Science Enabled by Specimen Data

Pereira, W. G., A. C. de Almeida, S. de P. Barros-Alves, and D. F. R. Alves. 2024. Species distribution models to predict the impacts of environmental disasters on shrimp species of economic interest. Marine Pollution Bulletin 201: 116162.

Here, we used distribution models to predict the size of the environmentally suitable area for shrimps of fishing interest that were impacted by the tailing plume from the collapse of the Fundão Dam, one of the largest ecological disasters ever to occur in Brazil. Species distribution models (SDMs) were generated for nine species of penaeid shrimp that occurred in the impacted region. Average temperature showed the highest percentage of contribution for SDMs. The environmental suitability of penaeids varied significantly in relation to the distance to the coast and mouth river. The area of environmental suitability of shrimps impacted by tailings plumes ranged from 27 to 47 %. Notably, three protected areas displayed suitable conditions, before the disaster, for until eight species. The results obtained by the SDMs approach provide crucial information for conservation and restoration efforts of coastal biodiversity in an impacted region with limited prior knowledge about biodiversity distribution.

Montana, K. O., V. Ramírez-Castañeda, and R. D. Tarvin. 2023. Are Pacific Chorus Frogs (Pseudacris regilla) Resistant to Tetrodotoxin (TTX)? Characterizing Potential TTX Exposure and Resistance in an Ecological Associate of Pacific Newts (Taricha). Journal of Herpetology 57.

Animals that frequently encounter toxins often develop mechanisms of toxin resistance over evolutionary time. Both predators that consume toxic prey and organisms in physical contact with a toxin in their environment may experience natural selection for resistance. Based on observations that Pacific Chorus Frogs (Pseudacris regilla) sometimes eat and mistakenly amplect tetrodotoxin (TTX)-defended Taricha newts, we predicted that P. regilla may possess TTX resistance. We compared amino acid sequences of domain IV of the muscle voltage-gated sodium channel gene SCN4A (NaV1.4) in populations of P. regilla that are sympatric and allopatric with Taricha. We identified a single substitution in NaV1.4 of P. regilla at a conserved site in the pore loop where TTX binds. Although the role of this site in TTX resistance has not been functionally assessed, both allopatric and sympatric P. regilla had this substitution, along with several other reptiles and amphibians, suggesting that it may be unrelated to TTX exposure from Taricha. Thus, there is no conclusive evidence that P. regilla possesses TTX resistance encoded by amino acid substitutions in this domain. California occurrence data from the last 50 yr indicate that Taricha activity peaks in January while the activity of P. regilla peaks in April, with times where the species may come into contact. However, P. regilla may not be exposed to levels of TTX from Taricha high enough to select for mutations in NaV1.4. Other unidentified mechanisms of TTX resistance could be present in P. regilla and other species sympatric with toxic newts.

Gallagher, K. M., and P. G. Albano. 2023. Range contractions, fragmentation, species extirpations, and extinctions of commercially valuable molluscs in the Mediterranean Sea—a climate warming hotspot R. Selden [ed.],. ICES Journal of Marine Science.

Abstract The Mediterranean Sea is a global hotspot of climate warming and biodiversity loss where molluscs have provided valuable ecosystem services, such as provisioning and cultural value, since pre-historic times. A high rate of warming and range shift limitations due to the semi-enclosed nature of the basin raise concerns about molluscan population persistence in future climate scenarios. We modelled the future distribution of 13 Mediterranean species of molluscs subject to industrial fisheries exploitation on both the Mediterranean and Atlantic European coasts. We tested the hypothesis that range contractions, fragmentation, and species extirpations will become increasingly severe in the Mediterranean by modelling mid-century and end-century species distributions for four IPCC climate change scenarios. Already under mild emissions scenarios, substantial range contractions and fragmentation are projected in the Mediterranean, suggesting global extinctions by end-century for most endemic species. Colder deep waters do not act as refugia, contrary to expectations. Species also occurring along the Atlantic European coasts may benefit from warming through range expansions to higher latitudes or deeper waters. Most of the modeled species are already over-exploited, but their eradication from the Mediterranean will imply substantial financial losses and a profound cultural change in coastal communities.

Clemente, K. J. E., and M. S. Thomsen. 2023. High temperature frequently increases facilitation between aquatic foundation species: a global meta‐analysis of interaction experiments between angiosperms, seaweeds, and bivalves. Journal of Ecology.

Many studies have quantified ecological impacts of individual foundation species (FS). However, emerging data suggest that FS often co‐occur, potentially inhibiting or facilitating one another, thereby causing indirect, cascading effects on surrounding communities. Furthermore, global warming is accelerating, but little is known about how interactions between co‐occurring FS vary with temperature.Shallow aquatic sedimentary systems are often dominated by three types of FS: slower‐growing clonal angiosperms, faster‐growing solitary seaweeds, and shell‐forming filter‐ and deposit‐feeding bivalves. Here, we tested the impacts of one FS on another by analyzing manipulative interaction experiments from 148 papers with a global meta‐analysis.We calculated 1,942 (non‐independent) Hedges’ g effect sizes, from 11,652 extracted values over performance responses, such as abundances, growths or survival of FS, and their associated standard deviations and replication levels. Standard aggregation procedures generated 511 independent Hedges’ g that was classified into six types of reciprocal impacts between FS.We found that (i) seaweeds had consistent negative impacts on angiosperms across performance responses, organismal sizes, experimental approaches, and ecosystem types; (ii) angiosperms and bivalves generally had positive impacts on each other (e.g., positive effects of angiosperms on bivalves were consistent across organismal sizes and experimental approaches, but angiosperm effect on bivalve growth and bivalve effect on angiosperm abundance were not significant); (iii) bivalves positively affected seaweeds (particularly on growth responses); (iv) there were generally no net effects of seaweeds on bivalves (except for positive effect on growth) or angiosperms on seaweeds (except for positive effect on ‘other processes’); and (v) bivalve interactions with other FS were typically more positive at higher temperatures, but angiosperm‐seaweed interactions were not moderated by temperature.Synthesis: Despite variations in experimental and spatiotemporal conditions, the stronger positive interactions at higher temperatures suggest that facilitation, particularly involving bivalves, may become more important in a future warmer world. Importantly, addressing research gaps, such as the scarcity of FS interaction experiments from tropical and freshwater systems and for less studied species, as well as testing for density‐dependent effects, could better inform aquatic ecosystem conservation and restoration efforts and broaden our knowledge of FS interactions in the Anthropocene.

Granja-Fernández, R., B. Maya-Alvarado, F. A. Rodríguez-Zaragoza, and A. López-Pérez. 2023. Ophiuroidea (Echinodermata) diversity partitioning across the eastern tropical Pacific. Regional Studies in Marine Science 60: 102835.

Ophiuroidea is one of the most suitable marine groups for exploring diversity partitioning in the ocean due to its wide distribution and particular lifestyles. Nevertheless, diversity and its variation have yet to be investigated, and even basic information for large areas such as the eastern tropical Pacific (ETP) is still lacking. The present contribution explores α, β, and γ-diversity patterns of Ophiuroidea from the ETP at four spatial scales (Operational Geographic Units, Ecoregions, Provinces, and Realms). Based on literature records, databases, and scientific collections, an occurrence matrix was constructed for 69 shallow water (0–200 m) Ophiuroidea of the ETP (Mexico–Peru). Diversity evaluation based on rarefaction curves indicated that the observed richness tends to reach the asymptote. At the province and the ecoregion levels, β-diversity was the most important component explaining γ-diversity. The components that mainly contributed to the differentiation between provinces and ecoregions were the intersection of nestedness and β-diversity. PERMANOVA and SIMPER results showed that species composition presented significant differences at all spatial levels. The PCO ordination indicated that the first component (PCO1) explained the variation in species composition in a longitudinal gradient between coastal and oceanic ecoregions, while PCO2 showed a latitudinal gradient. The shade plot yielded three clusters (northern, southern, and widely distributed species). In general, α-diversity was explained by differences in sampling effort and methods; in contrast, β-diversity and its components were mainly explained by patterns and processes occurring at different spatial scales (provinces and ecoregions) such as oceanographic conditions, geographic extension, dispersal, and environmental heterogeneity. This work represents the first attempt to analyze the distribution patterns of shallow-water Ophiuroidea from the ETP.

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.

Kopperud, B. T., S. Lidgard, and L. H. Liow. 2022. Enhancing georeferenced biodiversity inventories: automated information extraction from literature records reveal the gaps. PeerJ 10: e13921.

We use natural language processing (NLP) to retrieve location data for cheilostome bryozoan species (text-mined occurrences (TMO)) in an automated procedure. We compare these results with data combined from two major public databases (DB): the Ocean Biodiversity Information System (OBIS), and the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF). Using DB and TMO data separately and in combination, we present latitudinal species richness curves using standard estimators (Chao2 and the Jackknife) and range-through approaches. Our combined DB and TMO species richness curves quantitatively document a bimodal global latitudinal diversity gradient for extant cheilostomes for the first time, with peaks in the temperate zones. A total of 79% of the georeferenced species we retrieved from TMO (N = 1,408) and DB (N = 4,549) are non-overlapping. Despite clear indications that global location data compiled for cheilostomes should be improved with concerted effort, our study supports the view that many marine latitudinal species richness patterns deviate from the canonical latitudinal diversity gradient (LDG). Moreover, combining online biodiversity databases with automated information retrieval from the published literature is a promising avenue for expanding taxon-location datasets.

Yousefi, M., R. Naderloo, and A. Keikhosravi. 2022. Freshwater crabs of the Near East: Increased extinction risk from climate change and underrepresented within protected areas. Global Ecology and Conservation 38: e02266.

Climate change is known as an important threat to biodiversity, particularly for freshwater organisms as they have limited dispersal ability. Freshwater crabs are ecologically important freshwater macro-invertebrates and play a key role in their ecosystem. In this study we used an ensemble approach using three machine learning methods (Generalised Boosted Models, Maximum Entropy modeling, Random Forest) and assessed the impacts of climate change on the distribution of eight freshwater crabs (Potamon elbursi, P. fluviatile, P. hippocratis, P. ibericum, P. pelops, P. persicum, P. potamios, P. strouhali) and estimated the protected area coverage for their suitable habitats under current and future climate predictions. We found that the suitable habitats of six species will decrease (P. elbursi, P. fluviatile, P. hippocratis, P. pelops, P. potamios and P. strouhali) while the other two species (P. ibericum and P. persicum) will gain new suitable habitats due to climate change. Loss of suitable habitat would be substantial for the P. hippocratis and P. elbursi as these species will lose 92 %–100 % and 75 %–100 % of their suitable habitats by 2070, respectively. Additionally, P. fluviatile and P. pelops will lose 70 %–95 % and 81 %–86 % of their current suitable habitat, respectively. Thus, they are particularly sensitive to climate change. We showed that a very small proportion (<1 %) of each species’ current suitable habitat is covered by protected areas ranging from zero in P. elbursi, P. persicum and P. strouhali to 0.96 % in P. fluviatile. Under both climate change models P. elbursi, P. hippocratis and P. potamios will not have protected habitat in the future. Suitable habitats identified to remain stable under climate change will play a critical role in conservation of these freshwater species and will act as climate change refugia.

Bosso, L., S. Smeraldo, D. Russo, M. L. Chiusano, G. Bertorelle, K. Johannesson, R. K. Butlin, et al. 2022. The rise and fall of an alien: why the successful colonizer Littorina saxatilis failed to invade the Mediterranean Sea. Biological Invasions.

Understanding what determines range expansion or extinction is crucial to predict the success of biological invaders. We tackled this long-standing question from an unparalleled perspective using the failed expansions in Littorina saxatilis and investigated its present and past habitat suitability in Europe through Ecological Niche Modelling. This intertidal snail is a typically successful Atlantic colonizer and the earliest confirmed alien species in the Mediterranean Sea, where, however, it failed to thrive despite its high dispersal ability and adaptability. We explored the environmental constraints affecting its biogeography, identified potential glacial refugia in Europe that fuelled its post-glacial colonisations and tested whether the current gaps in its distribution are linked to local ecological features. Our results suggested that L. saxatilis is unlikely to be a glacial relict in the Mediterranean basin. Multiple Atlantic glacial refugia occurred in the Last Glacial Maximum, and abiotic environmental features such as salinity and water temperature have influenced the past and current distributions of this snail and limited its invasion of the Mediterranean Sea. The snail showed a significant overlap in geographic space and ecological niche with Carcinus maenas , the Atlantic predator, but distinct from Pachygrapsus marmoratus , the Mediterranean predator, further pointing to Atlantic-like habitat requirements for this species. Abiotic constrains during introduction rather than dispersal abilities have shaped the past and current range of L. saxatilis and help explaining why some invasions have not been successful. Our findings contribute to clarifying the processes constraining or facilitating shifts in species’ distributions and biological invasions.

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.