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  1. Summary

    Urbanization can affect the timing of plant reproduction (i.e. flowering and fruiting) and associated ecosystem processes. However, our knowledge of how plant phenology responds to urbanization and its associated environmental changes is limited.

    Herbaria represent an important, but underutilized source of data for investigating this question. We harnessed phenological data from herbarium specimens representing 200 plant species collected across 120 yr from the eastern US to investigate the spatiotemporal effects of urbanization on flowering and fruiting phenology and frost risk (i.e. time between the last frost date and flowering).

    Effects of urbanization on plant reproductive phenology varied significantly in direction and magnitude across species ranges. Increased urbanization led to earlier flowering in colder and wetter regions and delayed fruiting in regions with wetter spring conditions. Frost risk was elevated with increased urbanization in regions with colder and wetter spring conditions.

    Our study demonstrates that predictions of phenological change and its associated impacts must account for both climatic and human effects, which are context dependent and do not necessarily coincide. We must move beyond phenological models that only incorporate temperature variables and consider multiple environmental factors and their interactions when estimating plant phenology, especially at larger spatial and taxonomic scales.

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  2. 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.

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  3. Summary

    Interactions between species can influence successful reproduction, resulting in reproductive character displacement, where the similarity of reproductive traits – such as flowering time – among close relatives growing together differ from when growing apart. Evidence for the overall prevalence and direction of this phenomenon, and its stability under environmental change, remains untested across large scales.

    Using the power of crowdsourcing, we gathered phenological information from over 40 000 herbarium specimens, and investigated displacement in flowering time across 110 animal‐pollinated species in the eastern USA.

    Overall, flowering time displacement is not common across large scales. However, displacement is generally greater among species pairs that flower close in time, regardless of direction. Furthermore, with climate change, the flowering times of closely related species are predicted, on average, to shift further apart by the mid‐21stcentury.

    We demonstrate that the degree and direction of phenological displacement among co‐occurring closely related species pairs varies tremendously. However, future climate change may alter the differences in reproductive timing among many of these species pairs, which may have significant consequences for species interactions and gene flow. Our study provides one promising path towards understanding how the phenological landscape is structured and may respond to future environmental change.

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  4. Abstract

    Species interactions drive ecosystem processes and are a major focus of global change research. Among the most consequential interactions expected to shift with climate change are those between insect herbivores and plants, both of which are highly sensitive to temperature. Insect herbivores and their host plants display varying levels of synchrony that could be disrupted or enhanced by climate change, yet empirical data on changes in synchrony are lacking. Using evidence of herbivory on herbarium specimens collected from the northeastern United States and France from 1900 to 2015, we provide evidence that plant species with temperature‐sensitive phenologies experience higher levels of insect damage in warmer years, while less temperature‐sensitive, co‐occurring species do not. While herbivory might be mediated by interactions between warming and phenology through multiple pathways, we suggest that warming might lengthen growing seasons for phenologically sensitive plant species, exposing their leaves to herbivores for longer periods of time in warm years. We propose that elevated herbivory in warm years may represent a previously underappreciated cost to phenological tracking of climate change over longer timescales.

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  5. 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.

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  6. Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 1, 2024
  7. 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. 
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