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Article Reference Craniodental ecomorphology of the large Jurassic ichthyosaurian Temnodontosaurus
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2023
Article Reference Ultraconserved elements-based phylogenomic systematics of the snake superfamily Elapoidea, with the description of a new Afro-Asian family
The highly diverse snake superfamily Elapoidea is considered to be a classic example of ancient, rapid radiation. Such radiations are challenging to fully resolve phylogenetically, with the highly diverse Elapoidea a case in point. Previous attempts at inferring a phylogeny of elapoids produced highly incongruent estimates of their evolutionary relationships, often with very low statistical support. We sought to resolve this situation by sequencing over 4,500 ultraconserved element loci from multiple representatives of every elapoid family/subfamily level taxon and inferring their phylogenetic relationships with multiple methods. Concatenation and multispecies coalescent based species trees yielded largely congruent and well-supported topologies. Hypotheses of a hard polytomy were not retained for any deep branches. Our phylogenies recovered Cyclocoridae and Elapidae as diverging early within Elapoidea. The Afro-Malagasy radiation of elapoid snakes, classified as multiple subfamilies of an inclusive Lamprophiidae by some earlier authors, was found to be monophyletic in all analyses. The genus Micrelaps was consistently recovered as sister to Lamprophiidae. We establish a new family, Micrelapidae fam. nov., for Micrelaps and assign Brachyophis to this family based on cranial osteological synapomorphy. We estimate that Elapoidea originated in the early Eocene and rapidly diversified into all the major lineages during this epoch. Ecological opportunities presented by the post-Cretaceous-Paleogene mass extinction event may have promoted the explosive radiation of elapoid snakes.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2023
Article Reference Plant-insect interactions in the Selandian (Early Paleocene) Gelinden Fossil Flora (Belgium) and what they mean for the ecosystems after the Cretaceous-Paleogene mass extinction
This study aims to quantify the intensity and diversity of plant-insect associations observed in the fossil assemblage of Gelinden, Limburg, Belgium. The site yields a rich collection of well-preserved plant remains, mainly leaves, from a Paleocene European temperate forest. The 780 specimens presented here were scanned using standardized morphotype systems for any trace of damage. This raw data was then used to quantify the intensity and diversity of interactions in the Gelinden flora. This material showed an impressive richness of interactions, contrasting with the poor North American sites covering the period that followed the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction. Both hosts and interaction types observed at Gelinden are two to three times more abundant than in most American floras, in raw numbers and leaf area affected. This is coherent with what has been observed in the few other studies conducted in Europe, South America and Antarctica, pointing toward more regionalized effects of the extinction than previously assumed based on American findings. This greater richness implies that these sites were either less affected or quicker to recover from the Cretaceous/Paleogene extinction, questioning its global impact, at least on the lower levels of the food web, as discussed in the following paper.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2023
Article Reference Iguanian lizards (Acrodonta and Pleurodonta) from the earliest Eocene (MP7) of Dormaal, Belgium: The first stages of these iconic reptiles in Europe
We here report on iguanians (both new and the previous record) from the earliest Eocene (MP 7) of the Dormaal locality in Belgium, from the time of the warmest global climates of the past 66 million years. Today iguanians are distributed mainly in the New World (Pleurodonta) and Old World (Acrodonta), having complicated biogeographic histories. Both lineages co-existed in Dormaal 56 Ma. Iguanians here document the presence of thermophilic faunas during greenhouse conditions in the northern mid-latitudes (above 50° north, the latitude of southern England). The complete maxilla of the agamid Tinosaurus europeocaenus is described and figured for the first time, being distinctive and furnishing a number of diagnostic characters. The dentary coronoid process of this species is also observed for the first time. Our morphological analysis supports the previous observation that Tinosaurus is similar to Leiolepis, but also differs from it by several distinguishing features. Some jaw character states present in T. europeocaenus are shared with the Indian T. indicus, Chinese T. doumuensis, and American Tinosaurus sp., but several differences among them are observed. Besides the wellknown Geiseltaliellus, we here erect and describe a new pleurodontan taxon. The new taxon is represented by a maxilla with a unique and peculiar tooth crown morphology: the central cusp is bifurcated, markedly split into two distinct and wellseparated “prongs.” This morphology likely indicates a high specialization on feeding sources. This might cause a higher extinction risk relative to generalists, because terrestrial ecosystems in Europe changed substantially during the Paleogene.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2023
Article Reference From a long-distance threat to the invasion front: a review of the invasive Aedes mosquito species in Belgium between 2007 and 2020
Invasive mosquito species (IMS) and their associated mosquito-borne diseases are emerging in Europe. In Belgium, the first detection of Aedes albopictus (Skuse 1894) occurred in 2000 and of Aedes japonicus japonicus (Theobald 1901) in 2002. Early detection and control of these IMS at points of entry (PoEs) are of paramount importance to slow down any possible establishment. This article reviews the introductions and establishments recorded of three IMS in Belgium based on published (2007–2014) and unpublished (2015–2020) data collected during several surveil- lance projects. In total, 52 PoEs were monitored at least once for the presence of IMS between 2007 and 2020. These included used tyre and lucky bamboo import companies, airports, ports, parking lots along highways, shelters for imported cutting plants, wholesale markets, industrial areas, recycling areas, cemeteries and an allotment garden at the country border with colonised areas. In general, monitoring was performed between April and November. Mos- quitoes were captured with adult and oviposition traps as well as by larval sampling. Aedes albopictus was detected at ten PoEs, Ae. japonicus at three PoEs and Aedes koreicus (Edwards 1917) at two PoEs. The latter two species have established overwintering populations. The percentage of PoEs positive for Ae. albopictus increased significantly over years. Aedes albopictus is currently entering Belgium through lucky bamboo and used tyre trade and passive ground transport, while Ae. japonicus through used tyre trade and probably passive ground transport. In Belgium, the import through passive ground transport was first recorded in 2018 and its importance seems to be growing. Belgium is currently at the invasion front of Ae. albopictus and Ae. japonicus. The surveillance and control management actions at well-known PoEs associated to long-distance introductions are more straightforward than at less-defined PoEs associ- ated with short-distance introductions from colonised areas. These latter PoEs represent a new challenge for IMS management in Belgium in the coming years. Aedes albopictus is expected to become established in Belgium in the coming years, hence increasing the likelihood of local arbovirus transmission. The implementation of a sustainable, structured and long-term IMS management programme, integrating active and passive entomological surveillance, vector control and Public Health surveillance is therefore pivotal.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2022
Article Reference MODIRISK: Mosquito vectors of disease, collection, monitoring and longitudinal data from Belgium
The MODIRISK project studied mosquito biodiversity and monitored and predicted biodiversity changes, to actively prepare to address issues of biodiversity change, especially invasive species and new pathogen risks. This work is essential given continuing global changes that may create suitable conditions for invasive species spread and the (re-)emergence of vector-borne diseases in Europe. Key strengths of MODIRISK, in the context of sustainable development, were the links between biodiversity and health and the environment, and its contribution to the development of tools for describing the spatial distribution of mosquito biodiversity. MODIRISK addressed key topics of the global Diversitas initiative, which was a main driver of the Belspo ‘Science for a Sustainable Development’ research program. Three different MODIRISK datasets were published in the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF): the Collection dataset (the Culicidae collection of the Museum of Natural History in Brussels); the Inventory dataset (data from the MODIRISK inventory effort); and the Longitudinal dataset (experiment data used for risk assessments.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2022
Article Reference First outdoor record of Crematogaster scutellaris (Olivier, 1792) in Belgium (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)
We report the first observation of an outdoor nest of the ant species Crematogaster scutellaris (Olivier, 1792) in Belgium. In spring 2022, a nest of this species was discovered at Rood Klooster in Auderghem, Brussels Capital Region. Large and very active trails of workers were detected in a hedge and along the walls of a small building. The nest is probably already present several years and situated in the wooden construction of the building. Interactions with other ant species indicate that this new arrival will not immediately become an invasive problem for the local native ant fauna. We expect that more records of this species might be discovered in the near future in the neighborhood but also elsewhere in Belgium.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2023
Article Reference Soil-litter arthropod communities under pasture land use in southern Rwanda
Land use change caused by human activities is the main driver of biodiversity loss and changes in ecosystem functioning. However, less is known about how the conversion of a natural to pasture land favour the biological diversity of soil-litter arthropods to advance effective conservation plans and management systems. To fill the gap, this study focussed on soil-litter arthropod communities under a pasture land use in southern Rwanda. Data have been collected using pitfall traps and hand collection between April and June 2021. Sampled specimens of soil-litter arthropods have been identified to order and family levels by using dichotomous keys. Further, the species name was given when the identification key was available, while the morphological description was provided in absence of the identification keys. Results indicated a total of 3013 individuals of soil-litter arthropods grouped into 3 classes, 13 orders, 46 families and 87 morpho-species. Coleoptera showed a high number of families, while higher abundance and the number of morpho-species were found for ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Higher abundance of sampled soil-litter arthropods is a sign that the studied area offers suitable habitat for soil-litter arthropods. However, less abundance found for some groups of soil-litter arthropods might be influenced by the used sampling techniques which were not appropriate for them. We recommend surveys using multiple sampling techniques to maximize chances of capturing a wide range of soil-litter arthropods.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2022
Article Reference Discovery of a new inland population of Amara strenua Zimmerman, 1832 at Heverlee, central Belgium (Coleoptera: Carabidae)
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2022
Article Reference Palaeogenomics of Upper Palaeolithic to Neolithic European hunter-gatherers
Modern humans have populated Europe for more than 45,000 years1,2. Our knowledge of the genetic relatedness and structure of ancient hunter-gatherers is however limited, owing to the scarceness and poor molecular preservation of human remains from that period3. Here we analyse 356 ancient hunter-gatherer genomes, including new genomic data for 116 individuals from 14 countries in western and central Eurasia, spanning between 35,000 and 5,000 years ago. We identify a genetic ancestry profile in individuals associated with Upper Palaeolithic Gravettian assemblages from western Europe that is distinct from contemporaneous groups related to this archaeological culture in central and southern Europe4, but resembles that of preceding individuals associated with the Aurignacian culture. This ancestry profile survived during the Last Glacial Maximum (25,000 to 19,000 years ago) in human populations from southwestern Europe associated with the Solutrean culture, and with the following Magdalenian culture that re-expanded northeastward after the Last Glacial Maximum. Conversely, we reveal a genetic turnover in southern Europe suggesting a local replacement of human groups around the time of the Last Glacial Maximum, accompanied by a north-to-south dispersal of populations associated with the Epigravettian culture. From at least 14,000 years ago, an ancestry related to this culture spread from the south across the rest of Europe, largely replacing the Magdalenian-associated gene pool. After a period of limited admixture that spanned the beginning of the Mesolithic, we find genetic interactions between western and eastern European hunter-gatherers, who were also characterized by marked differences in phenotypically relevant variants.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2023