka, L. Marini, S. Fei, and A. M. Liebhold. 2022. Prevalence and drivers of a tree-killing bark beetle, Ips typographus (Coleoptera, Scolytinae), in international invasion pathways into the USA. Journal of Pest Science.

The unintentional transport of insects beyond their native ranges has greatly increased with globalization over the past century, leading to higher propagule pressure in non-native ranges of many species. Knowledge about the prevalence of a species in international invasion pathways is important for predicting invasions and taking appropriate biosecurity measures. We investigated the spatiotemporal patterns and drivers of interceptions—detections of at least one individual with imported goods that potentially serve as a proxy for arrival rates—for a tree-killing bark beetle, the European spruce bark beetle ( Ips typographus L.; Coleoptera: Curculionidae: Scolytinae), in the USA from 1914 to 2008. Across the study period, there were 505 interceptions of I. typographus with shipments originating from > 25 countries at ports in 22 US states. Interceptions first occurred in 1938, peaked at 33 and 25 in 1984 and 1996, respectively, and declined after the mid-1990s. Interceptions of I. typographus did not have a statistically detectable relationship with outbreak levels in the native range, were inversely related to annual import volume (an artifact likely driven by changes in inspection policies), and were more frequent during the winter. Thus, while interceptions of I. typographus are challenging to predict, we found evidence that (i) biosecurity practices against this beetle could be increased during winter but not in response to outbreaks in source regions and (ii) the overall abundance of this beetle in invasion pathways has recently decreased, probably because strengthened phytosanitary protocols have reduced contamination levels and/or decreased the perceived need for inspections.

Lu, L.-L., B.-H. Jiao, F. Qin, G. Xie, K.-Q. Lu, J.-F. Li, B. Sun, et al. 2022. Artemisia pollen dataset for exploring the potential ecological indicators in deep time. Earth System Science Data 14: 3961–3995.

Abstract. Artemisia, along with Chenopodiaceae, is the dominant component growing in the desert and dry grassland of the Northern Hemisphere. Artemisia pollen with its high productivity, wide distribution, and easy identification is usually regarded as an eco-indicator for assessing aridity and distinguishing grassland from desert vegetation in terms of the pollen relative abundance ratio of Chenopodiaceae/Artemisia (C/A). Nevertheless, divergent opinions on the degree of aridity evaluated by Artemisia pollen have been circulating in the palynological community for a long time. To solve the confusion, we first selected 36 species from nine clades and three outgroups of Artemisia based on the phylogenetic framework, which attempts to cover the maximum range of pollen morphological variation. Then, sampling, experiments, photography, and measurements were taken using standard methods. Here, we present pollen datasets containing 4018 original pollen photographs, 9360 pollen morphological trait measurements, information on 30 858 source plant occurrences, and corresponding environmental factors. Hierarchical cluster analysis on pollen morphological traits was carried out to subdivide Artemisia pollen into three types. When plotting the three pollen types of Artemisia onto the global terrestrial biomes, different pollen types of Artemisia were found to have different habitat ranges. These findings change the traditional concept of Artemisia being restricted to arid and semi-arid environments. The data framework that we designed is open and expandable for new pollen data of Artemisia worldwide. In the future, linking pollen morphology with habitat via these pollen datasets will create additional knowledge that will increase the resolution of the ecological environment in the geological past. The Artemisia pollen datasets are freely available at Zenodo (; Lu et al., 2022).

Migicovsky, Z., B. Amyotte, J. Ulrich, T. W. Smith, N. J. Turner, J. Pico, C. Ciotir, et al. 2022. Berries as a case study for crop wild relative conservation, use, and public engagement in Canada. PLANTS, PEOPLE, PLANET.

Societal impact statement Plant biodiversity is fundamental to the future of food security and agriculture. Berries are the most economically important fruit crops in Canada. Within this article, we explore the nutritional, cultural, and botanical importance of berries, including crop wild relatives (plant species that are closely related to domesticated crops) and plants that are significant to Indigenous Peoples. Using berries as a case study, we explore opportunities for the conservation, use, and public engagement of crop wild relatives. Our objective is to lay the groundwork for future collaborative efforts across these diverse plants. Summary Conservation of plant biodiversity, in particular crop wild relatives including those tended and cultivated by Indigenous Peoples, is critical to food security and agriculture. Building on the 2019 road map for crop wild relatives, we examine berries as a case study for crop wild relative conservation, use, and public engagement. We focus on berries due not only to their economic, cultural, and nutritional importance but also because they are consumed fresh, providing a unique opportunity for individuals and communities to connect with plants. We outline health benefits, geographic distribution, and species at risk for Canadian berries. We describe practices, strategies, and approaches used by Indigenous Peoples to steward berries and emphasize the importance of traditional knowledge. We highlight opportunities for in situ and ex situ berry conservation and use of berries in plant breeding and Indigenous foodways. Our aim is to lay the groundwork for future collaborative efforts in these areas and to showcase berries as a useful case study for conservation of food plant biodiversity and public engagement.

Hirabayashi, K., S. J. Murch, and L. A. E. Erland. 2022. Predicted impacts of climate change on wild and commercial berry habitats will have food security, conservation and agricultural implications. Science of The Total Environment 845: 157341.

Climate change is now a reality and is altering ecosystems, with Canada experiencing 2–4 times the global average rate of warming. This will have a critical impact on berry cultivation and horticulture. Enhancing our understanding of how wild and cultivated berries will perform under changing climates will be essential to mitigating impacts on ecosystems, culture and food security. Our objective was to predict the impact of climate change on habitat suitability of four berry producing Vaccinium species: two species with primarily northern distributions (V. uliginosum, V. vitis-idaea), one species with a primarily southern distribution (V. oxycoccos), and the commercially cultivated V. macrocarpon. We used the maximum entropy (Maxent) model and the CMIP6 shared socioeconomic pathways (SSPs) 126 and 585 projected to 2041–2060 and 2061–2080. Wild species showed a uniform northward progression and expansion of suitable habitat. Our modeling predicts that suitable growing regions for commercial cranberries are also likely to shift with some farms becoming unsuitable for the current varieties and other regions becoming more suitable for cranberry farms. Both V. macrocarpon and V. oxycoccos showed a high dependence on precipitation-associated variables. Vaccinium vitis-idaea and V. uliginosum had a greater number of variables with smaller contributions which may improve their resilience to individual climactic events. Future competition between commercial cranberry farms and wild berries in protected areas could lead to conflicts between agriculture and conservation priorities. New varieties of commercial berries are required to maintain current commercial berry farms.

Woods, E. C., and S. E. Sultan. 2022. Post‐introduction evolution of a rapid life‐history strategy in a newly invasive plant. Ecology.

A central question in invasion biology is whether adaptive trait evolution following species introduction promotes invasiveness. A growing number of common‐garden experiments document phenotypic differences between native‐ and introduced‐range plants, suggesting that adaptive evolution in the new range may indeed contribute to the success of invasive plants. Yet these studies are often subject to methodological pitfalls, resulting in weak evidence for post‐introduction adaptive trait evolution and leaving uncertain its role in the invasion process. In a common‐garden glasshouse study, we compared the growth, life‐history, and reproductive traits of 35 native‐ and introduced‐range Polygonum cespitosum populations. We used complementary approaches including climate‐matching, standardizing parental conditions, selection analysis, and testing for trait‐environment relationships to determine whether traits that increase invasiveness adaptively evolved in the species' new range. We found that the majority of introduced‐range populations exhibited a novel trait syndrome consisting of a fast‐paced life history and concomitant sparse, reduced growth form. Selection analysis confirmed that this trait syndrome led to markedly higher fitness (propagule production) over a limited growing season characteristic of regions within the introduced range. Additionally, several growth and reproductive traits showed temperature‐based clines consistent with adaptive evolution in the new range. Combined, these results indicate that, subsequent to its introduction to North America over 100 generations ago, P. cespitosum has evolved key traits that maximize propagule production. These changes may in part explain the species' recent transition to invasiveness, illustrating how post‐introduction evolution may contribute to the invasion process.

Ulrich, J. C., T. L. Moreau, E. Luna‐Perez, K. I. S. Beckett, L. K. Simon, Z. Migicovsky, A. Diederichsen, and C. K. Khoury. 2022. An inventory of crop wild relatives and wild‐utilized plants in Canada. Crop Science.

In the face of global pressures of change and biodiversity loss, crop wild relatives (CWR) and wild‐utilized plants (WUS) urgently require conservation attention. To advance conservation, we assembled a national inventory of CWR and WUS in Canada. To assess current ex situ conservation, we gathered a virtual metacollection of CWR and WUS accession data from national genebanks and from botanical gardens. The inventory includes 779 CWR and WUS taxa (658 distinct species), with 263 (222 distinct species) that are related to food crops of global and national importance such as blueberry and cranberry, apple, stone fruits, strawberry, sunflower and saskatoon. Sixty‐one food crop CWR taxa are prioritized for breeding potential, and sixteen due to conservation threats. Although most food crop CWR are represented in ex situ collections (91% of species), representation of within‐species diversity is low (median = 5% of Canadian ecogeographic types represented per species). Poor representation of within‐species diversity demands an integrative conservation strategy that emphasizes in situ protection especially focusing on wild‐populations in Canada's southern ecoregions where diversity is concentrated. While genebank collections represent more species and higher accession counts per species, botanical gardens include living collections of charismatic fruit crop relatives and other woody‐perennials that are well situated to advance conservation by raising broader awareness of CWR and WUS. To promote further conservation, we present a web application that enables conservation planners and practitioners to identify local CWR and WUS diversity and to identify within‐species ecogeographic types that are underrepresented in ex situ conservation systems.