We present the results of our tenth annual horizon scan. We identified 15 emerging priority topics that may have major positive or negative effects on the future conservation of global biodiversity, but currently have low awareness within the conservation community. We hope to increase research and policy attention on these areas, improving the capacity of the community to mitigate impacts of potentially negative issues, and maximise the benefits of issues that provide opportunities. Topics include advances in crop breeding, which may affect insects and land use; manipulations of natural water flows and weather systems on the Tibetan Plateau; release of carbon and mercury from melting polar ice and thawing permafrost; new funding schemes and regulations; and land-use changes across Indo-Malaysia.
This Special Volume of Zootaxa unites forty papers written in honor of the late András Zicsi (1928-2015), the eminent earthworm taxonomist. They deal with the taxonomy, systematics and distribution of earthworms and enchytraeids, the two major groups of soil-dwelling Oligochaeta. Altogether, 71 new species-group taxa are described, 60 species and subspecies of earthworms and 11 species of enchytraeids. They are from 15 countries all around the globe: Spain, Italy, Hungary, Turkey, Botswana, Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Laos, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Trophic organisation defines the flow of energy through ecosystems and is a key component of community structure. Widespread and intensifying anthropogenic disturbance threatens to disrupt trophic organisation by altering species composition and relative abundances and by driving shifts in the trophic ecology of species that persist in disturbed ecosystems. We examined how intensive disturbance caused by selective logging affects trophic organisation in the biodiversity hotspot of Sabah, Borneo. Using stable nitrogen isotopes, we quantified the positions in the food web of 159 leaf-litter ant species in unlogged and logged rainforest and tested four predictions: (i) there is a negative relationship between the trophic position of a species in unlogged forest and its change in abundance following logging, (ii) the trophic positions of species are altered by logging, (iii) disturbance alters the frequency distribution of trophic positions within the ant assemblage, and (iv) disturbance reduces food chain length. We found that ant abundance was 30% lower in logged forest than in unlogged forest but changes in abundance of individual species were not related to trophic position, providing no support for prediction (i). However, trophic positions of individual species were significantly higher in logged forest, supporting prediction (ii). Consequently, the frequency distribution of trophic positions differed significantly between unlogged and logged forest, supporting prediction (iii), and food chains were 0.2 trophic levels longer in logged forest, the opposite of prediction (iv). Our results demonstrate that disturbance can alter trophic organisation even without trophically-biased changes in community composition. Nonetheless, the absence of any reduction in food chain length in logged forest suggests that species-rich arthropod food webs do not experience trophic downgrading or a related collapse in trophic organisation despite the disturbance caused by logging. These food webs appear able to bend without breaking in the face of some forms of anthropogenic disturbance.
Tropical beta diversity, and particularly that of herbivorous insects in rainforests, is often considered to be enormous, but this notion has recently been challenged. Because tropical beta diversity is highly relevant to our view on biodiversity, it is important to gain more insights and to resolve methodological problems that may lead to contradictions in different studies. We used data on two ecologically distinct moth families from Southeast Asia and analyzed separately the contribution of beta components to overall species richness at three spatial scales. Observed diversity partitions were compared under different types of null models. We found that alpha diversity was lower than expected on the basis of null models, whereas hierarchical beta components were larger than expected. Beta components played a significant role in shaping gamma diversity, and their contribution can be high (multiplicative beta >5). We found a reduction in beta components when comparing primary forests to agricultural sites (cf. "biotic homogenization"), but even in these habitats, beta components were still substantial. Our analyses show that beta components do play an important role in our data on tropical herbivorous insects and that these results are not attributable to lumping different habitats when sampling environmental gradients.
Forest canopies are dynamic interfaces between organisms and atmosphere, providing buffered microclimates and complex microhabitats. Canopies form vertically stratified ecosystems interconnected with other strata. Some forest biodiversity patterns and food webs have been documented and measurements of ecophysiology and biogeochemical cycling have allowed analyses of large-scale transfer of CO2, water, and trace gases between forests and the atmosphere. However, many knowledge gaps remain. With global research networks and databases, and new technologies and infrastructure, we envisage rapid advances in our understanding of the mechanisms that drive the spatial and temporal dynamics of forests and their canopies. Such understanding is vital for the successful management and conservation of global forests and the ecosystem services they provide to the world.
The family Sciaenidae, known as croakers or drums, is one of the largest perciform fish families. A recent multi-gene based study investigating the phylogeny and biogeography of global sciaenids revealed that the origin and early diversification of this family occurred in tropical America during the Late Oligocene-Early Miocene before undergoing range expansions to other seas including the Indo-West Pacific, where high species richness is observed. Despite this clarification of the overall evolutionary history of the family, knowledge of the taxonomy and phylogeny of sciaenid genera endemic to the Indo-West Pacific is still limited due to lack of a thorough survey of all taxa. In this study, we used DNA-based approaches to investigate the evolutionary relationships, to explore the species diversity, and to elucidate the taxonomic status of sciaenid species/genera within the Indo-West Pacific clade. Three datasets were herein built for the above objectives: the combined dataset (248 samples from 45 currently recognized species) from one nuclear gene (RAG1) and one mitochondrial gene (COI); the dataset with only RAG1 gene sequences (245 samples from 44 currently recognized species); and the dataset with only COI gene sequences (308 samples from 51 currently recognized species). The latter was primarily used for our biodiversity exploration with two different species delimitation methods (Automatic Barcode Gap Discovery, ABGD and Generalized Mixed Yule Coalescent, GMYC). The results were further evaluated with help of four supplementary criteria for species delimitation (genetic similarity, monophyly inferred from individual gene and combined data trees, geographic distribution, and morphology). Our final results confirmed the validity of 32 currently recognized species and identified several potential new species waiting for formal descriptions. We also reexamined the taxonomic status of the genera, Larimichthys, Nibea, Protonibea and Megalonibea, and suggested a revision of Nibea and proposed a new genus Pseudolarimichthys.
The marine pelagic tunicates of Family Salpidae Lahille, 1888 presence in the coastal waters of Terengganu was studied for the first time. Samples were collected from April to July 2016 using 200µm Bongo net; hauled vertically from a stationary vessel; and preserved in 5% buffered formaldehyde. A total of 4 species under this family were found, observed and identified: Thalia rhomboides (Quoy and Gaimard 1824); Thalia sibogae (van Soest 1973); Weelia cylindrica (Cuvier 1804) and Brooksia rostrata (Traustedt 1893). All species were identified as new records in Malaysian waters. The description on morphological characteristics and a key to the solitary and aggregate of the recorded species is added. The distribution was analyzed from the 18 sampling stations in theTerengganu waters including Pulau Bidong, Pulau Yu and Pulau Kapas. The collected data was then compiled with previous available global literature on the distribution and occurrence of these four species, consequently updating the biodiversity of Malaysian fauna and its worldwide biogeography distribution.
The pteridophyte flora of Langkawi Archipelago consists of 130 species, 1 subspecies and 12 varieties in 68 genera and 27 families. This value represents 22.1% of the 647 taxa at the species level and below reported for Peninsular Malaysia. Of the 143 recorded taxa of pteridophytes at the species level and below, 8 species in 2 genera and 2 families are lycophytes and the other 135 taxa in 66 genera and 25 families are monilophytes or ferns.
Vatica najibiana Ummul-Nazrah (Dipterocarpaceae), from the Relai Forest Reserve, Gua Musang, Kelantan and Gua Tanggang, Merapoh, Pahang, is described and illustrated. This species is Endangered and known from small populations restricted to two isolated karst limestone hills. The type locality, Relai Forest Reserve limestone, is currently under threat from encroaching oil palm plantations and ongoing logging, which, if it continues, will threaten the Kelantan population with extinction. The morphology of V. najibiana and the similar V. odorata subsp. odorata and V. harmandiana is compared.
Onychogomphus marijanmatoki is described from a male from Gunung Mulu National Park, Miri Division, Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo. One of only two onychogomphine species known from Borneo, it differs from all others of the group in characters of the genital ligula and terminal appendages.
For over 150 years, ecologists have been striving to explain fundamental patterns of biological diversity, such as the observation that communities invariably consist of common and rare species, and to unravel the processes that underpin these patterns. This task is increasingly urgent given the accelerating loss of biological diversity. Although fishes are the most diverse vertebrate taxon and fish communities occur in a wide range of habitats, they have been relatively little studied in the quest to elucidate the processes that shape patterns of biological diversity. Here, some of the topics that investigations of fish assemblages can illuminate are highlighted. These include the characteristics of ecological communities and the role that dispersal limitation plays in structuring them, the distinction between core and occasional species, the insights that evaluating abundance in different currencies can bring and the assessment of community capacity. Questions are identified that future investigations of fish communities might tackle and a case study of a biodiverse ecoregion (Thailand and Peninsula Malaysia) is used to illustrate the need for better links between these ecological questions and effective conservation practice.
Many well-known methods are available for estimating the number of species in a forest community. However, most existing methods result in considerable negative bias in applications, where field surveys typically represent only a small fraction of sampled communities. This article develops a new method based on sampling with replacement to estimate species richness via the generalized jackknife procedure. The proposed estimator yields small bias and reasonably accurate interval estimation even with small samples. The performance of the proposed estimator is compared with several typical estimators via simulation study using two complete census datasets from Panama and Malaysia.
During 30 years of unprecedented urbanization, plant diversity in Shenzhen, a young megacity in southern China, has increased dramatically. Although strongly associated with plant diversity, butterfly diversity generally declines with urbanization, but this has not been investigated in Shenzhen. Considering the speed of urbanization in Shenzhen and the large number of city parks, we investigated butterfly diversity in Shenzhen parks. We measured butterfly species richness in four microhabitats (groves, hedges, flowerbeds, and unmanaged areas) across 10 parks and examined the relationship with three park variables: park age, park size, and distance from the central business district. Butterflies were identified based on wing morphology and DNA barcoding. We collected 1933 butterflies belonging to 74 species from six families; 20% of the species were considered rare. Butterfly species richness showed weak negative correlations with park age and distance from the central business district, but the positive correlation with park size was statistically significant (p = 0.001). Among microhabitat types, highest species richness was recorded in unmanaged areas. Our findings are consistent with others in suggesting that to promote urban butterfly diversity it is necessary to make parks as large as possible and to set aside areas for limited management. In comparison to neighbouring cities, Shenzhen parks have high butterfly diversity.
Selective logging that is commonly conducted in tropical forests may change tree species diversity. In rarely disturbed tropical forests, locally rare species exhibit higher survival rates. If this non-random process occurs in a logged forest, the forest will rapidly recover its tree species diversity. Here we determined whether a forest in the Pasoh Forest Reserve, Malaysia, which was selectively logged 40 years ago, recovered its original species diversity (species richness and composition). To explore this, we compared the dynamics of secies diversity between unlogged forest plot (18.6 ha) and logged forest plot (5.4 ha). We found that 40 years are not sufficient to recover species diversity after logging. Unlike unlogged forests, tree deaths and recruitments did not contribute to increased diversity in the selectively logged forests. Our results predict that selectively logged forests require a longer time at least than our observing period (40 years) to regain their diversity.
The rapid expansion of oil palm cultivation in the Neotropics has generated great debate around possible biodiversity impacts. Colombia, for example, is the largest producer of oil palm in the Americas, but the effects of oil palm cultivation on native fauna are poorly understood. Here, we compared how richness, abundance and composition of terrestrial mammal species differ between oil palm plantations and riparian forest in the Colombian Llanos region. Further, we determined the relationships and influence of landscape and habitat level variables on those metrics. We found that species richness and composition differed significantly between riparian forest and oil palm, with site level richness inside oil palm plantations 47% lower, on average, than in riparian forest. Within plantations, mammalian species richness was strongly negatively correlated with cattle abundance, and positively correlated with the density of undergrowth vegetation. Forest structure characteristics appeared to have weak and similar effects on determining mammal species richness and composition along riparian forest strips. Composition at the landscape level was significantly influenced by cover type, percentage of remaining forest and the distance to the nearest town, whereas within oil palm sites, understory vegetation, cattle relative abundance, and canopy cover had significant effects on community composition. Species specific abundance responses varied between land cover types, with oil palm having positive effects on mesopredators, insectivores and grazers. Our findings suggest that increasing habitat complexity, avoiding cattle and retaining native riparian forest-regardless of its structure-inside oil palm-dominated landscapes would help support higher native mammal richness and abundance at both local and landscape scales.
A total of 29 female black flies were captured by a hand net as they swarmed around humans in Tam Dao National Park, Vinh Phuc Province, Vietnam. They included one species of the subgenus Gomphostilbia (Simulium (Gomphostilbia) asakoae Takaoka & Davies) and five species of the subgenus Simulium, of which one species is described as Simulium (Simulium) vietnamense sp. nov. and the other four species (S. (S.) chungi Takaoka & Huang, S. (S.) grossifilum Takaoka & Davies, S. (S.) maenoi Takaoka & Choochote, and S. (S.) rufibasis Brunetti) are newly recorded from Vietnam.
Agriculturally altered vegetation, especially oil-palm plantations, is rapidly increasing in Southeast Asia. Low species diversity is associated with this commodity, but data on anuran diversity in oil-palm plantations are lacking. We investigated how anuran biological diversity differs between forest and oil-palm plantation, and whether observed differences in biological diversity of these areas is linked to specific environmental factors. We hypothesized that biological diversity is lower in plantations and that plantations support a larger proportion of disturbance-tolerant species than forest. We compared species richness, abundance, and community composition between plantation and forest areas and between site types within plantation and forest (forest stream vs. plantation stream, forest riparian vs. plantation riparian, forest terrestrial vs. plantation terrestrial). Not all measures of biological diversity differed between oil-palm plantations and secondary forest sites. Anuran community composition, however, differed greatly between forest and plantation, and communities of anurans in plantations contained species that prosper in disturbed areas. Although plantations supported large numbers of breeding anurans, we concluded the community consisted of common species that were of little conservation concern (commonly found species include Fejervarya limnocharis, Microhyla heymonsi, and Hylarana erythrea). We believe that with a number of management interventions, oil-palm plantations can provide habitat for species that dwell in secondary forests.