Science Enabled by Specimen Data

Liu, S., S. Xia, D. Wu, J. E. Behm, Y. Meng, H. Yuan, P. Wen, et al. 2022. Understanding global and regional patterns of termite diversity and regional functional traits. iScience: 105538.

Our understanding of broad-scale biodiversity and functional trait patterns is largely based on plants, and relatively little information is available on soil arthropods. Here, we investigated the distribution of termite diversity globally and morphological traits and diversity across China. Our analyses showed increasing termite species richness with decreasing latitude at both the globally, and within-China. Additionally, we detected obvious latitudinal trends in the mean community value of termite morphological traits on average, with body size and leg length decreasing with increasing latitude. Furthermore, temperature, NDVI and water variables were the most important drivers controlling the variation in termite richness, and temperature and soil properties were key drivers of the geographic distribution of termite morphological traits. Our global termite richness map is one of the first high resolution maps for any arthropod group and especially given the functional importance of termites, our work provides a useful baseline for further ecological analysis.

Inman, R. D., T. C. Esque, and K. E. Nussear. 2022. Dispersal limitations increase vulnerability under climate change for reptiles and amphibians in the southwestern United States. The Journal of Wildlife Management.

Species conservation plans frequently rely on information that spans political and administrative boundaries, especially when predictions are needed of future habitat under climate change; however, most species conservation plans and their requisite predictions of future habitat are often limited in geographical scope. Moreover, dispersal constraints for species of concern are not often incorporated into distribution models, which can result in overly optimistic predictions of future habitat. We used a standard modeling approach across a suite of 23 taxa of amphibians and reptiles in the North American deserts (560,024 km2 across 13 ecoregions) to assess impacts of climate change on habitat and combined landscape population dispersal simulations with species distribution modeling to reduce the risk of predicting future habitat in areas that are not available to species given their dispersal abilities. We used 3 general circulation models and 2 representative concentration pathways (RCPs) to represent multiple scenarios of future habitat potential and assess which study species may be most vulnerable to changes forecasted under each climate scenario. Amphibians were the most vulnerable taxa, but the most vulnerable species tended to be those with the lowest dispersal ability rather than those with the most specialized niches. Under the most optimistic climate scenario considered (RCP 2.6; a stringent scenario requiring declining emissions from 2020 to near zero emissions by 2100), 76% of the study area may experience a loss of >20% of the species examined, while up to 87% of the species currently present may be lost in some areas under the most pessimistic climate scenario (RCP 8.5; a scenario wherein greenhouse gases continue to increase through 2100 based on trajectories from the mid‐century). Most areas with high losses were concentrated in the Arizona and New Mexico Plateau ecoregion, the Edwards Plateau in Texas, and the Southwestern Tablelands in New Mexico and Texas, USA. Under the most pessimistic climate scenario, all species are predicted to lose some existing habitat, with an average of 34% loss of extant habitat across all species. Even under the most optimistic scenario, we detected an average loss of 24% of extant habitat across all species, suggesting that changing climates may influence the ranges of reptiles and amphibians in the Southwest.

Oliveira-Dalland, L. G., L. R. V. Alencar, L. R. Tambosi, P. A. Carrasco, R. M. Rautsaw, J. Sigala-Rodriguez, G. Scrocchi, and M. Martins. 2022. Conservation gaps for Neotropical vipers: Mismatches between protected areas, species richness and evolutionary distinctiveness. Biological Conservation 275: 109750.

The continuous decline in biodiversity despite global efforts to create new protected areas calls into question the effectiveness of these areas in conserving biodiversity. Numerous habitats are absent from the global protected area network, and certain taxonomic groups are not being included in conservation planning. Here, we analyzed the level of protection that the current protected area system provides to viper species in the Neotropical region through a conservation gap analysis. We used distribution size and degree of threat to set species-specific conservation goals for 123 viper species in the form of minimum percentage of their distribution that should be covered by protected areas, and assessed the level of protection provided for each species by overlapping their distribution with protected areas of strict protection. Furthermore, using species richness and evolutionary distinctiveness as priority indicators, we conducted a spatial association analysis to detect areas of special concern. We found that most viper species have <1/4 of their distribution covered by protected areas, including 22 threatened species. Also, the large majority of cells containing high levels of species richness were significantly absent from protected areas, while evolutionary distinctiveness was particularly unprotected in regions with relatively low species richness, like northern Mexico and the Argentinian dry Chaco. Our results provide further evidence that vipers are largely being excluded from conservation planning, leaving them exposed to serious threats that can lead to population decline and ultimately extinction.

Gonzalez, B., F. Brook, and G. M. Martin. 2022. Updated distribution and conservation perspectives of marmosine opossums from Colombia. Hystrix the Italian Journal of Mammalogy 33: 0.

Marmosini is the most speciose marsupial tribe of Colombia with 19 species, but basic aspects of their biology remains unknown, including information on their distribution and conservation. The main objectives of this work were to study Marmosini species richness, potential distribution, and conservation throughout Colombia. To achieve this, we generated ecological niche models in a reproducible framework, in which we tested the use of different combinations of environmental data (WorldClim, ENVIREM, modified soil adjusted vegetation index (MSAVI)), modeling areas, cross-validation methods, and evaluation metrics using our data from Colombian Marmosini. Models for each species were explored for shared environmental and conservation patterns across all species, and using ecological and human-related (e.g., protected areas) data specific to Colombia. We found models that included WorldClim, ENVIREM and MSAVI variables, and modeling areas based on ecoregions performed better with our sample. Precipitation variables were more important for 8 species, while temperature variables were more important in 5 species, and topographic variables were important in the remaining species. Marmosini species’ potential distribution covers 91% of the country's continental area, and the protected area for any species of this group ranges between 5.4% and 29% of their modeled distribution. Most protected areas classified as strict-conservation presented small areas of high human pressure, while other categories (e.g., managed resources) presented large areas of high human pressure. We found that high potential species richness of Marmosini occurs at mid-elevations on the Andes with an upper elevation limit of maximum richness at ~ 2000 m. These species distributions are poorly covered by the natural protected areas of Colombia. We identified the transition zone between the Eastern Andes and Amazonian regions as a key area for conservation efforts in these little known marsupials.

Zumbado-Ulate, H., K. Neam, A. García-Rodríguez, L. Ochoa-Ochoa, G. Chaves, J. E. Kolby, S. Granados-Martínez, et al. 2022. Ecological correlates of extinction risk and persistence of direct-developing stream-dwelling frogs in Mesoamerica. Global Ecology and Conservation 38: e02197.

Understanding the threats to wildlife across space and time is essential for developing effective conservation strategies. In Mesoamerica (i.e., the region that extends from Central Mexico to the most southern point in Panama) at least 40% of amphibian species declined between the late 1970s and the early 2000s. Most of these declines have been linked with the destruction of suitable habitats for amphibians as well as the introduction and spread of the fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, the causal agent of the disease known as chytridiomycosis. In this study, we quantified geographic and elevational ranges for direct-developing, stream-dwelling frog species (DSFS) in Mesoamerica. Within the range of each DSFS, we estimated the extent of suitable area for the occurrence of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis and the types of land use to quantify habitat deterioration. To date, 33% of DSFS remain undetected since 2005 or before. At the regional level (i.e., Mesoamerica), as in previous studies, we found that narrow geographic and elevational ranges increased vulnerability to extinction. Nevertheless, the ranges of 83% of DSFS were composed of 50% or more high-quality habitats between the 1980s and 2005, when most species declined. We also found that on average, 80% of the range of each species currently overlaps with predicted suitable areas for the occurrence of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis. At the local and site level (i.e., focusing on two species ranges where extensive monitoring has been conducted even before decline occurred), we found that the present suitable habitat for Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis corresponded with the reduction in predicted habitat suitability and climatic niche of DSFS. We also found that the location of remnant populations can be predicted by environmental factors, which can help identify regions where remnant populations of these declined species and others with similar ecology may occur. Combined, results from our regional and local analyses support the idea that Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis was the main driver of DSFS declines and of the current lack of recent observations of fifteen DSFS. We used our results to propose specific actions for all DSFS included in this study. This study highlights the importance of considering multiple threats and spatial scales when assessing the status of declined and threatened species.

Monroy-Gamboa, A. G. 2022. Differences between Northern and Southern Female Coyotes. Western North American Naturalist 82.

The coyote (Canis latrans) has a wide distribution range, spanning boreal forests from the north of the continent to tropical environments in Central America, showing great adaptation and plasticity. Bergmann's rule states that individuals inhabiting colder climates are larger than those in warmer climates. It is suggested that in carnivore species, litter size is influenced by allometric constraints such as maternal body size. The aim of this study is to analyze the relations using correlation between female coyote mass, latitude, and litter size. Using data compiled from the literature, I carried out statistical analyses to correlate female body size, litter size, and latitude for coyotes across their distribution range. The results indicated a soft significant correlation between female body size and latitude, confirming Bergmann's rule. However, no significant correlation was found between litter size and latitude or between litter size and female body size; litter size in coyotes remains roughly uniform across their distribution range.

Boyd, R. J., M. A. Aizen, R. M. Barahona‐Segovia, L. Flores‐Prado, F. E. Fontúrbel, T. M. Francoy, M. Lopez‐Aliste, et al. 2022. Inferring trends in pollinator distributions across the Neotropics from publicly available data remains challenging despite mobilization efforts Y. Fourcade [ed.],. Diversity and Distributions 28: 1404–1415.

Aim Aggregated species occurrence data are increasingly accessible through public databases for the analysis of temporal trends in the geographic distributions of species. However, biases in these data present challenges for statistical inference. We assessed potential biases in data available through GBIF on the occurrences of four flower-visiting taxa: bees (Anthophila), hoverflies (Syrphidae), leaf-nosed bats (Phyllostomidae) and hummingbirds (Trochilidae). We also assessed whether and to what extent data mobilization efforts improved our ability to estimate trends in species' distributions. Location The Neotropics. Methods We used five data-driven heuristics to screen the data for potential geographic, temporal and taxonomic biases. We began with a continental-scale assessment of the data for all four taxa. We then identified two recent data mobilization efforts (2021) that drastically increased the quantity of records of bees collected in Chile available through GBIF. We compared the dataset before and after the addition of these new records in terms of their biases and estimated trends in species' distributions. Results We found evidence of potential sampling biases for all taxa. The addition of newly-mobilized records of bees in Chile decreased some biases but introduced others. Despite increasing the quantity of data for bees in Chile sixfold, estimates of trends in species' distributions derived using the postmobilization dataset were broadly similar to what would have been estimated before their introduction, albeit more precise. Main conclusions Our results highlight the challenges associated with drawing robust inferences about trends in species' distributions using publicly available data. Mobilizing historic records will not always enable trend estimation because more data do not necessarily equal less bias. Analysts should carefully assess their data before conducting analyses: this might enable the estimation of more robust trends and help to identify strategies for effective data mobilization. Our study also reinforces the need for targeted monitoring of pollinators worldwide.

Rautsaw, R. M., G. Jiménez-Velázquez, E. P. Hofmann, L. R. V. Alencar, C. I. Grünwald, M. Martins, P. Carrasco, et al. 2022. VenomMaps: Updated species distribution maps and models for New World pitvipers (Viperidae: Crotalinae). Scientific Data 9.

Beyond providing critical information to biologists, species distributions are useful for naturalists, curious citizens, and applied disciplines including conservation planning and medical intervention. Venomous snakes are one group that highlight the importance of having accurate information given their cosmopolitan distribution and medical significance. Envenomation by snakebite is considered a neglected tropical disease by the World Health Organization and venomous snake distributions are used to assess vulnerability to snakebite based on species occurrence and antivenom/healthcare accessibility. However, recent studies highlighted the need for updated fine-scale distributions of venomous snakes. Pitvipers (Viperidae: Crotalinae) are responsible for >98% of snakebites in the New World. Therefore, to begin to address the need for updated fine-scale distributions, we created VenomMaps, a database and web application containing updated distribution maps and species distribution models for all species of New World pitvipers. With these distributions, biologists can better understand the biogeography and conservation status of this group, researchers can better assess vulnerability to snakebite, and medical professionals can easily discern species found in their area. Measurement(s) Species Distributions Technology Type(s) Geographic Information System • Species Distribution Model (MaxEnt/kuenm) Factor Type(s) Occurrence Records • Environmental Data Sample Characteristic - Organism Crotalinae Sample Characteristic - Location North America • South America

Pang, S. E. H., Y. Zeng, J. D. T. Alban, and E. L. Webb. 2022. Occurrence–habitat mismatching and niche truncation when modelling distributions affected by anthropogenic range contractions B. Leroy [ed.],. Diversity and Distributions 28: 1327–1343.

Aims Human-induced pressures such as deforestation cause anthropogenic range contractions (ARCs). Such contractions present dynamic distributions that may engender data misrepresentations within species distribution models. The temporal bias of occurrence data—where occurrences represent distributions before (past bias) or after (recent bias) ARCs—underpins these data misrepresentations. Occurrence–habitat mismatching results when occurrences sampled before contractions are modelled with contemporary anthropogenic variables; niche truncation results when occurrences sampled after contractions are modelled without anthropogenic variables. Our understanding of their independent and interactive effects on model performance remains incomplete but is vital for developing good modelling protocols. Through a virtual ecologist approach, we demonstrate how these data misrepresentations manifest and investigate their effects on model performance. Location Virtual Southeast Asia. Methods Using 100 virtual species, we simulated ARCs with 100-year land-use data and generated temporally biased (past and recent) occurrence datasets. We modelled datasets with and without a contemporary land-use variable (conventional modelling protocols) and with a temporally dynamic land-use variable. We evaluated each model's ability to predict historical and contemporary distributions. Results Greater ARC resulted in greater occurrence–habitat mismatching for datasets with past bias and greater niche truncation for datasets with recent bias. Occurrence–habitat mismatching prevented models with the contemporary land-use variable from predicting anthropogenic-related absences, causing overpredictions of contemporary distributions. Although niche truncation caused underpredictions of historical distributions (environmentally suitable habitats), incorporating the contemporary land-use variable resolved these underpredictions, even when mismatching occurred. Models with the temporally dynamic land-use variable consistently outperformed models without. Main conclusions We showed how these data misrepresentations can degrade model performance, undermining their use for empirical research and conservation science. Given the ubiquity of ARCs, these data misrepresentations are likely inherent to most datasets. Therefore, we present a three-step strategy for handling data misrepresentations: maximize the temporal range of anthropogenic predictors, exclude mismatched occurrences and test for residual data misrepresentations.

Pomoim, N., Y. Trisurat, A. C. Hughes, and R. T. Corlett. 2022. Can Thailand Protect 30% of Its Land Area for Biodiversity, and Will This Be Enough? Diversity 14: 344.

The draft post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework asks CBD parties to conserve at least 30% of the planet by 2030 ‘through a well-connected and effective system of protected areas … with the focus on areas particularly important for biodiversity’. We use Thailand as a case study for the ability of a densely populated, hyper diverse, tropical, middle-income country to meet this target at a national level. Existing protected areas (PAs) total 24.3% of Thailand’s land area. Adding forest on government land adjacent to existing PAs, plus unprotected areas of Ramsar sites, raises this to 29.5%. To assess the importance for biodiversity, we used modeled distributions of birds and mammals plus, as proxies for other biodiversity components, elevation, bioclimate, forest type, and WWF ecoregion. All modeled species occur in the current PA system but <30% meet representation targets. Expansion of the system increases the proportion of mammals and birds adequately protected and increases the protection for underrepresented bioclimatic zones and forest types. The expanded system remains fragmented and underrepresents key habitats, but opportunities for increasing protection of these are limited. It is also still vulnerable to climate change, although projected impacts are reduced. Additional protection is needed for wetland and coastal habitats, and limestone karsts.