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Concept: Biological classification

256

Studying and protecting each and every living species on Earth is a major challenge of the 21(st) century. Yet, most species remain unknown or unstudied, while others attract most of the public, scientific and government attention. Although known to be detrimental, this taxonomic bias continues to be pervasive in the scientific literature, but is still poorly studied and understood. Here, we used 626 million occurrences from the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), the biggest biodiversity data portal, to characterize the taxonomic bias in biodiversity data. We also investigated how societal preferences and taxonomic research relate to biodiversity data gathering. For each species belonging to 24 taxonomic classes, we used the number of publications from Web of Science and the number of web pages from Bing searches to approximate research activity and societal preferences. Our results show that societal preferences, rather than research activity, strongly correlate with taxonomic bias, which lead us to assert that scientists should advertise less charismatic species and develop societal initiatives (e.g. citizen science) that specifically target neglected organisms. Ensuring that biodiversity is representatively sampled while this is still possible is an urgent prerequisite for achieving efficient conservation plans and a global understanding of our surrounding environment.

Concepts: Scientific method, Biodiversity, Conservation biology, Species, Science, Knowledge, Biological classification, Global Biodiversity Information Facility

169

Yponomeutoidea, one of the early-diverging lineages of ditrysian Lepidoptera, comprise about 1,800 species worldwide, including notable pests and insect-plant interaction models. Yponomeutoids were one of the earliest lepidopteran clades to evolve external feeding and to extensively colonize herbaceous angiosperms. Despite the group’s economic importance, and its value for tracing early lepidopteran evolution, the biodiversity and phylogeny of Yponomeutoidea have been relatively little studied.

Concepts: Evolution, Biology, Species, Insect, Phylogenetics, Lepidoptera, Biological classification, Ditrysia

160

Classification of species within the genus Salmo is still a matter of discussion due to their high level of diversity and to the low power of resolution of mitochondrial (mt)DNA-based phylogeny analyses that have been traditionally used in evolutionary studies of the genus. We apply a new marker system based on nuclear (n)DNA loci to present a novel view of the phylogeny of Salmo representatives and we compare it with the mtDNA-based phylogeny.

Concepts: DNA, Evolution, Molecular biology, Biology, Species, Phylogenetics, Order, Biological classification

138

Hierarchical classification (HC) stratifies and classifies data from broad classes into more specific classes. Unlike commonly used data classification strategies, this enables the probabilistic prediction of unknown classes at different levels, minimizing the burden of incomplete databases. Despite these advantages, its translational application in biomedical sciences has been limited. We describe and demonstrate the implementation of a HC approach for “omics-driven” classification of 15 bacterial species at various taxonomic levels achieving 90-100% accuracy, and 9 cancer types into morphological types and 35 subtypes with 99% and 76% accuracy, respectively. Unknown bacterial species were probabilistically assigned with 100% accuracy to their respective genus or family using mass spectra (n = 284). Cancer types were predicted by mRNA data (n = 1960) for most subtypes with 95-100% accuracy. This has high relevance in clinical practice where complete datasets are difficult to compile with the continuous evolution of diseases and emergence of new strains, yet prediction of unknown classes, such as bacterial species, at upper hierarchy levels may be sufficient to initiate antimicrobial therapy. The algorithms presented here can be directly translated into clinical-use with any quantitative data, and have broad application potential, from unlabeled sample identification, to hierarchical feature selection, and discovery of new taxonomic variants.

Concepts: Scientific method, Archaea, Organism, Species, Hierarchy, Data analysis, Taxonomic rank, Biological classification

30

Fossil palms provide qualitative evidence of (sub-) tropical conditions and frost-free winters in the geological past, including modern cold climate regions (e.g., boreal, or polar climates). The freeze intolerance of palms varies across different organs and life stages, with seedlings in particular less tolerant of sub-zero temperatures than adult plants, limiting successful establishment of populations while permitting adult palms to survive in cultivation outside their natural ranges. Quantitatively, palms indicate minimum cold month mean temperature (CMMT) at 2-8 °C in palaeoclimate reconstructions. These data have accentuated model-proxy mismatches for high latitudes during Paleogene hyperthermals when palms expanded poleward in both hemispheres. We constructed a manually filtered dataset of >20,000 georeferenced Arecaceae records, by eliminating cultivars. Statistically derived mean annual temperature, mean annual temperature range, and CMMT thresholds for the Arecaceae and lower rank subfamilies and tribes reveal large differences in temperature sensitivity depending on lower taxonomic classification. Cold tolerant tribes such as the Trachycarpeae produce thresholds as low as CMMT ≥ 2.2 °C. However, within the palm family, CMMT < 5 °C is anomalous. Moreover, palm expansion into temperate biomes is likely a post-Palaeogene event. We recognize a CMMT ≥ 5.2 °C threshold for the palm family, unless a lower taxonomic rank can be assigned.

Concepts: Species, Climate, Taxonomy, Temperature, Arecaceae, Taxonomic rank, Biological classification, Latitude

28

To systematically evaluate the Bosniak classification, with malignancy rates of each Bosniak category, and to assess the effectiveness related to surgical treatment and oncological outcome, based on recurrence and/or metastasis.

Concepts: Medicine, Cancer, Oncology, Chemotherapy, Taxonomy, Malignancy, Biological classification

28

Biodiversity today is huge, and it has a long history. Identifying rules for the heterogeneity of modern biodiversity-the high to low species richness of different clades-has been hard. There are measurable biodiversity differences between land and sea and between the tropics and temperate-polar regions. Some analyses suggest that the net age of a clade can determine its extinction risk, but this is equivocal. New work shows that, through geological time, clades pass through different diversification regimes, and those regimes constrain the balance of tree size and the nature of branching events.

Concepts: Biodiversity, Conservation biology, Evolution, Tropics, Taxonomy, Binomial nomenclature, Genetic erosion, Biological classification

28

Phylogenetic hypotheses for the large cosmopolitan genus Hypericum (St. John’s wort) have previously been based on morphology, and molecular studies have thus far included only a few species. In this study, we used 360 sequences of the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region of nuclear ribosomal DNA (nrDNA) for 206 species representing Hypericum (incl. Triadenum and Thornea) and three other genera of Hypericaceae to generate an explicit phylogenetic hypothesis for the genus using parsimony and model-based methods. The results indicate that the small genus Triadenum is nested in a clade within Hypericum containing most of the New World species. Sister to Hypericum is Thornea from Central America. Within Hypericum, three large clades and two smaller grades were found; these are based on their general morphology, especially characters used previously in taxonomy of the genus. Relative to the most recent classification, around 60% of the sections of Hypericum were monophyletic. We used a Bayesian approach to reconstruct ancestral states of selected morphological characters, which resulted in recognition of characters that support major clades within the genus and a revised interpretation of morphological evolution in Hypericum. The shrubby habit represents the plesiomorphic state from which herbs evolved several times. Arborescent species have radiated convergently in high-elevation habitats in tropical Africa and South America.

Concepts: DNA, Evolution, Biology, Organism, Species, Phylogenetics, Binomial nomenclature, Biological classification

28

BACKGROUND: Landscape ethnoecology focuses on the ecological features of the landscape, how the landscape is perceived, and used by people who live in it. Though studying folk classifications of species has a long history, the comparative study of habitat classifications is just beginning. I studied the habitat classification of herders in a Hungarian steppe, and compared it to classifications of botanists and laymen. METHODS: For a quantitative analysis the picture sort method was used. Twenty-three pictures of 7-11 habitat types were sorted by 25 herders. ‘Density’ of pictures along the habitat gradient of the Hortobagy salt steppe was set as equal as possible, but pictures differed in their dominant species, wetness, season, etc. Before sorts, herders were asked to describe pictures to assure proper recognition of habitats. RESULTS: Herders classified the images into three main (and 6 smaller) groups: (1) fertile habitats at the higher parts of the habitat gradient (partos, lit. on the shore); (2) saline habitats (szik, lit. salt or saline place), and (3) meadows and marshes (lapos, lit. flooded) at the lower end of the habitat gradient. Sharpness of delimitation changed along the gradient. Saline habitats were the most isolated from the rest. Botanists identified 6 groups. Laymen grouped habitats in a less coherent way. As opposed to my expectations, botanical classification was not more structured than that done by herders. I expected and found high correspondence between the classifications by herders, botanists and laymen. All tended to recognize similar main groups: wetlands, “good grass” and dry/saline habitats. Two main factors could have been responsible for similar classifications: salient features correlated (e.g. salinity recognizable by herders and botanists but not by laymen correlated with the density of grasslands or height of vegetation recognizable also for laymen), or the same salient features were used as a basis for sorting (wetness, and abiotic stress). CONCLUSIONS: Despite all the difficulties of studying habitat classifications (more implicit, more variable knowledge than knowledge on species), conducting landscape ethnoecological research will inevitably reveal a deeper human understanding of biological organization at a supraspecific level, where natural discontinuities are less sharp than at the species or population level.

Concepts: Biology, Species, Botany, Vegetation, Grassland, Biological classification, Hungary, Habitat fragmentation

27

Fish classifications, as those of most other taxonomic groups, are being transformed drastically as new molecular phylogenies provide support for natural groups that were unanticipated by previous studies. A brief review of the main criteria used by ichthyologists to define their classifications during the last 50 years, however, reveals slow progress towards using an explicit phylogenetic framework. Instead, the trend has been to rely, in varying degrees, on deep-rooted anatomical concepts and authority, often mixing taxa with explicit phylogenetic support with arbitrary groupings. Two leading sources in ichthyology frequently used for fish classifications (JS Nelson’s volumes of Fishes of the World and W. Eschmeyer’s Catalog of Fishes) fail to adopt a global phylogenetic framework despite much recent progress made towards the resolution of the fish Tree of Life. The first explicit phylogenetic classification of bony fishes was published in 2013, based on a comprehensive molecular phylogeny ( www.deepfin.org ). We here update the first version of that classification by incorporating the most recent phylogenetic results.

Concepts: Horizontal gene transfer, Fish, Phylogenetic nomenclature, Phylogenetic tree, Phylogenetics, Cladistics, Biological classification, Microbial phylogenetics