Science Enabled by Specimen Data

Ract, C., N. D. Burgess, L. Dinesen, P. Sumbi, I. Malugu, J. Latham, L. Anderson, et al. 2024. Nature Forest Reserves in Tanzania and their importance for conservation S. S. Romanach [ed.],. PLOS ONE 19: e0281408. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0281408

Since 1997 Tanzania has undertaken a process to identify and declare a network of Nature Forest Reserves (NFRs) with high biodiversity values, from within its existing portfolio of national Forest Reserves, with 16 new NFRs declared since 2015. The current network of 22 gazetted NFRs covered 948,871 hectares in 2023. NFRs now cover a range of Tanzanian habitat types, including all main forest types—wet, seasonal, and dry—as well as wetlands and grasslands. NFRs contain at least 178 of Tanzania’s 242 endemic vertebrate species, of which at least 50% are threatened with extinction, and 553 Tanzanian endemic plant taxa (species, subspecies, and varieties), of which at least 50% are threatened. NFRs also support 41 single-site endemic vertebrate species and 76 single-site endemic plant taxa. Time series analysis of management effectiveness tracking tool (METT) data shows that NFR management effectiveness is increasing, especially where donor funds have been available. Improved management and investment have resulted in measurable reductions of some critical threats in NFRs. Still, ongoing challenges remain to fully contain issues of illegal logging, charcoal production, firewood, pole-cutting, illegal hunting and snaring of birds and mammals, fire, wildlife trade, and the unpredictable impacts of climate change. Increased tourism, diversified revenue generation and investment schemes, involving communities in management, and stepping up control measures for remaining threats are all required to create a network of economically self-sustaining NFRs able to conserve critical biodiversity values.

Alfaro-Saiz, E., A. B. Fernández-Salegui, and C. Acedo. 2023. Plant Conservation in the Midst of Energy Transition: Can Regional Governments Rise to the Challenge? Land 12: 2003. https://doi.org/10.3390/land12112003

Within the expanding wind energy projects context, this study explores the intricate relationship between biodiversity conservation and wind power development in the Cantabrian Mountains. By analyzing data from 1107 UTM grids measuring 10 × 10 km, we have identified 378 endangered vascular plant taxa and 36 bryophytes, including 135 that are regional endemics. Wind power complexes pose a significant risk of irreversible impacts on plant conservation zones and their integrity if proper management informed by the best available scientific knowledge is not implemented. This study introduces the concept of very important plant areas (VIPAs) as a crucial tool for identifying priority conservation areas. A total of 60% of the UTM grids were classified in the “high conservation value” category. Among the endangered species within the region, only 11% are afforded protection at the European level and 17% at the national level, leaving a key role for regional governments with heterogeneous lists. Our findings highlight the urgent need for legislation that accommodates updates to protected species lists, ensuring the inclusion of high-risk taxa and legally binding mechanisms at various administrative tiers. The proposed method relies on quantifiable and repeatable criteria, making it adaptable for application in other territories and for broader land use planning purposes.

Filartiga, A. L., A. Klimeš, J. Altman, M. P. Nobis, A. Crivellaro, F. Schweingruber, and J. Doležal. 2022. Comparative anatomy of leaf petioles in temperate trees and shrubs: the role of plant size, environment and phylogeny. Annals of Botany 129: 567–582. https://doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcac014

Background and Aims Petioles are important plant organs connecting stems with leaf blades and affecting light-harvesting ability of the leaf as well as transport of water, nutrients and biochemical signals. Despite the high diversity in petiole size, shape and anatomy, little information is availabl…

Ma, C.-S., W. Zhang, Y. Peng, F. Zhao, X.-Q. Chang, K. Xing, L. Zhu, et al. 2021. Climate warming promotes pesticide resistance through expanding overwintering range of a global pest. Nature Communications 12. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-25505-7

Climate change has the potential to change the distribution of pests globally and their resistance to pesticides, thereby threatening global food security in the 21st century. However, predicting where these changes occur and how they will influence current pest control efforts is a challenge. Using…

Zanatta, F., R. Engler, F. Collart, O. Broennimann, R. G. Mateo, B. Papp, J. Muñoz, et al. 2020. Bryophytes are predicted to lag behind future climate change despite their high dispersal capacities. Nature Communications 11. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-19410-8

The extent to which species can balance out the loss of suitable habitats due to climate warming by shifting their ranges is an area of controversy. Here, we assess whether highly efficient wind-dispersed organisms like bryophytes can keep-up with projected shifts in their areas of suitable climate.…

Ronquillo, C., F. Alves-Martins, V. Mazimpaka, T. Sobral-Souza, B. Vilela-Silva, N. G. Medina, and J. Hortal. 2020. Assessing spatial and temporal biases and gaps in the publicly available distributional information of Iberian mosses. Biodiversity Data Journal 8. https://doi.org/10.3897/bdj.8.e53474

One of the most valuable initiatives on massive availability of biodiversity data is the Global Biodiversity Information Facility, which is creating new opportunities to develop and test macroecological knowledge. However, the potential uses of these data are limited by the gaps and biases associate…