Science Enabled by Specimen Data

Lee, F., N. C. Boddy, M. Bloxham, A. R. McIntosh, G. L. W. Perry, and K. S. Simon. 2023. Spatiotemporal patterns of research on Southern Hemisphere amphidromous galaxiids: A semi–quantitative review. Austral Ecology. https://doi.org/10.1111/aec.13315

Amphidromy is a distinctive life‐history strategy of some fish species that involves spawning in fresh or brackish water followed by dispersal to sea by newly hatched larvae, where they develop for a short period. Individuals then return to freshwater as juveniles, where they feed and grow, before maturing and spawning. Six amphidromous species from the Southern Hemisphere genus Galaxias (G. truttaceus, G. fasciatus, G. argenteus, G. postvectis, G. brevipinnis, G. maculatus) are recreationally, culturally, and economically important as the juveniles are harvested. Due to ongoing population declines and a lack of critical demographic information, there is growing concern about the management of the species. Here, we used semi‐quantitative review, culturomics, and bibliometric tools to analyse peer‐reviewed research conducted on the six amphidromous species of Galaxias to: (i) understand how spatiotemporal patterns of research have shifted over the last five decades, and (ii) identify critical research gaps. Forty percent of studies (n = 295) covered a spatial extent of 10 km or less and 87% of studies lasted less than 2 years – studies were largely small and short relative to the species' ranges and their longevity. Additionally, we found important research gaps; for example, studies on the effects of climate change and the associated effects of disturbance, and the marine phase are scarce in the peer‐reviewed literature. Finally, we suggest that quantitative models have been underutilized as tools for studying amphidromous galaxiids and should be embraced to answer questions not readily addressed with field and laboratory‐based techniques. If these species are to be effectively managed, their population dynamics across spatiotemporal scales must be understood and critical and long‐standing gaps in research knowledge addressed.

Barends, J. M., and B. Maritz. 2022. Dietary Specialization and Habitat Shifts in a Clade of Afro-Asian Colubrid Snakes (Colubridae: Colubrinae). Ichthyology & Herpetology 110. https://doi.org/10.1643/h2021058

Speciation through niche divergence often occurs as lineages of organisms colonize and adapt to new environments with novel ecological opportunities that facilitate the evolution of ecologically different phenotypes. In snakes, adaptive diversification may be driven by the evolution of traits relating to changes in their diets. Accordingly, habitatmediated differences in prey available to ancestral snakes as they colonized and occupied novel dynamic landscapes are likely to have been a strong selective agent behind the divergence and radiation of snakes across the globe. Using an ancestral reconstruction approach that considers the multivariate nature of ecological phenotypes while accounting for sampling variation between taxa, we explored how diet and macro-habitat use coevolved across a phylogeny of 67 species of Afro-Asian colubrine snakes. Our results show that the most recent common ancestor of this clade was likely a dietary generalist that occupied tropical forests in Asia. Deviations from this generalist diet to a variety of specialist diets each dominated by the utilization of single prey types repeatedly occurred as ancestral colubrines shifted from tropical forests to savanna and grassland habitats across Africa. We additionally found that dietary specialist species were on average smaller in maximum length than dietary generalists, congruent with established predator-size, preydiversity dynamics in snakes. We speculate that adaptive divergence in ancestral colubrines arose as a result of a selective regime that favored diets comprised of terrestrial prey, and that partitioning of different prey types led to the various forms of dietary specialization evident in these lineages today. Our findings provide new insights into the ecological correlates associated with the evolution of diet in snakes, thereby furthering our understanding of the driving forces behind patterns of snake diversification.

Strona, G., P. S. A. Beck, M. Cabeza, S. Fattorini, F. Guilhaumon, F. Micheli, S. Montano, et al. 2021. Ecological dependencies make remote reef fish communities most vulnerable to coral loss. Nature Communications 12. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-27440-z

Ecosystems face both local hazards, such as over-exploitation, and global hazards, such as climate change. Since the impact of local hazards attenuates with distance from humans, local extinction risk should decrease with remoteness, making faraway areas safe havens for biodiversity. However, isolat…

Hughes, A. C., M. C. Orr, K. Ma, M. J. Costello, J. Waller, P. Provoost, Q. Yang, et al. 2021. Sampling biases shape our view of the natural world. Ecography 44: 1259–1269. https://doi.org/10.1111/ecog.05926

Spatial patterns of biodiversity are inextricably linked to their collection methods, yet no synthesis of bias patterns or their consequences exists. As such, views of organismal distribution and the ecosystems they make up may be incorrect, undermining countless ecological and evolutionary studies.…

Wieringa, J. G., B. C. Carstens, and H. L. Gibbs. 2021. Predicting migration routes for three species of migratory bats using species distribution models. PeerJ 9: e11177. https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.11177

Understanding seasonal variation in the distribution and movement patterns of migratory species is essential to monitoring and conservation efforts. While there are many species of migratory bats in North America, little is known about their seasonal movements. In terms of conservation, this is impo…

Oegelund Nielsen, R., R. da Silva, J. Juergens, J. Staerk, L. Lindholm Sørensen, J. Jackson, S. Q. Smeele, and D. A. Conde. 2020. Standardized data to support conservation prioritization for sharks and batoids (Elasmobranchii). Data in Brief 33: 106337. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dib.2020.106337

#N/A

Li, X., B. Li, G. Wang, X. Zhan, and M. Holyoak. 2020. Deeply digging the interaction effect in multiple linear regressions using a fractional-power interaction term. MethodsX 7: 101067. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mex.2020.101067

In multiple regression Y ~ β0 + β1X1 + β2X2 + β3X1 X2 + ɛ., the interaction term is quantified as the product of X1 and X2. We developed fractional-power interaction regression (FPIR), using βX1M X2N as the interaction term. The rationale of FPIR is that the slopes of Y-X1 regression along the X2 gr…

Moudrý, V., and R. Devillers. 2020. Quality and usability challenges of global marine biodiversity databases: An example for marine mammal data. Ecological Informatics 56: 101051. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecoinf.2020.101051

Knowing spatial and temporal patterns of species distribution is paramount to support marine species persistence. While datasets provided by global aggregators are increasingly rich and useful, they suffer from various types of data quality issues that can impact their usage. Using marine mammals as…

Weterings, R., M. Barbetti, and H. L. Buckley. 2019. Hypothesis: Do invasive house geckos exacerbate dengue fever epidemics? Biological Invasions 21: 3533–3543. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10530-019-02066-x

Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne disease that has undergone a marked rise in incidence since the 1950s, throughout the world’s tropical regions. Here, we present a hypothesis that this rise in incidence may have been exacerbated by the invasion of house geckos, due to their role in the mosquito vect…

Liu, X., T. M. Blackburn, T. Song, X. Li, C. Huang, and Y. Li. 2019. Risks of Biological Invasion on the Belt and Road. Current Biology 29: 499-505.e4. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2018.12.036

China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is an unprecedented global development program that involves nearly half of the world’s countries [1]. It not only will have economic and political influences, but also may generate multiple environmental challenges and is a focus of considerable academic and p…