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Cruz, J. A., J. A. Velasco, J. Arroyo-Cabrales, and E. Johnson. 2023. Paleoclimatic Reconstruction Based on the Late Pleistocene San Josecito Cave Stratum 720 Fauna Using Fossil Mammals, Reptiles, and Birds. Diversity 15: 881. https://doi.org/10.3390/d15070881

Advances in technology have equipped paleobiologists with new analytical tools to assess the fossil record. The functional traits of vertebrates have been used to infer paleoenvironmental conditions. In Quaternary deposits, birds are the second-most-studied group after mammals. They are considered a poor paleoambiental proxy because their high vagility and phenotypic plasticity allow them to respond more effectively to climate change. Investigating multiple groups is important, but it is not often attempted. Biogeographical and climatic niche information concerning small mammals, reptiles, and birds have been used to infer the paleoclimatic conditions present during the Late Pleistocene at San Josecito Cave (~28,000 14C years BP), Mexico. Warmer and dryer conditions are inferred with respect to the present. The use of all of the groups of small vertebrates is recommended because they represent an assemblage of species that have gone through a series of environmental filters in the past. Individually, different vertebrate groups provide different paleoclimatic information. Birds are a good proxy for inferring paleoprecipitation but not paleotemperature. Together, reptiles and small mammals are a good proxy for inferring paleoprecipitation and paleotemperature, but reptiles alone are a bad proxy, and mammals alone are a good proxy for inferring paleotemperature and precipitation. The current paleoclimatic results coupled with those of a previous vegetation structure analysis indicate the presence of non-analog paleoenvironmental conditions during the Late Pleistocene in the San Josecito Cave area. This situation would explain the presence of a disharmonious fauna and the extinction of several taxa when these conditions later disappeared and do not reappear again.

Marcussen, T., H. E. Ballard, J. Danihelka, A. R. Flores, M. V. Nicola, and J. M. Watson. 2022. A Revised Phylogenetic Classification for Viola (Violaceae). Plants 11: 2224. https://doi.org/10.3390/plants11172224

The genus Viola (Violaceae) is among the 40–50 largest genera among angiosperms, yet its taxonomy has not been revised for nearly a century. In the most recent revision, by Wilhelm Becker in 1925, the then-known 400 species were distributed among 14 sections and numerous unranked groups. Here, we provide an updated, comprehensive classification of the genus, based on data from phylogeny, morphology, chromosome counts, and ploidy, and based on modern principles of monophyly. The revision is presented as an annotated global checklist of accepted species of Viola, an updated multigene phylogenetic network and an ITS phylogeny with denser taxon sampling, a brief summary of the taxonomic changes from Becker’s classification and their justification, a morphological binary key to the accepted subgenera, sections and subsections, and an account of each infrageneric subdivision with justifications for delimitation and rank including a description, a list of apomorphies, molecular phylogenies where possible or relevant, a distribution map, and a list of included species. We distribute the 664 species accepted by us into 2 subgenera, 31 sections, and 20 subsections. We erect one new subgenus of Viola (subg. Neoandinium, a replacement name for the illegitimate subg. Andinium), six new sections (sect. Abyssinium, sect. Himalayum, sect. Melvio, sect. Nematocaulon, sect. Spathulidium, sect. Xanthidium), and seven new subsections (subsect. Australasiaticae, subsect. Bulbosae, subsect. Clausenianae, subsect. Cleistogamae, subsect. Dispares, subsect. Formosanae, subsect. Pseudorupestres). Evolution within the genus is discussed in light of biogeography, the fossil record, morphology, and particular traits. Viola is among very few temperate and widespread genera that originated in South America. The biggest identified knowledge gaps for Viola concern the South American taxa, for which basic knowledge from phylogeny, chromosome counts, and fossil data is virtually absent. Viola has also never been subject to comprehensive anatomical study. Studies into seed anatomy and morphology are required to understand the fossil record of the genus.

Miller, E. F., R. E. Green, A. Balmford, P. Maisano Delser, R. Beyer, M. Somveille, M. Leonardi, et al. 2021. Bayesian Skyline Plots disagree with range size changes based on Species Distribution Models for Holarctic birds. Molecular Ecology 30: 3993–4004. https://doi.org/10.1111/mec.16032

During the Quaternary, large climate oscillations impacted the distribution and demography of species globally. Two approaches have played a major role in reconstructing changes through time: Bayesian Skyline Plots (BSPs), which reconstruct population fluctuations based on genetic data, and Species …

Cardador, L., and T. M. Blackburn. 2020. A global assessment of human influence on niche shifts and risk predictions of bird invasions B. McGill [ed.],. Global Ecology and Biogeography 29: 1956–1966. https://doi.org/10.1111/geb.13166

Aim: Estimating the strength of niche conservatism is key for predictions of invasion risk. Most studies consider only the climatic niche, but other factors, such as human disturbance, also shape niches. Whether occupation of human habitats in the alien range depends on the native tolerances of spec…

Zigler, K., M. Niemiller, C. Stephen, B. Ayala, M. Milne, N. Gladstone, A. Engel, et al. 2020. Biodiversity from caves and other sub-terranean habitats of Georgia, USA. Journal of Cave and Karst Studies 82: 125–167. https://doi.org/10.4311/2019LSC0125

We provide an annotated checklist of species recorded from caves and other subterranean habitats in the state of Georgia, USA. We report 281 species (228 invertebrates and 53 vertebrates), including 51 troglobionts (cave-obligate species), from more than 150 sites (caves, springs, and wells). Endemi…

Rotenberry, J. T., and P. Balasubramaniam. 2020. Connecting species’ geographical distributions to environmental variables: range maps versus observed points of occurrence. Ecography 43: 897–913. https://doi.org/10.1111/ecog.04871

Connecting the geographical occurrence of a species with underlying environmental variables is fundamental for many analyses of life history evolution and for modeling species distributions for both basic and practical ends. However, raw distributional information comes principally in two forms: poi…

Prieto-Torres, D. A., A. Lira-Noriega, and A. G. Navarro-Sigüenza. 2020. Climate change promotes species loss and uneven modification of richness patterns in the avifauna associated to Neotropical seasonally dry forests. Perspectives in Ecology and Conservation 18: 19–30. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pecon.2020.01.002

We assessed the effects of global climate change as a driver of spatio-temporal biodiversity patterns in bird assemblages associated to Neotropical seasonally dry forests (NSDF). For this, we estimated the geographic distribution of 719 bird species under current and future climate (2050 and 2070) p…