Science Enabled by Specimen Data

Lin, Z., Y. Hong, S. Chen, Q. Zhang, L. Han, W. Tu, Y. Du, et al. 2023. Emerging non-native amphibians require immediate prevention management in a megacity of South China. BioInvasions Records 12: 731–744.

Biological invasion is one serious threat to global biodiversity, economics and sustainability. Under the era of globalization, emerging non-native species are still accelerating at an unprecedented rate. Identifying new field records of non-native species at early stages is critically important to develop effective prevention and management schemes. Here, we conducted field surveys and applied genetic analysis to identify new recordings of non-native amphibians in Shenzhen (a megacity of South China with enormous trade volume). We recorded a total of three non-native amphibians (Ceratophrys ornata, Hoplobatrachus rugulosus and Eleutherodactylus planirostris) in the field with two having establishment evidence (H. rugulosus and E. planirostris). Further ecological niche modeling based on climatic and habitat variables also detected a high habitat suitability of the two species with field establishment evidence and a low habitat suitability for the other three species (C. ornata, Rana catesbeiana and Xenopus laevis) lacking establishment evidence or field observation with only records in the market and database. We recommend more systematic surveys covering wider areas to investigate the establishment of non-native amphibians to stop their further invasions in China.

Hedrick, B. P., A. Estrada, C. Sutherland, and A. M. Barbosa. 2023. Projected northward shifts in eastern red‐backed salamanders due to changing climate. Ecology and Evolution 13.

Many species' distributions are being impacted by the acceleration of climate change. Amphibians in particular serve numerous ecosystem functions and are useful indicators of environmental change. Understanding how their distributions have been impacted by climate change and will continue to be impacted is thus important to overall ecosystem health. Plethodon cinereus (Eastern Red‐Backed Salamander) is a widespread species of lungless salamander (Plethodontidae) that ranges across northeastern North America. To better understand future potential lungless salamander range shifts, we quantify environmental favorability, the likelihood of membership in a set of sites where environmental conditions are favorable for a species, for P. cinereus in multiple time periods, and examine shifts in the species' distribution. First, utilizing a large data set of georeferenced records, we assessed which bioclimatic variables were associated with environmental favorability in P. cinereus. We then used species distribution modeling for two time periods (1961–1980 and 2001–2020) to determine whether there was a regional shift in environmental favorability in the past 60 years. Models were then used to project future distributions under eight climate change scenarios to quantify potential range shifts. Shifts were assessed using fuzzy logic, avoiding thresholds that oversimplify model predictions into artificial binary outputs. We found that P. cinereus presence is strongly associated with environmental stability. There has been a substantial northward shift in environmental favorability for P. cinereus between 1961–1980 and 2001–2020. This shift is predicted to continue by 2070, with larger shifts under higher greenhouse gas emission scenarios. As climate change accelerates, it is differentially impacting species but has especially strong impacts on dispersal‐limited species. Our results show substantial northward shifts in climatic favorability in the last 60 years for P. cinereus, which are likely to be exacerbated by ongoing climate change. Since P. cinereus is dispersal‐limited, these models may imply local extirpations along the southern modern range with limited northward dispersal. Continued monitoring of amphibians in the field will reveal microclimatic effects associated with climate change and the accuracy of the model predictions presented here.

Gainsbury, A. M., E. G. Santos, and H. Wiederhecker. 2022. Does urbanization impact terrestrial vertebrate ectotherms across a biodiversity hotspot? Science of The Total Environment 835: 155446.

Urbanization is increasing at an alarming rate altering biodiversity. As urban areas sprawl, it is vital to understand the effects of urbanization on biodiversity. Florida is ideal for this research; it has many reptile species and has experienced multiple anthropogenic impacts. Herein, we aim to evaluate human impacts on registered reptile richness across an urbanization gradient in Florida. The expectation is that highly urbanized areas would harbor a lower number of species. To represent urbanization, we used Venter et al. (2016) human footprint index. We downloaded georeferenced occurrence records from the Global Biodiversity Information Facility to collate species richness. We ran generalized linear regressions controlling for spatial autocorrelation structure to test the association between urbanization and reptile records across Florida. We found a positive association between urbanization and registered reptiles across Florida for total and non-native species richness; however, a lack of association occurred for native species. We performed rarefaction curves due to an inherent bias of citizen science data. The positive association was supported for non-native reptile species richness with greater species richness located at urban centers. Interestingly, total and native species richness were largest at low as well as moderate levels of urbanization. Thus, moderately urbanized areas may have the potential to harbor a similar number of reptile species compared to areas with low urbanization. Nevertheless, a difference exists in sample completeness between the urbanization categories. Thus, a more systematic monitoring of reptile species across an urbanization gradient, not only focusing on urban and wild areas but also including moderate levels of urbanization, is needed to provide informed conservation strategies for urban development planning. Advances in environmental sensors, environmental DNA, and citizen science outreach are necessary to implement if we are to effectively monitor biodiversity at the accelerated rate of urbanization.

Mu, C., X. Guo, and Y. Chen. 2022. Impact of Global Climate Change on the Distribution Range and Niche Dynamics of Eleutherodactylus planirostrish in China. Biology 11: 588.

Species distribution models (SDMs) have become indispensable tools in risk assessment and conservation decision-making for invasive species. Eleutherodactylus planirostris has a strong dispersal ability, and the main route of introduction to new regions is likely transport via seedlings. This species is understood as one of the foremost successful invasive amphibian species with direct or indirect negative impacts in multiple regions. In this study, we used MaxEnt to assess suitable areas for this species under current and future climates globally and in China. We considered seven climatic variables, three timepoints (current, 2050, and 2070), and three CO2 emission scenarios. Annual mean temperature, precipitation of the driest month, and annual precipitation were the most important variables predicting E. planirostris occurrence. This species has a much larger suitable habitat area in China than reflected by the current distribution, so the species is likely to spread from the Pearl River Delta to surrounding areas. Under future warming, its invasive range will expand northward in China. In conclusion, this study assessed the risk of invasion of this species and made recommendations for management and prevention.

Radomski, T., S. R. Kuchta, and K. H. Kozak. 2022. Post‐Pleistocene dispersal explains the Rapoport effect in North American salamanders. Journal of Biogeography 49: 1048–1060.

Aims In many taxa, the latitudinal span of species' geographic ranges are positively correlated with median latitude (the Rapoport effect). This correlation is frequently explained as adaptation to contemporary climate; however, variability in post-glacial range expansion among species could also explain this observation. We analyse geographic data for North American salamanders to test the potential causes of Rapoport effects. Location Temperate North America. Taxon Salamanders (order Caudata). Methods We tested for a Rapoport effect by estimating correlations between the latitudinal midpoint and latitudinal range among species. Next, we manipulated species' latitudinal ranges by removing post-glacial habitat and assessing the impact of species demonstrating post-glacial range expansion in forming a Rapoport effect. We built ecological niche models for species found south of the Wisconsin Ice Sheet during the Last Glacial Maximum and transferred these models to post-glacial areas. If dispersal is important in forming a Rapoport effect, then some species may tolerate northern climates but have not expanded northward as a result of variation in geographic access to post-glacial habitats. We created binary ecological niche models by thresholding using the equal sensitivity and specificity value. Results We recovered a Rapoport effect that was robust to the null models we tested. Analyses that manipulated ranges and species pools supported a role for variation in post-glacial range expansion among species, especially for eastern North America. Results from transferring ecological niche models indicated that species have suitable habitat north of their range limit. Main conclusions Variation in post-glacial range expansion is important in shaping geographic range size clines among species in areas where climates changed rapidly, though we also found support for the climatic variability hypothesis. Post-glacial colonization and range expansion likely plays an important role in forming latitudinal biodiversity gradients in northern taxa. While ecophysiology and biotic interactions have been emphasized as important contributors to diversity gradients, our study indicates that post-glacial colonization also plays a key role in forming latitudinal gradients.

Mantintsilili, A., N. Shivambu, T. C. Shivambu, and C. T. Downs. 2022. Online and pet stores as sources of trade for reptiles in South Africa. Journal for Nature Conservation 67: 126154.

The ever-increasing human population, globalisation, and desire to keep pets have resulted in the translocation of many species into non-native environments. As a result, some of the non-native reptile species have been introduced to South Africa through the pet trade. However, little is known about…

Méndez-Camacho, K., O. Leon-Alvarado, and D. R. Miranda-Esquivel. 2021. Biogeographic evidence supports the Old Amazon hypothesis for the formation of the Amazon fluvial system. PeerJ 9: e12533.

The Amazon has high biodiversity, which has been attributed to different geological events such as the formation of rivers. The Old and Young Amazon hypotheses have been proposed regarding the date of the formation of the Amazon basin. Different studies of historical biogeography support the Young A…

García‐Rodríguez, A., M. D. Basanta, M. G. García‐Castillo, H. Zumbado‐Ulate, K. Neam, S. Rovito, C. L. Searle, and G. Parra‐Olea. 2021. Anticipating the potential impacts of Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans on Neotropical salamander diversity. Biotropica 54: 157–169.

Emergent infectious disease caused by the fungal pathogens Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) and Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans (Bsal) represents one of the major causes of biodiversity loss in amphibians. While Bd has affected amphibians worldwide, Bsal remains restricted to Asia and Europe, b…

Azevedo, J. A. R., T. B. Guedes, C. de C. Nogueira, P. Passos, R. J. Sawaya, A. L. C. Prudente, F. E. Barbo, et al. 2019. Museums and cradles of diversity are geographically coincident for narrowly distributed Neotropical snakes. Ecography 43: 328–339.

Factors driving the spatial configuration of centres of endemism have long been a topic of broad interest and debate. Due to different eco‐evolutionary processes, these highly biodiverse areas may harbour different amounts of ancient and recently diverged organisms (paleo‐ and neo‐endemism, respecti…

Le Sage, E. H., S. I. Duncan, T. Seaborn, J. Cundiff, L. J. Rissler, and E. J. Crespi. 2021. Ecological adaptation drives wood frog population divergence in life history traits. Heredity 126: 790–804.

Phenotypic variation among populations is thought to be generated from spatial heterogeneity in environments that exert selection pressures that overcome the effects of gene flow and genetic drift. Here, we tested for evidence of isolation by distance or by ecology (i.e., ecological adaptation) to g…