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Baltensperger, A., J. Hagelin, P. Schuette, A. Droghini, and K. Ott. 2022. High dietary and habitat diversity indicate generalist behaviors of northern bog lemmings Synaptomys borealis in Alaska, USA. Endangered Species Research 49: 145–158.

The northern bog lemming Synaptomys borealis (NBL) is a rare small mammal that is undergoing a federal Species Status Assessment (SSA) under the US Endangered Species Act. Despite a wide North American distribution, very little is known about NBL dietary or habitat needs, both of which are germane to the resiliency of this species to climate change. To quantify diet composition of NBL in Alaska, we used DNA metabarcoding from 59 archived specimens to describe the taxonomic richness and relative abundance of foods in recent diets. DNA analyses revealed a broad diet composed of at least 110 families and 92 genera of bryophytes (mosses and liverworts), graminoids, fungi, forbs, and woody shrubs. Nine bryophyte genera and Carex sedges composed the largest portions of NBL diets. To quantify habitat preference, we intersected 467 georeferenced occurrence records of NBL in Alaska with remotely sensed land cover classes and used a compositional analysis framework that accounts for the relative abundance of land cover types. We did not detect significant habitat preferences for specific land cover types, although NBL frequently occurred in evergreen forest, woody wetlands, and adjacent to water. Our research highlights the importance of bryophytes, among a high diversity of dietary components, and describes NBL as boreal habitat generalists. Results will inform the current federal SSA by quantifying the extent to which ecological constraints are likely to affect NBL in a rapidly changing boreal environment.

Fedosov, V. E., A. V. Shkurko, A. V. Fedorova, E. A. Ignatova, E. N. Solovyeva, J. C. Brinda, M. S. Ignatov, and J. Kučera. 2022. Need for split: integrative taxonomy reveals unnoticed diversity in the subaquatic species of Pseudohygrohypnum (Pylaisiaceae, Bryophyta). PeerJ 10: e13260.

We present an integrative molecular and morphological study of subaquatic representatives of the genus Pseudohygrohypnum (Pylaisiaceae, Bryophyta), supplemented by distribution modelling of the revealed phylogenetic lineages. Phylogenetic analyses of nuclear and plastid datasets combined with the assemble species by automatic partitioning (ASAP) algorithm revealed eight distinct species within the traditionally circumscribed P. eugyrium and P. subeugyrium. These species are therefore yet another example of seemingly widely distributed taxa that harbour molecularly well-differentiated lineages with narrower distribution ranges. Studied accessions that were previously assigned to P. eugyrium form three clearly allopatric lineages, associated with temperate regions of Europe, eastern North America and eastern Asia. Remarkably, accessions falling under the current morphological concept of P. subeugyrium were shown to be even more diverse, containing five phylogenetic lineages. Three of these lineages occur under harsh Asian continental climates from cool-temperate to Arctic regions, while the remaining two, referred to P. subeugyrium s.str. and P. purpurascens, have more oceanic North Atlantic and East Asian distributions. Niche identity and similarity tests suggested no similarity in the distributions of the phylogenetically related lineages but revealed the identity of two East Asian species and the similarity of two pairs of unrelated species. A morphological survey confirmed the distinctness of all eight phylogenetic lineages, requiring the description of five new species. Pseudohygrohypnum appalachianum and P. orientale are described for North American and East Asian plants of P. eugyrium s.l., while P. sibiricum, P. subarcticum and P. neglectum are described for the three continental, predominantly Asian lineages of P. subeugyrium s.l. Our results highlight the importance of nontropical Asia as a center of bryophyte diversity. Phylogenic dating suggests that the diversification of subaquatic Pseudohygrohypnum lineages appeared in late Miocene, while mesophilous species of the genus split before Miocene cooling, in climatic conditions close to those where the ancestor of Pseudohygrohypnum appeared. We speculate that radiation of the P. subeugyrium complex in temperate Asia might have been driven by progressive cooling, aridification, and increases in seasonality, temperature and humidity gradients. Our results parallel those of several integrative taxonomic studies of North Asian mosses, which have resulted in a number of newly revealed species. These include various endemics from continental areas of Asia suggesting that the so-called Rapoport’s rule of low diversity and wide distribution range in subpolar regions might not be applicable to bryophytes. Rather, the strong climatic oscillations in these regions may have served as a driving force of speciation and niche divergence.