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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 1, 2023
  2. Abstract 1. The widespread digitization of natural history collections, combined with novel tools and approaches is revolutionizing biodiversity science. The ‘extended specimen’ concept advocates a more holistic approach in which a specimen is framed as a diverse stream of interconnected data. Herbarium specimens that by their very nature capture multispecies relationships, such as certain parasites, fungi and lichens, hold great potential to provide a broader and more integrative view of the ecology and evolution of symbiotic interactions. This particularly ap- plies to parasite–host associations, which owing to their interconnectedness are especially vulnerable to global environmental change. 2. Here, we present an overview of how parasitic flowering plants is represented in herbarium collections. We then discuss the variety of data that can be gathered from parasitic plant specimens, and how they can be used to understand global change impacts at multiple scales. Finally, we review best practices for sampling parasitic plants in the field, and subsequently preparing and digitizing these specimens. 3. Plant parasitism has evolved 12 times within angiosperms, and similar to other plant taxa, herbarium collections represent the foundation for analysing key aspects of their ecology and evolution. Yet these collections hold far greater potential. Data and metadata obtainedmore »from parasitic plant specimens can inform analyses of co-distribution patterns, changes in eco-physiology and species plasticity spanning temporal and spatial scales, chemical ecology of tripartite interactions (e.g. host–parasite–herbivore), and molecular data critical for species conservation. Moreover, owing to the historic nature and sheer size of global herbarium collections, these data provide the spatiotemporal breadth essential for investigating organismal response to global change. 4. Parasitic plant specimens are primed to serve as ideal examples of extended specimen concept and help motivate the next generation of creative and impactful collection-based science. Continued digitization efforts and improved curatorial practices will contribute to opening these specimens to a broader audience, allowing integrative research spanning multiple domains and offering novel opportunities for education.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2023
  3. Abstract Native biodiversity decline and non-native species spread are major features of the Anthropocene. Both processes can drive biotic homogenization by reducing trait and phylogenetic differences in species assemblages between regions, thus diminishing the regional distinctiveness of biotas and likely have negative impacts on key ecosystem functions. However, a global assessment of this phenomenon is lacking. Here, using a dataset of >200,000 plant species, we demonstrate widespread and temporal decreases in species and phylogenetic turnover across grain sizes and spatial extents. The extent of homogenization within major biomes is pronounced and is overwhelmingly explained by non-native species naturalizations. Asia and North America are major sources of non-native species; however, the species they export tend to be phylogenetically close to recipient floras. Australia, the Pacific and Europe, in contrast, contribute fewer species to the global pool of non-natives, but represent a disproportionate amount of phylogenetic diversity. The timeline of most naturalisations coincides with widespread human migration within the last ~500 years, and demonstrates the profound influence humans exert on regional biotas beyond changes in species richness.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2022
  4. Interactions between species can influence access to resources and successful reproduction. One possible outcome of such interactions is reproductive character displacement. Here, the similarity of reproductive traits – such as flowering time – among close relatives growing in sympatry differ more so than when growing apart. However, evidence for the overall prevalence and direction of this phenomenon, or the stability of such differences under environmental change, remains untested across large taxonomic and spatial scales. We apply data from tens of thousands of herbarium specimens to examine character displacement in flowering time across 110 animal-pollinated angiosperm species in the eastern USA. We demonstrate that the degree and direction of phenological displacement among co-occurring closely related species pairs varies tremendously. Overall, flowering time displacement in sympatry is not common. However, displacement is generally greater among species pairs that flower close in time, regardless of direction. We additionally identify that future climate change may alter the nature of phenological displacement among many of these species pairs. On average, flowering times of closely related species were predicted to shift further apart by the mid-21st century, which may have significant future consequences for species interactions and gene flow.Competing Interest StatementThe authors have declared no competingmore »interest.« less
  5. The expansion of angiosperm‐dominated forests in the Cretaceous and early Cenozoic had a profound effect on terrestrial biota by creating novel ecological niches. The majority of modern fern lineages are hypothesized to have arisen in response to this expansion, particularly fern epiphytes that radiated into the canopy. Recent evidence, however, suggests that epiphytism does not correlate with increased diversification rates in ferns, calling into question the role of the canopy habitat in fern evolution. To understand the role of the canopy in structuring fern community diversity, we investigated functional traits of fern sporophytes and gametophytes across a broad phylogenetic sampling on the island of Moorea, French Polynesia, including > 120 species and representatives of multiple epiphytic radiations. While epiphytes showed convergence in small size and a higher frequency of noncordate gametophytes, they showed greater functional diversity at the community level relative to terrestrial ferns. These results suggest previously overlooked functional diversity among fern epiphytes, and raise the hypothesis that while the angiosperm canopy acted as a complex filter that restricted plant size, it also facilitated diversification into finely partitioned niches. Characterizing these niche axes and adaptations of epiphytic ferns occupying them should be a priority for future pteridological research.
  6. Summary Though substantial effort has gone into predicting how global climate change will impact biodiversity patterns, the scarcity of taxon‐specific information has hampered the efficacy of these endeavors. Further, most studies analyzing spatiotemporal patterns of biodiversity focus narrowly on species richness. We apply machine learning approaches to a comprehensive vascular plant database for the United States and generate predictive models of regional plant taxonomic and phylogenetic diversity in response to a wide range of environmental variables. We demonstrate differences in predicted patterns and potential drivers of native vs nonnative biodiversity. In particular, native phylogenetic diversity is likely to decrease over the next half century despite increases in species richness. We also identify that patterns of taxonomic diversity can be incongruent with those of phylogenetic diversity. The combination of macro‐environmental factors that determine diversity likely varies at continental scales; thus, as climate change alters the combinations of these factors across the landscape, the collective effect on regional diversity will also vary. Our study represents one of the most comprehensive examinations of plant diversity patterns to date and demonstrates that our ability to predict future diversity may benefit tremendously from the application of machine learning.
  7. Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 9, 2022