Interview with SAGE 2022 awardee Camila G. Meneses

The PhD student at University of Kansas shares about her work on the amphibians and reptiles of the Philippenes that earned her the Best Poster Award at SAGE 2022

A  specimen  of  Pseudogekko  isapa with  tail  autotomized.
Photo by Camila G Meneses.

In August 2022, Pensoft Publishers joined the 4th International Conference on Southeast Asian Gateway Evolution (SAGE 2022) in Manila, the Philippines. As a sponsor of the conference, we gave Best Talk and Best Poster awards at the event, providing a complimentary publication in a Pensoft-published journal of their choice to each of the winners. 

A month later, we are happy to present you the first claimed prize. Titled Amphibian and reptile diversity along a ridge-to-reef elevational gradient on a small isolated oceanic island of the central Philippines”, this Annotated List of Species paper, authored by scientists at the University of Kansas, University of Oklahoma and University of the Philippines Los Banos, and published in the Check List journal, reports on the herpetofauna of Mount Guiting-Guiting Natural Park, located in the so far understudied Sibuyan Island in the Philippines. In their study, the team recorded a total of 47 species of amphibians and reptiles, including 14 new island records and one atypical occurrence of a snake species recorded for the first time from a high elevation.

Now, the first author of the study, PhD student Camila G. Meneses (University of Kansas), who was awarded at SAGE 2022 for her poster: “A New Species of Fringed Forest Gecko, Genus Luperosaurus (Squamata: Gekkonidae), from Sibuyan Island, Central Philippines” joins us for an interview, sharing some further insights into her research and recent publication.

Congratulations for your Best Poster award at SAGE 2022! Can you introduce the topic of your poster to our readers? How does it fit in the broader context of your research?

The poster is entitled “A New Species of Fringed Forest Gecko, Genus Luperosaurus (Squamata: Gekkonidae), from Sibuyan Island, Central Philippines”. We are currently describing a new species of one of the rarest endemic Philippine lizards which corresponds to the Sibuyan Island population in central Philippines.

It is a poorly understood Southeast Asian and Southwest Pacific genus Luperosaurus, known popularly as fringed geckos, wolf geckos, or flap-legged geckos, and is documented here for the first time.

In the context of my research, visualizing historical, dry land connections that were once shared among modern islands has been crucial for understanding the distribution of biodiversity in the Philippines, an archipelago in which sea level oscillations during the Pleistocene undoubtedly influenced the assembly of regionalized floras and faunas. Sibuyan Island, separated by deep-water channels from neighboring landmasses, harbors distinct communities of amphibians and reptiles, many of which are island endemics.   

Happy to see your Annotated List of Species for amphibians and reptiles from the central Philippines, which just got published in the open-access journal Check List. Can you tell us a bit more about the biodiversity of the region and what made you and your co-authors choose it for your survey?

Centers of ende­mism in the Philippine archipelago coincide with the physi­ography of the greater Pleistocene Aggregate Islands Complexes (PAICs) of Luzon, Palawan, Negros-Panay (West Visayan islands), Mindoro, Mindanao, and the Sulu Archipelago during Pliocene and Pleistocene sea level regressions according to Inger (1954) and Voris ( 2000). However, until relatively recently, little attention was paid to fully inventorying smaller islands like those in central Romblon Province. The province is not only known for its beautiful landscapes but also the seascape.

Sibuyan was identified as a focal site for this study because of its unique complex ecosystem with notable geologic history that contributed to its high endemism—oceanic origin, geographic isolation, elevational relief, and relatively intact forests. In addi­tion, Sibuyan Island presents biogeographically com­pelling questions relating to the colonization history of organisms that could only have arrived on Sibuyan by dispersing over water . 

We also considered that a comprehensive characterization of the diversity and distribution of amphibians and reptiles of Mount Guiting-Guiting would be highly desirable on the part of the local government, specifically the Protected Management Board and the regional Department of Environment and Natural Resources (Region IV-B) for future management planning. The additional informa­tion and data will strengthen their existing conservation programs, ideally by engaging local communities, wild­life managers, ecotourists, and university researchers in Romblon Province. 

What are some of the unique or unexpected challenges you encounter in doing biogeographic research? How do you tackle them?

This is my first co-led (with the late young mammalogist, James Alvarez) big expedition in the country. The most challenging aspects for us as students this time are getting funding to do ridge to reef sampling for each season (wet and dry season), the inaccessibility of the area, and the unexpected natural calamities when we are at the peak of the mountain.

Biodiversity conservation efforts often depend on cooperation with non-experts in the field and wider support within the local community. What is the most important message that you hope your research helps transmit to the general audience?

Our knowledge of the endemic species diversity in these islands is still incomplete. It is of crucial importance to continue long-term, repeated biodiversity survey efforts that utilize a multifaceted approach and integration of an independent data stream for the understanding of small islands’ species community composition. 

We encourage the conservation of  the island’s seascape and landscape (one of the well-known tourist spots in the country), and we highly encourage interested students in nearby universities to continue studying the richly biodiverse areas in the province.

Finding excitement in your work is one of the great gifts of doing what you are passionate about. What brings you the most excitement?

For me, gradually getting answers for your own questions and making new discoveries are exciting, but of course the outstanding scenery, journey, experiences, skill sets being developed, and the stories we come to create during each expedition are priceless.

Did you happen to encounter your favorite species during the field surveys in Mount Guiting-Guiting Natural Park?

Honestly, when I am studying the diversity of amphibians and reptiles of Mt. Guiting-Guiting Natural Park, I consider every species that we collect my favorite.

Each survey site brings new knowledge (i.e., new elevation site recording, morphological variation, new distribution records, varied habitat type preferences of secretive species, etc). There are observations that have not been documented for some species in previous studies (even going back over 50 years ago in Brown and Alcala field collection, or more recently in the 2012 study by Siler et al.). This is especially the case for secretive RIG island endemics of amphibian and reptile species.

However, there are three species I can definitely say are my favorites — Brachymeles dalawangdaliri, Pseudogekko isapa, and the undescribed species of Fringed Forest Gecko These are very rare and secretive species of Philippine endemic lizards that can be found, we assumed, on Romblon Island Group and nowhere else in the world. Hence, the new collections are, we can say, very highly significant.

The first two have very few museum specimens, but we were lucky enough to document and collect enough samples to redescribe both species in terms of their morphological variations and know their first ever phylogenetic placement in relation to its related congeners (see Meneses et al. 2020). The third one is our new discovery of the Fringed-forest Gecko.

Pensoft’s ARPHA Publishing Platform integrates with OA Switchboard to streamline reporting to funders of open research

By the time authors open their inboxes to the message their work is online, a similar notification will have also reached their research funder.

Image credit: OA Switchboard.

By the time authors – who have acknowledged third-party financial support in their research papers submitted to a journal using the Pensoft-developed publishing platform: ARPHA – open their inboxes to the congratulatory message that their work has just been published and made available to the wide world, a similar notification will have also reached their research funder.

This automated workflow is already in effect at all journals (co-)published by Pensoft and those published under their own imprint on the ARPHA Platform, as a result of the new partnership with the OA Switchboard: a community-driven initiative with the mission to serve as a central information exchange hub between stakeholders about open access publications, while making things simpler for everyone involved.

All the submitting author needs to do to ensure that their research funder receives a notification about the publication is to select the supporting agency or the scientific project (e.g. a project supported by Horizon Europe) in the manuscript submission form, using a handy drop-down menu. In either case, the message will be sent to the funding body as soon as the paper is published in the respective journal.

“At Pensoft, we are delighted to announce our integration with the OA Switchboard, as this workflow is yet another excellent practice in scholarly publishing that supports transparency in research. Needless to say, funding and financing are cornerstones in scientific work and scholarship, so it is equally important to ensure funding bodies are provided with full, prompt and convenient reports about their own input.”

comments Prof Lyubomir Penev, CEO and founder of Pensoft and ARPHA.

 

“Research funders are one of the three key stakeholder groups in OA Switchboard and are represented in our founding partners. They seek support in demonstrating the extent and impact of their research funding and delivering on their commitment to OA. It is great to see Pensoft has started their integration with OA Switchboard with a focus on this specific group, fulfilling an important need,”

adds Yvonne Campfens, Executive Director of the OA Switchboard.

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About the OA Switchboard:

A global not-for-profit and independent intermediary established in 2020, the OA Switchboard provides a central hub for research funders, institutions and publishers to exchange OA-related publication-level information. Connecting parties and systems, and streamlining communication and the neutral exchange of metadata, the OA Switchboard provides direct, indirect and community benefits: simplicity and transparency, collaboration and interoperability, and efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

About Pensoft:

Pensoft is an independent academic publishing company, well known worldwide for its novel cutting-edge publishing tools, workflows and methods for text and data publishing of journals, books and conference materials.

All journals (co-)published by Pensoft are hosted on Pensoft’s full-featured ARPHA Publishing Platform and published in a way that ensures their content is as FAIR as possible, meaning that it is effortlessly readable, discoverable, harvestable, citable and reusable by both humans and machines.

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Guest blog post: Operation desert: crab and dwarf spider discovered on sand dunes in military area, Slovakia

Guest blog post by Pavol Purgat

For the first time in Slovakia, the dwarf spider Walckenaeria stylifrons and crab spider Spiracme mongolica were discovered on sand dunes in Záhorie Protected Landscape Area, on  localities that serve as a military complex, used by the native Slovak army. Moreover, the spider W. stylifrons was found in a wine-growing region near the historical town of Modra.

Scientists Pavol Purgat, Dr Peter Gajdoš, Natália Hurajtová, Institute of Landscape Ecology-Slovak Academy of Sciences, Slovakia, and Dr Katarína Krajčovičová, Dr Adrián Purkart, Ľubomír Volnár, Faculty of Natural Sciences-Comenius University in Bratislava, Slovakia have published their paper, where they introduce two new spider species for Slovakia, in the open-access journal CheckList, the journal of biodiversity data.

Dwarf spider, Walckenaeria stilifrons

European continental sand dunes, characterized by high ground temperature, high temperature fluctuations and movement of sand masses, belong to the rare, climatically extreme areas resembling deserts. In Europe, lowland sandy grassland habitats are considered to be among the most endangered and are often the subject of nature conservation.

The researchers decided to understand the spider assemblages living in such extreme habitats in Western Slovakia. During 2018–2019, the study sites were chosen and co-called pitfall traps hidden in the ground were used to collect spiders.

Among other collected species, two spiders were found for the first time in Slovakia. The dwarf spider W. stilifrons is recorded from 15 European countries and it is known from Eastern England to Eastern Germany in the north, and from the Iberian Peninsula to the Crimea and Cyprus in the south. Within Central Europe, the species has so far been known from Austria, Germany and Switzerland. The crab spider S. mongolica is known from Serbia to the European part of Russia. Its distribution in Asia extends from Central Asian part of Russia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan to Mongolia and China. In China it is known only from Western Inner Mongolia and Xinjiang region.

Crab spider, Spiracme mongolica

Upon the detailed examination of male copulatory organs, the researchers found out that one of the species shares characters typical for the genus Spiracme, in consideration of that a new combination Spiracme mongolica for the spider previously known as Xysticus mongolicus was suggested.

In conclusion, the authors assume that W. stilifrons can live elsewhere in Europe. The rarity of the species may be related to the occurrence of adults, especially in the winter months, as most researchers are focused only on the growing seasons. The occurrence of S. mongolica in sand dunes in Slovakia confirms this species preference for dry habitats. The new finding of S. mongolica is the most known westernmost.

Research article:
Purgat P, Gajdoš P, Purkart A, Hurajtová N, Volnár Ľ, Krajčovičová K (2021) Walckenaeria stilifrons and Spiracme mongolica (Araneae, Linyphiidae, Thomisidae), two new species to Slovakia. Check List 17 (6): 1601-1608. doi: 10.15560/17.6.1601

The first Red List of Taxonomists in Europe is calling for the support of insect specialists

The Red List of Taxonomists portal, where taxonomy experts in the field of entomology can register to help map and assess expertise across Europe, in order to provide action points necessary to overcome the risks, preserve and support this important scientific community, will remain open until 31st October 2021.

About 1,000 insect taxonomists – both professional and citizen scientists – from across the European region have already signed up on the Red List of Taxonomists, a recently launched European Commission-funded initiative by the Consortium of European Taxonomic Facilities (CETAF), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the scholarly publisher best-known for its biodiversity-themed journals and high-tech innovations in biodiversity data publishing Pensoft.

Insect taxonomists, both professional and citizen scientists, are welcome to register on the Red List of Taxonomists portal at: red-list-taxonomists.eu and further disseminate the registration portal to fellow taxonomists until 31st October 2021.

Within the one-year project, the partners are to build a database of European taxonomy experts in the field of entomology and analyse the collected data to shed light on the trends in available expertise, including best or least studied insect taxa and geographic distribution of the scientists who are working on those groups. Then, they will present them to policy makers at the European Commission.

By recruiting as many as possible insect taxonomists from across Europe, the Red List of Taxonomists initiative will not only be able to identify taxa and countries, where the “extinction” of insect taxonomists has reached a critical point, but also create a robust knowledge base on taxonomic expertise across the European region to prompt further support and funding for taxonomy in the Old Continent.

On behalf of the project partners, we would like to express our immense gratitude to everyone who has self-declared as an insect taxonomist on the Red List of Taxonomists registration portal. Please feel welcome to share our call for participation with colleagues and social networks to achieve maximum engagement from everyone concerned about the future of taxonomy!

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Read more about the rationale of the Red List of Taxonomists project.

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Follow and join the conversation on Twitter using the #RedListTaxonomists hashtag. 

Guest blog post: New ectoparasite records from Honduras came from bats recorded since 2015

Guest blog post by Manfredo Alejandro Turcios-Casco

Since its foundation in 2015, the research team “The Big Bat Theory” has filled important information gaps regarding bats and their ectoparasites in Honduras. We started as just bachelor students mist-netting bats in our university (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras- UNAH) in our free time. Then we studied a lot about their natural history, distribution, and ecology, and, without any financial support, we started to travel the country studying bats.

The early years of “The Big Bat Theory” research group

At that time, we did not know that many of those records, in the future, would be important for Honduras. After saving some money, we travelled to different departments of Honduras such as Francisco Morazán, Valle, Gracias a Dios, Comayagua, and Santa Bárbara. Then we found support from Marcio Martínez to get to know La Mosquitia, and we started studying bats in unexplored regions. Because of this initiative, we collaborated with bat ectoparasite specialist Gustavo Graciolli and bat specialist Richard Laval, which resulted in the publication of our research in the open-access, peer-reviewed journal Check List.

As a result of this project, we were able to register for the first time the Spinturnicidae family in Honduras with the species Periglischrus iheringi and P. ojastii, a new record of Basilia ortizi (Nycteribiidae), Aspidoptera delatorrei, Strebla matsoni (found hosting Artibeus jamaicensis for the first time), and Neotrichobius bisetosus (Streblidae). The latter, previously only known from Venezuela, is the record with the northernmost locality published to date. We managed to increase the number of species of bat ectoparasites in Honduras to 48, which is 33 more than in Paraguay and 65 less than in Peru.

Species of ectoparasites recorded for the first time in Honduras: A) Periglischrus iheringi (Spinturnicidae); B) Periglischrus ojastii (Spinturnicidae); C) Aspidoptera delatorrei (Streblidae); D) Trichobius yunkeri (Streblidae); E) Basilia ortizi (Nycteribiidae); F) Neotrichobius bisetosus (Streblidae); G) Strebla matsoni (Streblide).

We definitely consider that this still misunderstood group needs more research effort locally and in general. Considering the lack of knowledge, the chances of discovering new species for the region, new records for the country or region, as well as new discoveries about the relationship and interactions with their hosts, are high. The number of bat species registered for Honduras is a predictor of the number of ectoparasite species that may exist. We also consider “La Reserva de la Biosfera del Río Plátano” an important site for the study of ectoparasites of bats. This is the most important area in Honduras for bat research and conservation, not only because of its high biodiversity, but also because it is a poorly studied region.

“We are very motivated to have carried out this study on new records of ectoparasites in bats, since it is the first investigation we do on this taxon, but we are sure that it will not be the last, since we have already begun to collect new data in collaboration with experts on this topic. We are sure that new discoveries still await us in this area, and we are eager to make new contributions and enrich the information on this taxon in Honduras and the world.”

Alejandro Orellana, co-author of the publication

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Research paper:

Gustavo Graciolli G, Ávila-Palma HD, Ordoñez-Trejo EJ, Soler-Orellana JA, Ordoñez-Mazier DI, Martínez M, LaVal R, Turcios-Casco MA (2021) Additions of host associations and new records of bat ectoparasites of the families Spinturnicidae, Nycteribiidae and Streblidae from Honduras. Check List 17(2): 459–469. https://doi.org/10.15560/17.2.459

Tiny habitant from Abrolhos bank (Brazil) sheds light on tropical Atlantic biogeography

For the first time, the bivalve mollusc Guyanella clenchi has been reported from Abrolhos Bank, Brazil.

For the first time, the bivalve mollusc Guyanella clenchi has been reported from Abrolhos Bank, Brazil. This almost unknown bivalve had previously been reported solely from the Caribbean region. Apart from being the southernmost record for the species, its presence also helps the experts to determine the way the marine fauna from the Caribbean interacts with its South American relatives.

The bivalve, which is a minute mollusc of only a few millimetres, had been known from Suriname, Guadeloupe, Colombia and French Guiana for nearly half a century. However, it is almost absent from the bibliographical registers and zoological collections.

Then, unexpectedly, during recent cruises to Abrolhos Bank (Bahia, Brazil), carried out as part of the Pro-Abrolhos project at Instituto Oceanografico da Universidade de Sao Paulo (IO-USP), enough specimens were retrieved to document the mysterious species from the Brazilian site.

The resulting study is published in the open-access journal Check List by Dr Barbara Louise Valentas-Romera, Museu de Zoologia da Universidade de Sao Paulo (MZSP), together with MSc Flavia Maria Pereira Costa and Dr Ana Maria Setubal Pires-Vanin, both affiliated to Instituto Oceanografico da Universidade de Sao Paulo (IO-USP).

According to the scientists, the discovery is very important for the understanding of the interaction between the mollusc faunas from the Caribbean and Southern Atlantic regions. While a mixture of these had long been known at both localities, serving as evidence that many species are indeed capable of crossing the geographical barriers between the two oceanic areas, it seems that no one had managed to answer how exactly this is happening. Now, the discovery of the tiny species shows that even small-sized molluscs have the ability to disperse so widely.

Additionally, the discovery of fresh specimens, complete with the body inside the shell, brings to light new information about the anatomy of the species itself, since the existing knowledge had only been derived from dry shells. Now, the secretive bivalve is to finally undergo molecular analyses.

The researchers behind the study explain:

“Despite its small size, the new occurrence of Guyanella clenchi brings new key data needed to understand the biogeography of the Caribbean and Southern Atlantic regions and improve our knowledge of the molluscs inhabiting the Brazilian coast, specifically the Abrolhos Bank, which is an important South Atlantic biodiversity hotspot.”

Abrolhos Bank is the largest and most species-rich coral reef in the Southern Atlantic. It is located in the Abrolhos Archipelago area and is part of the Abrolhos Marine National Park. Its most notable peculiarity is the giant coral structures shaped like mushrooms, locally known as “Chapeiroes”. A “chapeirao” can reach up to 25 metres in height and 50 metres in diameter. The region is considered the most biodiverse spot in the Southern Atlantic Ocean, providing home to several species that occur nowhere else.

Abrolhos Bank region (Bahia, Brazil).
Image by Dr Bárbara Louise Valentas-Romera.

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Original source:

Valentas-Romera BL, Costa FMP, Pires-Vanin AMS (2019) Range extension of Guyanella clenchi (Altena, 1968) (Bivalvia, Lucinidae) with new records from Abrolhos Bank, Brazil. Check List15(4): 549-554. https://doi.org/10.15560/15.4.549

Scientists discover over 450 fossilised millipedes in 100-million-year-old amber

Since the success of the Jurassic Park film series, it is widely known that insects from the Age of the Dinosaurs can be found exceptionally well preserved in amber, which is in fact fossilised tree resin.

Especially diverse is the animal fauna preserved in Cretaceous amber from Myanmar (Burma). Over the last few years, the almost 100-million-year-old amber has revealed some spectacular discoveries, including dinosaur feathers, a complete dinosaur tail, unknown groups of spiders and several long extinct groups of insects.

However, as few as three millipede species, preserved in Burmese amber, had been found prior to the study of Thomas Wesener and his PhD student Leif Moritz at the Zoological Research Museum Alexander Koenig – Leibniz Institute for Animal Biodiversity (ZFMK). Their research was recently published in the open-access journal Check List.

One of the newly discovered fossilised millipedes. Photo by Dr Thomas Wesener.

Having identified over 450 millipedes preserved in the Burmese amber, the scientists confirmed species representing as many as 13 out of the 16 main orders walking the Earth today. The oldest known fossils for half of these orders were found within the studied amber.

The researchers conducted their analysis with the help of micro-computed tomography (micro-CT). This scanning technology uses omni-directional X-rays to create a 3D image of the specimen, which can then be virtually removed from the amber and digitally examined.

The studied amber is mostly borrowed from private collections, including the largest European one, held by Patrick Müller from Käshofen. There are thought to be many additional, scientifically important specimens, perhaps even thousands of them, currently inaccessible in private collections in China.

Over the next few years, the newly discovered specimens will be carefully described and compared to extant species in order to identify what morphological changes have occurred in the last 100 million years and pinpoint the speciation events in the millipede Tree of Life. As a result, science will be finally looking at solving long-standing mysteries, such as whether the local millipede diversity in the southern Alps of Italy or on the island of Madagascar is the result of evolutionary processes which have taken place one, ten or more than 100-million years ago.

According to the scientists, most of the Cretaceous millipedes found in the amber do not differ significantly from the species found in Southeast Asia nowadays, which is an indication of the old age of the extant millipede lineages.

On the other hand, the diversity of the different orders seems to have changed drastically. For example, during the Age of the Dinosaurs, the group Colobognatha – millipedes characterised by their unusual elongated heads which have evolved to suck in liquid food – used to be very common. In contrast, with over 12,000 millipede species living today, there are only 500 colobognaths.

Another curious finding was the discovery of freshly hatched, eight-legged juveniles, which indicated that the animals lived and reproduced in the resin-producing trees.

“Even before the arachnids and insects, and far ahead of the first vertebrates, the leaf litter-eating millipedes were the first animals to leave their mark on land more than 400-million-years ago,” explain the scientists. “These early millipedes differed quite strongly from the ones living today – they would often be much larger and many had very large eyes.”

The larger species in the genus Arthropleura, for example, would grow up to 2 m (6.5 ft) long and 50-80 cm (2-3 ft) wide – the largest arthropods to have ever crawled on Earth. Why these giants became extinct and those other orders survived remains unknown, partly because only a handful of usually badly preserved fossils from the whole Mesozoic era (252-66-million years ago) has been retrieved. Similarly, although it had long been suspected that the 16 modern millipede orders must be very old, a fossil record to support this assumption was missing.

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Original source:

Wesener T, Moritz L (2018) Checklist of the Myriapoda in Cretaceous Burmese amber and a correction of the Myriapoda identified by Zhang (2017). Check List 14(6): 1131-1140. https://doi.org/10.15560/14.6.1131

Wildlife on the highway to hell: Roadkill in the largest wetland, Pantanal region, Brazil

Adult individual of Erythrolamprus aesculapii captured in roadside habitats of BR-262. Photo by Michel Passos

Scientists provide crucial data to prompt further conservation and safety measures at the notorious BR-262 highway

Having systematically monitored wild animals killed on the Brazilian federal highway BR-262, which passes through the Pantanal region, a research team from the Federal University of Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil, published their data concerning birds and reptiles in the open access journal Check List.

Apart from information crucial for future conservation activities, the paper provides new and unexpected roadkill records, including the Black-and-white hawk-eagle.

Authored by Wagner Fischer and his colleagues Raquel Faria de Godoi and Antonio Conceição Paranhos Filho, the article is part of the first dataset of vertebrate mortality in the region. A separate paper of theirs is planned to present the data concerning mammals gathered during the same survey, which took place between 1996 and 2000.

An adult individual of Xenodon matogrossensis captured in roadside habitats of BR-262. Photo by Cyntia Santos.

Having mapped bird and reptile roadkill on the highway between the cities of Campo Grande and Corumbá in the Brazilian savannah, the team reports a total of 930 animals representing 29 reptile and 47 bird species. In addition, the data provide the first regional geographic record of the colubrid snake Hydrodynastes bicinctus.

The researchers conclude that the species richness observed in the road-killed animals clearly confirms earlier concerns about wildlife-vehicle collisions in the Pantanal region. Such accidents lead to long-term and chronic impact on both wildlife and road safety.

“Mitigation of wildlife-vehicle collisions on this road continues to claim urgency for biodiversity conservation and for human and animal safety and care,” say the authors.

“For managers, the main goal should be to determine target species of greatest concern, focusing on those vulnerable to local extinction or those which represent major risks of serious accidents.”

In the past, the team’s dataset had already been used as a guide to road fauna management. In particular, it was used by government road managers when planning animal overpassess and underpassess equipped with roadside fences as part of the long-term project Programa Estrada Viva: BR-262. So far, however, only some of the less efficient safety methods, such as road signs and lowered speed limits, have been applied at the most critical points.

Over the past several years, a few independent studies have been conducted to monitor roadkill in a similar manner. Two of them (2010 and 2017) looked into mammal-vehicle collisions, while the third recorded reptiles and birds as well. All of them serve to demonstrate that BR-262 continues to be a major cause for the regional wildlife mortality, which in turn increases the risks of serious accidents.

“BR-262 keeps its inglorious fame as a highway to hell for human and wild lives,” points out lead author Wagner Fischer.

Roadkill on the BR-262 highway, Pantanal region, Brazil. Photos by Ricardo Fraga and Wagner Fischer.

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Original source:

Fischer W, Godoi RF, Filho ACP (2018) Roadkill records of reptiles and birds in Cerrado and Pantanal landscapes. Check List 14(5): 845-876. https://doi.org/10.15560/14.5.845

ScienceOpen indexes >1,000 articles from ARPHA-hosted journals RIO & Check List in a trial

Two scholarly journals published on ARPHA – Research Ideas and Outcomes (RIO Journal) and Check List – now have their articles freely available via the community-focused search and discovery platform ScienceOpen.

This new trial between the two high-tech innovators and Open Science proponents presents an important step forward to making research publications not only easier to find and access, but also more inviting to fellow scientists seeking new collaborations and platforms for voicing their ideas and expertise.

Currently, there are 168 and 948 article records fed to ScienceOpen straight from RIO and Check List respectively.

While the articles’ underlying data, such as author names, citations, keywords, journals and more, are automatically harvested and analyzed by ScienceOpen, so that research items can be easily interlinked, readers are encouraged to further provide context to the research items. The user-friendly intuitive interface invites them to add their comments, recommendations or open post-publication peer reviews, and even create their own topical collections regardless of affiliations and journals.

To make sure users land on the most relevant articles in what feels like the blink of an eye compared to traditional methods, ScienceOpen also accommodates an advanced multi-layer search engine relying on a total of 20 smart filters and six sorting parameters.

“We have long worked closely with ScienceOpen, as it only makes sense given our shared vision for the future of academia, so the present trial project happened very naturally,” says Prof. Lyubomir Penev, founder and CEO of ARPHA and its developer – scholarly publisher and technology provider Pensoft. “Nowadays, we are well aware that scientific findings are of little merit if ‘living’ in a vacuum. Therefore, we need research articles to be as discoverable as possible, and, no less importantly, to be open to feedback and further work.”

“We are thrilled to add this new content to the ScienceOpen as we have both strong researcher communities in zoology and in scholarly communications within our broadly interdisciplinary content. The ARPHA platform is a natural fit to deliver rich metadata to our discovery services and we are very much looking forward to working with their team,” says Stephanie Dawson, CEO of ScienceOpen.

 

About ScienceOpen:

ScienceOpen is an independent start-up company based in Berlin and Boston, which explores new ways to open up information for the scholarly community. It provides a freely accessible search and discovery platform that puts research in context. Smart filters, topical collections and expert input from the academic community help users to find the most relevant articles in their field and beyond.

The biodiversity data journal Check List joins Pensoft’s open access portfolio

The well-reputed and established journal Check List is the latest biodiversity-themed title to join scholarly publisher Pensoft’s peer-reviewed and open access family. Its first issue in collaboration with Pensoft is now published on the journal’s new website.

Check List is an online open access journal launched in 2005 in Brazil. It publishes distribution summaries, annotated lists of species and notes on the geographic distribution of all taxa. The journal stands for the idea that maintaining records of the range of a species is the very first step towards undertaking effective actions for its conservation. Furthermore, its team believes that publishing such data provides the baseline for biodiversity preservation as a whole.

The move sees Check List migrating to the Pensoft-developed journal publishing platform ARPHA (abbreviation for Authoring, Reviewing, Publishing, Hosting and Archiving) to provide its authors, editors and users with a brand new look and feel along with a whole set of high-tech perks.

While the all-new sleek interface is evident at first visit of the Check List‘s new website, there is much more under the surface. The partnership with Pensoft and ARPHA means that Check Listwill enjoy fast-track and convenient publishing. The manuscripts will be taken care for from the authoring stage, through reviewing and dissemination – all the way to archiving. The papers will be published in three formats (PDF, XML, HTML) and full of semantic enhancements.

Recognising the importance of easy and efficient publication of accessible data in the spirit of both biodiversity conservation and open science, ARPHA allows for data to be published as supplementary files along with the article, or through internationally recognised repositories, such as GBIFGenbankBarcode of LifeDryad, and others.

“It is fantastic to have Check List join the world’s leading and most technologically advanced biodiversity publisher,” comments Check List Editor-in-Chief Marcus Guidoti.

“At Pensoft, we are happy to once again share and apply our long-year experience and know-how in scholarly publishing and biodiversity data handling,” says Prof. Lyubomir Penev, the founder and Managing Director of Pensoft. “I am certain that this collaboration will advance the technological and publishing label of Check List to the benefit of the scientific community”

Check List is the second scholarly journal of South American origin to join Pensoft’s growing portfolio, after another highly regarded Brazilian-born academic title – Zoologia – moved to ARPHA earlier this year.