For all researches, please visit our "Peer-reviewed publications" page.
Aguiar L, Bernard E, Ribeiro V, Machado R, Jones G (2016)
Global Ecology and Conservation 5 22-33.
Most extant species are survivors of the last climate change event 20,000 years ago. While past events took place over thousands of years, current climate change is occurring much faster, over a few decades. We modelled the potential distribution area of bat species in the Brazilian Cerrado, a Neotropical savannah, and assessed the potential impacts of climate change up to 2050 in two scenarios. First we evaluated what the impact on the distributions of bat species would be if they were unable to move to areas where climate conditions might be similar to current ones. The novelty of our paper is that, based on least-cost-path analyses, we identified potential corridors that could be managed now to mitigate potential impacts of climate change. Our results indicate that on average, in the future bat species would find similar climate conditions 281 km southeast from current regions. If bat species were not able to move to new suitable areas and were unable to adapt, then 36 species (31.6%) could lose >80% of their current distribution area, and five species will lose more than 98% of their distribution area in the Brazilian Cerrado. In contrast, if bat species are able to reach such areas, then the number of highly impacted species will be reduced to nine, with none of them likely to disappear from the Cerrado. We present measures that could be implemented immediately to mitigate future climate change impacts.
Keywords: Brazil, Brazilian Cerrado, Chiroptera, Conservation, Ecological niche models
Alexander N, Massei G, Wint W (2016)
The European Distribution of Sus Scrofa. Model Outputs from the Project Described within the Poster – Where are All the Boars? An Attempt to Gain a Continental Perspective
Open Health Data 4(1).
Wild boar is a host of a number of arthropod-vectored diseases and its numbers are on the rise in mainland Europe. The species potentially impacts ecosystems, humans and farming practices and so its distribution is of interest to policy makers in a number of fields beyond that of the primarily epidemiological goal of this study. Three statistical model outputs describing the distribution and abundance of the species Sus scrofa (Wild boar) are included in this data package. The extent of this dataset covers continental Europe. These data were presented as a poster  at the conference Genes, Ecosystems and Risk of Infection (GERI 2015). The first of the three models provide a European map presenting the probability of presence of Sus scrofa, which can be used to describe the likely geographical distribution of the species. The second and third models provide indices to help describe the likely abundance across the continent. The two indices include “the proportion of suitable habitat where presence is estimated” and a simple classification of boar abundance across Europe using quantiles of existing abundance data and proxies.
Keywords: Abundance, Distribution, Europe, Random Forest, Statistical modelling, Sus scrofa
Araújo R, Assis J, Aguillar R, Airoldi L, Bárbara I, Bartsch I et al. (2016)
Biodiversity and Conservation 25(7) 1319-1348.
A comprehensive expert consultation was conducted in order to assess the status, trends and the most important drivers of change in the abundance and geographical distribution of kelp forests in European waters. This consultation included an on-line questionnaire, results from a workshop and data provided by a selected group of experts working on kelp forest mapping and eco-evolutionary research. Differences in status and trends according to geographical areas, species identity and small-scale variations within the same habitat where shown by assembling and mapping kelp distribution and trend data. Significant data gaps for some geographical regions, like the Mediterranean and the southern Iberian Peninsula, were also identified. The data used for this study confirmed a general trend with decreasing abundance of some native kelp species at their southern distributional range limits and increasing abundance in other parts of their distribution (Saccharina latissima and Saccorhiza polyschides). The expansion of the introduced species Undaria pinnatifida was also registered. Drivers of observed changes in kelp forests distribution and abundance were assessed using experts’ opinions. Multiple possible drivers were identified, including global warming, sea urchin grazing, harvesting, pollution and fishing pressure, and their impact varied between geographical areas. Overall, the results highlight major threats for these ecosystems but also opportunities for conservation. Major requirements to ensure adequate protection of coastal kelp ecosystems along European coastlines are discussed, based on the local to regional gaps detected in the study.
Keyword: Kelp forests Expert consultation Status and tempor
Ballesteros-Mejia L, Kitching I, Jetz W, Beck J (2016)
Putting insects on the map: Near-global variation in sphingid moth richness along spatial and environmental gradients
Despite their vast diversity and vital ecological role, insects are notoriously underrepresented in biogeography and conservation, and key broad-scale ecological hypotheses about them remain untested – largely due to generally incomplete and very coarse spatial distribution knowledge. Integrating records from publications, field work and natural history collections, we used a mixture of species distribution models and expert estimates to provide geographic distributions and emergent richness patterns for all ca. 1,000 sphingid moth species found outside the Americas in high spatial detail. Total sphingid moth richness, the first for a higher insect group to be documented at this scale, shows distinct maxima in the wet tropics of Africa and the Oriental with notable decay toward Australasia. Using multivariate models controlling for spatial autocorrelation, we found that primary productivity is the dominant environmental variable associated with moth richness, while temperature, contrary to our predictions, is an unexpectedly weak predictor. This is in stark contrast to the importance we identify for temperature as a niche variable of individual species. Despite divergent life histories, both main sub-groups of moths exhibit these relationships. Tribal-level deconstruction of richness and climatic niche patterns indicate idiosyncratic effects of biogeographic history for some of the less species-rich tribes, which in some cases exhibit distinct richness peaks away from the tropics. The study confirms, for a diverse insect group, overall richness associations of remarkable similarity to those documented for vertebrates and highlights the significant within-taxon structure that underpins emergent macroecological patterns. Results do not, however, meet predictions from vertebrate-derived hypotheses on how thermoregulation affects the strength of temperature-richness effects. Our study thus broadens the taxonomic focus in this data-deficient discourse. Our procedures of processing incomplete, scattered distribution data are a template for application to other taxa and regions.
Keywords: Distribution modelling, Lepidoptera, Productivity, Spatial scale, Sphingidae, Tropics
Bellard C, Leroy B, Thuiller W, Rysman J, Courchamp F (2016)
In this paper, we investigate how climate, land use, habitat characteristics, and socioeconomic activities contribute to predict the current potential distributions of the “100 among the world's worst invasive alien species”. We calculated the predictive power of each of the 41 variables for the 95 species including a large number of plants, vertebrates and invertebrates. We then calibrated the species distribution models with a set of appropriate variables for each invasive alien species to predict the potential distribution of these species and identify the major regions of origin of the invasive alien species. We found that climate variables were primarily predictors of the distribution of the global invaders studied. In addition, the habitat characteristics were also important predictors following by the socioeconomic variables such as the nearest distance to airports, seaports and human population density. We show that the potential areas at the highest risk of invasions from these species are located in Western Europe, Eastern United States, Central America, the eastern coast of Australia, and some Indonesian islands. We argue that these potential hotspots of invasions should be monitored in priority to prevent new invasions from these species. This study provides evidence of the importance of considering both habitat characteristics, socioeconomic and climate change factors for the current and future predictions of biological invasions.
Keywords: invasive species, socioeconomic, spatial risk
Cáceres N, de Moraes Weber M, Melo G, Meloro C, Sponchiado J, Carvalho R et al. (2016)
Which Factors Determine Spatial Segregation in the South American Opossums (Didelphis aurita and D. albiventris)? An Ecological Niche Modelling and Geometric Morphometrics Approach
PLOS ONE 11(6) e0157723.
Didelphis albiventris and D. aurita are Neotropical marsupials that share a unique evolutionary history and both are largely distributed throughout South America, being primarily allopatric throughout their ranges. In the Araucaria moist forest of Southern Brazil these species are sympatric and they might potentially compete having similar ecology. For this reason, they are ideal biological models to address questions about ecological character displacement and how closely related species might share their geographic space. Little is known about how two morphologically similar species of marsupials may affect each other through competition, if by competitive exclusion and competitive release. We combined ecological niche modeling and geometric morphometrics to explore the possible effects of competition on their distributional ranges and skull morphology. Ecological niche modeling was used to predict their potential distribution and this method enabled us to identify a case of biotic exclusion where the habit generalist D. albiventris is excluded by the presence of the specialist D. aurita. The morphometric analyses show that a degree of shape discrimination occurs between the species, strengthened by allometric differences, which possibly allowed them to occupy marginally different feeding niches supplemented by behavioral shift in contact areas. Overlap in skull morphology is shown between sympatric and allopatric specimens and a significant, but weak, shift in shape occurs only in D. aurita in sympatric areas. This could be a residual evidence of a higher past competition between both species, when contact zones were possibly larger than today. Therefore, the specialist D. aurita acts a biotic barrier to D. albiventris when niche diversity is not available for coexistence. On the other hand, when there is niche diversification (e.g. habitat mosaic), both species are capable to coexist with a minimal competitive effect on the morphology of D. aurita.
Keywords: invasive species, socioeconomic, spatial risk
Fletcher D, Gillingham P, Britton J, Blanchet S, Gozlan R, Stohlgren T et al. (2016)
Scientific Reports 6 26316.
Predicting regions at risk from introductions of non-native species and the subsequent invasions is a fundamental aspect of horizon scanning activities that enable the development of more effective preventative actions and planning of management measures. The Asian cyprinid fish topmouth gudgeon Pseudorasbora parva has proved highly invasive across Europe since its introduction in the 1960s. In addition to direct negative impacts on native fish populations, P. parva has potential for further damage through transmission of an emergent infectious disease, known to cause mortality in other species. To quantify its invasion risk, in regions where it has yet to be introduced, we trained 900 ecological niche models and constructed an Ensemble Model predicting suitability, then integrated a proxy for introduction likelihood. This revealed high potential for P. parva to invade regions well beyond its current invasive range. These included areas in all modelled continents, with several hotspots of climatic suitability and risk of introduction. We believe that these methods are easily adapted for a variety of other invasive species and that such risk maps could be used by policy-makers and managers in hotspots to formulate increased surveillance and early-warning systems that aim to prevent introductions and subsequent invasions.
Keywords: invasive species, socioeconomic, spatial risk
Fuchs J, Lemoine D, Parra J, Pons J, Raherilalao M, Prys-Jones R et al. (2016)
Long-distance dispersal and inter-island colonization across the western Malagasy Region explain diversification in brush-warblers (Passeriformes: Nesillas )
Biological Journal of the Linnean Society.
The present study examines the colonization history and phylogeography of the brush-warblers (Nesillas), a genus of passerines endemic to islands of the western Indian Ocean (Madagascar, Comoros, and Aldabra Atoll). The phylogeny of all recognized Nesillas taxa was reconstructed employing Bayesian phylogenetic methods and divergence times were estimated using a range of substitution rates and clock assumptions. Spatiotemporal patterns of population expansion were inferred and niches of different lineages were compared using ecological niche modelling. Our results indicate that taxa endemic to the Comoros are paraphyletic and that the two endemic species on Madagascar (Nesillas typica and Nesillas lantzii) are not sister taxa. The brush-warblers started to diversify approximately 1.6 Mya, commencing with the separation of the clade formed by two species endemic to the Comoros (Nesillas brevicaudata and Nesillas mariae) from the rest of the genus. The lineages leading to the two Malagasy species diverged approximately 0.9 Mya; each with significantly different modern ecological niches and the subject of separate demographic processes. Patterns of diversification and endemism in Nesillas were shaped by multiple long distance dispersal events and inter-island colonization, a recurring pattern for different lineages on western Indian Ocean islands. The diversification dynamics observed for Nesillas are also consistent with the taxon cycle hypothesis.
Keywords: MAXENT, demographic history, ecological niche modelling, island biogeography, mitochondrial sequence data, phylogenetic constraints, taxon cycle
Giovannini P, Howes M, Edwards S (2016)
Medicinal plants used in the traditional management of diabetes and its sequelae in Central America: a review.
Journal of ethnopharmacology 184 58-71.
ETHNOPHARMACOLOGICAL RELEVANCE: Globally 387 million people currently have diabetes and it is projected that this condition will be the 7th leading cause of death worldwide by 2030. As of 2012, its total prevalence in Central America (8.5%) was greater than the prevalence in most Latin American countries and the population of this region widely use herbal medicine. The aim of this study is to review the medicinal plants used to treat diabetes and its sequelae in seven Central American countries: Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama. MATERIALS AND METHODS: We conducted a literature review and extracted from primary sources the plant use reports in traditional remedies that matched one of the following disease categories: diabetes mellitus, kidney disease, urinary problems, skin diseases and infections, cardiovascular disease, sexual dysfunctions, visual loss, and nerve damage. Use reports were entered in a database and data were analysed in terms of the highest number of use reports for diabetes management and for the different sequelae. We also examined the scientific evidence that might support the local uses of the most reported species. RESULTS: Out of 535 identified species used to manage diabetes and its sequelae, 104 species are used to manage diabetes and we found in vitro and in vivo preclinical experimental evidence of hypoglycaemic effect for 16 of the 20 species reported by at least two sources. However, only seven of these species are reported in more than 3 studies: Momordica charantia L., Neurolaena lobata (L.) R. Br. ex Cass., Tecoma stans (L.) Juss. ex Kunth, Persea americana Mill., Psidium guajava L., Anacardium occidentale L. and Hamelia patens Jacq. Several of the species that are used to manage diabetes in Central America are also used to treat conditions that may arise as its consequence such as kidney disease, urinary problems and skin conditions. CONCLUSION: This review provides an overview of the medicinal plants used to manage diabetes and its sequelae in Central America and of the current scientific knowledge that might explain their traditional use. In Central America a large number of medicinal plants are used to treat this condition and its sequelae, although relatively few species are widely used across the region. For the species used to manage diabetes, there is variation in the availability and quality of pharmacological, chemical and clinical studies to explain traditional use.
Keywords: AMP-activated protein kinase, AMPK, Bixin (PubChem CID: 5281226), Central America, Chlorogenic acid (PubChem CID: 1794427), Diabetes, Ecosystem services, Guaijaverin (PubChem CID: 44259215), Hypoglycaemic, IRS-1, Kaempferol 3-O-gentiobioside (PubChem CID: 9960512, Medicinal plants, More information is available at: http://www.elsev, NADPH, PKB/Akt, PPARγ, PTP-1B, Peltatoside (PubChem CID: 5484066), Quassin (PubChem CID: 65571), Quercetin (PubChem CID: 5280343), RCT, Rhoifolin (PubChem CID: 5282150), Tecomine (PubChem CID: 442553), Traditional medicine, Vindoline (PubChem CID: 260535), insulin receptor substrate-1, nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate, peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ, protein kinase B, protein-tyrosine phosphatase 1B, randomised controlled trial
Greve M, Lykke A, Fagg C, Gereau R, Lewis G, Marchant R et al. (2016)
South African Journal of Botany 105 317-323.
One of the major challenges in ecosystem conservation is obtaining baseline data, particularly for regions that have been poorly inventoried, such as regions of the African continent. Here we use a database of African herbarium records and examples from the literature to show that, although herbarium records have traditionally been collected to build botanical reference “libraries” for taxonomic and inventory purposes, they provide valuable and useful information regarding species, their distribution in time and space, their traits, phenological characteristics, associated species and their physical environment. These data have the potential to provide invaluable information to feed into evidence-based conservation decisions.
Keywords: Biological collections, Database, Historical records, Label information, Long-term data collections, Trait