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We present an assessment of the Southern Paraguayan Grasslands using Important Bird Areas (IBAs) located in a grassland landscape mosaic. Eleven IBAs in southern Paraguay were evaluated 10 years after their designation, using the BirdLife International method to assess the state, pressure, and response of these areas, during 2017 and 2018. Overall, the Pressure from ecosystem modifications led by fire, and fire suppression, agricultural expansion, and intensification due to farming and grazing have been identified as the major threats to IBAs. Regarding the State, 64% of the IBAs presented Very poor habitat quality to support grassland bird communities. The level of conservation Response was mostly negligible when considering conservation designation, management planning and conservation actions for the trigger species. Our results provide useful information to partners to reconsider these areas as IBAs as most of them no longer fulfill international requirements, we also highlight the importance of strengthening national policies to adequately protect natural grasslands.
Although the population of Griffon Vulture Gyps fulvus is significantly increasing in Europe, in Italy the species is still on the Red List as ‘Critically Endangered’, with the last natural population persisting on the island of Sardinia. Several episodes of poisoning hampered the success of conservation actions implemented in the years 1987–1995. In 2005 there were estimated to be only 31–32 territorial pairs, with the population occupying the territories of Alghero and Bosa. We used a long-term dataset of reproductive records from the Sardinian Griffon Vulture populations to run a population viability analysis (PVA) to evaluate the extinction risk using the Vortex simulation software. The model estimated the probability of extinction over the next five generations (estimated generation time: 11 years, simulation time used: 55 years) as 96.4% for the Alghero population, and near-zero for the Bosa population. We used sensitivity analyses to understand how uncertainty about parameter values affect model outcomes. Population projections were evaluated under different management scenarios tackling the main threats (poisoning and human disturbance) and implementing conservation actions (supplementary feeding and restocking). Our results showed that population size is a critical factor in affecting the projections of population dynamics of Griffon Vultures. Sensitivity analyses highlighted the importance of poisoning events to population persistence and showed that juvenile and adult mortality rates had a secondary impact on population viability. The only conservation measure effective in significantly increasing stochastic growth rates in the Alghero population, whose initial population was set at five individuals, was the complete removal of poisoning events. When targeting the Bosa population (initial population size 94 individuals), supplementary feeding, mitigation of the risk of poisoning episodes, restocking, and mitigation of human disturbance in the reproductive sites significantly increased stochastic growth rate. A cost-effectiveness analysis should be performed to prioritise interventions.
Stigma is one of the most important barriers to help-seeking and to personal recovery for people suffering from mental disorders. Stigmatizing attitudes are present among mental health professionals with negative effects on the quality of health care.
Network and moderator analysis were used to identify what path determines stigma, considering demographic and professional variables, personality traits, and burnout dimensions in a sample of mental health professionals (n = 318) from six Community Mental Health Services. The survey included the Attribution Questionnaire-9, the Maslach Burnout Inventory, and the Ten-Item Personality Inventory.
The personality trait of openness to new experiences resulted to determine lower levels of stigma. Burnout (personal accomplishment) interacted with emotional stability in predicting stigma, and specifically, for subjects with lower emotional stability lower levels of personal accomplishment were associated with higher levels of stigma.
Some personality traits may be accompanied by better empathic and communication skills, and may have a protective role against stigma. Moreover, burnout can increase stigma, in particular in subjects with specific personality traits. Assessing personality and burnout levels could help in identifying mental health professionals at higher risk of developing stigma. Future studies should determine whether targeted interventions in mental health professionals at risk of developing stigma may be effective in stigma prevention.
Bilingualism has been said to improve cognition and even delay the onset of Alzheimer's disease (AD). This research aimed to investigate whether bilingualism leaves a neurophysiological trace even when people are highly educated. We expected bilinguals to present better preserved brain functional networks, which could be a trace of higher cognitive reserve. With this purpose, we conducted a magnetoencephalographic study with a group of healthy older adults. We estimated functional connectivity using phase-locking value and found five clusters in parieto-occipital regions in which bilinguals exhibited greater functional connectivity than monolinguals. These clusters included brain regions typically implicated in language processing. Furthermore, these functional changes correlated with caudate volumes (a key region in language shifting and control) in the bilingual sample. Interestingly, decreased Functional Connectivity between posterior brain regions had already been identified as an indicator of aging/preclinical AD but, according to our study, bilingualism seems to exert the opposite effect.
Within the next decades, robots will need to be able to execute a large variety of tasks autonomously in a large variety of environments. To relax the resulting programming effort, a knowledge-enabled approach to robot programming can be adopted to organize information in re-usable knowledge pieces. However, for the ease of reuse, there needs to be an agreement on the meaning of terms. A common approach is to represent these terms using ontology languages that conceptualize the respective domain. In this work, we will review projects that use ontologies to support robot autonomy. We will systematically search for projects that fulfill a set of inclusion criteria and compare them with each other with respect to the scope of their ontology, what types of cognitive capabilities are supported by the use of ontologies, and which is their application domain.
Snow can be considered an independent ecosystem that hosts active microbial communities. Snow microbial communities have been extensively investigated in the Arctic and in the Antarctica, but rarely in mid-latitude mountain areas. In this study, we investigated the bacterial communities of snow collected in four glacierized areas (Alps, Eastern Anatolia, Karakoram and Himalaya) by high-throughput DNA sequencing. We also investigated the origin of the air masses that produced the sampled snowfalls by reconstructing back-trajectories. A standardized approach was applied to all the analyses in order to ease comparison among different communities and geographical areas. The bacterial communities hosted from 25 to 211 Operational Taxonomic Units (OTUs), and their structure differed significantly between geographical areas. This suggests that snow bacterial communities may largely derive from ‘local’ air bacteria, maybe by deposition of airborne particulate of local origin that occurs during snowfall. However, some evidences suggest that a contribution of bacteria collected during air mass uplift to snow communities cannot be excluded, particularly when the air mass that originated the snow event is particularly rich in dust.
Research considering the relationship between dietary Mg and osteoporosis as well as fractures are sparse and conflicting. We therefore aimed to investigate Mg intake and the onset of fractures in a large cohort of American men and women involved in the Osteoarthritis Initiative over a follow-up period of 8 years. Dietary Mg intake (including that derived from supplementation) was evaluated through a FFQ at baseline and categorised using sex-specific quintiles (Q); osteoporotic fractures were evaluated through self-reported history. Overall, 3765 participants (1577 men; 2071 women) with a mean age of 60·6 (sd 9·1) years were included. During follow-up, 560 individuals (198 men and 368 women) developed a new fracture. After adjusting for fourteen potential confounders at baseline and taking those with lower Mg intake as reference (Q1), men (hazard ratio (HR) 0·47; 95 % CI 0·21, 1·00, P=0·05) and women (HR 0·38; 95 % CI 0·17, 0·82, P=0·01) in the highest quintile reported a significantly lower risk for fracture. Women meeting the recommended Mg intake were at a 27 % decreased risk for future fractures. In conclusion, higher dietary Mg intake has a protective effect on future osteoporotic fractures, especially in women with a high risk for knee osteoarthritis. Those women meeting the recommended Mg intake appear to be at a lower risk for fractures.
This study was aimed at comparing in-field parameters and remote sensing NDVI (normalized difference vegetation index) by both satellite (SAT) and unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) for the assessment of early nitrogen (N) status and prediction of yield in winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.). Six increasing N rates, i.e., 0, 40, 80, 120, 160, 200 kg N ha−1 were applied, half at tillering and half at shooting. Thus, when the crop N status was monitored between the two N applications, consecutive N treatments differentiated from each other by just 20 kg N ha−1. The following in-field and remote sensed parameters were compared as indicators of crop vegetative and N status: plant N% (w:w) concentration; crop N uptake (Nupt); ratio between transmitted and incident photosynthetically active radiation (PARt/PARi); leaf SPAD values, an indirect index for chlorophyll content; SAT and UAV derived NDVI. As reliable indicators of wheat N availability, in-field parameters were ranked as follows: PARt/PARi ≅ Nupt > SPAD ≅ N%. The PARt/PARi, Nupt and SPAD resulted quite strongly correlated to each other. At all crop stages, the NDVI was strongly correlated with PARt/PARi and Nupt. It is of relevance that NDVI correlated quite strongly to in-field parameters and grain yield at shooting, i.e., before the second N application, when the N rate can still be adjusted. The SAT and UAV NDVIs were strongly correlated to each other, which means they can be used alternatively depending on the context.
A new asteroid taxonomy will be an important result of Gaia observations of Solar System objects. Since Gaia observes asteroids in observing conditions and in an interval of wavelength which are slightly different with respect to normal ground-based observations, a dedicated observing campaign has been carried out at the Telescopio Nazionale Galileo in La Palma (Canary Islands, Spain). The obtained spectra have been used to generate a large number of synthetic clones, each one having slight changes with respect to its parent spectrum. These synthetic spectra are then used to feed the algorithm of taxonomic classification developed to reduce Gaia asteroid spectra. Processing of these data is in progress.
Early Archaic human skeletal remains found in a burial context in Lapa do
Santo in east-central Brazil provide a rare glimpse into the lives of
hunter-gatherer communities in South America, including their rituals for
dealing with the dead. These included the reduction of the body by means of
mutilation, defleshing, tooth removal, exposure to fire and possibly
cannibalism, followed by the secondary burial of the remains according to
strict rules. In a later period, pits were filled with disarticulated bones
of a single individual without signs of body manipulation, demonstrating
that the region was inhabited by dynamic groups in constant transformation
over a period of centuries.
Habitat selection has fundamental implications for species conservation, and in birds is often regarded as a multi-scale process. We investigated (under an information-theoretic approach) habitat selection by Woodchat Shrike Lanius senator in Italy (one of the most severely declining species in central and western Europe), considering five main types of potential determinants of shrike occurrence at the territory scale (1 ha): general structure (coarse landscape), woody vegetation, grassland habitats/bare ground, herbaceous crops, and management variables. The best supported models for species occurrence were those including general structure and woody vegetation traits. Variation partitioning suggested that overall, landscape general structure and woody vegetation explained the highest variation in shrike occurrence, and management the lowest. However, considering variation explained by only a single level, all levels performed nearly equally, but general structure did not explain an exclusive proportion of variation. A multi-level analysis suggested that shrike occurrence was eventually associated with specific habitat traits: isolated trees, shrubland and (secondarily) olive groves (all with positive effects), and dirt roads (negative effect). The most parsimonious multi-level models included only variables from woody vegetation and management traits, suggesting that the likely true determinants of species occurrence are highly specific and fine-scale habitat traits, consistent with variation partitioning. Woodchat Shrikes inhabit semi-open landscapes, within which they are attracted to shrubland and isolated trees (secondarily to olive groves) and avoid dirt roads. Suitable habitat conditions for the species depend on a trade-off between abandonment and intensive farming, and rural development programmes may be crucial for the conservation (or loss) of such conditions.
Polymer-clay nanocomposites are compounds in which nanoclay particles are distributed in a polymer matrix. Epoxy-clay nanocomposites have become a very interesting topic among researchers in the past two decades because nanoclays have a positive effect on the mechanical, thermal and especially barrier anticorrosive performance of the polymers. In this study, epoxy-montmorillonite organoclay (OMMT) nanocomposite coatings were prepared and deposited on carbon steel substrates. The coatings were prepared through in situ polymerization and by UV-curing technique. The OMMT was added to epoxy resin at loadings between 0 wt.% and 5 wt.%, the particles of OMMT were dispersed using forced agitation-sonication and deposited on carbon steel coupons. The nanocomposite coatings obtained have been characterized by scanning electron microscopy (SEM), spectroscopy Fourier transform infrared (FTIR), X-ray diffraction (XRD), thermogravimetric analysis (TGA), and evaluated their corrosion protection effect on cold rolled carbon steel coupons by performing visual analysis. The X-ray analysis showed that exfoliation occurred for the OMMT in the polymer matrix, the SEM analysis showed that OMMT was homogenous dispersed in the polymer matrix and the coatings were uniform. The FTIR analysis showed the characteristic bands of epoxy resin and OMMT in the composite. The results showed that 1 wt.% OMMT coating exhibit better anticorrosive properties than pure epoxy.
A specimen of a remarkable new catfish genus and species was collected in middle/late Miocene marine beds of the Puerto Madryn Formation at the base of the marine cliff of the sea lion colony area near Puerto Pirámide, southern coast of Península Valdés, northeastern Patagonia, Argentina. Siluriforms (catfishes) constitute a most important monophyletic ostariophysan group of mainly freshwater fishes that occurs in almost all continents but it is especially diverse in South America. Catfishes are presently distributed in tropical to temperate areas and a small number of species are marine or amphibiotic. The new catfish shows many primitive features for catfishes in the maxilla, autopalatine, hyal elements, and Weberian apparatus. The genus is clearly distinguished by four autapomorphies: sand clock–shaped autopalatine, posterior limb of autopalatine widening strongly, post-articular arm of autopalatine longer, and a metapterygoid longer than broad. One tree was obtained both under equal and implied weighting with the following topology: a basal polytomy in the Siluriformes formed by Diplomystidae, Bachmanniidae, Kooiichthys and the Siluroidei. The new species appears to have been a marine or amphibiotic taxon: it was collected in beds considered to represent the Maximum Flooding Horizon of the transgression that deposited the Puerto Madryn Formation. The coast at this moment was at approximately 90 km to the west. According to faunistic evidence, the sea was warm temperate.
Artificial reefs (ARs) are often used to improve fishing and, consequently, the economy of a region. However, the way in which the species use the reefs may vary between fish assemblages. An assessment was made of the influence of an AR complex on the transient fish population off the northern coast of Rio de Janeiro state and, therefore, two control areas were sampled. Gillnets were used to capture individual fish in six sampling surveys. Cumulative abundance and biomass curves (ABC) were used to assess the possible effects of the reefs on the community's functional structure. In the dry season, during which the influence of the Paraíba do Sul River is smaller, a larger richness of r-strategy species and juveniles of K-strategy species was observed in the reef area compared with the control areas, suggesting that the AR acts as a protective environment for these species. During the lower river discharge period the results indicated a potential disturbance in the functional structure of the AR fish community and, therefore, a less stable environment relative to the control areas. This ‘instability’ warrants a positive connotation, as it indicates that the artificial reefs are harbouring species that are particularly sensitive to predation, making the reef a powerful tool for maintaining these populations on the northern coast of Rio de Janeiro.
The aim of this study was to investigate the spatiotemporal variation in richness, abundance, structure and composition of phyllostomid bats over a successional gradient in a tropical dry forest in south-eastern Brazil. Four successional stages (pasture, early, intermediate and late) were sampled in the northern part of the state of Minas Gerais. Bats were sampled using mist nets at three sites for each of the four successional stages (12 sites in total) during eight periods between 2007 and 2009. A total of 537 individuals were captured (29 recaptured), distributed among four families and 22 species. Bat abundance and richness varied in space, being higher in the late-successional stage, and over time, being significantly lower during the dry season. When compared between guilds, only the abundance of omnivores varied significantly during the sampled months. Our results demonstrate that areas of late-successional stages showed higher bat richness and abundance in comparison with areas undergoing secondary succession. Our results also suggest the use of early-successional areas as flying routes by bats can lead to failure to detect differences in bat composition within successional gradients. We suggest future studies should assimilate landscape-level analyses into their studies to better evaluate the effects of successional gradients on bat assemblages.