Science Enabled by Specimen Data

Boxler, B. M., C. S. Loftin, and W. B. Sutton. 2024. Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus) Roost Site-Selection Criteria and Locations East of the Appalachian Mountains, U.S.A. Journal of Insect Behavior.

The monarch butterfly is a flagship species and pollinator whose populations have declined by 85% in the recent two decades. Their largest population overwinters in Mexico, then disperses across eastern North America during March to August. During September-December, they return south using two flyways, one that spans the central United States and another that follows the Atlantic coast. Migrating monarchs fly diurnally and roost in groups nocturnally. We sought to determine the criteria this species uses to select roost sites, and the landscape context where those sites are found. We developed species distribution models of the landscape context of Atlantic flyway roost sites via citizen scientist observations and environmental variables that affect monarchs in the adult stage prior to migration, using two algorithms (Maximum Entropy and Genetic Algorithm for Ruleset Prediction). We developed two model validation methods: a citizen scientist smartphone application and peer-informed comparisons with aerial imagery. Proximity to surface water, elevation, and vegetative cover were the most important criteria for monarch roost site selection. Our model predicted 2.6 million ha (2.9% of the study area) of suitable roosting habitat in the Atlantic flyway, with the greatest availability along the Atlantic coastal plain and Appalachian Mountain ridges. Conservation of this species is difficult, as monarchs range over both large areas and various habitat types, and most current monarch research and conservation efforts are focused on the breeding and overwintering periods. These models can serve to help prioritize surveys of roosting sites and conservation efforts during the monarchs’ fall migration.

Phelps, J. M., L. Y. Santiago-Rosario, D. Paredes-Burneo, and K. E. Harms. 2023. A Comprehensive Natural History Review of Chlosyne lacinia (Geyer, 1837; Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae): Patterns of Phenotypic Variation and Geographic Distribution. The Journal of the Lepidopterists’ Society 77.

We conducted a literature review and added some novel observations of the natural history of the bordered patch butterfly, Chlosyne lacinia (Nymphalidae). Regarding color and patterning, C. lacinia is considered one of the most variable butterflies in the Western Hemisphere, with phenotypic variation occurring in larvae, pupae, and adults. Several studies have been conducted on C. lacinia, partly due to its notable phenotypic variation and status as a pest species of domestic sunflowers (Helianthus annuus). Even so, the origins, development, and maintenance of phenotypic variation remain poorly known. Having the most extensive geographic range of any species in its genus, C. lacinia ranges from Argentina to the mid-latitude midwestern United States. Moreover, C. lacinia displays six distinct adult morphs across its geographic range. Morphologically continuous, relatively geographically narrow gradients between adjacent morphs have given rise to alternative interpretations about subspecies. By providing the first comprehensive maps of adult morphs, including data collected via citizen science in iNaturalist, we provide directions for further research into the species' biology.

Kebaïli, C., S. Sherpa, M. Guéguen, J. Renaud, D. Rioux, and L. Després. 2023. Comparative genetic and demographic responses to climate change in three peatland butterflies in the Jura massif. Biological Conservation 287: 110332.

Climate is a main driver of species distributions, but all species are not equally affected by climate change, and their differential responses to similar climatic constraints might dramatically affect the local species composition. In the context of climate warming, a better knowledge of the ability of dispersal-limited and habitat-specialist species to track climate change at local scale is urgently needed. Comparing the population genetic and demographic impacts of past climate cycles in multiple co-distributed species with similar ecological requirements help predicting the community-scale response to climate warming, but such comparative studies remain rare. Here, we studied the relationship between demographic history and past changes in spatial distribution of three protected peatland butterfly species (Boloria aquilonaris, Coenonympha tullia, Lycaena helle) in the Jura massif (France), using a genomic approach (ddRAD sequencing) and species distribution modeling (SDM). We found a similar and narrow thermal niche among species, and shared demographic histories of post-glacial decline and recent fragmentation of populations. Each species functions as a single metapopulation at the regional scale, with a North-South gradient of decreasing genetic diversity that fits the local dynamics of the ice cover over time. However, we found no correlation between changes in the quantity or the quality of suitable areas and changes in effective population size over time. This suggests that species ranges moved beyond the Jura massif during the less favorable climatic periods, and/or that habitat loss and deterioration are major drivers of the current dramatic decline observed in the three species. Our findings allow better understanding how history events and contemporary dynamics shape local biodiversity, providing valuable knowledge to identify appropriate conservation strategies.

Kolanowska, M., S. Nowak, and A. Rewicz. 2022. Will Greenland be the last refuge for the continental European small-white orchid?Niche modeling of future distribution of Pseudorchis albida. Frontiers in Environmental Science 10.

Climate change affects populations of plants, animals, and fungi not only by direct modifications of their climatic niches but also by altering their ecological interactions. In this study, the future distribution of suitable habitats for the small-white orchid (Pseudorchis albida) was predicted using ecological niche modeling. In addition, the effect of global warming on the spatial distribution and availability of the pollen vectors of this species was evaluated. Due to the inconsistency in the taxonomic concepts of Pseudorchis albida, the differences in the climatic preferences of three proposed subspecies were investigated. Due to the overlap of both morphological and ecological characters of ssp. albida and ssp. tricuspis, they are considered to be synonyms, and the final analyses were carried out using ssp. albida s.l. and ssp. straminea. All of the models predict that with global warming, the number of suitable niches for these orchids will increase. This significant increase in preferred habitats is expected to occur in Greenland, but habitat loss in continental Europe will be severe. Within continental Europe, Pseudorchis albida ssp. albida will lose 44%–98% of its suitable niches and P. albida ssp. straminea will lose 46%–91% of its currently available habitats. An opposite effect of global warming was predicted for pollinators of P. albida s.l., and almost all insects studied will be subject to habitat loss. Still, within the predicted potential geographical ranges of the orchid studied, some pollen vectors are expected to occur, and these can support the long-term survival of the small-white orchid.

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.

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…

Schneider, K., D. Makowski, and W. van der Werf. 2021. Predicting hotspots for invasive species introduction in Europe. Environmental Research Letters 16: 114026.

Plant pest invasions cost billions of Euros each year in Europe. Prediction of likely places of pest introduction could greatly help focus efforts on prevention and control and thus reduce societal costs of pest invasions. Here, we test whether generic data-driven risk maps of pest introduction, val…

Kolanowska, M., A. Rewicz, and S. Nowak. 2021. Data on the present and future distribution of suitable niches of the black vanilla orchid (Nigritella nigra s.l., Orchidaceae) and its pollinators. Data in Brief 37: 107187.

The black vanilla orchid (Nigritella nigra s.l.) is a perennial plant found in the main European mountain ranges. It occurs in large numbers in the Alps, but it has become a rare and endangered species in Scandinavia due to the loss of suitable habitats. Here we present occurrence data on the occurr…

Maresova, J., A. Suchackova Bartonova, M. Konvicka, T. T. Høye, O. Gilg, J. Kresse, N. A. Shapoval, et al. 2020. The story of endurance: Biogeography and the evolutionary history of four Holarctic butterflies with different habitat requirements. Journal of Biogeography 48: 590–602.

Aim: Biogeographical studies on the entire ranges of widely distributed species can change our perception of species’ range dynamics. We studied the effects of Pleistocene glacial cycles on current butterfly species distributions, aiming to uncover complex biogeographic patterns in the Holarctic, a …

Grünig, M., P. Calanca, D. Mazzi, and L. Pellissier. 2020. Inflection point in climatic suitability of insect pest species in Europe suggests non‐linear responses to climate change. Global Change Biology 26: 6338–6349.

Climate change and globalization affect the suitable conditions for agricultural crops and insect pests, threatening future food security. It remains unknown whether shifts in species’ climatic suitability will be linear or rather non‐linear, with crop exposure to pests suddenly increasing when a cr…

Liu, X., T. M. Blackburn, T. Song, X. Wang, C. Huang, and Y. Li. 2020. Animal invaders threaten protected areas worldwide. Nature Communications 11.

Protected areas are the cornerstone of biodiversity conservation. However, alien species invasion is an increasing threat to biodiversity, and the extent to which protected areas worldwide are resistant to incursions of alien species remains poorly understood. Here, we investigate establishment by 8…