Cover story!!!

September 27th, 2019
Our work on how ecoregions best explain intraspecific variation in responses of pikas to climate made the cover of Nature Climate Change!

What geographic template best explains intraspecific variation in responses to climate? Enter ‘climate coherency’

September 23rd, 2019

After many long years of battling data bottlenecks, I am ecstatic to announce the publication of our paper on intraspecific variation in responses of pikas to climate change. To our great surprise, dividing the range by ecoregions–not genetic lineages–best captures observed differences in how the species responded to 20 mechanistic climatic variables. Many thanks to Erik Beever, the “Pika Brain Trust,” and ~70 co-authors who contributed valuable data, hard-won wisdom, and trust in the outcome of this massive endeavor!

Ecoregions display the greatest climate coherency (least within-unit variation and most among-unit variation) in responses of pikas to 20 mechanistic climate variables.

Smith, A.B., Beever, E.A., Kessler, A.E., Johnston, A.N., Ray, C., Epps, C.W., Lanier, H.C., Klinger, R.C., Rodhouse, T.J., Varner, J., Perrine, J., Seglund, A., Hall, E., Galbreath, K., Anderson, C., Billman, P., Blatz, G., Brewer, J., Vardaro, J.C., Chalfoun, A.D., Collins, G., Craighead, A., Curlis, C., Daly, C., Doak, D.F., East, M., Edwards, M., Erb, L., Ernest, K.A., Fauver, B., Foresman, K., Goehring, K., Hagar, J., Hayes, C.L., Henry, P., Hersey, K., Hilty, S.L., Jacobson, J., Jeffress, M.R., Manning, T.E., Masching, A., Maxwell, B., McCollough, R., McFarland, C., Miskow, E., Morelli, T,L., Moyer-Horner, L., Mueller, M., Nugent, M., Pratt, B., Rasmussen-Flores, M., Rickman, T.H., Robison, H., Rodriguez, A., Rowe, K.M.C., Rowe, K.C., Russello, M.A., Saab, V., Schmidt, A., Stewart, J.A.E., Stuart, J.N., Svancara, L.K., Thompson, W., Timmins, J., Treinish, G., Waterhouse, M.D., Westover, M.K., Wilkening, J., and Yandow, L. 2019. Alternatives to genetic affinity as a context for within-species response to climate. Nature Climate Change 9:787-794 (article | editorial highlight | PBS NOVA | SciGlow | The Scientist)

How well do species distribution models measure variable importance?

July 26th, 2019

One of the most common applications of SDMs is to identify important variables and measure their relative effect. Despite hundreds of papers assessing the predictive power of SDMs, there are none assessing their inferential power. Maria Santos and Adam recently completed the first such analysis!

Permute-after-calibration test of variable importance. The OMNI model perfectly recreates the species’ range so serves as a benchmark for the other models.

Smith, A.B. and Santos, M.J. Testing the ability of species distribution models to infer variable importance. bioRxiv doi: 10.1101/715904

Welcome, David Henderson!

March 12th, 2019

We are happy to host David Henderson as part of his rotation at Washington University in St. Louis during the spring semester of 2019! David is interested in understanding biogeographic patterns using herbarium records. Many records are only “vaguely” georeferenced (i.e., to a county or similar political unit). Vague records can represent 40% or more of all georeferenced records, yet are routinely discarded before analysis.  David is examining the impact of this practice on estimates of range size and habitat breadth.

March 8th, 2019

Local adaptation in a foundational grass

“Prairie Zen” is the feeling one gets when gazing out across the endless grasslands of the Great Plains. But the endlessness belies sharp gradients in genetic and phenotypic diversity within Big Bluestem, the dominant grass of the region. Now out: Matt Galliart’s paper on local adaptation in this foundational species!

Galliart, M., Bello, N., Knapp, M., Poland, J., St. Amand, P., Baer, S., Maricle, B., Smith, A.B., and Johnson, L.J.  2019.  Local adaptation, genetic divergence, and experimental natural selection in a foundation grass across the US Great Plains’ climate gradient. Global Change Biology 25:850-868 (open access)

Niche estimation above and below the species level

February 11th, 2019
Access the recommendation on F1000Prime

If ‘nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution,’ then why model species as if they appeared through spontaneous creation? Now out: our paper on estimating niches while accounting for intra- and interspecific evolution!

Smith, A.B., Godsoe, W., Rodríguez-Sánchez, F., Wang, H-H., and Warren, D. 2019. Niche estimation above and below the species level. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 34:260-273 (article page | science daily |Texas A&M)

Lumping, splitting, and pooling above and below the species level

Conservation of crop wild relatives

January 3rd, 2019

North American Crop Wild RelativesJust out: a two-volume set on conservation of North American crop wild relatives!  Adam had the honor of contributing to a chapter on threat assessment. “This chapter introduces the roles of conservation status and threat assessments in informing conservation priorities for crop wild relatives in North America and provides an overview of the current results for US taxa.” Some key results: Residential development is the most common threat to crop wild relatives in the US, followed by fire/fire suppression, then invasive species.

Frances, A., Smith, A.B., and Khoury, C. 2018.  Conservation status and threat assessments for North American crop wild relatives. Pp. 189-208 in North American Crop Wild Relatives: Conservation and Use (Springer, New York). (chapter pre-print | book)

See also Hernández-Yáñez, H., Kos, J.T., Bast, M.D., Griggs, J.L., Hage, P.A., Killian, A.,Whitmore, M.B., Loza, M. L., Smith, A.B.  2016.  A systematic assessment of threats affecting the rare plants of the United States.  Biological Conservation 203:260-267. (article page | kudos)

 

Welcome to our new postdoc, Stephen Murphy!

December 12th, 2018

Stephen MurphyWe are very excited to host Stephen, who is interested in combining aspects of biogeography and macroecology with his ongoing work in community ecology. Stephen graduated from Ohio State University, and is now supported by a grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services for developing and testing methods for using vaguely georeferenced and dated herbarium and natural history museum records.  Welcome, Stephen!

Are cities the next biodiversity “arks”?

October 31st, 2018

Adam’s (somewhat abandoned) proposal for chaperoned assisted migration was recently discussed by Smithsonian Magazine in a story on using cities as refugia for endangered and climate-sensitive species!

Feral Ring-Necked Parakeet (Wikimedia)

Feral Ring-Necked Parakeet (Wikimedia)

Welcome to our new postdoc, Kelley Erickson!

September 17th, 2018

Kelley EricksonWe are excited to serve as the new intellectual home of Kelley Erickson, a recent graduate of the University of Miami where she studied the demography of the highly invasive shrub Schinus terebinthifolia (Brazilian peppertree). Kelley is working on incorporating issues related to detectability in species distribution models in a project sponsored by the Institute for Museum and Library Services.  Welcome, Kelley!