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Title: Evaluation of Mask R-CNN Model for Counting Reproductive Structures of Six Plant Species
Phenology––the timing of life-history events––is a key trait for understanding responses of organisms to climate. The digitization and online mobilization of herbarium specimens is rapidly advancing our understanding ofMore>>
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Environmental Data Initiative
Publication Year:
Award ID(s):
2101884 2105903 1802209 1754584
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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  1. Plant phenology has been shifting dramatically in response to climate change, a shift that may have significant and widespread ecological consequences. Of particular concern are tropical biomes, which represent the most biodiverse and imperiled regions of the world. However, compared to temperate floras, we know little about phenological responses of tropical plants because long-term observational datasets from the tropics are sparse. Herbarium specimens have greatly increased our phenological knowledge in temperate regions, but similar data have been underutilized in the tropics and their suitability for this purpose has not been broadly validated. Here, we compare phenological estimates derived from field observational data (i.e., plot surveys) and herbarium specimens at various spatial and taxonomic scales to determine whether specimens can provide accurate estimations of reproductive timing and its spatial variation. Here we demonstrate that phenological estimates from field observations and herbarium specimens coincide well. Fewer than 5% of the species exhibited significant differences between flowering periods inferred from field observations versus specimens regardless of spatial aggregation. In contrast to studies based on field records, herbarium specimens sampled much larger geographic and climatic ranges, as has been documented previously for temperate plants, and effectively captured phenological responses across varied environments. Herbarium specimensmore »are verified to be a vital resource for closing the gap in our phenological knowledge of tropical systems. Tropical plant reproductive phenology inferred from herbarium records are widely congruent with field observations, suggesting that they can (and should) be used to investigate phenological variation and their associated environmental cues more broadly across tropical biomes.« less
  2. Abstract
    Phenology is a key biological trait of an organism’s success and is one of the best indicators of its response to recent climate change. Plants are among the most well-studied organisms in this regard, but observational data bearing on this topic are largely restricted to woody species of the northern hemisphere, mostly from ca. the last three decades. Recent research has demonstrated that mobilized online herbarium specimens provide important, albeit mostly neglected, information on plant phenology. Here, we use the web tool CrowdCurio to crowdsource phenological data from more than 10,000 herbarium specimens representing 30 flowering plant species broadly distributed across the eastern United States. Our results, spanning 120 years and generated from over 2,000 crowdsourcers, clarify numerous aspects of plant phenology. First, they reveal that plant reproductive phenology is significantly advancing in response to warming, which is consistent with previous studies. Second, among those species with broad latitudinal ranges, populations from more southern latitudes are significantly more phenologically sensitive to temperature than those from northern populations. Last, contrary to some recent findings, plants in warmer, less variable climates may be much more dynamic, on average, in their phenological sensitivity. Our results are robust to a variety of confoundingMore>>
  3. Abstract Background and Aims Fruiting remains under-represented in long-term phenology records, relative to leaf and flower phenology. Herbarium specimens and historical field notes can fill this gap, but selecting and synthesizing these records for modern-day comparison requires an understanding of whether different historical data sources contain similar information, and whether similar, but not equivalent, fruiting metrics are comparable with one another. Methods For 67 fleshy-fruited plant species, we compared observations of fruiting phenology made by Henry David Thoreau in Concord, Massachusetts (1850s), with phenology data gathered from herbarium specimens collected across New England (mid-1800s to 2000s). To identify whether fruiting times and the order of fruiting among species are similar between datasets, we compared dates of first, peak and last observed fruiting (recorded by Thoreau), and earliest, mean and latest specimen (collected from herbarium records), as well as fruiting durations. Key Results On average, earliest herbarium specimen dates were earlier than first fruiting dates observed by Thoreau; mean specimen dates were similar to Thoreau’s peak fruiting dates; latest specimen dates were later than Thoreau’s last fruiting dates; and durations of fruiting captured by herbarium specimens were longer than durations of fruiting observed by Thoreau. All metrics of fruiting phenology exceptmore »duration were significantly, positively correlated within (r: 0.69–0.88) and between (r: 0.59–0.85) datasets. Conclusions Strong correlations in fruiting phenology between Thoreau’s observations and data from herbaria suggest that field and herbarium methods capture similar broad-scale phenological information, including relative fruiting times among plant species in New England. Differences in the timing of first, last and duration of fruiting suggest that historical datasets collected with different methods, scales and metrics may not be comparable when exact timing is important. Researchers should strongly consider matching methodology when selecting historical records of fruiting phenology for present-day comparisons.« less
  4. We develop a prognostic model of Pollen Emissions for Climate Models (PECM) for use within regional and global climate models to simulate pollen counts over the seasonal cycle based on geography, vegetation type and meteorological parameters. Using modern surface pollen count data, empirical relationships between prior-year annual average temperature and pollen season start dates and end dates are developed for deciduous broadleaf trees (Acer, Alnus, Betula, Fraxinus, Morus, Platanus, Populus, Quercus, Ulmus), evergreen needleleaf trees (Cupressaceae, Pinaceae), grasses (Poaceae; C3, C4), and ragweed (Ambrosia). This regression model explains as much as 57 % of the variance in pollen phenological dates, and it is used to create a climate-flexible phenology that can be used to study the response of wind-driven pollen emissions to climate change. The emissions model is evaluated in a regional climate model (RegCM4) over the continental United States by prescribing an emission potential from PECM and transporting pollen as aerosol tracers. We evaluate two different pollen emissions scenarios in the model: (1) using a taxa-specific land cover database, phenology and emission potential, and (2) a PFT-based land cover, phenology and emission potential. The resulting surface concentrations for both simulations are evaluated against observed surface pollen counts in fivemore »climatic subregions. Given prescribed pollen emissions, the RegCM4 simulates observed concentrations within an order of magnitude, although the performance of the simulations in any subregion is strongly related to the land cover representation and the number of observation sites used to create the empirical phenological relationship. The taxa-based model provides a better representation of the phenology of tree-based pollen counts than the PFT-based model, however we note that the PFT-based version provides a useful and climate-flexible emissions model for the general representation of the pollen phenology over the United States.« less
  5. Abstract
    Reproductive character displacement has long been hypothesized to be a key determinant of speciation and co-existence in flowering plants. A central tenet of this hypothesis is that reproductive traits of close relatives growing in sympatry diverge more than they do where close relatives do not grow together. However, this idea remains untested across taxa and at large spatial scales. Here, we use data collected from tens of thousands of herbarium specimens to examine evidence for character displacement in flowering time for 91 closely-related pairs of animal-pollinated angiosperm species in the eastern USA. We see no evidence for overall phenological divergence in sympatry across regions, clades, or life histories. Rather our results indicate widespread convergence of flowering times in sympatry for species pairs that generally tend to flower close in time. We also find that climate change could alter the nature of these convergent flowering events by shifting them further apart in a majority species pair comparisons. Specifically, congeneric species in New England and the Atlantic Coastal Plain are projected to flower 2–4 days further apart, on average, by the mid-21st century as warming temperatures drive species-specific phenological shifts within genera. This may have significant consequences for species interactions andMore>>