Science Enabled by Specimen Data

Moore, M. P., and F. Khan. 2023. Relatively large wings facilitate life at higher elevations among Nearctic dragonflies. Journal of Animal Ecology.

Determining which traits allow species to live at higher elevations is essential to understanding the forces that shape montane biodiversity.For the many animals that rely on flight for locomotion, a long‐standing hypothesis is that species with relatively large wings should better persist in high‐elevation environments because wings that are large relative to the body generate more lift and decrease the aerobic costs of remaining aloft. Although these biomechanical and physiological predictions have received some support in birds, other flying taxa often possess smaller wings at high elevations or no wings at all.To test if predictions about the requirements for relative wing size at high elevations are generalizable beyond birds, we conducted macroecological analyses on the altitudinal characteristics of 302 Nearctic dragonfly species.Consistent with the biomechanical and aerobic hypotheses, species with relatively larger wings live at higher elevations and have wider elevation breadths—even after controlling for a species' body size, mean thermal conditions, and range size. Moreover, a species' relative wing size had nearly as large of an impact on its maximum elevation as being adapted to the cold.Relatively large wings may be essential to high‐elevation life in species that completely depend on flight for locomotion, like dragonflies or birds. With climate change forcing taxa to disperse upslope, our findings further suggest that relatively large wings could be a requirement for completely volant taxa to persist in montane habitats.

Pelletier, D., and J. R. K. Forrest. 2022. Pollen specialisation is associated with later phenology in Osmia bees (Hymenoptera: Megachilidae). Ecological Entomology.

Species exhibit a range of specialisation in diet and other niche axes, with specialists typically thought to be more efficient in resource use but more vulnerable to extinction than generalists. Among herbivorous insects, dietary specialists seem more likely to lack acceptable host plants during the insect's feeding stage, owing to fluctuations in host‐plant abundance or phenology. Like other herbivores, bee species vary in host breadth from pollen specialisation (oligolecty) to generalisation (polylecty).Several studies have shown greater interannual variation in flowering phenology for earlier‐flowering plants than later‐flowering plants, suggesting that early‐season bees may experience substantial year‐to‐year variation in the floral taxa available to them.It was therefore reasoned that, among bees, early phenology could be a more viable strategy for generalists, which can use resources from multiple floral taxa, than for specialists. Consequently, it was expected that the median dates of collection of adult specimens to be earlier for generalist species than for specialists. To test this, phenology data and pollen diet information on 67 North American species of the bee genus Osmia was obtained.Controlling for latitude and phylogeny, it was found that dietary generalisation is associated with significantly earlier phenology, with generalists active, on average, 11–14 days earlier than specialists.This result is consistent with the generalist strategy being more viable than the specialist strategy for species active in early spring, suggesting that dietary specialisation may constrain the evolution of bee phenology—or vice versa.

Pérez-Hernández, C. X., W. Dáttilo, A. M. Corona-López, V. H. Toledo-Hernández, and E. del-Val. 2022. Buprestid trophic guilds differ in their structural role shaping ecological networks with their host plants. Arthropod-Plant Interactions.

Plant–herbivore relationships involve a significant amount of global biodiversity within complex interaction networks. Buprestidae (Coleoptera) are highly specialized herbivores, and several species have important economic and ecological impacts. We used tools derived from network theory to evaluate the structure of a plant-buprestid metaweb at three different organizational levels (network, subnetwork, and species-levels) and test whether trophic guilds and taxa differ in their patterns within the network. We also tested whether taxonomically closely related buprestid species are more likely to share the same host plant species. We found that the plant-buprestid metaweb exhibits a non-nested and significantly highly modular pattern, and most buprestid and host plant species have specialized interactions. Florivorous buprestids showed the highest diversity of host preferences and, together with Fabaceae, were the most important for the network structure as they are highly connected species. Leaf-mining buprestids had the most extreme interaction pattern among trophic guilds, with high modularity and specialized interactions. We also found a low probability to share the same group of host plants among buprestids, which decreased with taxonomic distance. Our findings uncover patterns within a plant–herbivore network at large spatial scales and at different taxonomic levels, which are shaped by the diversity of host and resources preferences, more than taxonomic relatedness. Those network patterns might reflect different ecological roles for each trophic guild and taxa. We highlight the relevance of considering the diversity of feeding habits within networks of a single type of interaction and emphasize the importance of analyze network patterns at high levels of organization.

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.

RODRÍGUEZ-TAPIA, G., J. A. PRIETO-AMPARÁN, and A. CÓRDOBA-AGUILAR. 2022. Linking potential habitats of Odonata (Insecta) with changes in land use/land cover in Mexico. European Journal of Entomology 119: 272–284.

Land use/land cover change (LULCC) is a major threat that affects the viability of insect populations worldwide yet our estimates of such effects are usually poor. We analysed how LULCC affected the distribution of 49 species of dragonflies and damselflies in the south-central zone in Mexico during the period 2006-2012. For this, we mapped the potential species richness using ecological niche models in order to analyse predicted future changes and determined the effect of LULCC on the current and future habitats of Odonata. We also estimated current incidence of deforestation and projected its effect to 2050 using the Dinamica-EGO program. Having predicted the level of deforestation in the year 2050, we then compared current vs. expected species richness and the factors that determine it. First, roads and urban areas turned out to be the most important drivers of LULCC in our analysis. Second, deterioration occurred at all sites, but species richness remained high despite considerable habitat fragmentation. Third, there is likely to be a high species turnover rate (i.e. a high species richness, but composed of different species) even in areas where there are significant changes in the vegetation. Our work illustrates both a resilience of Odonata to LULCC and provides a useful method for measuring the effects of LULCC on insects.

Sáenz-Ceja, J. E., J. T. Sáenz-Reyes, and D. Castillo-Quiroz. 2022. Pollinator Species at Risk from the Expansion of Avocado Monoculture in Central Mexico. Conservation 2: 457–472.

The monoculture of avocado (Persea americana) has triggered the loss of large forested areas in central Mexico, including the habitat of threatened species. This study assessed the potential habitat loss of ten threatened pollinator species due to the expansion of avocado monoculture in Mexico. First, we modeled the distribution of avocado and pollinators. Then, we overlapped their suitable areas at a national level and within the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt (TMVB). We also identified the areas with more affected pollinators and coinciding with protected areas. As a result, 78% of the suitable areas for avocado coincided with the distribution of at least one pollinator. Although only two pollinators lost more than one-fifth of their distribution at a national level, the habitat loss increased to 41.6% on average, considering their distribution within the TMVB. The most affected pollinators were Bombus brachycephalus, B diligens, Danaus plexippus, and Tilmatura dupontii, losing more than 48% of their distribution within this ecoregion. The areas with a greater number of affected species pollinators were found in the states of Michoacán, Mexico, and Morelos, where most of the area is currently unprotected. Our results suggest that the expansion of the avocado monoculture will negatively affect the habitat of threatened pollinators in Mexico.

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.

Cisternas‐Fuentes, A., T. Jogesh, G. T. Broadhead, R. A. Raguso, K. A. Skogen, and J. B. Fant. 2022. Evolution of selfing syndrome and its influence on genetic diversity and inbreeding: A range‐wide study in Oenothera primiveris. American Journal of Botany 109: 789–805.

Premise To avoid inbreeding depression, plants have evolved diverse breeding systems to favor outcrossing, such as self-incompatibility. However, changes in biotic and abiotic conditions can result in selective pressures that lead to a breakdown in self-incompatibility. The shift to increased selfing is commonly associated with reduced floral features, lower attractiveness to pollinators, and increased inbreeding. We tested the hypothesis that the loss of self-incompatibility, a shift to self-fertilization (autogamy), and concomitant evolution of the selfing syndrome (reduction in floral traits associated with cross-fertilization) will lead to increased inbreeding and population differentiation in Oenothera primiveris. Across its range, this species exhibits a shift in its breeding system and floral traits from a self-incompatible population with large flowers to self-compatible populations with smaller flowers. Methods We conducted a breeding system assessment, evaluated floral traits in the field and under controlled conditions, and measured population genetic parameters using RADseq data. Results Our results reveal a bimodal transition to the selfing syndrome from the west to the east of the range of O. primiveris. This shift includes variation in the breeding system and the mating system, a reduction in floral traits (flower diameter, herkogamy, and scent production), a shift to greater autogamy, reduced genetic diversity, and increased inbreeding. Conclusions The observed variation highlights the importance of range-wide studies to understand breeding system variation and the evolution of the selfing syndrome within populations and species.

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.

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…

Wham, B. E., S. R. Rahman, M. Martinez‐Correa, and H. M. Hines. 2021. Mito‐nuclear discordance at a mimicry color transition zone in bumble bee Bombus melanopygus. Ecology and Evolution 11: 18151–18168.

As hybrid zones exhibit selective patterns of gene flow between otherwise distinct lineages, they can be especially valuable for informing processes of microevolution and speciation. The bumble bee, Bombus melanopygus, displays two distinct color forms generated by Müllerian mimicry: a northern “Roc…