Science Enabled by Specimen Data
Hamer, M., M. Kgatla, and B. Petersen. 2023. An assessment of collection specimen data for South African mountain plants and invertebrates. Transactions of the Royal Society of South Africa: 1–19. https://doi.org/10.1080/0035919x.2023.2200742
South Africa is considered a megadiverse country, with exceptionally high plant and relatively high animal species richness and endemism. The country’s species have been surveyed and studied for over 200 years, resulting in extensive natural science collections and a vast number of scientific papers and books. This study assessed whether existing data portals provide access to occurrence data and investigated the extent of the data in Global Biodiversity Information Facility and its completeness for plants and selected invertebrate taxa. The main focus was preserved specimen data, but some observation data from iNaturalist were also considered for selected analyses. Records that include species-level identification and co-ordinates were mapped in QGIS to show the coverage of collection localities across the country. The records that fall within the mountain range spatial layer were then extracted and counted to identify density of records per mountain range for various taxa. Forty percent of plant records are from mountain localities, and the Atlantic Cape Fold Mountains had the highest density of records. Table Mountain has been extensively collected for plants and invertebrates. A large proportion of the records for invertebrates lacked species-level identification and co-ordinates, resulting in a low number of records for analyses. The accessible data are only a relatively small subset of existing collections, and digitisation and data upgrading is considered a high priority before collecting gaps can be addressed by targeted surveys.
Kolanowska, M. 2023. Loss of fungal symbionts and changes in pollinator availability caused by climate change will affect the distribution and survival chances of myco-heterotrophic orchid species. Scientific Reports 13. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-023-33856-y
The first comprehensive species distribution models for orchid, its fungal symbionts and pollinator are presented. To evaluate impact of global warming on these organisms three different projections and four various climate change scenarios were analysed. The niche modelling was based on presence-only records of Limodorum abortivum , two species of Russula and three insects pollinating orchid ( Anthophora affinis, Bombus terrestris, Rhodanthidium septemdentatum ). Two sets of orchid predictions were examined—the first one included only climatic data and the second one was based on climate data and data on future distribution of orchid fungal symbionts. Overall, a poleward range shift is predicted to occur as a result of climate change and apparently global warming will be favorable for L. abortivum and its potential geographical range will expand. However, due to the negative effect of global warming on fungal symbionts of L. abortivum , the actual extension of the suitable niches of the orchid will be much limited. Considering future possibility of cross-pollination, the availability of A. affinis for L. abortivum will decrease and this bee will be available in the worst case scenarios only for 21% of orchid populations. On the other hand, the overlap of orchid and the buff-tailed bumblebee will increase and as much as 86.5% of plant populations will be located within B. terrestris potential range. Also the availability of R. septemdentatum will be higher than currently observed in almost all analysed climate change projections. This study showed the importance of inclusion of ecological factors in species distribution models as the climate data itself are not enough to estimate the future distribution of plant species. Moreover, the availability of pollen vectors which is crucial for long-term survival of orchid populations should be analysed in context of climate changes.
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. https://doi.org/10.1093/zoolinnean/zlac100
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.
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. https://doi.org/10.3390/d15010070
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.
Moreno, I., J. M. W. Gippet, L. Fumagalli, and P. J. Stephenson. 2022. Factors affecting the availability of data on East African wildlife: the monitoring needs of conservationists are not being met. Biodiversity and Conservation. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10531-022-02497-4
Understanding the status and abundance of species is essential for effective conservation decision-making. However, the availability of species data varies across space, taxonomic groups and data types. A case study was therefore conducted in a high biodiversity region—East Africa—to evaluate data biases, the factors influencing data availability, and the consequences for conservation. In each of the eleven target countries, priority animal species were identified as threatened species that are protected by national governments, international conventions or conservation NGOs. We assessed data gaps and biases in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility and the Living Planet Index. A survey of practitioners and decision makers was conducted to confirm and assess consequences of these biases on biodiversity conservation efforts. Our results showed data on species occurrence and population trends were available for a significantly higher proportion of vertebrates than invertebrates. We observed a geographical bias, with higher tourism income countries having more priority species and more species with data than lower tourism income countries. Conservationists surveyed felt that, of the 40 types of data investigated, those data that are most important to conservation projects are the most difficult to access. The main challenges to data accessibility are excessive expense, technological challenges, and a lack of resources to process and analyse data. With this information, practitioners and decision makers can prioritise how and where to fill gaps to improve data availability and use, and ensure biodiversity monitoring is improved and conservation impacts enhanced.
de Deus Vidal, J., P. C. le Roux, S. D. Johnson, M. te Beest, and V. R. Clark. 2021. Beyond the Tree-Line: The C3-C4 “Grass-Line” Can Track Global Change in the World’s Grassy Mountain Systems. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 9. https://doi.org/10.3389/fevo.2021.760118
von Humboldt’s tree-line concept has dominated mountain ecology for almost two hundred years, and is considered a key indicator for monitoring change in biome boundaries and biodiversity shifts under climate change. Even though the concept of life zones and elevation gradients are a globally observe…
Touroult, J., O. Pascal, F. Barnier, and M. Pollet. 2021. The “Our Planet Reviewed” Mitaraka 2015 expedition: a full account of its research outputs after six years and recommendations for future surveys. Zoosystema 43. https://doi.org/10.5252/zoosystema2021v43a32
Six years after the expedition “Our Planet Reviewed – French Guiana 2015” in the Mitaraka massif, we present a synthesis of the taxonomic and faunistic results obtained from the analysis of the 108 published articles and the 10 600 observations that were databased and disseminated. In this relativel…
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 &amp; 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…
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…
Ortiz, A. M. D., and J. N. V. Torres. 2020. Assessing the Impacts of Agriculture and Its Trade on Philippine Biodiversity. Land 9: 403. https://doi.org/10.3390/land9110403
Many Philippine species are at risk of extinction because of habitat loss and degradation driven by agricultural land use and land-use change. The Philippines is one of the world’s primary banana and pineapple producers. The input-intensive style of plantation agriculture for these typically exporte…