Science Enabled by Specimen Data

Cruz, J. A., J. A. Velasco, J. Arroyo-Cabrales, and E. Johnson. 2023. Paleoclimatic Reconstruction Based on the Late Pleistocene San Josecito Cave Stratum 720 Fauna Using Fossil Mammals, Reptiles, and Birds. Diversity 15: 881. https://doi.org/10.3390/d15070881

Advances in technology have equipped paleobiologists with new analytical tools to assess the fossil record. The functional traits of vertebrates have been used to infer paleoenvironmental conditions. In Quaternary deposits, birds are the second-most-studied group after mammals. They are considered a poor paleoambiental proxy because their high vagility and phenotypic plasticity allow them to respond more effectively to climate change. Investigating multiple groups is important, but it is not often attempted. Biogeographical and climatic niche information concerning small mammals, reptiles, and birds have been used to infer the paleoclimatic conditions present during the Late Pleistocene at San Josecito Cave (~28,000 14C years BP), Mexico. Warmer and dryer conditions are inferred with respect to the present. The use of all of the groups of small vertebrates is recommended because they represent an assemblage of species that have gone through a series of environmental filters in the past. Individually, different vertebrate groups provide different paleoclimatic information. Birds are a good proxy for inferring paleoprecipitation but not paleotemperature. Together, reptiles and small mammals are a good proxy for inferring paleoprecipitation and paleotemperature, but reptiles alone are a bad proxy, and mammals alone are a good proxy for inferring paleotemperature and precipitation. The current paleoclimatic results coupled with those of a previous vegetation structure analysis indicate the presence of non-analog paleoenvironmental conditions during the Late Pleistocene in the San Josecito Cave area. This situation would explain the presence of a disharmonious fauna and the extinction of several taxa when these conditions later disappeared and do not reappear again.

Li, D., Z. Li, Z. Liu, Y. Yang, A. G. Khoso, L. Wang, and D. Liu. 2022. Climate change simulations revealed potentially drastic shifts in insect community structure and crop yields in China’s farmland. Journal of Pest Science. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10340-022-01479-3

Climate change will cause drastic fluctuations in agricultural ecosystems, which in turn may affect global food security. We used ecological niche modeling to predict the potential distribution for four cereal aphids (i.e., Sitobion avenae, Rhopalosiphum padi, Schizaphis graminum, and Diurphis noxia…

Cruz, J. A., I. Alarcón-D, D. M. Figueroa-Castro, and C. Castañeda-Posadas. 2021. Fossil pigmy rattlesnake inside the mandible of an American mastodon and use of fossil reptiles for the paleoclimatic reconstruction of a Pleistocene locality in Puebla, Mexico. Quaternary International 574: 116–126. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2020.10.058

Records of Pleistocene reptiles are relatively well known in different countries. However, reptile fossil records of Pleistocene from Latin America are scarce and limited to presence data associated with records of megafauna remains. Taphonomic studies in Pleistocene reptiles are focused on finding …

Benavides, L. R., R. Pinto-da-Rocha, and G. Giribet. 2021. The Phylogeny and Evolution of the Flashiest of the Armored Harvestmen (Arachnida: Opiliones) L. Barrow [ed.],. Systematic Biology 70: 648–659. https://doi.org/10.1093/sysbio/syaa080

Gonyleptoidea, largely restricted to the Neotropics, constitutes the most diverse superfamily of Opiliones and includes the largest and flashiest representatives of this arachnid order. However, the relationships among its main lineages (families and superfamilies) and the timing of their origin are…

Cooper, N., A. L. Bond, J. L. Davis, R. Portela Miguez, L. Tomsett, and K. M. Helgen. 2019. Sex biases in bird and mammal natural history collections. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 286: 20192025. https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2019.2025

Natural history specimens are widely used across ecology, evolutionary biology and conservation. Although biological sex may influence all of these areas, it is often overlooked in large-scale studies using museum specimens. If collections are biased towards one sex, studies may not be representativ…

Li, X., B. Li, G. Wang, X. Zhan, and M. Holyoak. 2020. Deeply digging the interaction effect in multiple linear regressions using a fractional-power interaction term. MethodsX 7: 101067. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mex.2020.101067

In multiple regression Y ~ β0 + β1X1 + β2X2 + β3X1 X2 + ɛ., the interaction term is quantified as the product of X1 and X2. We developed fractional-power interaction regression (FPIR), using βX1M X2N as the interaction term. The rationale of FPIR is that the slopes of Y-X1 regression along the X2 gr…

Pili, A. N., R. Tingley, E. Y. Sy, M. L. L. Diesmos, and A. C. Diesmos. 2020. Niche shifts and environmental non-equilibrium undermine the usefulness of ecological niche models for invasion risk assessments. Scientific Reports 10. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-64568-2

Niche shifts and environmental non-equilibrium in invading alien species undermine niche-based predictions of alien species’ potential distributions and, consequently, their usefulness for invasion risk assessments. Here, we compared the realized climatic niches of four alien amphibian species (Hyla…

Scharff, N., J. A. Coddington, T. A. Blackledge, I. Agnarsson, V. W. Framenau, T. Szűts, C. Y. Hayashi, and D. Dimitrov. 2019. Phylogeny of the orb‐weaving spider family Araneidae (Araneae: Araneoidea). Cladistics 36: 1–21. https://doi.org/10.1111/cla.12382

We present a new phylogeny of the spider family Araneidae based on five genes (28S, 18S, COI, H3 and 16S) for 158 taxa, identified and mainly sequenced by us. This includes 25 outgroups and 133 araneid ingroups representing the subfamilies Zygiellinae Simon, 1929, Nephilinae Simon, 1894, and the typ…

García-Bañuelos, P., S. M. Rovito, and E. Pineda. 2019. Representation of Threatened Biodiversity in Protected Areas and Identification of Complementary Areas for Their Conservation: Plethodontid Salamanders in Mexico. Tropical Conservation Science 12: 194008291983415. https://doi.org/10.1177/1940082919834156

Protected areas (PAs) have been the most important conservation instrument worldwide and are reaching the coverage percentage suggested internationally (17%), but with the risk of not being ecologically representative, which is particularly concerning for threatened species. Using a database of reco…

Liu, X., T. M. Blackburn, T. Song, X. Li, C. Huang, and Y. Li. 2019. Risks of Biological Invasion on the Belt and Road. Current Biology 29: 499-505.e4. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2018.12.036

China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is an unprecedented global development program that involves nearly half of the world’s countries [1]. It not only will have economic and political influences, but also may generate multiple environmental challenges and is a focus of considerable academic and p…