Science Enabled by Specimen Data

Maurin, O., A. Anest, F. Forest, I. Turner, R. L. Barrett, R. C. Cowan, L. Wang, et al. 2023. Drift in the tropics: Phylogenetics and biogeographical patterns in Combretaceae. Global Ecology and Biogeography. https://doi.org/10.1111/geb.13737

Aim The aim of this study was to further advance our understanding of the species-rich, and ecologically important angiosperm family Combretaceae to provide new insights into their evolutionary history. We assessed phylogenetic relationships in the family using target capture data and produced a dated phylogenetic tree to assess fruit dispersal modes and patterns of distribution. Location Tropical and subtropical regions. Time Period Cretaceous to present. Major Taxa Studied Family Combretaceae is a member of the rosid clade and comprises 10 genera and more than 500 species, predominantly assigned to genera Combretum and Terminalia, and occurring on all continents and in a wide range of ecosystems. Methods We use a target capture approach and the Angiosperms353 universal probes to reconstruct a robust dated phylogenetic tree for the family. This phylogenetic framework, combined with seed dispersal traits, biome data and biogeographic ranges, allows the reconstruction of the biogeographical history of the group. Results Ancestral range reconstructions suggest a Gondwanan origin (Africa/South America), with several intercontinental dispersals within the family and few transitions between biomes. Relative abundance of fruit dispersal types differed by both continent and biome. However, intercontinental colonizations were only significantly enhanced by water dispersal (drift fruit), and there was no evidence that seed dispersal modes influenced biome shifts. Main Conclusions Our analysis reveals a paradox as drift fruit greatly enhanced dispersal distances at intercontinental scale but did not affect the strong biome conservatism observed.

Ripley, B. S., S. L. Raubenheimer, L. Perumal, M. Anderson, E. Mostert, B. S. Kgope, G. F. Midgley, and K. J. Simpson. 2022. CO 2 ‐fertilisation enhances resilience to browsing in the recruitment phase of an encroaching savanna tree. Functional Ecology. https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2435.14215

CO2‐fertilisation is implicated in the widespread and significant woody encroachment of savannas due to CO2‐stimulated increases in belowground reserves that enhance sapling regrowth after fire. However, the effect of CO2 concentration ([CO2]) on tree responses to the other major disturbance in savannas, herbivory, is poorly understood. Herbivory‐responses cannot be predicted from fire‐responses, as herbivore effects occur earlier during establishment and are moderated by plant palatability and defence rather than belowground carbon accumulation.

Meller, P., M. Stellmes, A. Fidelis, and M. Finckh. 2022. Correlates of geoxyle diversity in Afrotropical grasslands. Journal of Biogeography 49: 339–352. https://doi.org/10.1111/jbi.14305

Aim: Tropical old-growth grasslands are increasingly acknowledged as biodiverse ecosystems, but they are understudied in many aspects. Geoxyle species are a key component in many of these ecosystems, their belowground storage organs and bud banks are functionally diverse and contribute to the grassl…

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. 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…

Rhodes, A. C., R. M. Plowes, J. A. Goolsby, J. F. Gaskin, B. Musyoka, P.-A. Calatayud, M. Cristofaro, et al. 2021. The dilemma of Guinea grass (Megathyrsus maximus): a valued pasture grass and a highly invasive species. Biological Invasions 23: 3653–3669. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10530-021-02607-3

On a global scale, invasive grasses threaten biodiversity and ecosystem function. Nevertheless, the importation of forage grasses is a significant economic force driven by globalization. Pastureland and rangeland are of critical economic and ecological importance, but novel grass species may lead to…

Iannella, M., P. D’Alessandro, W. De Simone, and M. Biondi. 2021. Habitat Specificity, Host Plants and Areas of Endemism for the Genera-Group Blepharida s.l. in the Afrotropical Region (Coleoptera, Chrysomelidae, Galerucinae, Alticini). Insects 12: 299. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12040299

The genus Calotheca Heyden (Chrysomelidae) is mainly distributed in the eastern and southern parts of sub-Saharan Africa, with some extensions northward, while Blepharidina Bechyné occurs in the intertropical zone of Africa, with two subgenera, Blepharidina s. str. and Blepharidina(Afroblepharida) B…

Jahanshiri, E., N. M. Mohd Nizar, T. A. S. Tengku Mohd Suhairi, P. J. Gregory, A. S. Mohamed, E. M. Wimalasiri, and S. N. Azam-Ali. 2020. A Land Evaluation Framework for Agricultural Diversification. Sustainability 12: 3110. 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-…

Li, M., J. He, Z. Zhao, R. Lyu, M. Yao, J. Cheng, and L. Xie. 2020. Predictive modelling of the distribution of Clematis sect. Fruticella s. str. under climate change reveals a range expansion during the Last Glacial Maximum. PeerJ 8: e8729. https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.8729

Background The knowledge of distributional dynamics of living organisms is a prerequisite for protecting biodiversity and for the sustainable use of biotic resources. Clematis sect. Fruticella s. str. is a small group of shrubby, yellow-flowered species distributed mainly in arid and semi-arid areas…