Science Enabled by Specimen Data

Lippi, C. A., S. Canfield, C. Espada, H. D. Gaff, and S. J. Ryan. 2023. Estimating the distribution of Oryzomys palustris , a potential key host in expanding rickettsial tick‐borne disease risk. Ecosphere 14.

Increasingly, geographic approaches to assessing the risk of tick‐borne diseases are being used to inform public health decision‐making and surveillance efforts. The distributions of key tick species of medical importance are often modeled as a function of environmental factors, using niche modeling approaches to capture habitat suitability. However, this is often disconnected from the potential distribution of key host species, which may play an important role in the actual transmission cycle and risk potential in expanding tick‐borne disease risk. Using species distribution modeling, we explore the potential geographic range of Oryzomys palustris, the marsh rice rat, which has been implicated as a potential reservoir host of Rickettsia parkeri, a pathogen transmitted by the Gulf Coast tick (Amblyomma maculatum) in the southeastern United States. Due to recent taxonomic reclassification of O. palustris subspecies, we reclassified geolocated collections records into the newer clade definitions. We modeled the distribution of the two updated clades in the region, establishing for the first time, range maps and distributions of these two clades. The predicted distribution of both clades indicates a largely Gulf and southeastern coastal distribution. Estimated suitable habitat for O. palustris extends into the southern portion of the Mid‐Atlantic region, with a discontinuous, limited area of suitability in coastal California. Broader distribution predictions suggest potential incursions along the Mississippi River. We found considerable overlap of predicted O. palustris ranges with the distribution of A. maculatum, indicating the potential need for extended surveillance efforts in those overlapping areas and attention to the role of hosts in transmission cycles.

Huber, B. A., G. Meng, J. Král, I. M. Ávila Herrera, M. A. Izquierdo, and L. S. Carvalho. 2023. High and dry: integrative taxonomy of the Andean spider genus Nerudia (Araneae: Pholcidae). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society.

Abstract Ninetinae are a group of poorly known spiders that do not fit the image of ‘daddy long-legs spiders’ (Pholcidae), the family to which they belong. They are mostly short-legged, tiny and live in arid environments. The previously monotypic Andean genus Nerudia exemplifies our poor knowledge of Ninetinae: only seven adult specimens from two localities in Chile and Argentina have been reported in the literature. We found representatives of Nerudia at 24 of 52 localities visited in 2019, mostly under rocks in arid habitats, up to 4450 m a.s.l., the highest known record for Pholcidae. With now more than 400 adult specimens, we revise the genus, describing ten new species based on morphology (including SEM) and COI barcodes. We present the first karyotype data for Nerudia and for its putative sister-genus Gertschiola. These two southern South American genera share a X1X2X3Y sex chromosome system. We model the distribution of Nerudia, showing that the genus is expected to occur in the Atacama biogeographic province (no record so far) and that its environmental niche is phylogenetically conserved. This is the first comprehensive revision of any Ninetinae genus. It suggests that focused collecting may uncover a considerable diversity of these enigmatic spiders.

Sánchez Pérez, M., T. P. Feria Arroyo, C. S. Venegas Barrera, C. Sosa-Gutiérrez, J. Torres, K. A. Brown, and G. Gordillo Pérez. 2023. Predicting the Impact of Climate Change on the Distribution of Rhipicephalus sanguineus in the Americas. Sustainability 15: 4557.

Climate change may influence the incidence of infectious diseases including those transmitted by ticks. Rhipicephalus sanguineus complex has a worldwide distribution and transmits Rickettsial infections that could cause high mortality rates if untreated. We assessed the potential effects of climate change on the distribution of R. sanguineus in the Americas in 2050 and 2070 using the general circulation model CanESM5 and two shared socioeconomic pathways (SSPs), SSP2-4.5 (moderate emissions) and SSP2-8.5 (high emissions). A total of 355 occurrence points of R. sanguineus and eight uncorrelated bioclimatic variables were entered into a maximum entropy algorithm (MaxEnt) to produce 50 replicates per scenario. The area under the curve (AUC) value for the consensus model (>0.90) and the partial ROC value (>1.28) indicated a high predictive capacity. The models showed that the geographic regions currently suitable for R. sanguineus will remain stable in the future, but also predicted increases in habitat suitability in the Western U.S., Venezuela, Brazil and Bolivia. Scenario 4.5 showed an increase in habitat suitability for R. sanguineus in tropical and subtropical regions in both 2050 and 2070. Habitat suitability is predicted to remain constant in moist broadleaf forests and deserts but is predicted to decrease in flooded grasslands and savannas. Using the high emissions SSP5-8.5 scenario, habitat suitability in tropical and subtropical coniferous forests and temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands was predicted to be constant in 2050. In 2070, however, habitat suitability was predicted to decrease in tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests and increase in tropical and subtropical dry broadleaf forests. Our findings suggest that the current and potential future geographic distributions can be used in evidence-based strategies in the design of control plans aimed at reducing the risk of exposure to zoonotic diseases transmitted by R. sanguineus.

Hausdorf, B. 2023. Distribution patterns of established alien land snail species in the Western Palaearctic Region. NeoBiota 81: 1–32.

AbstractEstablished alien land snail species that were introduced into the Western Palaearctic Region from other regions and their spread in the Western Palaearctic are reviewed. Thirteen of the 22 species came from North America, three from Sub-Saharan Africa, two from the Australian region, three probably from the Oriental Region and one from South America. The establishment of outdoor populations of these species was usually first seen at the western or southern rims of the Western Palearctic. Within Europe, the alien species usually spread from south to north and from west to east. The latitudinal ranges of the alien species significantly increased with increasing time since the first record of introduction to the Western Palearctic. The latitudinal mid-points of the Western Palaearctic and native ranges of the species are significantly correlated when one outlier is omitted. There is a general trend of poleward shifts of the ranges of the species in the Western Palaearctic compared to their native ranges. There are three reasons for these shifts: (1) the northward expansion of some species in Western Europe facilitated by the oceanic climate, (2) the impediment to the colonisation of southern latitudes in the Western Palaearctic due to their aridity and (3) the establishment of tropical species in the Mediterranean and the Middle East. Most of the species are small, not carnivorous and unlikely to cause serious ecological or economic damage. In contrast, the recently introduced large veronicellid slugs from Sub-Saharan Africa and the giant African snail Lissachatinafulica could cause economic damage in irrigated agricultural areas or greenhouses in the Mediterranean and the Middle East.

Mukherjee, T., L. K. Sharma, M. Thakur, D. Banerjee, and K. Chandra. 2023. Whether curse or blessing: A counterintuitive perspective on global pest thrips infestation under climatic change with implications to agricultural economics. Science of The Total Environment: 161349.

The improvement and application of pest models to predict yield losses is still a challenge for the scientific community. However, pest models were targeted chiefly towards scheduling scouting or pesticide applications to deal with pest infestation. Thysanoptera (thrips) significantly impact the productivity of many economically important crops worldwide. Until now, no comprehensive study is available on the global distribution of pest thrips, as well as on the extent of cropland vulnerability worldwide. Further, nothing is known about the climate change impacts on these insects. Thus the present study was designed to map the global distribution and quantify the extent of cropland vulnerability in the present and future climate scenarios using data of identified pest thrips within the genus, i.e., Thrips, Frankliniella, and Scirtothrips. Our found significant niche contraction under the climate change scenarios and thrips may reside primarily in their thermal tolerance thresholds. About 3,98,160 km2 of cropland globally was found to be affected in the present scenario. However, it may significantly reduce to 5530 Km2 by 2050 and 1990 km2 by 2070. Further, the thrips distribution mostly getting restricted to Eastern North America, the North-western of the Indian sub-continent, and the north of Europe. Among all realms, thrips may lose ground in the Indo-Malayan realm at the most and get restricted to only 27 out of 825 terrestrial ecoregions. The agrarian communities of the infested regions may get benefit if these pests get wiped out, but on the contrary, we may lose species diversity. Moreover, the vacated niche may attract other invasive species, which may seriously impact the species composition and agricultural productivity. The present study findings can be used in making informed decisions about prioritizing future economic and research investments on the thrips in light of anticipated climate change impacts.

Ecke, F., B. A. Han, B. Hörnfeldt, H. Khalil, M. Magnusson, N. J. Singh, and R. S. Ostfeld. 2022. Population fluctuations and synanthropy explain transmission risk in rodent-borne zoonoses. Nature Communications 13.

Population fluctuations are widespread across the animal kingdom, especially in the order Rodentia, which includes many globally important reservoir species for zoonotic pathogens. The implications of these fluctuations for zoonotic spillover remain poorly understood. Here, we report a global empirical analysis of data describing the linkages between habitat use, population fluctuations and zoonotic reservoir status in rodents. Our quantitative synthesis is based on data collated from papers and databases. We show that the magnitude of population fluctuations combined with species’ synanthropy and degree of human exploitation together distinguish most rodent reservoirs at a global scale, a result that was consistent across all pathogen types and pathogen transmission modes. Our spatial analyses identified hotspots of high transmission risk, including regions where reservoir species dominate the rodent community. Beyond rodents, these generalities inform our understanding of how natural and anthropogenic factors interact to increase the risk of zoonotic spillover in a rapidly changing world. Many rodent species are known as hosts of zoonotic pathogens, but the ecological conditions that trigger spillover are not well-understood. Here, the authors show that population fluctuations and association with human-dominated habitats explain the zoonotic reservoir status of rodents globally.

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.

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.

Marshall, B. M., C. T. Strine, C. S. Fukushima, P. Cardoso, M. C. Orr, and A. C. Hughes. 2022. Searching the web builds fuller picture of arachnid trade. Communications Biology 5.

Wildlife trade is a major driver of biodiversity loss, yet whilst the impacts of trade in some species are relatively well-known, some taxa, such as many invertebrates are often overlooked. Here we explore global patterns of trade in the arachnids, and detected 1,264 species from 66 families and 371 genera in trade. Trade in these groups exceeds millions of individuals, with 67% coming directly from the wild, and up to 99% of individuals in some genera. For popular taxa, such as tarantulas up to 50% are in trade, including 25% of species described since 2000. CITES only covers 30 (2%) of the species potentially traded. We mapped the percentage and number of species native to each country in trade. To enable sustainable trade, better data on species distributions and better conservation status assessments are needed. The disparity between trade data sources highlights the need to expand monitoring if impacts on wild populations are to be accurately gauged and the impacts of trade minimised. Trade in arachnids includes millions of individuals and over 1264 species, with over 70% of individuals coming from the wild.

Espindola, S., E. Vázquez‐Domínguez, M. Nakamura, L. Osorio‐Olvera, E. Martínez‐Meyer, E. A. Myers, I. Overcast, et al. 2022. Complex genetic patterns and distribution limits mediated by native congeners of the worldwide invasive red‐eared slider turtle. Molecular Ecology 31: 1766–1782.

Non-native (invasive) species offer a unique opportunity to study the geographical distribution and range limits of species, wherein the evolutionary change driven by interspecific interactions between native and non-native closely related species is a key component. The red-eared slider turtle, Tra…

Wham, B. E., S. R. Rahman, M. Martinez‐Correa, and H. M. Hines. 2021. Mito‐nuclear discordance at a mimicry color transition zone in bumble bee Bombus melanopygus. Ecology and Evolution 11: 18151–18168.

As hybrid zones exhibit selective patterns of gene flow between otherwise distinct lineages, they can be especially valuable for informing processes of microevolution and speciation. The bumble bee, Bombus melanopygus, displays two distinct color forms generated by Müllerian mimicry: a northern “Roc…