Science Enabled by Specimen Data

Renjana, E., E. R. Firdiana, M. H. Angio, L. W. Ningrum, I. Q. Lailaty, A. Rahadiantoro, I. Martiansyah, et al. 2024. Spatial habitat suitability prediction of essential oil wild plants on Indonesia’s degraded lands. PeerJ 12: e17210. https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.17210

Background Essential oils are natural products of aromatic plants with numerous uses. Essential oils have been traded worldwide and utilized in various industries. Indonesia is the sixth largest essential oil producing country, but land degradation is a risk to the continuing extraction and utilization of natural products. Production of essential oil plants on degraded lands is a potential strategy to mitigate this risk. This study aimed to identify degraded lands in Indonesia that could be suitable habitats for five wild native essential oil producing plants, namely Acronychia pedunculata (L.) Miq., Baeckea frutescens L., Cynometra cauliflora L., Magnolia montana (Blume) Figlar, and Magnolia sumatrana var. glauca (Blume) Figlar & Noot using various species distribution models. Methods The habitat suitability of these species was predicted by comparing ten species distribution models, including Bioclim, classification and regression trees (CART), flexible discriminant analysis (FDA), Maxlike, boosted regression trees (BRT), multivariate adaptive regression splines (MARS), generalized linear models (GLM), Ranger, support vector machine (SVM), and Random Forests (RF). Bioclimatic, topographic and soil variables were used as the predictors of the model habitat suitability. The models were evaluated according to their AUC and TSS metrics. Model selection was based on ranking performance. The total suitable area for five native essential oil producing plants in Indonesia’s degraded lands was derived by overlaying the models with degraded land locations. Results The habitat suitability model for these species was well predicted with an AUC value >0.8 and a TSS value >0.7. The most important predictor variables affecting the habitat suitability of these species are mean temperature of wettest quarter, precipitation seasonality, precipitation of warmest quarter, precipitation of coldest quarter, cation exchange capacity, nitrogen, sand, and soil organic carbon. C. cauliflora has the largest predicted suitable area, followed by M. montana, B. frutescens, M. sumatrana var. glauca, and A. pedunculata. The overlapping area between predictive habitat suitability and degraded lands indicates that the majority of degraded lands in Indonesia’s forest areas are suitable for those species. Conclusion The degraded lands predicted as suitable habitats for five native essential oil producing plants were widely spread throughout Indonesia, mostly in its main islands. These findings can be used by the Indonesian Government for evaluating policies for degraded land utilization and restorations that can enhance the lands’ productivity.

Ramírez-Barahona, S. 2024. Incorporating fossils into the joint inference of phylogeny and biogeography of the tree fern order Cyatheales R. Warnock, and M. Zelditch [eds.],. Evolution. https://doi.org/10.1093/evolut/qpae034

Present-day geographic and phylogenetic patterns often reflect the geological and climatic history of the planet. Neontological distribution data are often sufficient to unravel a lineage’s biogeographic history, yet ancestral range inferences can be at odds with fossil evidence. Here, I use the fossilized birth–death process and the dispersal–extinction cladogenesis model to jointly infer the dated phylogeny and range evolution of the tree fern order Cyatheales. I use data for 101 fossil and 442 extant tree ferns to reconstruct the biogeographic history of the group over the last 220 million years. Fossil-aware reconstructions evince a prolonged occupancy of Laurasia over the Triassic–Cretaceous by Cyathealean tree ferns, which is evident in the fossil record but hidden from analyses relying on neontological data alone. Nonetheless, fossil-aware reconstructions are affected by uncertainty in fossils’ phylogenetic placement, taphonomic biases, and specimen sampling and are sensitive to interpretation of paleodistributions and how these are scored. The present results highlight the need and challenges of incorporating fossils into joint inferences of phylogeny and biogeography to improve the reliability of ancestral geographic range estimation.

Anest, A., Y. Bouchenak-Khelladi, T. Charles-Dominique, F. Forest, Y. Caraglio, G. P. Hempson, O. Maurin, and K. W. Tomlinson. 2024. Blocking then stinging as a case of two-step evolution of defensive cage architectures in herbivore-driven ecosystems. Nature Plants. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41477-024-01649-4

Dense branching and spines are common features of plant species in ecosystems with high mammalian herbivory pressure. While dense branching and spines can inhibit herbivory independently, when combined, they form a powerful defensive cage architecture. However, how cage architecture evolved under mammalian pressure has remained unexplored. Here we show how dense branching and spines emerged during the age of mammalian radiation in the Combretaceae family and diversified in herbivore-driven ecosystems in the tropics. Phylogenetic comparative methods revealed that modern plant architectural strategies defending against large mammals evolved via a stepwise process. First, dense branching emerged under intermediate herbivory pressure, followed by the acquisition of spines that supported higher speciation rates under high herbivory pressure. Our study highlights the adaptive value of dense branching as part of a herbivore defence strategy and identifies large mammal herbivory as a major selective force shaping the whole plant architecture of woody plants. This study explores the evolution of two traits, branching density and spine presence, in the globally distributed plant family Combretaceae. These traits were found to have appeared in a two-step process in response to mammalian herbivory pressure, revealing the importance of large mammals in the evolution of plant architecture diversity.

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.

Xiaofan, S., Z. Jian, G. Haojie, K. Weipeng, B. Yuke, L. Xiupeng, Y. Enrong, et al. 2023. Island area and climate jointly impact seed plant richness patterns across the Zhoushan Archipelago. Biodiversity Science 31: 23392. https://doi.org/10.17520/biods.2023392

岛屿因具有明确的地理边界, 是检验多个生态学过程如何构建生物多样性的理想平台之一。岛屿属性、气候因素、人 类干扰等通过影响物种选择、扩散等过程, 进而影响着岛屿生物多样性格局。目前对于岛屿植物丰富度格局如何受这些因素 的共同作用的认识仍不充分, 尤其是在人类干扰较强的海岛。本文基于我国第一大群岛舟山群岛92个岛屿较完整的种子植物 分布数据, 采用一般线性回归和广义线性模型(伪泊松分布)定量评估岛屿属性(面积、隔离度、形状指数)、气候(温度、降水 及其季节性)和人类干扰对本土植物总丰富度及不同生长型、叶物候型植物丰富度格局的影响, 采用beta回归分析常绿阔叶木 本比率(常绿阔叶木本植物丰富度/所有阔叶木本植物丰富度)的影响因素。结果发现: 92个岛屿共记录本土植物1,158种, 其中 乔木108种、灌木318种、草本732种; 岛屿面积是对植物总丰富度影响最大的因子, 其次是年降水量和隔离度; 乔木丰富度随 隔离度增加而减少的趋势比灌木和草本更明显; 常绿阔叶和落叶阔叶木本植物丰富度格局与总体基本一致, 年降水量对常绿 阔叶木本的影响大于落叶阔叶木本, 但常绿阔叶木本比率仅受温度季节性的强烈影响。岛屿面积、年降水量、温度季节性等 是塑造舟山群岛所有植物及其不同功能型组(生长型、叶物候型)植物丰富度格局的主要决定因素。

Schertler, A., B. Lenzner, S. Dullinger, D. Moser, J. L. Bufford, L. Ghelardini, A. Santini, et al. 2023. Biogeography and global flows of 100 major alien fungal and fungus‐like oomycete pathogens. Journal of Biogeography. https://doi.org/10.1111/jbi.14755

AbstractAimSpreading infectious diseases associated with introduced pathogens can have devastating effects on native biota and human livelihoods. We analyse the global distribution of 100 major alien fungal and oomycete pathogens with substantial socio‐economic and environmental impacts and examine their taxonomy, ecological characteristics, temporal accumulation trajectories, regional hot‐ and coldspots of taxon richness and taxon flows between continents.LocationGlobal.TaxonAlien/cryptogenic fungi and fungus‐like oomycetes, pathogenic to plants or animals.MethodsTo identify over/underrepresented classes and phyla, we performed Chi2 tests of independence. To describe spatial patterns, we calculated the region‐wise richness and identified hot‐ and coldspots, defined as residuals after correcting taxon richness for region area and sampling effort via a quasi‐Poisson regression. We examined the relationship with environmental and socio‐economic drivers with a multiple linear regression and evaluated a potential island effect. Regional first records were pooled over 20‐year periods, and for global flows the links between the native range to the alien regions were mapped.ResultsPeronosporomycetes (Oomycota) were overrepresented among taxa and regional taxon richness was positively correlated with area and sampling effort. While no island effect was found, likely due to host limitations, hotspots were correlated with human modification of terrestrial land, per capita gross domestic product, temperate and tropical forest biomes, and orobiomes. Regional first records have increased steeply in recent decades. While Europe and Northern America were major recipients, about half of the taxa originate from Asia.Main ConclusionsWe highlight the putative importance of anthropogenic drivers, such as land use providing a conducive environment, contact opportunities and susceptible hosts, as well as economic wealth likely increasing colonisation pressure. While most taxa were associated with socio‐economic impacts, possibly partly due to a bias in research focus, about a third show substantial impacts to both socio‐economy and the environment, underscoring the importance of maintaining a wholescale perspective across natural and managed systems.

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.

ter Huurne, M. B., L. J. Potgieter, C. Botella, and D. M. Richardson. 2023. Melaleuca (Myrtaceae): Biogeography of an important genus of trees and shrubs in a changing world. South African Journal of Botany 162: 230–244. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sajb.2023.08.052

The number of naturalised and invasive woody plant species has increased rapidly in recent decades. Despite the increasing interest in tree and shrub invasions, little is known about the invasion ecology of most species. This paper explores the global movement of species in the genus Melaleuca (Myrtaceae; here including the genus Callistemon). We assess the global introduction history, distribution and biogeographic status of the genus. Various global species occurrence databases, citizen science (iNaturalist), and the literature were used.Seventy-two species [out of 386 Melaleuca species; 19%] have been introduced to at least 125 regions outside their native range. The main regions of global Melaleuca introductions are Southeast Asia, the southern parts of North America, south-eastern South America, southern Africa and Europe. The earliest record of a Melaleuca species outside of the native range of the genus is 1789. First records of Melaleuca species outside their native range were most commonly recorded in the 1960s, with records from all over the world. The main reasons for Melaleuca introductions were for use in the tea tree (pharmaceutical value) and ornamental horticulture industries. Melaleuca introductions, naturalizations and invasions are recent compared to many other woody plant taxa. Experiences in Florida and South Africa highlight the potential of Melaleuca species to spread rapidly and have significant ecological impacts. It is likely that the accumulating invasion debt will result in further naturalization and invasion of Melaleuca species in the future.

Andersen, J. C., and J. S. Elkinton. 2023. Climate suitability analyses compare the distributions of invasive knotweeds in Europe and North America with the source localities of their introduced biological control agents. Ecology and Evolution 13. https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.10494

Climate suitability analyses based on ecological niche modeling provide a powerful tool for biological control practitioners to assess the likelihood of establishment of different candidate agents prior to their introduction in the field. These same analyses could also be performed to understand why some agents establish more easily than others. The release of three strains of Aphalara itadori (Shinji) (Hemiptera: Pysllidae), each from a different source locality in Japan, for the biological control of invasive knotweed species, Reynoutria spp. Houtt. (Caryophyllales: Polygonaceae), provides an important opportunity to compare the utility of climate suitability analyses for identifying potential climate‐based limitations for successful biological control introductions. Here, we predict climate suitability envelopes for three target species of knotweed in Europe and two target species of knotweed in North America and compare these suitability estimates for each of these species to the source localities of each A. itadori strain. We find that source locality of one strain, the Kyushu strain, has little‐to‐no suitability compared to other locations in Japan based on knotweed records from Europe, supporting an earlier study based on North American Japanese knotweed records. The source locality of a second strain, the Murakami strain, was predicted to have medium‐to‐high suitability based on records of knotweeds from North America. In contrast, European records of Reynoutria × bohemica Chrtek & Chrtková and Reynoutria sachalinensis (F. Schmidt) Nakai predicted no suitability for this locality compared to other locations in Japan, while European records for Reynoutria japonica Houtt. predicted low suitability. The source locality of the final strain, the Hokkaido strain, was predicted as having medium‐to‐high suitability based on knotweed records of all examined species from both North America and Europe.

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. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12915-023-01692-1

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.