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Medzihorský, V., J. Trombik, R. Mally, M. Turčáni, and A. M. Liebhold. 2023. Insect invasions track a tree invasion: Global distribution of black locust herbivores. Journal of Biogeography.

Aim Many invasive plant species benefit from enemy release resulting from the absence of insect herbivores in their invaded range. However, over time, specialized herbivores may ‘catch up’ with such invasive plants. Black locust is a tree species with a relatively limited native range in North America but has invaded large areas in virtually every temperate continent including North America. We hypothesize that both intra- and intercontinental spread of black locust leads to a parallel, though delayed pattern of intra- and intercontinental spread of insect herbivores. Location Global. Taxon Black locust, Robinia pseudoacacia, and its insect herbivores. Methods We compiled historical records of the occurrence of insect herbivore species associated with R. pseudoacacia from all world regions. Based on this list, we describe taxonomic patterns and investigate associations between environmental features and numbers of non-native specialist herbivores in the portion of North America invaded by R. pseudoacacia. Results A total of 454 herbivorous species are recorded feeding on R. pseudoacacia across the world, with 23 of these being specialized on Robinia. From this group, seven species have successfully expanded their range beyond North America. Within North America, the richness of specialists is explained by a combination of road density, R. pseudoacacia density, distance from the R. pseudoacacia native range, and climate. Main Conclusion Non-native herbivore species have accumulated on invasive R. pseudoacacia in both North America and in other continents. The steady build-up of invasions likely has diminished the enemy release that this invasive tree species has benefited from – a trend that will likely continue in the future. These findings support the hypothesis that invasive plants promote parallel though delayed invasions of specialist insect herbivores.

Gharde, Y., R. P. Dubey, P. K. Singh, and J. S. Mishra. 2023. Littleseed canarygrass (Phalaris minor Retz.) a major weed of rice-wheat system in India is predicted to experience range contraction under future climate. International Journal of Pest Management: 1–12.

Modelling was carried out using maximum entropy model (MaxEnt) to explore and predict the invasion potential of littleseed canarygrass (Phalaris minor Retz.) in India under current as well as future climatic conditions under Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs) 4.5 and 8.5 for the years 2050 and 2070. Mutually least correlated 8 bioclimatic variables along with soil and elevation data were used for the modelling over 223 occurrence locations of the species. Jackknife test revealed the significance of temperature derived variables viz. temperature seasonality, annual mean temperature and minimum temperature of the coldest month in governing the potential distribution of P. minor. Currently, 21% of India’s area is either highly (9%) or moderately (12%) suitable as habitat for P. minor. Our model predicts approximately 90% contraction in the area considered to be highly or moderately suitable climatically between 2050 and 2070 under both moderate and high emissions scenarios. Thus, under future climate, a significant niche shift by the species and decreased suitability was observed compared to the current distribution. The present study is first of its kind in exploring the invasion potential of alien invasive weed P. minor under climate change scenarios which is a current threat to rice-wheat system in Indo-Gangetic plains of India.

McCoshum, S. M., and A. A. Agrawal. 2021. Ecology of Asclepias brachystephana: a plant for roadside and right-of-way management. Native Plants Journal 22: 256–267.

Declining insect abundance is occurring around the world, and some management projects are aiming to utilize roadsides and other right-of-ways as insect conservation areas. In the US, the decline of the monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus Linnaeus [Nymphalidae]) populations has led to multiple studies focusing on a small number of milkweed species (Asclepias [Apocynaceae]) that occur in the major flyways. Here we survey a poorly studied milkweed, bract milkweed (A. brachystephana Engelm. ex Torr.), to document where it grows, which organisms make use of the plants, seed production, and concentrations of milkweed toxins (cardenolides) and to investigate if this species is suitable for roadside or right-of-ways management projects. Our results show that the range of A. brachystephana includes the Chihuahuan Desert and neighboring ecoregions. Plant populations were also observed occurring on roadsides and right-of-ways, rarely spreading into neighboring habitats. We document a variety of native pollinators utilizing floral resources and a few herbivores feeding on plant tissue. Chemical analyses show wild plants produce higher concentrations of toxic cardenolide than many other milkweed species. These data suggest A. brachystephana should be considered for roadside and right-of-way plantings, restoration projects, or seeding throughout the Chihuahuan Desert and adjoining ecoregions.

Sáenz-Ceja, J. E., and M. E. Mendoza. 2023. Priority areas for the conservation of the genus Abies Mill. (Pinaceae) in North America. Journal for Nature Conservation: 126407.

Fir forests (Abies, Pinaceae) are dominant in temperate regions of North America; however, they have experienced high degradation rates that can threaten their long-term continuity. This study aimed to identify the priority areas for the conservation of the genus Abies in North America. First, we modeled the species distribution of the 17 native species through ecological niche modeling, considering 21 environmental variables. Then, we defined the priority areas through multi-criteria analysis, considering the species richness, geographic rareness, irreplaceability, habitat degradation, and risk extinction. We also built six scenarios, giving more priority to each criterion. Finally, we identified the proportion of the extent of the priority areas covered by protected areas. Elevation, precipitation seasonality, and winter precipitation influenced the distribution of most of the Abies species. When considering equal weights to each criterion, the priority areas summed up 6% of the total extent covered by the Abies species in North America. Most priority areas were located on the West Coast of the United States, the Eastern Sierra Madre, Southern Sierra Madre, Sierras of Chiapas and Central America, and the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt ecoregions. In these ecoregions, the Abies species are restricted to small areas facing high degradation levels. Only 16% of the area covered by the Abies species in North America is protected, mainly under restrictive schemes such as National Parks and Wilderness Areas. The priority areas identified could be the basis for establishing or enlarging protected areas. The preservation of the genus Abies could also maintain other ecological features and processes such as biodiversity, forest resources, and environmental services.

Clemente, K. J. E., and M. S. Thomsen. 2023. High temperature frequently increases facilitation between aquatic foundation species: a global meta‐analysis of interaction experiments between angiosperms, seaweeds, and bivalves. Journal of Ecology.

Many studies have quantified ecological impacts of individual foundation species (FS). However, emerging data suggest that FS often co‐occur, potentially inhibiting or facilitating one another, thereby causing indirect, cascading effects on surrounding communities. Furthermore, global warming is accelerating, but little is known about how interactions between co‐occurring FS vary with temperature.Shallow aquatic sedimentary systems are often dominated by three types of FS: slower‐growing clonal angiosperms, faster‐growing solitary seaweeds, and shell‐forming filter‐ and deposit‐feeding bivalves. Here, we tested the impacts of one FS on another by analyzing manipulative interaction experiments from 148 papers with a global meta‐analysis.We calculated 1,942 (non‐independent) Hedges’ g effect sizes, from 11,652 extracted values over performance responses, such as abundances, growths or survival of FS, and their associated standard deviations and replication levels. Standard aggregation procedures generated 511 independent Hedges’ g that was classified into six types of reciprocal impacts between FS.We found that (i) seaweeds had consistent negative impacts on angiosperms across performance responses, organismal sizes, experimental approaches, and ecosystem types; (ii) angiosperms and bivalves generally had positive impacts on each other (e.g., positive effects of angiosperms on bivalves were consistent across organismal sizes and experimental approaches, but angiosperm effect on bivalve growth and bivalve effect on angiosperm abundance were not significant); (iii) bivalves positively affected seaweeds (particularly on growth responses); (iv) there were generally no net effects of seaweeds on bivalves (except for positive effect on growth) or angiosperms on seaweeds (except for positive effect on ‘other processes’); and (v) bivalve interactions with other FS were typically more positive at higher temperatures, but angiosperm‐seaweed interactions were not moderated by temperature.Synthesis: Despite variations in experimental and spatiotemporal conditions, the stronger positive interactions at higher temperatures suggest that facilitation, particularly involving bivalves, may become more important in a future warmer world. Importantly, addressing research gaps, such as the scarcity of FS interaction experiments from tropical and freshwater systems and for less studied species, as well as testing for density‐dependent effects, could better inform aquatic ecosystem conservation and restoration efforts and broaden our knowledge of FS interactions in the Anthropocene.

Lopes, A., L. O. Demarchi, M. T. F. Piedade, J. Schöngart, F. Wittmann, C. B. R. Munhoz, C. S. Ferreira, and A. C. Franco. 2023. Predicting the range expansion of invasive alien grasses under climate change in the Neotropics. Perspectives in Ecology and Conservation.

A diverse group of invasive grasses from tropical and subtropical Africa and Asia has spread throughout the Neotropics over the last decades. Despite their strong ecological impact, current and future distribution patterns of these grasses in the region according to climate change is poorly investigated. We chose ten high potential invasive grass species and used ecological niche modeling to project their geographic distribution within the Neotropics under four climate change scenarios (current, SSP1-2.6, SSP3-7.0 and SSP5-8.5 for 2100). Current climatically suitable areas for these invasive species were estimated to account for 51.3% of the Neotropics. Projections of future climatically suitable areas ranged between 47.0% and 57.6%, depending on the climate scenario. Range retractions are projected for Melinis repens and Urochloa decumbens regardless of the SSP scenario, while Arundo donax, Hyparrhenia rufa and Melinis minutiflora are expected to expand their range in all SSP scenarios. Currently, these ten invasive species have suitable areas that greatly overlap in dry regions of the Neotropics, mainly in the savannas of Central Brazil and Central America. However, a reduction in species overlap and a geographical expansion towards wetter regions is expected under the SSP1 and SSP3 scenarios, and towards drier regions under the SSP5 scenario.

Chincoya, D. A., S. Arias, F. Vaca-Paniagua, P. Dávila, and S. Solórzano. 2023. Phylogenomics and Biogeography of the Mammilloid Clade Revealed an Intricate Evolutionary History Arose in the Mexican Plateau. Biology 12: 512.

Mexico harbors ~45% of world’s cacti species richness. Their biogeography and phylogenomics were integrated to elucidate the evolutionary history of the genera Coryphantha, Escobaria, Mammillaria, Mammilloydia, Neolloydia, Ortegocactus, and Pelecyphora (Mammilloid Clade). We analyzed 52 orthologous loci from 142 complete genomes of chloroplast (103 taxa) to generate a cladogram and a chronogram; in the latter, the ancestral distribution was reconstructed with the Dispersal-Extinction-Cladogenesis model. The ancestor of these genera arose ~7 Mya on the Mexican Plateau, from which nine evolutionary lineages evolved. This region was the site of 52% of all the biogeographical processes. The lineages 2, 3 and 6 were responsible for the colonization of the arid southern territories. In the last 4 Mya, the Baja California Peninsula has been a region of prolific evolution, particularly for lineages 8 and 9. Dispersal was the most frequent process and vicariance had relevance in the isolation of cacti distributed in the south of Mexico. The 70 taxa sampled as Mammillaria were distributed in six distinct lineages; one of these presumably corresponded to this genus, which likely had its center of origin in the southern part of the Mexican Plateau. We recommend detailed studies to further determine the taxonomic circumscription of the seven genera.

Zargar, S. A., A. H. Ganie, Z. A. Reshi, M. A. Shah, N. Sharma, and A. A. Khuroo. 2023. Oxalis corniculata L. (Oxalidaceae), an addition of an alien plant species to the flora of Ladakh, India. Vegetos.

Oxalis corniculata L. is recorded for the first time from the Trans-Himalayan region of Ladakh. The plant species has a conspicuous stem, obcordate leaf blades, and umbellate inflorescence with yellow flowers and cylindrical or narrowly ovoid fruits. As the plant is known to spread rapidly, it may become an aggressive weed of agricultural crops in Ladakh in near future. The taxonomic description, photographs and distribution map of O. corniculata are provided to facilitate its field identification in the region.

Jiménez-López, D. A., M. J. Carmona-Higuita, G. Mendieta-Leiva, R. Martínez-Camilo, A. Espejo-Serna, T. Krömer, N. Martínez-Meléndez, and N. Ramírez-Marcial. 2023. Linking different resources to recognize vascular epiphyte richness and distribution in a mountain system in southeastern Mexico. Flora: 152261.

Mesoamerican mountains are important centers of endemism and diversity of epiphytes. The Sierra Madre of Chiapas in southeastern Mexico is a mountainous region of great ecological interest due to its high biological richness. We present the first checklist of epiphytes for this region based on a compilation of various information sources. In addition, we determined the conservation status for each species based on the Mexican Official Standard (NOM-059-SEMARNAT-2010), endemism based on geopolitical boundaries, spatial completeness with inventory completeness index, richness distribution with range maps, and the relationship between climatic variables (temperature and rainfall) with species richness using generalized additive models. Our dataset includes 9,799 records collected between 1896-2017. Our checklist includes 708 epiphytes within 160 genera and 26 families; the most species-rich family was Orchidaceae (355 species), followed by Bromeliaceae (82) and Polypodiaceae (79). There were 74 species within a category of risk and 59 species considered endemic. Completeness of epiphyte richness suggests that sampling is still largely incomplete, particularly in the lower parts of the mountain system. Species and family range maps show the highest richness at high elevations, while geographically richness increases towards the southeast. Epiphyte richness increases with increased rainfall, although a unimodal pattern was observed along the temperature gradient with a species richness peak between 16-20 C°. The Sierra Madre of Chiapas forms a refuge to more than 40% of all epiphytes reported for Mexico and its existing network of protected areas overlaps with the greatest epiphyte richness.

Song, X.-J., G. Liu, Z.-Q. Qian, and Z.-H. Zhu. 2023. Niche Filling Dynamics of Ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia L.) during Global Invasion. Plants 12: 1313.

Determining whether the climatic ecological niche of an invasive alien plant is similar to that of the niche occupied by its native population (ecological niche conservatism) is essential for predicting the plant invasion process. Ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia L.) usually poses serious threats to human health, agriculture, and ecosystems within its newly occupied range. We calculated the overlap, stability, unfilling, and expansion of ragweed’s climatic ecological niche using principal component analysis and performed ecological niche hypothesis testing. The current and potential distribution of A. artemisiifolia was mapped by ecological niche models to identify areas in China with the highest potential risk of A. artemisiifolia invasion. The high ecological niche stability indicates that A. artemisiifolia is ecologically conservative during the invasion. Ecological niche expansion (expansion = 0.407) occurred only in South America. In addition, the difference between the climatic and native niches of the invasive populations is mainly the result of unpopulated niches. The ecological niche model suggests that southwest China, which has not been invaded by A. artemisiifolia, faces an elevated risk of invasion. Although A. artemisiifolia occupies a climatic niche distinct from native populations, the climatic niche of the invasive population is only a subset of the native niche. The difference in climatic conditions is the main factor leading to the ecological niche expansion of A. artemisiifolia during the invasion. Additionally, human activities play a substantial role in the expansion of A. artemisiifolia. Alterations in the A. artemisiifolia niche would help explain why this species is so invasive in China.