Science Enabled by Specimen Data

López‐Aguilar, T. P., J. Montalva, B. Vilela, M. P. Arbetman, M. A. Aizen, C. L. Morales, and D. de P. Silva. 2024. Niche analyses and the potential distribution of four invasive bumblebees worldwide. Ecology and Evolution 14.

The introduction of bees for agricultural production in distinct parts of the world and poor management have led to invasion processes that affect biodiversity, significantly impacting native species. Different Bombus species with invasive potential have been recorded spreading in different regions worldwide, generating ecological and economic losses. We applied environmental niche and potential distribution analyses to four species of the genus Bombus to evaluate the similarities and differences between their native and invaded ranges. We found that B. impatiens has an extended environmental niche, going from dry environmental conditions in the native range to warmer and wetter conditions in the invaded range. Bombus ruderatus also exhibited an extended environmental niche with drier and warmer conditions in the invaded range than in its native range. Bombus subterraneus expanded its environmental niche from cooler and wetter conditions in the native range to drier and warmer conditions in the invaded range. Finally, B. terrestris showed the most significant variation in the environmental niche, extending to areas with similar and different environmental conditions from its native range. The distribution models agreed with the known distributions for the four Bombus species, presenting geographic areas known to be occupied by each species in different regions worldwide. The niche analysis indicate shifts in the niches from the native to the invaded distribution area of the bee species. Still, niche similarities were observed in the areas of greatest suitability in the potential distribution for B. ruderatus, B. subterraneus, and B. terrestris, and to a lesser degree in the same areas with B. impatiens. These species require similar environmental conditions as in their native ranges to be established in their introduced ranges. Still, they can adapt to changes in temperature and humidity, allowing them to expand their ranges into new climatic conditions.

Tatarinov, А. G., О. I. Kulakova, and А. V. Mazeeva. 2023. Large copper Lycaena dispar (Haworth, 1802) (Lepidoptera) – the first record of the species in the fauna of the Polar Urals (Russia). Southern Scientific Centre of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

В большинстве регионов северная граница ареала червонца непарного Lycaena dispar (Haworth, 1802) лежит в зоне смешанных хвойно-широколиственных лесов и на юге таежной зоны. Постепенное распространение на север L. dispar в последние два десятилетия освещено в литературе. Статья основана на полевых сборах в июле 2023 года, в ходе которых L. dispar был впервые обнаружен на восточном макросклоне Полярного Урала и в городской черте Воркуты. Представлены результаты исследования численности, встречаемости и особенностей биологии, обсуждаются вопросы партеногенеза и адаптации вида к условиям Заполярья и наиболее вероятные пути его проникновения на Полярный Урал и в Предуралье.

Ranjbaran, Y., D. Rödder, R. Saberi-Pirooz, and F. Ahmadzadeh. 2024. What happens in ice age, does not stay in ice age: Phylogeography of Bombus terrestris revealed a low genetic diversity amongst the Eurasian populations. Global Ecology and Conservation 49: e02775.

The objective of this research was to assess the genetic diversity and phylogeography of Bombus terrestris and examine the historical events that shaped its contemporary genetic structures using the COI mitochondrial marker. Specimens of the species were collected from its distribution range alongside the Alborz Mountain range, and GenBank sequences from the Eurasian distribution range were incorporated into the dataset. The COI sequences were employed in Bayesian and Maximum Likelihood analyses to generate phylogenetic trees for the species populations and to investigate the evolutionary history of the species. Additionally, species occurrence points and climate data were utilized in Species Distribution Modeling (SDM) analyses to reconstruct the species range under past, present, and future climate conditions. The ML and BI trees yielded similar topologies, indicating extremely low genetic diversity and a homogeneous structure in the species population distribution range in Eurasia. Demographic analyses suggested that the species may have experienced a bottleneck during the last glacial maximum in Eurasia, followed by a recent expansion. The SDM analyses revealed significant fluctuations in the species range in the past and expansion under present conditions. Given the high dispersal ability of the species, the population expansion rate has surpassed the rate of developing new genetic diversity, and the estimated polymorphic sites for the species are likely relatively recent. This low level of genetic variation can also be attributed to the absence of geographical barriers and the excellent flying ability of the queen bee, leading to sustained gene flow throughout the entire continent. Despite the general correlation between larger populations and higher genetic diversity, bumblebees can expand their population size without increasing genetic diversity when residing in resourceful habitats.

Kebaïli, C., S. Sherpa, M. Guéguen, J. Renaud, D. Rioux, and L. Després. 2023. Comparative genetic and demographic responses to climate change in three peatland butterflies in the Jura massif. Biological Conservation 287: 110332.

Climate is a main driver of species distributions, but all species are not equally affected by climate change, and their differential responses to similar climatic constraints might dramatically affect the local species composition. In the context of climate warming, a better knowledge of the ability of dispersal-limited and habitat-specialist species to track climate change at local scale is urgently needed. Comparing the population genetic and demographic impacts of past climate cycles in multiple co-distributed species with similar ecological requirements help predicting the community-scale response to climate warming, but such comparative studies remain rare. Here, we studied the relationship between demographic history and past changes in spatial distribution of three protected peatland butterfly species (Boloria aquilonaris, Coenonympha tullia, Lycaena helle) in the Jura massif (France), using a genomic approach (ddRAD sequencing) and species distribution modeling (SDM). We found a similar and narrow thermal niche among species, and shared demographic histories of post-glacial decline and recent fragmentation of populations. Each species functions as a single metapopulation at the regional scale, with a North-South gradient of decreasing genetic diversity that fits the local dynamics of the ice cover over time. However, we found no correlation between changes in the quantity or the quality of suitable areas and changes in effective population size over time. This suggests that species ranges moved beyond the Jura massif during the less favorable climatic periods, and/or that habitat loss and deterioration are major drivers of the current dramatic decline observed in the three species. Our findings allow better understanding how history events and contemporary dynamics shape local biodiversity, providing valuable knowledge to identify appropriate conservation strategies.

Westerduin, C., M. Suokas, T. Petäjä, U. Saarela, S. Vainio, and M. Mutanen. 2023. Exploring and validating observations of non‐local species in eDNA samples. Ecology and Evolution 13.

AbstractThe development of DNA‐based methods in recent decades has opened the door to numerous new lines of research in the biological sciences. While the speed and accuracy of DNA methodologies are clearly beneficial, the sensitivity of these methods has the adverse effect of increased susceptibility to false positives resulting from contamination in field or lab. Here, we present findings from a metabarcoding study on the diet of and food availability for five insectivorous birds, in which multiple lepidopteran species not known to occur locally were discovered. After describing the pattern of occurrences of these non‐local species in the samples, we discuss various potential origins of these sequences. First, we assessed that the taxonomic assignments appeared reliable, and local occurrences of many of the species could be plausibly ruled out. Then, we looked into the possibilities of natural environmental contamination, judging it to be unlikely, albeit impossible to fully falsify. Finally, while dissimilar combinations of non‐local species' occurrences across the samples did not initially suggest lab contamination, we found overlap with taxa and sequences handled in the same lab, which was undoubtedly not coincidental. Even so, not all exact sequences were accounted for in these locally conducted studies, nor was it clear if these and other sequences could remain detectable years later. Although the full explanation for the observations of non‐local species remains inconclusive, these findings highlight the importance of critical examination of metabarcoding results, and showcase how species‐level taxonomic assignments utilizing comprehensive reference libraries may be a tool in detecting potential contamination events, and false positives in general.

Sánchez‐Campaña, C., C. Múrria, V. Hermoso, D. Sánchez‐Fernández, J. M. Tierno de Figueroa, M. González, A. Millán, et al. 2023. Anticipating where are unknown aquatic insects in Europe to improve biodiversity conservation. Diversity and Distributions.

Aim Understanding biodiversity patterns is crucial for prioritizing future conservation efforts and reducing the current rates of biodiversity loss. However, a large proportion of species remain undescribed (i.e. unknown biodiversity), hindering our ability to conduct this task. This phenomenon, known as the ‘Linnean shortfall’, is especially relevant in highly diverse, yet endangered, taxonomic groups, such as insects. Here we explore the distributions of recently described freshwater insect species in Europe to (1) infer the potential location of unknown biodiversity hotspots and (2) determine the variables that can anticipate the distribution of unknown biodiversity. Location The European continent, including western Russia, Cyprus and Turkey. Methods Georeferenced information of all sites where new aquatic insect species were described across Europe from 2000 to 2020 was compiled. In order to understand the observed spatial patterns in richness of recently described species, spatial units were defined (level 6 of HydroBASINS) and associated with a combination of a set of socioeconomic, environmental and sampling effort descriptors. A zero-inflated Poisson regression approach was used to model the richness of newly described species within each spatial unit. Results Nine hundred and sixty-six recently described species were found: 398 Diptera, 362 Trichoptera, 105 Coleoptera, 66 Plecoptera, 28 Ephemeroptera, 3 Neuroptera, 2 Lepidoptera and 2 Odonata. The Mediterranean Basin was the region with the highest number of recently described species (74%). The richness of recently described species per spatial unit across Europe was highest at mid-elevation areas (between 400 and 1000 m), latitudes between 40 and 50° and in areas with yearly average precipitation levels of 500–1000 mm, a medium intensity of sampling effort and low population density. The percentage of protected areas in each study unit was not significantly related to the richness of recently described species. In fact, 70% of the species were found outside protected areas. Main conclusions The results highlight the urgent need to concentrate conservation efforts in freshwater ecosystems located at mid-altitude areas and out of protected areas across the Mediterranean Basin. The highest number of newly described species in those areas indicates that further monitoring efforts are required to ensure the aquatic biodiversity is adequately known and managed within a context of growing human impacts in freshwater ecosystems.

Kolanowska, M. 2023. Loss of fungal symbionts and changes in pollinator availability caused by climate change will affect the distribution and survival chances of myco-heterotrophic orchid species. Scientific Reports 13.

The first comprehensive species distribution models for orchid, its fungal symbionts and pollinator are presented. To evaluate impact of global warming on these organisms three different projections and four various climate change scenarios were analysed. The niche modelling was based on presence-only records of Limodorum abortivum , two species of Russula and three insects pollinating orchid ( Anthophora affinis, Bombus terrestris, Rhodanthidium septemdentatum ). Two sets of orchid predictions were examined—the first one included only climatic data and the second one was based on climate data and data on future distribution of orchid fungal symbionts. Overall, a poleward range shift is predicted to occur as a result of climate change and apparently global warming will be favorable for L. abortivum and its potential geographical range will expand. However, due to the negative effect of global warming on fungal symbionts of L. abortivum , the actual extension of the suitable niches of the orchid will be much limited. Considering future possibility of cross-pollination, the availability of A. affinis for L. abortivum will decrease and this bee will be available in the worst case scenarios only for 21% of orchid populations. On the other hand, the overlap of orchid and the buff-tailed bumblebee will increase and as much as 86.5% of plant populations will be located within B. terrestris potential range. Also the availability of R. septemdentatum will be higher than currently observed in almost all analysed climate change projections. This study showed the importance of inclusion of ecological factors in species distribution models as the climate data itself are not enough to estimate the future distribution of plant species. Moreover, the availability of pollen vectors which is crucial for long-term survival of orchid populations should be analysed in context of climate changes.

Grigoropoulou, A., S. A. Hamid, R. Acosta, E. O. Akindele, S. A. Al‐Shami, F. Altermatt, G. Amatulli, et al. 2023. The global EPTO database: Worldwide occurrences of aquatic insects. Global Ecology and Biogeography.

Motivation Aquatic insects comprise 64% of freshwater animal diversity and are widely used as bioindicators to assess water quality impairment and freshwater ecosystem health, as well as to test ecological hypotheses. Despite their importance, a comprehensive, global database of aquatic insect occurrences for mapping freshwater biodiversity in macroecological studies and applied freshwater research is missing. We aim to fill this gap and present the Global EPTO Database, which includes worldwide geo-referenced aquatic insect occurrence records for four major taxa groups: Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera, Trichoptera and Odonata (EPTO). Main type of variables contained A total of 8,368,467 occurrence records globally, of which 8,319,689 (99%) are publicly available. The records are attributed to the corresponding drainage basin and sub-catchment based on the Hydrography90m dataset and are accompanied by the elevation value, the freshwater ecoregion and the protection status of their location. Spatial location and grain The database covers the global extent, with 86% of the observation records having coordinates with at least four decimal digits (11.1 m precision at the equator) in the World Geodetic System 1984 (WGS84) coordinate reference system. Time period and grain Sampling years span from 1951 to 2021. Ninety-nine percent of the records have information on the year of the observation, 95% on the year and month, while 94% have a complete date. In the case of seven sub-datasets, exact dates can be retrieved upon communication with the data contributors. Major taxa and level of measurement Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera, Trichoptera and Odonata, standardized at the genus taxonomic level. We provide species names for 7,727,980 (93%) records without further taxonomic verification. Software format The entire tab-separated value (.csv) database can be downloaded and visualized at Fifty individual datasets are also available at, while six datasets have restricted access. For the latter, we share metadata and the contact details of the authors.

Liu, S., S. Xia, D. Wu, J. E. Behm, Y. Meng, H. Yuan, P. Wen, et al. 2022. Understanding global and regional patterns of termite diversity and regional functional traits. iScience: 105538.

Our understanding of broad-scale biodiversity and functional trait patterns is largely based on plants, and relatively little information is available on soil arthropods. Here, we investigated the distribution of termite diversity globally and morphological traits and diversity across China. Our analyses showed increasing termite species richness with decreasing latitude at both the globally, and within-China. Additionally, we detected obvious latitudinal trends in the mean community value of termite morphological traits on average, with body size and leg length decreasing with increasing latitude. Furthermore, temperature, NDVI and water variables were the most important drivers controlling the variation in termite richness, and temperature and soil properties were key drivers of the geographic distribution of termite morphological traits. Our global termite richness map is one of the first high resolution maps for any arthropod group and especially given the functional importance of termites, our work provides a useful baseline for further ecological analysis.

Li, X., and J. J. Wiens. 2022. Estimating Global Biodiversity: the Role of Cryptic Insect Species. Systematic Biology.

Abstract How many species are there on Earth and to what groups do these species belong? These fundamental questions span systematics, ecology, and evolutionary biology. Yet, recent estimates of overall global biodiversity have ranged wildly, from the low millions to the trillions. Insects are a pivotal group for these estimates. Insects make up roughly half of currently described extant species (across all groups), with ~1 million described species. Insect diversity is also crucial because many other taxa have species that may be unique to each insect host species, including bacteria, apicomplexan protists, microsporidian fungi, nematodes, and mites. Several projections of total insect diversity (described and undescribed) have converged on ~6 million species. However, these projections have not incorporated the morphologically cryptic species revealed by molecular data. Here, we estimate the extent of cryptic insect diversity. We perform a systematic review of studies that used explicit species-delimitation methods with multi-locus data. We estimate that each morphology-based insect species contains (on average) 3.1 cryptic species. We then use these estimates to project the overall number of species on Earth and their distribution among major groups. Our estimates suggest that overall global biodiversity may range from 563 million to 2.2 billion species. [Biodiversity; cryptic species; insects; species delimitation; species richness]