Uses of GBIF in scientific research

Peer-reviewed research citing GBIF as a data source, with at least one author from Switzerland.
For all researches, please visit our "Peer-reviewed publications" page.

List of publications

  • Mairal M, Sanmartín I, Pellissier L (2017)

    Lineage-specific climatic niche drives the tempo of vicariance in the Rand Flora

    Journal of Biogeography.

    Aim The disjunct distribution patterns of sister taxa can arise when previously continuous distribution ranges are fragmented by environmental changes such as major climatic events. Populations become isolated on either side of the newly established environmental barrier, and absence of gene flow promotes allopatric speciation, in a process that is known as ecological vicariance. If climate change altered the ancestral range gradually, such as along temporal temperature or moisture gradients, the age of divergence of disjunct species should be related to the lineage tolerance to climatic conditions. Here, we investigate this hypothesis using as a study model the African Rand Flora, a continental-scale floristic pattern that relates sister taxa distributed on either side of the Saharan Desert. Location Africa, Macaronesia, Mediterranean Basin and the Middle East. Methods We estimated the extant climatic tolerances of 14 Rand Flora lineages based on present occurrence data, and correlated the phylogenetic age of divergence between vicariant clades. We tested whether the tempo of the vicariance in the Rand Flora lineages was associated with the average values of their climatic niches in agreement with niche-driven divergence. We hindcasted species ranges using species distribution models combined with palaeoclimate simulations to infer the potential distribution of each lineage's ancestors. Results We found a positive relationship between the lineage temperature niche and the age of the Rand Flora disjunction: lineages with subtropical affinities diverged first, whereas those with a higher tolerance to drier conditions (temperate or sub-xeric adaptations) exhibited younger disjunctions. The range reconstructions showed the existence of climatic corridors south of the Sahara in the wetter Late Miocene, which became interrupted during the mid-Pliocene warming event. Main conclusions Our results suggest that climate change leading to the formation of the Sahara Desert drove Rand Flora lineages divergences along a temporal sequence that matched the climatic niche of species.

    Keywords: Rand Flora, continental disjunctions, extinction, niche conservatism, refuges, vicariance


  • Aliabadian M, Alaei-Kakhki N, Mirshamsi O, Nijman V, Roulin A (2016)

    Phylogeny, biogeography, and diversification of barn owls (Aves: Strigiformes)

    Biological Journal of the Linnean Society.

    The existence of substantial morphological variation has resulted in the description of numerous subspecies of the cosmopolitan barn owl, Tyto alba. However, preliminary studies have revealed a high degree of genetic variation between Old and New World barn owls, suggesting that the T. alba complex may consist of several species. We present a comprehensive study of its taxonomy and propose a spatiotemporal framework to explain the origin and patterns of dispersal and diversification within these cosmopolitan owls. We used a Bayesian relaxed molecular clock approach to assess the timing of diversification. To evaluate the biogeographical pattern, we considered dispersal in addition to temporal connectivity between areas. Finally, we used ecological niche modelling to evaluate their ecological niches. Our phylogenetic analyses suggest that barn owls of the Old and New World show a high degree of genetic divergence, and the barn owls of South and South-east Asia (Tyto alba stertens and Tyto alba javanica) cluster with the Australian barn owl Tyto delicatula. We propose to treat the T. alba complex as three species: T. alba (Africa, Europe), Tyto furcata (New World), and Tyto javanica (Australasia). The dating analyses indicate that the early divergence among the species of the T. alba complex took place in the Middle Miocene and we hypothesize that a common ancestor of the T. alba complex lived in Africa. A potential scenario suggests that T. alba dispersed to Europe and south-western Asia during the interglacial periods of the Miocene/Pliocene, and dispersed into the New World either via an eastern Asian route or a western north Atlantic one.

    Keywords: Rand Flora, continental disjunctions, extinction, niche conservatism, refuges, vicariance


  • Ballesteros-Mejia L, Kitching I, Jetz W, Beck J (2016)

    Putting insects on the map: Near-global variation in sphingid moth richness along spatial and environmental gradients

    Ecography.

    Despite their vast diversity and vital ecological role, insects are notoriously underrepresented in biogeography and conservation, and key broad-scale ecological hypotheses about them remain untested – largely due to generally incomplete and very coarse spatial distribution knowledge. Integrating records from publications, field work and natural history collections, we used a mixture of species distribution models and expert estimates to provide geographic distributions and emergent richness patterns for all ca. 1,000 sphingid moth species found outside the Americas in high spatial detail. Total sphingid moth richness, the first for a higher insect group to be documented at this scale, shows distinct maxima in the wet tropics of Africa and the Oriental with notable decay toward Australasia. Using multivariate models controlling for spatial autocorrelation, we found that primary productivity is the dominant environmental variable associated with moth richness, while temperature, contrary to our predictions, is an unexpectedly weak predictor. This is in stark contrast to the importance we identify for temperature as a niche variable of individual species. Despite divergent life histories, both main sub-groups of moths exhibit these relationships. Tribal-level deconstruction of richness and climatic niche patterns indicate idiosyncratic effects of biogeographic history for some of the less species-rich tribes, which in some cases exhibit distinct richness peaks away from the tropics. The study confirms, for a diverse insect group, overall richness associations of remarkable similarity to those documented for vertebrates and highlights the significant within-taxon structure that underpins emergent macroecological patterns. Results do not, however, meet predictions from vertebrate-derived hypotheses on how thermoregulation affects the strength of temperature-richness effects. Our study thus broadens the taxonomic focus in this data-deficient discourse. Our procedures of processing incomplete, scattered distribution data are a template for application to other taxa and regions.

    Keywords: Distribution modelling, Lepidoptera, Productivity, Spatial scale, Sphingidae, Tropics


  • Benedict J, Smith S, Specht C, Collinson M, Leong-Škorničková J, Parkinson D et al. (2016)

    Species diversity driven by morphological and ecological disparity: a case study of seeds of Zingiberales (bananas, gingers, and relatives).

    AoB PLANTS plw063.

    Phenotypic variation can be attributed to genetic heritability as well as biotic and abiotic factors. Across Zingiberales, there is a high variation in the number of species per clade and in phenotypic diversity. Factors contributing to this phenotypic variation have never been studied in a phylogenetic or ecological context. Seeds of 166 species from all eight families in Zingiberales were analyzed for 51 characters using synchrotron based 3D X-ray tomographic microscopy to determine phylogenetically informative characters and to understand the distribution of morphological disparity within the order. All families are distinguishable based on seed characters. Non-metric multidimensional scaling analyses show Zingiberaceae occupy the largest seed morphospace relative to the other families, and environmental analyses demonstrate that Zingiberaceae inhabit both temperate and tropical regions, while other Zingiberales are almost exclusively tropical. Temperate species do not cluster in morphospace nor do they share a common suite of character states. This suggests that the diversity seen is not driven by adaptation to temperate niches; rather, the morphological disparity seen likely reflects an underlying genetic plasticity that allowed Zingiberaceae to repeatedly colonize temperate environments. The notable morphoanatomical variety in Zingiberaceae seeds may account for their extraordinary ecological success and high species diversity as compared to other Zingiberales.

    Keywords: Cannaceae, Costaceae, Heliconiaceae, Lowiaceae, Marantaceae, Musaceae, Strelitziaceae, Zingiberaceae


  • Bocksberger G, Schnitzler J, Chatelain C, Daget P, Janssen T, Schmidt M et al. (2016)

    Climate and the distribution of grasses in West Africa

    Journal of Vegetation Science.

    Questions Which environmental variables influence grass diversity in West Africa? What are the effects of climate and grass functional traits on the spatial patterns (richness and abundance) of the grass clades Andropogoneae, Paniceae and Chloridoideae? Location West Africa, demarcated by the Atlantic Ocean in the west and south (20° W and 4° N), the Sahara desert in the north (25° N) and the border between Niger and Chad in the east (20° E). Methods Based on 38 912 georeferenced occurrence records, we modelled the distribution of 302 grass species (51% of West African grass diversity). We integrated species richness, abundance and functional traits (life cycle, photosynthetic type and height) to determine the contribution of the most speciose grass clades (Andropogoneae, Paniceae and Chloridoideae) to overall grass diversity in West Africa. Results Precipitation is the variable most often influencing the species distribution models of grasses in West Africa. Richness and relative abundance of the tribe Andropogoneae show a centre of diversity in Sudanian savanna regions. The height of Andropogoneae species, generally >150 cm, is driving this ecological dominance. Species richness of the tribe Paniceae is more dispersed and shows two main centres of abundance: The southern regions with higher mean annual precipitation and tree density are dominated by C3 Paniceae species. The Sahelian regions in the north are dominated by short Paniceae species with the C4 NAD-ME photosynthetic subtype, as well as Chloridoideae possessing the same functional attributes. Conclusions Our study provides insight into the environmental correlates of grass species richness in West Africa and contributes to the much-needed research on tropical rangelands. Moreover, the integration of evolutionary history significantly improves our understanding of large-scale biodiversity patterns.

    Keywords: Andropogoneae, Chloridoideae, Maxent, Paniceae, Poaceae, Savanna, Species distribution modelling, West Africa, species richness


  • Boucher F, Lavergne S, Basile M, Choler P, Aubert S (2016)

    Evolution and biogeography of the cushion life form in angiosperms

    Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 20 22-31.

    Cushion-forming species occur in all cold and dry environments worldwide, where they play important engineering roles. Understanding the origins of cushion plants may thus provide insights into the evolutionary assembly of biomes under extreme climatic conditions. Here we investigate the evolutionary and biogeographic history of cushions in Angiosperms based on a global checklist of all cushion plants, along with phylogenetic, climatic, and biogeographic information. Our aim is to measure the frequency of this evolutionary convergence and to identify its historic, environmental, and biogeographic drivers. We show that cushions appeared at least 115 times in Angiosperms and that they mainly belong to families that occupy the coldest and driest environments on Earth. We found that cushions have intensively diversified in the Himalayas, the Andes, or New Zealand, while other regions like Patagonia have probably been hubs enabling cushion species to migrate between different alpine regions. We conclude that the cushion life form is a remarkable example of convergent key innovation, which has favored the colonization of cold and dry habitats.

    Keywords: Alpine, Angiosperms, Arctic, Biogeography, Cushion plants, Evolutionary convergence


  • Branquart E, Brundu G, Buholzer S, Chapman D, Ehret P, Fried G et al. (2016)

    A prioritization process for invasive alien plant species incorporating the requirements of EU Regulation no. 1143/2014

    EPPO Bulletin 46(3) 603-617.

    When faced with a large species pool of invasive or potentially invasive alien plants, prioritization is an essential prerequisite for focusing limited resources on species which inflict high impacts, have a high rate of spread and can be cost-effectively managed. The prioritization process as detailed within this paper is the first tool to assess species for priority for risk assessment (RA) in the European Union (EU) specifically designed to incorporate the requirements of EU Regulation no. 1143/2014. The prioritization process can be used for any plant species alien to the EU, whether currently present within the territory or absent. The purpose of the prioritization is to act as a preliminarily evaluation to determine which species have the highest priority for RA at the EU level and may eventually be proposed for inclusion in the list of invasive alien species of EU concern. The preliminary risk assessment stage (Stage 1), prioritizes species into one of four lists (EU List of Invasive Alien Plants, EU Observation List of Invasive Alien Plants, EU List of Minor Concern and the Residual List) based on their potential for spread coupled with impacts. The impacts on native species and ecosystem functions and related ecosystem services are emphasized in line with Article 4.3(c) of the Regulation. Only those species included in the EU List of Invasive Alien Plants proceed to Stage 2 where potential for further spread and establishment coupled with evaluating preventative and management actions is evaluated. The output of Stage 2 is to prioritize those species which have the highest priority for a RA at the EU level or should be considered under national measures which may involve a trade ban, cessation of cultivation, monitoring, control, containment or eradication. When considering alien plant species for the whole of the EPPO region, or for species under the Plant Health Regulation, the original EPPO prioritization process for invasive alien plants remains the optimum tool. Un processus de priorisation pour les plantes exotiques envahissantes, intégrant les exigences du Règlement UE No 1143/2014 Face à un grand nombre d'espèces de plantes exotiques envahissantes, ou potentiellement envahissantes, prioriser est un pré-requis afin de concentrer des ressources limitées sur les espèces à forts impacts, ayant un potentiel important de dissémination, et pouvant être gérées de façon efficace. Le processus de priorisation, tel que décrit dans le présent article, est le premier outil permettant d’évaluer le besoin de réaliser, en priorité, pour une espèce, une évaluation du risque pour l'Union Européenne (UE), et ce en cohérence avec les exigences du Règlement UE No 1143/2014. Ce processus de priorisation peut être appliqué à toute plante exotique au territoire de l’UE, qu'elle soit présente ou non sur ce territoire. L'objectif est de déterminer, lors d'une étape préliminaire, les espèces prioritaires pour lesquelles une évaluation du risque doit être conduite au niveau de l’UE, et qui pourraient éventuellement être proposées à l'inscription au sein de la liste des espèces exotiques envahissantes préoccupantes pour l’UE. L’évaluation du risque préliminaire (étape 1), classe les espèces au sein de l'une des quatre listes (liste des plantes exotiques envahissantes pour l’UE, liste d'observation des plantes exotiques envahissantes pour l’UE, liste d'importance réduite pour l’UE et liste résiduelle) sur la base de leur capacité de dissémination et de leurs impacts. Pour les impacts, l'accent est mis sur les espèces autochtones, sur les fonctions écosystémiques, ainsi que les services écosystémiques, en cohérence avec l'article 4.3(c) du Règlement UE. Seulement les espèces classées dans la liste des plantes exotiques envahissantes pour l’UE passent à la seconde étape. Au cours de cette étape sont analysés les risques de dissémination et d’établissement, ainsi que les mesures prophylactiques ou mesures de gestion possibles. L’étape 2 classe les espèces les plus prioritaires pour la réalisation d'une évaluation du risque au niveau de l’UE, ou qui devraient faire l'objet de mesures nationales telles que l'interdiction du commerce, l'arrêt de la culture, la surveillance, le contrôle, l'enrayement ou l’éradication. Le processus de priorisation OEPP d'origine reste néanmoins l'outil optimal lorsque le processus est à réaliser sur l'ensemble de la région OEPP, ou pour des espèces réglementées dans le cadre phytosanitaire.

    Keywords: Alpine, Angiosperms, Arctic, Biogeography, Cushion plants, Evolutionary convergence


  • Dufresnes C, Litvinchuk S, Leuenberger J, Ghali K, Zinenko O, Stöck M et al. (2016)

    Evolutionary melting pots: a biodiversity hotspot shaped by ring diversifications around the Black Sea in the Eastern tree frog ( Hyla orientalis )

    Molecular Ecology.

    Hotspots of intraspecific genetic diversity, which are of primary importance for the conservation of species, have been associated to glacial refugia, i.e. areas where species survived the Quaternary climatic oscillations. However, the proximate mechanisms generating these hotspots remain an open issue. Hotspots may reflect the long-term persistence of large refugial populations; alternatively, they may result from allopatric differentiation between small and isolated populations, that later admixed. Here we test these two scenarios in a widely distributed species of tree frog, Hyla orientalis, which inhabits Asia Minor and Southeastern Europe. We apply a fine-scale phylogeographic survey, combining fast-evolving mitochondrial and nuclear markers, with a dense sampling throughout the range, as well as ecological niche modeling, to understand what shaped the genetic variation of this species. We documented an important diversity center around the Black Sea, composed of multiple allopatric and/or parapatric diversifications, likely driven by a combination of Pleistocene climatic fluctuations and complex regional topography. Remarkably, this diversification forms a ring around the Black Sea, from the Caucasus through Anatolia and Eastern Europe, with terminal forms coming into contact and partially admixing in Crimea. Our results support the view that glacial refugia generate rather than host genetic diversity, and can also function as evolutionary melting pots of biodiversity. Moreover, we report a new case of ring diversification, triggered by a large, yet cohesive dispersal barrier, a very rare situation in nature. Finally, we emphasize the Black Sea region as an important center of intraspecific diversity in the Palearctic with implications for conservation.

    Keywords: Alpine, Angiosperms, Arctic, Biogeography, Cushion plants, Evolutionary convergence


  • Ferreira G, Ferreira P, Chautems A, Waechter J (2016)

    Subtropical species of Sinningia (Gesneriaceae): distribution patterns and limiting environmental factors

    Flora - Morphology, Distribution, Functional Ecology of Plants 222 86-95.

    The neotropical genus Sinningia Nees encompasses tuberous herbs or subshrubs which occupy a wide range of environments with respect to climate and soil or substrate types. The genus has more than 70 species distributed from Southern Mexico to Northern Argentina, with a diversity centre in the Brazilian Atlantic Rainforest. In this ecosystem, a large number of species occur in several particular vegetation types, occupying terrestrial, rupestrial and epiphytic substrates. The aims of this study were to describe the distribution patterns of subtropical Sinningia species, and to determine possible limiting factors for their range extension. We summarized environmental data for 21 subtropical species. Ten geographical and ecological variables were subdivided into several regional or local conditions. The occurrence of species in each of these conditions was obtained from published material, herbarium reviews and field expeditions. We used exploratory multivariate approaches, (cluster and ordination analyses) to assess the contribution of these variables to species’ ecological and geographical distributions. Comparisons between groups of species were evaluated using randomization tests. Two major patterns of geographic distribution were identified for subtropical Sinningia species: widespread and restricted. Species richness according to spatial and climatic variables showed four distinct patterns. Habitat tolerance of the species also distinguished two groups in a wider continuum context. Cluster analysis resulted in two stable groups, which coincided almost entirely with an a priori classification based on geographic range. Ordination analysis showed a distinction between widespread and restricted species, as well as a gradient of substrate occupancy. Patterns of ecological and geographical distribution were strongly related to the evolutionary history of the genus. The southern distribution limit of Sinningia is mainly linked to shifts in vegetation types around the 30°S parallel, where the northern forested Atlantic and Paranean biogeographic provinces give place to the southern non-forested Espinal and Pampean provinces.

    Keywords: Biogeography, Corytholoma, Dircaea, Ecology, Plasticity


  • Fuchs J, Lemoine D, Parra J, Pons J, Raherilalao M, Prys-Jones R et al. (2016)

    Long-distance dispersal and inter-island colonization across the western Malagasy Region explain diversification in brush-warblers (Passeriformes: Nesillas )

    Biological Journal of the Linnean Society.

    The present study examines the colonization history and phylogeography of the brush-warblers (Nesillas), a genus of passerines endemic to islands of the western Indian Ocean (Madagascar, Comoros, and Aldabra Atoll). The phylogeny of all recognized Nesillas taxa was reconstructed employing Bayesian phylogenetic methods and divergence times were estimated using a range of substitution rates and clock assumptions. Spatiotemporal patterns of population expansion were inferred and niches of different lineages were compared using ecological niche modelling. Our results indicate that taxa endemic to the Comoros are paraphyletic and that the two endemic species on Madagascar (Nesillas typica and Nesillas lantzii) are not sister taxa. The brush-warblers started to diversify approximately 1.6 Mya, commencing with the separation of the clade formed by two species endemic to the Comoros (Nesillas brevicaudata and Nesillas mariae) from the rest of the genus. The lineages leading to the two Malagasy species diverged approximately 0.9 Mya; each with significantly different modern ecological niches and the subject of separate demographic processes. Patterns of diversification and endemism in Nesillas were shaped by multiple long distance dispersal events and inter-island colonization, a recurring pattern for different lineages on western Indian Ocean islands. The diversification dynamics observed for Nesillas are also consistent with the taxon cycle hypothesis.

    Keywords: MAXENT, demographic history, ecological niche modelling, island biogeography, mitochondrial sequence data, phylogenetic constraints, taxon cycle