Science Enabled by Specimen Data

Boyd, R. J., M. A. Aizen, R. M. Barahona‐Segovia, L. Flores‐Prado, F. E. Fontúrbel, T. M. Francoy, M. Lopez‐Aliste, et al. 2022. Inferring trends in pollinator distributions across the Neotropics from publicly available data remains challenging despite mobilization efforts Y. Fourcade [ed.],. Diversity and Distributions 28: 1404–1415. https://doi.org/10.1111/ddi.13551

Aim Aggregated species occurrence data are increasingly accessible through public databases for the analysis of temporal trends in the geographic distributions of species. However, biases in these data present challenges for statistical inference. We assessed potential biases in data available through GBIF on the occurrences of four flower-visiting taxa: bees (Anthophila), hoverflies (Syrphidae), leaf-nosed bats (Phyllostomidae) and hummingbirds (Trochilidae). We also assessed whether and to what extent data mobilization efforts improved our ability to estimate trends in species' distributions. Location The Neotropics. Methods We used five data-driven heuristics to screen the data for potential geographic, temporal and taxonomic biases. We began with a continental-scale assessment of the data for all four taxa. We then identified two recent data mobilization efforts (2021) that drastically increased the quantity of records of bees collected in Chile available through GBIF. We compared the dataset before and after the addition of these new records in terms of their biases and estimated trends in species' distributions. Results We found evidence of potential sampling biases for all taxa. The addition of newly-mobilized records of bees in Chile decreased some biases but introduced others. Despite increasing the quantity of data for bees in Chile sixfold, estimates of trends in species' distributions derived using the postmobilization dataset were broadly similar to what would have been estimated before their introduction, albeit more precise. Main conclusions Our results highlight the challenges associated with drawing robust inferences about trends in species' distributions using publicly available data. Mobilizing historic records will not always enable trend estimation because more data do not necessarily equal less bias. Analysts should carefully assess their data before conducting analyses: this might enable the estimation of more robust trends and help to identify strategies for effective data mobilization. Our study also reinforces the need for targeted monitoring of pollinators worldwide.

Niza, H., M. Bento, L. Lopes, A. Cartaxana, and A. Correia. 2021. A picture is worth a thousand words: using digital tools to visualise marine invertebrate diversity data along the coasts of Mozambique and São Tomé & Príncipe. Biodiversity Data Journal 9. https://doi.org/10.3897/bdj.9.e68817

The amount of biological data available in online repositories is increasing at an exponential rate. However, data on marine invertebrate biodiversity resources from Mozambique and São Tomé and Príncipe are still sparse and scattered. Online repositories are useful instruments for biodiversity resea…

Xue, T., S. R. Gadagkar, T. P. Albright, X. Yang, J. Li, C. Xia, J. Wu, and S. Yu. 2021. Prioritizing conservation of biodiversity in an alpine region: Distribution pattern and conservation status of seed plants in the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. Global Ecology and Conservation 32: e01885. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gecco.2021.e01885

The Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau (QTP) harbors abundant and diverse plant life owing to its high habitat heterogeneity. However, the distribution pattern of biodiversity hotspots and their conservation status remain unclear. Based on 148,283 high-resolution occurrence coordinates of 13,450 seed plants, w…

Urcádiz-Cázares, F. J., V. H. Cruz-Escalona, M. S. Peterson, R. Aguilar-Medrano, E. Marín-Enríquez, S. S. González-Peláez, A. Del Pino-Machado, et al. 2021. Linking Habitat and Associated Abiotic Conditions to Predict Fish Hotspots Distribution Areas within La Paz Bay: Evaluating Marine Conservation Areas. Diversity 13: 212. https://doi.org/10.3390/d13050212

Hotspots are priority marine or terrestrial areas with high biodiversity where delineation is essential for conservation, but equally important is their linkage to the environmental policies of the overall region. In this study, fish diversity presences were linked to abiotic conditions and differen…

Mazijk, R., M. D. Cramer, and G. A. Verboom. 2021. Environmental heterogeneity explains contrasting plant species richness between the South African Cape and southwestern Australia. Journal of Biogeography 48: 1875–1888. https://doi.org/10.1111/jbi.14118

Aim: Given the importance of environmental heterogeneity as a driver of species richness through its effects on species diversification and coexistence, we asked whether the dramatic difference in species richness per unit area between two similar Mediterranean‐type biodiversity hotspots is explaine…

Iannella, M., P. D’Alessandro, W. De Simone, and M. Biondi. 2021. Habitat Specificity, Host Plants and Areas of Endemism for the Genera-Group Blepharida s.l. in the Afrotropical Region (Coleoptera, Chrysomelidae, Galerucinae, Alticini). Insects 12: 299. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12040299

The genus Calotheca Heyden (Chrysomelidae) is mainly distributed in the eastern and southern parts of sub-Saharan Africa, with some extensions northward, while Blepharidina Bechyné occurs in the intertropical zone of Africa, with two subgenera, Blepharidina s. str. and Blepharidina(Afroblepharida) B…

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…

Magri, D., I. Parra, F. Di Rita, J. Ni, K. Shichi, and J. R. P. Worth. 2020. Linking worldwide past and present conifer vulnerability. Quaternary Science Reviews 250: 106640. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.quascirev.2020.106640

Inventories of species recently extinct or threatened with extinction may be found in global databases. However, despite the large number of published fossil based-studies, specific databases on the vulnerability of species in the past are not available. We compiled a worldwide database of published…

Iannella, M., P. D’Alessandro, and M. Biondi. 2019. Entomological knowledge in Madagascar by GBIF datasets: estimates on the coverage and possible biases (Insecta). Fragmenta Entomologica 51: 1–10. https://doi.org/10.4081/fe.2019.329

Although Madagascar is one of the world’s most important biodiversity hotspots, the knowledge of its faunistic diversity is still incomplete, notwithstanding many field campaigns were organized since the 17th century until nowadays, leading to a huge number of vertebrate and invertebrate records. In…

Frankiewicz, K. E., J. H. Chau, and A. A. Oskolski. 2020. Wood and bark of Buddleja: uniseriate phellem, and systematic and ecological patterns. IAWA Journal 42: 3–30. https://doi.org/10.1163/22941932-bja10020

Wood anatomy of Buddleja is well-explored but not in many southern African members, which form a grade of species and small clades that form successive sister groups to the rest of the genus, and its bark structure has not been studied at all. We provide new descriptions of wood anatomy for twelve s…