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Although extrafloral nectar (EFN) is a key food resource for arboreal ants, its role in structuring ground-nesting ant communities has received little attention, despite these ants also being frequent EFN-attendants. We investigated the role of EFN as a driver of the spatial structure of ground-nesting ant communities occurring in dry forest in north-eastern Brazil. We examined the effects on this relationship of two global drivers of biodiversity decline, chronic anthropogenic disturbance and climate change (through decreasing rainfall). We mapped EFN-producing plants and ant nests in 20 plots distributed along independent gradients of disturbance and rainfall. We categorized ant species into three types according to their dependence on EFN: heavy users, occasional users and non-users. We found a strong relationship between ant dependence on EFN and nest proximity to EFN-producing plants: heavy-users (mean distance 1.1 m) nested closer to EFN-producing plants than did occasional users (1.7 m), which in turn nested closer to EFN-producing plants than did non-users (2.3 m). Neither disturbance nor rainfall affected the proximity of heavy-user nests to EFN-producing plants. Our study shows for the first time that EFN is a key driver of the spatial structure of entire communities of ground-nesting ants.
Iron deficiency (ID) defined as plasma ferritin <12 µg/L is associated with delayed cognitive development in early childhood and increased incidence of infections, however the longitudinal association between early life factors and ID in 18-month-old children in Denmark is unknown. This study aimed to determine the prevalence of ID and to describe risk factors associated with ID in healthy 18-month-old Danish children. Blood samples, anthropometric measurements and self-reported questionnaire data had been obtained in the birth cohort, Odense Child Cohort (OCC). The questionnaires were modified from those used in the DNBC, Danish National Birth Cohort. Plasma ferritin and C-reactive protein in venous, non-fasting samples were analysed in the final sample size of 370 children after exclusion of 79 children due to chronic disease, acute infection, C-reactive protein >10 mg/L, twin birth or prematurity. Associations with ID were analysed by logistic regression, adjusting for sex, maternal education, duration of partial breastfeeding and current intake of milk, fish and meat. Overall, 56 children had ID (15.1%). Factors associated with increased risk were exclusive breastfeeding beyond 4 months (OR 5.97, 95%CI [1.63; 21.86]) and no intake of oral iron supplements from 6-12 months (OR 3.99, 95%CI [1.33; 11.97]. Duration of partial breastfeeding and current diet were not associated with ID. In conclusion, the ID prevalence was 15.1%, and both exclusive breastfeeding beyond 4 months and no intake of oral iron supplements from 6-12 months were associated with increased risk for ID in 18-month-old children.
The COllaborative project of Development of Anthropometrical measures in Twins (CODATwins) project is a large international collaborative effort to analyze individual-level phenotype data from twins in multiple cohorts from different environments. The main objective is to study factors that modify genetic and environmental variation of height, body mass index (BMI, kg/m2) and size at birth, and additionally to address other research questions such as long-term consequences of birth size. The project started in 2013 and is open to all twin projects in the world having height and weight measures on twins with information on zygosity. Thus far, 54 twin projects from 24 countries have provided individual-level data. The CODATwins database includes 489,981 twin individuals (228,635 complete twin pairs). Since many twin cohorts have collected longitudinal data, there is a total of 1,049,785 height and weight observations. For many cohorts, we also have information on birth weight and length, own smoking behavior and own or parental education. We found that the heritability estimates of height and BMI systematically changed from infancy to old age. Remarkably, only minor differences in the heritability estimates were found across cultural–geographic regions, measurement time and birth cohort for height and BMI. In addition to genetic epidemiological studies, we looked at associations of height and BMI with education, birth weight and smoking status. Within-family analyses examined differences within same-sex and opposite-sex dizygotic twins in birth size and later development. The CODATwins project demonstrates the feasibility and value of international collaboration to address gene-by-exposure interactions that require large sample sizes and address the effects of different exposures across time, geographical regions and socioeconomic status.
Deficit irrigation (DI) improves water use efficiency (WUE), but the reduced water input often limits plant growth and nutrient uptake. The current study examined whether arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) could alleviate abiotic stress caused by low phosphorus (P) fertilization and DI.
A greenhouse experiment was conducted with potato grown with (P1) or without (P0) P fertilization, with AMF (M1+: Rhizophagus irregularis or M2+: Glomus proliferum) or AMF-free control (M−) and subjected to full irrigation (FI), DI or partial root-zone drying (PRD).
Inoculation of M1+ and M2+ maintained or improved plant growth and P/nitrogen (N) uptake when subjected to DI/PRD and P0. However, the positive responses to AMF varied with P level and irrigation regime. Functional differences were found in ability of AMF species alleviating plant stress. The largest positive plant biomass response to M1+ and M2+ was found under FI, both at P1 and P0 (25% increase), while plant biomass response to M1+ and M2+ under DI/PRD (14% increase) was significantly smaller. The large growth response to AMF inoculation, particularly under FI, may relate to greater photosynthetic capacity and leaf area, probably caused by stimulation of plant P/N uptake and carbon partitioning toward roots and tubers. However, plant growth response to AMF was not related to the percentage of AMF root colonization. Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi can maintain and improve P/N uptake, WUE and growth of plants both at high/low P levels and under FI/DI. If this is also the case under field conditions, it should be implemented for sustainable potato production.
Anthropogenic disturbance often results in the proliferation of native species of particular groups that leads to biotic homogenization. Leaf-cutting ants are an example of such winner organisms in tropical rain forests, but their response to disturbance in dry forests is poorly known. We investigated Atta colony density in areas of tropical dry forest in Brazil with different distance to roads and vegetation cover. Atta colonies were surveyed in 59 belt transects of 300 × 20 m, covering a total area of 35.4 ha. We found 224 Atta colonies, 131 of which were active and belonged to Atta opaciceps (87 colonies, 2.45 ha−1), A. sexdens (35 colonies, 0.98 ha−1) and A. laevigata (9 colonies, 0.25 ha−1). The density of active colonies sharply decreased from 15 ± 2.92 ha−1 in the 50-m zone along roads to only 2.55 ± 1.65 ha−1 at distances up to 300 m. The reverse pattern was observed for inactive colonies. Active Atta colonies preferentially occur in areas with low vegetation cover, while inactive colonies prefer areas with high vegetation cover. We demonstrate for the first time that anthropogenic disturbances promote the proliferation of leaf-cutting ants in dry forest in Brazil, which may affect plant regeneration via herbivory and ecosystem engineering as demonstrated for rain forests.
Results from ground based observations of low degree solar luminosity variations are presented. By using data from up to 15 consecutive excellent days the majority of the 1=0, 1 and 2 peaks in the region 2.5–3.5 mHz may marginally be identified.
Maternal exposures to fever and infections in pregnancy have been linked to subsequent psychiatric morbidity in the child. This study examined whether fever and common infections in pregnancy were associated with psychosis-like experiences (PLEs) in the child.
A longitudinal study of 46 184 children who participated in the 11-year follow-up of the Danish National Birth Cohort was conducted. Pregnant women were enrolled between 1996 and 2002 and information on fever, genitourinary infections, respiratory tract infection, and influenza-like illness during pregnancy was prospectively collected in two interviews during pregnancy. PLEs were assessed using the seven-item Adolescent Psychotic-Like Symptom Screener in a web-based questionnaire completed by the children themselves at age 11.
PLEs were reported among 11% of the children. Multinomial logistic regression models with probability weights to adjust for potential selection bias due to attrition suggested that maternal fever, genitourinary infections and influenza-like illness were associated with a weak to moderate increased risk of subclinical psychosis-like symptoms in the offspring, whereas respiratory tract infections were not. No clear pattern was observed between the strengths of the associations and the timing of exposure, or the type of psychosis-like symptom.
In this study, maternal exposures to fevers and common infections in pregnancy were generally associated with a subtle excess risk of PLEs in the child. A more pronounced association was found for influenza-like illness under an a priori definition, leaving open the possibility that certain kinds of infections may constitute important risk factors.
Parasites competing over limited host resources are faced with a tradeoff between reproductive success and host overexploitation jeopardizing survival. Surprisingly little is known about the outcome of such competitive scenarios, and we therefore aimed at elucidating interactions between the trematodes Himasthla elongata and Renicola roscovita coinfecting the periwinkle first intermediate host. The results show that the success of Himasthla colonies (rediae) in terms of cercarial emission is unaffected by Renicola competition (sporocysts), whereas deteriating host condition decreases fitness. Furthermore, double infection has no bearing on Himasthla’s colony size but elevated the proportion of non-reproductive rediae that play a decisive role in colony defence. Opposite, the development of the Renicola colony (size/maturity), and in turn fitness, is markedly reduced in presence of Himasthla, whereas the nutritional state of the host appears less important. Hence, the intramolluscan competition between Himasthla and Renicola is asymmetrical, Himasthla being the superior competitor. Himasthla not only adjusts its virulence according to the hosts immediate nutritional state, it also nullifies the negative impact of a heterospecific competitor on own fitness. The latter is argued to follow in part from direct predation on the competitor, for which purpose more defensive non-reproductive rediae are strategically produced.
Information on snow conditions in high mountain river basins is of vital interest for flood predictions and power production. Based on techniques derived for mapping of snow cover from digital NOAA-data, relations are established between snow covered area and remaining snow storage for three basins in southern Norway. Together with estimates of the precipitation and information on maximum accumulated snow, the relation can be useful in run-off predictions for the snow-melt period.
Habitat loss is widely recognized as the major cause of global biodiversity decline, but remaining habitat is increasingly threatened by chronic human disturbances. Using a multi-model averaging approach we examined the association between five chronic disturbance surrogates and the richness and taxonomic and functional composition of ants in Brazilian Caatinga. Using pitfall traps in 47 plots near Parnamirim city (Pernambuco) across two soil types (sand and clay), we recorded 53 species from 27 genera. Ant species richness on sand was slightly higher than on clay, and was negatively related to most surrogates of anthropogenic disturbance. Soil type and human population size were the main predictors of ant species richness. Soil type was the most important predictor of functional group abundance. Taxonomic and functional composition were influenced by soil type and disturbance, but this relationship varied between clay and sandy soils. Ant functional composition showed a weak relationship with disturbance on sandy soils, but on clay soils it showed predictable winner–loser replacement. We attribute the greater effect of disturbance on clay soils to higher intensity of land use, and our study highlights the importance of considering context dependence when evaluating biodiversity responses to disturbance.
Bones that have undergone burning at high temperatures (i.e. cremation) no longer contain organic carbon. Lanting et al. (2001) proposed that some of the original structural carbonate, formed during bioapatite formation, survives. This view is based on paired radiocarbon dating of cremated bone apatite and contemporary charcoal. However, stable carbon isotope composition of carbonate in cremated bones is consistently light compared to the untreated material and is closer to the δ13C values seen in C3 plant material. This raises the question of the origin of carbonate carbon in cremated bone apatite. That is, does the isotope signal reflect an exchange of carbon with the local cremation atmosphere and thus with carbon from the burning fuel, or is it caused by isotopic fractionation during cremation?
To study the changes in carbon isotopes (14C, 13C) of bone apatite during burning up to 800 °, a modern bovine bone was exposed to a continuous flow of an artificial atmosphere (basically a high-purity O2/N2 gas mix) under defined conditions (temperature, gas composition). To simulate the influence of the fuel carbon available under real cremation conditions, fossil CO2 was added at different concentrations. To yield cremated bone apatite properties similar to archaeological cremated bones, in terms of crystallographic criteria, water vapor had to be added to the atmosphere in the oven. Infrared vibrational spectra reveal large increases in crystal size and loss of carbonate upon cremation. The isotope results indicate an effective carbon exchange between bone apatite carbonate and CO2 in the combustion gases depending on temperature and CO2 concentration. 14C dates on archaeological cremated bone apatite may thus suffer from an old-wood effect. Paired 13C and 14C values indicate that in addition to this exchange, isotope fractionation between CO2 and carbonate, and admixture of carbon from other sources such as possibly collagen or atmospheric CO2, may play a role in determining the final composition of the apatite carbonate.
Several new AMS 14C dates on shells from the Fossvogur sea sediments in southern Iceland are reported. Up till now, researchers have assumed that the Fossvogur sediments formed during the last interglacial period (Eem), some 100,000 years ago. However, a recent 14C determination from this location yielded an age of ca 11,000 yr. Because of the importance of these sediments for the Quaternary chronology of Iceland, further sampling for 14C dating was subsequently initiated. The present results on several shell samples collected from the Fossvogur layers strongly indicate that these sediments were formed during the warm Allerød period toward the end of the last glaciation.
Radii and luminosities for Cepheid variables provide fundamental information on stellar evolution. Such data, obtained by the Baade-Wesselink method, are available and have been used for a number of galactic Cepheids. It is of particular interest to obtain corresponding data for Cepheids in the Magellanic Clouds. Firstly, this allows a comparative study of stellar evolution between the Galaxy and the Magellanic Clouds. Secondly, it provides data for an independent determination of the distance to the Magellanic Clouds.
Radial-velocity observations have been made for a total of around 20 Cepheid variables in both the LMC and the SMC. All measurements were made with the photoelectric scanner CORAVEL attached to the Cassegrain focus of the Danish 1.54-m telescope at European Southern Observatory, La Silla, Chile. Observations were made from January 1981 through October 1983. The accuracy of individual radial-velocity observations is of the order of 1 km s−1. The B magnitudes of the six Cepheids presented range from 13.0 to 15.5.
Dietary advanced glycation end products (AGE) formed during heating of food have gained interest as potential nutritional toxins with adverse effects on inflammation and glucose metabolism. In the present study, we investigated the short-term effects of high and low molecular weight (HMW and LMW) dietary AGE on insulin sensitivity, expression of the receptor for AGE (RAGE), the AGE receptor 1 (AGER1) and TNF-α, F2-isoprostaglandins, body composition and food intake. For 2 weeks, thirty-six Sprague–Dawley rats were fed a diet containing 20 % milk powder with different proportions of this being given as heated milk powder (0, 40 or 100 %), either native (HMW) or hydrolysed (LMW). Gene expression of RAGE and AGER1 in whole blood increased in the group receiving a high AGE LMW diet, which also had the highest urinary excretion of the AGE, methylglyoxal-derived hydroimidazolone 1 (MG-H1). Urinary excretion of Nε-carboxymethyl-lysine increased with increasing proportion of heat-treated milk powder in the HMW and LMW diets but was unrelated to gene expression. There was no difference in insulin sensitivity, F2-isoprostaglandins, food intake, water intake, body weight or body composition between the groups. In conclusion, RAGE and AGER1 expression can be influenced by a high AGE diet after only 2 weeks in proportion to MG-H1 excretion. No other short-term effects were observed.
Virtual reality surgical simulation of mastoidectomy is a promising training tool for novices. Final-product analysis for assessing novice mastoidectomy performance could be limited by a peak or ceiling effect. These may be countered by simulator-integrated tutoring.
Twenty-two participants completed a single session of self-directed practice of the mastoidectomy procedure in a virtual reality simulator. Participants were randomised for additional simulator-integrated tutoring. Performances were assessed at 10-minute intervals using final-product analysis.
In all, 45.5 per cent of participants peaked before the 60-minute time limit. None of the participants achieved the maximum score, suggesting a ceiling effect. The tutored group performed better than the non-tutored group but tutoring did not eliminate the peak or ceiling effects.
Timing and adequate instruction is important when using final-product analysis to assess novice mastoidectomy performance. Improved real-time feedback and tutoring could address the limitations of final product based assessment.
The degree of development and operability of the indicators for the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) using Descriptor 1 (D1) Biological Diversity was assessed. To this end, an overview of the relevance and degree of operability of the underlying parameters across 20 European countries was compiled by analysing national directives, legislation, regulations, and publicly available reports. Marked differences were found between countries in the degree of ecological relevance as well as in the degree of implementation and operability of the parameters chosen to indicate biological diversity. The best scoring EU countries were France, Germany, Greece and Spain, while the worst scoring countries were Italy and Slovenia. No country achieved maximum scores for the implementation of MSFD D1. The non-EU countries Norway and Turkey score as highly as the top-scoring EU countries. On the positive side, the chosen parameters for D1 indicators were generally identified as being an ecologically relevant reflection of Biological Diversity. On the negative side however, less than half of the chosen parameters are currently operational. It appears that at a pan-European level, no consistent and harmonized approach currently exists for the description and assessment of marine biological diversity. The implementation of the MSFD Descriptor 1 for Europe as a whole can therefore at best be marked as moderately successful.
Maternal infection in pregnancy is a known risk factor for adverse pregnancy outcome, and a number of zoonotic pathogens may constitute a risk to pregnant women and their fetuses. With animal contact as a proxy for the risk of zoonotic infection, this study aimed to evaluate pregnancy outcome in women with self-reported occupational or domestic contact with livestock compared to pregnant women without such contact. The Danish National Birth Cohort collected information on pregnancy outcome from 100 418 pregnant women (1996–2002) from which three study populations with occupational and/or domestic exposure to livestock and a reference group of women with no animal contact was sampled. Outcome measures were miscarriage, very preterm birth (before gestational week 32), preterm birth (before 37 gestational weeks), small for gestational age (SGA), and perinatal death. Adverse reproductive outcomes were assessed in four different exposure groups of women with occupational or domestic exposure to livestock with no association found between exposure to livestock and miscarriage, preterm birth, SGA or perinatal death. These findings should diminish general occupational health concerns for pregnant women with exposures to a range of different farm animals.