Science Enabled by Specimen Data

Issaly, E. A., M. C. Baranzelli, N. Rocamundi, A. M. Ferreiro, L. A. Johnson, A. N. Sérsic, and V. Paiaro. 2023. Too much water under the bridge: unraveling the worldwide invasion of the tree tobacco through genetic and ecological approaches. Biological Invasions.

Understanding how, and from where, invasive species were introduced is critical for revealing the invasive mechanism, explaining the invasion success, and providing crucial insights for effective management. Here, we combined a phylogeographic approach with ecological niche modeling comparisons to elucidate the introduction mode and source of Nicotiana glauca , a native South American species that is now invasive worldwide. We tested three different scenarios based on the invasion source—random native, restricted native, and bridgehead invasive—considering genetic diversity and climatic niche comparisons among native and invaded areas. We found three genetic lineages geographically and climatically differentiated within the native range. Only one of these genetic groups contained the invasive haplotypes, but showed no climatic niche overlap with any invaded area. Conversely, one invaded area located in western South America, with more genetic diversity than other invaded areas but less than the native range, showed climatic niche overlap with almost all other invaded areas worldwide. These findings indicate that N. glauca first likely invaded the southernmost areas beyond its native range, forming a bridgehead invasive source, from which the species subsequently invaded other regions around the world. Invasiveness would have been fostered by changes in the environmental preferences of the species in the bridgehead area, towards drier, colder and less seasonal climates, becoming the actual source of invasion to areas climatically similar throughout the world. The fine scale resolution analyses combining genetic and climatic approaches within the native range were essential to illuminating the introduction scenario of this invasive species.

Aguirre-Dugua, X., and A. Casas. 2023. Mesoamerica in a Bowl. Current Anthropology 64: 528–549.

Trees of the Neotropical genus Crescentia produce hard-shelled fruits used to manufacture bowls. In this work we analyze the role played by these vessels in the material culture of Mesoamerican peoples through archaeological, ethnohistorical (including 19 works and three tribute lists), and linguistic evidence (including 40 native languages). The earliest archaeobotanical record of Crescentia was found in Belize, estimated at least 2400 BP, whereas the first European description was made by Fernández de Oviedo in 1526. Historical texts written from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries tell that the main use of these vessels was as drinking cups (especially for cacao). Current ethnographic evidence reveals the validity of a close association between Crescentia bowls and traditional beverages based on cacao. Terms for designating these trees in 29 indigenous languages from eight linguistic families, with the oldest ones from the Amuzgo-Mixtec and Mixe-Zoquean lineages, confirm that Crescentia vessels constitute an entity clearly distinguishable from Lagenaria. New areas of ethnobotanical, ethnographic, and archaeological research are highlighted for understanding the role played by these vessels in utilitarian and symbolic aspects and the factors that support their persistence among Mesoamerican peoples up to the present.

Jin, D., Q. Yuan, X. Dai, G. Kozlowski, and Y. Song. 2023. Enhanced precipitation has driven the evolution of subtropical evergreen broad‐leaved forests in eastern China since the early Miocene: Evidence from ring‐cupped oaks. Journal of Systematics and Evolution.

Subtropical evergreen broad‐leaved forest (EBLF) is the predominant vegetation type in eastern China. However, the majority of the region it covers in eastern China was an arid area during the Paleogene. The temporal history and essential factors involved in the evolution of subtropical EBLFs in eastern China remain enigmatic. Here we report on the niche evolution of Quercus section Cyclobalanopsis, which appeared in south China and Japan during the Eocene and became a dominant component of subtropical EBLFs since the Miocene in eastern Asia, using integrative analysis of occurrences, climate data and a dated phylogeny of 35 species in Cyclobalanopsis. Species within clades Cyclobalanoides, Lamellosa, and Helferiana mainly exist in the Himalaya–Hengduan region, adapting to a plateau climate, while species within the other clades mainly live in eastern China under the control of the East Asian monsoon. Reconstructed history showed that significant divergence of climatic tolerance in Cyclobalanopsis began around 19 million years ago (Ma) in the early Miocene. Simultaneously, disparities in precipitation of wettest/warmest quarter and annual precipitation were markedly enhanced in Cyclobalanopsis, especially in the recent eastern clades. During the Miocene, the marked radiation of Cyclobalanopsis and many other dominant taxa of subtropical EBLFs strongly suggest the rapid formation and expansion of subtropical EBLFs in eastern China. Our research highlights that the intensification of the East Asian monsoon and subsequent occupation of new niches by the ancient clades already present in the south may have jointly promoted the formation of subtropical EBLFs in eastern China since the early Miocene.

Stein, R. E., C. R. Luque-Fernández, C. Kiefer, J. Möbus, G. A. Pauca-Tanco, S. Jabbusch, D. Harpke, et al. 2023. Climate-driven past and present interspecies gene flow may have contributed to shape microscale adaptation capacity in Tillandsia lomas in hyperarid south American desert systems. Global and Planetary Change 230: 104258.

Epiarenic (sand-growing) Tillandsia vegetation in the hyperarid and arid region of the Chilean-Peruvian Atacama Desert represents an extreme case of adaptation in plant species-poor ecosystems. The involved species exist at the limit of terrestrial life and form mono/oligo-specific and very characteristic structures within the landscape. Covering thousands of square kilometers they represent the major carbon sink in the hyperarid Atacama core. The various Tillandsia species and respective vegetation may have evolved and adapted independently to this extreme environment. The most abundant vicariant diploid species are T. landbeckii in Chile and T. purpurea in Peru. Spatio-temporally varying distribution range overlaps may have caused potentially adaptive gene flow between different species leading to present day gene pools. Using species distribution modelling we explored the idea that from Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) onwards both species shifted their distribution ranges, which resulted in the formation of varying suture zones from Peru towards northern Chile. We further explored genetic data from a Tillandsia loma vegetation in Southern Peru with three sympatrically growing species exemplifying inter-species gene flow crossing even ploidy levels. This mechanism highlights a strategy to evolve and adapt more rapidly to environmental changes in extreme arid and hyperarid habitats and provides an opportunity for Tillandsia populations to efficiently conserve new genotypes via subsequent clonal propagation.

Atuesta, J. 2023. Synopsis of the genus Mapania (Cyperaceae, Mapanioideae, Hypolytreae) in the Colombian Amazon. Heringeriana 17: e918031.

Mapania is a genus placed in the tribe Hypolytreae, subfamily Mapanioideae of the family Cyperaceae. It includes about 100 species worldwide, widely distributed throughout the tropics. In South America, this genus is represented by 14 species, five of them in Colombia. Its presence in the Colombian Amazon is uncertain due to lack of knowledge of the group and dubious records. The aim of this study is to present a taxonomic synopsis of Mapania for the Colombian Amazon. Specimens from COAH and COL herbaria as well as online databases were revised. Presence of five species is reported: Mapania effusa whose occurrence in Colombia is confirmed, M. pycnocephala and M. pycnostachya new records for the Amazon region, M. maguireana and M. theobromina new records for the Colombian flora. Morphological descriptions, information about the habitat, geographic distribution, notes, and photographs for these species are presented along with a key to identify the Colombian species of this genus.

Kolanowska, M. 2023. Future distribution of the epiphytic leafless orchid (Dendrophylax lindenii), its pollinators and phorophytes evaluated using niche modelling and three different climate change projections. Scientific Reports 13.

The identification of future refugia for endangered species from the effects of global warming is crucial for improving their conservation. Because climate-driven shifts in ranges and local extinctions can result in a spatial mismatch with their symbiotic organisms, however, it is important to incorporate in niche modelling the ecological partners of the species studied. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of climate change on the distribution of suitable niches for the ghost orchid ( Dendrophylax lindenii ) and its phorophytes and pollinators. Thus, its five species of host trees and three pollen vectors were included in the analysis. Climatic preferences of all the species studied were evaluated. The modelling was based on three different climate change projections and four Shared Socio-economic Pathway trajectories. All the species analysed are characterized by narrow temperature tolerances, which with global warming are likely to result in local extinctions and range shifts. D. lindenii is likely to be subjected to a significant loss of suitable niches, but within a reduced geographical range, both host trees and pollen vectors will be available in the future. Future conservation of this orchid should focus on areas that are likely be suitable for it and its ecological partners.

Thongsangtum, N., J. Huang, S.-F. Li, Y. Thasod, and T. Su. 2023. Calophyllum (Calophyllaceae) from late Oligocene–Early Miocene of Li Basin, northern Thailand and its biogeographic and paleoclimatic implications. Palaeoworld.

Fossils from tropical Asia, which are far from fully investigated, are important for understanding the evolution of plant diversity and the associated surrounding environment there. In this study, we report, as the first record in Thailand, the well-preserved leaf fossils of Calophyllum Linnaeus (Calophyllaceae) from the upper Oligocene–Lower Miocene lacustrine deposits in Li Basin, northern Thailand. The fossils were identified through detailed comparison with leaves of extant and fossil species. These leaf fossils are assigned to Calophyllum based on several key leaf characteristics such as oblanceolate or oblong in shape and parallel secondary veins, nearly perpendicular to the midvein, as well as secondary veins alternate, closely placed, craspedodromous, parallel, dense, and distinct on surface, forming marginal veins. Based on detailed morphological comparison, these fossil leaves are assigned to C. suraikholaensis Awasthi and Prasad, 1990 and Calophyllum sp. The discovery of Calophyllum indicates a montane subtropical to tropical climate in northern Thailand during the Oligocene–Miocene. Together with previous fossil records, these results suggest that this genus probably originated in India during the Paleogene, and spread from India to Indochina during the Neogene, leading to its modern distribution, which currently prefers tropical climates.

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.

McCulloch-Jones, E. J., T. Kraaij, N. Crouch, and K. T. Faulkner. 2023. Assessing the invasion risk of traded alien ferns using species distribution models. NeoBiota 87: 161–189.

Risk analysis plays a crucial role in regulating and managing alien and invasive species but can be time-consuming and costly. Alternatively, combining invasion and impact history with species distribution models offers a cost-effective and time-efficient approach to assess invasion risk and identify species for which a comprehensive risk analysis should take precedence. We conducted such an assessment for six traded alien fern species, determining their invasion risk in countries where they are traded. Four of the species (Dicksonia antarctica, Dryopteris erythrosora, Lygodium japonicum, and Phlebodium aureum) showed limited global distributions, while Adiantum raddianum and Sphaeropteris cooperi had broader distributions. A. raddianum, however, was the only species found to pose a high invasion risk in two known trade countries – the USA and Australia – and requires a complete risk analysis to determine the appropriate regulatory responses. Dicksonia antarctica, Phlebodium aureum (for New Zealand), and Dryopteris erythrosora (for the USA) posed a medium risk of invasion due to the lack of evidence of impacts, and a complete risk analysis is thus deemed less crucial for these species in these countries. For other species, suitable environments were not predicted in the countries where they are traded, thus the risk of invasion is low, and a complete risk analysis is not required. For species in countries where suitable environments are predicted but no trade information or presence data are available, risk assessments are recommended to better determine the risk posed. Despite the relatively limited potential global distribution of the studied ferns relative to other major plant invaders (e.g., Pinus spp. and Acacia spp.), their history of invasion, documented impacts in pristine environments, and high propagule pressure from trade warrants concern, possibly necessitating legislative and regulatory measures in environmentally suitable regions.

Li, D., H.-Y. Lin, X. Wang, B. Bi, Y. Gao, L. Shao, R. Zhang, et al. 2023. Genome and whole-genome resequencing of Cinnamomum camphora elucidate its dominance in subtropical urban landscapes. BMC Biology 21.

Background Lauraceae is well known for its significant phylogenetic position as well as important economic and ornamental value; however, most evergreen species in Lauraceae are restricted to tropical regions. In contrast, camphor tree ( Cinnamomum camphora ) is the most dominant evergreen broadleaved tree in subtropical urban landscapes. Results Here, we present a high-quality reference genome of C. camphora and conduct comparative genomics between C. camphora and C. kanehirae . Our findings demonstrated the significance of key genes in circadian rhythms and phenylpropanoid metabolism in enhancing cold response, and terpene synthases ( TPSs ) improved defence response with tandem duplication and gene cluster formation in C. camphora . Additionally, the first comprehensive catalogue of C. camphora based on whole-genome resequencing of 75 accessions was constructed, which confirmed the crucial roles of the above pathways and revealed candidate genes under selection in more popular C. camphora , and indicated that enhancing environmental adaptation is the primary force driving C. camphora breeding and dominance. Conclusions These results decipher the dominance of C. camphora in subtropical urban landscapes and provide abundant genomic resources for enlarging the application scopes of evergreen broadleaved trees.