Editor's Choice Articles

Editor’s Choice articles are based on recommendations by the scientific editors of MDPI journals from around the world. Editors select a small number of articles recently published in the journal that they believe will be particularly interesting to authors, or important in this field. The aim is to provide a snapshot of some of the most exciting work published in the various research areas of the journal.

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Article
Salinity Affects Freshwater Invertebrate Traits and Litter Decomposition
Diversity 2021, 13(11), 599; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13110599 - 21 Nov 2021
Abstract
We evaluated the effect of seawater intrusion in coastal ecosystems on the freshwater invertebrate community and on leaf litter decomposition under realistic scenarios in six outdoor freshwater mesocosms containing fauna and flora, to which increasing volumes of seawater were added. The resulting salinity [...] Read more.
We evaluated the effect of seawater intrusion in coastal ecosystems on the freshwater invertebrate community and on leaf litter decomposition under realistic scenarios in six outdoor freshwater mesocosms containing fauna and flora, to which increasing volumes of seawater were added. The resulting salinity values were 0.28 (control, freshwater only), 2.0, 3.3, 5.5, 9.3, and 15.3 mS cm−1. The effect of salinity was assessed for 65 days after seawater intrusion, by computing the deviation of values in each treatment in relation to the control. Our results show that seawater intrusion into freshwaters will affect the invertebrate communities and organic matter decomposition, with salinities of up to 3.3–5.5 mS cm−1 having opposite effects to salinities of more than 9.3 mS cm−1. There was a net negative effect of the two highest salinities on mass loss and richness of the invertebrates associated with the decomposing leaves. Regarding the invertebrate communities of the mesocosms, there was a net negative effect of the intermediate salinity levels on abundance and richness. Invertebrate life cycle traits conferring resilience and resistance tended to increase with low and decrease with high salinity values, while avoidance traits showed an opposite trend, and these responses were more pronounced on the later stage community. These wave-like responses of the invertebrate species traits to increasing salinity suggest that the life-history and physiological adaptations most suitable to cope with osmotic stress will differ between low and high salinity levels. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 2021 Feature Papers by Diversity’s Editorial Board Members)
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Article
Two New Species of the Genus Longipedia Claus, 1863 (Copepoda: Harpacticoida: Longipediidae) from Korea, with an Update and a Key to Species
Diversity 2021, 13(11), 590; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13110590 - 19 Nov 2021
Cited by 2
Abstract
Benthic harpacticoids were collected from Korean waters. Two species were identified as members of the genus Longipedia Claus, 1863, because they have an extremely elongated distal segment of the P2 endopod. Longipedia koreana sp. nov. is morphologically most closely related to L. [...] Read more.
Benthic harpacticoids were collected from Korean waters. Two species were identified as members of the genus Longipedia Claus, 1863, because they have an extremely elongated distal segment of the P2 endopod. Longipedia koreana sp. nov. is morphologically most closely related to L. nichollsi Wells, 1980 and L. scotti Sars, 1903, but it can clearly be distinguished from both species based on the following morphological characteristics: P1 coxa with strong spinules near the outer margin and the distal element being much bigger than the proximal elements, P2 coxa with a small inner seta on the anterior surface, P4 exopod first segment without an inner element, and the P5 with a rectangular exopod (more than 3.5 times as long as wide). L. ulleungensis sp. nov. is similar to L. brevispinosa Gurney, 1927, L. spinulosa Itô, 1981, and L. weberi Scott A., 1909. However, L. ulleungensis sp. nov. is characterized by the P2 coxa with a reduced inner seta, the P4 exopod second segment without an inner seta, and the anal operculum with a long median projection, a single spine, and a group of outer spines on each side. In a molecular analysis using the mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI) and 18S ribosomal RNA (18S rRNA) genes, the inter-specific variation was 22.525–23.102% and 1.325–1.382% of COI and 18S rRNA between the two new species, respectively. A key to the family Longipediidae is provided herein. Full article
(This article belongs to the Collection Proceedings of Experts on Aquatic Life (PEAL))
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Article
The Natural Capital Value of the Seagrass Posidonia oceanica in the North-Western Mediterranean
Diversity 2021, 13(10), 499; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13100499 - 15 Oct 2021
Cited by 2
Abstract
Posidonia oceanica is an endemic Mediterranean seagrass used as a ‘biological quality element’ in monitoring programmes of the EU Water Framework Directive, providing information about coastal ecosystems status. The regression of P. oceanica meadows caused a growing interest among policy makers to assess [...] Read more.
Posidonia oceanica is an endemic Mediterranean seagrass used as a ‘biological quality element’ in monitoring programmes of the EU Water Framework Directive, providing information about coastal ecosystems status. The regression of P. oceanica meadows caused a growing interest among policy makers to assess the value of seagrasses and to increase their protection. An evaluation of P. oceanica meadows located in the Ligurian-Provençal basin (NW Mediterranean) through a biophysical approach is here developed. Six meadows located in Liguria (Italy) and Corsica (France) were investigated by applying the emergy analysis to assess the natural capital (NC) stocked by leaves and rhizomes components. Results highlighted the importance of carrying out an analysis of the variations in the NC value in both components: rhizomes defined the growth stage and the capacity to store NC over time; leaves provided information on the variability due to disturbances in the water column. Emergy analysis allows defining the NC, in terms of resources needed to maintain the meadows and to provide services to coastal communities. This research is inserted into the effort of incorporating the NC evaluation into marine planning and decision making to achieve nature conservation goals, while ensuring the sustainable exploitation of marine resources. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biodiversity Conservation in Mediterranean Sea)
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Article
Diversity and Ecology of Diatoms in Pliocene Deposits of the Tunka Valley (Baikal Rift Zone)
Diversity 2021, 13(10), 479; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13100479 - 29 Sep 2021
Abstract
Fossil diatoms are an excellent tool for reconstructing the palaeoenvironmental and palaeogeographic changes involving lacustrine systems. In this work, the diatom content of Pliocene sediments recovered from a core extracted in the Tunka Basin (Baikal Rift Zone, Russia) is described. Revealed by light [...] Read more.
Fossil diatoms are an excellent tool for reconstructing the palaeoenvironmental and palaeogeographic changes involving lacustrine systems. In this work, the diatom content of Pliocene sediments recovered from a core extracted in the Tunka Basin (Baikal Rift Zone, Russia) is described. Revealed by light and scanning electron microscopy, 170 species of diatoms were found. Benthic, alkaliphilic, indifferent, cosmopolitan, and oligosaprobe species predominated. Ecological, geographical, and stratigraphic analysis of diatoms showed two ecozones, differing in taxonomic diversity of species. From the data obtained, palaeoenvironmental conditions of these zone formations have been reconstructed. It was shown that during the period corresponding to sedimentation in Ecozone II, the reservoir was cooler, as suggested by the increase of arctic-alpine taxa. The absence of Baikal Pliocene endemics and the presence of local endemics in the Tunka core indicate that there was no geographical connection between the palaeolake of the Tunka Valley and Lake Baikal during the Pliocene. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Freshwater Siliceous Microeukaryotes)
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Communication
Transition from Fire-Dependent Open Forests: Alternative Ecosystem States in the Southeastern United States
Diversity 2021, 13(9), 411; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13090411 - 29 Aug 2021
Cited by 1
Abstract
Land use and fire exclusion have influenced ecosystems worldwide, resulting in alternative ecosystem states. Here, I provide two examples from the southeastern United States of fire-dependent open pine and pine-oak forest loss and examine dynamics of the replacement forests, given continued long-term declines [...] Read more.
Land use and fire exclusion have influenced ecosystems worldwide, resulting in alternative ecosystem states. Here, I provide two examples from the southeastern United States of fire-dependent open pine and pine-oak forest loss and examine dynamics of the replacement forests, given continued long-term declines in foundation longleaf (Pinus palustris) and shortleaf (Pinus echinata) pines and recent increases in commercial loblolly (Pinus taeda) and slash (Pinus elliottii var. elliottii) pines. Shortleaf pine-oak forest historically may have been dominant on about 32 to 38 million ha, a provisional estimate based on historical composition of 75% of all trees, and has decreased to about 2.5 million ha currently; shortleaf pine now is 3% of all trees in the northern province. Longleaf pine forest decreased from about 30 million ha, totaling 75% of all trees, to 1.3 million ha and 3% of all trees in contemporary forests of the southern province. The initial transition from open pine ecosystems to closed forests, primarily comprised of broadleaf species, was countered by conversion to loblolly and slash pine plantations. Loblolly pine now accounts for 37% of all trees. Loss of fire-dependent ecosystems and their foundation tree species affect associated biodiversity, or the species that succeed under fire disturbance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fire-Dependent Ecosystems)
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Article
Integrative Descriptions of Two New Tardigrade Species along with the New Record of Mesobiotus skorackii Kaczmarek et al., 2018 from Canada
Diversity 2021, 13(8), 394; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13080394 - 22 Aug 2021
Cited by 2
Abstract
Two new tardigrade species from a moss sample collected in Canada, one representing Macrobiotus hufelandi complex and the second one belonging to the genus Bryodelphax, are described. Integrative analysis was undertaken based on morphological and morphometric data (using both light and scanning [...] Read more.
Two new tardigrade species from a moss sample collected in Canada, one representing Macrobiotus hufelandi complex and the second one belonging to the genus Bryodelphax, are described. Integrative analysis was undertaken based on morphological and morphometric data (using both light and scanning electron microscopy (SEM)) combined with multilocus molecular analysis (nuclear sequences, i.e., 18S rRNA, 28S rRNA and ITS-2 as well as mitochondrial COI barcode sequences). Based on COI sequences, Macrobiotus birendrai sp. nov. is most similar to Mac. canaricus (p-distance 17%), whereas Bryodelphax mareki sp. nov. is most similar to Bry. parvulus (p-distance 16%). Both species differ also from their congeners in some morphological and morphometric characters of adults and/or details of egg chorion. Additionally, a large population of Mesobiotus skorackii was found in the sample and this is the first report of this species outside its terra typica in Kirghizia. The original description of this species was prepared based solely on the morphology and morphometry, therefore, here we provide updated data for this species enclosing morphometric and molecular data for the Canadian population. Full article
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Article
Applying Population Viability Analysis to Inform Genetic Rescue That Preserves Locally Unique Genetic Variation in a Critically Endangered Mammal
Diversity 2021, 13(8), 382; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13080382 - 16 Aug 2021
Cited by 2
Abstract
Genetic rescue can reduce the extinction risk of inbred populations, but it has the poorly understood risk of ‘genetic swamping’—the replacement of the distinctive variation of the target population. We applied population viability analysis (PVA) to identify translocation rates into the inbred lowland [...] Read more.
Genetic rescue can reduce the extinction risk of inbred populations, but it has the poorly understood risk of ‘genetic swamping’—the replacement of the distinctive variation of the target population. We applied population viability analysis (PVA) to identify translocation rates into the inbred lowland population of Leadbeater’s possum from an outbred highland population that would alleviate inbreeding depression and rapidly reach a target population size (N) while maximising the retention of locally unique neutral genetic variation. Using genomic kinship coefficients to model inbreeding in Vortex, we simulated genetic rescue scenarios that included gene pool mixing with genetically diverse highland possums and increased the N from 35 to 110 within ten years. The PVA predicted that the last remaining population of lowland Leadbeater’s possum will be extinct within 23 years without genetic rescue, and that the carrying capacity at its current range is insufficient to enable recovery, even with genetic rescue. Supplementation rates that rapidly increased population size resulted in higher retention (as opposed to complete loss) of local alleles through alleviation of genetic drift but reduced the frequency of locally unique alleles. Ongoing gene flow and a higher N will facilitate natural selection. Accordingly, we recommend founding a new population of lowland possums in a high-quality habitat, where population growth and natural gene exchange with highland populations are possible. We also recommend ensuring gene flow into the population through natural dispersal and/or frequent translocations of highland individuals. Genetic rescue should be implemented within an adaptive management framework, with post-translocation monitoring data incorporated into the models to make updated predictions. Full article
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Article
Diversity Patterns and Community Structure of the Ground-Associated Macrofauna along the Beach-Inland Transition Zone of Small Tropical Islands
Diversity 2021, 13(8), 377; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13080377 - 14 Aug 2021
Cited by 1
Abstract
Biodiversity follows distinct and observable patterns. Where two systems meet, biodiversity is often increased, due to overlapping occurrence ranges and the presence of specialized species that can tolerate the dynamic conditions of the transition zone. One of the most pronounced transition zones occurs [...] Read more.
Biodiversity follows distinct and observable patterns. Where two systems meet, biodiversity is often increased, due to overlapping occurrence ranges and the presence of specialized species that can tolerate the dynamic conditions of the transition zone. One of the most pronounced transition zones occurs at shores, where oceans and terrestrial habitat collide, forming the shore–inland transition zone. The relevance of this transition zone in shaping a system’s community structure is particularly pronounced on small islands due to their high shore-to-inland-area ratio. However, the community structure of insular faunas along this transition zone is unknown. Here, we investigated the diversity patterns along the beach–inland transition zone of small islands and tested the hypothesis that species diversity increases toward the transition zone where beach and interior habitat meet. By measuring environmental parameters, resource availability, and ground-associated macrofauna diversity along transects running across the beach–inland transition zone, we show that a gradual change in species composition from beach to the inland exists, but neither taxa richness, diversity, nor overall abundance changed significantly. These findings offer important insights into insular community structure at the transition zone from sea to land that are relevant to better understand the dynamic and unique characteristics of insular ecosystems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Diversity)
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Article
Mammoth Cave: A Hotspot of Subterranean Biodiversity in the United States
Diversity 2021, 13(8), 373; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13080373 - 12 Aug 2021
Cited by 3
Abstract
The Mammoth Cave System in the Interior Low Plateau karst region in central Kentucky, USA is a global hotspot of cave-limited biodiversity, particularly terrestrial species. We searched the literature, museum accessions, and database records to compile an updated list of troglobiotic and stygobiotic [...] Read more.
The Mammoth Cave System in the Interior Low Plateau karst region in central Kentucky, USA is a global hotspot of cave-limited biodiversity, particularly terrestrial species. We searched the literature, museum accessions, and database records to compile an updated list of troglobiotic and stygobiotic species for the Mammoth Cave System and compare our list with previously published checklists. Our list of cave-limited fauna totals 49 species, with 32 troglobionts and 17 stygobionts. Seven species are endemic to the Mammoth Cave System and other small caves in Mammoth Cave National Park. The Mammoth Cave System is the type locality for 33 cave-limited species. The exceptional diversity at Mammoth Cave is likely related to several factors, such as the high dispersal potential of cave fauna associated with expansive karst exposures, high surface productivity, and a long history of exploration and study. Nearly 80% of the cave-limited fauna is of conservation concern, many of which are at an elevated risk of extinction because of small ranges, few occurrences, and several potential threats. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Hotspots of Subterranean Biodiversity)
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Article
What Makes a Hot-Spring Habitat “Hot” for the Hot-Spring Snake: Distributional Data and Niche Modelling for the Genus Thermophis (Serpentes, Colubridae)
Diversity 2021, 13(7), 325; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13070325 - 16 Jul 2021
Abstract
Knowledge about species’ distributions is central to diverse applications in ecology, biogeography, and conservation science. Hot-spring snakes of the genus Thermophis share a distribution restricted to geothermal sites at the Tibetan Plateau (T. baileyi) and in the Hengduan Mountains (T. [...] Read more.
Knowledge about species’ distributions is central to diverse applications in ecology, biogeography, and conservation science. Hot-spring snakes of the genus Thermophis share a distribution restricted to geothermal sites at the Tibetan Plateau (T. baileyi) and in the Hengduan Mountains (T. zhaoermii, T. shangrila). Although the suture zones of these regions are widely covered with hot springs, Thermophis populations are restricted to only a few of these habitats. Here, we use bioclimatic, topographic, and land cover data to model the potential distribution of the genus. Moreover, using logistic regression on field survey data of T. zhaoermii, we test whether hot-spring water parameters and landscape features correlate with the species’ presence or absence. Hot springs with temperatures between 45 and 100 °C and winter precipitation showed the most predictive power. At small scale, our data support the relevance of the hot-spring temperature on the species’ occurrence and indicate that also the along-valley distance from the hot-spring site to the major river might influence the distribution of Thermophis species. Our findings contribute to better understand factors shaping the current distribution of the genus and will aid in setting priorities in applied conservation biology for the hot-spring snakes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 2021 Feature Papers by Diversity’s Editorial Board Members)
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Article
Roadside Car Surveys: Methodological Constraints and Solutions for Estimating Parrot Abundances across the World
Diversity 2021, 13(7), 300; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13070300 - 01 Jul 2021
Cited by 5
Abstract
Parrots stand out among birds because of their poor conservation status and the lack of available information on their population sizes and trends. Estimating parrot abundance is complicated by the high mobility, gregariousness, patchy distributions, and rarity of many species. Roadside car surveys [...] Read more.
Parrots stand out among birds because of their poor conservation status and the lack of available information on their population sizes and trends. Estimating parrot abundance is complicated by the high mobility, gregariousness, patchy distributions, and rarity of many species. Roadside car surveys can be useful to cover large areas and increase the probability of detecting spatially aggregated species or those occurring at very low densities. However, such surveys may be biased due to their inability to handle differences in detectability among species and habitats. We conducted 98 roadside surveys, covering > 57,000 km across 20 countries and the main world biomes, recording ca. 120,000 parrots from 137 species. We found that larger and more gregarious species are more easily visually detected and at greater distances, with variations among biomes. However, raw estimates of relative parrot abundances (individuals/km) were strongly correlated (r = 0.86–0.93) with parrot densities (individuals/km2) estimated through distance sampling (DS) models, showing that variability in abundances among species (>40 orders of magnitude) overcomes any potential detectability bias. While both methods provide similar results, DS cannot be used to study parrot communities or monitor the population trends of all parrot species as it requires a minimum of encounters that are not reached for most species (64% in our case), mainly the rarest and more threatened. However, DS may be the most suitable choice for some species-specific studies of common species. We summarize the strengths and weaknesses of both methods to guide researchers in choosing the best–fitting option for their particular research hypotheses, characteristics of the species studied, and logistical constraints. Full article
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Article
Genetic, but Not Behavioral, Evidence Supports the Distinctiveness of the Mealy Amazon Parrot in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest
Diversity 2021, 13(6), 273; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13060273 - 17 Jun 2021
Cited by 1
Abstract
The presence of unidentified cryptic species within a species complex can obscure demographic trends of vulnerable species, impacting potential species conservation and management decisions. Previous work identified a taxonomic split between Central and South American populations of the mealy amazon (Amazona farinosa [...] Read more.
The presence of unidentified cryptic species within a species complex can obscure demographic trends of vulnerable species, impacting potential species conservation and management decisions. Previous work identified a taxonomic split between Central and South American populations of the mealy amazon (Amazona farinosa) that subsequently resulted in the elevation of these two populations to full species status (Amazona guatemalae and A. farinosa, respectively). In that study, however, a third, geographically disjunct population from the Brazilian Atlantic Forest was insufficiently sampled, limiting the ability of researchers to fully evaluate its genetic distinctiveness. Given that significant levels of biodiversity and endemism are found in this region, we aimed to use genetic and behavioral data to determine if the Atlantic Forest population of A. f. farinosa represents a third cryptic species within the complex. We sequenced 6 genes (4 mitochondrial and 2 nuclear introns) from the Atlantic Forest population of A. f. farinosa to measure the genetic relationships between this population and all other recognized species and subspecies of the mealy amazon. In addition, we use spectrographic cross-correlation and an analysis of 29 acoustic parameters to determine whether the taxa diverge in their learned contact call structure and if the degree of vocal differentiation correlates to genetic structure. We found that the Atlantic Forest population of A. f. farinosa was genetically distinct from that of the greater Amazon basin, but the degree of differentiation was less than that separating the Central and South American taxa. Acoustic analysis revealed substantial variation in contact call structure within each clade. This variation created substantial overlap in acoustic space between the clades. In all, the degree of call divergence between clades did not correspond to the degree of genetic divergence between the same clades. The results suggest that in taxa with substantial geographic variation in learned calls, such as the mealy amazon, vocalizations may not be a useful tool in the identification of cryptic species that are lifelong vocal learners. While these results do not support the elevation of the Brazilian Atlantic Forest population of the mealy amazon to full species status, given current trends of habitat loss in the Atlantic Forest as well as the imperiled status of large parrot species globally, we argue that this population nonetheless warrants special conservation and management consideration as a pool of unique genetic diversity within the southern mealy amazon species. Full article
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Article
Diversity of Testate Amoebae as an Indicator of the Conservation Status of Peatlands in Southwest Europe
Diversity 2021, 13(6), 269; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13060269 - 15 Jun 2021
Cited by 3
Abstract
Testate amoebae are one of the most studied groups of microorganisms in Sphagnum peatland ecosystems and, therefore, one of the most reliable bioindicators of their ecological status. Peatland ecosystems are supported by a delicate biogeochemical balance that leads to the formation of peat, [...] Read more.
Testate amoebae are one of the most studied groups of microorganisms in Sphagnum peatland ecosystems and, therefore, one of the most reliable bioindicators of their ecological status. Peatland ecosystems are supported by a delicate biogeochemical balance that leads to the formation of peat, one of the main sinks of C, as a result of soil–atmosphere interaction, but currently they are one of the most threatened wetland types at their southern distribution limit. In the European continent, where climatic conditions limit peat formation, they have endured significant anthropic pressure for centuries, and the risk of loss of biodiversity linked to these ecosystems is critical. In addition, peatlands are poorly known ecosystems in the Iberian Peninsula compared with other wetlands; therefore, we have studied the chemical parameters of water and the diversity patterns of testate amoebae in the western Iberian Peninsula to better understand the current status of these ecosystems. The analysis of testate amoeba communities showed an inverse relationship between the diversity and conservation status of these peatlands, both in relation to chemical parameters (i.e., pH, electrical conductivity, phosphates) and to the proportion of anthropized area, with a marked geographical pattern in the degree of anthropogenic disturbance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecology, Biogeography and Evolutionary Biology of Peatlands)
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Article
Risk of Invasive Lupinus polyphyllus Seed Survival in Biomass Treatment Processes
Diversity 2021, 13(6), 264; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13060264 - 11 Jun 2021
Abstract
Invasive plant species threaten native species and habitats causing ecologic, economic and social burden. When creating climate friendly solutions by utilizing plant biomasses in biogas and fertilizer production, safety should be ensured concerning the use of residues. This study concentrates on the treatment [...] Read more.
Invasive plant species threaten native species and habitats causing ecologic, economic and social burden. When creating climate friendly solutions by utilizing plant biomasses in biogas and fertilizer production, safety should be ensured concerning the use of residues. This study concentrates on the treatment of biomasses containing invasive plant material by tunnel and windrow composting, and by farm-scale and laboratory-scale anaerobic digestion (AD) in mesophilic conditions. Germination of the nationally settled and harmful invasive species Lupinus polyphyllus Lindl. was investigated after these processes. In addition, the role of the conditions found in the processes that destroyed seeds were studied, such as the time of exposure, temperature and static pressure. Dormant seeds are well protected against harsh conditions and can survive through various stress factors, but also become vulnerable as more factors are combined and time of exposure is extended. Our results suggest that the risks involved for the utilization of harmful invasive species increase with mesophilic temperatures and single treatments if the processing conditions are not stabile. One-month treatment with windrow composting showed a high risk for dormant seeds of L. polyphyllus seeds to survive, whereby extending the processing time reduced it substantially. Hard coated seeds can thus be broken with a combination of thermophilic temperatures, moisture and static pressure. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biological Invasions: Selected Papers from NEOBIOTA 2020)
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Article
Parrot Free-Flight as a Conservation Tool
Diversity 2021, 13(6), 254; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13060254 - 08 Jun 2021
Abstract
The release of captive-raised parrots to create or supplement wild populations has been critiqued due to variable survival rates and unreliable flocking behavior. Private bird owners free-fly their parrots in outdoor environments and utilize techniques that could address the needs of conservation breed [...] Read more.
The release of captive-raised parrots to create or supplement wild populations has been critiqued due to variable survival rates and unreliable flocking behavior. Private bird owners free-fly their parrots in outdoor environments and utilize techniques that could address the needs of conservation breed and release projects. We present methods and results of a free-flight training technique used for 3 parrot flocks: A large-bodied (8 macaws of 3 species and 2 hybrids), small-bodied (25 individuals of 4 species), and a Sun Parakeet flock (4 individuals of 1 species). Obtained as chicks, the birds were hand-reared in an enriched environment. As juveniles, the birds were systematically exposed to increasingly complex wildland environments, mirroring the learning process of wild birds developing skills. The criteria we evaluated for each flock were predation rates, antipredator behavior, landscape navigation, and foraging. No parrots were lost to predation or disorientation during over 500 months of free-flight time, and all birds demonstrated effective flocking, desirable landscape navigation, and wild food usage. The authors conclude that this free-flight method may be directly applicable for conservation releases, similar to the use of falconry methods for raptor conservation. Full article
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Article
Allele Surfing and Holocene Expansion of an Australian Fig (Ficus—Moraceae)
Diversity 2021, 13(6), 250; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13060250 - 07 Jun 2021
Abstract
The creek sandpaper fig of southeastern Australia, Ficus coronata Spin, is culturally significant to Australian traditional owners who made use of the leaves to smooth timber and ate the fruit. The species is thought to have a long history on the continent, with [...] Read more.
The creek sandpaper fig of southeastern Australia, Ficus coronata Spin, is culturally significant to Australian traditional owners who made use of the leaves to smooth timber and ate the fruit. The species is thought to have a long history on the continent, with some suggesting a Gondwanan origin. However, distributional patterns and overall ecology suggest a recent expansion across suitable habitats. We used landscape genomic techniques and environmental niche modelling to reconstruct its history and explore whether the species underwent a recent and rapid expansion along the east coast of New South Wales. Genomic analysis of 178 specimens collected from 32 populations throughout the species’ New South Wales distribution revealed a lack of genetic diversity and population structure. Some populations at the species’ southern and western range limits displayed unexpected diversity, which appears to be the result of allele surfing. Field work and genetic evidence suggest a Holocene expansion which may have increased since European colonisation. We also present a novel method for detecting allele surfing—MAHF (minor allele at highest frequency). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Evolutionary Ecology and Conservation of Native Plants)
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Article
Polychaete Diversity Related to Different Mesophotic Bioconstructions along the Southeastern Italian Coast
Diversity 2021, 13(6), 239; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13060239 - 31 May 2021
Cited by 4
Abstract
In the different mesophotic bioconstructions recently found along the Southeastern Italian coast, polychaetes have been proved to show high species richness and diversity, hitherto never investigated. In the present study, the species composition and functional role of polychaete assemblages were analysed; the updated [...] Read more.
In the different mesophotic bioconstructions recently found along the Southeastern Italian coast, polychaetes have been proved to show high species richness and diversity, hitherto never investigated. In the present study, the species composition and functional role of polychaete assemblages were analysed; the updated key to identification of the Mediterranean species of genus Eunice was presented and some taxonomic issues were also discussed. On the total of 70 species Serpulidae and Eunicida were the dominant polychaetes. Facing similar levels of α-diversity, the polychaete assemblages showed a high turnover of species along the north-south gradient, clearly according to the current circulation pattern, as well as to the different bioconstructors as biological determinants. Indeed, Serpulidae were dominant on the mesophotic bioconstructions primarily formed by the deep-sea oyster Neopycnodonte cochlear, while the Eunicida prevailed on the mesophotic bioconstructions mainly built by scleractinians. Lastly, the record of Eunice dubitata was the first for the Mediterranean and Italian fauna and proved this species to be characteristic of mesophotic bioconstructions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 2021 Feature Papers by Diversity’s Editorial Board Members)
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Article
Unravelling the Symbiotic Microalgal Diversity in Buellia zoharyi (Lichenized Ascomycota) from the Iberian Peninsula and Balearic Islands Using DNA Metabarcoding
Diversity 2021, 13(6), 220; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13060220 - 21 May 2021
Cited by 5
Abstract
Buellia zoharyi is a crustose placodioid lichen, usually occurring on biocrusts of semiarid ecosystems in circum-Mediterranean/Macaronesian areas. In previous work, we found that this lichenized fungus was flexible in its phycobiont choice in the Canary Islands. Here we test whether geography and habitat [...] Read more.
Buellia zoharyi is a crustose placodioid lichen, usually occurring on biocrusts of semiarid ecosystems in circum-Mediterranean/Macaronesian areas. In previous work, we found that this lichenized fungus was flexible in its phycobiont choice in the Canary Islands. Here we test whether geography and habitat influence phycobiont diversity in populations of this lichen from the Iberian Peninsula and Balearic Islands using Sanger and high throughput sequencing (HTS). Additionally, three thallus section categories (central, middle and periphery) were analyzed to explore diversity of microalgal communities in each part. We found that B. zoharyi populations hosted at least three different Trebouxia spp., and this lichen can associate with distinct phycobiont strains in different habitats and geographic regions. This study also revealed that the Trebouxia composition of this lichen showed significant differences when comparing the Iberian Peninsula with the Balearics thalli. No support for differences in microalgal communities was found among thallus sections; however, several thalli showed different predominant Trebouxia spp. at each section. This result corroborate that thallus parts selected for DNA extraction in metabarcoding analyses are key to not bias the total phycobiont diversity detected. This study highlights that inclusion of HTS analysis is crucial to understand lichen symbiotic microalgal diversity. Full article
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Article
Burrowing Parrots Cyanoliseus patagonus as Long-Distance Seed Dispersers of Keystone Algarrobos, Genus Prosopis, in the Monte Desert
Diversity 2021, 13(5), 204; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13050204 - 12 May 2021
Cited by 2
Abstract
Understanding of ecosystem structure and functioning requires detailed knowledge about plant–animal interactions, especially when keystone species are involved. The recent consideration of parrots as legitimate seed dispersers has widened the range of mechanisms influencing the life cycle of many plant species. We examined [...] Read more.
Understanding of ecosystem structure and functioning requires detailed knowledge about plant–animal interactions, especially when keystone species are involved. The recent consideration of parrots as legitimate seed dispersers has widened the range of mechanisms influencing the life cycle of many plant species. We examined the interactions between the burrowing parrot Cyanoliseus patagonus and two dominant algarrobo trees (Prosopis alba and Prosopis nigra) in the Monte Desert, Argentina. We recorded the abundance and foraging behaviour of parrots; quantified the handling, consumption, wasting, and dispersal of ripe and unripe pods; and tested the viability of soft and hard ripe seeds wasted and transported by parrots. We found a high abundance of burrowing parrots. They predated on soft seeds from unripe pods while exclusively feeding upon pulp wrapping hard seeds from ripe pods. Frequent pod wasting beneath the plant or transport at a distance invariably implied the dispersal of multiple seeds in each event. Moreover, soft seeds retained viability after desiccation outside the mother plant, suggesting effective seed dispersal after partial pod predation due to a predator satiation effect. In about half of the foraging flocks, at least one parrot departed in flight with pods in its beak, with 10–34% of the flock components moving pods at distances averaging 238 m (P. alba) and 418 m (P. nigra). A snapshot sampling of faeces from livestock and wild mammals suggested a low frequency of seed dispersal by endozoochory and secondary dispersal by ants and dung beetles. The nomadic movements and long flights of burrowing parrots between breeding and foraging sites can lead to the dispersal of huge amounts of seeds across large areas that are sequentially exploited. Further research should evaluate the role of the burrowing parrot as a functionally unique species in the structure of the Monte Desert woods and the genetic structure of algarrobo species. Full article
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Article
Reusing Old and Producing New Data Is Useful for Species Delimitation in the Taxonomically Controversial Iberian Endemic Pair Petrocoptis montsicciana/P. pardoi (Caryophyllaceae)
Diversity 2021, 13(5), 205; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13050205 - 12 May 2021
Cited by 2
Abstract
Petrocoptis montsicciana and P. pardoi are two Iberian endemic taxa of Caryophyllaceae family with an unclear taxonomic delimitation, being variously treated as independent species, subspecies or even synonyms. In the present study, allozyme raw data obtained in the early 2000s have been reused [...] Read more.
Petrocoptis montsicciana and P. pardoi are two Iberian endemic taxa of Caryophyllaceae family with an unclear taxonomic delimitation, being variously treated as independent species, subspecies or even synonyms. In the present study, allozyme raw data obtained in the early 2000s have been reused with improved tools to survey genetic structure, and complemented with modeling and niche comparative analyses to shed light on species delimitation. Genetic structure was investigated using four approaches: Bayesian clustering, Monmonier’s algorithm, Principal Coordinate Analysis (PCoA), and Analysis of Molecular Variance (AMOVA). Ecological niche differences have been assessed through Ecological Niche Modeling (ENM) using MaxEnt, and Principal Component Analysis using both occurrence records and background climate (PCA-env). Genetic analysis confirms the distinction between both taxa, and the scenario of a progenitor–derivative (P–D) is suggested. In agreement with genetic data, niche analysis shows clear differences between their climate regarding species occurrences and background spaces. Climate divergence could be explained, at least partially, by the abundance of rocks where species live although differences at the microclimate instead of the regional climate should be explored in future research. Given the genetic distinction between P. montsicciana and P. pardoi, both taxa should be regarded as separate ‘Management Units’ (MUs). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Conservation Genetics and Biogeography of Seed Plant Species)
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Article
Owners’ Perceptions Do Not Match Actual Ground-Dwelling Invertebrate Diversity in Their Gardens
Diversity 2021, 13(5), 189; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13050189 - 29 Apr 2021
Cited by 1
Abstract
Urban gardens are important for human well-being, biodiversity and other ecosystem functions. Biodiversity-promoting initiatives would benefit from their owners being aware of the state of biodiversity in their gardens. We examined whether garden owners’ perceptions match actual biodiversity in their gardens and whether [...] Read more.
Urban gardens are important for human well-being, biodiversity and other ecosystem functions. Biodiversity-promoting initiatives would benefit from their owners being aware of the state of biodiversity in their gardens. We examined whether garden owners’ perceptions match actual biodiversity in their gardens and whether perceptions are influenced by the owners’ ecological knowledge. We used a structured interview to assess the motivations and biodiversity knowledge of owners of 33 domestic gardens in the city of Basel (Switzerland) and related them to a survey of native plants and several groups of ground-dwelling invertebrates in their gardens. Owners showed different priorities, with promotion of habitat for biodiversity, receiving, on average, higher scores than cultivation, recreation and garden designing. Owners prioritizing biodiversity promotion had gardens with high habitat richness. The garden owners’ perceptions of both native plant and overall invertebrate diversity were not correlated with actual diversity data for native plants and ground-dwelling invertebrates. The perceptions of the abundance of invertebrate groups by garden owners with good biodiversity knowledge were not more accurate than those from owners with less knowledge. Despite their willingness, many owners do not know all the opportunities to promote biodiversity. Initiatives to further biodiversity-friendly gardening should thus transfer knowledge. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Biodiversity Conservation)
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Article
Preliminary Study of Cave Sample Storage Conditions on Fungal Community Diversity
Diversity 2021, 13(5), 188; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13050188 - 29 Apr 2021
Abstract
We investigated the effect of varying storage time and storage temperature on fungal species’ isolation as part of a case study of Illinois cave sediment samples. A deeper understanding of cave fungal communities may influence eco-epidemiology studies of emerging or re-emerging cave fungal [...] Read more.
We investigated the effect of varying storage time and storage temperature on fungal species’ isolation as part of a case study of Illinois cave sediment samples. A deeper understanding of cave fungal communities may influence eco-epidemiology studies of emerging or re-emerging cave fungal pathogens. Using culture-dependent techniques, we isolated geophilic fungi from homogeneous cave sediment samples from three Illinois caves. Each sample was stored under five different temperatures ranging from −80 °C to 22 °C. Cave sediment was periodically removed at five different time periods from 48 h to 1 year, serially diluted with distilled water, lawn plated onto two different media, and monitored for fungal colonies. We isolated colonies and confirmed identity through nrDNA sequence similarity. Our results suggest that storage time was more important than storage temperature for the isolation of a wide diversity of geophilic fungal taxa. Importantly, our results show that varying storage conditions will alter both the kind of taxa and abundance of those taxa, suggesting that comparative studies of fungal diversity across studies should employ similar storage conditions. Lastly, future investigations should utilize multiple genetic markers because the fungal barcode region lacked species-level resolution for many isolates within common Illinois geophilic fungal genera. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Microbial Diversity and Culture Collections)
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Article
Genetic Distinctiveness but Low Diversity Characterizes Rear-Edge Thuja standishii (Gordon) Carr. (Cupressaceae) Populations in Southwest Japan
Diversity 2021, 13(5), 185; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13050185 - 28 Apr 2021
Abstract
Rear-edge populations are of significant scientific interest because they can contain allelic variation not found in core-range populations. However, such populations can differ in their level of genetic diversity and divergence reflecting variation in life-history traits, demographic histories and human impacts. Using 13 [...] Read more.
Rear-edge populations are of significant scientific interest because they can contain allelic variation not found in core-range populations. However, such populations can differ in their level of genetic diversity and divergence reflecting variation in life-history traits, demographic histories and human impacts. Using 13 EST-microsatellites, we investigated the genetic diversity and differentiation of rear-edge populations of the Japanese endemic conifer Thuja standishii (Gordon) Carr. in southwest Japan from the core-range in northeast Japan. Range-wide genetic differentiation was moderate (Fst = 0.087), with northeast populations weakly differentiated (Fst = 0.047), but harboring high genetic diversity (average population-level Ar = 4.76 and Ho = 0.59). In contrast, rear-edge populations were genetically diverged (Fst = 0.168), but contained few unique alleles with lower genetic diversity (Ar = 3.73, Ho = 0.49). The divergence between rear-edge populations exceeding levels observed in the core-range and results from ABC analysis and species distribution modelling suggest that these populations are most likely relicts of the Last Glacial Maximum. However, despite long term persistence, low effective population size, low migration between populations and genetic drift have worked to promote the genetic differentiation of southwest Japan populations of T. standishii without the accumulation of unique alleles. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Evolutionary Ecology and Conservation of Native Plants)
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Article
Differing Life-History Strategies of Two Mycoheterotrophic Orchid Species Associated with Leaf Litter- and Wood-Decaying Fungi
Diversity 2021, 13(4), 161; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13040161 - 08 Apr 2021
Cited by 4
Abstract
Mycoheterotrophic orchids depend completely on mycorrhizal fungi for their supply of carbon. The life-history traits of mycoheterotrophic plants (MHPs) can differ according to the characteristics of the associated mycorrhizal fungi. We compared the life-history strategies of two mycoheterotrophic orchids associated with wood- and [...] Read more.
Mycoheterotrophic orchids depend completely on mycorrhizal fungi for their supply of carbon. The life-history traits of mycoheterotrophic plants (MHPs) can differ according to the characteristics of the associated mycorrhizal fungi. We compared the life-history strategies of two mycoheterotrophic orchids associated with wood- and leaf litter-decaying fungi over a maximum of six years of field monitoring. Seventy percent of the aboveground stems of Erythrorchis altissima, associated with wood-decaying fungi, disappeared from the host wood within two years after tagging, likely due to nutrient depletion. In contrast, Gastrodia confusa, associated with leaf litter-decaying fungi, occurred continuously (18 to 108 fruiting stalks) every year within a small-scale plot (12 × 45 m) for six years through seed and clonal propagation. Our results support the idea that mycoheterotrophic orchids associated with wood-decaying fungi disappear from their habitats due to nutrient depletion after their host wood has mostly decayed, while mycoheterotrophic orchids associated with leaf litter-decaying fungi can survive in small-scale habitats where substantial leaf fall regularly occurs to sustain the associated fungi. Our study provides basic information about a unique life-history strategy in MHPs associated with saprotrophic fungi and an understanding of the variation in life-history strategies among MHPs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Ecology and Diversity of Orchids)
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Article
Habitat Partitioning and Overlap by Large Lacertid Lizards in Southern Europe
Diversity 2021, 13(4), 155; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13040155 - 04 Apr 2021
Cited by 3
Abstract
South-western Europe has a rich diversity of lacertid lizards. In this study, we evaluated the occupancy patterns and niche segregation of five species of lacertids, focusing on large-bodied species (i.e., adults having >75 mm snout-vent length) that occur in south-western Europe (Italian to [...] Read more.
South-western Europe has a rich diversity of lacertid lizards. In this study, we evaluated the occupancy patterns and niche segregation of five species of lacertids, focusing on large-bodied species (i.e., adults having >75 mm snout-vent length) that occur in south-western Europe (Italian to the Iberian Peninsula). We characterized the niches occupied by these species based on climate and vegetation cover properties. We expected some commonality among phylogenetically related species, but also patterns of habitat segregation mitigating competition between ecologically equivalent species. We used multivariate ordination and probabilistic methods to describe the occupancy patterns and evaluated niche evolution through phylogenetic analyses. Our results showed climate niche partitioning, but with a wide overlap in transitional zones, where segregation is maintained by species-specific responses to the vegetation cover. The analyses also showed that phylogenetically related species tend to share large parts of their habitat niches. The occurrence of independent evolutionary lineages contributed to the regional species richness favored by a long history of niche divergence. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Evolutionary Ecology of Lizards)
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Article
Common Vole as a Focal Small Mammal Species in Orchards of the Northern Zone
Diversity 2021, 13(3), 134; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13030134 - 20 Mar 2021
Cited by 4
Abstract
In 2018–2020, we performed a country-wide study of small mammals in commercial orchards and berry plantations with the aim of determining whether the common vole (Microtus arvalis) is a more suitable focal species than the field vole (M. agrestis) [...] Read more.
In 2018–2020, we performed a country-wide study of small mammals in commercial orchards and berry plantations with the aim of determining whether the common vole (Microtus arvalis) is a more suitable focal species than the field vole (M. agrestis) in the risk assessment of plant protection products in Lithuania (country of the Northern Zone). Common vole was present in 75% of orchards and in 80% of control habitats, accounting for 30% of all trapped individuals. The proportion of this species was stable between years and seasons. The pattern was in agreement with the intermediate disturbance hypothesis, i.e., highest in medium-aged crops, while lowest in habitats with high intensities of agricultural practices. The average relative abundance of common vole in autumn, 2.65 ± 0.52 individuals per 100 trap days, was three times higher than that in summer, with no differences recorded between crops and control habitats. Field vole was present in 30% of locations, only accounting for 2.1% of all trapped individuals. In central and eastern European countries, common vole is more widespread and abundant than field vole. In Lithuania, common vole dominates in orchards and natural habitats and is, therefore, the most relevant small mammal species for higher tier risk assessment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Diversity and Conservation of Terrestrial Small Mammals)
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Article
The Chemoautotrophically Based Movile Cave Groundwater Ecosystem, a Hotspot of Subterranean Biodiversity
Diversity 2021, 13(3), 128; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13030128 - 17 Mar 2021
Cited by 7
Abstract
Movile Cave hosts one of the world’s most diverse subsurface invertebrate communities. In the absence of matter and energy input from the surface, this ecosystem relies entirely on in situ primary productivity by chemoautotrophic microorganisms. The energy source for these microorganisms is the [...] Read more.
Movile Cave hosts one of the world’s most diverse subsurface invertebrate communities. In the absence of matter and energy input from the surface, this ecosystem relies entirely on in situ primary productivity by chemoautotrophic microorganisms. The energy source for these microorganisms is the oxidation of hydrogen sulfide provided continuously from the deep thermomineral aquifer, alongside methane, and ammonium. The microbial biofilms that cover the water surface, the cave walls, and the sediments, along with the free-swimming microorganisms, represent the food that protists, rotifers, nematodes, gastropods, and crustacean rely on. Voracious water-scorpions, leeches, and planarians form the peak of the aquatic food web in Movile Cave. The terrestrial community is even more diverse. It is composed of various species of worms, isopods, pseudoscorpions, spiders, centipedes, millipedes, springtails, diplurans, and beetles. An updated list of invertebrate species thriving in Movile Cave is provided herein. With 52 invertebrate species (21 aquatic and 31 terrestrial), of which 37 are endemic for this unusual, but fascinating environment, Movile Cave is the first known chemosynthesis-based groundwater ecosystem. Therefore, Movile Cave deserves stringent attention and protection. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Hotspots of Subterranean Biodiversity)
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Article
Effects of Pure and Mixed Pine and Oak Forest Stands on Carabid Beetles
Diversity 2021, 13(3), 127; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13030127 - 17 Mar 2021
Cited by 1
Abstract
The multiple-use approach to forestry applied in Germany aims to combine timber production and habitat management by preserving specific stand structures. We selected four forest stand types comprising (i) pure oak, (ii) equal oak–pine mixtures, (iii) single tree admixtures of oak in pine [...] Read more.
The multiple-use approach to forestry applied in Germany aims to combine timber production and habitat management by preserving specific stand structures. We selected four forest stand types comprising (i) pure oak, (ii) equal oak–pine mixtures, (iii) single tree admixtures of oak in pine forest and (iv) pure pine. We analysed the effects of stand composition parameters on species representative of the larger carabid beetles (Carabus arvensis, C. coriaceus, C. hortensis, C. violaceus, Calosoma inquisitor). The main statistical methods used were correlation analyses and generalised linear mixed models. Cal. inquisitor was observed in pure oak forests exclusively. C. coriaceus and C. hortensis were absent from pure pine stands. High activity densities of C. arvensis and C. violaceus were observed in all four forest types. When assessed at the smaller scales of species crown cover proportions and spatial tree species effect zones, C. hortensis was found to be positively related to oak trees with a regular spatial distribution, whereas C. coriaceus preferred lower and more aggregated oak tree proportions. C. violaceus showed strong sex-specific tree species affinities. Information about preferences of carabid beetles is necessary for management activities targeting the adaptation of forest structures to habitat requirements. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Faunistical and Ecological Studies on Carabid Beetles)
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Article
Endocranial Anatomy of the Giant Extinct Australian Mihirung Birds (Aves, Dromornithidae)
Diversity 2021, 13(3), 124; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13030124 - 15 Mar 2021
Cited by 2
Abstract
Dromornithids are an extinct group of large flightless birds from the Cenozoic of Australia. Their record extends from the Eocene to the late Pleistocene. Four genera and eight species are currently recognised, with diversity highest in the Miocene. Dromornithids were once considered ratites, [...] Read more.
Dromornithids are an extinct group of large flightless birds from the Cenozoic of Australia. Their record extends from the Eocene to the late Pleistocene. Four genera and eight species are currently recognised, with diversity highest in the Miocene. Dromornithids were once considered ratites, but since the discovery of cranial elements, phylogenetic analyses have placed them near the base of the anseriforms or, most recently, resolved them as stem galliforms. In this study, we use morphometric methods to comprehensively describe dromornithid endocranial morphology for the first time, comparing Ilbandornis woodburnei and three species of Dromornis to one another and to four species of extant basal galloanseres. We reveal that major endocranial reconfiguration was associated with cranial foreshortening in a temporal series along the Dromornis lineage. Five key differences are evident between the brain morphology of Ilbandornis and Dromornis, relating to the medial wulst, the ventral eminence of the caudoventral telencephalon, and morphology of the metencephalon (cerebellum + pons). Additionally, dromornithid brains display distinctive dorsal (rostral position of the wulst), and ventral morphology (form of the maxillomandibular [V2+V3], glossopharyngeal [IX], and vagus [X] cranial nerves), supporting hypotheses that dromornithids are more closely related to basal galliforms than anseriforms. Functional interpretations suggest that dromornithids were specialised herbivores that likely possessed well-developed stereoscopic depth perception, were diurnal and targeted a soft browse trophic niche. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Evolution and Palaeobiology of Flightless Birds)
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Variation in Assemblages of Freshwater Mussels Downstream of Dams and Dam Removals in the Lake Michigan Basin, Michigan, USA
Diversity 2021, 13(3), 119; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13030119 - 12 Mar 2021
Cited by 1
Abstract
Impacts of barriers, including dam removals, on aquatic diversity are poorly understood. We assessed freshwater mussel assemblages and microhabitat downstream of uncontrolled and controlled low-head dams and low-head dam removals in Michigan, USA. The objectives of this study were to quantify whether downstream [...] Read more.
Impacts of barriers, including dam removals, on aquatic diversity are poorly understood. We assessed freshwater mussel assemblages and microhabitat downstream of uncontrolled and controlled low-head dams and low-head dam removals in Michigan, USA. The objectives of this study were to quantify whether downstream mussel assemblages and microhabitat parameters differ by anthropogenic barrier and along a downstream gradient, and to determine parameters that were predictors of mussel diversity and density. Sampling consisted of standardized timed-searches and quadrat excavations. Results suggest that areas downstream of dams had higher mussel diversity than dam removals, and mussel assemblages differed along a downstream gradient for uncontrolled and controlled dams. Indicator Species Analyses determined mussel species representative of downstream river reaches from uncontrolled low-head dams and removals. Predictor variables for mussel assemblages included substrate classes and total suspended solids. Controlled dams contained the least fine substrates (%) and highest coarse substrates (%) in downstream reaches. This study suggests that rivers with uncontrolled low-head dams and removals provide downstream habitat that support viable mussel assemblages. Results from this study also suggest that evidence of mussel assemblage recovery following dam removal may take many years. Quantification of barrier-related impacts, as shown in this study, are imperative to guide conservation of aquatic fauna. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Freshwater Mollusk Conservation)
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Article
Long-Term Monitoring Reveals Differential Responses of Mussel and Host Fish Communities in a Biodiversity Hotspot
Diversity 2021, 13(3), 122; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13030122 - 12 Mar 2021
Cited by 3
Abstract
Biodiversity hotspots can serve as protected areas that aid in species conservation. Long-term monitoring of multiple taxonomic groups within biodiversity hotspots can offer insight into factors influencing their dynamics. Mussels (Bivalvia: Unionidae) and fish are highly diverse and imperiled groups of organisms with [...] Read more.
Biodiversity hotspots can serve as protected areas that aid in species conservation. Long-term monitoring of multiple taxonomic groups within biodiversity hotspots can offer insight into factors influencing their dynamics. Mussels (Bivalvia: Unionidae) and fish are highly diverse and imperiled groups of organisms with contrasting life histories that should influence their response to ecological factors associated with local and global change. Here we use historical and contemporary fish and mussel survey data to assess fish and mussel community changes over a 33 year period (1986–2019) and relationships between mussel abundance and their host fish abundance in Bogue Chitto Creek, a tributary of the Alabama River and a biodiversity hotspot. Mussel abundance declined by ~80% and community composition shifted, with eight species previously recorded not found in 2019, and a single individual of the endangered Pleurobema decisum. Fish abundances increased and life history strategies in the community appeared stable and there was no apparent relationship between mussel declines and abundance of host fish. Temporal variation in the proportion of life history traits composing mussel assemblages was also indicative of the disturbances specifically affecting the mussel community. However, changes and declines in mussel assemblages in Bogue Chitto Creek cannot be firmly attributed to any specific factor or events because of gaps in historical environmental and biological data. We believe that mobility differences contributed to differential responses of fish and mussel communities to stressors including habitat degradation, recent droughts and invasive species. Overall, our work indicates that monitoring biodiversity hotspots using hydrological measurements, standardized survey methods and monitoring invasive species abundance would better identify the effects of multiple and interactive stressors that impact disparate taxonomic groups in freshwater ecosystems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Freshwater Mollusk Conservation)
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Article
Diversity of Dominant Soil Bacteria Increases with Warming Velocity at the Global Scale
Diversity 2021, 13(3), 120; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13030120 - 12 Mar 2021
Cited by 2
Abstract
Understanding global soil bacterial diversity is important because of its role in maintaining a healthy global ecosystem. Given the effects of environmental changes (e.g., warming and human impact) on the diversity of animals and plants, effects on soil bacterial diversity are expected; however, [...] Read more.
Understanding global soil bacterial diversity is important because of its role in maintaining a healthy global ecosystem. Given the effects of environmental changes (e.g., warming and human impact) on the diversity of animals and plants, effects on soil bacterial diversity are expected; however, they have been poorly evaluated at the global scale to date. Thus, in this study, we focused on the dominant soil bacteria, which are likely critical drivers of key soil processes worldwide, and investigated the effects of warming velocity and human activities on their diversity. Using a global dataset of bacteria, we performed spatial analysis to evaluate the effects of warming velocity and human activities, while statistically controlling for the potentially confounding effects of current climate and geographic parameters with global climate and geographic data. We demonstrated that the diversity of the dominant soil bacteria was influenced globally, not only by the aridity index (dryness) and pH but also by warming velocity from the Last Glacial Maximum (21,000 years ago) to the present, showing significant increases. The increase in bacterial diversity with warming velocity was particularly significant in forests and grasslands. An effect of human activity was also observed, but it was secondary to warming velocity. These findings provide robust evidence and advance our understanding of the effects of environmental changes (particularly global warming) on soil bacterial diversity at the global scale. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Microbial Diversity and Culture Collections)
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Article
Effects of Longer Droughts on Holm Oak Quercus ilex L. Acorn Pests: Consequences for Infestation Rates, Seed Biomass and Embryo Survival
Diversity 2021, 13(3), 110; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13030110 - 05 Mar 2021
Cited by 1
Abstract
The effects of climate change on oaks Quercus spp. constitute a main environmental concern for the conservation of temperate forests. In this context, we assessed the consequences of longer droughts on the interactions between the holm oak Quercus ilex L. and its main [...] Read more.
The effects of climate change on oaks Quercus spp. constitute a main environmental concern for the conservation of temperate forests. In this context, we assessed the consequences of longer droughts on the interactions between the holm oak Quercus ilex L. and its main acorn pests. Infested acorns were prematurely abscised before reaching their potential size. The volume of the acorns attacked by Cydia fagiglandana (Lepidoptera) was smaller than those attacked by Curculio elephas (Coleoptera); however, their weight did not differ because Curculio larvae consumed more cotyledon. For the same reason, embryo survival likelihood was not lower in Cydia acorns despite their smaller size. Delays of late summer rain reduced infestation by Curculio, as soil hardness hampers adult emergence from their underground cells. By contrast, late and scarce precipitations benefited Cydia; rainfall might hamper adult flight and eggs/L1 larvae survival. There was not a “zero-sum” effect, because the decrease of Curculio infestation rates was not fully compensated by an increase of Cydia. Under the longer droughts projected for the Mediterranean Basin, our results predict lower infestation rates and higher acorn survival likelihood. However, further studies including other environmental factors are needed to better forecast the net consequences for holm oak fitness. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Interactions between Oaks and Insects)
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Article
Invasive Cuban Treefrogs (Osteopilus septentrionalis) Have More Robust Locomotor Performance Than Two Native Treefrogs (Hyla spp.) in Florida, USA, in Response to Temperature and Parasitic Infections
Diversity 2021, 13(3), 109; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13030109 - 05 Mar 2021
Abstract
Introduced species pose a threat to biodiversity, and ecological and physiological factors are important in determining whether an introduced species becomes successfully established in a new region. Locomotor performance is one such factor that can influence the abundance and distribution of an introduced [...] Read more.
Introduced species pose a threat to biodiversity, and ecological and physiological factors are important in determining whether an introduced species becomes successfully established in a new region. Locomotor performance is one such factor that can influence the abundance and distribution of an introduced species. We investigated the effects of temperature and parasitism by the intestinal nematode Aplectana hamatospicula on the maximum jump distance and endurance in one invasive and two native treefrogs in Florida, USA. We collected frogs from the wild, estimated their parasite loads, and tested their locomotor performance at three temperatures. Contrary to expectations, invasive Cuban treefrogs (Osteopilus septentrionalis), which are adapted to a warmer climate in the Caribbean, outperformed pinewoods treefrogs (Hyla femoralis) and squirrel treefrogs (H. squirella) at each temperature, even when controlling for body size differences. In all three species, maximum jump distance was positively related to temperature, and this relationship was stronger for larger frogs. Parasites influenced both the maximum jump distance and endurance of frogs. In all three species, larger frogs jumped farther maximum distances than smaller frogs, but this relationship was stronger when frogs had lower, rather than higher, parasite loads. Parasitism had little effect on endurance in invasive frogs, but it tended to decrease the endurance of native frogs at high temperatures. Furthermore, at low temperatures, the lengths of consecutive jumps of infected native frogs tended to increase, suggesting that parasites limited the distances of initial jumps. Effects of temperature and parasites on the locomotor performance of frogs could influence their abilities to forage, escape predators, and disperse. The tremendous locomotor performance of O. septentrionalis, which is maintained across temperatures and parasite loads, likely contributes to the invasion success of this species. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biodiversity and Conservation of Tree Frogs)
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Article
Origins of Six Species of Butterflies Migrating through Northeastern Mexico: New Insights from Stable Isotope (δ2H) Analyses and a Call for Documenting Butterfly Migrations
Diversity 2021, 13(3), 102; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13030102 - 25 Feb 2021
Cited by 2
Abstract
Determining migratory connectivity within and among diverse taxa is crucial to their conservation. Insect migrations involve millions of individuals and are often spectacular. However, in general, virtually nothing is known about their structure. With anthropogenically induced global change, we risk losing most of [...] Read more.
Determining migratory connectivity within and among diverse taxa is crucial to their conservation. Insect migrations involve millions of individuals and are often spectacular. However, in general, virtually nothing is known about their structure. With anthropogenically induced global change, we risk losing most of these migrations before they are even described. We used stable hydrogen isotope (δ2H) measurements of wings of seven species of butterflies (Libytheana carinenta, Danaus gilippus, Phoebis sennae, Asterocampa leilia, Euptoieta claudia, Euptoieta hegesia, and Zerene cesonia) salvaged as roadkill when migrating in fall through a narrow bottleneck in northeast Mexico. These data were used to depict the probabilistic origins in North America of six species, excluding the largely local E. hegesia. We determined evidence for long-distance migration in four species (L. carinenta, E. claudia, D. glippus, Z. cesonia) and present evidence for panmixia (Z. cesonia), chain (Libytheana carinenta), and leapfrog (Danaus gilippus) migrations in three species. Our investigation underlines the utility of the stable isotope approach to quickly establish migratory origins and connectivity in butterflies and other insect taxa, especially if they can be sampled at migratory bottlenecks. We make the case for a concerted effort to atlas butterfly migrations using the stable isotope approach. Full article
(This article belongs to the Collection Stable Isotope Ecology)
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Article
The Diverse Assemblage of Fungal Endophytes from Orchids in Madagascar Linked to Abiotic Factors and Seasonality
Diversity 2021, 13(2), 96; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13020096 - 23 Feb 2021
Cited by 3
Abstract
The inselbergs of the Central Highlands of Madagascar are one of many ‘micro-hotspots’ of biodiversity on the island, particularly for Orchidaceae. In this region are several genera that have a large number of endemic species that are in serious decline or edging towards [...] Read more.
The inselbergs of the Central Highlands of Madagascar are one of many ‘micro-hotspots’ of biodiversity on the island, particularly for Orchidaceae. In this region are several genera that have a large number of endemic species that are in serious decline or edging towards extinction. Studies relating to diversity of orchids and their fungal partners (both mycorrhizal and non-mycorrhizal root associates) deserve more attention, as climate change and human induced decline in resilience of species in the wild is at an all-time high. Identification of mycorrhizal fungi (MF) via conventional seed baited-protocorms has limitations for large scale studies and its application for time-bound conservation projects. The paper describes the value of understanding fungal diversity in the roots of orchids at different stages of maturity. The first part of the study was a preliminary investigation mainly to identify culturable Rhizoctonia endophytes, and the second part looked at all life forms of available taxa together with associated soil characteristics. We isolated and identified 19 putative MF from 18 of the 50 taxa spread over an area of 250 sq. km, covering three life forms, growth phases of the orchid taxa, and habitat types. In the rest of the taxa, we were unable to detect any putative MF, but had varying numbers of non-mycorrhizal endophytes. We also found that diversity of putative MF was higher in plants from soils with the lowest P levels recorded. Putative mycorrhizal OTUs were predominantly from the Tulasnella lineage, followed by Ceratobasidium and Serendipita. Within a small subset of samples, a difference in colonised endophytes depending on the collection season was observed. In vitro germination studies using 10 OTUs of mycorrhizal fungi in 14 orchid species showed mostly generalist associations. When orchid seed and fungal sources were studied irrespective of habitat, life form, and distance from each other (orchid seed and fungal source), compatibility for symbiotic seed germination was observed in most cases. Issues with the identification of compatible MF and symbiotic system of seed germination are discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Ecology and Diversity of Orchids)
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Article
Biogeography of Iberian Ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)
Diversity 2021, 13(2), 88; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13020088 - 19 Feb 2021
Cited by 3
Abstract
Ants are highly diverse in the Iberian Peninsula (IP), both in species richness (299 cited species) and in number of endemic species (72). The Iberian ant fauna is one of the richest in the broader Mediterranean region, it is similar to the Balkan [...] Read more.
Ants are highly diverse in the Iberian Peninsula (IP), both in species richness (299 cited species) and in number of endemic species (72). The Iberian ant fauna is one of the richest in the broader Mediterranean region, it is similar to the Balkan Peninsula but lower than Greece or Israel, when species richness is controlled by the surface area. In this first general study on the biogeography of Iberian ants, we propose seven chorological categories for grouping thems. Moreover, we also propose eight biogeographic refugium areas, based on the criteria of “refugia-within-refugium” in the IP. We analysed species richness, occurrence and endemism in all these refugium areas, which we found to be significantly different as far as ant similarity was concerned. Finally, we collected published evidence of biological traits, molecular phylogenies, fossil deposits and geological processes to be able to infer the most probable centre of origin and dispersal routes followed for the most noteworthy ants in the IP. As a result, we have divided the Iberian myrmecofauna into four biogeographical groups: relict, Asian-IP disjunct, Baetic-Rifan and Alpine. To sum up, our results support biogeography as being a significant factor for determining the current structure of ant communities, especially in the very complex and heterogenous IP. Moreover, the taxonomic diversity and distribution patterns we describe in this study highlight the utility of Iberian ants for understanding the complex evolutionary history and biogeography of the Iberian Peninsula. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Diversity, Biogeography and Community Ecology of Ants)
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Article
Orchid Extinction over the Last 150 Years in the Czech Republic
Diversity 2021, 13(2), 78; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13020078 - 13 Feb 2021
Cited by 7
Abstract
Understanding temporal changes in the distribution and abundance of various species is one of the key goals of conservation biology. During recent decades, the abundance and distribution of many species of plants and animals have declined dramatically, mainly because of habitat loss and [...] Read more.
Understanding temporal changes in the distribution and abundance of various species is one of the key goals of conservation biology. During recent decades, the abundance and distribution of many species of plants and animals have declined dramatically, mainly because of habitat loss and fragmentation. The purpose of this study is to analyze the rate of extinction of orchids at various sites in different 20-year time intervals over the last 150 years, determined according to changes in society. Using the dataset of the orchid records of the Nature Conservation Agency of the Czech Republic, we determined the disappearance rate of orchids from sites using a grid of 1 × 1 km. We found that the vast majority of orchids disappeared from many of their historical localities in all time intervals analyzed. The number of sites suitable for Czech orchids declined by 8–92%, depending on the species. The most threatened orchid species in the Czech Republic are Spiranthes spiralis, Anacamptis palustris, Epipogium aphyllum and Goodyera repens. This all seems to be closely related with changes in agricultural practices in the open as well as in forest habitats. Preserving suitable orchid habitats seems to be the key for keeping Czech orchid flora alive. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Ecology and Diversity of Orchids)
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Article
Do Weeds Hinder the Establishment of Native Plants on a Reclaimed North American Boreal Mine Site?
Diversity 2021, 13(2), 76; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13020076 - 12 Feb 2021
Cited by 1
Abstract
The majority of plant diversity in the boreal forest of northern Alberta, Canada is comprised of native understory plant species that are continuously facing competition from other species, including both undesirable native and weedy species. In oil sands mine reclamation, cover soils rich [...] Read more.
The majority of plant diversity in the boreal forest of northern Alberta, Canada is comprised of native understory plant species that are continuously facing competition from other species, including both undesirable native and weedy species. In oil sands mine reclamation, cover soils rich in organic matter are used to cap overburden materials. The aim of this study is to understand the role of weeds on different reclamation cover soils (forest floor-mineral mix and peat-mineral mix) and determine if they hinder the establishment of the native plant community. This study was conducted four growing seasons after site establishment in June 2019. At that time, both soil types had approximately 45% total cover, had 21 species per plot, and were composed of mainly native vegetation. Competition from non-native forbs (11% average cover, mainly Sonchus arvensis and Melilotus alba) did not seem to impact the development of the native vegetation community on either soil type given the high cover and richness of native forbs. However, native graminoids (predominantly Calamagrostis canadensis) were associated with reduced native forb cover and richness at graminoid cover greater than 17%. Overall, non-native forbs appeared to have little impact on the native forb community on either soil type while native graminoids had a negative influence. We suggest that the classification of what is considered an undesirable weedy species should be evaluated in the context of ecosystem management goals rather than simply the presence of non-native species. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Weed Ecology and Diversity)
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Article
Avian Haemosporidian Diversity on Sardinia: A First General Assessment for the Insular Mediterranean
Diversity 2021, 13(2), 75; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13020075 - 10 Feb 2021
Cited by 6
Abstract
The Western Palearctic is one of the most investigated regions for avian haemosporidian parasites (Haemoproteus, Plasmodium and Leucocytozoon), yet geographic gaps in our regional knowledge remain. Here, we report the first haemosporidian screening of the breeding birds from Sardinia (the [...] Read more.
The Western Palearctic is one of the most investigated regions for avian haemosporidian parasites (Haemoproteus, Plasmodium and Leucocytozoon), yet geographic gaps in our regional knowledge remain. Here, we report the first haemosporidian screening of the breeding birds from Sardinia (the second-largest Mediterranean Island and a biodiversity hotspot), and the first for the insular Mediterranean in general. We examined the occurrence of haemosporidians by amplifying their mtDNA cytb gene in 217 breeding birds, belonging to 32 species. The total prevalence of infected birds was 55.3%, and of the 116 haplotypes recovered, 84 were novel. Despite the high number of novel lineages, phylogenetic analysis did not highlight Sardinia-specific clades; instead, some Sardinian lineages were more closely related to lineages previously recovered from continental Europe. Host-parasite network analysis indicated a specialized host-parasite community. Binomial generalized linear models (GLMs), performed at the community level, suggested an elevational effect on haemosporidian occurrence probability (negative for Haemoproteus; positive for Leucocytozoon) likely due to differences in the abundance of insect vectors at different elevations. Furthermore, a GLM revealed that sedentary birds showed a higher probability of being infected by novel haplotypes and long-distance migrants showed a lower probability of novel haplotype infection. We hypothesize that the high diversity of haemosporidians is linked to the isolation of breeding bird populations on Sardinia. This study adds to the growing knowledge on haemosporidians lineage diversity and distribution in insular environments and presents new insights on potential host-parasite associations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Bird Parasites)
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Article
The Analysis of Italian Plant Agrobiodiversity Databases Reveals That Hilly and Sub-Mountain Areas Are Hotspots of Herbaceous Landraces
Diversity 2021, 13(2), 70; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13020070 - 09 Feb 2021
Cited by 5
Abstract
Landraces are an agri-food and historical-cultural heritage but are undergoing losses worldwide. Italy is taking action to counteract this problem by following European guidelines. One of the most important measures is the Agrobiodiversity National Register (ANR), but 12 Italian regions currently appear without [...] Read more.
Landraces are an agri-food and historical-cultural heritage but are undergoing losses worldwide. Italy is taking action to counteract this problem by following European guidelines. One of the most important measures is the Agrobiodiversity National Register (ANR), but 12 Italian regions currently appear without any landraces and around 80% of the landraces listed are trees, with less detailed data on herbaceous species. The aim of this study is to investigate the situation for Italian herbaceous landraces preserved on farms (in situ) by merging and analyzing data contained in the main databases on plant agrobiodiversity in Italy. Data were georeferenced, organized by botanic families and Italian regions, and analyzed by GIS and R. A total of 1615 herbaceous landraces were found (versus the 416 recorded in the ANR). Poaceae, Fabaceae, and Solanaceae together comprise 70% of all herbaceous landraces and are mostly preserved/grown in areas between 150 and 800 m a.s.l. Some hilly and sub-mountain areas of the Apennines and the Alps are hotspots of herbaceous landraces due to anthropic and environmental factors. The results of this research will be useful to enrich the ANR and trigger actions of characterization, conservation, and promotion of these plant resources. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Plant Diversity)
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Article
Genesis, Evolution, and Genetic Diversity of the Hexaploid, Narrow Endemic Centaurea tentudaica
Diversity 2021, 13(2), 72; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13020072 - 09 Feb 2021
Cited by 2
Abstract
Within the genus Centaurea L., polyploidy is very common, and it is believed that, as to all angiosperms, it was key in the history of its diversification and evolution. Centaurea tentudaica is a hexaploid from subsect. Chamaecyanus of unknown origin. In this study, [...] Read more.
Within the genus Centaurea L., polyploidy is very common, and it is believed that, as to all angiosperms, it was key in the history of its diversification and evolution. Centaurea tentudaica is a hexaploid from subsect. Chamaecyanus of unknown origin. In this study, we examined the possible autopolyploid or allopolyploid origin using allozymes and sequences of three molecular markers: nuclear-ribosomic region ETS, and low-copy genes AGT1 and PgiC. We also included three species geographically and morphologically close to C. tentudaica: C. amblensis, C. galianoi, and C. ornata. Neighbor-Net and Bayesian analyses show a close relationship between C. amblensis and C. tentudaica and no relationship to any of the other species, which suggest that C. tentudaica is an autopolyploid of C. amblensis. Allozyme banding pattern also supports the autopolyploidy hypothesis and shows high levels of genetic diversity in the polyploid, which could suggest multiple origins by recurrent crosses of tetraploid and diploid cytotypes of C. amblensis. Environmental niche modeling was used to analyze the distribution of the possible parental species during the present, Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), Last Interglacial Period (LIG), and Penultimate Glacial Maximum (PGM) environmental conditions. Supporting the molecular suggestions that C. tentudaica originated from C. amblensis, environmental niche modeling confirms that past distribution of C. amblensis overlapped with the distribution of C. tentudaica. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Conservation Genetics and Biogeography of Seed Plant Species)
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Article
Flock Size Predicts Niche Breadth and Focal Wintering Regions for a Rapidly Declining Boreal-Breeding Passerine, the Rusty Blackbird
Diversity 2021, 13(2), 62; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13020062 - 04 Feb 2021
Cited by 2
Abstract
Once exceptionally abundant, the Rusty Blackbird (Euphagus carolinus) has declined precipitously over at least the last century. The species breeds across the Boreal forest, where it is so thinly distributed across such remote areas that it is extremely challenging to monitor [...] Read more.
Once exceptionally abundant, the Rusty Blackbird (Euphagus carolinus) has declined precipitously over at least the last century. The species breeds across the Boreal forest, where it is so thinly distributed across such remote areas that it is extremely challenging to monitor or research, hindering informed conservation. As such, we employed a targeted citizen science effort on the species’ wintering grounds in the more (human) populated southeast United States: the Rusty Blackbird Winter Blitz. Using a MaxEnt machine learning framework, we modeled patterns of occurrence of small, medium, and large flocks (<20, 20–99, and >99 individuals, respectively) in environmental space using both Blitz and eBird data. Our primary objective was to determine environmental variables that best predict Rusty Blackbird occurrence, with emphasis on (1) examining differences in key environmental predictors across flock sizes, (2) testing whether environmental niche breadth decreased with flock size, and (3) identifying regions with higher predicted occurrence (hotspots). The distribution of flocks varied across environmental predictors, with average minimum temperature (~2 °C for medium and large flocks) and proportional coverage of floodplain forest having the largest influence on occurrence. Environmental niche breadth decreased with increasing flock size, suggesting an increasingly restrictive range of environmental conditions capable of supporting larger flocks. We identified large hotspots in floodplain forests in the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley, the South Atlantic Coastal Plain, and the Black Belt Prairie. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Boreal Bird Ecology, Management and Conservation)
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Article
The Mitochondrial Genome of Nematodontous Moss Polytrichum commune and Analysis of Intergenic Repeats Distribution Among Bryophyta
Diversity 2021, 13(2), 54; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13020054 - 01 Feb 2021
Cited by 1
Abstract
An early-branched moss Polytrichum commune is a widely accepted model object for ecological, environmental, physiological, and genetic studies. Its mitochondrial genome has been sequenced and annotated. The genome contains 67 genes in total and has a length equal to 114,831 bp, which exceeds [...] Read more.
An early-branched moss Polytrichum commune is a widely accepted model object for ecological, environmental, physiological, and genetic studies. Its mitochondrial genome has been sequenced and annotated. The genome contains 67 genes in total and has a length equal to 114,831 bp, which exceeds the length of most known mitochondrial genomes for mosses. A phylogenetic tree based on 33 coding sequences of mitochondrial genome was constructed, and the pairwise identity of whole mitogenome sequences was estimated for 44 Bryophyta species. Based on the analysis of pairwise identity, it was shown that mitogenomes of Tetraphis pellucida and Buxbaumia aphylla sufficiently differ from those of other Bryophyta species. The first known Bryophyta mitogenome rearrangement was identified in Pogonatum inflexum within Polytrichopsida. Based on the intergenic repeats occurrence in 44 bryophyte mitochondrial genomes and available data on repetitive elements content in other Viridiplantae groups, it was noted for the first time that greater stability of the moss’s mitogenomes is probably associated mainly with the absence of long (>1 kb) repeats. The phenomenon of absence of the intergenic repetitive elements in the terminal clades species was discovered. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Taxonomy, Diversity and Evolution of Bryophytes)
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Article
Digging Deeper into the Ecology of Subterranean Ants: Diversity and Niche Partitioning across Two Continents
Diversity 2021, 13(2), 53; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13020053 - 29 Jan 2021
Cited by 3
Abstract
Soil fauna is generally understudied compared to above-ground arthropods, and ants are no exception. Here, we compared a primary and a secondary forest each on two continents using four different sampling methods. Winkler sampling, pitfalls, and four types of above- and below-ground baits [...] Read more.
Soil fauna is generally understudied compared to above-ground arthropods, and ants are no exception. Here, we compared a primary and a secondary forest each on two continents using four different sampling methods. Winkler sampling, pitfalls, and four types of above- and below-ground baits (dead, crushed insects; melezitose; living termites; living mealworms/grasshoppers) were applied on four plots (4 × 4 grid points) on each site. Although less diverse than Winkler samples and pitfalls, subterranean baits provided a remarkable ant community. Our baiting system provided a large dataset to systematically quantify strata and dietary specialisation in tropical rainforest ants. Compared to above-ground baits, 10–28% of the species at subterranean baits were overall more common (or unique to) below ground, indicating a fauna that was truly specialised to this stratum. Species turnover was particularly high in the primary forests, both concerning above-ground and subterranean baits and between grid points within a site. This suggests that secondary forests are more impoverished, especially concerning their subterranean fauna. Although subterranean ants rarely displayed specific preferences for a bait type, they were in general more specialised than above-ground ants; this was true for entire communities, but also for the same species if they foraged in both strata. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Diversity, Biogeography and Community Ecology of Ants)
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Article
Phylogeography of the Brittle Star Ophiura sarsii Lütken, 1855 (Echinodermata: Ophiuroidea) from the Barents Sea and East Atlantic
Diversity 2021, 13(2), 40; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13020040 - 21 Jan 2021
Abstract
Ophiura sarsii is a common brittle star species across the Arctic and Sub-Arctic regions of the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans. Ophiurasarsii is among the dominant echinoderms in the Barents Sea. We studied the genetic diversity of O.sarsii by sequencing the [...] Read more.
Ophiura sarsii is a common brittle star species across the Arctic and Sub-Arctic regions of the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans. Ophiurasarsii is among the dominant echinoderms in the Barents Sea. We studied the genetic diversity of O.sarsii by sequencing the 548 bp fragment of the mitochondrial COI gene. Ophiurasarsii demonstrated high genetic diversity in the Barents Sea. Both major Atlantic mtDNA lineages were present in the Barents Sea and were evenly distributed between the northern waters around Svalbard archipelago and the southern part near Murmansk coast of Kola Peninsula. Both regions, and other parts of the O.sarsii range, were characterized by high haplotype diversity with a significant number of private haplotypes being mostly satellites to the two dominant haplotypes, each belonging to a different mtDNA clade. Demographic analyses indicated that the demographic and spatial expansion of O.sarsii in the Barents Sea most plausibly has started in the Bølling–Allerød interstadial during the deglaciation of the western margin of the Barents Sea. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Phylogeny and Evolution)
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Article
Occupancy of the American Three-Toed Woodpecker in a Heavily-Managed Boreal Forest of Eastern Canada
Diversity 2021, 13(1), 35; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13010035 - 19 Jan 2021
Cited by 2
Abstract
The southern extent of the boreal forest in North America has experienced intensive human disturbance in recent decades. Among these, forest harvesting leads to the substantial loss of late-successional stands that include key habitat attributes for several avian species. The American Three-toed Woodpecker, [...] Read more.
The southern extent of the boreal forest in North America has experienced intensive human disturbance in recent decades. Among these, forest harvesting leads to the substantial loss of late-successional stands that include key habitat attributes for several avian species. The American Three-toed Woodpecker, Picoides dorsalis, is associated with continuous old spruce forests in the eastern part of its range. In this study, we assessed the influence of habitat characteristics at different scales on the occupancy of American Three-toed Woodpecker in a heavily-managed boreal landscape of northeastern Canada, and we inferred species occupancy at the regional scale. We conducted 185 playback stations over two breeding seasons and modelled the occupancy of the species while taking into account the probability of detection. American Three-toed Woodpecker occupancy was lower in stands with large areas recently clear-cut, and higher in landscapes with large extents of old-growth forest dominated by black spruce. At the regional scale, areas with high probability of occupancy were scarce and mostly within protected areas. Habitat requirements of the American Three-toed Woodpecker during the breeding season, coupled with overall low occupancy rate in our study area, challenge its long-term sustainability in such heavily managed landscapes. Additionally, the scarcity of areas of high probability of occupancy in the region suggests that the ecological role of old forest outside protected areas could be compromised. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Boreal Bird Ecology, Management and Conservation)
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Article
Threats Posed to the Rediscovered and Rare Salvia ceratophylloides Ard. (Lamiaceae) by Borer and Seed Feeder Insect Species
Diversity 2021, 13(1), 33; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13010033 - 16 Jan 2021
Cited by 6
Abstract
The effects of herbivorous insects on a plant population are not always well tolerated. This is especially true if the herbivorous actions are directed toward rare plant species. Salvia ceratophylloides Ard. is a rare endemism of southern Italy. Observations of the plants in [...] Read more.
The effects of herbivorous insects on a plant population are not always well tolerated. This is especially true if the herbivorous actions are directed toward rare plant species. Salvia ceratophylloides Ard. is a rare endemism of southern Italy. Observations of the plants in situ revealed that many of them were under severe stress and did not produce seeds. Therefore, to find out which factors affect the reproductive activity as a whole, an observational study was carried out. We found bottom-up and top-down effects on plant health and reproduction associated with herbivorous action. Squamapion elongatum (Coleoptera, Curculionoidea, Apionidae), in all monitored sites, infested plants non-uniformly but was able to threaten the health condition, flowering, and seed production of sage by digging tunnels into the sage branches (bottom-up action), and then secondarily by seed feeder Systole salvia Zerova (Hymenoptera, Eurytomidae) predating sage seeds (top-down action). Mainly, chalcid parasitoid wasps such as Trichomalus spp. (Hymenoptera, Pteromalidae), as well as Eupelmus vesicularis and E. muellneri (Hymenoptera, Eupelmidae), limited the herbivorous S. elongatum population and the seed herbivore S. salviae emerged with its parasitoid Ormyrus diffinis (Hymenoptera, Ormyridae). Overall, this study showed how ecological interactions among herbivores, their host, and their natural enemies act on this sage species in all sites investigated. Among the herbivores, mainly S. elongatum affected this rare sage species, which should be taken into consideration, especially in the formulation of biological control solutions and for improving operating practice aimed at reproducing the species. This study provides the molecular characterization of the herbivorous species involved, in order to support future projects to evaluate the intra- and interspecific genetic variability of insects, their evolutionary relationships, and phylogeny studies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biodiversity of Insect)
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Article
Altitudinal Vascular Plant Richness and Climate Change in the Alpine Zone of the Lefka Ori, Crete
Diversity 2021, 13(1), 22; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13010022 - 09 Jan 2021
Cited by 3
Abstract
High mountain zones in the Mediterranean area are considered more vulnerable in comparison to lower altitudes zones. Lefka Ori massif, a global biodiversity hotspot on the island of Crete is part of the Global Observation Research Initiative in Alpine Environments (GLORIA) monitoring network. [...] Read more.
High mountain zones in the Mediterranean area are considered more vulnerable in comparison to lower altitudes zones. Lefka Ori massif, a global biodiversity hotspot on the island of Crete is part of the Global Observation Research Initiative in Alpine Environments (GLORIA) monitoring network. The paper examines species and vegetation changes with respect to climate and altitude over a seven-year period (2001–2008) at a range of spatial scales (10 m Summit Area Section-SAS, 5 m SAS, 1 m2) using the GLORIA protocol in a re-survey of four mountain summits (1664 m–2339 m). The absolute species loss between 2001–2008 was 4, among which were 2 endemics. At the scale of individual summits, the highest changes were recorded at the lower summits with absolute species loss 4 in both cases. Paired t-tests for the total species richness at 1 m2 between 2001–2008, showed no significant differences. No significant differences were found at the individual summit level neither at the 5 m SAS or the 10 m SAS. Time series analysis reveals that soil mean annual temperature is increasing at all summits. Linear regressions with the climatic variables show a positive effect on species richness at the 5 m and 10 m SAS as well as species changes at the 5 m SAS. In particular, June mean temperature has the highest predictive power for species changes at the 5 m SAS. Recorded changes in species richness point more towards fluctuations within a plant community’s normal range, although there seem to be more significant diversity changes in higher summits related to aspects. Our work provides additional evidence to assess the effects of climate change on plant diversity in Mediterranean mountains and particularly those of islands which remain understudied. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Diversity, Ecology and Conservation of Alpine Plants)
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Article
Parrot Ownership and Capture in Coastal Ecuador: Developing a Trapping Pressure Index
Diversity 2021, 13(1), 15; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13010015 - 05 Jan 2021
Cited by 3
Abstract
We located rural communities with pet parrots and used these locations to predict the probability of illegal parrot ownership across coastal Ecuador, using variables related to demand for pets, parrot availability, and trapping accessibility. In 12 pet keeping communities, we carried out in-depth [...] Read more.
We located rural communities with pet parrots and used these locations to predict the probability of illegal parrot ownership across coastal Ecuador, using variables related to demand for pets, parrot availability, and trapping accessibility. In 12 pet keeping communities, we carried out in-depth interviews with 106 people, to quantify ownership, trapping, and interviewees’ attitudes towards these behaviours. We combined these data to calculate a trapping pressure index for four key roosting, feeding and nesting sites for the Critically Endangered Lilacine or Ecuadorian Amazon Parrot Amazona lilacina. We found that 66% of all communities had pet parrots and 31% had pet Lilacines. Our predictive models showed that pet parrot ownership occurs throughout coastal Ecuador, but ownership of Lilacines by rural communities, is more likely to occur within the natural distribution of the species. The number of people per community who had owned Lilacines in the last three years varied from 0–50%, as did the number of people who had trapped them—from 0–26%. We interviewed 10 people who had captured the species in the last three years who reported motives of either to sell or keep birds as pets. Attitudes towards pet keeping and trapping differed among the 12 communities: 20–52% believed it was acceptable to keep pet parrots, and for 32–74%, it was acceptable to catch parrots to sell. This being said, most people believed that wild parrots were important for nature and that local people had a responsibility to protect them. We conclude that trapping pressure is greatest in the southern part of the Lilacine’s range, and urgent conservation measures such as nest and roost protection, and local community engagement are needed. Full article
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