Science Enabled by Specimen Data

Canavan, S., Z. T. Brym, G. Brundu, K. Dehnen-Schmutz, D. Lieurance, T. Petri, W. H. Wadlington, et al. 2022. Cannabis de-domestication and invasion risk. Biological Conservation 274: 109709.

Cultivated plants provide food, fiber, and energy but they can escape, de-domesticate, colonize agroecosystems as weeds, and disrupt natural ecosystems as invasive species. Escape and invasion depend on traits of the species, type and rate of domestication, and cultivation context. Understanding this “de-domestication invasion process” is critical for managing conservation efforts to reduce unintended consequences of cultivated species in novel areas. Cannabis (Cannabis sativa L.) is an ideal case study to explore this process because it was one of the earliest plants to co-evolve with humans, has a crop to weed history, and has been introduced and cultivated globally. Moreover, recent liberalization of cannabis cultivation and use policies have raised concerns about invasion risk. Here, we synthesize knowledge on cannabis breeding, cultivation, and processing relevant to invasion risk and outline research and management priorities to help overcome the research deficit on the invasion ecology of the species. Understanding the transition of cannabis through the de-domestication-invasion process will inform policy and minimize agricultural and environmental risks associated with cultivation of domesticated species.

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).

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.

Barends, J. M., and B. Maritz. 2022. Dietary Specialization and Habitat Shifts in a Clade of Afro-Asian Colubrid Snakes (Colubridae: Colubrinae). Ichthyology & Herpetology 110.

Speciation through niche divergence often occurs as lineages of organisms colonize and adapt to new environments with novel ecological opportunities that facilitate the evolution of ecologically different phenotypes. In snakes, adaptive diversification may be driven by the evolution of traits relating to changes in their diets. Accordingly, habitatmediated differences in prey available to ancestral snakes as they colonized and occupied novel dynamic landscapes are likely to have been a strong selective agent behind the divergence and radiation of snakes across the globe. Using an ancestral reconstruction approach that considers the multivariate nature of ecological phenotypes while accounting for sampling variation between taxa, we explored how diet and macro-habitat use coevolved across a phylogeny of 67 species of Afro-Asian colubrine snakes. Our results show that the most recent common ancestor of this clade was likely a dietary generalist that occupied tropical forests in Asia. Deviations from this generalist diet to a variety of specialist diets each dominated by the utilization of single prey types repeatedly occurred as ancestral colubrines shifted from tropical forests to savanna and grassland habitats across Africa. We additionally found that dietary specialist species were on average smaller in maximum length than dietary generalists, congruent with established predator-size, preydiversity dynamics in snakes. We speculate that adaptive divergence in ancestral colubrines arose as a result of a selective regime that favored diets comprised of terrestrial prey, and that partitioning of different prey types led to the various forms of dietary specialization evident in these lineages today. Our findings provide new insights into the ecological correlates associated with the evolution of diet in snakes, thereby furthering our understanding of the driving forces behind patterns of snake diversification.

Sarker, U., Y.-P. Lin, S. Oba, Y. Yoshioka, and K. Hoshikawa. 2022. Prospects and potentials of underutilized leafy Amaranths as vegetable use for health-promotion. Plant Physiology and Biochemistry 182: 104–123.

Climate change causes environmental variation worldwide, which is one of the most serious threats to global food security. In addition, more than 2 billion people in the world are reported to suffer from serious malnutrition, referred to as ‘hidden hunger.’ Dependence on only a few crops could lead to the loss of genetic diversity and high fragility of crop breeding in systems adapting to global scale climate change. The exploitation of underutilized species and genetic resources, referred to as orphan crops, could be a useful approach for resolving the issue of adaptability to environmental alteration, biodiversity preservation, and improvement of nutrient quality and quantity to ensure food security. Moreover, the use of these alternative crops will help to increase the human health benefits and the income of farmers in developing countries. In this review, we highlight the potential of orphan crops, especially amaranths, for use as vegetables and health-promoting nutritional components. This review highlights promising diversified sources of amaranth germplasms, their tolerance to abiotic stresses, and their nutritional, phytochemical, and antioxidant values for vegetable purposes. Betalains (betacyanins and betaxanthins), unique antioxidant components in amaranth vegetables, are also highlighted regarding their chemodiversity across amaranth germplasms and their stability and degradation. In addition, we discuss the physiological functions, antioxidant, antilipidemic, anticancer, and antimicrobial activities, as well as the biosynthesis pathway, molecular, biochemical, genetics, and genomic mechanisms of betalains in detail.


В ходе экспедиционных исследований уточнена современная фактическая граница натурализации Аmbrosia artemisiifolia на Европейской территории России. Эта граница проходит по югу Брянской, Курской и Саратовской, северу Воронежской областей. Общая протяжённость экспедиционных маршрутов составила около 8900 км, количество обследованных точек – 777. В целях выявления потенциала дальнейшего продвижения вида на север проведён сравнительный эколого-географический анализ и моделирование распространения амброзии на севере её вторичного ареала на Европейской территории России и первичного – в Канаде. Выявлено, что основным фактором, лимитирующим продвижение вида на север, служит недостаточная теплообеспеченность периода созревания семян. Для определения эколого-географической ниши амброзии была составлена глобальная карта распределения сумм активных температур с порогом выше 10 °С за период от даты перехода длины дня через 14 часов после летнего солнцестояния до устойчивого перехода осенних температур через 0 °С (САТфп). Было определено значение САТфп на самых северных точках натурализации Аmbrosia artemisiifolia на Европейской территории России и в Канаде. Сравнение эколого-географических границ по фактору теплообеспеченности на Европейской территории России и в Канаде показало, что реализованная видом эколого-географическая ниша на Североамериканском континенте в настоящее время в целом шире, чем на Европейской территории России. Рассмотрены возможные причины, по которым амброзия не освоила всю потенциальную экологическую нишу на Европейской территории России, сделаны предположения о возможности дальнейшего продвижения вида на север. Амброзия по фактору теплообеспеченности на Европейской территории России может продвинуться дальше на север – в Брянскую, Орловскую, Липецкую, Тамбовскую, Саратовскую, Оренбургскую, южную половину Пензенской, юг Ульяновской, Самарской областей и Башкортостана. Дополнительные проблемы с продвижением вида в северо-восточном направлении на Европейской территории России могут быть обусловлены сопряжённым неблагоприятным воздействием дополнительного фактора – недостаточной влагообеспеченности, поскольку от Саратовской области и восточнее амброзия на северном пределе распространения находится в зоне экологического пессимума одновременно по показателям тепло- и влагообеспеченности.

Vasconcelos, T., J. D. Boyko, and J. M. Beaulieu. 2021. Linking mode of seed dispersal and climatic niche evolution in flowering plants. Journal of Biogeography.

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…

Christiansen, D. M., L. L. Iversen, J. Ehrlén, and K. Hylander. 2021. Changes in forest structure drive temperature preferences of boreal understorey plant communities. Journal of Ecology 110: 631–643.

The local climate in forest understories can deviate substantially from ambient conditions. Moreover, forest microclimates are often characterized by cyclic changes driven by management activities such as clear-cutting and subsequent planting. To understand how and why understorey plant communities …

Xue, T., S. R. Gadagkar, T. P. Albright, X. Yang, J. Li, C. Xia, J. Wu, and S. Yu. 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.

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…

López‐Delgado, J., and P. G. Meirmans. 2021. History or demography? Determining the drivers of genetic variation in North American plants. Molecular Ecology 31: 1951–1962.

Understanding the impact of historical and demographic processes on genetic variation is essential for devising conservation strategies and predicting responses to climate change. Recolonization after Pleistocene glaciations is expected to leave distinct genetic signatures, characterised by lower ge…