Science Enabled by Specimen Data

Melin, A., C. M. Beale, J. C. Manning, and J. F. Colville. 2024. Fine‐scale bee species distribution models: Hotspots of richness and endemism in South Africa with species‐area comparisons. Insect Conservation and Diversity. https://doi.org/10.1111/icad.12715

While global patterns of bee diversity have been modelled, our understanding of fine‐scale regional patterns is more limited, particularly for under‐sampled regions such as Africa. South Africa is among the exceptions on the African continent; its bee fauna (ca. 1253 species) has been well collected and documented, including mass digitising of its natural history collections. It is a region with high floral diversity, high habitat heterogeneity and variable rainfall seasonality.Here, we combine a South African bee species distributional database (877 bee species) with a geospatial modelling approach to determine fine‐scale (~11 × 11 km grid cell resolution) hotspots of bee species richness, endemism and range‐restricted species.Our analyses, based on the probabilities of occurrence surfaces for each species across 108,803 two‐minute grid cells, reveal three bee hotspots of richness: Winter rainfall, Aseasonal rainfall and Early‐to‐late summer rainfall. These hotspots contain large numbers of endemic and geographically restricted taxa. Hotspots with particularly high bee diversity include the Fynbos, Succulent Karoo and Desert biomes; the latter showing 6–20 times more species per unit area than other biomes. Our results conform with global species‐area patterns: areas of higher‐than‐expected bee density are largely concentrated in Mediterranean and arid habitats.This study further enhances our knowledge in identifying regional and global hotspots of richness and endemism for a keystone group of insects and enabling these to be accounted for when setting conservation priorities.

Elkins, L. C., M. R. Acre, M. G. Bean, S. M. Robertson, R. Smith, and J. S. Perkin. 2024. A multiscale perspective for improving conservation of Conchos pupfish. Animal Conservation. https://doi.org/10.1111/acv.12930

Desert spring systems of the American southwest hold high local fish endemism and are ranked among the most threatened ecosystems in the world. The prioritization of conservation resources to protect species living within these arid landscapes requires knowledge of species abundance and distribution. The plight of Conchos pupfish (Cyprinodon eximius) is representative of freshwater fishes the world over, including population extirpations caused by human poisoning of streams and reservoir construction, to the extent that the species was once considered extinct in the USA. We developed a distance‐sampling framework to monitor Conchos pupfish abundance and coupled this approach with species distribution modeling to guide conservation actions. Our multiscale approach included surveying abundances within 5‐m transects at three reaches of the Devils River, where the last known USA populations persist. We combined this fine‐scale analysis with species distribution modeling for stream segments across the range of the species in Mexico and USA. Modeling revealed Conchos pupfish abundance among transects was negatively correlated with current velocity and detection was negatively correlated with water depth. Estimated abundance at a reach where the species was previously reintroduced was greater than other reaches combined in November 2019, lowest in March 2021 when reach water levels were very low, then equivalent with other reaches by October 2021 after water returned to the reach. Modeled Conchos pupfish distribution illustrated a high probability of occurrence on the periphery of the species' overall range within Texas, USA and broadly across Chihuahua, Mexico, where proposed protected areas might benefit the species. Our study provides conservation guidance by establishing (1) baseline and trajectory values for abundance, (2) transect locations where abundances might be managed within existing protected areas, (3) reaches where high abundances could be used for future repatriation, and (4) stream segments where future surveys might be conducted to assess conservation opportunities.

Munna, A. H., N. A. Amuri, P. Hieronimo, and D. A. Woiso. 2023. Modelling ecological niches of Sclerocarya birrea subspecies in Tanzania under the current and future climates. Silva Fennica 57. https://doi.org/10.14214/sf.23009

The information on ecological niches of the Marula tree, Sclerocarya birrea (A. Rich.) Horchst. subspecies are needed for sustainable management of this tree, considering its nutritional, economic, and ecological benefits. However, despite Tanzania being regarded as a global genetic center of diversity of S. birrea, information on the subspecies ecological niches is lacking. We aimed to model ecological niches of S. birrea subspecies in Tanzania under the current and future climates. Ecological niches under the current climate were modelled by using ecological niche models in MaxEnt using climatic, edaphic, and topographical variables, and subspecies occurrence data. The Hadley Climate Center and National Center for Atmospheric Research's Earth System Models were used to predict ecological niches under the medium and high greenhouse gases emission scenarios for the years 2050 and 2080. Area under the curves (AUCs) were used to assess the accuracy of the models. The results show that the models were robust, with AUCs of 0.85–0.95. Annual and seasonal precipitation, elevation, and soil cation exchange capacity are the key environmental factors that define the ecological niches of the S. birrea subspecies. Ecological niches of subsp. caffra, multifoliata, and birrea are currently found in 30, 22, and 21 regions, and occupy 184 814 km2, 139 918 km2, and 28 446 km2 of Tanzania's land area respectively, which will contract by 0.4–44% due to climate change. Currently, 31–51% of ecological niches are under Tanzania’s protected areas network. The findings are important in guiding the development of conservation and domestication strategies for the S. birrea subspecies in Tanzania.

Ranjbaran, Y., D. Rödder, R. Saberi-Pirooz, and F. Ahmadzadeh. 2024. What happens in ice age, does not stay in ice age: Phylogeography of Bombus terrestris revealed a low genetic diversity amongst the Eurasian populations. Global Ecology and Conservation 49: e02775. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gecco.2023.e02775

The objective of this research was to assess the genetic diversity and phylogeography of Bombus terrestris and examine the historical events that shaped its contemporary genetic structures using the COI mitochondrial marker. Specimens of the species were collected from its distribution range alongside the Alborz Mountain range, and GenBank sequences from the Eurasian distribution range were incorporated into the dataset. The COI sequences were employed in Bayesian and Maximum Likelihood analyses to generate phylogenetic trees for the species populations and to investigate the evolutionary history of the species. Additionally, species occurrence points and climate data were utilized in Species Distribution Modeling (SDM) analyses to reconstruct the species range under past, present, and future climate conditions. The ML and BI trees yielded similar topologies, indicating extremely low genetic diversity and a homogeneous structure in the species population distribution range in Eurasia. Demographic analyses suggested that the species may have experienced a bottleneck during the last glacial maximum in Eurasia, followed by a recent expansion. The SDM analyses revealed significant fluctuations in the species range in the past and expansion under present conditions. Given the high dispersal ability of the species, the population expansion rate has surpassed the rate of developing new genetic diversity, and the estimated polymorphic sites for the species are likely relatively recent. This low level of genetic variation can also be attributed to the absence of geographical barriers and the excellent flying ability of the queen bee, leading to sustained gene flow throughout the entire continent. Despite the general correlation between larger populations and higher genetic diversity, bumblebees can expand their population size without increasing genetic diversity when residing in resourceful habitats.

Putra, A. R., K. A. Hodgins, and A. Fournier‐Level. 2023. Assessing the invasive potential of different source populations of ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia L.) through genomically informed species distribution modelling. Evolutionary Applications. https://doi.org/10.1111/eva.13632

The genetic composition of founding populations is likely to play a key role in determining invasion success. Individual genotypes may differ in habitat preference and environmental tolerance, so their ability to colonize novel environments can be highly variable. Despite the importance of genetic variation on invasion success, its influence on the potential distribution of invaders is rarely investigated. Here, we integrate population genomics and ecological niche models (ENMs) into a single framework to predict the distribution of globally invasive common ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia) in Australia. We identified three genetic clusters for ragweed and used these to construct cluster‐specific ENMs and characterize within‐species niche differentiation. The potential range of ragweed in Australia depended on the genetic composition and continent of origin of the introduced population. Invaders originating from warmer, wetter climates had a broader potential distribution than those from cooler, drier ones. By quantifying this change, we identified source populations most likely to expand the ragweed distribution. As prevention remains the most effective method of invasive species management, our work provides a valuable way of ranking the threat posed by different populations to better inform management decisions.

Feuerborn, C., G. Quinlan, R. Shippee, T. L. Strausser, T. Terranova, C. M. Grozinger, and H. M. Hines. 2023. Variance in heat tolerance in bumble bees correlates with species geographic range and is associated with several environmental and biological factors. Ecology and Evolution 13. https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.10730

Globally, insects have been impacted by climate change, with bumble bees in particular showing range shifts and declining species diversity with global warming. This suggests heat tolerance is a likely factor limiting the distribution and success of these bees. Studies have shown high intraspecific variance in bumble bee thermal tolerance, suggesting biological and environmental factors may be impacting heat resilience. Understanding these factors is important for assessing vulnerability and finding environmental solutions to mitigate effects of climate change. In this study, we assess whether geographic range variation in bumble bees in the eastern United States is associated with heat tolerance and further dissect which other biological and environmental factors explain variation in heat sensitivity in these bees. We examine heat tolerance by caste, sex, and rearing condition (wild/lab) across six eastern US bumble bee species, and assess the role of age, reproductive status, body size, and interactive effects of humidity and temperature on thermal tolerance in Bombus impatiens. We found marked differences in heat tolerance by species that correlate with each species' latitudinal range, habitat, and climatic niche, and we found significant variation in thermal sensitivity by caste and sex. Queens had considerably lower heat tolerance than workers and males, with greater tolerance when queens would first be leaving their natal nest, and lower tolerance after ovary activation. Wild bees tended to have higher heat tolerance than lab reared bees, and body size was associated with heat tolerance only in wild‐caught foragers. Humidity showed a strong interaction with heat effects, pointing to the need to regulate relative humidity in thermal assays and consider its role in nature. Altogether, we found most tested biological conditions impact thermal tolerance and highlight the stages of these bees that will be most sensitive to future climate change.

Vereecken, N. J., C. Ruiz, L. Marshall, M. Pérez-Gil, J.-M. Molenberg, B. Jacobi, F. La Roche, and J. R. Litman. 2023. A new small carder bee species from the eastern Canary Islands (Hymenoptera, Megachilidae, Anthidiini). Journal of Hymenoptera Research 96: 983–1015. https://doi.org/10.3897/jhr.96.111550

AbstractRecent field surveys in the eastern Canary Islands (Spain), followed by contributions of new occurrence records through the citizen science platform iNaturalist.com and the social media photo repository Flickr.com have revealed the presence of an overlooked small carder bee species (genus Pseudoanthidium Friese (Megachilidae: Anthidiini)) on the islands of Lanzarote and Fuerteventura. Here, we combined morphology, DNA barcodes (mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit I, COI) and ecological data (distribution, altitudinal ranges and environmental niche classification) to describe this species as Pseudoanthidium (Pseudoanthidium) jacobiisp. nov. We provide an illustrated description along with diagnostic morphological characters to separate it from P. (P.) canariense (Mavromoustakis, 1954), the only other congeneric species known from the neighbouring islands of La Gomera, Tenerife and Gran Canaria and from which it is separated by a genetic distance of 2.7%. We also evaluated the extent of shared environmental niche space among the two Pseudoanthidium species, and our results show a significant difference in elevation range as well as a very small (less than 1%) overlap between the modelled climatic niche of P.jacobii and that of P.canariense. Given the extremely restricted geographic distribution and the fragile and isolated nature of the habitat and host plants of this new island endemic species, we assign it an IUCN conservation status of “EN” (endangered) and discuss avenues for future research on the ecology and conservation of wild bees in the Canary Islands and neighbouring regions.

Rodríguez-Merino, A. 2023. Identifying and Managing Areas under Threat in the Iberian Peninsula: An Invasion Risk Atlas for Non-Native Aquatic Plant Species as a Potential Tool. Plants 12: 3069. https://doi.org/10.3390/plants12173069

Predicting the likelihood that non-native species will be introduced into new areas remains one of conservation’s greatest challenges and, consequently, it is necessary to adopt adequate management measures to mitigate the effects of future biological invasions. At present, not much information is available on the areas in which non-native aquatic plant species could establish themselves in the Iberian Peninsula. Species distribution models were used to predict the potential invasion risk of (1) non-native aquatic plant species already established in the peninsula (32 species) and (2) those with the potential to invade the peninsula (40 species). The results revealed that the Iberian Peninsula contains a number of areas capable of hosting non-native aquatic plant species. Areas under anthropogenic pressure are at the greatest risk of invasion, and the variable most related to invasion risk is temperature. The results of this work were used to create the Invasion Risk Atlas for Alien Aquatic Plants in the Iberian Peninsula, a novel online resource that provides information about the potential distribution of non-native aquatic plant species. The atlas and this article are intended to serve as reference tools for the development of public policies, management regimes, and control strategies aimed at the prevention, mitigation, and eradication of non-native aquatic plant species.

de Pedro, D., F. S. Ceccarelli, R. Vandame, J. Mérida, and P. Sagot. 2023. Congruence between species richness and phylogenetic diversity in North America for the bee genus Diadasia (Hymenoptera: Apidae). Biodiversity and Conservation. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10531-023-02706-8

The current ecological crisis stemming from the loss of biodiversity and associated ecosystem services, highlights the urgency of documenting diversity and distribution. Bees are a classical example of an ecologically and economically important group, due to their high diversity and varied ecosystem services, especially pollination. Here, two common biodiversity indices, namely species richness and phylogenetic diversity, are evaluated geographically to determine the best approach for selecting areas of conservation priority. The model organisms used in this study are the North American species belonging to the bee genus Diadasia (Apidae). Based on the results obtained by analyzing distributional records and a molecular phylogeny, we can see that species richness and phylogenetic diversity are closely linked, although phylogenetic diversity provides a more detailed assessment of the spatial distribution of diversity. Therefore, while either one of these commonly used indices are valid as far as selecting areas of conservation priority, we recommend, if possible, to include genetic information in biodiversity and conservation studies.

Boone, M. L., Z. M. Portman, I. Lane, and S. Rao. 2023. Occupancy of Bombus affinis (Hymenoptera: Apidae) in Minnesota is highest in developed areas when standardized surveys are employed D. Lupi [ed.],. Environmental Entomology. https://doi.org/10.1093/ee/nvad088

Mounting evidence of bumble bee declines and the listing of the rusty patched bumble bee (Bombus affinis Cresson) as federally endangered in the United States in 2017 and Canada in 2012 has stimulated an interest in monitoring and conservation. Understanding the influence of land use on occupancy patterns of imperiled species is crucial to successful recovery planning. Using detection data from community surveys, we assessed land use associations for 7 bumble bee species in Minnesota, USA, including B. affinis. We used multispecies occupancy models to assess the effect of 3 major land use types (developed, agricultural, and natural) within 0.5 and 1.5 km on occupancy of 7 Bombus (Hymenoptera: Apidae) species, while accounting for detection uncertainty. We found that B. affinis occupancy and detection were highest in developed landscapes and lowest in agricultural landscapes, representing an inverse relationship with the relative landcover ratios of these landscapes in Minnesota. Occupancy of 2 bumble bee species had strong positive associations with natural landscapes within 1.5 km and 2 species had strong negative associations with agricultural landscapes within 1.5 km. Our results suggest that best practices for imperiled Bombus monitoring and recovery planning depends upon the surrounding major land use patterns. We provide recommendations for urban planning to support B. affinis based on conservation success in the metropolitan areas of Minneapolis-St. Paul. We also encourage substantial survey effort be employed in agricultural and natural regions of the state historically occupied by B. affinis to determine the current occupancy state.