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A new fossil site in a previously unexplored part of western Madagascar (the Beanka Protected Area) has yielded remains of many recently extinct vertebrates, including giant lemurs (Babakotia radofilai, Palaeopropithecus kelyus, Pachylemur sp., and Archaeolemur edwardsi), carnivores (Cryptoprocta spelea), the aardvark-like Plesiorycteropus sp., and giant ground cuckoos (Coua). Many of these represent considerable range extensions. Extant species that were extirpated from the region (e.g., Prolemur simus) are also present. Calibrated radiocarbon ages for 10 bones from extinct primates span the last three millennia. The largely undisturbed taphonomy of bone deposits supports the interpretation that many specimens fell in from a rock ledge above the entrance. Some primates and other mammals may have been prey items of avian predators, but human predation is also evident. Strontium isotope ratios (87Sr/86Sr) suggest that fossils were local to the area. Pottery sherds and bones of extinct and extant vertebrates with cut and chop marks indicate human activity in previous centuries. Scarcity of charcoal and human artifacts suggests only occasional visitation to the site by humans. The fossil assemblage from this site is unusual in that, while it contains many sloth lemurs, it lacks ratites, hippopotami, and crocodiles typical of nearly all other Holocene subfossil sites on Madagascar.
Adolescence is a critical time point in the lifecourse. LifeLab is an educational intervention engaging adolescents in understanding Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD) concepts and the impact of the early life environment on future health, benefitting both their long-term health and that of the next generation. We aimed to assess whether engaging adolescents with DOHaD concepts improves scientific literacy and whether engagement alone improves health behaviours.
Six schools were randomized, three to intervention and three to control. Outcome measures were changed in knowledge, and intended and actual behaviour in relation to diet and lifestyle. A total of 333 students completed baseline and follow-up questionnaires. At 12 months, intervention students showed greater understanding of DOHaD concepts. No sustained changes in behaviours were identified.
Adolescents’ engagement with DOHaD concepts can be improved and maintained over 12 months. Such engagement does not itself translate into behaviour change. The intervention has consequently been revised to include additional components beyond engagement alone.
Little is known about potential harmful effects as a consequence of self-guided internet-based cognitive behaviour therapy (iCBT), such as symptom deterioration rates. Thus, safety concerns remain and hamper the implementation of self-guided iCBT into clinical practice. We aimed to conduct an individual participant data (IPD) meta-analysis to determine the prevalence of clinically significant deterioration (symptom worsening) in adults with depressive symptoms who received self-guided iCBT compared with control conditions. Several socio-demographic, clinical and study-level variables were tested as potential moderators of deterioration.
Randomised controlled trials that reported results of self-guided iCBT compared with control conditions in adults with symptoms of depression were selected. Mixed effects models with participants nested within studies were used to examine possible clinically significant deterioration rates.
Thirteen out of 16 eligible trials were included in the present IPD meta-analysis. Of the 3805 participants analysed, 7.2% showed clinically significant deterioration (5.8% and 9.1% of participants in the intervention and control groups, respectively). Participants in self-guided iCBT were less likely to deteriorate (OR 0.62, p < 0.001) compared with control conditions. None of the examined participant- and study-level moderators were significantly associated with deterioration rates.
Self-guided iCBT has a lower rate of negative outcomes on symptoms than control conditions and could be a first step treatment approach for adult depression as well as an alternative to watchful waiting in general practice.
We describe the performance of the Boolardy Engineering Test Array, the prototype for the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder telescope. Boolardy Engineering Test Array is the first aperture synthesis radio telescope to use phased array feed technology, giving it the ability to electronically form up to nine dual-polarisation beams. We report the methods developed for forming and measuring the beams, and the adaptations that have been made to the traditional calibration and imaging procedures in order to allow BETA to function as a multi-beam aperture synthesis telescope. We describe the commissioning of the instrument and present details of Boolardy Engineering Test Array’s performance: sensitivity, beam characteristics, polarimetric properties, and image quality. We summarise the astronomical science that it has produced and draw lessons from operating Boolardy Engineering Test Array that will be relevant to the commissioning and operation of the final Australian Square Kilometre Array Path telescope.
Flowering and successful pollination in wheat are key determinants of both quantity and quality of grain. Bread wheat line ‘Paragon’, introgressed with single or multiple daylength insensitivity alleles was used to dissect the effects on the timing and duration of flowering within a hierarchical plant architecture. Flowering of wheat plants was observed in a series of pot-based and field experiments. Ppd-D1a was the most potent known allele affecting the timing of flowering, requiring the least thermal time to flowering across all experiments. The duration of flowering for individual lines was dominated by the shift in the start of flowering in later tillers and the number of tillers per plant, rather than variation in flowering duration of individual spikes. There was a strong relationship between flowering duration and the start of flowering with the earliest lines flowering for the longest. The greatest flowering overlap between tillers was recorded for the Ppd-1b. Across all lines, a warmer environment significantly reduced the duration of flowering and the influence of Ppd-1a alleles on the start of flowering. These findings provide evidence of pleiotropic effects of the Ppd-1a alleles, and have direct implications for breeding for increased stress resilient wheat varieties.
Cognitive impairment in heart failure (HF) is believed to in part stem from structural brain alterations, including shrinkage of subcortical regions. Fortunately, neurocognitive dysfunction in HF can be mitigated by physical activity (PA), though mechanisms for this phenomenon are unclear. PA is protective against age-related cognitive decline that may involve improved structural integrity to brain regions sensitive to aging (e.g., subcortical structures). Yet, no study has examined the benefits of PA on the brain in HF and we sought to do so and clarify related cognitive implications. Fifty older adults with HF completed a neuropsychological battery and wore an accelerometer for 7 days. All participants underwent brain MRI. This study targeted subcortical brain volume given subcortical alterations are often observed in HF and the sensitivity of PA to subcortical structures in other patient populations. Participants averaged 4348.49 (SD=2092.08) steps per day and greater daily steps predicted better attention/executive function, episodic memory, and language abilities, p’s<.05. Medical and demographically adjusted regression analyses revealed higher daily steps per day predicted greater subcortical volume, with specific effects for the thalamus and ventral diencephalon, p’s<.05. Greater subcortical volume was associated with better attention/executive function, p<.05. Higher daily PA was associated with increased subcortical brain volume and better cognition in older adults with HF. Longitudinal work is needed to clarify whether daily PA can attenuate brain atrophy in HF to reduce accelerated cognitive decline in this population. (JINS, 2015, 21, 851–860)
It is well known that web-based interventions can be effective treatments for depression. However, dropout rates in web-based interventions are typically high, especially in self-guided web-based interventions. Rigorous empirical evidence regarding factors influencing dropout in self-guided web-based interventions is lacking due to small study sample sizes. In this paper we examined predictors of dropout in an individual patient data meta-analysis to gain a better understanding of who may benefit from these interventions.
A comprehensive literature search for all randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of psychotherapy for adults with depression from 2006 to January 2013 was conducted. Next, we approached authors to collect the primary data of the selected studies. Predictors of dropout, such as socio-demographic, clinical, and intervention characteristics were examined.
Data from 2705 participants across ten RCTs of self-guided web-based interventions for depression were analysed. The multivariate analysis indicated that male gender [relative risk (RR) 1.08], lower educational level (primary education, RR 1.26) and co-morbid anxiety symptoms (RR 1.18) significantly increased the risk of dropping out, while for every additional 4 years of age, the risk of dropping out significantly decreased (RR 0.94).
Dropout can be predicted by several variables and is not randomly distributed. This knowledge may inform tailoring of online self-help interventions to prevent dropout in identified groups at risk.
Scanning acoustic microscopy (SAM), when applied to biological samples has the potential to resolve the longitudinal acoustic wave speed and hence stiffness of discrete tissue components. The heterogeneity of biological materials combined with the action of cryosectioning and rehydrating can, however, create variations in section topography. Here, we set out to determine how variations in specimen thickness influence apparent acoustic wave speed measurements
Cryosections (5μm nominal thickness) of human skin biopsies were adhered to glass slides before washing and rehydrating in water. Multiple regions (200x200 μm; n = 3) were imaged by SAM to generate acoustic wave speed maps. Subsequently co-localised 30x30 μm sub-regions were imaged by atomic force microscopy (AFM) in fluid. The images were then registered using Image J. Each pixel was allocated both a height and wave speed value before their relationship was then plotted on a scattergram. The mean section thickness measured by AFM was 3.48 ± 1.12 (SD) μm. Regional height variations influenced apparent wave speed measurements. A 3.5 μm height difference was associated with a 400 ms-1 increase in wave speed. In the present study we show that local variations in specimen thickness influence apparent wave speed. We also show that a true measure of wave speed can be calculated if the thickness of the specimen is known at each sampling point.
Case report data and a matched case-control study were used to investigate the epidemiological characteristics of hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) in children in Shenzhen, China between 2008 and 2011. Multivariate analyses were used to evaluate factors associated with severity of infection. Laboratory tests were performed to determine aetiological identification for samples from 163 severe and fatal cases as well as an outpatient-based HFMD sentinel surveillance system (n = 446). All identified EV71 belonged to sub-genotype C4a. No major changes in the CA16 and EV71 viruses were found until the end of 2011. Annual attack rates and the case-severity ratios (CSRs) rose from 0·82/1000 and 0·56/1000, respectively, in 2008 to 2·12/1000 and 6·13/1000 in 2011. The CSR was higher in migrants than in local residents. The adjusted odds ratio (OR) of having a severe attack for being a migrant was 2·45, having a fever >39°C (OR 5·77), visiting a private clinic (OR 2·65), longer time from symptom onset to diagnosis (OR 1·49), visiting a doctor (OR 1·51), early use of intramuscular pyrazolone (OR 3·36), early use of intravenous glucocorticoids (OR 2·28), or the combination of both (OR 3·75). The mortality and increasing case severity appears to be associated with socioeconomic factors including migration and is of worldwide concern.
We present preliminary results from the Southern Galactic Plane Survey (SGPS) Test Region and Parkes data. As part of the pilot project for the Southern Galactic Plane Survey, observations of a Test Region (325·5° ≤l ≤ 333·5°; −0·5° ≤ b ≤ 3·5°) were completed in December 1998. Single-dish observations of the full survey region (253° ≤ l ≤ 358 ° |b| ≤ 1°) with the Parkes Radio Telescope were completed in March 2000. We present a sample of SGPS H I data, with particular attention to the smallest-and largest-scale structures seen in absorption and emission, respectively. On the large scale, we detect many prominent H I shells. On the small scale, we note extremely compact, cold clouds seen in H I self-absorption. We explore how these two classes of objects probe opposite ends of the H I spatial power spectrum.
A survey of the Milky Way disk and the Magellanic System at the wavelengths of the 21-cm atomic hydrogen (H i) line and three 18-cm lines of the OH molecule will be carried out with the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder telescope. The survey will study the distribution of H i emission and absorption with unprecedented angular and velocity resolution, as well as molecular line thermal emission, absorption, and maser lines. The area to be covered includes the Galactic plane (|b| < 10°) at all declinations south of δ = +40°, spanning longitudes 167° through 360°to 79° at b = 0°, plus the entire area of the Magellanic Stream and Clouds, a total of 13 020 deg2. The brightness temperature sensitivity will be very good, typically σT≃ 1 K at resolution 30 arcsec and 1 km s−1. The survey has a wide spectrum of scientific goals, from studies of galaxy evolution to star formation, with particular contributions to understanding stellar wind kinematics, the thermal phases of the interstellar medium, the interaction between gas in the disk and halo, and the dynamical and thermal states of gas at various positions along the Magellanic Stream.
To explore if and how female adolescents engage in shared eating and joint food choices with best friends within the context of living in urban Soweto, South Africa.
A qualitative, exploratory, multiple case study was conducted using semi-structured duo interviews of best friend pairs to ascertain their eating patterns, friendship and social interactions around dietary habits.
Participants were recruited from three high schools in the urban township of Soweto, South Africa.
Fifty-eight female adolescents (twenty-nine friend pairs) still in high school (mean age of 18 years) were enrolled.
Although overweight rates were high, no association between friends was found; neither did friends share dieting behaviours. Both at school and during visits to the shopping mall, foods were commonly shared and money pooled together by friends to make joint purchases. Some friends carefully planned expenditures together. Foods often bought at school were mostly unhealthy. Availability, price and quality were reported to affect choice of foods purchased at school. Preference shaped joint choices within the shopping mall environment.
Food sharing practices should be investigated in other settings so as to identify specific behaviours and contexts for targeted and tailored obesity prevention interventions. School-based interventions focusing on price and portion size should be considered. In the Sowetan context, larger portions of healthy food may improve dietary intake of fruit and vegetables where friends are likely to share portions.
Antimicrobial drug shortages continue to increase, with few new therapeutic options available. Nationally, proposals have been offered to alleviate drug shortages; however, these recommendations are unlikely to effect change in the near future. Thus, antimicrobial stewardship leaders in acute care hospitals must develop a prospective management strategy to lessen the impact of these shortages on patient care. Herein, we describe several resources available to aid professionals in antimicrobial stewardship and healthcare epidemiology to manage drug shortages. An effective approach should include prospectively tracking shortages and maximizing inventory by appropriately managing usage. Several tenets should underpin this management. Alternative agents should be rationally chosen before the inventory of the primary agent has reached zero, ethical considerations should be taken into account, and timely notification and communication with key stakeholders should occur throughout the prescribing and dispensing process.
This study aimed to determine the age at which various ethnic groups present with thyroid cancer.
Retrospective, observational study based at three district general hospitals in the West Midlands, serving a widely diverse ethnic population. We assessed all patients undergoing an operative or core biopsy procedure for a thyroid nodule from 1 January 1998 to 31 December 2009. Only patients diagnosed with thyroid cancer were included. Variables examined included the patient's ethnic origin, sex and age at presentation.
We identified 263 patients diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Papillary carcinoma predominated. Ethnicity was categorised as Caucasian, Asian, black or other. Thyroid cancer was predominantly seen in women, in all ethnic groups. The mean age of thyroid cancer presentation was 50 years in Asians and 56 years in Caucasians, for both sexes combined. The mean presentation age of Asian women was significantly younger (46 years) than that of Caucasian women (56 years) (p = 0.01).
In this population, Asian women presented with thyroid cancer at a significantly younger mean age than Caucasian women.
The science of extra-solar planets is one of the most rapidly changing areas of astrophysics and since 1995 the number of planets known has increased by almost two orders of magnitude. A combination of ground-based surveys and dedicated space missions has resulted in 560-plus planets being detected, and over 1200 that await confirmation. NASA's Kepler mission has opened up the possibility of discovering Earth-like planets in the habitable zone around some of the 100,000 stars it is surveying during its 3 to 4-year lifetime. The new ESA's Gaia mission is expected to discover thousands of new planets around stars within 200 parsecs of the Sun. The key challenge now is moving on from discovery, important though that remains, to characterisation: what are these planets actually like, and why are they as they are?
In the past ten years, we have learned how to obtain the first spectra of exoplanets using transit transmission and emission spectroscopy. With the high stability of Spitzer, Hubble, and large ground-based telescopes the spectra of bright close-in massive planets can be obtained and species like water vapour, methane, carbon monoxide and dioxide have been detected. With transit science came the first tangible remote sensing of these planetary bodies and so one can start to extrapolate from what has been learnt from Solar System probes to what one might plan to learn about their faraway siblings. As we learn more about the atmospheres, surfaces and near-surfaces of these remote bodies, we will begin to build up a clearer picture of their construction, history and suitability for life.
The Exoplanet Characterisation Observatory, EChO, will be the first dedicated mission to investigate the physics and chemistry of Exoplanetary Atmospheres. By characterising spectroscopically more bodies in different environments we will take detailed planetology out of the Solar System and into the Galaxy as a whole.
EChO has now been selected by the European Space Agency to be assessed as one of four M3 mission candidates.
The European shore crab, Carcinus maenas, is one of the most successful marine invasive species. Its success has been in part attributed to the loss of parasites, rekindling an interest in host-parasite interactions and impacts on host fitness in this crab. In the present study, we investigated C. maenas populations from Europe, South Africa and Australia for parasites, and assessed their impact on the fitness of male crabs. For the shore crab, testes weight along with success in mating competition is traded off against other life-history traits. We therefore used this parameter as an indicator both for reproductive fitness and a possible resource trade-off in response to parasite infestation. In the native range, crabs infested with Sacculina carcini showed significantly lower testes weight than uninfected crabs. However, helminth parasites did not generally cause reduced testes weights. Crab populations from South Africa and Australia were either parasitized at very low prevalences, or were completely parasite free. However, no population level effect of this parasite release was reflected in testes weight. These findings do not support a severe fitness impact of helminth parasites on C. maenas, which questions the role of parasites on its population dynamics, both in the native area and for invasive success.