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Fell, H. G., M. Jones, S. Atkinson, N. C. Stenseth, and A. C. Algar. 2023. The role of reservoir species in mediating plague’s dynamic response to climate. Royal Society Open Science 10.

The distribution and transmission of Yersinia pestis , the bacterial agent of plague, responds dynamically to climate, both within wildlife reservoirs and human populations. The exact mechanisms mediating plague's response to climate are still poorly understood, particularly across large environmentally heterogeneous regions encompassing several reservoir species. A heterogeneous response to precipitation was observed in plague intensity across northern and southern China during the Third Pandemic. This has been attributed to the response of reservoir species in each region. We use environmental niche modelling and hindcasting methods to test the response of a broad range of reservoir species to precipitation. We find little support for the hypothesis that the response of reservoir species to precipitation mediated the impact of precipitation on plague intensity. We instead observed that precipitation variables were of limited importance in defining species niches and rarely showed the expected response to precipitation across northern and southern China. These findings do not suggest that precipitation–reservoir species dynamics never influence plague intensity but that instead, the response of reservoir species to precipitation across a single biome cannot be assumed and that limited numbers of reservoir species may have a disproportional impact upon plague intensity.

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.

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.

Kagnew, B., A. Assefa, and A. Degu. 2022. Modeling the Impact of Climate Change on Sustainable Production of Two Legumes Important Economically and for Food Security: Mungbeans and Cowpeas in Ethiopia. Sustainability 15: 600.

Climate change is one of the most serious threats to global crops production at present and it will continue to be the largest threat in the future worldwide. Knowing how climate change affects crop productivity might help sustainability and crop improvement efforts. Under existing and projected climate change scenarios (2050s and 2070s in Ethiopia), the effect of global warming on the distribution of V. radiata and V. unguiculata was investigated. MaxEnt models were used to predict the current and future distribution pattern changes of these crops in Ethiopia using different climate change scenarios (i.e., lowest (RCP 2.6), moderate (RCP 4.5), and extreme (RCP 8.5)) for the years 2050s and 2070s. The study includes 81 and 68 occurrence points for V. radiata and V. unguiculata, respectively, along with 22 environmental variables. The suitability maps indicate that the Beneshangul Gumuz, Oromia, Amhara, SNNPR, and Tigray regions are the major Ethiopian regions with the potential to produce V. radiata, while Amhara, Gambella, Oromia, SNNPR, and Tigray are suitable for producing V. unguiculata. The model prediction for V. radiata habitat ranges distribution in Ethiopia indicated that 1.69%, 4.27%, 11.25% and 82.79% are estimated to be highly suitable, moderately suitable, less suitable, and unsuitable, respectively. On the other hand, the distribution of V. unguiculata is predicted to have 1.27%, 3.07%, 5.22%, and 90.44% habitat ranges that are highly suitable, moderately suitable, less suitable, and unsuitable, respectively, under the current climate change scenario by the year (2050s and 2070s) in Ethiopia. Among the environmental variables, precipitation of the wettest quarter (Bio16), solar radiation index (SRI), temperature seasonality (Bio4), and precipitation seasonality (Bio15) are discovered to be the most effective factors for defining habitat suitability for V. radiata, while precipitation of the wettest quarter (Bio16), temperature annual range (Bio7) and precipitation of the driest quarter (Bio17) found to be better habitat suitability indicator for V. unguiculata in Ethiopia. The result indicates that these variables were more relevant in predicting suitable habitat for these crops in Ethiopia. A future projection predicts that the suitable distribution region will become increasingly fragmented. In general, the study provides a scientific basis of suitable agro-ecological habitat for V. radiata and V. unguiculata for long-term crop management and production improvement in Ethiopia. Therefore, projections of current and future climate change impacts on such crops are vital to reduce the risk of crop failure and to identify the potential productive areas in the country.

Ecke, F., B. A. Han, B. Hörnfeldt, H. Khalil, M. Magnusson, N. J. Singh, and R. S. Ostfeld. 2022. Population fluctuations and synanthropy explain transmission risk in rodent-borne zoonoses. Nature Communications 13.

Population fluctuations are widespread across the animal kingdom, especially in the order Rodentia, which includes many globally important reservoir species for zoonotic pathogens. The implications of these fluctuations for zoonotic spillover remain poorly understood. Here, we report a global empirical analysis of data describing the linkages between habitat use, population fluctuations and zoonotic reservoir status in rodents. Our quantitative synthesis is based on data collated from papers and databases. We show that the magnitude of population fluctuations combined with species’ synanthropy and degree of human exploitation together distinguish most rodent reservoirs at a global scale, a result that was consistent across all pathogen types and pathogen transmission modes. Our spatial analyses identified hotspots of high transmission risk, including regions where reservoir species dominate the rodent community. Beyond rodents, these generalities inform our understanding of how natural and anthropogenic factors interact to increase the risk of zoonotic spillover in a rapidly changing world. Many rodent species are known as hosts of zoonotic pathogens, but the ecological conditions that trigger spillover are not well-understood. Here, the authors show that population fluctuations and association with human-dominated habitats explain the zoonotic reservoir status of rodents globally.

Liu, S., S. Xia, D. Wu, J. E. Behm, Y. Meng, H. Yuan, P. Wen, et al. 2022. Understanding global and regional patterns of termite diversity and regional functional traits. iScience: 105538.

Our understanding of broad-scale biodiversity and functional trait patterns is largely based on plants, and relatively little information is available on soil arthropods. Here, we investigated the distribution of termite diversity globally and morphological traits and diversity across China. Our analyses showed increasing termite species richness with decreasing latitude at both the globally, and within-China. Additionally, we detected obvious latitudinal trends in the mean community value of termite morphological traits on average, with body size and leg length decreasing with increasing latitude. Furthermore, temperature, NDVI and water variables were the most important drivers controlling the variation in termite richness, and temperature and soil properties were key drivers of the geographic distribution of termite morphological traits. Our global termite richness map is one of the first high resolution maps for any arthropod group and especially given the functional importance of termites, our work provides a useful baseline for further ecological analysis.

Lioy, S., C. Bergamino, and M. Porporato. 2022. The invasive hornet Vespa velutina  : distribution, impacts and management options. CABI Reviews 2022.

: The Asian yellow-legged hornet Vespa velutina is an invasive alien species introduced and widespread in several countries of Europe and Asia. Its diffusion generates relevant environmental and socio-economic impacts. Environmental impacts include threats to the native insect biodiversity and the pollination ecosystem services. Socio-economic impacts include threats to the apiculture sector, economic consequences for the adoption of management strategies, social concern and health issues. Different options were developed and adopted for (i) preventing the introduction of V. velutina, (ii) early detecting its presence, (iii) eradicating populations at the initial stage of invasion or (iv) controlling populations for limiting and mitigating its impacts. The aim of this review was to provide an updated overview about the distribution, impacts and options for managing V. velutina populations, through a literature review of the published academic documents. Moreover, this study highlights that some topics received little attention (impacts of V. velutina on the biodiversity, on the pollination ecosystem services, on the economy) or require further research efforts (effective control methods for V. velutina); therefore, future research should be directed towards filling these gaps of knowledge.

Sáenz-Ceja, J. E., J. T. Sáenz-Reyes, and D. Castillo-Quiroz. 2022. Pollinator Species at Risk from the Expansion of Avocado Monoculture in Central Mexico. Conservation 2: 457–472.

The monoculture of avocado (Persea americana) has triggered the loss of large forested areas in central Mexico, including the habitat of threatened species. This study assessed the potential habitat loss of ten threatened pollinator species due to the expansion of avocado monoculture in Mexico. First, we modeled the distribution of avocado and pollinators. Then, we overlapped their suitable areas at a national level and within the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt (TMVB). We also identified the areas with more affected pollinators and coinciding with protected areas. As a result, 78% of the suitable areas for avocado coincided with the distribution of at least one pollinator. Although only two pollinators lost more than one-fifth of their distribution at a national level, the habitat loss increased to 41.6% on average, considering their distribution within the TMVB. The most affected pollinators were Bombus brachycephalus, B diligens, Danaus plexippus, and Tilmatura dupontii, losing more than 48% of their distribution within this ecoregion. The areas with a greater number of affected species pollinators were found in the states of Michoacán, Mexico, and Morelos, where most of the area is currently unprotected. Our results suggest that the expansion of the avocado monoculture will negatively affect the habitat of threatened pollinators in Mexico.

Monroy-Gamboa, A. G. 2022. Differences between Northern and Southern Female Coyotes. Western North American Naturalist 82.

The coyote (Canis latrans) has a wide distribution range, spanning boreal forests from the north of the continent to tropical environments in Central America, showing great adaptation and plasticity. Bergmann's rule states that individuals inhabiting colder climates are larger than those in warmer climates. It is suggested that in carnivore species, litter size is influenced by allometric constraints such as maternal body size. The aim of this study is to analyze the relations using correlation between female coyote mass, latitude, and litter size. Using data compiled from the literature, I carried out statistical analyses to correlate female body size, litter size, and latitude for coyotes across their distribution range. The results indicated a soft significant correlation between female body size and latitude, confirming Bergmann's rule. However, no significant correlation was found between litter size and latitude or between litter size and female body size; litter size in coyotes remains roughly uniform across their distribution range.

Abou-Shaara, H. F., and A. A. Al-Khalaf. 2022. Using Maximum Entropy Algorithm to Analyze Current and Future Distribution of the Asian hornet, Vespa velutina, in Europe and North Africa Under Climate Change Conditions. Gazi Entomolojik Arastirmalar Dernegi.

The Asian hornet, Vespa velutina, has invaded Europe during the last few years. This hornet is a dangerous pest to honey bee colonies and can cause significant economic damages. In this study, current and future distributions of this pest in Europe and North Africa were analyzed using maximum entropy algorithm. Different environmental factors were used in the Maxent model to predict the suitability of the study area for this pest. Two future models with two Shared Socio-economic Pathways (126 and 585) were used to estimate the future distribution of V. velutina in 2050. The Maxent model for V. velutina showed high performance based on the analysis of omission/commission rates and the area under curve. Jackknife test showed the high importance of temperature variables in V. velutina distribution. The model maps indicated the potential invasion of this pest to other areas in Europe and North Africa including deserts in Libya and Egypt. Negative consequences of such invasion on beekeeping and environmental balance are expected.

Van de Vuurst, P., M. M. Díaz, A. Rodríguez-San Pedro, J. L. Allendes, N. Brown, J. D. Gutiérrez, H. Zarza, et al. 2022. A database of common vampire bat reports. Scientific Data 9.

The common vampire bat (Desmodus rotundus) is a sanguivorous (i.e., blood-eating) bat species distributed in the Americas from northern Mexico southwards to central Chile and Argentina. Desmodus rotundus is one of only three mammal species known to feed exclusively on blood, mainly from domestic mam…