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Sánchez-Reyes, M., X. Chiappa-Carrara, E. Vázquez-Domínguez, C. Yáñez-Arenas, M. Falconi, L. Osorio-Olvera, and R. G. Contreras-Díaz. 2023. Human footprint effects on the distribution of the spotted lowland paca (Cuniculus paca). Therya 14: 75–83. https://doi.org/10.12933/therya-23-2237

Human activity has caused the decrease of about 20 % of the planet's vertebrate diversity and 25 % in their abundance.  Many large and medium-sized herbivore mammals have gone extinct locally, unleashing a cascade of ecosystem changes.  The spotted paca (Cuniculus paca) is impacted by hunting and anthropogenic habitat fragmentation and loss.  To protect spotted pacas, it is essential to estimate anthropogenic effects on their geographic distribution.  Through the use of primary biodiversity data, bioclimatic data, land-cover data, and a human footprint index, we modeled the distribution of C. paca.  From 105 candidate models, only one model met our selection criteria.  The variables with the highest contribution were the human footprint and annual precipitation.  According to the model's performance curves, the spotted paca has low to medium tolerance of anthropogenic pressure.  Cuniculus paca tolerates low to medium anthropogenic disturbance, which we hypothesize is related to reduced predator pressure in habitats modified by humans.  Accounting for the costs and benefits of anthropogenic disturbance is essential to paca conservation.

Hausdorf, B. 2023. Distribution patterns of established alien land snail species in the Western Palaearctic Region. NeoBiota 81: 1–32. https://doi.org/10.3897/neobiota.81.96360

AbstractEstablished alien land snail species that were introduced into the Western Palaearctic Region from other regions and their spread in the Western Palaearctic are reviewed. Thirteen of the 22 species came from North America, three from Sub-Saharan Africa, two from the Australian region, three probably from the Oriental Region and one from South America. The establishment of outdoor populations of these species was usually first seen at the western or southern rims of the Western Palearctic. Within Europe, the alien species usually spread from south to north and from west to east. The latitudinal ranges of the alien species significantly increased with increasing time since the first record of introduction to the Western Palearctic. The latitudinal mid-points of the Western Palaearctic and native ranges of the species are significantly correlated when one outlier is omitted. There is a general trend of poleward shifts of the ranges of the species in the Western Palaearctic compared to their native ranges. There are three reasons for these shifts: (1) the northward expansion of some species in Western Europe facilitated by the oceanic climate, (2) the impediment to the colonisation of southern latitudes in the Western Palaearctic due to their aridity and (3) the establishment of tropical species in the Mediterranean and the Middle East. Most of the species are small, not carnivorous and unlikely to cause serious ecological or economic damage. In contrast, the recently introduced large veronicellid slugs from Sub-Saharan Africa and the giant African snail Lissachatinafulica could cause economic damage in irrigated agricultural areas or greenhouses in the Mediterranean and the Middle East.

Borges, C., A. Bertassoni, L. F. Liévano‐Latorre, T. A. F. Dória, R. Santos‐Silva, F. Miranda, and E. Barreto. 2022. Safeguarding sloths and anteaters in the future: Priority areas for conservation under climate change. Biotropica. https://doi.org/10.1111/btp.13185

Sloths and anteaters form the monophyletic order Pilosa, which is currently represented by only 16 extant species distributed exclusively in the Neotropics. This present‐day low species richness is an inheritance of the Pleistocene megafaunal extinctions, where over 65 Pilosa species known from the fossil record went extinct. The large number of species lost in the recent past suggests that this group is greatly vulnerable to extinction. Here, we propose long‐term priority conservation areas for the order Pilosa, considering different future climate change scenarios, biotic stability, and the multiple dimensions of the group's biodiversity, such as species richness, species endemism, and phylogenetic diversity. Projections of species distribution for future scenarios show increased fragmentation and clear habitat loss as the Amazon Forest is replaced by savanna‐like habitats. Conservation solutions were highly congruent for the different dimensions of biodiversity, with priority areas emerging mainly in the Atlantic Forest, Amazonian wetlands, highlands of Ecuador, and the Central American isthmus. Expanding the currently protected areas network by 6% with the proposed priority areas, independently of which future climatic scenario is considered, can increase sloths and anteaters' coverage in the future by 12%. As a group of high phylogenetic and ecological importance, future conservation planning should deliberately aim to protect areas favorable to Pilosa, especially given the current scenario of environmental dismantling and neglect of critical Neotropical biomes.

Kopperud, B. T., S. Lidgard, and L. H. Liow. 2022. Enhancing georeferenced biodiversity inventories: automated information extraction from literature records reveal the gaps. PeerJ 10: e13921. https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.13921

We use natural language processing (NLP) to retrieve location data for cheilostome bryozoan species (text-mined occurrences (TMO)) in an automated procedure. We compare these results with data combined from two major public databases (DB): the Ocean Biodiversity Information System (OBIS), and the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF). Using DB and TMO data separately and in combination, we present latitudinal species richness curves using standard estimators (Chao2 and the Jackknife) and range-through approaches. Our combined DB and TMO species richness curves quantitatively document a bimodal global latitudinal diversity gradient for extant cheilostomes for the first time, with peaks in the temperate zones. A total of 79% of the georeferenced species we retrieved from TMO (N = 1,408) and DB (N = 4,549) are non-overlapping. Despite clear indications that global location data compiled for cheilostomes should be improved with concerted effort, our study supports the view that many marine latitudinal species richness patterns deviate from the canonical latitudinal diversity gradient (LDG). Moreover, combining online biodiversity databases with automated information retrieval from the published literature is a promising avenue for expanding taxon-location datasets.

Amaral, D. T., I. A. S. Bonatelli, M. Romeiro-Brito, E. M. Moraes, and F. F. Franco. 2022. Spatial patterns of evolutionary diversity in Cactaceae show low ecological representation within protected areas. Biological Conservation 273: 109677. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2022.109677

Mapping biodiversity patterns across taxa and environments is crucial to address the evolutionary and ecological dimensions of species distribution, suggesting areas of particular importance for conservation purposes. Within Cactaceae, spatial diversity patterns are poorly explored, as are the abiotic factors that may predict these patterns. We gathered geographic and genetic data from 921 cactus species by exploring both the occurrence and genetic databases, which are tightly associated with drylands, to evaluate diversity patterns, such as phylogenetic diversity and endemism, paleo-, neo-, and superendemism, and the environmental predictor variables of such patterns in a global analysis. Hotspot areas of cacti diversity are scattered along the Neotropical and Nearctic regions, mainly in the desertic portion of Mesoamerica, Caribbean Island, and the dry diagonal of South America. The geomorphological features of these regions may create a complexity of areas that work as locally buffered zones over time, which triggers local events of diversification and speciation. Desert and dryland/dry forest areas comprise paleo- and superendemism and may act as both museums and cradles of species, displaying great importance for conservation. Past climates, topography, soil features, and solar irradiance seem to be the main predictors of distinct endemism types. The hotspot areas that encompass a major part of the endemism cells are outside or poorly covered by formal protection units. The current legally protected areas are not able to conserve the evolutionary diversity of cacti. Given the rapid anthropogenic disturbance, efforts must be reinforced to monitor biodiversity and the environment and to define/plan current and new protected areas.

Sánchez-González, L. A., H. Cayetano, D. A. Prieto-Torres, O. R. Rojas-Soto, and A. G. Navarro-Sigüenza. 2022. The role of ecological and geographical drivers of lineage diversification in the Squirrel cuckoo Piaya cayana in Mexico: a mitochondrial DNA perspective. Journal of Ornithology. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10336-022-02008-w

The Squirrel Cuckoo ( Piaya cayana ) is a widely distributed neotropical species with 14 recognized subspecies. Two parapatric subspecies are distributed in Mexico. P. c. mexicana is endemic to the seasonally dry tropical forests of western Mexico, and P. c. thermophila is found in humid forests from eastern Mexico to western Colombia. The 2 taxa have a small area of overlap on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, but there is pronounced phenotypic differentiation, and very few reported intermediate individuals between these forms, leading to debate about the taxonomic status of the Mesoamerican taxa. Based on two mitochondrial genes, we used phylogenetic, phylogeographic, morphological, and ecological modelling analyses to describe the evolutionary relationships and paleo-distributional patterns of P. cayana in Mexico. Divergence time estimates suggest that the split between P. c. mexicana and P. c. thermophila occurred during the Pleistocene, about 1.24 Mya. Morphometrics of Mexican subspecies indicate that tail length and the white tail tips are significantly longer in P. c. mexicana , while P. c. thermophila has a longer and wider bill. Ecological niche analyses indicated that niche similarity between both lineages was lower than expected by chance, while low values on cross-prediction tests suggested that the two lineages have inhabited different environmental spaces since at least the Late Pleistocene. The ecological niche difference may also be associated with a steep humidity gradient, suggesting a significant contemporary environmental barrier. Overall, our results indicate that P. c. mexicana and P. c. thermophila have divergent evolutionary histories; therefore, the current taxonomic status of the Piaya populations in Mexico reflects neither their evolutionary relationships nor their apparent divergence. Our results suggest a major split in the polytypic P. cayana coinciding with the Andes, suggesting that the western endemic P. c. mexicana and P. c. thermophila are best treated as separate species-level taxa . Die Rolle ökologischer und geografischer Faktoren bei der Abstammung und Diversifikation des Eichhornkuckucks Piaya cayana in Mexiko: von der mitochondrialen DNA her betrachtet Der Eichhornkuckuck ( Piaya cayana ) ist eine weit verbreitete neotropische Art mit 14 anerkannten Unterarten. In Mexiko gibt es zwei parapatrische Unterarten. P. c. mexicana ist in den je nach Jahreszeit trockenen tropischen Wäldern Westmexikos beheimatet, während P. c. thermophila in den feuchten Wäldern von Ostmexiko bis Westkolumbien vorkommt. Die beiden Taxa überschneiden sich in einem kleinen Gebiet an der Landenge von Tehuantepec, aber es gibt einen ausgeprägten phänotypischen Unterschied und nur sehr wenige bekannte Mischtypen zwischen den beiden und damit Anlass zu Diskussionen über den taxonomischen Status dieser mittelamerikanischen Taxa. Auf der Grundlage zweier mitochondrialer Gene haben wir phylogenetische, phylogeografische, morphologische und ökologische Modell-Analysen durchgeführt, um die abstammungsbiologischen Verbindungen und Verbreitungsmuster von P. cayana im Paläozän in Mexiko zu bestimmen. Schätzungen der Entstehungszeit der Unterschiede deuten darauf hin, dass die Trennung zwischen P. c. mexicana und P. c. thermophila während des Pleistozäns stattfand, vor etwa 1,24 Millionen Jahren. Die morphometrischen Daten der mexikanischen Unterarten zeigen, dass die Schwanzlänge und die weißen Schwanzspitzen bei P. c. mexicana deutlich länger sind, während P. c. thermophila einen längeren und breiteren Schnabel hat. Analysen der ökologischen Nischen zeigten, dass die Übereinstimmungen zwischen den beiden Linien geringer waren als durch Zufall zu erwarten wäre, während niedrige Werte bei Kreuz-Vorhersagetests darauf hindeuteten, dass die beiden Linien mindestens seit dem späten Pleistozän in unterschiedlichen Lebensräumen gelebt haben müssen. Der ökologische Nischenunterschied kann auch mit dem starken Feuchtigkeitsgradienten zusammenhängen, was auf eine bedeutende gegenwärtige Umweltbarriere hinweist. Insgesamt deuten unsere Ergebnisse darauf hin, dass P. c. mexicana und P. c. thermophila eine unterschiedliche Entwicklungsgeschichte haben; daher gibt der derzeitige taxonomische Status der Piaya-Populationen in Mexiko weder ihre evolutionäre Verwandtschaft, noch ihre offensichtlichen Unterschiede wieder. Unsere Ergebnisse deuten darauf hin, dass sich der polytypische P. cayana in den Anden aufgespalten hat, was bedeuten könnte, dass die im Westen endemischen P. c. mexicana und P. c. thermophila am besten als separate Taxa auf Artniveau behandelt werden sollten.

Fell, H. G., O. G. Osborne, M. D. Jones, S. Atkinson, S. Tarr, S. H. Keddie, and A. C. Algar. 2022. Biotic factors limit the invasion of the plague pathogen ( Yersinia pestis ) in novel geographical settings P. Kamath [ed.],. Global Ecology and Biogeography 31: 672–684. https://doi.org/10.1111/geb.13453

Aim: The distribution of Yersinia pestis, the pathogen that causes plague in humans, is reliant upon transmission between host species; however, the degree to which host species distributions dictate the distribution of Y. pestis, compared with limitations imposed by the environmental niche of Y. pe…

Freitas, C., F. T. Brum, C. Cássia-Silva, L. Maracahipes, M. B. Carlucci, R. G. Collevatti, and C. D. Bacon. 2021. Incongruent Spatial Distribution of Taxonomic, Phylogenetic, and Functional Diversity in Neotropical Cocosoid Palms. Frontiers in Forests and Global Change 4. https://doi.org/10.3389/ffgc.2021.739468

Biodiversity can be quantified by taxonomic, phylogenetic, and functional diversity. Current evidence points to a lack of congruence between the spatial distribution of these facets due to evolutionary and ecological constraints. A lack of congruence is especially evident between phylogenetic and ta…

Méndez-Camacho, K., O. Leon-Alvarado, and D. R. Miranda-Esquivel. 2021. Biogeographic evidence supports the Old Amazon hypothesis for the formation of the Amazon fluvial system. PeerJ 9: e12533. https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.12533

The Amazon has high biodiversity, which has been attributed to different geological events such as the formation of rivers. The Old and Young Amazon hypotheses have been proposed regarding the date of the formation of the Amazon basin. Different studies of historical biogeography support the Young A…

Xue, T., S. R. Gadagkar, T. P. Albright, X. Yang, J. Li, C. Xia, J. Wu, and S. Yu. 2021. Prioritizing conservation of biodiversity in an alpine region: Distribution pattern and conservation status of seed plants in the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. Global Ecology and Conservation 32: e01885. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gecco.2021.e01885

The Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau (QTP) harbors abundant and diverse plant life owing to its high habitat heterogeneity. However, the distribution pattern of biodiversity hotspots and their conservation status remain unclear. Based on 148,283 high-resolution occurrence coordinates of 13,450 seed plants, w…