Science Enabled by Specimen Data

Gil-Tapetado, D., D. López-Collar, J. F. Gómez, J. Mañani-Pérez, F. J. Cabrero-Sañudo, and J. Muñoz. 2023. Climate change as a driver of insect invasions: Dispersal patterns of a dragonfly species colonizing a new region T.-Y. Chiang [ed.],. PLOS ONE 18: e0291270.

The dragonfly Trithemis kirbyi Sélys, 1891 recently colonized Western Europe from North Africa. Since its first record in the Iberian Peninsula in 2007, the species has been spreading northward and has become naturally established in the central and eastern Iberian Peninsula, the Balearic Islands and southern France. Despite its worldwide distribution, its rapid colonization of the western Mediterranean area occurred only very recently. The aims of this study were to evaluate (1) whether the species’ colonization of the western Mediterranean is related to climate change and rising temperatures, specifically the summer warming peaks that have occurred in the last decade, (2) which climatic variables have most influenced its distribution and dispersal, and (3) its potential future dispersal and colonization capacity towards the eastern Mediterranean. We found that the dispersal and recent establishment of T. kirbyi in southwestern Europe strongly depends on increasing temperatures, particularly summer temperature peaks, which has allowed this species to disperse farther and more effectively than during years with average summer temperatures. The most important variable in the suitability models is the minimum temperature of the coldest month, which, in recent decades, has become less of a limiting factor for ectotherms. According to the models, suitable areas for the species are currently found throughout the eastern Mediterranean parts of Europe, and it is likely that it can naturally colonize these areas as it did in the Iberian Peninsula. Trithemis kirbyi is a model of how climate change and observed rising temperatures have turned previously inhospitable regions into suitable areas for exotic species, which may successfully colonize them naturally if they can reach these promising lands on their own. However, this study serves as a warning that such species can also colonize these new regions with a little help from unsuspecting means, which are often responsible for the increasingly common presence of invasive, noxious taxa in Europe.

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. …