Science Enabled by Specimen Data

Sánchez, C. A., H. Li, K. L. Phelps, C. Zambrana-Torrelio, L.-F. Wang, P. Zhou, Z.-L. Shi, et al. 2022. A strategy to assess spillover risk of bat SARS-related coronaviruses in Southeast Asia. Nature Communications 13. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-022-31860-w

Emerging diseases caused by coronaviruses of likely bat origin (e.g., SARS, MERS, SADS, COVID-19) have disrupted global health and economies for two decades. Evidence suggests that some bat SARS-related coronaviruses (SARSr-CoVs) could infect people directly, and that their spillover is more frequent than previously recognized. Each zoonotic spillover of a novel virus represents an opportunity for evolutionary adaptation and further spread; therefore, quantifying the extent of this spillover may help target prevention programs. We derive current range distributions for known bat SARSr-CoV hosts and quantify their overlap with human populations. We then use probabilistic risk assessment and data on human-bat contact, human viral seroprevalence, and antibody duration to estimate that a median of 66,280 people (95% CI: 65,351–67,131) are infected with SARSr-CoVs annually in Southeast Asia. These data on the geography and scale of spillover can be used to target surveillance and prevention programs for potential future bat-CoV emergence. Coronaviruses may spill over from bats to humans. This study uses epidemiological data, species distribution models, and probabilistic risk assessment to map overlap among people and SARSr-CoV bat hosts and estimate how many people are infected with bat-origin SARSr-CoVs in Southeast Asia annually.

Sweet, F. S. T., B. Apfelbeck, M. Hanusch, C. Garland Monteagudo, and W. W. Weisser. 2022. Data from public and governmental databases show that a large proportion of the regional animal species pool occur in cities in Germany. Journal of Urban Ecology 8. https://doi.org/10.1093/jue/juac002

Cities have been shown to be biodiverse, but it is unclear what fraction of a regional species pool can live within city borders and how this differs between taxa. Among animals, most research has focused on a few well-studied taxa, such as birds or butterflies. For other species, progress is limite…

McGowan, N. E., N. Roche, T. Aughney, J. Flanagan, P. Nolan, F. Marnell, and N. Reid. 2021. Testing consistency of modelled predictions of the impact of climate change on bats. Climate Change Ecology 2: 100011. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecochg.2021.100011

Species Distribution Models (SDMs) are a cornerstone of climate change conservation research but temporal extrapolations into future climate scenarios cannot be verified until later this century. One way of assessing the robustness of projections is to compare their consistency between different mod…

Liu, X., T. M. Blackburn, T. Song, X. Li, C. Huang, and Y. Li. 2019. Risks of Biological Invasion on the Belt and Road. Current Biology 29: 499-505.e4. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2018.12.036

China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is an unprecedented global development program that involves nearly half of the world’s countries [1]. It not only will have economic and political influences, but also may generate multiple environmental challenges and is a focus of considerable academic and p…