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.

Grigoropoulou, A., S. A. Hamid, R. Acosta, E. O. Akindele, S. A. Al‐Shami, F. Altermatt, G. Amatulli, et al. 2023. The global EPTO database: Worldwide occurrences of aquatic insects. Global Ecology and Biogeography.

Motivation Aquatic insects comprise 64% of freshwater animal diversity and are widely used as bioindicators to assess water quality impairment and freshwater ecosystem health, as well as to test ecological hypotheses. Despite their importance, a comprehensive, global database of aquatic insect occurrences for mapping freshwater biodiversity in macroecological studies and applied freshwater research is missing. We aim to fill this gap and present the Global EPTO Database, which includes worldwide geo-referenced aquatic insect occurrence records for four major taxa groups: Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera, Trichoptera and Odonata (EPTO). Main type of variables contained A total of 8,368,467 occurrence records globally, of which 8,319,689 (99%) are publicly available. The records are attributed to the corresponding drainage basin and sub-catchment based on the Hydrography90m dataset and are accompanied by the elevation value, the freshwater ecoregion and the protection status of their location. Spatial location and grain The database covers the global extent, with 86% of the observation records having coordinates with at least four decimal digits (11.1 m precision at the equator) in the World Geodetic System 1984 (WGS84) coordinate reference system. Time period and grain Sampling years span from 1951 to 2021. Ninety-nine percent of the records have information on the year of the observation, 95% on the year and month, while 94% have a complete date. In the case of seven sub-datasets, exact dates can be retrieved upon communication with the data contributors. Major taxa and level of measurement Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera, Trichoptera and Odonata, standardized at the genus taxonomic level. We provide species names for 7,727,980 (93%) records without further taxonomic verification. Software format The entire tab-separated value (.csv) database can be downloaded and visualized at Fifty individual datasets are also available at, while six datasets have restricted access. For the latter, we share metadata and the contact details of the authors.

Alvarez, K., C. A. Bota-Sierra, and J. M. Vásquez-Ramos. 2022. New species records in Acanthagrion, Nehalennia, and Perilestes (Odonata: Zygoptera) for Colombia. Biota Colombiana 23: e1061.

We record for the first time Acanthagrion jessei, Nehalennia minuta, and Perilestes solutus in Colombia, based on males and females taken at the campus Barcelona at the Universidad de Los Llanos, located in the foothills of the Colombian Eastern Andes in the Orinoco river basin.

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.

Shirey, V., R. Khelifa, L. K. M’Gonigle, and L. M. Guzman. 2022. Occupancy–detection models with museum specimen data: Promise and pitfalls. Methods in Ecology and Evolution.

1. Historical museum records provide potentially useful data for identifying drivers of change in species occupancy. However, because museum records are typically obtained via many collection methods, methodological developments are needed in order to enable robust inferences. Occupancy‐detection models, a relatively new and powerful suite of statistical methods, are a potentially promising avenue because they can account for changes in collection effort through space and time.

Sirois‐Delisle, C., and J. T. Kerr. 2021. Climate change aggravates non‐target effects of pesticides on dragonflies at macroecological scales. Ecological Applications 32.

Critical gaps in understanding how species respond to environmental change limit our capacity to address conservation risks in a timely way. Here, we examine the direct and interactive effects of key global change drivers, including climate change, land use change, and pesticide use, on persistence …

Clement, R. A., N. A. Saxton, S. Standring, P. R. Arnold, K. K. Johnson, D. R. Bybee, and S. M. Bybee. 2021. Phylogeny, migration and geographic range size evolution of Anax dragonflies (Anisoptera: Aeshnidae). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 194: 858–878.

The genus Anax is a group of cosmopolitan dragonflies noted for its conspicuous migratory behaviours and large size. Here we present the first dated, species-level, multigene, molecular phylogeny for the group to test generic and species-limits, as well as the evolution of migration and range size. …

Moore, M. P., K. Hersch, C. Sricharoen, S. Lee, C. Reice, P. Rice, S. Kronick, et al. 2021. Sex-specific ornament evolution is a consistent feature of climatic adaptation across space and time in dragonflies. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 118.

Adaptation to different climates fuels the origins and maintenance of biodiversity. Detailing how organisms optimize fitness for their local climates is therefore an essential goal in biology. Although we increasingly understand how survival-related traits evolve as organisms adapt to climatic condi…

Tabor, J. A., and J. B. Koch. 2021. Ensemble Models Predict Invasive Bee Habitat Suitability Will Expand under Future Climate Scenarios in Hawai’i. Insects 12: 443.

Climate change is predicted to increase the risk of biological invasions by increasing the availability of climatically suitable regions for invasive species. Endemic species on oceanic islands are particularly sensitive to the impact of invasive species due to increased competition for shared resou…

Ji, Y. 2021. The geographical origin, refugia, and diversification of honey bees (Apis spp.) based on biogeography and niche modeling. Apidologie 52: 367–377.

An understanding of the origin and formation of biodiversity and distribution patterns can provide a theoretical foundation for biodiversity conservation. In this study, phylogeny and biogeography analyses based on mitochondrial genomes and niche modeling based on occurrence records were performed t…