Science Enabled by Specimen Data

Hebets, E. A., M. Oviedo-Diego, F. Cargnelutti, F. Bollatti, L. Calbacho-Rosa, C. I. Mattoni, P. Olivero, et al. 2023. A scientist’s guide to Solifugae: how solifuges could advance research in ecology, evolution, and behaviour. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. https://doi.org/10.1093/zoolinnean/zlad174

Despite having >1200 described species and despite their nearly worldwide distribution and prevalence in many xeric ecosystems, relative to many other arachnid groups, we know little about the natural history and behaviour of animals in the order Solifugae (camel spiders, sun spiders, sun scorpions, etc.). Here, we review the current solifuge literature through the lens of conceptual research areas in ecology, evolution, and behaviour and propose ways in which solifuges can contribute to research in specific subfields, as follows: (i) ecology: community and trophic dynamics; connecting food webs; habitat specialization; and biodiversity and conservation; (ii) evolution: speciation and diversification; activity cycles and associated traits; adaptations for speed; and living in extreme environments; and (iii) behaviour and sensory systems: sleep, quiescence, and diapause; sensory systems and sensory ecology; learning and cognition; and mating systems, sexual selection, and sexual conflict. This resource can provide a starting point for identifying research programmes that will simultaneously contribute basic natural history information about this under-studied group and provide a broader understanding of fundamental concepts and theories across the life sciences. We hope that scientists will take this review as a challenge to develop creative ways of leveraging the unique features of solifuges to advance scientific knowledge and understanding.

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. https://doi.org/10.18473/lepi.77i4.a1

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.

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.

Wint, G. R. W., T. Balenghien, E. Berriatua, M. Braks, C. Marsboom, J. Medlock, F. Schaffner, et al. 2023. VectorNet: collaborative mapping of arthropod disease vectors in Europe and surrounding areas since 2010. Eurosurveillance 28. https://doi.org/10.2807/1560-7917.es.2023.28.26.2200666

Background Arthropod vectors such as ticks, mosquitoes, sandflies and biting midges are of public and veterinary health significance because of the pathogens they can transmit. Understanding their distributions is a key means of assessing risk. VectorNet maps their distribution in the EU and surrounding areas. Aim We aim to describe the methodology underlying VectorNet maps, encourage standardisation and evaluate output. Method s: Vector distribution and surveillance activity data have been collected since 2010 from a combination of literature searches, field-survey data by entomologist volunteers via a network facilitated for each participating country and expert validation. Data were collated by VectorNet members and extensively validated during data entry and mapping processes. Results As of 2021, the VectorNet archive consisted of ca 475,000 records relating to > 330 species. Maps for 42 species are routinely produced online at subnational administrative unit resolution. On VectorNet maps, there are relatively few areas where surveillance has been recorded but there are no distribution data. Comparison with other continental databases, namely the Global Biodiversity Information Facility and VectorBase show that VectorNet has 5–10 times as many records overall, although three species are better represented in the other databases. In addition, VectorNet maps show where species are absent. VectorNet’s impact as assessed by citations (ca 60 per year) and web statistics (58,000 views) is substantial and its maps are widely used as reference material by professionals and the public. Conclusion VectorNet maps are the pre-eminent source of rigorously validated arthropod vector maps for Europe and its surrounding areas.

Hamer, M., M. Kgatla, and B. Petersen. 2023. An assessment of collection specimen data for South African mountain plants and invertebrates. Transactions of the Royal Society of South Africa: 1–19. https://doi.org/10.1080/0035919x.2023.2200742

South Africa is considered a megadiverse country, with exceptionally high plant and relatively high animal species richness and endemism. The country’s species have been surveyed and studied for over 200 years, resulting in extensive natural science collections and a vast number of scientific papers and books. This study assessed whether existing data portals provide access to occurrence data and investigated the extent of the data in Global Biodiversity Information Facility and its completeness for plants and selected invertebrate taxa. The main focus was preserved specimen data, but some observation data from iNaturalist were also considered for selected analyses. Records that include species-level identification and co-ordinates were mapped in QGIS to show the coverage of collection localities across the country. The records that fall within the mountain range spatial layer were then extracted and counted to identify density of records per mountain range for various taxa. Forty percent of plant records are from mountain localities, and the Atlantic Cape Fold Mountains had the highest density of records. Table Mountain has been extensively collected for plants and invertebrates. A large proportion of the records for invertebrates lacked species-level identification and co-ordinates, resulting in a low number of records for analyses. The accessible data are only a relatively small subset of existing collections, and digitisation and data upgrading is considered a high priority before collecting gaps can be addressed by targeted surveys.

Moo-Llanes, D. A., S. Sánchez-Montes, T. López-Ordoñez, K. Dzul-Rosado, D. Segura-Trejo, B. Salceda-Sánchez, and R. Danis-Lozano. 2023. Comparison of Climate Change Scenarios of Rhipicephalus sanguineus sensu lato (Latreille 1806) from México and the Boarders with Central America and the United States. Tropical Medicine and Infectious Disease 8: 307. https://doi.org/10.3390/tropicalmed8060307

In America, the presence of Rhipicephalus sanguineus sensu stricto and Rhipicephalus linnaei has been confirmed. Both species are found in sympatry in the southern United States, northern Mexico, southern Brazil, and Argentina. The objective of this work is to evaluate the projection of the potential distribution of the ecological niche of Rhipicephalus sanguineus sensu lato in two climate change scenarios in Mexico and the border with Central America and the United States. Initially, a database of personal collections of the authors, GBIF, Institute of Epidemiological Diagnosis and Reference, and scientific articles was built. The ENMs were projected for the current period and two future scenarios: RCP and SSP used for the kuenm R package, the ecological niche of R. sanguineus s.l. It is distributed throughout the Mexico and Texas (United States), along with the border areas between Central America, Mexico, and the United States. Finally, it is observed that the ecological niche of R. sanguineus s.l. in the current period coincides in three degrees with the routes of human migration. Based on this information, and mainly on the flow of migrants from Central America to the United States, the risk of a greater gene flow in this area increases, so the risk relating to this border is a latent point that must be analyzed.

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.

Huber, B. A., G. Meng, J. Král, I. M. Ávila Herrera, M. A. Izquierdo, and L. S. Carvalho. 2023. High and dry: integrative taxonomy of the Andean spider genus Nerudia (Araneae: Pholcidae). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. https://doi.org/10.1093/zoolinnean/zlac100

Abstract Ninetinae are a group of poorly known spiders that do not fit the image of ‘daddy long-legs spiders’ (Pholcidae), the family to which they belong. They are mostly short-legged, tiny and live in arid environments. The previously monotypic Andean genus Nerudia exemplifies our poor knowledge of Ninetinae: only seven adult specimens from two localities in Chile and Argentina have been reported in the literature. We found representatives of Nerudia at 24 of 52 localities visited in 2019, mostly under rocks in arid habitats, up to 4450 m a.s.l., the highest known record for Pholcidae. With now more than 400 adult specimens, we revise the genus, describing ten new species based on morphology (including SEM) and COI barcodes. We present the first karyotype data for Nerudia and for its putative sister-genus Gertschiola. These two southern South American genera share a X1X2X3Y sex chromosome system. We model the distribution of Nerudia, showing that the genus is expected to occur in the Atacama biogeographic province (no record so far) and that its environmental niche is phylogenetically conserved. This is the first comprehensive revision of any Ninetinae genus. It suggests that focused collecting may uncover a considerable diversity of these enigmatic spiders.

Sánchez Pérez, M., T. P. Feria Arroyo, C. S. Venegas Barrera, C. Sosa-Gutiérrez, J. Torres, K. A. Brown, and G. Gordillo Pérez. 2023. Predicting the Impact of Climate Change on the Distribution of Rhipicephalus sanguineus in the Americas. Sustainability 15: 4557. https://doi.org/10.3390/su15054557

Climate change may influence the incidence of infectious diseases including those transmitted by ticks. Rhipicephalus sanguineus complex has a worldwide distribution and transmits Rickettsial infections that could cause high mortality rates if untreated. We assessed the potential effects of climate change on the distribution of R. sanguineus in the Americas in 2050 and 2070 using the general circulation model CanESM5 and two shared socioeconomic pathways (SSPs), SSP2-4.5 (moderate emissions) and SSP2-8.5 (high emissions). A total of 355 occurrence points of R. sanguineus and eight uncorrelated bioclimatic variables were entered into a maximum entropy algorithm (MaxEnt) to produce 50 replicates per scenario. The area under the curve (AUC) value for the consensus model (>0.90) and the partial ROC value (>1.28) indicated a high predictive capacity. The models showed that the geographic regions currently suitable for R. sanguineus will remain stable in the future, but also predicted increases in habitat suitability in the Western U.S., Venezuela, Brazil and Bolivia. Scenario 4.5 showed an increase in habitat suitability for R. sanguineus in tropical and subtropical regions in both 2050 and 2070. Habitat suitability is predicted to remain constant in moist broadleaf forests and deserts but is predicted to decrease in flooded grasslands and savannas. Using the high emissions SSP5-8.5 scenario, habitat suitability in tropical and subtropical coniferous forests and temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands was predicted to be constant in 2050. In 2070, however, habitat suitability was predicted to decrease in tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests and increase in tropical and subtropical dry broadleaf forests. Our findings suggest that the current and potential future geographic distributions can be used in evidence-based strategies in the design of control plans aimed at reducing the risk of exposure to zoonotic diseases transmitted by R. sanguineus.

Emiroğlu, Ö., S. Aksu, S. Başkurt, J. R. Britton, and A. S. Tarkan. 2023. Predicting how climate change and globally invasive piscivorous fishes will interact to threaten populations of endemic fishes in a freshwater biodiversity hotspot. Biological Invasions. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10530-023-03016-4

Freshwater ecosystems are highly vulnerable to the detrimental impacts of both biological invasions and climate change. Piscivorous alien fishes drive populations of small-bodied native fishes to extinction and warming is already driving extreme temperature events in lakes and rivers globally. Here, we use Ecological Niche Modelling (ENM) to predict how climate change will alter the geographical space of six alien fishes and five native fish genera (which include multiple endemic species) in Turkey, a hotspot of freshwater fish diversity. The models predicted that the geographical space of the alien fishes already present in Turkey would generally increase (including pikeperch Sander lucioperca and perch Perca fluviatilis ), but with the most substantial increases in largemouth bass Micropterus salmoides , a species not yet present in Turkey but that is invasive in countries nearby and is highly popular for sport angling. For the native fish genera, general predictions were for reduced geographical space, especially in the south and east of the country, suggesting the endemic species will become increasingly imperilled in future. Their populations will also be at increasing risk of deleterious impacts from the alien piscivores, as the predictions were also for increasing overlaps in the geographical space of both the alien fishes and native fish genera. These predictions suggest that the conservation of these endemic species need to consider measures on preventing both the introduction of alien species (e.g. largemouth bass) and the further dispersal of extant alien species (e.g. pikeperch), as well as habitat interventions that will limit the effects of climate change on their populations. These results also indicate that the combination of climate change and alien invasions could have substantial impacts on—and similar—hotspots of freshwater diversity.