The Illinois Natural History Survey

Champaign, IL, United States

The Illinois Natural History Survey

Champaign, IL, United States
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Vos R.A.,Naturalis Biodiversity Center | Biserkov J.V.,Pensoft Publishers | Balech B.,National Research Council Italy | Beard N.,University of Manchester | And 31 more authors.
Biodiversity Data Journal | Year: 2014

Background: Recent years have seen a surge in projects that produce large volumes of structured, machine-readable biodiversity data. To make these data amenable to processing by generic, open source "data enrichment" workflows, they are increasingly being represented in a variety of standards-compliant interchange formats. Here, we report on an initiative in which software developers and taxonomists came together to address the challenges and highlight the opportunities in the enrichment of such biodiversity data by engaging in intensive, collaborative software development: The Biodiversity Data Enrichment Hackathon. Results: The hackathon brought together 37 participants (including developers and taxonomists, i.e. scientific professionals that gather, identify, name and classify species) from 10 countries: Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the UK, and the US. The participants brought expertise in processing structured data, text mining, development of ontologies, digital identification keys, geographic information systems, niche modeling, natural language processing, provenance annotation, semantic integration, taxonomic name resolution, web service interfaces, workflow tools and visualisation. Most use cases and exemplar data were provided by taxonomists. One goal of the meeting was to facilitate re-use and enhancement of biodiversity knowledge by a broad range of stakeholders, such as taxonomists, systematists, ecologists, niche modelers, informaticians and ontologists. The suggested use cases resulted in nine breakout groups addressing three main themes: i) mobilising heritage biodiversity knowledge; ii) formalising and linking concepts; and iii) addressing interoperability between service platforms. Another goal was to further foster a community of experts in biodiversity informatics and to build human links between research projects and institutions, in response to recent calls to further such integration in this research domain. Conclusions: Beyond deriving prototype solutions for each use case, areas of inadequacy were discussed and are being pursued further. It was striking how many possible applications for biodiversity data there were and how quickly solutions could be put together when the normal constraints to collaboration were broken down for a week. Conversely, mobilising biodiversity knowledge from their silos in heritage literature and natural history collections will continue to require formalisation of the concepts (and the links between them) that define the research domain, as well as increased interoperability between the software platforms that operate on these concepts. © Vos R et al.


Petchey O.L.,University of Zürich | Petchey O.L.,Eawag - Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology | Pontarp M.,University of Zürich | Pontarp M.,Umeå University | And 18 more authors.
Ecology Letters | Year: 2015

Forecasts of ecological dynamics in changing environments are increasingly important, and are available for a plethora of variables, such as species abundance and distribution, community structure and ecosystem processes. There is, however, a general absence of knowledge about how far into the future, or other dimensions (space, temperature, phylogenetic distance), useful ecological forecasts can be made, and about how features of ecological systems relate to these distances. The ecological forecast horizon is the dimensional distance for which useful forecasts can be made. Five case studies illustrate the influence of various sources of uncertainty (e.g. parameter uncertainty, environmental variation, demographic stochasticity and evolution), level of ecological organisation (e.g. population or community), and organismal properties (e.g. body size or number of trophic links) on temporal, spatial and phylogenetic forecast horizons. Insights from these case studies demonstrate that the ecological forecast horizon is a flexible and powerful tool for researching and communicating ecological predictability. It also has potential for motivating and guiding agenda setting for ecological forecasting research and development. © 2015 The Authors Ecology Letters published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd and CNRS.


Hughes K.M.,University of California at Davis | Pearse I.S.,The Illinois Natural History Survey | Grof-Tisza P.,University of California at Davis | Karban R.,University of California at Davis
Ecological Entomology | Year: 2015

1. Plant-plant communication has been found to affect interactions between herbivores and plants in several model systems. In these systems, herbivore-induced volatile chemical cues are emitted and perceived by other plants (receivers), which subsequently change their defensive phenotypes. Most studies have focused on how the effects of volatile cues affect plant damage, whereas herbivore performance has rarely been examined. 2. In this study, it is shown that plant-plant communication between willows reduced the growth rate, feeding rate, and conversion efficiency of some individuals but not others of a generalist caterpillar, Orgyia vetusta. 3. Using a paired, no-choice trial design, there was substantial variation between caterpillar individuals in their response to willows that had been induced with a volatile plant-plant cue. This variation was explained by feeding parameters of the individual herbivores. Individuals behaved similarly when fed induced and non-induced willow leaves. Specifically, growth rates of caterpillars that grew rapidly on non-induced willow leaves were negatively affected by plant-plant cues, but growth rates of caterpillars that grew slowly on non-induced willow leaves were not affected by the responses to volatiles from neighbouring willows. 4. Induction by volatile plant-plant cues reduced the growth rates of those individual herbivores that caused the greatest damage to willow, but had little effect on weak growers. © 2015 The Royal Entomological Society.


Pearse I.S.,The Illinois Natural History Survey | Baty J.H.,The Illinois Natural History Survey | Herrmann D.,University of California at Davis | Sage R.,University of California at Santa Barbara | Koenig W.D.,Cornell University
Ecological Entomology | Year: 2015

1. Plants from different populations often display a variation in herbivore resistance. However, it is rarely understood what plant traits mediate such differences. 2. It was tested how leaf phenology affects herbivore populations in a 15-year-old common garden of valley oaks (Quercus lobata Née) with different populations and maternal parents from throughout the Q. lobata range. 3. The abundance of leaf miners (Stigmella sp. Shrank) and leaf phenology of oaks in the common garden was measured. 4. Leaf miner abundance varied among provenance locations (population), but not among maternal parents within populations. Leaf phenology varied by provenance location and maternal parent, and trees that leafed out earlier accrued higher leaf-miner abundance. Path analysis indicated that leaf phenology was the likely driver of provenance and parental differences in resistance to leaf miners. 5. Understanding population differences is particularly important when considering transport of genotypes for ornamental or restoration purposes. The present study suggests that similarity in leaf phenology may be one factor that could be used to find genotypes with a similar herbivore resistance to local genotypes. © 2015 The Royal Entomological Society.

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