Science Enabled by Specimen Data

Reichgelt, T., Greenwood, D. R., Steinig, S., Conran, J. G., Hutchinson, D. K., Lunt, D. J., Scriven, L. J., & Zhu, J. (2022). Plant Proxy Evidence for High Rainfall and Productivity in the Eocene of Australia. Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology. Portico. https://doi.org/10.1029/2022pa004418 https://doi.org/10.1029/2022pa004418

During the early to middle Eocene, a mid‐to‐high latitudinal position and enhanced hydrological cycle in Australia would have contributed to a wetter and “greener” Australian continent where today arid to semi‐arid climates dominate. Here, we revisit 12 southern Australian plant megafossil sites from the early to middle Eocene to generate temperature, precipitation and seasonality paleoclimate estimates, net primary productivity (NPP) and vegetation type, based on paleobotanical proxies and compare to early Eocene global climate models. Temperature reconstructions are uniformly subtropical (mean annual, summer, and winter mean temperatures 19–21 °C, 25–27 °C and 14–16 °C, respectively), indicating that southern Australia was ∼5 °C warmer than today, despite a >20° poleward shift from its modern geographic location. Precipitation was less homogeneous than temperature, with mean annual precipitation of ∼60 cm over inland sites and >100 cm over coastal sites. Precipitation may have been seasonal with the driest month receiving 2–7× less than mean monthly precipitation. Proxy‐model comparison is favorable with an 1680 ppm CO2 concentration. However, individual proxy reconstructions can disagree with models as well as with each other. In particular, seasonality reconstructions have systemic offsets. NPP estimates were higher than modern, implying a more homogenously “green” southern Australia in the early to middle Eocene, when this part of Australia was at 48–64 °S, and larger carbon fluxes to and from the Australian biosphere. The most similar modern vegetation type is modern‐day eastern Australian subtropical forest, although distance from coast and latitude may have led to vegetation heterogeneity.

Sluiter, I. R. K., Holdgate, G. R., Reichgelt, T., Greenwood, D. R., Kershaw, A. P., & Schultz, N. L. (2022). A new perspective on Late Eocene and Oligocene vegetation and paleoclimates of South-eastern Australia. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 596, 110985. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2022.110985 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2022.110985

We present a composite terrestrial pollen record of latest Eocene through Oligocene (35.5–23 Ma) vegetation and climate change from the Gippsland Basin of south-eastern Australia. Climates were overwhelmingly mesothermic through this time period, with mean annual temperature (MAT) varying between 13 and 18 °C, with an average of 16 °C. We provide evidence to support a cooling trend through the Eocene–Oligocene Transition (EOT), but also identify three subsequent warming cycles through the Oligocene, leading to more seasonal climates at the termination of the Epoch. One of the warming episodes in the Early Oligocene appears to have also occurred at two other southern hemisphere sites at the Drake Passage as well as off eastern Tasmania, based on recent research. Similarities with sea surface temperature records from modern high southern latitudes which also record similar cycles of warming and cooling, are presented and discussed. Annual precipitation varied between 1200 and 1700 mm/yr, with an average of 1470 mm/yr through the sequence. Notwithstanding the extinction of Nothofagus sg. Brassospora from Australia and some now microthermic humid restricted Podocarpaceae conifer taxa, the rainforest vegetation of lowland south-eastern Australia is reconstructed to have been similar to present day Australian Evergreen Notophyll Vine Forests existing under the sub-tropical Köppen-Geiger climate class Cfa (humid subtropical) for most of the sequence. Short periods of cooler climates, such as occurred through the EOT when MAT was ~ 13 °C, may have supported vegetation similar to modern day Evergreen Microphyll Fern Forest. Of potentially greater significance, however, was a warm period in the Early to early Late Oligocene (32–26 Ma) when MAT was 17–18 °C, accompanied by small but important increases in Araucariaceae pollen. At this time, Araucarian Notophyll/Microphyll Vine Forest likely occurred regionally.

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…

TREVIÑO-ZEVALLOS, I., GARCÍA-CUNCHILLOS, I., & LADO, C. (2021). New records of Myxomycetes (Amoebozoa) from the tropical Andes. Phytotaxa, 522(3), 231–239. doi:10.11646/phytotaxa.522.3.6 https://doi.org/10.11646/phytotaxa.522.3.6

The Myxomycetes comprise a remarkably diverse group of organisms within Amoebozoa, with over 1000 species currently recognized. These organisms, at the end of their life cycles produce fruiting bodies which are the basis for their systematics. Despite being a biodiversity hotspot, the tropical Andes…

Arfianti, T., & Costello, M. J. (2021). The distribution of benthic amphipod crustaceans in Indonesian seas. PeerJ, 9, e12054. doi:10.7717/peerj.12054 https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.12054

Amphipod crustaceans are an essential component of tropical marine biodiversity. However, their distribution and biogeography have not been analysed in one of the world’s largest tropical countries nested in the Coral Triangle, Indonesia. We collected and identified amphipod crustaceans from eight s…

Magri, D., Parra, I., Di Rita, F., Ni, J., Shichi, K., & Worth, J. R. P. (2020). Linking worldwide past and present conifer vulnerability. Quaternary Science Reviews, 250, 106640. doi:10.1016/j.quascirev.2020.106640 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.quascirev.2020.106640

Inventories of species recently extinct or threatened with extinction may be found in global databases. However, despite the large number of published fossil based-studies, specific databases on the vulnerability of species in the past are not available. We compiled a worldwide database of published…

Li, X., Li, B., Wang, G., Zhan, X., & Holyoak, M. (2020). Deeply digging the interaction effect in multiple linear regressions using a fractional-power interaction term. MethodsX, 7, 101067. doi:10.1016/j.mex.2020.101067 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mex.2020.101067

In multiple regression Y ~ β0 + β1X1 + β2X2 + β3X1 X2 + ɛ., the interaction term is quantified as the product of X1 and X2. We developed fractional-power interaction regression (FPIR), using βX1M X2N as the interaction term. The rationale of FPIR is that the slopes of Y-X1 regression along the X2 gr…

Cross, A. T., Krueger, T. A., Gonella, P. M., Robinson, A. S., & Fleischmann, A. S. (2020). Conservation of carnivorous plants in the age of extinction. Global Ecology and Conservation, e01272. doi:10.1016/j.gecco.2020.e01272 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gecco.2020.e01272

Carnivorous plants (CPs)—those possessing specific strategies to attract, capture and kill animal prey and obtain nutrition through the absorption of their biomass—are harbingers of anthropogenic degradation and destruction of ecosystems. CPs exhibit highly specialised and often very sensitive ecolo…

Jahanshiri, E., Mohd Nizar, N. M., Tengku Mohd Suhairi, T. A. S., Gregory, P. J., Mohamed, A. S., Wimalasiri, E. M., & Azam-Ali, S. N. (2020). A Land Evaluation Framework for Agricultural Diversification. Sustainability, 12(8), 3110. doi:10.3390/su12083110 https://doi.org/10.3390/su12083110

Shortlisting ecologically adaptable plant species can be a starting point for agricultural diversification projects. We propose a rapid assessment framework based on an ecological model that can accelerate the evaluation of options for sustainable crop diversification. To test the new model, expert-…

Arfianti, T., & Costello, M. (2020). Global biogeography of marine amphipod crustaceans: latitude, regionalization, and beta diversity. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 638, 83–94. doi:10.3354/meps13272 https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13272

Studying the biogeography of amphipod crustaceans is of interest because they play an important role at lower trophic levels in ecosystems. Because they lack a planktonic larval stage, it has been hypothesized that marine benthic amphipod crustaceans may have short dispersal distances, high endemici…