Science Enabled by Specimen Data

Boyd, R. J., M. A. Aizen, R. M. Barahona‐Segovia, L. Flores‐Prado, F. E. Fontúrbel, T. M. Francoy, M. Lopez‐Aliste, et al. 2022. Inferring trends in pollinator distributions across the Neotropics from publicly available data remains challenging despite mobilization efforts Y. Fourcade [ed.],. Diversity and Distributions 28: 1404–1415. https://doi.org/10.1111/ddi.13551

Aim Aggregated species occurrence data are increasingly accessible through public databases for the analysis of temporal trends in the geographic distributions of species. However, biases in these data present challenges for statistical inference. We assessed potential biases in data available through GBIF on the occurrences of four flower-visiting taxa: bees (Anthophila), hoverflies (Syrphidae), leaf-nosed bats (Phyllostomidae) and hummingbirds (Trochilidae). We also assessed whether and to what extent data mobilization efforts improved our ability to estimate trends in species' distributions. Location The Neotropics. Methods We used five data-driven heuristics to screen the data for potential geographic, temporal and taxonomic biases. We began with a continental-scale assessment of the data for all four taxa. We then identified two recent data mobilization efforts (2021) that drastically increased the quantity of records of bees collected in Chile available through GBIF. We compared the dataset before and after the addition of these new records in terms of their biases and estimated trends in species' distributions. Results We found evidence of potential sampling biases for all taxa. The addition of newly-mobilized records of bees in Chile decreased some biases but introduced others. Despite increasing the quantity of data for bees in Chile sixfold, estimates of trends in species' distributions derived using the postmobilization dataset were broadly similar to what would have been estimated before their introduction, albeit more precise. Main conclusions Our results highlight the challenges associated with drawing robust inferences about trends in species' distributions using publicly available data. Mobilizing historic records will not always enable trend estimation because more data do not necessarily equal less bias. Analysts should carefully assess their data before conducting analyses: this might enable the estimation of more robust trends and help to identify strategies for effective data mobilization. Our study also reinforces the need for targeted monitoring of pollinators worldwide.

Belitz, M. W., V. Barve, J. R. Doby, M. M. Hantak, E. A. Larsen, D. Li, J. A. Oswald, et al. 2021. Climate drivers of adult insect activity are conditioned by life history traits C. Scherber [ed.],. Ecology Letters 24: 2687–2699. https://doi.org/10.1111/ele.13889

Insect phenological lability is key for determining which species will adapt under environmental change. However, little is known about when adult insect activity terminates and overall activity duration. We used community‐science and museum specimen data to investigate the effects of climate and urbanisation on timing of adult insect activity for 101 species varying in life history traits. We found detritivores and species with aquatic larval stages extend activity periods most rapidly in response to increasing regional temperature. Conversely, species with subterranean larval stages have relatively constant durations regardless of regional temperature. Species extended their period of adult activity similarly in warmer conditions regardless of voltinism classification. Longer adult durations may represent a general response to warming, but voltinism data in subtropical environments are likely underreported. This effort provides a framework to address the drivers of adult insect phenology at continental scales and a basis for predicting species response to environmental change.

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…

Justen, L., D. Carlsmith, S. M. Paskewitz, L. C. Bartholomay, and G. M. Bron. 2021. Identification of public submitted tick images: A neural network approach Y. C. Hum [ed.],. PLOS ONE 16: e0260622. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0260622

Ticks and tick-borne diseases represent a growing public health threat in North America and Europe. The number of ticks, their geographical distribution, and the incidence of tick-borne diseases, like Lyme disease, are all on the rise. Accurate, real-time tick-image identification through a smartpho…

Ballen, G. A., C. Jaramillo, F. C. P. Dagosta, and M. C. C. Pinna. 2021. A fossil fish assemblage from the middle Miocene of the Cocinetas Basin, northern Colombia L. Cavin [ed.],. Papers in Palaeontology 8. https://doi.org/10.1002/spp2.1405

Freshwater fossil fish faunas have long been used to infer past drainage connections, given that they are bounded by physical freshwater barriers. Here we study a middle Miocene (15.0–15.5 Ma) freshwater fish fossil fauna (Makaraipao) from the Castilletes Formation in northern Colombia, nowadays wes…

McManamay, R. A., C. R. Vernon, and H. I. Jager. 2021. Global Biodiversity Implications of Alternative Electrification Strategies Under the Shared Socioeconomic Pathways. Biological Conservation 260: 109234. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2021.109234

Addressing climate mitigation while meeting global electrification goals will require major transitions from fossil-fuel dependence to large-scale renewable energy deployment. However, renewables require significant land assets per unit energy and could come at high cost to ecosystems, creating pote…

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.…

Hemberger, J., M. S. Crossley, and C. Gratton. 2021. Historical decrease in agricultural landscape diversity is associated with shifts in bumble bee species occurrence C. Scherber [ed.],. Ecology Letters 24: 1800–1813. https://doi.org/10.1111/ele.13786

Agricultural intensification is a key suspect among putative drivers of recent insect declines, but an explicit link between historical change in agricultural land cover and insect occurrence is lacking. Determining whether agriculture impacts beneficial insects (e.g. pollinators), is crucial to enh…

Orr, M. C., A. C. Hughes, D. Chesters, J. Pickering, C.-D. Zhu, and J. S. Ascher. 2021. Global Patterns and Drivers of Bee Distribution. Current Biology 31: 451-458.e4. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2020.10.053

Insects are the focus of many recent studies suggesting population declines, but even invaluable pollination service providers such as bees lack a modern distributional synthesis. Here, we combine a uniquely comprehensive checklist of bee species distributions and >5,800,000 public bee occurrence re…

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