Science Enabled by Specimen Data

de Pedro, D., F. S. Ceccarelli, R. Vandame, J. Mérida, and P. Sagot. 2023. Congruence between species richness and phylogenetic diversity in North America for the bee genus Diadasia (Hymenoptera: Apidae). Biodiversity and Conservation.

The current ecological crisis stemming from the loss of biodiversity and associated ecosystem services, highlights the urgency of documenting diversity and distribution. Bees are a classical example of an ecologically and economically important group, due to their high diversity and varied ecosystem services, especially pollination. Here, two common biodiversity indices, namely species richness and phylogenetic diversity, are evaluated geographically to determine the best approach for selecting areas of conservation priority. The model organisms used in this study are the North American species belonging to the bee genus Diadasia (Apidae). Based on the results obtained by analyzing distributional records and a molecular phylogeny, we can see that species richness and phylogenetic diversity are closely linked, although phylogenetic diversity provides a more detailed assessment of the spatial distribution of diversity. Therefore, while either one of these commonly used indices are valid as far as selecting areas of conservation priority, we recommend, if possible, to include genetic information in biodiversity and conservation studies.

Rosas, M. R., R. A. Segovia, and P. C. Guerrero. 2023. Climatic Niche Dynamics of the Astereae Lineage and Haplopappus Species Distribution following Amphitropical Long-Distance Dispersal. Plants 12: 2721.

The tribe Astereae (Asteraceae) displays an American Amphitropical Disjunction. To understand the eco-evolutionary dynamics associated with a long-distance dispersal event and subsequent colonization of extratropical South America, we compared the climatic and geographic distributions of South American species with their closest North American relatives, focusing on the diverse South American Astereae genus, Haplopappus. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that two South American genera are closely related to seven North American genera. The climatic niche overlap (D = 0.5) between South and North America exhibits high stability (0.89), low expansion (0.12), and very low unfilling (0.04). The distribution of the North American species predicted the climatic and geographic space occupied by the South American species. In central Chile, Haplopappus showed a non-random latitudinal gradient in species richness, with Mediterranean climate variables mainly explaining the variation. Altitudinal patterns indicated peak richness at 600 m, declining at lower and higher elevations. These findings support climatic niche conservatism in shaping Haplopappus species distribution and diversity. Two major endemism zones were identified in central Chile and the southern region, with a transitional zone between Mediterranean and Temperate macro-bioclimates. Our results indicate strong niche conservatism following long-distance dispersal and slight niche expansion due to unique climatic variables in each hemisphere.

Cruz, J. A., J. A. Velasco, J. Arroyo-Cabrales, and E. Johnson. 2023. Paleoclimatic Reconstruction Based on the Late Pleistocene San Josecito Cave Stratum 720 Fauna Using Fossil Mammals, Reptiles, and Birds. Diversity 15: 881.

Advances in technology have equipped paleobiologists with new analytical tools to assess the fossil record. The functional traits of vertebrates have been used to infer paleoenvironmental conditions. In Quaternary deposits, birds are the second-most-studied group after mammals. They are considered a poor paleoambiental proxy because their high vagility and phenotypic plasticity allow them to respond more effectively to climate change. Investigating multiple groups is important, but it is not often attempted. Biogeographical and climatic niche information concerning small mammals, reptiles, and birds have been used to infer the paleoclimatic conditions present during the Late Pleistocene at San Josecito Cave (~28,000 14C years BP), Mexico. Warmer and dryer conditions are inferred with respect to the present. The use of all of the groups of small vertebrates is recommended because they represent an assemblage of species that have gone through a series of environmental filters in the past. Individually, different vertebrate groups provide different paleoclimatic information. Birds are a good proxy for inferring paleoprecipitation but not paleotemperature. Together, reptiles and small mammals are a good proxy for inferring paleoprecipitation and paleotemperature, but reptiles alone are a bad proxy, and mammals alone are a good proxy for inferring paleotemperature and precipitation. The current paleoclimatic results coupled with those of a previous vegetation structure analysis indicate the presence of non-analog paleoenvironmental conditions during the Late Pleistocene in the San Josecito Cave area. This situation would explain the presence of a disharmonious fauna and the extinction of several taxa when these conditions later disappeared and do not reappear again.

Klymko, J., M. D. Schlesinger, J. H. Skevington, and B. E. Young. 2023. Low extinction risk in the flower fly fauna of northeastern North America. Journal of Insect Conservation.

Introduction Flower flies (Diptera: Syrphidae; also known as hoverflies) are important pollinators of wild and cultivated plants. Other pollinators such as bees have declined, and many flower flies in Europe and Chile have been documented to be threatened with extinction. The status of other flower fly faunas is currently unknown. Aims/Methods We assessed the rangewide conservation status of flower flies that occur in Northeastern North America where there is a diverse fauna of 323 native species. Over 150,000 records, drawn from a locality database compiled for a recently published field guide, additional museum records, recent field surveys, and citizen science records, informed the assessments. Results We found that a minimum of 11 species are at risk of rangewide extinction, 267 have lower extinction risk, and 45 had insufficient data to assess. Our best estimate is that 4.0% of species are at risk, assuming data-insufficient species are at risk at the same rate as data sufficient species. The range for this estimate is 3.4–17.3% at risk, assuming that none or all data-insufficient species are at risk, respectively. Discussion Factors causing extinction risk in the fauna we studied are poorly known, although habitat destruction likely explains the decline in one species. While at-risk species mostly have saprophagus or brood parasitic larvae, trophic relationships are confounded by phylogeny (the subfamilies Eristalinae and Microdontinae account for most saprophagus or brood parasitic species). The broad geographical ranges of most species likely contributed to the low rate of imperilment. Implications for insect conservation The small percentage of at-risk flower flies in northeastern North America bodes well for the health of ecosystems there. The results contrast with the situation in Europe, underscoring geographic heterogeneity in flower fly conservation status.

Huber, B. A., G. Meng, J. Král, I. M. Ávila Herrera, M. A. Izquierdo, and L. S. Carvalho. 2023. High and dry: integrative taxonomy of the Andean spider genus Nerudia (Araneae: Pholcidae). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society.

Abstract Ninetinae are a group of poorly known spiders that do not fit the image of ‘daddy long-legs spiders’ (Pholcidae), the family to which they belong. They are mostly short-legged, tiny and live in arid environments. The previously monotypic Andean genus Nerudia exemplifies our poor knowledge of Ninetinae: only seven adult specimens from two localities in Chile and Argentina have been reported in the literature. We found representatives of Nerudia at 24 of 52 localities visited in 2019, mostly under rocks in arid habitats, up to 4450 m a.s.l., the highest known record for Pholcidae. With now more than 400 adult specimens, we revise the genus, describing ten new species based on morphology (including SEM) and COI barcodes. We present the first karyotype data for Nerudia and for its putative sister-genus Gertschiola. These two southern South American genera share a X1X2X3Y sex chromosome system. We model the distribution of Nerudia, showing that the genus is expected to occur in the Atacama biogeographic province (no record so far) and that its environmental niche is phylogenetically conserved. This is the first comprehensive revision of any Ninetinae genus. It suggests that focused collecting may uncover a considerable diversity of these enigmatic spiders.

Reichgelt, T., A. Baumgartner, R. Feng, and D. A. Willard. 2023. Poleward amplification, seasonal rainfall and forest heterogeneity in the Miocene of the eastern USA. Global and Planetary Change 222: 104073.

Paleoclimate reconstructions can provide a window into the environmental conditions in Earth history when atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations were higher than today. In the eastern USA, paleoclimate reconstructions are sparse, because terrestrial sedimentary deposits are rare. Despite this, the eastern USA has the largest population and population density in North America, and understanding the effects of current and future climate change is of vital importance. Here, we provide terrestrial paleoclimate reconstructions of the eastern USA from Miocene fossil floras. Additionally, we compare proxy paleoclimate reconstructions from the warmest period in the Miocene, the Miocene Climatic Optimum (MCO), to those of an MCO Earth System Model. Reconstructed Miocene temperatures and precipitation north of 35°N are higher than modern. In contrast, south of 35°N, temperatures and precipitation are similar to today, suggesting a poleward amplification effect in eastern North America. Reconstructed Miocene rainfall seasonality was predominantly higher than modern, regardless of latitude, indicating greater variability in intra-annual moisture transport. Reconstructed climates are almost uniformly in the temperate seasonal forest biome, but heterogeneity of specific forest types is evident. Reconstructed Miocene terrestrial temperatures from the eastern USA are lower than modeled temperatures and coeval Atlantic sea surface temperatures. However, reconstructed rainfall is consistent with modeled rainfall. Our results show that during the Miocene, climate was most different from modern in the northeastern states, and may suggest a drastic reduction in the meridional temperature gradient along the North American east coast compared to today.

Pelletier, D., and J. R. K. Forrest. 2022. Pollen specialisation is associated with later phenology in Osmia bees (Hymenoptera: Megachilidae). Ecological Entomology.

Species exhibit a range of specialisation in diet and other niche axes, with specialists typically thought to be more efficient in resource use but more vulnerable to extinction than generalists. Among herbivorous insects, dietary specialists seem more likely to lack acceptable host plants during the insect's feeding stage, owing to fluctuations in host‐plant abundance or phenology. Like other herbivores, bee species vary in host breadth from pollen specialisation (oligolecty) to generalisation (polylecty).Several studies have shown greater interannual variation in flowering phenology for earlier‐flowering plants than later‐flowering plants, suggesting that early‐season bees may experience substantial year‐to‐year variation in the floral taxa available to them.It was therefore reasoned that, among bees, early phenology could be a more viable strategy for generalists, which can use resources from multiple floral taxa, than for specialists. Consequently, it was expected that the median dates of collection of adult specimens to be earlier for generalist species than for specialists. To test this, phenology data and pollen diet information on 67 North American species of the bee genus Osmia was obtained.Controlling for latitude and phylogeny, it was found that dietary generalisation is associated with significantly earlier phenology, with generalists active, on average, 11–14 days earlier than specialists.This result is consistent with the generalist strategy being more viable than the specialist strategy for species active in early spring, suggesting that dietary specialisation may constrain the evolution of bee phenology—or vice versa.

Christman, M. E., L. R. Spears, J. B. U. Koch, T.-T. T. Lindsay, J. P. Strange, C. L. Barnes, and R. A. Ramirez. 2022. Captive Rearing Success and Critical Thermal Maxima of Bombus griseocollis (Hymenoptera: Apidae): A Candidate for Commercialization? J. Brunet [ed.],. Journal of Insect Science 22.

Abstract Commercialized bumble bees (Bombus) are primary pollinators of several crops within open field and greenhouse settings. However, the common eastern bumble bee (Bombus impatiens Cresson, 1863) is the only species widely available for purchase in North America. As an eastern species, concerns have been expressed over their transportation outside of their native range. Therefore, there is a need to identify regionally appropriate candidates for commercial crop pollination services, especially in the western U.S.A. In this study, we evaluated the commercialization potential of brown-belted bumble bees (Bombus griseocollis De Geer, 1773), a broadly distributed species throughout the U.S.A., by assessing nest initiation and establishment rates of colonies produced from wild-caught gynes, creating a timeline of colony development, and identifying lab-reared workers’ critical thermal maxima (CTMax) and lethal temperature (ecological death). From 2019 to 2021, 70.6% of the wild-caught B. griseocollis gynes produced brood in a laboratory setting. Of these successfully initiated nests, 74.8% successfully established a nest (produced a worker), providing guidance for future rearing efforts. Additionally, lab-reared workers produced from wild-caught B. griseocollis gynes had an average CTMax of 43.5°C and an average lethal temperature of 46.4°C, suggesting B. griseocollis can withstand temperatures well above those commonly found in open field and greenhouse settings. Overall, B. griseocollis should continue to be evaluated for commercial purposes throughout the U.S.A.

Führding‐Potschkat, P., H. Kreft, and S. M. Ickert‐Bond. 2022. Influence of different data cleaning solutions of point‐occurrence records on downstream macroecological diversity models. Ecology and Evolution 12.

Digital point‐occurrence records from the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) and other data providers enable a wide range of research in macroecology and biogeography. However, data errors may hamper immediate use. Manual data cleaning is time‐consuming and often unfeasible, given that the databases may contain thousands or millions of records. Automated data cleaning pipelines are therefore of high importance. Taking North American Ephedra as a model, we examined how different data cleaning pipelines (using, e.g., the GBIF web application, and four different R packages) affect downstream species distribution models (SDMs). We also assessed how data differed from expert data. From 13,889 North American Ephedra observations in GBIF, the pipelines removed 31.7% to 62.7% false positives, invalid coordinates, and duplicates, leading to datasets between 9484 (GBIF application) and 5196 records (manual‐guided filtering). The expert data consisted of 704 records, comparable to data from field studies. Although differences in the absolute numbers of records were relatively large, species richness models based on stacked SDMs (S‐SDM) from pipeline and expert data were strongly correlated (mean Pearson's r across the pipelines: .9986, vs. the expert data: .9173). Our results suggest that all R package‐based pipelines reliably identified invalid coordinates. In contrast, the GBIF‐filtered data still contained both spatial and taxonomic errors. Major drawbacks emerge from the fact that no pipeline fully discovered misidentified specimens without the assistance of taxonomic expert knowledge. We conclude that application‐filtered GBIF data will still need additional review to achieve higher spatial data quality. Achieving high‐quality taxonomic data will require extra effort, probably by thoroughly analyzing the data for misidentified taxa, supported by experts.

Sáenz-Ceja, J. E., J. T. Sáenz-Reyes, and D. Castillo-Quiroz. 2022. Pollinator Species at Risk from the Expansion of Avocado Monoculture in Central Mexico. Conservation 2: 457–472.

The monoculture of avocado (Persea americana) has triggered the loss of large forested areas in central Mexico, including the habitat of threatened species. This study assessed the potential habitat loss of ten threatened pollinator species due to the expansion of avocado monoculture in Mexico. First, we modeled the distribution of avocado and pollinators. Then, we overlapped their suitable areas at a national level and within the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt (TMVB). We also identified the areas with more affected pollinators and coinciding with protected areas. As a result, 78% of the suitable areas for avocado coincided with the distribution of at least one pollinator. Although only two pollinators lost more than one-fifth of their distribution at a national level, the habitat loss increased to 41.6% on average, considering their distribution within the TMVB. The most affected pollinators were Bombus brachycephalus, B diligens, Danaus plexippus, and Tilmatura dupontii, losing more than 48% of their distribution within this ecoregion. The areas with a greater number of affected species pollinators were found in the states of Michoacán, Mexico, and Morelos, where most of the area is currently unprotected. Our results suggest that the expansion of the avocado monoculture will negatively affect the habitat of threatened pollinators in Mexico.