Science Enabled by Specimen Data

Arana, C., V. Pulido, A. Arana, A. Carlos, and L. Salinas. 2022. Distribución geográfica y abundancia poblacional de Plegadis ridgwayi, el ibis de la Puna (Threskiornithidae) con énfasis en las poblaciones del Perú. Revista Peruana de Biología 29: e22533. https://doi.org/10.15381/rpb.v29i3.22533

El ibis de la puna Plegadis ridgwayi, es una especie de Threskiornithidae que habita humedales andinos y realiza migraciones altitudinales hacia la costa. Datos propios, de GBIF, información bibliográfica y del Censo Neotropical de Aves Acuáticas (1992 a 2015) muestran que el ibis de la puna Plegadis ridgwayi se distribuye en Ecuador, Perú, Bolivia, Argentina y Chile, con las mayores densidades poblacionales en Perú y Bolivia en siete y tres localidades respectivamente, que acumulan más del 1% de la población biogeográfica. Se encuentran de 0 a 5000 m de altitud, con las mayores densidades entre 3000 a 4500 m y 0 a 500 m. La mayor incidencia de registros ocurre al sur y centro del Perú, así como costa del centro y norte del Perú. La ampliación de la distribución hacia el norte y costa peruana puede deberse a la disponibilidad ambiental y al deterioro de su hábitat andino. En cuatro humedales costeros del centro del Perú se registraron hasta 818 ibis en 2006, la gran mayoría en Pantanos de Villa y Paraíso. El número de migrantes costeros parece relacionado a la intensidad de sequías en la sierra del Perú central. La abundancia de ibis en el lago altoandino de Junín muestra una disminución histórica, con énfasis después de la sequía de 2004-2005. La expansión distribucional requiere investigar la posible hibridación con las otras especies del género antes alopátridas.

Koli, V. K., A. K. Jangid, and C. P. Singh. 2022. Habitat suitability mapping of the Indian giant flying squirrel (Petaurista philippensis Elliot, 1839) in India with ensemble modeling. Acta Ecologica Sinica. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chnaes.2022.08.001

Flying squirrels are one of the least studied mammalian taxa in South Asia as well as in India owing to their nocturnal, arboreal and cryptic nature. We applied ensemble species distribution modeling using BIOMOD2 (ver 1.0) R-package to predict the suitable habitat of the Indian giant flying squirrel (Petaurista philippensis, Elliot 1839) in Indian biogeographic regions and states, and to identify the physical variables that define its fundamental niche. A subset of least correlated variables from bioclimatic (mean diurnal temperature range, temperature isothermality, precipitation of wettest month, precipitation of driest month and precipitation of warmest quarter, and precipitation of coldest quarter), topographic (elevation), water-related (distance to major water streams), and vegetation-related (NDVI, and vegetation height) data sets were used in the modeling. The accuracy of the final ensemble habitat suitability model was characterized by the receiver operating characteristic curve (ROC) and true skill statistic (TSS). In India, a total of highly suitable habitat for the species was estimated to be 66,743 sq. km, varying between states and biogeographic regions. Final model revealed that predictive suitable habitat of the species was limited primarily to the southern peninsula, including the Western Ghats, the Deccan peninsula, and the semi-arid region, and to a lesser extent, the coastal areas of the Kerala state. At the state level, majority of suitable habitat for the species estimated in Kerala followed by Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, and Madhya Pradesh. Climatic factors, particularly temperature and precipitation, have been identified as major determinants of Indian giant flying squirrel's potential habitat. We suggest that several new areas in the modeling that showed suitable habitat for the species necessitate immediate attention to validate species occurrence through field work. Extensive further studies on the species could also provide a detailed insight into the species' dispersion, colonization and the effect of future climate change in the Indian subcontinent.

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. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gecco.2022.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.

Sánchez, C. A., H. Li, K. L. Phelps, C. Zambrana-Torrelio, L.-F. Wang, P. Zhou, Z.-L. Shi, et al. 2022. A strategy to assess spillover risk of bat SARS-related coronaviruses in Southeast Asia. Nature Communications 13. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-022-31860-w

Emerging diseases caused by coronaviruses of likely bat origin (e.g., SARS, MERS, SADS, COVID-19) have disrupted global health and economies for two decades. Evidence suggests that some bat SARS-related coronaviruses (SARSr-CoVs) could infect people directly, and that their spillover is more frequent than previously recognized. Each zoonotic spillover of a novel virus represents an opportunity for evolutionary adaptation and further spread; therefore, quantifying the extent of this spillover may help target prevention programs. We derive current range distributions for known bat SARSr-CoV hosts and quantify their overlap with human populations. We then use probabilistic risk assessment and data on human-bat contact, human viral seroprevalence, and antibody duration to estimate that a median of 66,280 people (95% CI: 65,351–67,131) are infected with SARSr-CoVs annually in Southeast Asia. These data on the geography and scale of spillover can be used to target surveillance and prevention programs for potential future bat-CoV emergence. Coronaviruses may spill over from bats to humans. This study uses epidemiological data, species distribution models, and probabilistic risk assessment to map overlap among people and SARSr-CoV bat hosts and estimate how many people are infected with bat-origin SARSr-CoVs in Southeast Asia annually.

Zhang, Q.-C., J.-G. Wang, and Y.-H. Lei. 2022. Predicting Distribution of the Asian Longhorned Beetle, Anoplophora glabripennis (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae) and Its Natural Enemies in China. Insects 13: 687. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects13080687

The Asian longhorned beetle, Anoplophora glabripennis, is a forestry pest found worldwide. A. glabripennis causes serious harm because of the lack of natural enemies in the invaded areas. Dastarcus helophoroides and Dendrocopos major are important natural enemies of A. glabripennis. MaxEnt was used to simulate the distribution of D. helophoroides and D. major in China, and their suitable areas were superimposed to pinpoint which regions are potentially appropriate to release or establish natural enemy populations under current and future conditions. The results showed that, with climate change, the suitable areas of D. helophoroides and D. major migrated northward; the centroid shift of A. glabripennis was greater than those of D. helophoroides and D. major. From current conditions to 2090, the suitable area of A. glabripennis, D. helophoroides, and D. major will increase by 1.44 × 104, 20.10 × 104, and 31.64 × 104 km2, respectively. Northern China (e.g., Xinjiang, Gansu, and Inner Mongolia), where A. glabripennis causes more serious damage, is also a potentially suitable area for D. helophoroides and D. major, and this provides a potential strategy for the management of A. glabripennis. Therefore, we suggest that natural enemies should be included in the model used for predicting suitable areas for invasive pests.

Sumbh, O., and A. R. Hof. 2022. Can pikas hold the umbrella? Understanding the current and future umbrella potential of keystone species Pika (Ochotona spp.). Global Ecology and Conservation 38: e02247. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gecco.2022.e02247

The umbrella species concept is a frequently used concept in conservation since the conservation of an umbrella species may benefit other species. Keystone species are often suggested as potential umbrella species, but the validity of this approach remains uncertain. Moreover, climate change can have a multidirectional effect on the distribution of species, in which the distribution of umbrella species can be affected differently than that of beneficiary species. The validity of applying the umbrella species concept in conservation may thus be jeopardized by climate change. This study assessed the potential of two keystone species, the plateau pika (Ochotona curzoniae) and the Daurian pika (Ochotona dauurica), to be umbrella species for 13 potentially beneficiary species under current and future environmental conditions. Of these 13 species, five currently only co-occur with the plateau pika, five only with the Daurian pika, and three with both pika species. Current and future distributions of the pika species and potentially beneficiary species were predicted using bioclimatic and land-use variables. Range overlaps, Pearson correlations, niche similarity tests and relative suitability tests were performed to assess the umbrella potential of both pika species. Our results show that at present, both pika species may be considered to be umbrella species, benefitting several co-occurring species. However, species that currently co-occur with both pika species will not benefit from conservation of either of the pikas in the future years under climate change scenarios. The plateau pika loses its potential to act as umbrella species for two of the four species which currently may benefit. We can conclude that keystone species like pikas can act as umbrella species for carefully selected potentially beneficiary species under current conditions. Due to climate change related shifts in species distributions, they may however lose their umbrella species status in the future, which should be considered when selecting species conservation strategies.

SUTTON, L. J., L.-A. R. DE ROLAND, R. THORSTROM, and C. J. W. MCCLURE. 2022. Distribution and habitat use of the Madagascar Peregrine Falcon: first estimates for area of habitat and population size. Bird Conservation International: 1–17. https://doi.org/10.1017/s0959270921000587

Summary Accurately demarcating distributions of biological taxa has long been at the core of ecology. Yet our understanding of the factors defining species range limits is incomplete, especially for tropical species in the Global South. Human-driven threats to the survival of many taxa are increasing, particularly habitat loss and climate change. Identifying distributional range limits of at-risk and data-limited species using Species Distribution Models (SDMs) can thus inform spatial conservation planning to mitigate these threats. The Madagascar Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus radama is the resident sub-species of the Peregrine Falcon complex distributed across Madagascar, Mayotte, and the Comoros Islands. There are currently significant knowledge gaps regarding its distribution, habitat preferences, and population size. Here, we use penalized logistic regression and environmental ordination to identify Madagascar Peregrine Falcon habitat in both geographic and environmental space and propose a population size estimate based on inferred habitat. From the penalized logistic regression model, the core habitat area of the Madagascar Peregrine Falcon extends across the central and northern upland plateau of Madagascar with patchier habitat across coastal and low-elevation areas. Range-wide habitat use in both geographic and environmental space indicated positive associations with high elevation and aridity, coupled with high vegetation heterogeneity and &gt;95% herbaceous landcover, but general avoidance of areas &gt;30% cultivated land and &gt;10% mosaic forest. Based on inferred high-class habitat from the penalized logistic regression model, we estimate this habitat area could potentially support a population size ranging between 150 and 300 pairs. Following IUCN Red List guidelines, this subspecies would be classed as ‘Vulnerable’ due to its small population size. Despite its potentially large range, the Madagascar Peregrine Falcon has specialised habitat requirements and would benefit from targeted conservation measures based on spatial models to maintain viable populations.

Dong, F., Q. Zhang, Y. Chen, F. Lei, S. Li, F. Wu, and X. Yang. 2022. Potential millennial‐scale avian declines by humans in southern China. Global Change Biology 28: 5505–5513. https://doi.org/10.1111/gcb.16289

Mounting observational records demonstrate human‐caused faunal decline in recent decades, while accumulating archaeological evidence suggests an early biodiversity impact of human activities during the Holocene. A fundamental question arises concerning whether modern wildlife population declines began during early human disturbance. Here, we performed population genomic analysis of six common forest birds in East Asia to address this question. For five of them, demographic history inference based on 25‐33 genomes of each species revealed dramatic population declines by 4‐48‐fold over millennia (e.g., two to five thousand years ago). Nevertheless, Summary statistics detected nonsignificant correlations between these population size trajectories and Holocene temperature variations, and ecological niche models explicitly predicted extensive range persistence during the Holocene, implying limited demographic consequence of Holocene climate change. Further analyses suggest high negative correlations between the reconstructed population declines and human disturbance intensities and indicate a potential driver of human activities. These findings provide a deep‐time and large‐scale insight into the recently recognized avifaunal decline and support an early origin hypothesis of human effects on biodiversity. Overall, our study sheds light on the current biodiversity crisis in the context of long‐term human‐environment interactions and offers a multievidential framework for quantitatively assessing the ecological consequences of human disturbance.

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. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41597-022-01323-4

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

Yang, W., Y. Ma, L. Jing, S. Wang, Z. Sun, Y. Tang, and H. Li. 2022. Differential Impacts of Climatic and Land Use Changes on Habitat Suitability and Protected Area Adequacy across the Asian Elephant’s Range. Sustainability 14: 4933. https://doi.org/10.3390/su14094933

Climate change and human activities have caused dramatic impacts on biodiversity. Although a number of international agreements or initiatives have been launched to mitigate the biodiversity loss, the erosion of terrestrial biome habitats is inevitable. Consequently, the identification of potential suitable habitats under climate change and human disturbance has become an urgent task of biodiversity conservation. In this study, we used the maximum entropy model (MaxEnt) to identify the current and potential future habitats of Asian elephants in South and Southeast Asia. We performed analyses for future projections with 17 scenarios using the present results as baseline. To optimize the modelling results, we delineated the core habitats by using the Core Mapper Tool and compared them with existing protected areas (PAs) through gap analysis. The results showed that the current total area of core habitats is 491,455 km2 in size and will be reduced to 332,544 km2 by 2090 under SSP585 (the shared socioeconomic pathway). The projection analysis under differential scenarios suggested that most of the core habitats in the current protected areas would remain stable and suitable for elephants in the future. However, the remaining 75.17% of the core habitats lay outside the current PAs, and finally we mapped approximately 219,545 km2 of suitable habitats as priority protected areas in the future. Although our model did not perform well in some regions, our analyses and findings still could provide useful references to the planning of protected areas and conservation of Asian elephant.