Science Enabled by Specimen Data

Zachos, L. G., and A. Ziegler. 2024. Selective concentration of iron, titanium, and zirconium substrate minerals within Gregory’s diverticulum, an organ unique to derived sand dollars (Echinoidea: Scutelliformes). PeerJ 12: e17178.

Gregory’s diverticulum, a digestive tract structure unique to a derived group of sand dollars (Echinoidea: Scutelliformes), is filled with sand grains obtained from the substrate the animals inhabit. The simple methods of shining a bright light through a specimen or testing response to a magnet can reveal the presence of a mineral-filled diverticulum. Heavy minerals with a specific gravity of >2.9 g/cm3 are selectively concentrated inside the organ, usually at concentrations one order of magnitude, or more, greater than found in the substrate. Analyses of diverticulum content for thirteen species from nine genera, using optical mineralogy, powder X-ray diffraction, scanning electron microscopy and energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy, as well as micro-computed tomography shows the preference for selection of five major heavy minerals: magnetite (Fe3O4), hematite (Fe2O3), ilmenite (FeTiO3), rutile (TiO2), and zircon (ZrSiO4). Minor amounts of heavy or marginally heavy amphibole, pyroxene and garnet mineral grains may also be incorporated. In general, the animals exhibit a preference for mineral grains with a specific gravity of >4.0 g/cm3, although the choice is opportunistic and the actual mix of mineral species depends on the mineral composition of the substrate. The animals also select for grain size, with mineral grains generally in the range of 50 to 150 μm, and do not appear to alter this preference during ontogeny. A comparison of analytical methods demonstrates that X-ray attenuation measured using micro-computed tomography is a reliable non-destructive method for heavy mineral quantification when supported by associated analyses of mineral grains extracted destructively from specimens or from substrate collected together with the specimens. Commonalities in the electro-chemical surface properties of the ingested minerals suggest that such characteristics play an important role in the selection process.

Pereira, W. G., A. C. de Almeida, S. de P. Barros-Alves, and D. F. R. Alves. 2024. Species distribution models to predict the impacts of environmental disasters on shrimp species of economic interest. Marine Pollution Bulletin 201: 116162.

Here, we used distribution models to predict the size of the environmentally suitable area for shrimps of fishing interest that were impacted by the tailing plume from the collapse of the Fundão Dam, one of the largest ecological disasters ever to occur in Brazil. Species distribution models (SDMs) were generated for nine species of penaeid shrimp that occurred in the impacted region. Average temperature showed the highest percentage of contribution for SDMs. The environmental suitability of penaeids varied significantly in relation to the distance to the coast and mouth river. The area of environmental suitability of shrimps impacted by tailings plumes ranged from 27 to 47 %. Notably, three protected areas displayed suitable conditions, before the disaster, for until eight species. The results obtained by the SDMs approach provide crucial information for conservation and restoration efforts of coastal biodiversity in an impacted region with limited prior knowledge about biodiversity distribution.

Herrera, D. L., S. A. Navarrete, F. A. Labra, S. P. Castillo, and L. Opazo Mella. 2023. Functional biogeography of coastal marine invertebrates along the south‐eastern Pacific coast reveals latitudinally divergent drivers of taxonomic versus functional diversity. Ecography.

Characterizing the spatial structure of taxonomic and functional diversity (FD) of marine organisms across regional and latitudinal scales is essential for improving our understanding of the processes driving species richness and those that may constrain or enhance the set of species traits that define the functional structure of communities. Here, we present the functional diversity of coastal invertebrate macrofaunal species along the south‐eastern Pacific from 7°N to 56°S, describe spatial variation of species traits, and examine the relationship with environmental variables. For that, we defined the functional traits and distribution ranges of 2350 marine macroinvertebrates calculated eight metrics of FD. Random forest regression was applied to identify significant relationships between FD and six environmental variables. Finally, functional β‐turnover was estimated to detect alongshore shifts in functional structure and their coincidence with biogeographical domains. Our results show, in contrast with taxonomic richness that measures of trait differences, functional space and functional specialisation increase with latitude, while functional evenness exhibits a non‐linear shape, peaking at mid latitudes. Functional redundancy decreased significantly poleward, while indicators of vulnerability increase. In contrast to taxonomic richness, FD was tightly connected to variables indicative of stress and productivity, such as dissolved oxygen and nutrients. Sea surface temperature and coastal area best explained the increased FD redundancy and richness towards the tropics. The high spatial correlation between taxonomic and functional turnover suggests environmental filters play an important role in the functional structure of the seascape. Our findings suggest that processes favouring taxonomic richness are latitudinally divergent from those favouring functional diversity. Correlations with environmental variables suggest that increased sea surface temperature and measures of stability increase redundancy, while variations in dissolved oxygen and nutrients positively affect functional diversification. Moreover, the functional diversity patterns suggest low resilience of high latitude coastal ecosystems, which are heavily exploited and threatened by climate change, hence highlighting the urgent need for effective conservation policies.

Davidson, S. C., and E. C. Ruhs. 2021. Understanding the dynamics of Arctic animal migrations in a changing world. Animal Migration 8: 56–64.

(no abstract available)

Sharifian, S., E. Kamrani, and H. Saeedi. 2021. Insights toward the future potential distribution of mangrove crabs in the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman. Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research 59: 1620–1631.

Mangroves are an ideal habitat for brachyuran crabs because of nutritional and shelter support. Using maximum entropy (MaxEnt) modeling technique, we projected the potential global distributions of 10 dominant species of mangrove crabs from the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman under future climate c…

Boag, T. H., W. Gearty, and R. G. Stockey. 2021. Metabolic tradeoffs control biodiversity gradients through geological time. Current Biology 31: 2906-2913.e3.

The latitudinal gradient of increasing marine biodiversity from the poles to the tropics is one of the most conspicuous biological patterns in modern oceans.1, 2, 3 Low-latitude regions of the global ocean are often hotspots of animal biodiversity, yet they are set to be most critically affected b…

dos Santos, E. V., P. A. Martinez, G. Souza, and U. P. Jacobina. 2021. Genome size drives ecological breadth in Pomacentridae reef fishes. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 540: 151544.

Genome size (GS) is known to vary widely among fishes. However, evolutionary drivers that shape this variation are largely unknown in Pomacentridae. GS information is available for several Pomacentridae species, which have adapted over evolutionary time mainly in reef environments. In the present st…

Oyinlola, M. A., G. Reygondeau, C. C. C. Wabnitz, M. Troell, and W. W. L. Cheung. 2018. Global estimation of areas with suitable environmental conditions for mariculture species L. Bosso [ed.],. PLOS ONE 13: e0191086.

Aquaculture has grown rapidly over the last three decades expanding at an average annual growth rate of 5.8% (2005–2014), down from 8.8% achieved between 1980 and 2010. The sector now produces 44% of total food fish production. Increasing demand and consumption from a growing global population are d…

Mejía-Falla, P. A., E. Castro, N. Bolaños, J. P. Caldas, C. Ballesteros, H. Bent-Hooker, A. Rojas, and A. F. Navia. 2020. Richness and distribution patterns of elasmobranchs in the San Andres, Providencia and Santa Catalina Archipelago: is this area a hotspot of these species in the greater Caribbean? Environmental Biology of Fishes 103: 1371–1389.

Hotspots identification can be used to establish protected or priority areas for conservation at different geographic scales. We aimed to determine if San Andres, Providencia and Santa Catalina Archipelago could be considered as a hotspot of elasmobranch diversity within the Greater Caribbean. For t…

Sharifian, S., E. Kamrani, and H. Saeedi. 2020. Global biodiversity and biogeography of mangrove crabs: Temperature, the key driver of latitudinal gradients of species richness. Journal of Thermal Biology 92: 102692.

Mangroves are ideal habitat for a variety of marine species especially brachyuran crabs as the dominant macrofauna. However, the global distribution, endemicity, and latitudinal gradients of species richness in mangrove crabs remains poorly understood. Here, we assessed whether species richness of m…