Science Rendue Possible

Ruiz-Utrilla, Z. P., E. del-Val, J. Equihua, and Á. P. Cuervo-Robayo. 2024. Risk of Asian hornet invasion in Mexico: a proposal for invasive species risk assessment from a spatial perspective. Biodiversity and Conservation 33: 1751–1773.

Biological invasions need to be assessed as spatial processes, incorporating information on introduction sites, environmental suitability, dispersal parameters and negative impacts. The above allows us to develop risk maps, which are an important tool to determine the probability and consequences of an invasion in each area. In this study, we developed species niche-based distribution models for Vespa mandarinia and V. velutina , exotic species recently discovered in North America, being V. velutina a recognized invasive alien species that has caused enormous economic impacts in Europe. Species niche-based distribution models were used as a base map to determine the risk of establishment in conjunction with information related to the introduction, economic and biodiversity risk. The models developed in this study show environmental suitability for the establishment of these species in tropical and subtropical locations of North America. In Mexico, more than 50% of the ports are at high risk especially those located in the Gulf of Mexico. The biodiversity impact risk map for V. mandarinia shows that 57 protected areas are in regions with some risk of invasion and the V. velutina analysis shows 49 protected areas at potential risk. By implementing comprehensive surveillance and monitoring programs, integrating early detection and rapid response strategy and leveraging geographic information systems, Mexico can take proactive measures to mitigate the potential impacts of invasive species. These efforts will be crucial in protecting biodiversity, preserving ecosystems and safeguarding the country’s economy from the negative consequences associated with invasive species.

Li, D., X. Wang, K. Jiang, R. An, Y. Li, and D. Liu. 2024. The impact of climate change and the conservation of the keystone Asian honeybee using niche models and systematic prioritization C. Bahlai [ed.],. Journal of Economic Entomology.

Global warming has seriously disturbed the Earth’s ecosystems, and in this context, Asian honeybee (Apis cerana) has experienced a dramatic decline in recent decades. Here, we examined both direct and indirect effects of climate change on A. cerana through ecological niche modeling of A. cerana, and its disease pathogens (i.e., Chinese sacbrood virus and Melissococcus plutonius) and enemies (i.e., Galleria mellonella and Vespa mandarinia). Ecological niche modeling predicts that climate change will increase the potential suitability of A. cerana, but it will also cause some of the original habitat areas to become unsuitable. Outbreak risks of Chinese sacbrood disease and European Foulbrood will increase dramatically, while those of G. mellonella and V. mandarinia will decrease only slightly. Thus, climate change will produce an unfavorable situation for even maintaining some A. cerana populations in China in the future. Genetic structure analyses showed that the A. cerana population from Hainan Island had significant genetic differentiation from that of the mainland, and there was almost no gene flow between the 2, suggesting that urgent measures are needed to protect the unique genetic resources there. Through taking an integrated planning technique with the Marxan approach, we optimized conservation planning, and identified potential nature reserves (mainly in western Sichuan and southern Tibet) for conservation of A. cerana populations. Our results can provide insights into the potential impact of climate change on A. cerana, and will help to promote the conservation of the keystone honeybee in China and the long-term sustainability of its ecosystem services.

Lopez-Collado, J., J. Jacinto-Padilla, O. Rodríguez-Aguilar, and J. V. Hidalgo-Contreras. 2024. Bioclimatic similarity between species locations and their environment revealed by dimensionality reduction analysis. Ecological Informatics 79: 102444.

Species distribution modeling is an active research topic with applications in conservation management, pest risk assessment, and population ecology. Several machine-learning methods have been applied to estimate species distribution. Non-linear dimensionality reduction techniques aim to preserve the similarity among objects at a reduced dimension for visualization, clustering, and feature selection. We propose a framework that uses Uniform Manifold Approximation and Projection (UMAP) to analyze bioclimatic variables associated with environmental (background) and species samples. Our objective was to identify geographic areas similar to those inhabited by the species. We hypothesize that the similarity between species locations and their environment in the reduced dimension will reflect similarity in the multivariate bioclimatic space. We estimated the probability of background points near a species point utilizing the latent nearest neighbor distance distribution. We tested this procedure with ten insect pest species of global importance and found that UMAP was able to generate a gradient of similarity between geographic areas and species occurrence. We also found that background-species latent distance tends to have a convergent non-linear relationship with the mean value of bioclimatic variables, thus supporting our key assumption. The performance of UMAP as a binary classifier and comparison with MaxEnt supports its use in modeling of species distribution. Potential applications are discussed for multi-species and multi-scenario analysis, as well as projection to new regions.

Segovia‐Ramírez, M. G., O. Ramírez‐Sánchez, L. P. Decena Segarra, H. Rios‐Carlos, and S. M. Rovito. 2023. Determinants of genetic diversity in Neotropical salamanders (Plethodontidae: Bolitoglossini). Ecology and Evolution 13.

Genetic diversity is the raw material of evolution, yet the reasons why it varies among species remain poorly understood. While studies at deeper phylogenetic scales point to the influence of life history traits on genetic diversity, it appears to be more affected by population size but less predictable at shallower scales. We used proxies for population size, mutation rate, direct selection, and linked selection to test factors affecting genetic diversity within a diverse assemblage of Neotropical salamanders, which vary widely for these traits. We estimated genetic diversity of noncoding loci using ddRADseq and coding loci using RNAseq for an assemblage of Neotropical salamanders distributed from northern Mexico to Costa Rica. Using ddRADseq loci, we found no significant association with genetic diversity, while for RNAseq data we found that environmental heterogeneity and proxies of population size predict a substantial portion of the variance in genetic diversity across species. Our results indicate that diversity of coding loci may be more predictable than that of noncoding loci, which appears to be mostly unpredictable at shallower phylogenetic scales. Our results suggest that coding loci may be more appropriate for genetic diversity estimates used in conservation planning because of the lack of any association between the variables we used and genetic diversity of noncoding loci.

Ortiz-Acosta, M. Á., J. Galindo-González, A. A. Castro-Luna, and C. Mota-Vargas. 2023. Potential distribution of marsupials (Didelphimorphia: Didelphidae) in Mexico under 2 climate change scenarios M. Vieira [ed.],. Journal of Mammalogy.

Climate change is one of the main threats to biodiversity in the 21st century. However, the effects that it may have on different mammal species are unknown, making it difficult to implement conservation strategies. In this paper, we used species distribution models (SDM) to assess the effect of global climate change on the potential distribution of the 8 of the 9 marsupial species in Mexico, and analyzed their distribution in the current system of natural protected areas (NPAs). We used presence records for each species and bioclimatic variables from the present and the future (2050 and 2080) with 2 contrasting possible scenarios (representative concentration pathways RCP 4.5 and 8.5). We found that Tlacuatzin canescens would have the most stable potential range under any climate change scenario, while the remaining species (Caluromys derbianus, Chironectes minimus, Didelphis marsupialis, D. virginiana, Philander opossum, Marmosa mexicana, and Metachirus nudicaudatus) would undergo notable range losses in the future, though there would not only be losses—according to our SDMs, for all species there would be some range gain under the different climate scenarios, assuming the vegetation cover remained. The current system of NPAs in Mexico currently protects and under the 2 future scenarios would protect less than 20% of the potential range of marsupials, so a reevaluation of their areas beyond the NPAs is highly recommended for the long-term conservation of this group. Our results provide relevant information on the estimated effects of global climate change on marsupials, allowing us to design more effective methodologies for the protection of this portion of the mammalian fauna in Mexico.

Leão, C. F., M. S. Lima Ribeiro, K. Moraes, G. S. R. Gonçalves, and M. G. M. Lima. 2023. Climate change and carnivores: shifts in the distribution and effectiveness of protected areas in the Amazon. PeerJ 11: e15887.

Background Carnivore mammals are animals vulnerable to human interference, such as climate change and deforestation. Their distribution and persistence are affected by such impacts, mainly in tropical regions such as the Amazon. Due to the importance of carnivores in the maintenance and functioning of the ecosystem, they are extremely important animals for conservation. We evaluated the impact of climate change on the geographic distribution of carnivores in the Amazon using Species Distribution Models (SDMs). Do we seek to answer the following questions: (1) What is the effect of climate change on the distribution of carnivores in the Amazon? (2) Will carnivore species lose or gain representation within the Protected Areas (PAs) of the Amazon in the future? Methods We evaluated the distribution area of 16 species of carnivores mammals in the Amazon, based on two future climate scenarios (RCP 4.5 and RCP 8.5) for the year 2070. For the construction of the SDMs we used bioclimatic and vegetation cover variables (land type). Based on these models, we calculated the area loss and climate suitability of the species, as well as the effectiveness of the protected areas inserted in the Amazon. We estimated the effectiveness of PAs on the individual persistence of carnivores in the future, for this, we used the SDMs to perform the gap analysis. Finally, we analyze the effectiveness of PAs in protecting taxonomic richness in future scenarios. Results The SDMs showed satisfactory predictive performance, with Jaccard values above 0.85 and AUC above 0.91 for all species. In the present and for the future climate scenarios, we observe a reduction of potencial distribution in both future scenarios (RCP4.5 and RCP8.5), where five species will be negatively affected by climate change in the RCP 4.5 future scenario and eight in the RCP 8.5 scenario. The remaining species stay stable in terms of total area. All species in the study showed a loss of climatic suitability. Some species lost almost all climatic suitability in the RCP 8.5 scenario. According to the GAP analysis, all species are protected within the PAs both in the current scenario and in both future climate scenarios. From the null models, we found that in all climate scenarios, the PAs are not efficient in protecting species richness.

Despite the wide distribution of the jaguarundi (Puma yagouaroundi) in America, it is considered a rare and elusive species from which little is known throughout its distributional range. Its altitudinal distribution ranges from sea level to around 3,200 m, but it generally occurs below 500 m. A direct encounter with a jaguarundi was documented during a routine walk in the Sierra de los Cuchumatanes (Huehuetenango, Gua- temala) and specific data on the location, time of day, and behavior of the individual were recorded. We observed and photographed an adult male at 3,559 m in the Parque Regional Municipal Todos Santos Cuchumatán. This is the highest altitudinal record for the species and reflects its plasticity to inhabit in a great variety of ecosystems and climatic conditions.

Charre‐Medellín, J. F., D. Ferrer‐Ferrando, T. C. Monterrubio‐Rico, J. Fernández‐López, and P. Acevedo. 2023. Using species distribution modeling to generate relative abundance information in socio‐politically unstable territories: Conservation of Felidae in the central‐western region of Mexico. Ecology and Evolution 13.

The distribution range and population abundance of species provide fundamental information on the species–habitat relationship required for management and conservation. Abundance inherently provides more information about the ecology of species than do occurrence data. However, information on abundance is scarce for most species, mainly at large spatial scales. The objective of this work was, therefore, to provide information regarding the population status of six wild felids inhabiting territories in Mexico that are inaccessible or politically unstable. This was done using species distribution models derived from occurrence data. We used distribution data at a continental scale for the wild felids inhabiting Mexico: jaguar (Panthera onca), bobcat (Lynx rufus), ocelot (Leopardus pardalis), cougar (Puma concolor), margay (Leopardus wiedii), and jaguarundi (Herpailurus yagouaroundi) to predict environmental suitability (estimated by both Maxent and the distance to niche centroid, DNC). Suitability was then examined by relating to a capture rate‐based index, in a well‐monitored area in central western Mexico in order to assess their performance as proxies of relative abundance. Our results indicate that the environmental suitability patterns predicted by both algorithms were comparable. However, the strength of the relationship between the suitability and relative abundance of local populations differed across species and between algorithms, with the bobcat and DNC, respectively, having the best fit, although the relationship was not consistent in all the models. This paper presents the potential of implementing species distribution models in order to predict the relative abundance of wild felids in Mexico and offers guidance for the proper interpretation of the relationship between suitability and population abundance. The results obtained provide a robust information base on which to outline specific conservation actions and on which to examine the potential status of endangered species inhabiting remote or politically unstable territories in which on‐field monitoring programs are not feasible.

Quitete Portela, R. de C., L. Tourinho, T. Viana dos Santos, and M. M. Vale. 2023. Juçara palm ecological interactions threatened by climate and land‐cover changes. Biotropica.

Ongoing climate change has caused well‐documented displacements of species' geographic distribution to newly climatically suitable areas. Ecological niche models (ENM) are widely used to project such climate‐induced changes but typically ignore species' interspecific interactions that might facilitate or prevent its establishment in new areas. Here, we projected the change in the distribution of Juçara Palm (Euterpe edulis Mart., Arecaceae), a neotropical threatened palm, taking into consideration its ecological interactions. We run ENMs of E. edulis, plus its known seed dispersers (15 bird species) and predators (19 birds and mammals) under current and future climatic conditions. Additionally, for E. edulis, we removed deforested areas from the model. When considering only climate, climate change has a positive impact on E. edulis, with a predicted westward expansion and a modest southward contraction, with a 26% net gain in distribution by 2060. When removing deforested areas, however, climate change harms E. edulis, with a 66% predicted net distribution loss. Within the palm's distribution in this more realistic model, there is also a predicted reduction in the richness of its dispersers and predators. We conclude that the possible benefits of climate change to E. edulis' distribution are overshadowed by widespread habitat loss, and that global change is likely to disrupt some of its ecological interactions. The outcome of the interplay between the negative impact of the loss of dispersers, and the benefit of the loss of predators, is unclear, but the large contraction of E. edulis' range predicted here foresees a dim future for the species.

Vázquez-Rueda, E., A. P. Cuervo-Robayo, and J. Ayala-Berdon. 2023. Forest dependency could be more important than dispersal capacity for habitat connectivity of four species of insectivorous bats inhabiting a highly anthropized region in central Mexico. Mammal Research.

The maintenance, restoration, and improvement of habitat structure are critical for biodiversity conservation. Under this context, studies assessing habitat connectivity become essential, especially those focused on anthropized regions holding high species richness. We calculated the habitat connectivity of four species of insectivorous bats with different dispersal capacity and habitat preferences in a highly anthropized region in central Mexico, Idionycteris phyllotis and Myotis thysanodes , with a high dispersal capacity and forest-dependency, and Eptesicus fuscus with a low dispersal capacity, and Tadarida brasiliensis with a high dispersal capacity, as the more tolerant bat species to anthropogenic disturbance. We developed niche-based species distribution models to identify suitable habitat patches for each species. We then assessed habitat connectivity and the importance of suitable habitat patches for maintaining connectivity using a graph theory approach. Our results showed that forest dependency was most important than dispersal capacity for connectivity. We also found that the Iztaccíhuatl-Popocatépetl mountain, a National Park comprising 4.2% of natural vegetation in the study area, was the most critical patch for maintaining connectivity for most of the study species. Our study demonstrates the importance of conserving the remnants of natural vegetation for maintaining habitat connectivity within a fragmented landscape and demonstrates the importance of conserving protected areas as well as other remnants of vegetation for the maintenance of habitat connectivity within a fragmented landscape.