Science Enabled by Specimen Data

Boxler, B. M., C. S. Loftin, and W. B. Sutton. 2024. Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus) Roost Site-Selection Criteria and Locations East of the Appalachian Mountains, U.S.A. Journal of Insect Behavior.

The monarch butterfly is a flagship species and pollinator whose populations have declined by 85% in the recent two decades. Their largest population overwinters in Mexico, then disperses across eastern North America during March to August. During September-December, they return south using two flyways, one that spans the central United States and another that follows the Atlantic coast. Migrating monarchs fly diurnally and roost in groups nocturnally. We sought to determine the criteria this species uses to select roost sites, and the landscape context where those sites are found. We developed species distribution models of the landscape context of Atlantic flyway roost sites via citizen scientist observations and environmental variables that affect monarchs in the adult stage prior to migration, using two algorithms (Maximum Entropy and Genetic Algorithm for Ruleset Prediction). We developed two model validation methods: a citizen scientist smartphone application and peer-informed comparisons with aerial imagery. Proximity to surface water, elevation, and vegetative cover were the most important criteria for monarch roost site selection. Our model predicted 2.6 million ha (2.9% of the study area) of suitable roosting habitat in the Atlantic flyway, with the greatest availability along the Atlantic coastal plain and Appalachian Mountain ridges. Conservation of this species is difficult, as monarchs range over both large areas and various habitat types, and most current monarch research and conservation efforts are focused on the breeding and overwintering periods. These models can serve to help prioritize surveys of roosting sites and conservation efforts during the monarchs’ fall migration.

Grether, G. F., A. E. Finneran, and J. P. Drury. 2023. Niche differentiation, reproductive interference, and range expansion. Ecology Letters.

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.

de Pedro, D., F. S. Ceccarelli, R. Vandame, J. Mérida, and P. Sagot. 2023. Congruence between species richness and phylogenetic diversity in North America for the bee genus Diadasia (Hymenoptera: Apidae). Biodiversity and Conservation.

The current ecological crisis stemming from the loss of biodiversity and associated ecosystem services, highlights the urgency of documenting diversity and distribution. Bees are a classical example of an ecologically and economically important group, due to their high diversity and varied ecosystem services, especially pollination. Here, two common biodiversity indices, namely species richness and phylogenetic diversity, are evaluated geographically to determine the best approach for selecting areas of conservation priority. The model organisms used in this study are the North American species belonging to the bee genus Diadasia (Apidae). Based on the results obtained by analyzing distributional records and a molecular phylogeny, we can see that species richness and phylogenetic diversity are closely linked, although phylogenetic diversity provides a more detailed assessment of the spatial distribution of diversity. Therefore, while either one of these commonly used indices are valid as far as selecting areas of conservation priority, we recommend, if possible, to include genetic information in biodiversity and conservation studies.

Rosas, M. R., R. A. Segovia, and P. C. Guerrero. 2023. Climatic Niche Dynamics of the Astereae Lineage and Haplopappus Species Distribution following Amphitropical Long-Distance Dispersal. Plants 12: 2721.

The tribe Astereae (Asteraceae) displays an American Amphitropical Disjunction. To understand the eco-evolutionary dynamics associated with a long-distance dispersal event and subsequent colonization of extratropical South America, we compared the climatic and geographic distributions of South American species with their closest North American relatives, focusing on the diverse South American Astereae genus, Haplopappus. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that two South American genera are closely related to seven North American genera. The climatic niche overlap (D = 0.5) between South and North America exhibits high stability (0.89), low expansion (0.12), and very low unfilling (0.04). The distribution of the North American species predicted the climatic and geographic space occupied by the South American species. In central Chile, Haplopappus showed a non-random latitudinal gradient in species richness, with Mediterranean climate variables mainly explaining the variation. Altitudinal patterns indicated peak richness at 600 m, declining at lower and higher elevations. These findings support climatic niche conservatism in shaping Haplopappus species distribution and diversity. Two major endemism zones were identified in central Chile and the southern region, with a transitional zone between Mediterranean and Temperate macro-bioclimates. Our results indicate strong niche conservatism following long-distance dispersal and slight niche expansion due to unique climatic variables in each hemisphere.

Lopes, D., E. de Andrade, A. Egartner, F. Beitia, M. Rot, C. Chireceanu, V. Balmés, et al. 2023. FRUITFLYRISKMANAGE: A Euphresco project for Ceratitis capitata Wiedemann (Diptera: Tephritidae) risk management applied in some European countries. EPPO Bulletin.

Ceratitis capitata (Wiedemann), the Mediterranean fruit fly or medfly, is one of the world's most serious threats to fresh fruits. It is highly polyphagous (recorded from over 300 hosts) and capable of adapting to a wide range of climates. This pest has spread to the EPPO region and is mainly present in the southern part, damaging Citrus and Prunus. In Northern and Central Europe records refer to interceptions or short‐lived adventive populations only. Sustainable programs for surveillance, spread assessment using models and control strategies for pests such as C. capitata represent a major plant health challenge for all countries in Europe. This article includes a review of pest distribution and monitoring techniques in 11 countries of the EPPO region. This work compiles information that was crucial for a better understanding of pest occurrence and contributes to identifying areas susceptible to potential invasion and establishment. The key outputs and results obtained in the Euphresco project included knowledge transfer about early detection tools and methods used in different countries for pest monitoring. A MaxEnt software model resulted in risk maps for C. capitata in different climatic regions. This is an important tool to help decision making and to develop actions against this pest in the different partner countries.

García-Navarrete, P. G., T. Escalante, D. Espinosa, and J. J. Morrone. 2023. Evolutionary biogeography of the Revillagigedo Archipelago, Mexico. Journal of Natural History 57: 685–709.

The biotic assembly of the Revillagigedo Archipelago, Mexico, was analysed under an evolutionary biogeographic framework. We undertook a parsimony analysis of endemicity with progressive character elimination of 194 plant and animal species, which allowed us to identify the archipelago as a complex area or node where Nearctic and Neotropical biotic components overlap. We undertook a cladistic biogeographic analysis using the phylogenetic information of 42 taxon-area cladograms, from which one general-area cladogram was obtained: (Revillagigedo, (Sonoran, (Baja California, (Veracruzan, Pacific Lowlands)))). These results suggest that the Revillagigedo Archipelago may be classified as a province, although we prefer to keep it as a district of the Pacific Lowlands province. We identified two cenocrons (temporally integrated set of taxa) that can be dated to the Pliocene–Pleistocene: one Nearctic that dispersed from the Baja California Peninsula, and another Neotropical where the species dispersed from the Pacific coast to the islands. The geological information and the general-area cladograms allowed us to propose a geobiotic scenario for the archipelago where the islands are probably the result of volcanism associated with the oceanic Mathematician Ridge, and the arrival of the cenocrons to the archipelago may have occurred during the Pliocene–Pleistocene, after the islands were available for colonisation.

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.