- Genetic diversity targets and indicators in the CBD post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework must be improved. Better than accession numbers? Well, yeah, but will it matter?
- FIELDimageR: An R package to analyze orthomosaic images from agricultural field trials. Extract plot-level results from your drone shots, automagically.
- Radiation Interception, Conversion and Partitioning Efficiency in Potato Landraces: How Far Are We from the Optimum? Quite far, but perhaps more interestingly you can predict tuber yield from time-series aerial imagery. Which means the above could come in useful.
- Genetic architecture and gene mapping of cyanide in cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz.). High cyanide alleles in 2 major genes mainly found along Amazonian rivers and in coastal areas of Brazil. Drones unavailable for comment.
- Relationships among American popcorn and their links with landraces conserved in a microcenter of diversity. Did the diverse popcorns of southern Brazil derive from local diversification or independent local domestication? More work needed. Anyone going to mash this up with the cassava result above?
- Payments for agrobiodiversity conservation services: An overview of Latin American experiences, lessons learned and upscaling challenges. 5 ha of each of 100 varieties will cost you US$70,000 p.a. at a 5% discount rate. Bargain.
- Diversity Under Threat: Connecting Genetic Diversity and Threat Mapping to Set Conservation Priorities for Juglans regia L. Populations in Central Asia. Ex situ where threat level from climate change is severe, in situ where threat level due to climate change is minor, assisted natural regeneration where threat level from climate change is minor but severe from other things, like overgrazing. No word on payments for ecosystem services rendered.
- Composite modeling of leaf shape across shoots discriminates Vitis species better than individual leaves. Fancy maths used to composite leaf shapes along a shoot as a way of telling species apart.
- Superior haplotypes for haplotype‐based breeding for drought tolerance in pigeonpea (Cajanus cajan L.). From 10 genes and about 300 genotypes to 17 accessions with 4 superior haplotypes.
- Create Space for Indigenous Leadership to Preserve Agricultural Biodiversity. In the Ecuadorian Amazon, cacao production for cash is not driving down agrobiodiversity.
- Conceptual Links between Landscape Diversity and Diet Diversity: A Roadmap for Transdisciplinary Research. There are 4 different pathways whereby diverse forested landscapes can lead to diet diversity.
- ‘Keeping seeds in our hands’: the rise of seed activism. While the formal sector is still arguing about farmers’ rights, activists have moved the paradigm to seed sovereignty.
- Thirty-year monitoring and statistical analysis of 50 species’ germinability in genebank medium-term storage suggest specific characteristics in seed longevity. Huge dataset reveals some geographic variation in seed longevity within crops, among other things.
Just a reminder to everyone that the CBD is soliciting comments on the proposed Post-2020 global biodiversity framework.
Needless to say, Sean Hoban and colleagues have been thinking this through and are proposing genetic diversity targets and indicators, and for all species, not just crops and their wild relatives:
- the number of populations with effective population size above versus below 500
- the proportion of populations maintained within species,
- the number of species and populations in which genetic diversity is monitored using DNA-based methods.
Better than genebank accession numbers, I guess, but are they “simple” enough to measure repeatedly and consistently?
Oh, and by the way, there’s also a proposal around to have a single, headline global extinction target.
Yesterday’s Brainfood included the paper “Genetic diversity evolution of a sheep breed reintroduced after extinction: Tracing back Christopher Columbus’ first imported sheep,” which sounds intriguing enough from the title and abstract to piss off a lot of our readers for the rest being behind a paywall. Actually, though, it’s on ResearchGate. But it’s a long read, so here’s the short version, which also draws from an article in FAO’s newsletter Animal Genetic Resources Information dating back to 2000.
Before being conquered by the Spaniards in the late 15th century, the Canary Islands were home to non-wooly (i.e. hairy) sheep. This is surprising because nearby Northwest Africa has had mostly wooly sheep from 4000–3000 BC. Hairy sheep are adapted to humid tropical conditions and are more prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa. They may have been taken to the Canaries between 3000–2000 BC by the first inhabitants of the islands during an episode of northern expansion during a period of more favourable climate.
From the Canaries, they were taken to the Caribbean, starting with Columbus’ second journey, and thereafter spread through the Americas. There, they were crossed with other hairy breeds brought from sub-Saharan Africa with the slave trade. Meanwhile, they eventually went extinct back in the Canary Islands, due to cross-breeding with more productive sheep, and changes in the agricultural system as a result of Spanish colonization.
In the 1950’s, however, hairy sheep were re-introduced into the Canaries from Venezuela. The resulting current population of Canary Hair Sheep seems to have fairly high diversity, high census and effective population sizes, and satisfactory numbers of newborn animals registered per year. It thus seems to be a good example of successful “recreation” (or as near as one can figure it) of an extinct breed.
- Land‐use history determines ecosystem services and conservation value in tropical agroforestry. Not all agroforests are created equal.
- Temperate agroforestry systems provide greater pollination service than monoculture. No word on land-use history though.
- Machine learning for high-throughput field phenotyping and image processing provides insight into the association of above and below-ground traits in cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz). Fancy maths helps you estimate root yield from drone images of the canopy of cassava plots.
- A dynastic elite in monumental Neolithic society. Ancient DNA suggests Atlantic megaliths were built to honour incestuous god-kings. But n=1, so there’s that.
- Keeping pace with climate change in global terrestrial protected areas. The representation of climates in protected areas is going to change, with cold and warm climates suffering.
- Network analysis of regional livestock trade in West Africa. It all starts in Burkina Faso.
- Gender and Trait Preferences for Banana Cultivation and Use in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Literature Review. Farmers still prefer traditional cultivars.
- Decoding diversity in the food system: wheat and bread in North America. “Although the dominant trends are toward uniformity, there are also numerous forms of resistance.” Banana farmers available for comment.
- Against the Grain: Long-Term Patterns in Agricultural Production in Prehistoric Cyprus. There was resistance during the agricultural transition too.
- Legacy of Amazonian Dark Earth soils on forest structure and species composition. Forest that was actively managed and farmed in pre-Columbian times is more diverse.
- Evidence of genetic diversity within Solanum Lycopersicum L. ‘Platense’ landrace and identification of various subpopulations. The accessions thus labelled in an Argentinian genebank show a lot of variation.
- Genetic diversity evolution of a sheep breed reintroduced after extinction: Tracing back Christopher Columbus’ first imported sheep. Decolonization in action.
- Simple rules for concise scientific writing. Easier said than done, as all the above confirm.