The unrealized potential of herbaria for global change biology

Citation:

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.

 

Last updated on 09/24/2018