Comparing iNaturalist to herbarium data, and other stories

How do citizen scientists compare with digitised herbarium data? A question asked by one of the papers we shared on social media over the past day.

What Murder Mysteries Get Wrong about Gardens and Poisonous Plants

Murder mysteries and gardens go together like peanut butter and jelly or milk with cookies. Many of the classic detectives, from Ms. Marple to Nero Wolfe, have a preoccupation with gardens and/or plants. And with gardens and plants, there are poisonous plants awaiting a murderer’s deft touch.

Why Pineapples Are Sweeter When Picked During The Day, According To Science

It turns out that pineapples go through mood swings just like the rest of us. While they, of course, don’t experience emotions like we do, the time of day you pick one of these fruits has a big impact on the flavor they give off. If you harvest your pineapple during the day, you’re much more likely to get a sweeter bite, while at night, there’s a higher chance your snack will end up tasting sour.

Stop Planting Trees, Says Guy Who Inspired World to Plant a Trillion Trees

Ecologist Thomas Crowther’s research inspired countless tree-planting campaigns, greenwashing, and attacks from scientists. Now he’s back with a new plan for nature restoration.

Twenty-year study confirms California forests are healthier when burned — or thinned

A 20-year experiment in the Sierra Nevada confirms that different forest management techniques — prescribed burning, restoration thinning or a combination of both — are effective at reducing the risk of catastrophic wildfire in California. These treatments also improve forest health, making trees more resilient to stressors like drought and bark beetles, and they do not negatively impact plant or wildlife biodiversity within individual tree stands, the research found. The findings of the experiment, called the Fire Surrogate Study, are published online in the journal Ecological Applications.

My Garden Was My Refuge. Then Climate Change Came for It.

Plants offered a respite from grief and anxiety. They also offered a new way to live in the world—with all its challenges.

Traditional small farmers burned by Indonesia’s war on wildfires

Tall brush has taken over the land that Sarijan farmed for decades here on the island of Borneo. At the height of Indonesia’s 2019 wildfire crisis, the now-62-year-old set a fire to clear this tiny plot outside his home of vegetation. He planned to fertilize the soil with ash and plant rice and chili. But Sarijan never saw his crops bear fruit — owing to his use of an agricultural method dating back thousands of years. Instead, he spent the next seven months behind bars, where he says he was assaulted by other inmates and extorted by prison officials. Today, the field sits unused.

Seed microbiome-mediated herbicide resistance evolution in weeds (OA)

Demand for agricultural products has constantly increased with the world’s population doubled over the past 50 y. Rice (Oryza sativa L.) as one of the major crops plays a substantial role in securing the global food supply. However, weeds are restricting rice yields across the world and are estimated to further aggravate with global change.

Climate-resilient crops: Lessons from xerophytes (OA)

Chen et al. combined bioinformatics and physiological approaches to compare some of the key traits that may differentiate between xerophytes (naturally drought-tolerant plants) and mesophytes (to which the majority of the crops belong). They show that both xerophytes and salt-tolerant mesophytes have a much larger number of copies in key gene families conferring some of the key traits related to plant osmotic adjustment, abscisic acid (ABA) sensing and signalling, and stomata development.

Decoding plant specialized metabolism: new mechanistic insights ($)

Secondary metabolite (SM) production provides biotic and abiotic stress resistance and enables plants to adapt to the environment. Biosynthesis of these metabolites involves a complex interplay between transcription factors (TFs) and regulatory elements, with emerging evidence suggesting an integral role for chromatin dynamics. Li et al. review key TFs and epigenetic regulators that govern SM biosynthesis in different contexts.

Quantifying error in occurrence data: Comparing the data quality of iNaturalist and digitized herbarium specimen data in flowering plant families of the southeastern United States (OA)

iNaturalist has the potential to be an extremely rich source of organismal occurrence data. Launched in 2008, it now contains over 150 million uploaded observations as of May 2023. Based on the findings of a limited number of past studies assessing the taxonomic accuracy of participatory science-driven sources of occurrence data such as iNaturalist, there has been concern that some portion of these records might be misidentified in certain taxonomic groups. White et al. compare Research Grade iNaturalist observations with digitized herbarium specimens, both of which are currently available for combined download from large data aggregators and are therefore the primary sources of occurrence data for large-scale biodiversity/biogeography studies.

Evolution of flowering time due to variation in the onset of pollen dispersal among individuals ($)

The evolution of flowering time is often attributed to variation of pollinator rates over time. This study proposes that flowering time can evolve through siring success variation among individuals caused by differential pollen dispersal timing (a result of flowering time variation). By building quantitative genetic models, Xu show that flowering time evolves to be earlier when the pollen removal rate is low and pollen deposition rate is high, and the fertilization ability of removed pollen declines slowly.

Leafcutter bee preference of plant saplings in plant nurseries: context for future research and conservation ($)

Global pollinator decline has prompted pollinator conservation initiatives. Plant nurseries exploited this opportunity by selling bee-friendly ornamental plants. Studies that analysed flower-pollinator networks questioned the suitability of ornamental plants for bee conservation. Sinu & Aiswarya evaluated plant nurseries from the perspective of the leaf-foraging habit of leafcutter bees.

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