Science Enabled by Specimen Data

Ke, Z., M. Mao, B. Steve Bamisile, Z. Li, and Y. Xu. 2024. Predicting the potential distribution of the Pheidole megacephala in light of present and future climate variations H. Puche [ed.],. Journal of Economic Entomology 117: 457–469. https://doi.org/10.1093/jee/toae013

The big-headed ant, Pheidole megacephala (Fabricius), has a widespread distribution across numerous regions globally. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has identified it as one of the 100 worst invasive alien species worldwide, given the severe ecological and economic harm it causes in invaded areas. In this study, we predicted the present and future global distribution of P. megacephala, taking into account known distribution points and bioclimatic factors. Our results indicated that temperature is the primary factor affecting the distribution of P. megacephala, with potential suitable areas currently found mainly in South America, Southern North America, Western Europe, Coastal areas of the Mediterranean and Red Seas, Southern Africa, Southern Asia, Islands in Southeast Asia, and coastal regions of Australia. The total suitable area spans 3,352.48 × 104 km2. In China, the potential suitable area for P. megacephala is 109.02 × 104 km2, representing 11.36% of China’s land area. In the future, based on different climatic conditions, the suitable area of P. megacephala generally showed a declining trend, but some newly added suitable areas showed that it had a tendency to expand to higher latitudes. Relevant agencies should implement effective measures to control P. megacephala populations to mitigate damage in invaded areas and slow down or prevent the spread of big-headed ants into noninvaded regions.

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. https://doi.org/10.1093/zoolinnean/zlac100

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.

Youngblood, J. P., A. J. Cease, S. Talal, F. Copa, H. E. Medina, J. E. Rojas, E. V. Trumper, et al. 2022. Climate change expected to improve digestive rate and trigger range expansion in outbreaking locusts. Ecological Monographs. https://doi.org/10.1002/ecm.1550

Global climate change will likely exacerbate crop losses from insect pests, reducing agricultural production and threatening food security. To predict where crop losses will occur, scientists have mainly used correlative models of species’ distributions, but such models are unreliable when extrapolated to future environments. To minimize extrapolation, we developed mechanistic and hybrid models that explicitly capture range‐limiting processes, and we explored how incorporating mechanisms altered the projected impacts of climate change for an agricultural pest, the South American locust (Schistocerca cancellata). Because locusts are generalist herbivores surrounded by food, their population growth may be limited by thermal effects on digestion more than food availability. To incorporate this mechanism into a distribution model, we measured thermal effects on the consumption and defecation of field‐captured locusts and used these data to model energy gain in current and future climates. We then created hybrid models by using outputs of the mechanistic model as predictor variables in correlative models, estimating the potential distribution of gregarious outbreaking locusts based on multiple predictor sets, modeling algorithms, and climate scenarios. Based on the mechanistic model, locusts can assimilate relatively high amounts of energy throughout temperate and tropical South America; however, correlative and hybrid modeling revealed that most tropical areas are unsuitable for locusts. When estimating current distributions, the top‐ranked model was always the one fit with mechanistic predictors (i.e., the hybrid model). When projected to future climates, top‐ranked hybrid models projected range expansions that were 23‐30 percentage points smaller than those projected by correlative models. Therefore, combining the correlative and mechanistic approaches bracketed the potential outcomes of climate change and enhanced confidence where model projections agreed. Because all models projected a poleward range expansion under climate change, agriculturists should consider enhanced monitoring and management of locusts near the southern margin of the range.

Li, D., Z. Li, Z. Liu, Y. Yang, A. G. Khoso, L. Wang, and D. Liu. 2022. Climate change simulations revealed potentially drastic shifts in insect community structure and crop yields in China’s farmland. Journal of Pest Science. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10340-022-01479-3

Climate change will cause drastic fluctuations in agricultural ecosystems, which in turn may affect global food security. We used ecological niche modeling to predict the potential distribution for four cereal aphids (i.e., Sitobion avenae, Rhopalosiphum padi, Schizaphis graminum, and Diurphis noxia…

Schneider, K., D. Makowski, and W. van der Werf. 2021. Predicting hotspots for invasive species introduction in Europe. Environmental Research Letters 16: 114026. https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/ac2f19

Plant pest invasions cost billions of Euros each year in Europe. Prediction of likely places of pest introduction could greatly help focus efforts on prevention and control and thus reduce societal costs of pest invasions. Here, we test whether generic data-driven risk maps of pest introduction, val…

Qu, J., Y. Xu, Y. Cui, S. Wu, L. Wang, X. Liu, Z. Xing, et al. 2021. MODB: a comprehensive mitochondrial genome database for Mollusca. Database 2021. https://doi.org/10.1093/database/baab056

Mollusca is the largest marine phylum, comprising about 23% of all named marine organisms, Mollusca systematics are still in flux, and an increase in human activities has affected Molluscan reproduction and development, strongly impacting diversity and classification. Therefore, it is necessary to e…

Yoon, S., and W.-H. Lee. 2021. Methodological analysis of bioclimatic variable selection in species distribution modeling with application to agricultural pests (Metcalfa pruinosa and Spodoptera litura). Computers and Electronics in Agriculture 190: 106430. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compag.2021.106430

MaxEnt is a machine-learning-based species distribution modeling tool that is widely used to evaluate the occurrence possibility of a species. The characteristics of the algorithm requires that bioclimatic variables are appropriately selected in order for the model to predict species occurrence as p…

Tabor, J. A., and J. B. Koch. 2021. Ensemble Models Predict Invasive Bee Habitat Suitability Will Expand under Future Climate Scenarios in Hawai’i. Insects 12: 443. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12050443

Climate change is predicted to increase the risk of biological invasions by increasing the availability of climatically suitable regions for invasive species. Endemic species on oceanic islands are particularly sensitive to the impact of invasive species due to increased competition for shared resou…

Ji, Y. 2021. The geographical origin, refugia, and diversification of honey bees (Apis spp.) based on biogeography and niche modeling. Apidologie 52: 367–377. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13592-020-00826-6

An understanding of the origin and formation of biodiversity and distribution patterns can provide a theoretical foundation for biodiversity conservation. In this study, phylogeny and biogeography analyses based on mitochondrial genomes and niche modeling based on occurrence records were performed t…

Orr, M. C., A. C. Hughes, D. Chesters, J. Pickering, C.-D. Zhu, and J. S. Ascher. 2021. Global Patterns and Drivers of Bee Distribution. Current Biology 31: 451-458.e4. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2020.10.053

Insects are the focus of many recent studies suggesting population declines, but even invaluable pollination service providers such as bees lack a modern distributional synthesis. Here, we combine a uniquely comprehensive checklist of bee species distributions and >5,800,000 public bee occurrence re…