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Prochazka, L. S., S. Alcantara, J. G. Rando, T. Vasconcelos, R. C. Pizzardo, and A. Nogueira. 2024. Resource availability and disturbance frequency shape evolution of plant life forms in Neotropical habitats. New Phytologist. https://doi.org/10.1111/nph.19601

Organisms use diverse strategies to thrive in varying habitats. While life history theory partly explains these relationships, the combined impact of resource availability and disturbance frequency on life form strategy evolution has received limited attention.We use Chamaecrista species, a legume plant lineage with a high diversity of plant life forms in the Neotropics, and employ ecological niche modeling and comparative phylogenetic methods to examine the correlated evolution of plant life forms and environmental niches.Chamaephytes and phanerophytes have optima in environments characterized by moderate water and nutrient availability coupled with infrequent fire disturbances. By contrast, annual plants thrive in environments with scarce water and nutrients, alongside frequent fire disturbances. Similarly, geophyte species also show increased resistance to frequent fire disturbances, although they thrive in resource‐rich environments.Our findings shed light on the evolution of plant strategies along environmental gradients, highlighting that annuals and geophytes respond differently to high incidences of fire disturbances, with one enduring it as seeds in a resource‐limited habitat and the other relying on reserves and root resprouting systems in resource‐abundant habitats. Furthermore, it deepens our understanding of how organisms evolve associated with their habitats, emphasizing a constraint posed by low‐resource and high‐disturbance environments.

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. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gloplacha.2023.104073

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.

Ganglo, J. C. 2023. Ecological niche model transferability of the white star apple (Chrysophyllum albidum G. Don) in the context of climate and global changes. Scientific Reports 13. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-023-29048-3

Chrysophyllum albidum is a forest food tree species of the Sapotaceae family bearing large berries of nutrition, sanitary, and commercial value in many African countries. Because of its socioeconomic importance, C. albidum is threatened at least by human pressure. However, we do not know to what extent climate change can impact its distribution or whether it is possible to introduce the species in other tropical regions. To resolve our concerns, we decided to model the spatial distribution of the species. We then used the SDM package for data modeling in R to compare the predictive performances of algorithms among the most commonly used: three machine learning algorithms (MaxEnt, boosted regression trees, and random forests) and three regression algorithms (generalized linear model, generalized additive models, and multivariate adaptive regression spline). We performed model transfers in tropical Asia and Latin America. At the scale of Africa, predictions with respect to Maxent under Africlim (scenarios RCP 4.5 and RCP 8.5, horizon 2055) and MIROCES2L (scenarios SSP245 and SSP585, horizon 2060) showed that the suitable areas of C. albidum , within threshold values of the most contributing variables to the models, will extend mostly in West, East, Central, and Southern Africa as well as in East Madagascar. As opposed to Maxent, in Africa, the predictions for the future of BRT and RF were unrealistic with respect to the known ecology of C. albidum. All the algorithms except Maxent (for tropical Asia only), were consistent in predicting a successful introduction of C. albidum in Latin America and tropical Asia, both at present and in the future. We therefore recommend the introduction and cultivation of Chrysophyllum albidum in the predicted suitable areas of Latin America and tropical Asia, along with vegetation inventories in order to discover likely, sister or vicarious species of Chrysophyllum albidum that can be new to Science. Africlim is more successful than MIROCES2L in predicting realistic suitable areas of Chrysophyllum albidum in Africa. We therefore recommend to the authors of Africlim an update of Africlim models to comply with the sixth Assessment Report (AR6) of IPCC.

Pang, S. E. H., Y. Zeng, J. D. T. Alban, and E. L. Webb. 2022. Occurrence–habitat mismatching and niche truncation when modelling distributions affected by anthropogenic range contractions B. Leroy [ed.],. Diversity and Distributions 28: 1327–1343. https://doi.org/10.1111/ddi.13544

Aims Human-induced pressures such as deforestation cause anthropogenic range contractions (ARCs). Such contractions present dynamic distributions that may engender data misrepresentations within species distribution models. The temporal bias of occurrence data—where occurrences represent distributions before (past bias) or after (recent bias) ARCs—underpins these data misrepresentations. Occurrence–habitat mismatching results when occurrences sampled before contractions are modelled with contemporary anthropogenic variables; niche truncation results when occurrences sampled after contractions are modelled without anthropogenic variables. Our understanding of their independent and interactive effects on model performance remains incomplete but is vital for developing good modelling protocols. Through a virtual ecologist approach, we demonstrate how these data misrepresentations manifest and investigate their effects on model performance. Location Virtual Southeast Asia. Methods Using 100 virtual species, we simulated ARCs with 100-year land-use data and generated temporally biased (past and recent) occurrence datasets. We modelled datasets with and without a contemporary land-use variable (conventional modelling protocols) and with a temporally dynamic land-use variable. We evaluated each model's ability to predict historical and contemporary distributions. Results Greater ARC resulted in greater occurrence–habitat mismatching for datasets with past bias and greater niche truncation for datasets with recent bias. Occurrence–habitat mismatching prevented models with the contemporary land-use variable from predicting anthropogenic-related absences, causing overpredictions of contemporary distributions. Although niche truncation caused underpredictions of historical distributions (environmentally suitable habitats), incorporating the contemporary land-use variable resolved these underpredictions, even when mismatching occurred. Models with the temporally dynamic land-use variable consistently outperformed models without. Main conclusions We showed how these data misrepresentations can degrade model performance, undermining their use for empirical research and conservation science. Given the ubiquity of ARCs, these data misrepresentations are likely inherent to most datasets. Therefore, we present a three-step strategy for handling data misrepresentations: maximize the temporal range of anthropogenic predictors, exclude mismatched occurrences and test for residual data misrepresentations.

Camacho, F., and G. Peyre. 2022. Red List and Vulnerability Assessment of the Páramo Vascular Flora in the Nevados Natural National Park (Colombia). Tropical Conservation Science 15: 194008292210869. https://doi.org/10.1177/19400829221086958

Background and research aims. The Andean páramo is renowned for its unique biodiversity and sensitivity to environmental threats. However, vulnerability assessments remain scarce, which hinders our capacity to prioritize and apply efficient conservation measures. To this end, we established the Red List of the páramo vascular flora from the Nevados National Natural Park and proposed conservation strategies for its threatened species. Methods. We performed International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List assessments by evaluating Criterion B, including sub-criteria B1–Extent of Occurrence and B2–Area of Occupancy, and using a systematic geographic-ecological approach for conditions a (Location analysis) and b (Continuing decline). We then executed a Conservation Gap Analysis to prioritize species for in- situ and/or ex-situ conservation. Results. Summing our 233 evaluated species with previous assessments, we completed the Red List of 262 páramo species and encountered 3% Threatened (7 VU, one EN), 44% Not Threatened (65 LC, 50 NT), and 53% Data Deficient. We acknowledged Lupinus ruizensis as Endangered and Aequatorium jamesonii, Carex jamesonii, Elaphoglossum cuspidatum, Miconia latifolia, Miconia alborosea, Pentacalia gelida, and Themistoclesia mucronata as Vulnerable. Conclusion. The eight threatened species should be included as target species in the PNN Nevados management plan 2023–2028 and regarded as national conservation priorities. Implications for Conservation. We recommend in-situ conservation for Medium-Priority species A. jamesonii, E. cuspidatum, and T. mucronata with thorough monitoring, paired with sub-population transfers for High-Priority species C. jamesonii. For the endemic L. ruizensis and P. gelida, we suggest combined in-situ/ex-situ strategies taking advantage of national germoplasm collections, like the seed bank of the Bogotá Botanical Garden José Celestino Mutis.

Eduardo Sáenz-Ceja, J., M. Arenas-Navarro, and A. Torres-Miranda. 2022. Prioritizing conservation areas and vulnerability analyses of the genus Pinus L. (Pinaceae) in Mexico. Journal for Nature Conservation 67: 126171. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jnc.2022.126171

Mexico hosts the highest species richness of pines (Pinus, Pinaceae) worldwide; however, the priority areas for their conservation in the country are unknown. In this study, the ecological niche of the 50 native pine species was modeled. Then, through a multi-criteria analysis, the priority areas for the conservation of the genus Pinus were identified according to the spatial patterns of richness, geographic rareness, irreplaceability, the level of vulnerability of their habitat and the status of legal protection. The results revealed that the regions with high species richness differed from those with high endemism. Also, most pine species have undergone processes of habitat degradation, having been the endemic species the most affected. The priority areas covered regions with high species richness, high endemism, and highly degraded forests, located at mountainous portions of the Baja California Peninsula, the Sierra Madre Occidental, the Sierra Madre Oriental, the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt, and the Sierra Madre del Sur. A low proportion of priority areas overlapped with protected areas or terrestrial regions considered priorities for biological conservation. These results suggest that conservation efforts for this genus should be focused beyond regions with high species richness and current protected areas. Besides, the priority areas identified in this study can be the basis to create biological corridors and new protected areas, which could contribute significantly to the conservation of this genus in Mexico.

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…

Whitman, M., R. S. Beaman, R. Repin, K. Kitayama, S. Aiba, and S. E. Russo. 2021. Edaphic specialization and vegetation zones define elevational range‐sizes for Mt Kinabalu regional flora. Ecography 44: 1698–1709. https://doi.org/10.1111/ecog.05873

Identifying physical and ecological boundaries that limit where species can occur is important for predicting how those species will respond to global change. The island of Borneo encompasses a wide range of habitats that support some of the highest richness on Earth, making it an ideal location for…

Baumbach, L., D. L. Warren, R. Yousefpour, and M. Hanewinkel. 2021. Climate change may induce connectivity loss and mountaintop extinction in Central American forests. Communications Biology 4. https://doi.org/10.1038/s42003-021-02359-9

The tropical forests of Central America serve a pivotal role as biodiversity hotspots and provide ecosystem services securing human livelihood. However, climate change is expected to affect the species composition of forest ecosystems, lead to forest type transitions and trigger irrecoverable losses…

Jin, W.-T., D. S. Gernandt, C. Wehenkel, X.-M. Xia, X.-X. Wei, and X.-Q. Wang. 2021. Phylogenomic and ecological analyses reveal the spatiotemporal evolution of global pines. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 118. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2022302118

How coniferous forests evolved in the Northern Hemisphere remains largely unknown. Unlike most groups of organisms that generally follow a latitudinal diversity gradient, most conifer species in the Northern Hemisphere are distributed in mountainous areas at middle latitudes. It is of great interest…