Science Enabled by Specimen Data

Souto, C. P., L. P. Zalazar, M. Tadey, and A. C. Premoli. 2024. Modeling past, present and future: Species-specific responses to climate changes in three shrub congeners from south American drylands. Journal of Arid Environments 221: 105139.

Drylands cover ca. 40% of the land global surface and deliver significant ecosystem services. These regions are the most sensitive, prone to suffer the effects of climate and distribution changes, so estimates on projected range shifts are crucial to complement traditional approaches to biodiversity conservation and sustainability. Shrubs of the Monte Desert dominate the largest temperate dryland in South America. Our goal is to assess the spatial distribution and niche overlap of three native shrubs (Larrea cuneifolia (LC), L. divaricata (LD), and L. nitida (LN)), under present climate conditions, to retrodict their potential past distribution, and anticipate their predicted range under future climate scenarios. We used ecological niche modeling that were projected to the past (LGM and Mid Holocene) and future (2050 and 2070) under two scenarios of greenhouse gas emissions and two model of global circulation. All species have high niche overlap (67–89%), but showed species-specific responses, highlighting the need to develop mitigation measures particularly for LD and LN in the face of climate change and land use pressures. Global South deserts are being highly degraded and information on future potential ranges of endemic species can support the development of sustainable conservation and management plans.

Noori, S., A. Hofmann, D. Rödder, M. Husemann, and H. Rajaei. 2024. A window to the future: effects of climate change on the distribution patterns of Iranian Zygaenidae and their host plants. Biodiversity and Conservation.

Climate change has been suggested as an important human-induced driver for the ongoing sixth mass extinction. As a common response to climate change, and particularly global warming, species move toward higher latitudes or shift uphill. Furthermore, rapid climate change impacts the biotic interactions of species, particularly in the case of Zygaenid moths which exhibit high specialization in both habitat and host plant preferences. Iranian Zygaenidae are relatively well-known and represent a unique fauna with a high endemism rate (46%) in the whole Palearctic; as such they are a good model group to study the impact of climate change on future distributions. In this study, we used species distribution models (SDMs) and ensembles of small models (ESMs) to investigate the impact of climate change on the future distribution of endemic and non-endemic species of zygaenids, as well as their larval host plants. Three different climate scenarios were applied to forecast the probable responses of the species to different climate change intensities. Our results suggest that the central and southern parts of the country will be impacted profoundly by climate change compared to the northern regions. Beyond this, most endemic species will experience an altitudinal shift from their current range, while non-endemic species may move towards higher latitudes. Considering that the regions with higher diversity of zygaenids are limited to mountainous areas, mainly within the Irano-Anatolian biodiversity hotspot, the identification of their local high diversity regions for conservation practices has a high priority.

Weiss, R. M., F. Zanetti, B. Alberghini, D. Puttick, M. A. Vankosky, A. Monti, and C. Eynck. 2024. Bioclimatic analysis of potential worldwide production of spring‐type camelina [Camelina sativa (L.) Crantz] seeded in the spring. GCB Bioenergy 16.

Camelina [Camelina sativa (L.) Crantz] is a Brassicaceae oilseed that is gaining interest worldwide as low‐maintenance crop for diverse biobased applications. One of the most important factors determining its productivity is climate. We conducted a bioclimate analysis in order to analyze the relationship between climatic factors and the productivity of spring‐type camelina seeded in the spring, and to identify regions of the world with potential for camelina in this scenario. Using the modelling tool CLIMEX, a bioclimatic model was developed for spring‐seeded spring‐type camelina to match distribution, reported seed yields and phenology records in North America. Distribution, yield, and phenology data from outside of North America were used as independent datasets for model validation and demonstrated that model projections agreed with published distribution records, reported spring‐seeded camelina yields, and closely predicted crop phenology in Europe, South America, and Asia. Sensitivity analysis, used to quantify the response of camelina to changes in precipitation and temperature, indicated that crop performance was more sensitive to moisture than temperature index parameters, suggesting that the yield potential of spring‐seeded camelina may be more strongly impacted by water‐limited conditions than by high temperatures. Incremental climate scenarios also revealed that spring‐seeded camelina production will exhibit yield shifts at the continental scale as temperature and precipitation deviate from current conditions. Yield data were compared with indices of climatic suitability to provide estimates of potential worldwide camelina productivity. This information was used to identify new areas where spring‐seeded camelina could be grown and areas that may permit expanded production, including eastern Europe, China, eastern Russia, Australia and New Zealand. Our model is the first to have taken a systematic approach to determine suitable regions for potential worldwide production of spring‐seeded camelina.

Paquette, H. A., R. T. McMullin, and Y. F. Wiersma. 2023. The importance of taxonomy for determining species distribution: a case study using the disjunct lichen Brodoa oroarctica. Botany.

Species-focused conservation requires a thorough understanding of species’ distributions. Delineating a species’ distribution requires taxonomic knowledge and adequate occurrence data. For plants and fungi, herbaria represent a valuable source of large-scale occurrence data. Advances in digital technology mean that data from many herbarium collections worldwide are now easily accessible. However, species concepts can change over time requiring herbarium records to be re-examined and databases updated, which does not always occur synchronously across all collections. Therefore, non-critical use of these data can promote inaccuracies in understanding species distributions. Taxonomic revisions are common in understudied organisms, such as lichens. Here, we illustrate how changing taxonomy and non-critical acceptance of online data affects our understanding of disjunct distributions, using the lichen Brodoa oroarctica (Krog) Goward as an example. Defining the distribution of the arctic lichen B. oroarctica is confounded by changing taxonomy and uncertainty of herbarium records that pre-date taxonomic revisions. We review the distribution of this species in the literature and in aggregate occurrence databases, and verify herbarium specimens that represent disjunct occurrences in eastern North America to present an updated account of its distribution and frequency in eastern North America. We show that knowledge of changing species taxonomy is essential to depicting accurate species distributions.

Zhang, H., W. Guo, and W. Wang. 2023. The dimensionality reductions of environmental variables have a significant effect on the performance of species distribution models. Ecology and Evolution 13.

How to effectively obtain species‐related low‐dimensional data from massive environmental variables has become an urgent problem for species distribution models (SDMs). In this study, we will explore whether dimensionality reduction on environmental variables can improve the predictive performance of SDMs. We first used two linear (i.e., principal component analysis (PCA) and independent components analysis) and two nonlinear (i.e., kernel principal component analysis (KPCA) and uniform manifold approximation and projection) dimensionality reduction techniques (DRTs) to reduce the dimensionality of high‐dimensional environmental data. Then, we established five SDMs based on the environmental variables of dimensionality reduction for 23 real plant species and nine virtual species, and compared the predictive performance of those with the SDMs based on the selected environmental variables through Pearson's correlation coefficient (PCC). In addition, we studied the effects of DRTs, model complexity, and sample size on the predictive performance of SDMs. The predictive performance of SDMs under DRTs other than KPCA is better than using PCC. And the predictive performance of SDMs using linear DRTs is better than using nonlinear DRTs. In addition, using DRTs to deal with environmental variables has no less impact on the predictive performance of SDMs than model complexity and sample size. When the model complexity is at the complex level, PCA can improve the predictive performance of SDMs the most by 2.55% compared with PCC. At the middle level of sample size, the PCA improved the predictive performance of SDMs by 2.68% compared with the PCC. Our study demonstrates that DRTs have a significant effect on the predictive performance of SDMs. Specifically, linear DRTs, especially PCA, are more effective at improving model predictive performance under relatively complex model complexity or large sample sizes.

Yim, C., E. S. Bellis, V. L. DeLeo, D. Gamba, R. Muscarella, and J. R. Lasky. 2023. Climate biogeography of Arabidopsis thaliana: Linking distribution models and individual variation. Journal of Biogeography.

Aim Patterns of individual variation are key to testing hypotheses about the mechanisms underlying biogeographic patterns. If species distributions are determined by environmental constraints, then populations near range margins may have reduced performance and be adapted to harsher environments. Model organisms are potentially important systems for biogeographical studies, given the available range‐wide natural history collections, and the importance of providing biogeographical context to their genetic and phenotypic diversity.LocationGlobal.TaxonArabidopsis thaliana (‘Arabidopsis’).MethodsWe fit occurrence records to climate data, and then projected the distribution of Arabidopsis under last glacial maximum, current and future climates. We confronted model predictions with individual performance measured on 2194 herbarium specimens, and we asked whether predicted suitability was associated with life history and genomic variation measured on ~900 natural accessions.ResultsThe most important climate variables constraining the Arabidopsis distribution were winter cold in northern and high elevation regions and summer heat in southern regions. Herbarium specimens from regions with lower habitat suitability in both northern and southern regions were smaller, supporting the hypothesis that the distribution of Arabidopsis is constrained by climate‐associated factors. Climate anomalies partly explained interannual variation in herbarium specimen size, but these did not closely correspond to local limiting factors identified in the distribution model. Late‐flowering genotypes were absent from the lowest suitability regions, suggesting slower life histories are only viable closer to the centre of the realized niche. We identified glacial refugia farther north than previously recognized, as well as refugia concordant with previous population genetic findings. Lower latitude populations, known to be genetically distinct, are most threatened by future climate change. The recently colonized range of Arabidopsis was well‐predicted by our native‐range model applied to certain regions but not others, suggesting it has colonized novel climates.Main ConclusionsIntegration of distribution models with performance data from vast natural history collections is a route forward for testing biogeographical hypotheses about species distributions and their relationship with evolutionary fitness across large scales.

Kudoh, A., J. P. Megonigal, J. A. Langley, G. L. Noyce, T. Sakai, and D. F. Whigham. 2023. Reproductive Responses to Increased Shoot Density and Global Change Drivers in a Widespread Clonal Wetland Species, Schoenoplectus americanus. Estuaries and Coasts.

The expansion of many wetland species is a function of both clonal propagation and sexual reproduction. The production of ramets through clonal propagation enables plants to move and occupy space near parent ramets, while seeds produced by sexual reproduction enable species to disperse and colonize open or disturbed sites both near and far from parents. The balance between clonal propagation and sexual reproduction is known to vary with plant density but few studies have focused on reproductive allocation with density changes in response to global climate change. Schoenoplectus americanus is a widespread clonal wetland species in North America and a dominant species in Chesapeake Bay brackish tidal wetlands. Long-term experiments on responses of S . americanus to global change provided the opportunity to compare the two modes of propagation under different treatments. Seed production increased with increasing shoot density, supporting the hypothesis that factors causing increased clonal reproduction (e.g., higher shoot density) stimulate sexual reproduction and dispersal of genets. The increase in allocation to sexual reproduction was mainly the result of an increase in the number of ramets that flowered and not an increase in the number of seeds per reproductive shoot, or the ratio between the number of flowers produced per inflorescence and the number of flowers that developed into seeds. Seed production increased in response to increasing temperatures and decreased or did not change in response to increased CO 2 or nitrogen. Results from this comparative study demonstrate that plant responses to global change treatments affect resource allocation and can alter the ability of species to produce seeds.

Rodríguez-Merino, A. 2023. Identifying and Managing Areas under Threat in the Iberian Peninsula: An Invasion Risk Atlas for Non-Native Aquatic Plant Species as a Potential Tool. Plants 12: 3069.

Predicting the likelihood that non-native species will be introduced into new areas remains one of conservation’s greatest challenges and, consequently, it is necessary to adopt adequate management measures to mitigate the effects of future biological invasions. At present, not much information is available on the areas in which non-native aquatic plant species could establish themselves in the Iberian Peninsula. Species distribution models were used to predict the potential invasion risk of (1) non-native aquatic plant species already established in the peninsula (32 species) and (2) those with the potential to invade the peninsula (40 species). The results revealed that the Iberian Peninsula contains a number of areas capable of hosting non-native aquatic plant species. Areas under anthropogenic pressure are at the greatest risk of invasion, and the variable most related to invasion risk is temperature. The results of this work were used to create the Invasion Risk Atlas for Alien Aquatic Plants in the Iberian Peninsula, a novel online resource that provides information about the potential distribution of non-native aquatic plant species. The atlas and this article are intended to serve as reference tools for the development of public policies, management regimes, and control strategies aimed at the prevention, mitigation, and eradication of non-native aquatic plant species.

Rosas, M. R., R. A. Segovia, and P. C. Guerrero. 2023. Climatic Niche Dynamics of the Astereae Lineage and Haplopappus Species Distribution following Amphitropical Long-Distance Dispersal. Plants 12: 2721.

The tribe Astereae (Asteraceae) displays an American Amphitropical Disjunction. To understand the eco-evolutionary dynamics associated with a long-distance dispersal event and subsequent colonization of extratropical South America, we compared the climatic and geographic distributions of South American species with their closest North American relatives, focusing on the diverse South American Astereae genus, Haplopappus. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that two South American genera are closely related to seven North American genera. The climatic niche overlap (D = 0.5) between South and North America exhibits high stability (0.89), low expansion (0.12), and very low unfilling (0.04). The distribution of the North American species predicted the climatic and geographic space occupied by the South American species. In central Chile, Haplopappus showed a non-random latitudinal gradient in species richness, with Mediterranean climate variables mainly explaining the variation. Altitudinal patterns indicated peak richness at 600 m, declining at lower and higher elevations. These findings support climatic niche conservatism in shaping Haplopappus species distribution and diversity. Two major endemism zones were identified in central Chile and the southern region, with a transitional zone between Mediterranean and Temperate macro-bioclimates. Our results indicate strong niche conservatism following long-distance dispersal and slight niche expansion due to unique climatic variables in each hemisphere.

Borges, C. E., R. Von dos Santos Veloso, C. A. da Conceição, D. S. Mendes, N. Y. Ramirez-Cabral, F. Shabani, M. Shafapourtehrany, et al. 2023. Forecasting Brassica napus production under climate change with a mechanistic species distribution model. Scientific Reports 13.

Brassica napus , a versatile crop with significant socioeconomic importance, serves as a valuable source of nutrition for humans and animals while also being utilized in biodiesel production. The expansion potential of B. napus is profoundly influenced by climatic variations, yet there remains a scarcity of studies investigating the correlation between climatic factors and its distribution. This research employs CLIMEX to identify the current and future ecological niches of B. napus under the RCP 8.5 emission scenario, utilizing the Access 1.0 and CNRM-CM5 models for the time frame of 2040–2059. Additionally, a sensitivity analysis of parameters was conducted to determine the primary climatic factors affecting B. napus distribution and model responsiveness. The simulated outcomes demonstrate a satisfactory alignment with the known current distribution of B. napus , with 98% of occurrence records classified as having medium to high climatic suitability. However, the species displays high sensitivity to thermal parameters, thereby suggesting that temperature increases could trigger shifts in suitable and unsuitable areas for B. napus , impacting regions such as Canada, China, Brazil, and the United States.