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The uneven spatial distribution of biodiversity is a defining feature of nature. In fact, the implementation of conservation actions both locally and globally has progressively been guided by the identification of biodiversity ‘hotspots’ (areas with exceptional biodiversity). However, different regions of the world differ drastically in the availability of fine-scale data on the diversity and distribution of species, thus limiting the potential to assess their local environmental priorities. Within South America—a megadiverse continent—Uruguay represents a peculiar area where multiple tropical and non-tropical eco-regions converge, creating highly heterogeneous ecosystems, but where the systematic quantification of biodiversity remains largely anecdotal. To investigate the constraints posed by the limited access to biodiversity data, we employ the most comprehensive database for tetrapod vertebrates in Uruguay (spanning 664 species) assembled to date, to identify hotspots of species-richness, endemism and threatened species for the first time. Our results reveal negligible spatial congruence among biodiversity hotspots, and that tetrapod sampling has historically concentrated in only a few areas. Collectively, our study provides a detailed account of the areas where urgent biodiversity monitoring efforts are needed to develop more accurate knowledge on biodiversity patterns, offering government and environmental bodies a critical scientific resource for future planning.
Scientific Reports, 2020

Body size explains most of the variation in fitness within animal populations and is therefore under constant selection from ecological and reproductive pressures, which often promote its evolution in sex-specific directions, leading to sexual size dimorphism (SSD). Several hypotheses have been proposed to explain the vast diversity of SSD across species. These hypotheses emphasize: (a) the mate competition benefits to larger male size (sexual selection); (b) the benefits of larger female size for fecundity (fecundity selection); © the simultaneous benefits of niche divergence for males and females to reduce intersexual competition for ecological resources (natural selection); and (d) the underlying impact of geographical variation in climatic pressures expected to shape large-scale patterns of SSD in synergy with the above selection pressures (e.g., intensification of fecundity selection as breeding seasons shorten). Based on a new, global-scale amphibian dataset, we address the shortage of large-scale, integrative tests of these four hypotheses. Using a > 3,500 species dataset spanning body size, ecological, life-history, geographical and climatic data, we performed phylogenetic linear models to address the sexual, fecundity, ecological and climatic hypotheses of SSD. Evolution of SSD is discordant between anurans and salamanders. Anuran SSD is shaped by climate (male-biased SSD increases with temperature seasonality) and by nesting site. In salamanders, SSD converges across species that occupy the same types of microhabitats (“ecodimorphs”), whereas reproductive or climatic pressures have no effects on their SSD. These contrasts are associated with latitudinal gradients of SSD in anurans, but not in salamanders. Amphibian SSD is driven by ecological and climatic pressures, whereas no roles for sexual or fecundity selection were detected. We show that macroevolutionary processes determined by different forms of selection lead to latitudinal patterns of trait diversity, and the lack of them.
Global Ecology and Biogeography, 2020

South America hosts some of the world’s most prominent biodiversity hotspots. Yet, Uruguay – a country where multiple major ecosystems converge – ranks amongst the countries with the lowest levels of available digital biodiversity data in the continent. Such prevalent data scarcity has significantly undermined our ability to progress towards evidence-based conservation actions – a critical limitation for a country with a strong focus on agricultural industries and only 1.3% of the land surface guarded by protected areas. Under today’s rapid biodiversity loss and environmental changes, the need for open-access biodiversity data is more pressing than ever before. To address this national issue, Biodiversidata – Uruguay’s first Consortium of Biodiversity Data – has recently emerged with the aim of assembling a constantly growing database for the biodiversity of this country. While the first phase of the project targeted vertebrate biodiversity, the second phase presented in this paper spans the biodiversity of plants. As part of the second phase of the Biodiversidata initiative, we present the first comprehensive open-access species-level database of the vascular plant diversity recorded in Uruguay to date (i.e. all species for which data are currently available and species presence has been confirmed). It contains 12,470 occurrence records from across 1,648 species and 160 families, which roughly represents 60% of the total recorded flora of Uruguay. The primary biodiversity data include extant native and introduced species from the lycophytes, ferns, gymnosperms and angiosperms groups. Records were collated from multiple sources, including data available in peer-reviewed scientific literature, institutional scientific collections and datasets contributed by members of the Biodiversidata initiative. The complete database can be accessed at the Zenodo repository: doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.3954406
Biodiversity Data Journal, 2020

Historically, some of the most successful biodiversity data sharing initiatives have been developed particularly in North America, Europe, and Australia. In parallel, and driven by necessity, tools, practices and standards were shared across othes communities. In the last decade, great efforts have been made by countries in other regions to join the biodiversity data network and share their data worldwide. Although knowledge, tools, and documentation are broadly distributed, language is the main constraint for their use, as most of it is only available in English. English may be the first most spoken language worldwide (Eberhard et al. 2020), but it is not native to most of the population, including a sizable proportion of the United States (Ryan 2013). For instance, Spanish is listed as the second most spoken native language worldwide, after Mandarin Chinese (Eberhard et al. 2020). While recognizing that English is currently considered the “universal language” for scientifically-related activities, it has been pointed out that a large proportion of biodiversity scientific knowledge is not produced in English, and that language constitutes a barrier to sharing knowledge (Amano et al. 2016). Actions to overcome this have been called for, for example by the 2nd Global Biodiversity Informatics Conference (GBIC2) in its list of ambitions for supporting international collaboration (Hobern et al. 2019), but are still largely missing in the broad community. Language affects the understanding and use of biodiversity data standards and related documentation for all the community, both English and non-English speakers. Our findings in the Latin American region suggest that the availability of materials in other languages, namely Spanish and Portuguese, would greatly benefit the region and improve our involvement in biodiversity data sharing. Also, on the other hand, the English speaking community would benefit from better understanding knowledge in other non-English languages, allowing broader use of data from all regions. This work also constitutes a plea from the Latin American and the Spanish-speaking community at large to the Biodiversity Information Standards (TDWG) to explore and incorporate other languages, hence fostering understanding, and therefore widening the use of TDWG standards in our region. We provide a list of people supporting the petition as Supplementary Material (Suppl. material 1). In the petition we also identify people (more than 60% of the signatories) who are willing to contribute to translating TDWG resources into Spanish. There is no single, best mechanism to move this initiative forward, but the approaches of some other initiatives (e.g., the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) translators network) are being explored, weighing resources needed both from the volunteers and the management perspectives. We will present the different options for the community to evaluate and decide upon a suitable action plan.
BISS, 2020

Paso Centurión is one of the most diverse areas of Uruguay. It is legally protected at local and national level, however, there are different interests competing for its land use and management. With the aim to document the biodiversity of the area together with the local people, the NGO JULANA conducts a participatory monitoring process with camera traps since 2013. Here we present a list of 23 medium and large-size mammal species documented in the area and a standardised dataset of occurrence records. Top observations include the last Chrysocyon brachyurus seen in Uruguay, the first record of Herpailurus yagouaroundi in the country and the second report of Leopardus munoai in the area. We also highlight the frequent observation of numerous rare species such as Tamandua tetradactyla, Leopardus wiedii, Cabassous tatouay, Coendou spinosus and Cuniculus paca. Although the cameras were located within only few meters of distance from the houses of the local people, some of the rarest and most elusive species in the country were reported. This suggests a possible coexistence between people – their socio-economic practices – and nature in the area. Our work underlines the importance of the recent inclusion of Paso Centurión and Sierra de Ríos to the National System of Protected Areas under the proposed category of ‘Protected Landscape’. Collectively, in a context of global change and lack of biodiversity data on species distribution, we emphasise the value of these records for the knowledge of mammals in Uruguay and the need to extend and continue monitoring this area.
Neotropical Biology and Conservation, 2020

The dataset contains primary biodiversity data of the mammals’ species documented by the NGO JULANA in the area of Paso Centurión, one of the most biodiverse areas of Uruguay. It includes 1,690 occurrence records, all the observations made by camera traps between 2014 and 2016 in four particular sites and some extra occurrence records of species not covered in that period. Top observations include the last Chrysocyon brachyurus seen for Uruguay, the first record of Puma yagouaroundi for the country and the second report of Leopardus colocola munoai for the area.
GBIF.org, 2020

The dataset contains primary biodiversity data of native amphibian, reptile, bird and mammal species recorded in Uruguay by members of Biodiversidata between 2000 and 2019. It includes observations made during surveys of specific faunistic groups and occasional sampling events. The presence of individuals was recorded either by direct observations or by preserved specimens deposited in collections.
GBIF.org, 2020

Salmonella enterica serovar Enteritidis is a major cause of foodborne disease in Uruguay since 1995. We used a genomic approach to study a set of isolates from different sources and years. Whole genome phylogeny showed that most of the strains are distributed in two major lineages (E1 and E2), both belonging to MLST sequence type 11 the major ST among serovar Enteritidis. Strikingly, E2 isolates are over-represented in periods of outbreak abundance in Uruguay, while E1 span all epidemic periods. Both lineages circulate in neighbor countries at the same timescale as in Uruguay, and are present in minor numbers in distant countries. We identified allelic variants associated with each lineage. Three genes, ycdX, pduD and hsdM, have distinctive variants in E1 that may result in defective products. Another four genes (ybiO, yiaN, aas, aceA) present variants specific for the E2 lineage. Overall this work shows that S. enterica serovar Enteritidis strains circulating in Uruguay have the same phylogenetic profile than strains circulating in the region, as well as in more distant countries. Based on these results we hypothesize that the E2 lineage, which is more prevalent during epidemics, exhibits a combination of allelic variants that could be associated with its epidemic ability.
Scientific Reports, 2020

Data-sharing has become a key issue in modern science, with numerous advantages for both data collectors and user. However, the practice of sharing data in Uruguay is still uncommon given there are no primary biodiversity datasets open or publicly available. The reasons behind such low frequency of data availability are still unknown. This study explores through an online survey the vision of data collectors and users analysing the reasons for both the reluctance to share data and the motivations for doing so. Over-all, scientists are willing to share their research data if they receive adequate credit for their effort and knowledge. In order to translate the will into an effective practice of open science, we must work on the incentives and motivation structures behind, communicate the importance and benefits of data openness and exchange, and provide technical tools and training on all aspects of data management and sharing. Importantly, data-sharing practice must result in the reinforce of a scientific collaboration culture that benefits not only researchers at the individual level, but the progress of knowledge itself. This work represents a valuable initial approach to the subject that proofs the importance that data availability has for researchers in Uruguay and the need for it to be mostly discussed.
Boletín de La Sociedad Zoológica Del Uruguay, 2019

Este artículo realiza una revisión crítica de la trayectoria del Espacio de Formación Integral (EFI) «Relaciones sociedad-naturaleza en la frontera» con foco en los siguientes aspectos: interdisciplinariedad, propuesta pedagógica y diálogo de saberes.
Integralidad Sobre Ruedas, 2019

Data-sharing has become a key component in the modern scientific era of large-scale research, with numerous advantages for both data collectors and users. However, data-sharing in Uruguay remains neglected given that major public sources of biodiversity information (government and academia) are not open-access. As a consequence, the patterns and drivers of biodiversity in this country remain poorly understood and so does our ability to manage and conserve its biodiversity. To overcome this critical gap, collaborative strategies are needed to communicate the importance and benefits of data openness, exchange and provide technical tools and training on all aspects of data management, sharing practices, focus on incentives, and motivation structures for data-holders. Here, we introduce the Biodiversidata initiative (www.biodiversidata.org) – a novel Uruguayan Consortium of Biodiversity Data.
Biodiversity Information Science and Standards, 2019

The continental and marine territories of Uruguay are characteriszed by a rich convergence of multiple biogeographic ecoregions of the Neotropics, making this country a peculiar biodiversity spot. However, despite the biological significance of Uruguay for the South American subcontinent, the distribution of biodiversity patterns in this country remain poorly understood given the severe gaps in available records of geographic species distributions. Currently, national biodiversity datasets are not openly available, and, thus, a dominant proportion of the primary biodiversity data produced by researchers and institutions across Uruguay remains highly dispersed and difficult to access for the wider scientific and environmental community. In this paper, we aim to fill this gap by developing the first comprehensive, open-access database of biodiversity records for Uruguay (Biodiversidata), which is the result of a large-scale collaboration involving experts working across the entire range of taxonomic diversity found in the country.
Biodiversity Data Journal, 2019

Rural Uruguay is undergoing a long process of transformations that tend to weaken the maintenance of local cultural traits, including society-nature relationships. To preserve these traits and enhance our understanding of these relationships, it is necessary to both strive for the empowering of rural communities and to establish a constructive exchange of knowledge. JULANA (an acronym from the Spanish for “Playing in Nature”) works towards these goals through the dialogue of the different conceptions of nature and society. This work presents an experience in collaborative-learning, the participatory monitoring project named Fogones de Fauna carried out in the village of Paso Centurión, along with reflections on the value of JULANA’s work and education.
Society & Animals. Special Issue: Tracking the Human-Wildlife-Conservation Nexus Across the Human-Animal Studies (HAS) Landscape, 2018

Strategies to evaluate and monitor elusive mammal species require the development of genetic techniques and their application to unambiguous biological material for ecological and genetic studies. In order to assess cytochrome c oxidase subunit II gene inter- and intraspecific variations, we compared sequences from different Neotropical canids and domestic dogs. We developed a primer pair to amplify a 154-bp fragment of this gene and a species-specific multiplex TaqMan™ assay for accurate identification of two native fox species occurring in sympatry in South America, the crab-eating fox (Cerdocyon thous) and the pampas fox (Lycalopex gymnocercus). The assays can also distinguish domestic dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) from both wild foxes. The use of different fluorescent reporter dyes for species identification in a multiplex probe PCR-RT assay reduces labor and costs. The methodology presented in this study demonstrates an efficient approach to enable high-performance analysis and represents a reliable cost-effective tool for molecular ecology research to monitor the wild canid populations by noninvasive genetic sampling. This standardized assay will allow large-scale high-throughput analyses in a routine and reliable way.
Mammal Research, 2017

We present the first record of a wild jaguarundi (Puma yagouaroundi) in Uruguay obtained as part of a participatory monitoring with trap-cameras together with the community of Paso Centurión, Cerro Largo.
Boletín de La Sociedad Zoológica Del Uruguay, 2016

We described a technique for detecting mammal species, based on the analysis of a control region fragment of mitochondrial DNA by establishing taxonomic identity from non-invasive samples. We detected a polymorphic fragment that varies in sequence and length within different mammalian species but maintains its identity among individuals of the same species. We amplified a single fragment in all the mammalian species tested from tissue samples and identified feces samples at species level. The use of a unique set of primers to assess the presence of different mammal species with non-invasive sampling allowed us to differentiate sequences from more than one species per environmental sample. Thus, it constitutes a powerful molecular tool for inventory and description of the mammal diversity distribution in natural areas.
Conservation Genetics Resources., 2014