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Bharti, D. K., P. Y. Pawar, G. D. Edgecombe, and J. Joshi. 2023. Genetic diversity varies with species traits and latitude in predatory soil arthropods (Myriapoda: Chilopoda). Global Ecology and Biogeography. https://doi.org/10.1111/geb.13709

Aim To investigate the drivers of intra-specific genetic diversity in centipedes, a group of ancient predatory soil arthropods. Location Asia, Australasia and Europe. Time Period Present. Major Taxa Studied Centipedes (Class: Chilopoda). Methods We assembled a database of 1245 mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit I sequences representing 128 centipede species from all five orders of Chilopoda. This sequence dataset was used to estimate genetic diversity for centipede species and compare its distribution with estimates from other arthropod groups. We studied the variation in centipede genetic diversity with species traits and biogeography using a beta regression framework, controlling for the effect of shared evolutionary history within a family. Results A wide variation in genetic diversity across centipede species (0–0.1713) falls towards the higher end of values among arthropods. Overall, 27.57% of the variation in mitochondrial COI genetic diversity in centipedes was explained by a combination of predictors related to life history and biogeography. Genetic diversity decreased with body size and latitudinal position of sampled localities, was greater in species showing maternal care and increased with geographic distance among conspecifics. Main Conclusions Centipedes fall towards the higher end of genetic diversity among arthropods, which may be related to their long evolutionary history and low dispersal ability. In centipedes, the negative association of body size with genetic diversity may be mediated by its influence on local abundance or the influence of ecological strategy on long-term population history. Species with maternal care had higher genetic diversity, which goes against expectations and needs further scrutiny. Hemispheric differences in genetic diversity can be due to historic climatic stability and lower seasonality in the southern hemisphere. Overall, we find that despite the differences in mean genetic diversity among animals, similar processes related to life-history strategy and biogeography are associated with the variation within them.

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. https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.230021

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.

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. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-022-35273-7

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.

Bai, D., X. Wan, L. Zhang, A. Campos-Arceiz, F. Wei, and Z. Zhang. 2022. The recent Asian elephant range expansion in Yunnan, China, is associated with climate change and enforced protection efforts in human-dominated landscapes. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 10. https://doi.org/10.3389/fevo.2022.889077

Recently, the northward movement of Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) in Yunnan, China, has attracted international attention. Climate change or human disturbances have been proposed to be the key drivers, but these hypotheses have not been rigorously tested. In this study, we quantified the relationship between climate change and human impacts on the recent range expansion of Asian elephants in southwest China. We found that the first observation probability of this species in a new place during 1959–2021 had a significant and positive association with change in air temperature and human density, resulting in a movement toward a high-latitude region with a warmer climate and higher human density; however, its association with precipitation was scale-dependent in time: positive or negative during the past 10 or 5 years, respectively. Under the enforced protection policy, human-dominated areas became preferred habitats for elephants. Our results indicate that climate change and enforced protection efforts in human-dominated landscapes in the last few decades are significant drivers of the recent range expansion of Asian elephants in Yunnan, China. It is necessary to expand the current protected areas or habitat corridors toward the north or set up new reserves in the north and set up barriers between human settlements and elephant habitats to facilitate elephant movements and minimize human-elephant conflicts under accelerated global change.

Sánchez, C. A., H. Li, K. L. Phelps, C. Zambrana-Torrelio, L.-F. Wang, P. Zhou, Z.-L. Shi, et al. 2022. A strategy to assess spillover risk of bat SARS-related coronaviruses in Southeast Asia. Nature Communications 13. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-022-31860-w

Emerging diseases caused by coronaviruses of likely bat origin (e.g., SARS, MERS, SADS, COVID-19) have disrupted global health and economies for two decades. Evidence suggests that some bat SARS-related coronaviruses (SARSr-CoVs) could infect people directly, and that their spillover is more frequent than previously recognized. Each zoonotic spillover of a novel virus represents an opportunity for evolutionary adaptation and further spread; therefore, quantifying the extent of this spillover may help target prevention programs. We derive current range distributions for known bat SARSr-CoV hosts and quantify their overlap with human populations. We then use probabilistic risk assessment and data on human-bat contact, human viral seroprevalence, and antibody duration to estimate that a median of 66,280 people (95% CI: 65,351–67,131) are infected with SARSr-CoVs annually in Southeast Asia. These data on the geography and scale of spillover can be used to target surveillance and prevention programs for potential future bat-CoV emergence. Coronaviruses may spill over from bats to humans. This study uses epidemiological data, species distribution models, and probabilistic risk assessment to map overlap among people and SARSr-CoV bat hosts and estimate how many people are infected with bat-origin SARSr-CoVs in Southeast Asia annually.

Yang, W., Y. Ma, L. Jing, S. Wang, Z. Sun, Y. Tang, and H. Li. 2022. Differential Impacts of Climatic and Land Use Changes on Habitat Suitability and Protected Area Adequacy across the Asian Elephant’s Range. Sustainability 14: 4933. https://doi.org/10.3390/su14094933

Climate change and human activities have caused dramatic impacts on biodiversity. Although a number of international agreements or initiatives have been launched to mitigate the biodiversity loss, the erosion of terrestrial biome habitats is inevitable. Consequently, the identification of potential suitable habitats under climate change and human disturbance has become an urgent task of biodiversity conservation. In this study, we used the maximum entropy model (MaxEnt) to identify the current and potential future habitats of Asian elephants in South and Southeast Asia. We performed analyses for future projections with 17 scenarios using the present results as baseline. To optimize the modelling results, we delineated the core habitats by using the Core Mapper Tool and compared them with existing protected areas (PAs) through gap analysis. The results showed that the current total area of core habitats is 491,455 km2 in size and will be reduced to 332,544 km2 by 2090 under SSP585 (the shared socioeconomic pathway). The projection analysis under differential scenarios suggested that most of the core habitats in the current protected areas would remain stable and suitable for elephants in the future. However, the remaining 75.17% of the core habitats lay outside the current PAs, and finally we mapped approximately 219,545 km2 of suitable habitats as priority protected areas in the future. Although our model did not perform well in some regions, our analyses and findings still could provide useful references to the planning of protected areas and conservation of Asian elephant.

McGowan, N. E., N. Roche, T. Aughney, J. Flanagan, P. Nolan, F. Marnell, and N. Reid. 2021. Testing consistency of modelled predictions of the impact of climate change on bats. Climate Change Ecology 2: 100011. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecochg.2021.100011

Species Distribution Models (SDMs) are a cornerstone of climate change conservation research but temporal extrapolations into future climate scenarios cannot be verified until later this century. One way of assessing the robustness of projections is to compare their consistency between different mod…

Wieringa, J. G., B. C. Carstens, and H. L. Gibbs. 2021. Predicting migration routes for three species of migratory bats using species distribution models. PeerJ 9: e11177. https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.11177

Understanding seasonal variation in the distribution and movement patterns of migratory species is essential to monitoring and conservation efforts. While there are many species of migratory bats in North America, little is known about their seasonal movements. In terms of conservation, this is impo…

Li, X., B. Li, G. Wang, X. Zhan, and M. Holyoak. 2020. Deeply digging the interaction effect in multiple linear regressions using a fractional-power interaction term. MethodsX 7: 101067. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mex.2020.101067

In multiple regression Y ~ β0 + β1X1 + β2X2 + β3X1 X2 + ɛ., the interaction term is quantified as the product of X1 and X2. We developed fractional-power interaction regression (FPIR), using βX1M X2N as the interaction term. The rationale of FPIR is that the slopes of Y-X1 regression along the X2 gr…

Pappalardo, P., I. Morales‐Castilla, A. W. Park, S. Huang, J. P. Schmidt, and P. R. Stephens. 2019. Comparing methods for mapping global parasite diversity G. Jordan [ed.],. Global Ecology and Biogeography 29: 182–193. https://doi.org/10.1111/geb.13008

Aim: Parasites are a major component of global ecosystems, yet spatial variation in parasite diversity is poorly known, largely because their occurrence data are limited and thus difficult to interpret. Using a recently compiled database of parasite occurrences, we compare different models which we …