Science Enabled by Specimen Data

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. https://doi.org/10.1038/s42003-022-03374-0

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.

Williams, C. J. R., D. J. Lunt, U. Salzmann, T. Reichgelt, G. N. Inglis, D. R. Greenwood, W. Chan, et al. 2022. African Hydroclimate During the Early Eocene From the DeepMIP Simulations. Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology 37. https://doi.org/10.1029/2022pa004419

The early Eocene (∼56‐48 million years ago) is characterised by high CO2 estimates (1200‐2500 ppmv) and elevated global temperatures (∼10 to 16°C higher than modern). However, the response of the hydrological cycle during the early Eocene is poorly constrained, especially in regions with sparse data coverage (e.g. Africa). Here we present a study of African hydroclimate during the early Eocene, as simulated by an ensemble of state‐of‐the‐art climate models in the Deep‐time Model Intercomparison Project (DeepMIP). A comparison between the DeepMIP pre‐industrial simulations and modern observations suggests that model biases are model‐ and geographically dependent, however these biases are reduced in the model ensemble mean. A comparison between the Eocene simulations and the pre‐industrial suggests that there is no obvious wetting or drying trend as the CO2 increases. The results suggest that changes to the land sea mask (relative to modern) in the models may be responsible for the simulated increases in precipitation to the north of Eocene Africa. There is an increase in precipitation over equatorial and West Africa and associated drying over northern Africa as CO2 rises. There are also important dynamical changes, with evidence that anticyclonic low‐level circulation is replaced by increased south‐westerly flow at high CO2 levels. Lastly, a model‐data comparison using newly‐compiled quantitative climate estimates from palaeobotanical proxy data suggests a marginally better fit with the reconstructions at lower levels of CO2.

Reichgelt, T., D. R. Greenwood, S. Steinig, J. G. Conran, D. K. Hutchinson, D. J. Lunt, L. J. Scriven, and J. Zhu. 2022. Plant Proxy Evidence for High Rainfall and Productivity in the Eocene of Australia. Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology 37. https://doi.org/10.1029/2022pa004418

During the early to middle Eocene, a mid‐to‐high latitudinal position and enhanced hydrological cycle in Australia would have contributed to a wetter and “greener” Australian continent where today arid to semi‐arid climates dominate. Here, we revisit 12 southern Australian plant megafossil sites from the early to middle Eocene to generate temperature, precipitation and seasonality paleoclimate estimates, net primary productivity (NPP) and vegetation type, based on paleobotanical proxies and compare to early Eocene global climate models. Temperature reconstructions are uniformly subtropical (mean annual, summer, and winter mean temperatures 19–21 °C, 25–27 °C and 14–16 °C, respectively), indicating that southern Australia was ∼5 °C warmer than today, despite a >20° poleward shift from its modern geographic location. Precipitation was less homogeneous than temperature, with mean annual precipitation of ∼60 cm over inland sites and >100 cm over coastal sites. Precipitation may have been seasonal with the driest month receiving 2–7× less than mean monthly precipitation. Proxy‐model comparison is favorable with an 1680 ppm CO2 concentration. However, individual proxy reconstructions can disagree with models as well as with each other. In particular, seasonality reconstructions have systemic offsets. NPP estimates were higher than modern, implying a more homogenously “green” southern Australia in the early to middle Eocene, when this part of Australia was at 48–64 °S, and larger carbon fluxes to and from the Australian biosphere. The most similar modern vegetation type is modern‐day eastern Australian subtropical forest, although distance from coast and latitude may have led to vegetation heterogeneity.

Chevalier, M. 2022. <i>crestr</i>: an R package to perform probabilistic climate reconstructions from palaeoecological datasets. Climate of the Past 18: 821–844. https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-18-821-2022

Abstract. Statistical climate reconstruction techniques are fundamental tools to study past climate variability from fossil proxy data. In particular, the methods based on probability density functions (or PDFs) can be used in various environments and with different climate proxies because they rely on elementary calibration data (i.e. modern geolocalised presence data). However, the difficulty of accessing and curating these calibration data and the complexity of interpreting probabilistic results have often limited their use in palaeoclimatological studies. Here, I introduce a new R package (crestr) to apply the PDF-based method CREST (Climate REconstruction SofTware) on diverse palaeoecological datasets and address these problems. crestr includes a globally curated calibration dataset for six common climate proxies (i.e. plants, beetles, chironomids, rodents, foraminifera, and dinoflagellate cysts) associated with an extensive range of climate variables (20 terrestrial and 19 marine variables) that enables its use in most terrestrial and marine environments. Private data collections can also be used instead of, or in combination with, the provided calibration dataset. The package includes a suite of graphical diagnostic tools to represent the data at each step of the reconstruction process and provide insights into the effect of the different modelling assumptions and external factors that underlie a reconstruction. With this R package, the CREST method can now be used in a scriptable environment and thus be more easily integrated with existing workflows. It is hoped that crestr will be used to produce the much-needed quantified climate reconstructions from the many regions where they are currently lacking, despite the availability of suitable fossil records. To support this development, the use of the package is illustrated with a step-by-step replication of a 790 000-year-long mean annual temperature reconstruction based on a pollen record from southeastern Africa.

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…

Ramírez, F., V. Sbragaglia, K. Soacha, M. Coll, and J. Piera. 2022. Challenges for Marine Ecological Assessments: Completeness of Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable Biodiversity Data in European Seas. Frontiers in Marine Science 8. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2021.802235

The ongoing contemporary biodiversity crisis may result in much of ocean’s biodiversity to be lost or deeply modified without even being known. As the climate and anthropogenic-related impacts on marine systems accelerate, biodiversity knowledge integration is urgently required to evaluate and monit…

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…

Hui, Z., X. Zhou, M. Chevalier, X. Wei, Y. Pan, and Y. Chen. 2021. Miocene East Asia summer monsoon precipitation variability and its possible driving forces. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 581: 110609. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2021.110609

The East Asian summer monsoon (EASM) precipitation is vital to hydrology, ecology and societal activities in the densely populated region of East Asia. However, its long-term evolution history and driving forces during the relatively warm Miocene remain unclear, even conflicting in some intervals. H…

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…