Science Enabled by Specimen Data

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).

Ar, B., G. Tuttu, D. Gülçin, A. U. Özcan, E. Kara, M. Sürmen, K. Çiçek, and J. Velázquez. 2022. Response of an Invasive Plant Species (Cynanchum acutum L.) to Changing Climate Conditions and Its Impact on Agricultural Landscapes. Land 11: 1438.

Forecasting the distribution patterns of invasive weed species under changing climate conditions is critical for the early identification of especially vulnerable regions and the implementation of effective preventive measures. In this study, the current and potential range of stranglewort (Cynanchum acutum L.)—an invasive alien species (IAS) in certain regions—are predicted under various climate scenarios, using the maximum entropy algorithm. Species occurrence data representing the natural distribution of C. acutum and 15 of the WorldClim bioclimatic variables are used. With an ensemble method, the impact of climate change on the distribution of the species is predicted according to five CMIP6 climate change models and three scenarios (optimistic: SSP245; middle of the road: SSP370; and pessimistic: SSP585). According to the findings, it is predicted in all scenarios that C. acutum could expand its range to the north, particularly in agricultural landscapes. Therefore, the invasive status of this species will likely continue in the future. This emphasizes the need to determine the priority of conservation targets, especially for agricultural areas, to ensure food safety and protect biodiversity.

Coca‐de‐la‐Iglesia, M., N. G. Medina, J. Wen, and V. Valcárcel. 2022. Evaluation of the tropical‐temperate transitions: An example of climatic characterization in the Asian Palmate group of Araliaceae. American Journal of Botany.

(no abstract available)

Yang, L., N. Zerega, A. Montgomery, and D. E. Horton. 2022. Potential of breadfruit cultivation to contribute to climate-resilient low latitude food systems T. E. Epule [ed.],. PLOS Climate 1: e0000062.

The number of people in food crisis around the world is increasing, exacerbated by COVID-19, conflict, and climate change. Major crop yields are projected to decrease in low-latitude regions, making tropical and sub-tropical food systems particularly vulnerable. Increased cultivation of breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis), a neglected and underutilized species (NUS), has the potential to enhance climate resilience and overall sustainability of low-latitude agricultural systems. To better understand breadfruit’s cultivation suitability and geographic range in current and future climates, we use breadfruit presence data collected from previous studies and a global citizen science database, and a selection of bioclimactic variables, to build an ensemble of 6 species distribution models that delineate the current climatically viable breadfruit range. We then assess the climatically viable future breadfruit range (2061–2080) under stabilization and high emission scenarios using an ensemble of 8 global circulation model (GCM) projections. The area of suitable breadfruit range within the global tropics and subtropics is projected to decrease ~4.4% in the stabilization scenario and ~4.5% in the high emission scenario. In Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands, yield quality and consistency show minimal decreases under the high emission scenario, with increases in total suitable area under both. In contrast, in Latin America and the Caribbean, the current suitable breadfruit range is projected to contract ~10.1–11.5% (stabilization-high emission). Present and future model suitability outputs suggest opportunities to successfully expand breadfruit cultivation over the next decades in sub-Saharan Africa, where food insecurity is coincidentally high. However, in all regions, high emission scenario conditions reduce the overall consistency and quality of breadfruit yields compared to the stabilization scenario. Our results have the potential to inform global food security adaptation planning, highlighting breadfruit as an ideal NUS to incorporate in food security adaptation strategies.

Amaral, D. T., I. A. S. Bonatelli, M. Romeiro-Brito, E. M. Moraes, and F. F. Franco. 2022. Spatial patterns of evolutionary diversity in Cactaceae show low ecological representation within protected areas. Biological Conservation 273: 109677.

Mapping biodiversity patterns across taxa and environments is crucial to address the evolutionary and ecological dimensions of species distribution, suggesting areas of particular importance for conservation purposes. Within Cactaceae, spatial diversity patterns are poorly explored, as are the abiotic factors that may predict these patterns. We gathered geographic and genetic data from 921 cactus species by exploring both the occurrence and genetic databases, which are tightly associated with drylands, to evaluate diversity patterns, such as phylogenetic diversity and endemism, paleo-, neo-, and superendemism, and the environmental predictor variables of such patterns in a global analysis. Hotspot areas of cacti diversity are scattered along the Neotropical and Nearctic regions, mainly in the desertic portion of Mesoamerica, Caribbean Island, and the dry diagonal of South America. The geomorphological features of these regions may create a complexity of areas that work as locally buffered zones over time, which triggers local events of diversification and speciation. Desert and dryland/dry forest areas comprise paleo- and superendemism and may act as both museums and cradles of species, displaying great importance for conservation. Past climates, topography, soil features, and solar irradiance seem to be the main predictors of distinct endemism types. The hotspot areas that encompass a major part of the endemism cells are outside or poorly covered by formal protection units. The current legally protected areas are not able to conserve the evolutionary diversity of cacti. Given the rapid anthropogenic disturbance, efforts must be reinforced to monitor biodiversity and the environment and to define/plan current and new protected areas.

Führding‐Potschkat, P., H. Kreft, and S. M. Ickert‐Bond. 2022. Influence of different data cleaning solutions of point‐occurrence records on downstream macroecological diversity models. Ecology and Evolution 12.

Digital point‐occurrence records from the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) and other data providers enable a wide range of research in macroecology and biogeography. However, data errors may hamper immediate use. Manual data cleaning is time‐consuming and often unfeasible, given that the databases may contain thousands or millions of records. Automated data cleaning pipelines are therefore of high importance. Taking North American Ephedra as a model, we examined how different data cleaning pipelines (using, e.g., the GBIF web application, and four different R packages) affect downstream species distribution models (SDMs). We also assessed how data differed from expert data. From 13,889 North American Ephedra observations in GBIF, the pipelines removed 31.7% to 62.7% false positives, invalid coordinates, and duplicates, leading to datasets between 9484 (GBIF application) and 5196 records (manual‐guided filtering). The expert data consisted of 704 records, comparable to data from field studies. Although differences in the absolute numbers of records were relatively large, species richness models based on stacked SDMs (S‐SDM) from pipeline and expert data were strongly correlated (mean Pearson's r across the pipelines: .9986, vs. the expert data: .9173). Our results suggest that all R package‐based pipelines reliably identified invalid coordinates. In contrast, the GBIF‐filtered data still contained both spatial and taxonomic errors. Major drawbacks emerge from the fact that no pipeline fully discovered misidentified specimens without the assistance of taxonomic expert knowledge. We conclude that application‐filtered GBIF data will still need additional review to achieve higher spatial data quality. Achieving high‐quality taxonomic data will require extra effort, probably by thoroughly analyzing the data for misidentified taxa, supported by experts.

Sotuyo, S., E. Pedraza-Ortega, E. Martínez-Salas, J. Linares, and L. Cabrera. 2022. Insights into phylogenetic divergence of Dalbergia (Leguminosae: Dalbergiae) from Mexico and Central America. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 10.

The pantropical genus Dalbergia includes more than 250 species. Phylogenetic studies of the group are scarce and have only included two or three species distributed in Mexico. We obtained herbarium samples of Mexican, Central American, and South American species (sourced from MEXU). In addition, sequences of GenBank accessions were used to complement the study. Using internal transcribed spacer (ITS), the matK and rbcL sequences from 384 accessions comprising species from America, Asia, and Africa were sampled to evaluate phylogenetic relationships of Mexican species and infrageneric classifications based on morphological data. Phylogenetic analyses suggest that the genus Dalbergia is monophyletic and originated in South America. The species distributed in Mexico are not a monophyletic clade but are divided into four clades with affinities to South American and Asian species clades. There is no correlation between geography and large-scale phylogeny. The estimated ages of the Mexican and Central American clades ranged from 11.32 Ma (Dalbergia granadillo clade) to 1.88 Ma (Dalbergia ecastaphyllum clade). Multiple long-distance dispersal events should be used to explain the current genus distribution.

Pereira, R. F. P., J. Rocha, P. Nunes, T. Fernandes, A. P. Ravishankar, R. Cruz, M. Fernandes, et al. 2022. Vicariance Between Cercis siliquastrum L. and Ceratonia siliqua L. Unveiled by the Physical–Chemical Properties of the Leaves’ Epicuticular Waxes. Frontiers in Plant Science 13.

Classically, vicariant phenomena have been essentially identified on the basis of biogeographical and ecological data. Here, we report unequivocal evidences that demonstrate that a physical–chemical characterization of the epicuticular waxes of the surface of plant leaves represents a very powerful strategy to get rich insight into vicariant events. We found vicariant similarity between Cercis siliquastrum L. (family Fabaceae, subfamily Cercidoideae) and Ceratonia siliqua L. (family Fabaceae, subfamily Caesalpinoideae). Both taxa converge in the Mediterranean basin (C. siliquastrum on the north and C. siliqua across the south), in similar habitats (sclerophyll communities of maquis) and climatic profiles. These species are the current representation of their subfamilies in the Mediterranean basin, where they overlap. Because of this biogeographic and ecological similarity, the environmental pattern of both taxa was found to be very significant. The physical–chemical analysis performed on the epicuticular waxes of C. siliquastrum and C. siliqua leaves provided relevant data that confirm the functional proximity between them. A striking resemblance was found in the epicuticular waxes of the abaxial surfaces of C. siliquastrum and C. siliqua leaves in terms of the dominant chemical compounds (1-triacontanol (C30) and 1-octacosanol (C28), respectively), morphology (intricate network of randomly organized nanometer-thick and micrometer-long plates), wettability (superhydrophobic character, with water contact angle values of 167.5 ± 0.5° and 162 ± 3°, respectively), and optical properties (in both species the light reflectance/absorptance of the abaxial surface is significantly higher/lower than that of the adaxial surface, but the overall trend in reflectance is qualitatively similar). These results enable us to include for the first time C. siliqua in the vicariant process exhibited by C. canadensis L., C. griffithii L., and C. siliquastrum.

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.

Pérez, G., M. Vilà, and B. Gallardo. 2022. Potential impact of four invasive alien plants on the provision of ecosystem services in Europe under present and future climatic scenarios. Ecosystem Services 56: 101459.

Invasive alien species (IAS) are one of the main threats to biodiversity conservation, with significant socio-economic and ecological impacts as they disrupt ecosystem services and compromise human well-being. Global change may exacerbate the impacts of IAS, since rising temperatures and human activities favour their introduction and range expansion. Therefore, anticipating the impacts of biological invasions is crucial to support decision-making for their management. In this work, the potential impacts of four invasive alien plant species: Ailanthus altissima, Baccharis halimifolia, Impatiens glandulifera and Pueraria montana, on the provision of three ecosystem services in Europe were evaluated under current and future climate change scenarios. Using a risk analysis protocol, we determined that the most affected services are food provisioning, soil erosion regulation and the maintenance of biological diversity. To evaluate future impacts, species distribution models were calibrated using bioclimatic, environmental and human impact variables. We found that most of continental Europe is suitable for the establishment of A. altissima, B. halimifolia and I. glandulifera, while the potential distribution of P. montana is more limited. Models anticipate a shift in the distribution range for the species towards the north and east of Europe under future scenarios. Bivariate analysis allowed the identification of trends for future impacts in ecosystem services by simultaneously visualising the potential distribution of invasive species and the provision of ecosystem services. Our models project an increase in critical and high impact areas on the analysed ecosystem services, with Western Europe and the British Isles as the most affected regions. In comparison, lower impacts are projected for the Mediterranean region, likely as a consequence of the northwards expansion of invaders. Measures need to be taken to mitigate the expansion and impact of invasive species as our work shows that it can jeopardise the provision of three key services in Europe.