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Calvente, A., A. P. Alves da Silva, D. Edler, F. A. Carvalho, M. R. Fantinati, A. Zizka, and A. Antonelli. 2023. Spiny but photogenic: amateur sightings complement herbarium specimens to reveal the bioregions of cacti. American Journal of Botany. https://doi.org/10.1002/ajb2.16235

Premise: Cacti are characteristic elements of the Neotropical flora and of major interest for biogeographic, evolutionary, and ecological studies. Here we test global biogeographic boundaries for Neotropical Cactaceae using specimen‐based occurrences coupled with data from visual observations, as a means to tackle the known collection biases in the family.MethodsSpecies richness and record density were assessed for preserved specimens and human observations and a bioregional scheme tailored to Cactaceae was produced using the interactive web application Infomap Bioregions based on data from 261,272 point records cleaned through automated and manual steps.Key ResultsWe find that areas in Mexico and southwestern USA, Eastern Brazil and along the Andean region have the greatest density of records and the highest species richness. Human observations complement information from preserved specimens substantially, especially along the Andes. We propose 24 cacti bioregions, among which the most species‐rich are: northern Mexico/southwestern USA, central Mexico, southern central Mexico, Central America, Mexican Pacific coast, central and southern Andes, northwestern Mexico/extreme southwestern USA, southwestern Bolivia, northeastern Brazil, Mexico/Baja California.ConclusionsThe bioregionalization proposed shows biogeographical boundaries specific to cacti, and can thereby aid further evolutionary, biogeographic, and ecological studies by providing a validated framework for further analyses. This classification builds upon, and is distinctive from, other expert‐derived regionalization schemes for other taxa. Our results showcase how observation data, including citizen‐science records, can complement traditional specimen‐based data for biogeographic research, particularly for taxa with specific specimen collection and preservation challenges and those that are threatened or internationally protected.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Chincoya, D. A., S. Arias, F. Vaca-Paniagua, P. Dávila, and S. Solórzano. 2023. Phylogenomics and Biogeography of the Mammilloid Clade Revealed an Intricate Evolutionary History Arose in the Mexican Plateau. Biology 12: 512. https://doi.org/10.3390/biology12040512

Mexico harbors ~45% of world’s cacti species richness. Their biogeography and phylogenomics were integrated to elucidate the evolutionary history of the genera Coryphantha, Escobaria, Mammillaria, Mammilloydia, Neolloydia, Ortegocactus, and Pelecyphora (Mammilloid Clade). We analyzed 52 orthologous loci from 142 complete genomes of chloroplast (103 taxa) to generate a cladogram and a chronogram; in the latter, the ancestral distribution was reconstructed with the Dispersal-Extinction-Cladogenesis model. The ancestor of these genera arose ~7 Mya on the Mexican Plateau, from which nine evolutionary lineages evolved. This region was the site of 52% of all the biogeographical processes. The lineages 2, 3 and 6 were responsible for the colonization of the arid southern territories. In the last 4 Mya, the Baja California Peninsula has been a region of prolific evolution, particularly for lineages 8 and 9. Dispersal was the most frequent process and vicariance had relevance in the isolation of cacti distributed in the south of Mexico. The 70 taxa sampled as Mammillaria were distributed in six distinct lineages; one of these presumably corresponded to this genus, which likely had its center of origin in the southern part of the Mexican Plateau. We recommend detailed studies to further determine the taxonomic circumscription of the seven genera.

Amaral, D. T., I. A. S. Bonatelli, M. Romeiro-Brito, E. M. Moraes, and F. F. Franco. 2022. Spatial patterns of evolutionary diversity in Cactaceae show low ecological representation within protected areas. Biological Conservation 273: 109677. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2022.109677

Mapping biodiversity patterns across taxa and environments is crucial to address the evolutionary and ecological dimensions of species distribution, suggesting areas of particular importance for conservation purposes. Within Cactaceae, spatial diversity patterns are poorly explored, as are the abiotic factors that may predict these patterns. We gathered geographic and genetic data from 921 cactus species by exploring both the occurrence and genetic databases, which are tightly associated with drylands, to evaluate diversity patterns, such as phylogenetic diversity and endemism, paleo-, neo-, and superendemism, and the environmental predictor variables of such patterns in a global analysis. Hotspot areas of cacti diversity are scattered along the Neotropical and Nearctic regions, mainly in the desertic portion of Mesoamerica, Caribbean Island, and the dry diagonal of South America. The geomorphological features of these regions may create a complexity of areas that work as locally buffered zones over time, which triggers local events of diversification and speciation. Desert and dryland/dry forest areas comprise paleo- and superendemism and may act as both museums and cradles of species, displaying great importance for conservation. Past climates, topography, soil features, and solar irradiance seem to be the main predictors of distinct endemism types. The hotspot areas that encompass a major part of the endemism cells are outside or poorly covered by formal protection units. The current legally protected areas are not able to conserve the evolutionary diversity of cacti. Given the rapid anthropogenic disturbance, efforts must be reinforced to monitor biodiversity and the environment and to define/plan current and new protected areas.