Davis Laboratory

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Recent Publications

Emily K. Meineke, Charles C. Davis, and Jonathan Davies. Forthcoming. “The unrealized potential of herbaria for global change biology.” Ecological Monographs, Pp. 1-21.Abstract


Plant and fungal specimens in herbaria are becoming primary resources for investigat-

ing how plant phenology and geographic distributions shift with climate change, greatly expanding

inferences across spatial, temporal, and phylogenetic dimensions. However, these specimens contain a

wealth of additional data, including nutrients, defensive compounds, herbivore damage, disease

lesions, and signatures of physiological processes, that capture ecological and evolutionary responses

to the Anthropocene but which are less frequently utilized. Here, we outline the diversity of herbarium

data, global change topics to which they have been applied, and new hypotheses they could inform.

We find that herbarium data have been used extensively to study impacts of climate change and inva-

sive species, but that such data are less commonly used to address other drivers of biodiversity loss,

including habitat conversion, pollution, and overexploitation. In addition, we note that fungal speci-

mens are under-explored relative to vascular plants. To facilitate broader application of plant and fun-

gal specimens in global change research, we consider the limitations of these data and modern

sampling and statistical tools that may be applied to surmount challenges they present. Using a case

study of insect herbivory, we illustrate how novel herbarium data may be employed to test hypotheses

for which few data exist. With the goal of positioning herbaria as hubs for global change research, we

suggest future research directions and curation priorities.

Key words: climate change; extinction; global change; habitat conversion; herbarium; historical data; invasive

species; museum specimens.


Cintia Iha, Christopher J. Grassa, Goia M. de Lyra, Charles C. Davis, Heroen Verbruggen, and Mariana C. Oliveira. 9/12/2018. “Organellar Genomics: A Useful Tool to Study the Evolutionary Relationships and Molecular Evolution in Gracilarilacae (Rhodophyta).” Journal of Phycology, 54, Pp. 775-787. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Gracilariaceae has a worldwide distribution including numerous economically important species. We applied high‐throughput sequencing to obtain organellar genomes (mitochondria and chloroplast) from 10 species of Gracilariaceae and, combined with published genomes, to infer phylogenies and compare genome architecture among species representing main lineages. We obtained similar topologies between chloroplast and mitochondrial genomes phylogenies. However, the chloroplast phylogeny was better resolved with full support. In this phylogeny, Melanthalia intermedia is sister to a monophyletic clade including Gracilaria and Gracilariopsis, which were both resolved as monophyletic genera. Mitochondrial and chloroplast genomes were highly conserved in gene synteny, and variation mainly occurred in regions where insertions of plasmid‐derived sequences (PDS) were found. In mitochondrial genomes, PDS insertions were observed in two regions where the transcription direction changes: between the genes cob and trnL, and trnA and trnN. In chloroplast genomes, PDS insertions were in different positions, but generally found between psdD and rrs genes. Gracilariaceae is a good model system to study the impact of PDS in genome evolution due to the frequent presence of these insertions in organellar genomes. Furthermore, the bacterial leuC/leuD operon was found in chloroplast genomes of Gracilaria tenuistipitata, G. chilensis, and M. intermedia, and in extrachromosomal plasmid of G. vermiculophylla. Phylogenetic trees show two different origins of leuC/leuD: genes found in chloroplast and plasmid were placed with proteobacteria, and genes encoded in the nucleus were close to Viridiplantae and cyanobacteria.
Daniel S. Park, Ian Breckheimer, Alex C. Williams, Edith Law, Aaron M. Ellison, and Charles C. Davis. 11/19/2018. “Herbarium specimens reveal substantial and unexpected variation in phenological sensitivity across the eastern United States.” The Royal Society Publishing, 374, 1763. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Phenology is a key biological trait that can determine an organism's survival and provides one of the clearest indicators of the effects of recent climatic change. Long time-series observations of plant phenology collected at continental scales could clarify latitudinal and regional patterns of plant responses and illuminate drivers of that variation, but few such datasets exist. Here, we use the web tool CrowdCurio to crowdsource phenological data from over 7000 herbarium specimens representing 30 diverse flowering plant species distributed across the eastern United States. Our results, spanning 120 years and generated from over 2000 crowdsourcers, illustrate numerous aspects of continental-scale plant reproductive phenology. First, they support prior studies that found plant reproductive phenology significantly advances in response to warming, especially for early-flowering species. Second, they reveal that fruiting in populations from warmer, lower latitudes is significantly more phenologically sensitive to temperature than that for populations from colder, higher-latitude regions. Last, we found that variation in phenological sensitivities to climate within species between regions was of similar magnitude to variation between species. Overall, our results suggest that phenological responses to anthropogenic climate change will be heterogeneous within communities and across regions, with large amounts of regional variability driven by local adaptation, phenotypic plasticity and differences in species assemblages. As millions of imaged herbarium specimens become available online, they will play an increasingly critical role in revealing large-scale patterns within assemblages and across continents that ultimately can improve forecasts of the impacts of climatic change on the structure and function of ecosystems.

This article is part of the theme issue ‘Biological collections for understanding biodiversity in the Anthropocene’.