Science Enabled by Specimen Data

Gupta, R., L. K. Sharma, M. Rajkumar, N. Mohammad, and M. L. Khan. 2023. Predicting habitat suitability of Litsea glutinosa: a declining tree species, under the current and future climate change scenarios in India. Landscape and Ecological Engineering. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11355-023-00537-x

Litsea glutinosa (Lour.) C.B.Rob., an evergreen tree with significant ecological and medicinal value, has seen its distribution gradually decline due to unsustainable harvesting, overexploitation, and climate change. Habitat suitability modelling can be an effective tool for the conservation and management of L. glutinosa. This study aims to predict L. glutinosa habitat suitability in India under current and future climate change scenarios. Our study identified the important predictors that affect L. glutinosa distribution. In addition, the L. glutinosa habitat suitability area and its percent difference in the current and future were assessed, and potential conservation sites were identified. This study is based on the widely used maximum entropy (MaxEnt) species distribution model (SDM). We used current and future modelled data of the sixth version of the Model for Interdisciplinary Research on Climate (MIROC6) from Coupled Model Intercomparison Projects (CMIP6) Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSP1-2.6, SSP2-4.5 and SSP5-8.5) emission scenarios for the period (2030s, 2050s and 2070s). Results demonstrated that the MaxEnt performance is good with an area under the receiver operator characteristic (AUC/ROC) curve of 0.852. L. glutinosa distribution is most influenced by the mean diurnal range (Bio2), contributing 55.1%. Notably, under high emissions and warmer climates of the SSP5-8.5 scenario, the suitable habitat of L. glutinosa would tend to increase. Under the SSP5-8.5 scenario, the maximum area of excellent habitat is 0.298 M km 2 . The study identified the sub-Himalayan region, the central-eastern region, the northeastern ranges, and the western ghats as candidate areas for species conservation.

Ralimanana, H., A. L. Perrigo, R. J. Smith, J. S. Borrell, S. Faurby, M. T. Rajaonah, T. Randriamboavonjy, et al. 2022. Madagascar’s extraordinary biodiversity: Threats and opportunities. Science 378. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.adf1466

Madagascar’s unique biota is heavily affected by human activity and is under intense threat. Here, we review the current state of knowledge on the conservation status of Madagascar’s terrestrial and freshwater biodiversity by presenting data and analyses on documented and predicted species-level conservation statuses, the most prevalent and relevant threats, ex situ collections and programs, and the coverage and comprehensiveness of protected areas. The existing terrestrial protected area network in Madagascar covers 10.4% of its land area and includes at least part of the range of the majority of described native species of vertebrates with known distributions (97.1% of freshwater fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals combined) and plants (67.7%). The overall figures are higher for threatened species (97.7% of threatened vertebrates and 79.6% of threatened plants occurring within at least one protected area). International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List assessments and Bayesian neural network analyses for plants identify overexploitation of biological resources and unsustainable agriculture as the most prominent threats to biodiversity. We highlight five opportunities for action at multiple levels to ensure that conservation and ecological restoration objectives, programs, and activities take account of complex underlying and interacting factors and produce tangible benefits for the biodiversity and people of Madagascar.

Campbell, L. C. E., E. T. Kiers, and G. Chomicki. 2022. The evolution of plant cultivation by ants. Trends in Plant Science. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tplants.2022.09.005

Outside humans, true agriculture was previously thought to be restricted to social insects farming fungus. However, obligate farming of plants by ants was recently discovered in Fiji, prompting a re-examination of plant cultivation by ants. Here, we generate a database of plant cultivation by ants, identify three main types, and show that these interactions evolved primarily for shelter rather than food. We find that plant cultivation evolved at least 65 times independently for crops (~200 plant species), and 15 times in farmer lineages (~37 ant taxa) in the Neotropics and Asia/Australasia. Because of their high evolutionary replication, and variation in partner dependence, these systems are powerful models to unveil the steps in the evolution and ecology of insect agriculture.

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.

Sotuyo, S., E. Pedraza-Ortega, E. Martínez-Salas, J. Linares, and L. Cabrera. 2022. Insights into phylogenetic divergence of Dalbergia (Leguminosae: Dalbergiae) from Mexico and Central America. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 10. https://doi.org/10.3389/fevo.2022.910250

The pantropical genus Dalbergia includes more than 250 species. Phylogenetic studies of the group are scarce and have only included two or three species distributed in Mexico. We obtained herbarium samples of Mexican, Central American, and South American species (sourced from MEXU). In addition, sequences of GenBank accessions were used to complement the study. Using internal transcribed spacer (ITS), the matK and rbcL sequences from 384 accessions comprising species from America, Asia, and Africa were sampled to evaluate phylogenetic relationships of Mexican species and infrageneric classifications based on morphological data. Phylogenetic analyses suggest that the genus Dalbergia is monophyletic and originated in South America. The species distributed in Mexico are not a monophyletic clade but are divided into four clades with affinities to South American and Asian species clades. There is no correlation between geography and large-scale phylogeny. The estimated ages of the Mexican and Central American clades ranged from 11.32 Ma (Dalbergia granadillo clade) to 1.88 Ma (Dalbergia ecastaphyllum clade). Multiple long-distance dispersal events should be used to explain the current genus distribution.

Luo, W., J. S. Strijk, M. Barstow, and A. K. S. Wee. 2022. The role of protected areas in tropical tree conservation post-2020: A case study using threatened Dipterocarpaceae. Biological Conservation 272: 109634. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2022.109634

Protected areas (PAs) are key tools to prevent extinction and preserve ecosystem functions. As countries reiterated their commitment to expand the reach of PAs by up to 30 % by 2030, stronger purpose and pertinence in the establishment of PAs is needed to ensure effective conservation. In this study, we used Dipterocarpaceae as a proxy for threatened and ecologically important trees to determine the role of PAs in tree conservation and the potential shortfalls at a global scale. We quantified the overlap between the geo-referenced occurrence data of 433 Dipterocarpaceae species and the distribution of global PAs, followed by a conservation gap analysis on Borneo, the center of diversity of the family. We found that while Southeast Asia is the hotspot for species diversity and threat to Dipterocarpaceae, a high proportion of threatened species were found at the range edges of Dipterocarpaceae. Half of all the countries with Dipterocarpaceae met the Aichi Target 11 of designating at least 17 % of their land area as PAs, and most had <10 % of their total number of PAs being relevant to Dipterocarpaceae conservation. Our conservation gap analysis demonstrated that only 5.02 % of the total area of habitat (AOH) of endemic and Critically Endangered dipterocarps was formally protected, while 18.6 % of the total AOH was included in the Heart of Borneo complex. Our data highlights the need for a more effective global conservation gap analysis for threatened trees that could inform area-based conservation post-2020.

Prasetyo, E., S. Utomo, A. F. Maulana, R. Arifriana, and P. Lestari. 2022. Current Distribution of a Luxurious Wood Species, Diospyros spp. with Its Climatic Information, based on Global Biodiversity Website. Jurnal Sylva Lestari 10: 267–277. https://doi.org/10.23960/jsl.v10i2.576

Ebony (Diospyros spp.) is a fancy wood distributed in eastern Indonesia. D. celebica Bakh, D. lolin Bakh, D. pilosanthera Blanco, D. ebenum Koenig, D. ferrea (Wild.) Bakh and D. rumphii Bakh are categorized as “Fancy Wood Class I” in the Indonesian market. These woods are an important product with the highest tax compared to other grades. This study aimed to identify the distribution of six ebonies based on data global biodiversity web service (Global Biodiversity Information Facility) and their climatic condition based on global climate data (WorldClim). Data from the web service, species occurrence, and climatic conditions were processed using QGIS. Species occurrence data was then extracted using GBIF occurrence. Furthermore, species occurrence data was then overlaid with climate data using point sampling tools. The results found that three ebonies scattered in the tropics and three others (D. celebica Bakh, D. rumphii Bakh, D. lolin Bakh) mostly occurred in Indonesia. Annual rainfall and temperature conditions ranged from 1,722 – 4,013 mm and 23.4 – 27.2°C for the three species of ebony in Indonesia. The distribution and climatic conditions of ebony are the initial information for further research, such as the species distribution model related to climate change and the genetic conservation agenda.

Zhao, J., X. Yu, W. J. Kress, Y. Wang, Y. Xia, and Q. Li. 2022. Historical biogeography of the gingers and its implications for shifts in tropical rain forest habitats. Journal of Biogeography 49: 1339–1351. https://doi.org/10.1111/jbi.14386

Aim The relationships between biome shifts and global environmental changes in temperate zone habitats have been extensively explored; yet, the historical dynamics of taxa found in the tropical rain forest (TRF) remain poorly known. This study aims to reconstruct the relationships between tropical rain forest shifts and global environmental changes through the patterns of historical biogeography of a pantropical family of monocots, the Zingiberaceae. Location Global. Taxon Zingiberaceae. Methods We sampled DNA sequences (nrITS, trnK, trnL-trnF and psbA-trnH) from GenBank for 77% of the genera, including 30% of species, in the Zingiberaceae. Global fossil records of the Zingiberaceae were collected from literatures. Rates of speciation, extinction and diversification were estimated based on phylogenetic data and fossil records through methods implemented in BAMM. Ancestral ranges were estimated using single-tree BioGeoBEARS and multiple-trees BioGeoBEARS in RASP. Dispersal rate through time and dispersal rate among regions were calculated in R based on the result of ancestral estimation. Results The common ancestor of the Zingiberaceae likely originated in northern Africa during the mid-Cretaceous, with later dispersal to the Asian tropics. Indo-Burma, rather than Malesia, was likely a provenance of the common ancestor of Alpinioideae–Zingiberoideae. Several abrupt shifts of evolutionary rates from the Palaeocene were synchronized with sudden global environmental changes. Main conclusions Integrating phylogenetic patterns with fossil records suggests that the Zingiberaceae dispersed to Asia through drift of the Indian Plate from Africa in the late Palaeocene. Formation of island chains, land corridors and warming temperatures facilitated the emigration of the Zingiberaceae to a broad distribution across the tropics. Moreover, dramatic fluctuations of the speciation rate of Zingiberoideae appear to have been synchronized with global climate fluctuations. In general, the evolutionary history of the Zingiberaceae broadens our understanding of the association between TRF shifts in distribution and past global environmental changes, especially the origin of TRF in Southeast Asia.

Ramirez-Villegas, J., C. K. Khoury, H. A. Achicanoy, M. V. Diaz, A. C. Mendez, C. C. Sosa, Z. Kehel, et al. 2022. State of ex situ conservation of landrace groups of 25 major crops. Nature Plants 8: 491–499. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41477-022-01144-8

Crop landraces have unique local agroecological and societal functions and offer important genetic resources for plant breeding. Recognition of the value of landrace diversity and concern about its erosion on farms have led to sustained efforts to establish ex situ collections worldwide. The degree to which these efforts have succeeded in conserving landraces has not been comprehensively assessed. Here we modelled the potential distributions of eco-geographically distinguishable groups of landraces of 25 cereal, pulse and starchy root/tuber/fruit crops within their geographic regions of diversity. We then analysed the extent to which these landrace groups are represented in genebank collections, using geographic and ecological coverage metrics as a proxy for genetic diversity. We find that ex situ conservation of landrace groups is currently moderately comprehensive on average, with substantial variation among crops; a mean of 63% ± 12.6% of distributions is currently represented in genebanks. Breadfruit, bananas and plantains, lentils, common beans, chickpeas, barley and bread wheat landrace groups are among the most fully represented, whereas the largest conservation gaps persist for pearl millet, yams, finger millet, groundnut, potatoes and peas. Geographic regions prioritized for further collection of landrace groups for ex situ conservation include South Asia, the Mediterranean and West Asia, Mesoamerica, sub-Saharan Africa, the Andean mountains of South America and Central to East Asia. With further progress to fill these gaps, a high degree of representation of landrace group diversity in genebanks is feasible globally, thus fulfilling international targets for their ex situ conservation. By analysing the state of representation of traditional varieties of 25 major crops in ex situ repositories, this study demonstrates conservation progress made over more than a half-century and identifies the gaps remaining to be filled.

Cano, Á., F. W. Stauffer, T. Andermann, I. M. Liberal, A. Zizka, C. D. Bacon, H. Lorenzi, et al. 2022. Recent and local diversification of Central American understorey palms. Global Ecology and Biogeography 31: 1513–1525. https://doi.org/10.1111/geb.13521

Aim Central America is largely covered by hyperdiverse, yet poorly understood, rain forests. Understorey palms are diverse components of these forests, but little is known about their historical assembly. It is not clear when palms in Central America reached present diversity levels and whether most species arrived from neighbouring regions or evolved locally. We addressed these questions using the most species-rich American palm clades indicative of rain forests. We reconstructed and compared their phylogenomic and biogeographical history with the diversification of 54 other plant lineages, to gain a better understanding of the processes that shaped the assembly of Central American rain forests. Location Central America. Time period Cretaceous to present. Major taxa studied Arecaceae: Arecoideae: Bactridinae, Chamaedoreeae, Geonomateae. Methods We sampled 218 species through fieldwork and living collections. We sequenced their genomic DNA using target sequence-capture procedures. Using 12 calibration points, we reconstructed dated phylogenies under three approaches (multispecies coalescent, maximum likelihood and Bayesian inference), conducted biogeographical analyses (dispersal–extinction–cladogenesis) and estimated phylogenetic diversity metrics. Results Dated phylogenies revealed intense diversification in Central America from 12 Ma. Local diversification events were four times more frequent than dispersal events, and we found strong phylogenetic clustering in relationship to Central America. Main conclusions Our results suggest that most understorey palm species that characterize the Central American rain forests today evolved locally after repeated dispersal events, mostly from South America. Understorey palms in Central American rain forests diversified primarily after closure of the Central American Seaway at c. 13 Ma, suggesting that the Great American Biotic Interchange was a major trigger for plant diversification in Central American rain forests. This recent diversification contrasts with the much earlier existence of rain forest palms in neighbouring South America since c. 58 Ma. We found similar timings of diversification in 54 other seed plant lineages, suggesting an unexpectedly recent assembly of the hyperdiverse Central American flora.