Science Enabled by Specimen Data

Cano, Á., Stauffer, F. W., Andermann, T., Liberal, I. M., Zizka, A., Bacon, C. D., Lorenzi, H., Christe, C., Töpel, M., Perret, M., & Antonelli, A. (2022). Recent and local diversification of Central American understorey palms. Global Ecology and Biogeography. Portico. https://doi.org/10.1111/geb.13521 https://doi.org/10.1111/geb.13521

Aim Central America is largely covered by hyperdiverse, yet poorly understood, rain forests. Understorey palms are diverse components of these forests, but little is known about their historical assembly. It is not clear when palms in Central America reached present diversity levels and whether most species arrived from neighbouring regions or evolved locally. We addressed these questions using the most species-rich American palm clades indicative of rain forests. We reconstructed and compared their phylogenomic and biogeographical history with the diversification of 54 other plant lineages, to gain a better understanding of the processes that shaped the assembly of Central American rain forests. Location Central America. Time period Cretaceous to present. Major taxa studied Arecaceae: Arecoideae: Bactridinae, Chamaedoreeae, Geonomateae. Methods We sampled 218 species through fieldwork and living collections. We sequenced their genomic DNA using target sequence-capture procedures. Using 12 calibration points, we reconstructed dated phylogenies under three approaches (multispecies coalescent, maximum likelihood and Bayesian inference), conducted biogeographical analyses (dispersal–extinction–cladogenesis) and estimated phylogenetic diversity metrics. Results Dated phylogenies revealed intense diversification in Central America from 12 Ma. Local diversification events were four times more frequent than dispersal events, and we found strong phylogenetic clustering in relationship to Central America. Main conclusions Our results suggest that most understorey palm species that characterize the Central American rain forests today evolved locally after repeated dispersal events, mostly from South America. Understorey palms in Central American rain forests diversified primarily after closure of the Central American Seaway at c. 13 Ma, suggesting that the Great American Biotic Interchange was a major trigger for plant diversification in Central American rain forests. This recent diversification contrasts with the much earlier existence of rain forest palms in neighbouring South America since c. 58 Ma. We found similar timings of diversification in 54 other seed plant lineages, suggesting an unexpectedly recent assembly of the hyperdiverse Central American flora.

Beaulieu, W. T., Panaccione, D. G., Quach, Q. N., Smoot, K. L., & Clay, K. (2021). Diversification of ergot alkaloids and heritable fungal symbionts in morning glories. Communications Biology, 4(1). doi:10.1038/s42003-021-02870-z https://doi.org/10.1038/s42003-021-02870-z

Heritable microorganisms play critical roles in life cycles of many macro-organisms but their prevalence and functional roles are unknown for most plants. Bioactive ergot alkaloids produced by heritable Periglandula fungi occur in some morning glories (Convolvulaceae), similar to ergot alkaloids in …

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

Xue, T., Gadagkar, S. R., Albright, T. P., Yang, X., Li, J., Xia, C., … Yu, S. (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. doi:10.1016/j.gecco.2021.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…

Wang, C.-J., & Wan, J.-Z. (2021). Functional trait perspective on suitable habitat distribution of invasive plant species at a global scale. Perspectives in Ecology and Conservation. doi:10.1016/j.pecon.2021.07.002 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 …

De Oliveira, M. H. V., Torke, B. M., & Almeida, T. E. (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. doi:10.1007/s12228-021-09668-7 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…

Allstädt, F. J., Koutsodendris, A., Appel, E., Rösler, W., Reichgelt, T., Kaboth-Bahr, S., … Pross, J. (2021). Late Pliocene to early Pleistocene climate dynamics in western North America based on a new pollen record from paleo-Lake Idaho. Palaeobiodiversity and Palaeoenvironments. doi:10.1007/s12549-020-00460-1 https://doi.org/10.1007/s12549-020-00460-1

Marked by the expansion of ice sheets in the high latitudes, the intensification of Northern Hemisphere glaciation across the Plio/Pleistocene transition at ~ 2.7 Ma represents a critical interval of late Neogene climate evolution. To date, the characteristics of climate change in North America duri…

Deanna, R., Wilf, P., & Gandolfo, M. A. (2020). New physaloid fruit‐fossil species from early Eocene South America. American Journal of Botany, 107(12), 1749–1762. doi:10.1002/ajb2.1565 https://doi.org/10.1002/ajb2.1565

Premise: Solanaceae is a scientifically and economically important angiosperm family with a minimal fossil record and an intriguing early evolutionary history. Here, we report a newly discovered fossil lantern fruit with a suite of features characteristic of Physalideae within Solanaceae. The fossil…

Orr, M. C., Hughes, A. C., Chesters, D., Pickering, J., Zhu, C.-D., & Ascher, J. S. (2020). Global Patterns and Drivers of Bee Distribution. Current Biology. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2020.10.053 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2020.10.053

Insects are the focus of many recent studies suggesting population declines, but even invaluable pollination service providers such as bees lack a modern distributional synthesis. Here, we combine a uniquely comprehensive checklist of bee species distributions and >5,800,000 public bee occurrence re…

Cruz, J. A., Alarcón-D, I., Figueroa-Castro, D. M., & Castañeda-Posadas, C. (2020). Fossil pigmy rattlesnake inside the mandible of an American mastodon and use of fossil reptiles for the paleoclimatic reconstruction of a Pleistocene locality in Puebla, Mexico. Quaternary International. doi:10.1016/j.quaint.2020.10.058 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2020.10.058

Records of Pleistocene reptiles are relatively well known in different countries. However, reptile fossil records of Pleistocene from Latin America are scarce and limited to presence data associated with records of megafauna remains. Taphonomic studies in Pleistocene reptiles are focused on finding …