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  1. 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.

  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 1, 2024
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  6. 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
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 22, 2023
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  8. Herbarium collections shape our understanding of the world’s flora and are crucial for addressing global change and biodiversity conservation. The formation of such natural history collections, however, are not free from sociopolitical issues of immediate relevance. Despite increasing efforts addressing issues of representation and colonialism in natural history collections, herbaria have received comparatively less attention. While it has been noted that the majority of plant specimens are housed in the global North, the extent of this disparity has not been rigorously quantified to date. Here, by analyzing over 85 million specimen records and surveying herbaria across the globe, we assess the colonial legacy of botanical collections and how we may move towards a more inclusive future. We demonstrate that colonial exploitation has contributed to an inverse relationship between where plant biodiversity exists in nature and where it is housed in herbaria. Such disparities persist in herbaria across physical and digital realms despite overt colonialism having ended over half a century ago, suggesting ongoing digitization and decolonization efforts have yet to alleviate colonial-era discrepancies. We emphasize the need for acknowledging the inconvenient history of herbarium collections and the implementation of a more equitable, global paradigm for their collection, curation, and use.