Science Enabled by Specimen Data

DuBose, T. P., V. Catalan, C. E. Moore, V. R. Farallo, A. L. Benson, J. L. Dade, W. A. Hopkins, and M. C. Mims. 2024. Thermal Traits of Anurans Database for the Southeastern United States (TRAD): A Database of Thermal Trait Values for 40 Anuran Species. Ichthyology & Herpetology 112. https://doi.org/10.1643/h2022102

Thermal traits, or how an animal responds to changing temperatures, impacts species persistence and thus biodiversity. Trait databases, as repositories of consolidated, measured organismal attributes, allow researchers to link study species with specific trait values, enabling comparisons within and among species. Trait databases also help lay the groundwork to build mechanistic linkages between organisms and the environment. However, missing or hidden physiological trait data preclude building mechanistic estimates of climate change vulnerability for many species. Thus, physiologically focused trait databases present an opportunity to consolidate data and enable species-specific or multispecies, mechanistic evaluations of climate change vulnerability. Here, we present TRAD: thermal traits of anurans database for the southeastern United States, a database of thermal trait values related to physiological thermoregulation (critical thermal minima and maxima, preferred temperature), behavioral thermoregulation (activity period, retreat emergence temperature, basking temperature, minimum and maximum foraging temperatures), and body mass for 37 anuran species found within the southeastern United States. In total, TRAD contains 858 reported trait values for 37 of 40 species found in the region from 267 peer-reviewed papers, dissertations, or theses and is easily linked with trait data available in ATraiU, an ecological trait database for anurans in the United States. TRAD contains trait values for multiple life stages and a summarization of interspecific adult trait values. Availability of trait data varied widely among traits and species. Estimates of mass were the most common trait values reported, with values available for 32 species. Behavioral trait values comprised 23% of our database, with activity period available for 34 species. We found the most trait values for Cope's Gray Treefrog (Dryophytes chrysoscelis), with at least one trait value for eight traits in the database. Conversely, species in the genus Pseudacris generally had the fewest trait values available. Species with the largest geographic range sizes also had the greatest coverage of data across traits (rho 5 0.75, P , 0.001). TRAD can aid studies of anuran response to changing temperatures, physiological niche space and limitations, and potential drivers of anuran geographic range limits, influencing our understanding of other ecological and evolutionary patterns and processes and enabling multispecies comparisons of potential risk and resilience in the face of climate change.

Scarpetta, S. G. 2024. A Palaeogene stem crotaphytid ( Aciprion formosum ) and the phylogenetic affinities of early fossil pleurodontan iguanians. Royal Society Open Science 11. https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.221139

Pleurodonta is an ancient, diverse clade of iguanian lizard distributed primarily in the Western Hemisphere. Although the clade is a frequent subject of systematic research, phylogenetic resolution among the major pleurodontan clades is elusive. That uncertainty has complicated the interpretations of many fossil pleurodontans. I describe a fossil skull of a pleurodontan lizard from the Palaeogene of Wyoming that was previously allocated to the puzzling taxon Aciprion formosum , and provide an updated morphological matrix for iguanian lizards. Phylogenetic analyses using Bayesian inference demonstrate that the fossil skull is the oldest and first definitive stem member of Crotaphytidae (collared and leopard lizards), establishing the presence of that clade in North America during the Palaeogene. I also discuss new or revised hypotheses for the relationships of several early pleurodontans. In particular, I examine potential evidence for crown-Pleurodonta in the Cretaceous of Mongolia ( Polrussia ), stem Pleurodonta in the Cretaceous of North America ( Magnuviator ) and a stem anole in the Eocene of North America ( Afairiguana ). I suggest that the placement of the fossil crotaphytid is stable to the uncertain phylogeny of Pleurodonta, but recognize the dynamic nature of fossil diagnosis and the potential for updated systematic hypotheses for the other fossils analysed here.

Gherghel, I., and R. A. Martin. 2024. Biotic interactions vary across species’ ranges and are likely conserved through geological time. Journal of Biogeography. https://doi.org/10.1111/jbi.14794

Aim The evolutionary interactions between western spadefoot toads (genus Spea) represent a textbook example of character displacement, facilitated by dietary specialization of one Spea species on fairy shrimp (Anostraca) when all three co‐occur. The aim of this study is to understand the covariation between predator (Spea) and prey (Anostraca) range shifts in response to climate change oscillations, and whether biotic interactions can be used to project species distribution models on different time scales when studying species with dietary specialization. Taxon: Amphibia: Spea spp. and Crustacea: Anostraca.LocationNorth America.MethodsUsing multiple modelling techniques, we first estimated the potential distribution of central and western North American fairy shrimp species (Crustacea: Anostraca) and two western spadefoot toad species (Spea bombifrons and Spea multiplicata). We then created a shrimp species richness map by aggregating individual species estimates. Third, we studied the relationship between the probability of spadefoot toad presence and fairy shrimp species richness during the present and Last Glacial Maximum conditions. Finally, we estimated the strength and direction of the co‐occurrence between spadefoot toads and fairy shrimp sampled at the level of entire predicted range and at the regional level (allopatric and sympatric).ResultsFirst, the same abiotic environmental variables shape spadefoot toad and fairy shrimp species' distributions in central and western North America across time. Second, areas of sympatry of Spea bombifrons and Spea multiplicata correspond with dry conditions and higher shrimp richness. Finally, the spatial patterns of predator–prey co‐occurrence are highly variable across geography, forming a spatial mosaic over the species' ranges.Main ConclusionPredator–prey relationships form a spatial mosaic across geography and species ranges. Including biotic interactions into species distribution estimates for organisms with dietary specialization is highly recommended. Biotic interactions can be projected across different time frames for organisms with dietary specialization as they are likely conserved.

Mu, C., and P. Li. 2023. Assessing the invasion risk of Chelydra serpentina in China under current and future climate change scenarios. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 11. https://doi.org/10.3389/fevo.2023.1277058

Chelydra serpentina, a species introduced to China for aquaculture purposes, is commonly found in its natural habitats within the country. The invasion of C. serpentina poses potential threats to both the biodiversity of China and human health. The potential distribution of C. serpentina has been simulated using the species distribution model – MaxEnt, incorporating global distribution data, climate, and land cover variables. Our simulations encompasses both current conditions and four future climate change scenarios. Currently, the potential distribution is concentrated in central, eastern, and southeastern regions of China, with the central and eastern regions facing the highest risk of invasion. Under future climate change scenarios, the distribution area may expand by 30–90%, and multiple provinces will face a more severe threat of invasion. This study presents the inaugural simulation of the potential invasion range of C. serpentina under current climatic conditions. Moreover, it reveals that climate change is likely to contribute to the expansion of its invasive range, thus furnishing a reference foundation for scientific prevention and control measures. We propose integrating citizen science and eDNA technologies into species monitoring to enhance the efficiency of detecting invasive species. This research has filled the gap in the research on the invasive distribution range of C. serpentina in China and globally, while also providing novel perspectives on the invasion control of this species.

Grether, G. F., A. E. Finneran, and J. P. Drury. 2023. Niche differentiation, reproductive interference, and range expansion. Ecology Letters. https://doi.org/10.1111/ele.14350

Understanding species distributions and predicting future range shifts requires considering all relevant abiotic factors and biotic interactions. Resource competition has received the most attention, but reproductive interference is another widespread biotic interaction that could influence species ranges. Rubyspot damselflies (Hetaerina spp.) exhibit a biogeographic pattern consistent with the hypothesis that reproductive interference has limited range expansion. Here, we use ecological niche models to evaluate whether this pattern could have instead been caused by niche differentiation. We found evidence for climatic niche differentiation, but the species that encounters the least reproductive interference has one of the narrowest and most peripheral niches. These findings strengthen the case that reproductive interference has limited range expansion and also provide a counterexample to the idea that release from negative species interactions triggers niche expansion. We propose that release from reproductive interference enables species to expand in range while specializing on the habitats most suitable for breeding.

Khlyap, L. A., A. A. Warshavsky, N. N. Dergunova, F. A. Osipov, and V. G. Petrosyan. 2023. The Most Dangerous Invasive Near-Water Mammals in Russia: Ensemble Models of Spatial Distribution. Russian Journal of Biological Invasions 14: 457–483. https://doi.org/10.1134/s2075111723030104

Abstract The potential ranges of three near-water (hereafter, semiaquatic) mammals included in the list of the 100 most dangerous invasive species of Russia (Сanadian beaver, muskrat, American mink) are presented. Maps of suitable habitats of species were created by ensemble modeling of spatial distribution of species (eSDM) on the basis of global species occurrence records in the native and invasive range and bioclimatic variables characterizing the current climate. An estimate of the effectiveness of constructing ensemble models in comparison with individual models (iSDM) is given. The results of analysis of consequences of invasions of semiaquatic mammals are presented and the features of control of number and limitation of their distribution in the future on the territory of Russia are considered. The patterns of formation of the invasive part of the range of alien semiaquatic mammals are summarized and suitable regions for their future invasions are predicted.

Lin, Z., Y. Hong, S. Chen, Q. Zhang, L. Han, W. Tu, Y. Du, et al. 2023. Emerging non-native amphibians require immediate prevention management in a megacity of South China. BioInvasions Records 12: 731–744. https://doi.org/10.3391/bir.2023.12.3.09

Biological invasion is one serious threat to global biodiversity, economics and sustainability. Under the era of globalization, emerging non-native species are still accelerating at an unprecedented rate. Identifying new field records of non-native species at early stages is critically important to develop effective prevention and management schemes. Here, we conducted field surveys and applied genetic analysis to identify new recordings of non-native amphibians in Shenzhen (a megacity of South China with enormous trade volume). We recorded a total of three non-native amphibians (Ceratophrys ornata, Hoplobatrachus rugulosus and Eleutherodactylus planirostris) in the field with two having establishment evidence (H. rugulosus and E. planirostris). Further ecological niche modeling based on climatic and habitat variables also detected a high habitat suitability of the two species with field establishment evidence and a low habitat suitability for the other three species (C. ornata, Rana catesbeiana and Xenopus laevis) lacking establishment evidence or field observation with only records in the market and database. We recommend more systematic surveys covering wider areas to investigate the establishment of non-native amphibians to stop their further invasions in China.

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. https://doi.org/10.1670/22-002

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.

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.

Villalobos Juárez, I., and E. García-Padilla. 2023. PRIMER REGISTRO DE LA VÍVORA DE CASCABEL PIGMEA Sistrurus miliarius PARA MÉXICO Y AMPLIACIÓN DE DISTRIBUCIÓN EN ESTADOS UNIDOS DE AMÉRICA. Revista Latinoamericana de Herpetología 6. https://doi.org/10.22201/fc.25942158e.2023.2.628

Registramos formalmente la presencia de la víbora de cascabel pigmea Sistrurus miliarius para México. El registro se realizó con base en el descubrimiento de un ejemplar fotografiado vivo en agosto de 2014 en un campo agrícola rodeado por vegetación nativa en el Ejido El Tecolote, municipio de Heroica Matamoros, Tamaulipas. Además, reportamos el hallazgo de una recolecta formal no publicada depositada en la colección de vertebrados de la Universidad de Cornell en Estados Unidos de América. Ambos registros aumentan la distribución de la especie aproximadamente 270 y 226 kilómetros respectivamente al suroeste de la localidad más cercana en el Condado de Refugio, Texas, E.U.A