Science Enabled by Specimen Data

Grether, G. F., A. E. Finneran, and J. P. Drury. 2023. Niche differentiation, reproductive interference, and range expansion. Ecology Letters. https://doi.org/10.1111/ele.14350

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.

Moore, M. P., and F. Khan. 2023. Relatively large wings facilitate life at higher elevations among Nearctic dragonflies. Journal of Animal Ecology. https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2656.13946

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.

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. https://doi.org/10.1111/2041-210x.13896

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.

Encarnación-Luévano, A., J. A. Escoto-Moreno, and G. Villalobos-Jiménez. 2022. Evaluating Potential Distribution and Niche Divergence among Populations of the World’s Largest Living Damselfly, Megaloprepus caerulatus (Drury, 1782). Diversity 14: 84. https://doi.org/10.3390/d14020084

Megaloprepus caerulatus is a Neotropical species with a highly specialised niche, found from Mexico to Bolivia, primarily in mature tropical forests lower than 1500 masl. It is also the damselfly with the largest wingspan in the world. Recent studies found strong genetic isolation among populations …

Lewthwaite, J. M. M., and A. Ø. Mooers. 2021. Geographical homogenization but little net change in the local richness of Canadian butterflies A. Baselga [ed.],. Global Ecology and Biogeography 31: 266–279. https://doi.org/10.1111/geb.13426

Aim: Recent studies have found that local-scale plots measured through time exhibit marked variation in the change in species richness. However, the overall effect often reveals no net change. Most studies to date have been agnostic about the identities of the species lost/gained and about the proce…

Sirois‐Delisle, C., and J. T. Kerr. 2021. Climate change aggravates non‐target effects of pesticides on dragonflies at macroecological scales. Ecological Applications 32. https://doi.org/10.1002/eap.2494

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. https://doi.org/10.1093/zoolinnean/zlab046

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. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2101458118

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…

Parker, S. D., J. S. Perkin, M. G. Bean, D. Lutz‐Carrillo, and M. R. Acre. 2021. Temporal distribution modelling reveals upstream habitat drying and downstream non‐native introgression are squeezing out an imperiled headwater fish. Diversity and Distributions 27: 533–551. https://doi.org/10.1111/ddi.13214

Aim: To review the conservation status of Headwater catfish Ictalurus lupus (Girard,1859) in the United States, including quantifying environmental correlates with range contraction and hybridization and introgression with Channel catfish Ictalurus punctatus (Rafinesque, 1818) to inform conservatio…

Zigler, K., M. Niemiller, C. Stephen, B. Ayala, M. Milne, N. Gladstone, A. Engel, et al. 2020. Biodiversity from caves and other sub-terranean habitats of Georgia, USA. Journal of Cave and Karst Studies 82: 125–167. https://doi.org/10.4311/2019LSC0125

We provide an annotated checklist of species recorded from caves and other subterranean habitats in the state of Georgia, USA. We report 281 species (228 invertebrates and 53 vertebrates), including 51 troglobionts (cave-obligate species), from more than 150 sites (caves, springs, and wells). Endemi…