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Science Enabled by Specimen Data

Serra‐Diaz, J. M., J. Borderieux, B. Maitner, C. C. F. Boonman, D. Park, W. Guo, A. Callebaut, et al. 2024. occTest: An integrated approach for quality control of species occurrence data. Global Ecology and Biogeography. https://doi.org/10.1111/geb.13847

Aim Species occurrence data are valuable information that enables one to estimate geographical distributions, characterize niches and their evolution, and guide spatial conservation planning. Rapid increases in species occurrence data stem from increasing digitization and aggregation efforts, and citizen science initiatives. However, persistent quality issues in occurrence data can impact the accuracy of scientific findings, underscoring the importance of filtering erroneous occurrence records in biodiversity analyses.InnovationWe introduce an R package, occTest, that synthesizes a growing open‐source ecosystem of biodiversity cleaning workflows to prepare occurrence data for different modelling applications. It offers a structured set of algorithms to identify potential problems with species occurrence records by employing a hierarchical organization of multiple tests. The workflow has a hierarchical structure organized in testPhases (i.e. cleaning vs. testing) that encompass different testBlocks grouping different testTypes (e.g. environmental outlier detection), which may use different testMethods (e.g. Rosner test, jacknife,etc.). Four different testBlocks characterize potential problems in geographic, environmental, human influence and temporal dimensions. Filtering and plotting functions are incorporated to facilitate the interpretation of tests. We provide examples with different data sources, with default and user‐defined parameters. Compared to other available tools and workflows, occTest offers a comprehensive suite of integrated tests, and allows multiple methods associated with each test to explore consensus among data cleaning methods. It uniquely incorporates both coordinate accuracy analysis and environmental analysis of occurrence records. Furthermore, it provides a hierarchical structure to incorporate future tests yet to be developed.Main conclusionsoccTest will help users understand the quality and quantity of data available before the start of data analysis, while also enabling users to filter data using either predefined rules or custom‐built rules. As a result, occTest can better assess each record's appropriateness for its intended application.

Silva-Valderrama, I., J.-R. Úrbez-Torres, and T. J. Davies. 2024. From host to host: The taxonomic and geographic expansion of Botryosphaeriaceae. Fungal Biology Reviews 48: 100352. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fbr.2023.100352

Fungal pathogens are responsible for 30% of emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) in plants. The risk of a pathogen emerging on a new host is strongly tied to its host breadth; however, the determinants of host range are still poorly understood. Here, we explore the factors that shape host breadth of plant pathogens within Botryosphaeriaceae, a fungal family associated with several devastating diseases in economically important crops. While most host plants are associated with just one or a few fungal species, some hosts appear to be susceptible to infection by multiple fungi. However, the variation in the number of fungal taxa recorded across hosts is not easily explained by heritable plant traits. Nevertheless, we reveal strong evolutionary conservatism in host breadth, with most fungi infecting closely related host plants, but with some notable exceptions that seem to have escaped phylogenetic constraints on host range. Recent anthropogenic movement of plants, including widespread planting of crops, has provided new opportunities for pathogen spillover. We suggest that constraints to pathogen distributions will likely be further disrupted by climate change, and we may see future emergence events in regions where hosts are present but current climate is unfavorable.

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. https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.10747

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.

Farnitano, M. C., and A. L. Sweigart. 2023. Strong postmating reproductive isolation in Mimulus section Eunanus. Journal of Evolutionary Biology. https://doi.org/10.1111/jeb.14219

Postmating reproductive isolation can help maintain species boundaries when premating barriers to reproduction are incomplete. The strength and identity of postmating reproductive barriers are highly variable among diverging species, leading to questions about their genetic basis and evolutionary drivers. These questions have been tackled in model systems but are less often addressed with broader phylogenetic resolution. In this study we analyse patterns of genetic divergence alongside direct measures of postmating reproductive barriers in an overlooked group of sympatric species within the model monkeyflower genus, Mimulus. Within this Mimulus brevipes species group, we find substantial divergence among species, including a cryptic genetic lineage. However, rampant gene discordance and ancient signals of introgression suggest a complex history of divergence. In addition, we find multiple strong postmating barriers, including postmating prezygotic isolation, hybrid seed inviability and hybrid male sterility. M. brevipes and M. fremontii have substantial but incomplete postmating isolation. For all other tested species pairs, we find essentially complete postmating isolation. Hybrid seed inviability appears linked to differences in seed size, providing a window into possible developmental mechanisms underlying this reproductive barrier. While geographic proximity and incomplete mating isolation may have allowed gene flow within this group in the distant past, strong postmating reproductive barriers today have likely played a key role in preventing ongoing introgression. By producing foundational information about reproductive isolation and genomic divergence in this understudied group, we add new diversity and phylogenetic resolution to our understanding of the mechanisms of plant speciation.

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. https://doi.org/10.3390/plants12142721

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.

Babin, C. H., and C. D. Bell. 2023. The effects of climate change on cytotype distributions of endemic genera in the North American Coastal Plain. Plant Ecology & Diversity. https://doi.org/10.1080/17550874.2023.2239244

Background Approximately 33% of plant species face extinction due to climate change. Polyploidisation, a process resulting in more than two complete sets of chromosomes, may be promoted by periods of climate fluctuations. Ecological niche modelling (ENM) using occurrences of endemic plants in the North American Coastal Plain (NACP) biodiversity hotspot could be used to evaluate the potential effects of climate change on cytotype distributions. Aims We used known diploid and polyploid taxa endemic to the NACP to test hypotheses that diploids and polyploids differed in habitat preferences, considerable overlap existed between cytotypes, and polyploid distributions would increase under climate change projections. Methods We examined niche identity and overlap of 28 congeneric ploidy level pairs and performed ENM to evaluate how climate change could affect these groups. Results Congeneric ploidy level pairs differed significantly in niche identity, and overlap varied across genera. Eleven genera showed greater than 100% increases in habitat suitability and six genera showed almost no remaining suitable habitat in at least one future climate scenario. Conclusions With 70% of the species that showed substantial declines in projected suitable habitat being of conservation concern, we propose that future studies of these genera should be a primary focus in the NACP.

Kolanowska, M. 2023. Loss of fungal symbionts and changes in pollinator availability caused by climate change will affect the distribution and survival chances of myco-heterotrophic orchid species. Scientific Reports 13. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-023-33856-y

The first comprehensive species distribution models for orchid, its fungal symbionts and pollinator are presented. To evaluate impact of global warming on these organisms three different projections and four various climate change scenarios were analysed. The niche modelling was based on presence-only records of Limodorum abortivum , two species of Russula and three insects pollinating orchid ( Anthophora affinis, Bombus terrestris, Rhodanthidium septemdentatum ). Two sets of orchid predictions were examined—the first one included only climatic data and the second one was based on climate data and data on future distribution of orchid fungal symbionts. Overall, a poleward range shift is predicted to occur as a result of climate change and apparently global warming will be favorable for L. abortivum and its potential geographical range will expand. However, due to the negative effect of global warming on fungal symbionts of L. abortivum , the actual extension of the suitable niches of the orchid will be much limited. Considering future possibility of cross-pollination, the availability of A. affinis for L. abortivum will decrease and this bee will be available in the worst case scenarios only for 21% of orchid populations. On the other hand, the overlap of orchid and the buff-tailed bumblebee will increase and as much as 86.5% of plant populations will be located within B. terrestris potential range. Also the availability of R. septemdentatum will be higher than currently observed in almost all analysed climate change projections. This study showed the importance of inclusion of ecological factors in species distribution models as the climate data itself are not enough to estimate the future distribution of plant species. Moreover, the availability of pollen vectors which is crucial for long-term survival of orchid populations should be analysed in context of climate changes.

Gharde, Y., R. P. Dubey, P. K. Singh, and J. S. Mishra. 2023. Littleseed canarygrass (Phalaris minor Retz.) a major weed of rice-wheat system in India is predicted to experience range contraction under future climate. International Journal of Pest Management: 1–12. https://doi.org/10.1080/09670874.2023.2199258

Modelling was carried out using maximum entropy model (MaxEnt) to explore and predict the invasion potential of littleseed canarygrass (Phalaris minor Retz.) in India under current as well as future climatic conditions under Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs) 4.5 and 8.5 for the years 2050 and 2070. Mutually least correlated 8 bioclimatic variables along with soil and elevation data were used for the modelling over 223 occurrence locations of the species. Jackknife test revealed the significance of temperature derived variables viz. temperature seasonality, annual mean temperature and minimum temperature of the coldest month in governing the potential distribution of P. minor. Currently, 21% of India’s area is either highly (9%) or moderately (12%) suitable as habitat for P. minor. Our model predicts approximately 90% contraction in the area considered to be highly or moderately suitable climatically between 2050 and 2070 under both moderate and high emissions scenarios. Thus, under future climate, a significant niche shift by the species and decreased suitability was observed compared to the current distribution. The present study is first of its kind in exploring the invasion potential of alien invasive weed P. minor under climate change scenarios which is a current threat to rice-wheat system in Indo-Gangetic plains of India.

Huang, T., J. Chen, K. E. Hummer, L. A. Alice, W. Wang, Y. He, S. Yu, et al. 2023. Phylogeny of Rubus (Rosaceae): Integrating molecular and morphological evidence into an infrageneric revision. TAXON. https://doi.org/10.1002/tax.12885

Rubus (Rosaceae), one of the most complicated angiosperm genera, contains about 863 species, and is notorious for its taxonomic difficulty. The most recent (1910–1914) global taxonomic treatment of the genus was conducted by Focke, who defined 12 subgenera. Phylogenetic results over the past 25 years suggest that Focke's subdivisions of Rubus are not monophyletic, and large‐scale taxonomic revisions are necessary. Our objective was to provide a comprehensive phylogenetic analysis of the genus based on an integrative evidence approach. Morphological characters, obtained from our own investigation of living plants and examination of herbarium specimens are combined with chloroplast genomic data. Our dataset comprised 196 accessions representing 145 Rubus species (including cultivars and hybrids) and all of Focke's subgenera, including 60 endemic Chinese species. Maximum likelihood analyses inferred phylogenetic relationships. Our analyses concur with previous molecular studies, but with modifications. Our data strongly support the reclassification of several subgenera within Rubus. Our molecular analyses agree with others that only R. subg. Anoplobatus forms a monophyletic group. Other subgenera are para‐ or polyphyletic. We suggest a revised subgeneric framework to accommodate monophyletic groups. Character evolution is reconstructed, and diagnostic morphological characters for different clades are identified and discussed. Based on morphological and molecular evidence, we propose a new classification system with 10 subgenera: R. subg. Anoplobatus, R. subg. Batothamnus, R. subg. Chamaerubus, R. subg. Cylactis, R. subg. Dalibarda, R. subg. Idaeobatus, R. subg. Lineati, R. subg. Malachobatus, R. subg. Melanobatus, and R. subg. Rubus. The revised infrageneric nomenclature inferred from our analyses is provided along with synonymy and type citations. Our new taxonomic backbone is the first systematic and complete global revision of Rubus since Focke's treatment. It offers new insights into deep phylogenetic relationships of Rubus and has important theoretical and practical significance for the development and utilization of these important agronomic crops.

Ivey, C. T., N. M. Habecker, J. P. Bergmann, J. Ewald, M. E. Frayer, and J. M. Coughlan. 2023. Weak reproductive isolation and extensive gene flow between Mimulus glaucescens and M. guttatus in northern California. Evolution. https://doi.org/10.1093/evolut/qpad044

Abstract Barriers to reproduction are often how progress in speciation is measured. Nonetheless, an unresolved question concerns the extent to which reproductive barriers diminish gene flow between incipient species. The Sierra Nevada foothill endemic Mimulus glaucescens and the widespread M. guttatus are considered distinct species based on striking differences in vegetative morphology, but barriers to reproduction have not been previously identified, nor has gene flow between species been characterized. Here, we examined 15 potential reproductive barriers within a Northern California area of broad sympatry. Most barriers, with the exception of ecogeographic isolation, were weak or absent, and total isolation for each species was incomplete. Population genomic analyses of range-wide and broadly sympatric accessions revealed extensive gene flow between these taxa, particularly in sympatry. Despite widespread introgression, Mimulus glaucescens, emerged as monophyletic and largely comprised a single ancestry that was found at intermediate frequency within M. guttatus. This result, along with observed ecological and phenotypic differentiation, suggests that natural selection may contribute to the maintenance of distinct phenotypic forms in the earliest stages of speciation. Integrating estimates of barrier strength with direct estimates of gene flow can strengthen a more nuanced interpretation of the process of speciation in natural communities.