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To assess the impact of habitat fragmentation on tropical avian communities, we sampled lowland forest birds on six land-bridge islands and two mainland forest sites in Lake Kenyir, Peninsular Malaysia using timed point counts, hypothesizing that insectivorous birds are the worst affected guild. We used an information-theoretic approach to evaluate the effects of area, isolation, primary dietary guild (omnivore, frugivore and insectivore) and their interactions in predicting species richness, abundance and diversity. Our analysis showed that a model that considered the effects of area, dietary guild and their interaction best explained observed patterns of species richness. But a model considering both area and dietary guild best explained the variation in abundance. Notably, insectivorous birds were singled out as the dietary guild most sensitive to fragmentation, followed by frugivorous and omnivorous birds and hence provide support for our hypothesis. Assemblages of insectivorous birds were clearly depauperate on anthropogenic forest islands in Lake Kenyir and are consistent with forest fragmentation studies in the Neotropics. Given their specialized foraging ecology and diversity, conservation of intact communities of insectivorous bird guilds in Malaysia will be critical for maintaining predator–prey interactions in lowland tropical forests.
Prior work involving either aspiration of infected cells into micropipette under suction pressure or deformation in laminar shear flow revealed that the malaria parasite Plasmodium (P.) falciparum could result in significant stiffening of infected human red blood cells (RBCs). In this paper, we present optical tweezers studies of progressive changes to nonlinear mechanical response of infected RBCs at different developmental stages of P. falciparum. From early ring stage to late trophozoite and schizont stages, up to an order of magnitude increase in shear modulus was found under controlled mechanical loading by combining experiments with three-dimensional computational simulations. These results provide novel approaches to study changes in mechanical deformability in the advanced stages of parasite development in the erythrocyte, and suggest a significantly greater stiffening of the red blood cell due to P. falciparum invasion than that considered from previous studies.
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