Science Enabled by Specimen Data

Minghetti, E., P. M. Dellapé, M. Maestro, and S. I. Montemayor. 2024. Evaluating the climatic suitability of Engytatus passionarius Minghetti et al. (Heteroptera, Miridae) as a biological control agent of the invasive stinking passion flower Passiflora foetida L. in Australia through ecological niche models. Biological Control 191: 105461.

Passiflora foetida is a climbing vine, native to the Neotropical Region that is causing major economic and ecological damage in Australia, where it is rapidly spreading. Traditional control options, such as cutting, manual uprooting, and herbicide applications are only effective for local management. Currently, the plant bug Engytatus passionarius is the most promising biological control agent. Specificity tests performed in its native range in Argentina suggest it is highly specific to the plant, and it has not been observed in the field associated with other plants. As climate determines the establishment of insects, knowing if the environmental conditions suit their requirements is key to introducing a species in a region. Also, an overlap between the climatic niches of species is an indicator of similar requirements. To explore the possibilities of a successful establishment of E. passionarius in Australia, ecological niche models (ENM) were built for the plant bug and for the vine and their overlap was measured. The ENM projected to Australia recognized suitable environmental conditions for the establishment of E. passionarius in several regions where P. foetida is present, both for current and future scenarios. Moreover, the niche of the plant bug is almost completely overlapped with that of the vine. All the aforementioned evidence seems to indicate that E. passionarius has a good chance to become an effective biological control agent of P. foetida.

Mathur, M., and P. Mathur. 2024. Habitat suitability of Opuntia ficus-indica (L.) MILL. (CACTACEAE): a comparative temporal evaluation using diverse bio-climatic earth system models and ensemble machine learning approach. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 196.

A comprehensive evaluation of the habitat suitability across the India was conducted for the introduced species Opuntia ficus-indica . This assessment utilized a newly developed model called BioClimInd, takes into account five Earth System Models (ESMs). These ESMs consider two different emission scenarios known as Representative Concentration Pathways (RCP), specifically RCP 4.5 and RCP 8.5. Additionally, the assessment considered two future time frames: 2040–2079 (60) and 2060–2099 (80). Current study provided the threshold limit of different climatic variables in annual, quarter and monthly time slots like temperature annual range (26–30 °C), mean temperature of the driest quarter (25–28 °C); mean temperature of the coldest month (22–25 °C); minimum temperature of coldest month (13–17 °C); precipitation of the wettest month (250–500 mm); potential evapotranspiration Thronthwaite (1740–1800 mm). Predictive climatic habitat suitability posits that the introduction of this exotic species is deemed unsuitable in the Northern as well as the entirety of the cooler eastern areas of the country. The states of Rajasthan and Gujarat exhibit the highest degree of habitat suitability for this particular species. Niche hypervolumes and climatic variables affecting fundamental and realized niches were also assessed. This study proposes using multi-climatic exploration to evaluate habitats for introduced species to reduce modeling uncertainties.

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.

Gachambi Mwangi, J., J. Haggar, S. Mohammed, T. Santika, and K. Mustapha Umar. 2023. The ecology, distribution, and anthropogenic threats of multipurpose hemi-parasitic plant Osyris lanceolata. Journal for Nature Conservation 76: 126478.

Osyris lanceolata Hochst. & Steud. ex A. DC. is a multipurpose plant with high socioeconomic and cultural values. It is endangered in the biogeographical region of eastern Africa, but of less concern in other regions where it occurs. The few natural populations remaining in the endangered sites continue to encounter many threats, and this has raised concerns about its long-term sustainability. Yet, existing knowledge about the ecology and distribution of the plant is scarce to inform strategies for the conservation and sustainable management of the species. In this study, we conducted a scoping review of the available literature on current knowledge about the plant. We recapitulated existing knowledge about the abiotic and biotic factors influencing the contemporary distribution of the plant, the anthropogenic threats, and existing conservation efforts. Based on the limited studies we reviewed, we identified that the plant prefers specific habitats (hilly areas and rocky outcrops), frequently parasitizes Fabaceae but can parasitize plants from a wide range of countries, have inadequate ex-situ propagation protocols which present issues for the survival of the species. Overharvesting from the wild driven by demand from regional and global markets poses further threats to the existing natural populations, especially in eastern Africa. A combination of ecological, social, and trade-related conservation measures can be envisioned to help improve the plant’s persistence. These include, but are not limited to, a better understanding of the species ecology to inform conservation planning, monitoring of trade flow and improve transnational environmental laws and cooperation among countries to prevent species smuggling.

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.

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.

Graham, C. D. K., E. J. Forrestel, A. L. Schilmiller, A. T. Zemenick, and M. G. Weber. 2023. Evolutionary signatures of a trade-off in direct and indirect defenses across the wild grape genus Vitis. Evolution.

Evolutionary correlations between chemical defense and protection by mutualist bodyguards have been long predicted, but tests of these pattern remain rare. We use a phylogenetic framework to test for evolutionary correlations indicative of trade-offs or synergisms between direct defense in the form of plant secondary metabolism, and indirect defense in the form of leaf domatia, across 33 species in the wild grape genus, Vitis. We also performed a bioassay with a generalist herbivore to associate our chemical phenotypes with herbivore palatability. Finally, we tested whether defensive traits correlate with the average abiotic characteristics of each species’ contemporary range and whether these correlations were consistent with plant defense theory. We found a negative evolutionary correlation between domatia size and the diversity of secondary metabolites in Vitis leaf tissue across the genus, and also that leaves with a higher diversity and richness of secondary metabolites were less palatable to a generalist herbivore, consistent with a trade-off in chemical and mutualistic defense investment. Predictions from plant defense theory were not supported by associations between investment in defense phenotypes and abiotic variables. Our work demonstrates an evolutionary pattern indicative of a trade-off between indirect and direct defense strategies across the Vitis genus.

Shen, F., S. Xu, Q. Shen, C. Bi, and M. A. Lysak. 2023. The allotetraploid horseradish genome provides insights into subgenome diversification and formation of critical traits. Nature Communications 14.

Polyploidization can provide a wealth of genetic variation for adaptive evolution and speciation, but understanding the mechanisms of subgenome evolution as well as its dynamics and ultimate consequences remains elusive. Here, we report the telomere-to-telomere (T2T) gap-free reference genome of allotetraploid horseradish ( Armoracia rusticana ) sequenced using a comprehensive strategy. The (epi)genomic architecture and 3D chromatin structure of the A and B subgenomes differ significantly, suggesting that both the dynamics of the dominant long terminal repeat retrotransposons and DNA methylation have played critical roles in subgenome diversification. Investigation of the genetic basis of biosynthesis of glucosinolates (GSLs) and horseradish peroxidases reveals both the important role of polyploidization and subgenome differentiation in shaping the key traits. Continuous duplication and divergence of essential genes of GSL biosynthesis (e.g., FMO GS-OX , IGMT , and GH1 gene family) contribute to the broad GSL profile in horseradish. Overall, the T2T assembly of the allotetraploid horseradish genome expands our understanding of polyploid genome evolution and provides a fundamental genetic resource for breeding and genetic improvement of horseradish. Horseradish is a spicy root vegetable and it also produces horseradish peroxidase, an enzyme widely used in biochemistry applications. Here, the authors report its telomere-to-telomere reference genome, reveal subgenome diversification and the effect on the biosynthesis of glucosinolates and horseradish peroxidases.

Sumbembayev, A. A., S. Nowak, A. Burzacka-Hinz, A. Kosiróg-Ceynowa, and D. L. Szlachetko. 2023. New and Noteworthy Taxa of the Genus Dactylorhiza Necker ex Nevski (Orchidaceae Juss.) in Kazakhstan Flora and Its Response to Global Warming. Diversity 15: 369.

A critical study of the herbarium material representing the orchid genus Dactylorhiza Necker ex Nevski in Kazakhstan was conducted in 2019–2020. The information on the species composition was clarified. Dactylorhiza fuchsii subsp. hebridensis (Wilmott) Soó and D. × kerneri (Soó) Soó were identified for the first time in the country. New taxa were noted for individual botanical and geographical areas. All taxa were presented in the list and annotated with studied herbarium materials from the Kazakhstan area. Based on the collected and available locations for the studied taxa, distribution modeling was carried out for the four taxa (D. incarnata, D. majalis subsp. baltica, D. salina, and D. umbrosa). Bioclimatic data for the present and future (2041–2060) based on four possible scenarios were used. The occurrence of Dactylorhiza representatives in Kazakhstan is threatened by global climate warming. It is likely that some of them may not occur in the country in the future (D. incarnata and D. majalis subsp. baltica), losing up to 99.87% of their modern range or their range may be significantly reduced (D. salina and D. umbrosa), losing up to 80.83% of their present distribution. It is worth considering global changes in planning conservation activities and identifying areas that may play a significant role in the functioning of the national flora in the future.

Rahman, W., J. Magos Brehm, and N. Maxted. 2023. The impact of climate change on the future distribution of priority crop wild relatives in Indonesia and implications for conservation planning. Journal for Nature Conservation 73: 126368.

The analysis of climate change impact is essential to include in conservation planning of crop wild relatives (CWR) to provide the guideline for adequate long-term protection under unpredictable future environmental conditions. These resources play an important role in sustaining the future of food security, but the evidence shows that they are threatened by climate change. The current analyses show that five taxa were predicted to have contraction of more than 30 % of their current ranges: Artocarpus sepicanus (based on RCP 4.5 in both no dispersal and unlimited dispersal scenario and RCP 8.5 in no dispersal scenario by 2050), Ficus oleifolia (RCP 4.5 5 in both no dispersal and unlimited dispersal scenario by 2080), Cocos nucifera and Dioscorea alata (RCP 8.5 in both no dispersal and unlimited dispersal scenario by 2050), and Ficus chartacea (RCP 8.5 in both no dispersal and unlimited dispersal scenario by 2050 and 2080). It shows that the climate change impact is species-specific. Representative Concentration Pathways (RCP) of greenhouse gas (GHG) emission and dispersal scenarios influence the prediction models, and the actual future distribution range of species falls in between those scenarios. Climate refugia, holdout populations, and non-analogue community assemblages were identified based on the Protected Areas (PAs) network. PAs capacity is considered an important element in implementing a conservation strategy for the priority CWR. In areas where PAs are isolated and have less possibility to build corridors to connect each other, such as in Java, unlimited dispersal scenarios are unlikely to be achieved and assisted dispersal is suggested. The holdout populations should be the priority target for the ex situ collection. Therefore, by considering the climate refugia, PAs capacity and holdout populations, the goal of keeping high genetic variations for the long-term conservation of CWR in Indonesia can be achieved.

Reichgelt, T., A. Baumgartner, R. Feng, and D. A. Willard. 2023. Poleward amplification, seasonal rainfall and forest heterogeneity in the Miocene of the eastern USA. Global and Planetary Change 222: 104073.

Paleoclimate reconstructions can provide a window into the environmental conditions in Earth history when atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations were higher than today. In the eastern USA, paleoclimate reconstructions are sparse, because terrestrial sedimentary deposits are rare. Despite this, the eastern USA has the largest population and population density in North America, and understanding the effects of current and future climate change is of vital importance. Here, we provide terrestrial paleoclimate reconstructions of the eastern USA from Miocene fossil floras. Additionally, we compare proxy paleoclimate reconstructions from the warmest period in the Miocene, the Miocene Climatic Optimum (MCO), to those of an MCO Earth System Model. Reconstructed Miocene temperatures and precipitation north of 35°N are higher than modern. In contrast, south of 35°N, temperatures and precipitation are similar to today, suggesting a poleward amplification effect in eastern North America. Reconstructed Miocene rainfall seasonality was predominantly higher than modern, regardless of latitude, indicating greater variability in intra-annual moisture transport. Reconstructed climates are almost uniformly in the temperate seasonal forest biome, but heterogeneity of specific forest types is evident. Reconstructed Miocene terrestrial temperatures from the eastern USA are lower than modeled temperatures and coeval Atlantic sea surface temperatures. However, reconstructed rainfall is consistent with modeled rainfall. Our results show that during the Miocene, climate was most different from modern in the northeastern states, and may suggest a drastic reduction in the meridional temperature gradient along the North American east coast compared to today.