Science Enabled by Specimen Data

Ract, C., N. D. Burgess, L. Dinesen, P. Sumbi, I. Malugu, J. Latham, L. Anderson, et al. 2024. Nature Forest Reserves in Tanzania and their importance for conservation S. S. Romanach [ed.],. PLOS ONE 19: e0281408. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0281408

Since 1997 Tanzania has undertaken a process to identify and declare a network of Nature Forest Reserves (NFRs) with high biodiversity values, from within its existing portfolio of national Forest Reserves, with 16 new NFRs declared since 2015. The current network of 22 gazetted NFRs covered 948,871 hectares in 2023. NFRs now cover a range of Tanzanian habitat types, including all main forest types—wet, seasonal, and dry—as well as wetlands and grasslands. NFRs contain at least 178 of Tanzania’s 242 endemic vertebrate species, of which at least 50% are threatened with extinction, and 553 Tanzanian endemic plant taxa (species, subspecies, and varieties), of which at least 50% are threatened. NFRs also support 41 single-site endemic vertebrate species and 76 single-site endemic plant taxa. Time series analysis of management effectiveness tracking tool (METT) data shows that NFR management effectiveness is increasing, especially where donor funds have been available. Improved management and investment have resulted in measurable reductions of some critical threats in NFRs. Still, ongoing challenges remain to fully contain issues of illegal logging, charcoal production, firewood, pole-cutting, illegal hunting and snaring of birds and mammals, fire, wildlife trade, and the unpredictable impacts of climate change. Increased tourism, diversified revenue generation and investment schemes, involving communities in management, and stepping up control measures for remaining threats are all required to create a network of economically self-sustaining NFRs able to conserve critical biodiversity values.

Arfianti, T., and M. J. Costello. 2021. The distribution of benthic amphipod crustaceans in Indonesian seas. PeerJ 9: e12054. https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.12054

Amphipod crustaceans are an essential component of tropical marine biodiversity. However, their distribution and biogeography have not been analysed in one of the world’s largest tropical countries nested in the Coral Triangle, Indonesia. We collected and identified amphipod crustaceans from eight s…

Goodwin, Z. A., P. Muñoz-Rodríguez, D. J. Harris, T. Wells, J. R. I. Wood, D. Filer, and R. W. Scotland. 2020. How long does it take to discover a species? Systematics and Biodiversity 18: 784–793. https://doi.org/10.1080/14772000.2020.1751339

The description of a new species is a key step in cataloguing the World’s flora. However, this is only a preliminary stage in a long process of understanding what that species represents. We investigated how long the species discovery process takes by focusing on three key stages: 1, the collection …

Arfianti, T., and M. Costello. 2020. Global biogeography of marine amphipod crustaceans: latitude, regionalization, and beta diversity. Marine Ecology Progress Series 638: 83–94. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13272

Studying the biogeography of amphipod crustaceans is of interest because they play an important role at lower trophic levels in ecosystems. Because they lack a planktonic larval stage, it has been hypothesized that marine benthic amphipod crustaceans may have short dispersal distances, high endemici…