Science Enabled by Specimen Data

Pérez-Botello, A. M., W. Dáttilo, and N. Simões. 2023. Geographic range size and species morphology determines the organization of sponge host-guest interaction networks across tropical coral reefs. PeerJ 11: e16381.

Sponges are widely spread organisms in the tropical reefs of the American Northwest-Atlantic Ocean, they structure ecosystems and provide services such as shelter, protection from predators, and food sources to a wide diversity of both vertebrates and invertebrates species. The high diversity of sponge-associated fauna can generate complex networks of species interactions over small and large spatial-temporal gradients. One way to start uncovering the organization of the sponge host-guest complex networks is to understand how the accumulated geographic area, the sponge morphology and, sponge taxonomy contributes to the connectivity of sponge species within such networks. This study is a meta-analysis based on previous sponge host-guest literature obtained in 65 scientific publications, yielding a total of 745 host-guest interactions between sponges and their associated fauna across the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. We analyzed the sponge species contribution to network organization in the Northwest Tropical Atlantic coral reefs by using the combination of seven complementary species-level descriptors and related this importance with three main traits, sponge-accumulated geographic area, functional sponge morphology, and sponges’ taxonomy bias. In general, we observed that sponges with a widespread distribution and a higher accumulated geographic area had a greater network structural contribution. Similarly, we also found that Cup-like and Massive functional morphologies trend to be shapes with a greater contribution to the interaction network organization compared to the Erect and Crust-like morphos. Lastly, we did not detect a taxonomy bias between interaction network organization and sponges’ orders. These results highlight the importance of a specific combination of sponge traits to promote the diversity of association between reef sponges and their guest species.

Brunner, A., J. R. G. Márquez, and S. Domisch. 2024. Downscaling future land cover scenarios for freshwater fish distribution models under climate change. Limnologica 104: 126139.

The decreasing freshwater biodiversity trend can be attributed to anthropogenic impacts in terms of climate and land cover change. For targeted conservation efforts, mapping and understanding the distribution of freshwater organisms consists of an important knowledge gap. Spatial modelling approaches offer valuable insights into present-day biodiversity patterns and potential future trajectories, however methodological constraints still hamper the applicability of addressing future climate and land cover change concurrently in one modelling workflow. Compared to climate-only projections, spatially explicit and high-resolution land cover projections have seen less attention, and the lack of such data challenges modelling efforts to predict the possible future effects of land cover change especially on freshwater organisms. Here we demonstrate a workflow where we downscale future land cover projection data from the Shared Socioeconomic Pathway (SSP) scenarios for South America at 1 km2 spatial resolution, to then predict the future habitat suitability patterns of the Colombian fish fauna. Specifically, we show how the land cover data can be converted from plain numbers into a spatially explicit representation for multiple SSP scenarios and at high spatial resolution, employing freshwater-specific downscaling aspects when spatially allocating the land cover category grid cells, and how it can be fitted into an ensemble species distribution modelling approach of 1209 fish species. Our toolbox consists of a suite of open-source tools, including Dinamica EGO, R, GRASS GIS and GDAL, and we provide the code and necessary steps to reproduce the workflow for other study areas. We highlight the feasibility of the downscaling, but also underline the potential challenges regarding the spatial scale and the size of the spatial units of analysis.

Maya-Alvarado, B., R. Granja-Fernández, A. López-Pérez, and F. A. Rodríguez-Zaragoza. 2023. Diversity patterns of echinoids (Echinodermata: Echinoidea) in shallow waters of the Mexican Pacific. Regional Studies in Marine Science 68: 103246.

The Mexican Pacific hosts a large diversity of echinoids occupying different habitats and ecological niches; nevertheless, the group remains scarcely studied in terms of their spatial patterns of biodiversity and variation in the region. This work evaluated the alpha, beta, and gamma diversity of echinoids living in the Mexican Pacific's shallow waters (0–200 m) at three spatial scales: Operational geographic units (OGUs), ecoregions, and provinces. Alpha diversity was evaluated through the standardized coverage values of 0 D, 1 D, and 2 D, while the contribution of alpha and beta diversity components to gamma diversity was estimated with additive partitioning. Finally, we evaluated whether beta diversity resulted from overlap, species replacement, or richness differences. A total of 45 species and 2,232 incidences were registered in the 150 OGUs distributed throughout the Mexican Pacific. Cluster completeness in the ecoregions of the Warm Temperate Northeast Pacific (WTNP) province was higher (> 95 %) than in the ecoregions of the Eastern Tropical Pacific (TEaP) province. Standardized coverage values of the 0 D, 1 D, and 2 D indices showed differences between the ecoregions Cortezian and Magdalena Transition in the WTNP province. At the ecoregion and province level, alpha diversity might be influenced by sampling techniques and habitat availability, which limits the distribution of regular and irregular echinoids. Gamma diversity is mainly determined by beta diversity at the ecoregion scale, where species overlap and richness differences were the major contributing components, probably resulting from substrate dependence, habitat availability, and mesoscale ocean circulation patterns.

Nekrasova, O. D., O. Yu. Marushchak, M. Pupins, K. M. Bolotova, A. Čeirāns, and A. Skute. 2023. Phenotypic Study of Population and Distribution of the Poecilia reticulata (Cyprinodontiformes, Poeciliidae) from Kyiv Sewage System (Ukraine). zoodiversity 57: 301–310.

This paper presents the original data on studies of populations of guppies on the territory of Ukraine on the example of those of them surviving for many years in the drainage system of Kyiv. For 10 years, wild populations of guppies and their morphological features were studied in the warm water flows of the Bortnychi aeration station in Kyiv (2011–2020). During this period, the original “key” was developed to describe the morphology of their coloration peculiarities, which includes: total length, the number of pattern and coloration elements (4 types, 9 elements), pigmented area (light — orange, dark, pigmentation index), the shape and pigmentation of the tail (6 types) and its asymmetry At present, in the countries of Eastern Europe, the species is not adapted to any waters in the wild due to low winter temperatures, but these fish have become well established in sewage and other warm water bodies in urbanized areas (cities, towns, factories, etc.). We described the places where this invasive species had been found for many years, highlighting its key features. Thanks to GIS modelling, it was revealed that the existence of wild populations of guppies in Ukraine and Latvia is possible only in warm waters (currently mainly sewage systems of big cities) within anthropogenic territories. Such a key and study of relatively isolated populations of invasive species will provide a deeper understanding of micro-evolution of their morphological features (coloration) in isolation, help to track distribution of invasive species in a changing climate and provide material for comparison with possible similar invasions in areas heavily affected by military actions.

Ramiro-Sánchez, B., A. Martin, and B. Leroy. 2023. The epitome of data paucity: Deep-sea habitats of the Southern Indian Ocean. Biological Conservation 283: 110096.

Vulnerable marine ecosystems (VMEs) are protected from bottom-fishing impacts in international waters by UN resolutions through Regional Fishery Management Organizations. VMEs include deep-sea benthic taxa whose life-history traits make them vulnerable to disturbance. Conservation measures for VMEs require regulatory frameworks informed by biodiversity maps. Here we evaluate biogeographic patterns of VME biodiversity of the Southern Indian Ocean to understand conservation avenues for the Southern Indian Ocean Fisheries Agreement (SIOFA) management organization. We synthesised knowledge on the distribution of deep-sea benthic taxa and explored the quality and quantity of available data. Next, we explored how taxa are structured into bioregions using biogeographical networks. We found astounding Wallacean and Linnaean shortfalls within SIOFA's area, which is virtually devoid of distributional data. Across the entire area, results suggest that only 48 % of the expected deep-sea taxa has been sampled at most, and most sampled cells are inadequately sampled. Yet, our bioregionalization analysis identified multiple bioregions, some only observed within SIOFA's area. Whilst the Wallacean and Linnean shortfalls are so important for VMEs that they severely impede to make adequate maps for conservation planning, results suggest that SIOFA hosts a unique faunal composition that must be safeguarded. Predictive approaches to compensate for these shortfalls exist but will likely be insufficient and uncertain. Within SIOFA's area, there is no satisfying solution to cope with the data shortfalls. Yet, biodiversity maps are a global responsibility. This study makes a call to invest in biodiversity inventories in this region to promote informed conservation decisions.

Schäfer, S. 2023. Expanding north: first record of the beaded sea cucumber Euapta lappa at Madeira Island. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 103.

This study provides the first record of the beaded sea cucumber Euapta lappa at Madeira Island. A single individual was observed during a nocturnal scuba dive at 17 m depth, presumably feeding. After having its previous northern limit in the North-east Atlantic at the Selvagens Islands, this record expands the known distribution and northern limit of this tropical species by about 300 km. This new record of yet another tropical species expanding its range northwards can be seen as another indication of the ongoing tropicalization in the marine environment of Macaronesia in the North-east Atlantic.

Clemente, K. J. E., and M. S. Thomsen. 2023. High temperature frequently increases facilitation between aquatic foundation species: a global meta‐analysis of interaction experiments between angiosperms, seaweeds, and bivalves. Journal of Ecology.

Many studies have quantified ecological impacts of individual foundation species (FS). However, emerging data suggest that FS often co‐occur, potentially inhibiting or facilitating one another, thereby causing indirect, cascading effects on surrounding communities. Furthermore, global warming is accelerating, but little is known about how interactions between co‐occurring FS vary with temperature.Shallow aquatic sedimentary systems are often dominated by three types of FS: slower‐growing clonal angiosperms, faster‐growing solitary seaweeds, and shell‐forming filter‐ and deposit‐feeding bivalves. Here, we tested the impacts of one FS on another by analyzing manipulative interaction experiments from 148 papers with a global meta‐analysis.We calculated 1,942 (non‐independent) Hedges’ g effect sizes, from 11,652 extracted values over performance responses, such as abundances, growths or survival of FS, and their associated standard deviations and replication levels. Standard aggregation procedures generated 511 independent Hedges’ g that was classified into six types of reciprocal impacts between FS.We found that (i) seaweeds had consistent negative impacts on angiosperms across performance responses, organismal sizes, experimental approaches, and ecosystem types; (ii) angiosperms and bivalves generally had positive impacts on each other (e.g., positive effects of angiosperms on bivalves were consistent across organismal sizes and experimental approaches, but angiosperm effect on bivalve growth and bivalve effect on angiosperm abundance were not significant); (iii) bivalves positively affected seaweeds (particularly on growth responses); (iv) there were generally no net effects of seaweeds on bivalves (except for positive effect on growth) or angiosperms on seaweeds (except for positive effect on ‘other processes’); and (v) bivalve interactions with other FS were typically more positive at higher temperatures, but angiosperm‐seaweed interactions were not moderated by temperature.Synthesis: Despite variations in experimental and spatiotemporal conditions, the stronger positive interactions at higher temperatures suggest that facilitation, particularly involving bivalves, may become more important in a future warmer world. Importantly, addressing research gaps, such as the scarcity of FS interaction experiments from tropical and freshwater systems and for less studied species, as well as testing for density‐dependent effects, could better inform aquatic ecosystem conservation and restoration efforts and broaden our knowledge of FS interactions in the Anthropocene.

Chaudhary, C., J. M. Alfaro-Lucas, M. V. P. Simões, A. Brandt, and H. Saeedi. 2023. Potential geographic shifts in the coral reef ecosystem under climate change. Progress in Oceanography 213: 103001.

The coral reefs are the most diverse marine ecosystem in the world. Considering its contribution as a natural resource for humanity and global biodiversity, it is critical to understand its response to climatic change. To date, no global predictions have been made about potential ecosystem changes in relation to its inhabiting species. Predicting changes in species' climatic suitability under increasing temperature and comparing them among species would be the first step in understanding the geographic and taxonomic coherence and discrepancies that may occur within the ecosystem. Using 57 species-specific global climate suitability models (of corals, molluscs, fish, crustaceans, and polychaetes) under present and future climate scenarios (RCP 4.5 and 8.5), we compared the potential coherence and differences and their cumulative impact on the ecosystem in warm, cold, shallow, and deep waters.Under the climatic scenarios, nearly 90% of 30 warm-water species were predicted to lose their suitability in the parts of the Indo-west Pacific, the Coast of Northern Australia, the South China Sea, the Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico, resulting in the overall southward shift in their distributions. In contrast, a mixed response occurred in 27 cold-water species, with most northern temperate/boreal ones increasing their suitability in the Arctic Ocean and the Arctic species declining overall. We noticed that irrespective of their taxonomic group, the species with wider distribution ranges (thermal and geographic) had larger predicted gains in their suitability than their stenothermal counterparts, suggesting an increase of generalist species and a decline of specialist (endemic) species of the ecosystem under a warming climate.Our coherent projections of species' climatic suitability in warm and cold habitats of the tropics, temperate, boreal, and the Arctic, represent significant taxonomic groups of the ecosystem. This might indicate mass extinction risk (local– in the tropics and northern temperate regions, and overall– in the Arctic) in native habitats and a high species turnover across the ecosystem under a warming climate. This may also destabilise predator–prey dynamics in the ecosystem, especially if foraging specialists dominate coral food webs and adversely affect the associated countries. Our global projections highlight the regions of species’ potential loss and gain; stakeholders could use the information to protect biodiversity and maintain human well-being.

Granja-Fernández, R., B. Maya-Alvarado, F. A. Rodríguez-Zaragoza, and A. López-Pérez. 2023. Ophiuroidea (Echinodermata) diversity partitioning across the eastern tropical Pacific. Regional Studies in Marine Science 60: 102835.

Ophiuroidea is one of the most suitable marine groups for exploring diversity partitioning in the ocean due to its wide distribution and particular lifestyles. Nevertheless, diversity and its variation have yet to be investigated, and even basic information for large areas such as the eastern tropical Pacific (ETP) is still lacking. The present contribution explores α, β, and γ-diversity patterns of Ophiuroidea from the ETP at four spatial scales (Operational Geographic Units, Ecoregions, Provinces, and Realms). Based on literature records, databases, and scientific collections, an occurrence matrix was constructed for 69 shallow water (0–200 m) Ophiuroidea of the ETP (Mexico–Peru). Diversity evaluation based on rarefaction curves indicated that the observed richness tends to reach the asymptote. At the province and the ecoregion levels, β-diversity was the most important component explaining γ-diversity. The components that mainly contributed to the differentiation between provinces and ecoregions were the intersection of nestedness and β-diversity. PERMANOVA and SIMPER results showed that species composition presented significant differences at all spatial levels. The PCO ordination indicated that the first component (PCO1) explained the variation in species composition in a longitudinal gradient between coastal and oceanic ecoregions, while PCO2 showed a latitudinal gradient. The shade plot yielded three clusters (northern, southern, and widely distributed species). In general, α-diversity was explained by differences in sampling effort and methods; in contrast, β-diversity and its components were mainly explained by patterns and processes occurring at different spatial scales (provinces and ecoregions) such as oceanographic conditions, geographic extension, dispersal, and environmental heterogeneity. This work represents the first attempt to analyze the distribution patterns of shallow-water Ophiuroidea from the ETP.

Bento, M., H. Niza, A. Cartaxana, S. Bandeira, J. Paula, and A. M. Correia. 2023. Mind the Gaps: Taxonomic, Geographic and Temporal Data of Marine Invertebrate Databases from Mozambique and São Tomé and Príncipe. Diversity 15: 70.

One of the best ways to share and disseminate biodiversity information is through the digitization of data and making it available via online databases. The rapid growth of publicly available biodiversity data is not without problems which may decrease the utility of online databases. In this study we analyze taxonomic, geographic and temporal data gaps, and bias related to existing data on selected marine invertebrate occurrences along the coastline of two African countries, Mozambique and São Tomé and Príncipe. The final marine invertebrate dataset comprises of 19.910 occurrences, but 32% of the original dataset occurrences were excluded due to data gaps. Most marine invertebrates in Mozambique were collected in seagrasses, whereas in São Tomé and Príncipe they were mostly collected offshore. The dataset has a temporal coverage from 1816 to 2019, with most occurrences collected in the last two decades. This study provides baseline information relevant to a better understanding of marine invertebrate biodiversity data gaps and bias in these habitats along the coasts of these countries. The information can be further applied to complete marine invertebrate data gaps contributing to design informed sampling strategies and advancing refined datasets that can be used in management and conservation plans in both countries.