Science Enabled by Specimen Data

Pereira, W. G., A. C. de Almeida, S. de P. Barros-Alves, and D. F. R. Alves. 2024. Species distribution models to predict the impacts of environmental disasters on shrimp species of economic interest. Marine Pollution Bulletin 201: 116162. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2024.116162

Here, we used distribution models to predict the size of the environmentally suitable area for shrimps of fishing interest that were impacted by the tailing plume from the collapse of the Fundão Dam, one of the largest ecological disasters ever to occur in Brazil. Species distribution models (SDMs) were generated for nine species of penaeid shrimp that occurred in the impacted region. Average temperature showed the highest percentage of contribution for SDMs. The environmental suitability of penaeids varied significantly in relation to the distance to the coast and mouth river. The area of environmental suitability of shrimps impacted by tailings plumes ranged from 27 to 47 %. Notably, three protected areas displayed suitable conditions, before the disaster, for until eight species. The results obtained by the SDMs approach provide crucial information for conservation and restoration efforts of coastal biodiversity in an impacted region with limited prior knowledge about biodiversity distribution.

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. https://doi.org/10.3390/d15070881

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.

Inman, R. D., T. C. Esque, and K. E. Nussear. 2022. Dispersal limitations increase vulnerability under climate change for reptiles and amphibians in the southwestern United States. The Journal of Wildlife Management. https://doi.org/10.1002/jwmg.22317

Species conservation plans frequently rely on information that spans political and administrative boundaries, especially when predictions are needed of future habitat under climate change; however, most species conservation plans and their requisite predictions of future habitat are often limited in geographical scope. Moreover, dispersal constraints for species of concern are not often incorporated into distribution models, which can result in overly optimistic predictions of future habitat. We used a standard modeling approach across a suite of 23 taxa of amphibians and reptiles in the North American deserts (560,024 km2 across 13 ecoregions) to assess impacts of climate change on habitat and combined landscape population dispersal simulations with species distribution modeling to reduce the risk of predicting future habitat in areas that are not available to species given their dispersal abilities. We used 3 general circulation models and 2 representative concentration pathways (RCPs) to represent multiple scenarios of future habitat potential and assess which study species may be most vulnerable to changes forecasted under each climate scenario. Amphibians were the most vulnerable taxa, but the most vulnerable species tended to be those with the lowest dispersal ability rather than those with the most specialized niches. Under the most optimistic climate scenario considered (RCP 2.6; a stringent scenario requiring declining emissions from 2020 to near zero emissions by 2100), 76% of the study area may experience a loss of >20% of the species examined, while up to 87% of the species currently present may be lost in some areas under the most pessimistic climate scenario (RCP 8.5; a scenario wherein greenhouse gases continue to increase through 2100 based on trajectories from the mid‐century). Most areas with high losses were concentrated in the Arizona and New Mexico Plateau ecoregion, the Edwards Plateau in Texas, and the Southwestern Tablelands in New Mexico and Texas, USA. Under the most pessimistic climate scenario, all species are predicted to lose some existing habitat, with an average of 34% loss of extant habitat across all species. Even under the most optimistic scenario, we detected an average loss of 24% of extant habitat across all species, suggesting that changing climates may influence the ranges of reptiles and amphibians in the Southwest.

Fell, H. G., O. G. Osborne, M. D. Jones, S. Atkinson, S. Tarr, S. H. Keddie, and A. C. Algar. 2022. Biotic factors limit the invasion of the plague pathogen ( Yersinia pestis ) in novel geographical settings P. Kamath [ed.],. Global Ecology and Biogeography 31: 672–684. https://doi.org/10.1111/geb.13453

Aim: The distribution of Yersinia pestis, the pathogen that causes plague in humans, is reliant upon transmission between host species; however, the degree to which host species distributions dictate the distribution of Y. pestis, compared with limitations imposed by the environmental niche of Y. pe…

Strona, G., P. S. A. Beck, M. Cabeza, S. Fattorini, F. Guilhaumon, F. Micheli, S. Montano, et al. 2021. Ecological dependencies make remote reef fish communities most vulnerable to coral loss. Nature Communications 12. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-27440-z

Ecosystems face both local hazards, such as over-exploitation, and global hazards, such as climate change. Since the impact of local hazards attenuates with distance from humans, local extinction risk should decrease with remoteness, making faraway areas safe havens for biodiversity. However, isolat…

Méndez-Camacho, K., O. Leon-Alvarado, and D. R. Miranda-Esquivel. 2021. Biogeographic evidence supports the Old Amazon hypothesis for the formation of the Amazon fluvial system. PeerJ 9: e12533. https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.12533

The Amazon has high biodiversity, which has been attributed to different geological events such as the formation of rivers. The Old and Young Amazon hypotheses have been proposed regarding the date of the formation of the Amazon basin. Different studies of historical biogeography support the Young A…

Sharifian, S., E. Kamrani, and H. Saeedi. 2021. Insights toward the future potential distribution of mangrove crabs in the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman. Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research 59: 1620–1631. https://doi.org/10.1111/jzs.12532

Mangroves are an ideal habitat for brachyuran crabs because of nutritional and shelter support. Using maximum entropy (MaxEnt) modeling technique, we projected the potential global distributions of 10 dominant species of mangrove crabs from the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman under future climate c…

Grebennikov, K. 2021. Ecological niche modeling to assessment of potential distribution of Neodiprion abietis (Harris, 1841) (Insecta, Hymenoptera, Diprionidae) in Eurasia. International Journal of Agricultural Sciences and Technology 1: 1–7. https://doi.org/10.51483/ijagst.1.1.2021.1-7

In the article first assesses the potential distribution in Eurasia of Neodiprion abietis (Harris, 1841) first time assessed. The species id a widely distributed in North America fir and spruce defoliator, intercepted in 2016 in the Netherlands. Analysis of the literature data on the known distribut…

McManamay, R. A., C. R. Vernon, and H. I. Jager. 2021. Global Biodiversity Implications of Alternative Electrification Strategies Under the Shared Socioeconomic Pathways. Biological Conservation 260: 109234. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2021.109234

Addressing climate mitigation while meeting global electrification goals will require major transitions from fossil-fuel dependence to large-scale renewable energy deployment. However, renewables require significant land assets per unit energy and could come at high cost to ecosystems, creating pote…

Miller, E. F., R. E. Green, A. Balmford, P. Maisano Delser, R. Beyer, M. Somveille, M. Leonardi, et al. 2021. Bayesian Skyline Plots disagree with range size changes based on Species Distribution Models for Holarctic birds. Molecular Ecology 30: 3993–4004. https://doi.org/10.1111/mec.16032

During the Quaternary, large climate oscillations impacted the distribution and demography of species globally. Two approaches have played a major role in reconstructing changes through time: Bayesian Skyline Plots (BSPs), which reconstruct population fluctuations based on genetic data, and Species …