Science Enabled by Specimen Data

Robin-Champigneul, F., J. Gravendyck, H. Huang, A. Woutersen, D. Pocknall, N. Meijer, G. Dupont-Nivet, et al. 2023. Northward expansion of the southern-temperate podocarp forest during the Early Eocene Climatic Optimum: Palynological evidence from the NE Tibetan Plateau (China). Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology: 104914.

The debated vegetation response to climate change can be investigated through palynological fossil records from past extreme climate conditions. In this context, the early Eocene (53.3 to 41.2 million years ago (Ma)) is often referred to as a model for a greenhouse Earth. In the Xining Basin, situated on the North-eastern Tibetan Plateau (NETP), this time interval is represented by an extensive and well-dated sedimentary sequence of evaporites and red mudstones. Here we focus on the palynological record of the Early Eocene Climatic Optimum (EECO; 53.3 to 49.1 Ma) and study the fossil gymnosperm pollen composition in these sediments. In addition, we also investigate the nearest living relatives (NLR) or botanical affinity of these genera and the paleobiogeographic implications of their occurrence in the Eocene of the NETP. To reach our objective, we complemented transmitted light microscopy with laser scanning- and electron microscopy techniques, to produce high-resolution images, and illustrate the morphological variation within fossil and extant gymnosperm pollen. Furthermore, a morphometric analysis was carried out to investigate the infra- and intrageneric variation of these and related taxa. To place the data in context we produced paleobiogeographic maps for Phyllocladidites and for other Podocarpaceae, based on data from a global fossil pollen data base, and compare these with modern records from GBIF. We also assessed the climatic envelope of the NLR. Our analyses confirm the presence of Phyllocladidites (NLR Phyllocladus, Podocarpaceae) and Podocarpidites (NLR Podocarpus, Podocarpaceae) in the EECO deposits in the Xining Basin. In addition, a comparative study based on literature suggests that Parcisporites is likely a younger synonym of Phyllocladidites. Our findings further suggest that the Phyllocladidites specimens are derived from a lineage that was much more diverse than previously thought, and which had a much larger biogeographical distribution during the EECO than at present. Based on the climatic envelope of the NLR, we suggest that the paleoclimatic conditions in the Xining Basin were warmer and more humid during the EECO. We conclude that phylloclade-type conifers typical of the southern-temperate podocarp forests, had a northward geographical expansion during the EECO, followed by extirpation.

Clemente, K. J. E., and M. S. Thomsen. 2023. High temperature frequently increases facilitation between aquatic foundation species: a global meta‐analysis of interaction experiments between angiosperms, seaweeds, and bivalves. Journal of Ecology.

Many studies have quantified ecological impacts of individual foundation species (FS). However, emerging data suggest that FS often co‐occur, potentially inhibiting or facilitating one another, thereby causing indirect, cascading effects on surrounding communities. Furthermore, global warming is accelerating, but little is known about how interactions between co‐occurring FS vary with temperature.Shallow aquatic sedimentary systems are often dominated by three types of FS: slower‐growing clonal angiosperms, faster‐growing solitary seaweeds, and shell‐forming filter‐ and deposit‐feeding bivalves. Here, we tested the impacts of one FS on another by analyzing manipulative interaction experiments from 148 papers with a global meta‐analysis.We calculated 1,942 (non‐independent) Hedges’ g effect sizes, from 11,652 extracted values over performance responses, such as abundances, growths or survival of FS, and their associated standard deviations and replication levels. Standard aggregation procedures generated 511 independent Hedges’ g that was classified into six types of reciprocal impacts between FS.We found that (i) seaweeds had consistent negative impacts on angiosperms across performance responses, organismal sizes, experimental approaches, and ecosystem types; (ii) angiosperms and bivalves generally had positive impacts on each other (e.g., positive effects of angiosperms on bivalves were consistent across organismal sizes and experimental approaches, but angiosperm effect on bivalve growth and bivalve effect on angiosperm abundance were not significant); (iii) bivalves positively affected seaweeds (particularly on growth responses); (iv) there were generally no net effects of seaweeds on bivalves (except for positive effect on growth) or angiosperms on seaweeds (except for positive effect on ‘other processes’); and (v) bivalve interactions with other FS were typically more positive at higher temperatures, but angiosperm‐seaweed interactions were not moderated by temperature.Synthesis: Despite variations in experimental and spatiotemporal conditions, the stronger positive interactions at higher temperatures suggest that facilitation, particularly involving bivalves, may become more important in a future warmer world. Importantly, addressing research gaps, such as the scarcity of FS interaction experiments from tropical and freshwater systems and for less studied species, as well as testing for density‐dependent effects, could better inform aquatic ecosystem conservation and restoration efforts and broaden our knowledge of FS interactions in the Anthropocene.

Jacquemyn, H., T. Pankhurst, P. S. Jones, R. Brys, and M. J. Hutchings. 2023. Biological Flora of Britain and Ireland: Liparis loeselii. Journal of Ecology.

This account presents information on all aspects of the biology of Liparis loeselii (L.) Rich. (Fen Orchid) that are relevant to understanding its ecological characteristics and behaviour. The main topics are presented within the standard framework of the Biological Flora of Britain and Ireland: distribution, habitat, communities, responses to biotic factors, responses to environment, structure and physiology, phenology, floral and seed characters, herbivores and disease, history and conservation.Liparis loeselii is a small terrestrial orchid that has a circumboreal distribution and is widespread in Europe and North America. Despite its wide distribution, the species is locally rare and has declined considerably in most of its range. In Britain, the species has a disjunct distribution and is now known to occur consistently at only six sites in eastern England and three in south Wales. It is absent from Ireland. Its most characteristic habitats in Britain are inland fens and coastal dune slacks, but outside Britain it can also be found in wet meadows, marshes, forested seep springs, at lake borders or on mats of floating peat.Populations of Liparis loeselii in dune slacks tend to be short‐lived, and can rapidly increase in size or decrease and disappear as environmental conditions change. The species does not tolerate high nutrient concentrations or low pH. It is susceptible to drought, which reduces seed germination, seedling recruitment and adult survival. Heavy predation by rabbits and rodents has been observed under drought conditions.Liparis loeselii reproduces both by sexual reproduction, and by vegetative propagation through the production of pseudobulbs. Although flowers are accessible to insects, entomophilous pollination is unusual, and most sexual reproduction is the result of selfing. Fruits ripen late in the growing season (mid‐October) and the dust‐like seeds are dispersed during winter by wind and water. Germination occurs during the following growing season and is supported by a wide variety of mycorrhizal fungi.Since the late 19th century Liparis loeselii has declined considerably in Britain and elsewhere in Europe, primarily due to habitat destruction and loss, natural succession, and habitat desiccation due to drainage. As a result, the species has been listed as endangered in the Bern Convention and the European Habitat Directive (92/43/EEC), and is the focus of intensive conservation efforts in many countries. Restoration of habitat by mowing, extensive grazing, peat removal, and the creation of new habitat by dune slack formation in dune systems and peat removal in fens may prolong population persistence and promote establishment of new populations.

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.

Hernández, S., A. G. García, F. Arenas, M. P. Escribano, A. Jueterbock, O. De Clerck, C. A. Maggs, et al. 2023. Range‐edge populations of seaweeds show niche unfilling and poor adaptation to increased temperatures. Journal of Biogeography.

(no abstract available)

Nunes, P., S. C. Nunes, R. F. P. Pereira, R. Cruz, J. Rocha, A. P. Ravishankar, L. Fernandes, et al. 2023. The leaf of Agapanthus africanus (L.) Hoffm.: A physical-chemical perspective of terrestrialization in the cuticle. Environmental and Experimental Botany 208: 105240.

Although Agapanthus africanus (L.) Hoffm. is one of the most popular ornamental species in both hemispheres, it has an extremely restricted wild occurrence (Cape province, South Africa). This contradiction between generalized ornamental application and natural distribution was the basis for the analytical approach adopted in the present work. We hypothesized that characteristic features of the cuticular waxes were adopted by this species to help it cope with severe dehydration associated with marine salinity on account of the short distance of the wild populations to the sea. A comprehensive morpho-anatomical, histological and physical-chemical analysis was performed on the epicuticular and intracuticular layers of the adaxial and abaxial surfaces of leaves of specimens of A. africanus. The adaxial epicuticular surface is hydrophilic and the abaxial epicuticular surface exhibits globally hydrophobic behavior. The main chemical compounds detected in the wax layers of both surfaces of the leaf are the short-chain monocaprylin monoglyceride (C8), and very long-chain 1-hexacosanol (C26) and 1-octacosanol (C28) alcohols. While monocaprylin is particularly abundant in the intracuticular layers, the epicuticular adaxial surface revealed the highest concentration of both alcohols. We demonstrate that the smart combination of these two classes of molecules with opposite water affinity endows the A. africanus leaf cuticle with a unique water management system combining the efficient entrapment of water in the disordered α-gel phase formed by monocaprylin and the high resistance to water transport provided by ordered domains composed of tightly packed, all-trans alkyl chains of the above pair of alcohols. The remarkable structural similarity existing between the monocaprylin α-gel and the mucilage of algae is an evidence of the terrestrialization process.

Ripley, B. S., S. L. Raubenheimer, L. Perumal, M. Anderson, E. Mostert, B. S. Kgope, G. F. Midgley, and K. J. Simpson. 2022. CO 2 ‐fertilisation enhances resilience to browsing in the recruitment phase of an encroaching savanna tree. Functional Ecology.

CO2‐fertilisation is implicated in the widespread and significant woody encroachment of savannas due to CO2‐stimulated increases in belowground reserves that enhance sapling regrowth after fire. However, the effect of CO2 concentration ([CO2]) on tree responses to the other major disturbance in savannas, herbivory, is poorly understood. Herbivory‐responses cannot be predicted from fire‐responses, as herbivore effects occur earlier during establishment and are moderated by plant palatability and defence rather than belowground carbon accumulation.

Kapuka, A., L. Dobor, and T. Hlásny. 2022. Climate change threatens the distribution of major woody species and ecosystem services provision in southern Africa. Science of The Total Environment 850: 158006.

In southern Africa, woody vegetation provides essential ecological, regulation, and cultural ecosystem services (ES), yet many species and ecosystems are increasingly threatened by climate change and land-use transformations. We investigated the effect of climate change on the distribution of eight species in 18 countries in southern Africa, covering 36 % of the continent. We proposed a loser/winner ranking of the species based on the changes in land climatic suitability within their historical distribution and future gains and losses of suitable areas. We interpreted these findings in terms of changes in key ES (timber, food, and energy) provision and identified hotspots of ES provision decline. We used species presence data from the Global Biodiversity Information Facility, climatic data from the AfriClim dataset, and the MaxEnt algorithm to project the changes in species-specific land climatic suitability.Among the eight investigated species, the baseline suitability range of Mopane (Colophosperm mopane) was least affected by climate change. At the same time, the area of its future distribution was projected to double, rendering it a regional winner. Another two species, manketti (Schinziophyton rautanenii) and leadwood (Combretum imberbe) showed high future gains too; however, the impact on their baseline suitability range differed between the climatic scenarios. The baseline range of African rosewood (Guibourtia coleosperma) declined entirely, and the future gains were negligible, rendering the species a regional loser. The effect of climate change was particularly severe on timber-producing species (four out of eight species), while species providing food (four species) and energy (four species) were affected less. Our projections portrayed distinct hotspot and coldspot areas, where climatic suitability for multiple species was concurrently projected to decline or persist. This assessment can inform spatially targeted adaptation and conservation actions and strategies, which are currently lacking in many African regions.

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.

Ramirez-Villegas, J., C. K. Khoury, H. A. Achicanoy, M. V. Diaz, A. C. Mendez, C. C. Sosa, Z. Kehel, et al. 2022. State of ex situ conservation of landrace groups of 25 major crops. Nature Plants 8: 491–499.

Crop landraces have unique local agroecological and societal functions and offer important genetic resources for plant breeding. Recognition of the value of landrace diversity and concern about its erosion on farms have led to sustained efforts to establish ex situ collections worldwide. The degree to which these efforts have succeeded in conserving landraces has not been comprehensively assessed. Here we modelled the potential distributions of eco-geographically distinguishable groups of landraces of 25 cereal, pulse and starchy root/tuber/fruit crops within their geographic regions of diversity. We then analysed the extent to which these landrace groups are represented in genebank collections, using geographic and ecological coverage metrics as a proxy for genetic diversity. We find that ex situ conservation of landrace groups is currently moderately comprehensive on average, with substantial variation among crops; a mean of 63% ± 12.6% of distributions is currently represented in genebanks. Breadfruit, bananas and plantains, lentils, common beans, chickpeas, barley and bread wheat landrace groups are among the most fully represented, whereas the largest conservation gaps persist for pearl millet, yams, finger millet, groundnut, potatoes and peas. Geographic regions prioritized for further collection of landrace groups for ex situ conservation include South Asia, the Mediterranean and West Asia, Mesoamerica, sub-Saharan Africa, the Andean mountains of South America and Central to East Asia. With further progress to fill these gaps, a high degree of representation of landrace group diversity in genebanks is feasible globally, thus fulfilling international targets for their ex situ conservation. By analysing the state of representation of traditional varieties of 25 major crops in ex situ repositories, this study demonstrates conservation progress made over more than a half-century and identifies the gaps remaining to be filled.