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Maternal pre-pregnancy weight has been related with young singletons’ cognitive and behavioral development, but it is not clear if it has an effect on temperament. We used a twin cohort to evaluate the association between maternal pre-pregnancy body mass index (BMI) and infants’ temperament. The mothers of 834 twins answered questions regarding their pre-pregnancy BMI and their 0- to 18-month-old children’s temperament using the Revised Infant Behavior Questionnaire. Three temperamental dimensions were examined: activity level, distress to limitation and duration of orienting. The relationship between maternal pre-pregnancy BMI and each temperamental component was investigated by means of multilevel mixed-effects linear regression analysis. We found no clear evidence of an association of maternal pre-pregnancy BMI with twins’ temperament. The development of temperament is influenced by a large number of factors, probably different from those influencing children’s emotional and behavioral development.
Hill (Twin Research and Human Genetics, Vol. 21, 2018, 84–88) presented a critique of our recently published paper in Cell Reports entitled ‘Large-Scale Cognitive GWAS Meta-Analysis Reveals Tissue-Specific Neural Expression and Potential Nootropic Drug Targets’ (Lam et al., Cell Reports, Vol. 21, 2017, 2597–2613). Specifically, Hill offered several interrelated comments suggesting potential problems with our use of a new analytic method called Multi-Trait Analysis of GWAS (MTAG) (Turley et al., Nature Genetics, Vol. 50, 2018, 229–237). In this brief article, we respond to each of these concerns. Using empirical data, we conclude that our MTAG results do not suffer from ‘inflation in the FDR [false discovery rate]’, as suggested by Hill (Twin Research and Human Genetics, Vol. 21, 2018, 84–88), and are not ‘more relevant to the genetic contributions to education than they are to the genetic contributions to intelligence’.
Problem behaviors are of increasing public health concern. Twin studies have revealed substantial genetic and environmental influences on children's behavior, and examining birth-weight difference could allow the identification of the specific contribution of multiple non-shared prenatal environmental factors. The Twins and Multiple Births Association Heritability Study, a UK, volunteer-based study, recruited mothers of twins aged 18 months to 5 years; 960 twins (480 pairs) were included in the analysis. Twins’ mothers answered questions relative to their pregnancy and their twins’ characteristics, and completed the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) 1½–5. The association between the absolute birth-weight difference and each CBCL scale's score difference was analyzed by means of multiple linear regressions. Expected mean CBCL score differences were calculated. In monozygotic (MZ) twins, statistically and clinically significant associations were found between intrapair birth-weight difference and difference in total problems, internalizing problems, and emotional reactiveness. No significant results were observed neither in dizygotic (DZ) twins when analyzed as a separate group nor in MZ and DZ twins combined. The results of the present study suggest that with increasing the absolute birth-weight difference, the intrapair difference in total problems, internalizing behaviors and emotionality increases, with smaller twins being at major risk for later behavior problems. Moreover, these results suggest a causal association between birth weight and behavior development.
Drought represents one of the major constraints on agricultural productivity and food security and in future is destined to spread widely as a consequence of climate change. Research efforts are focused on developing strategies to make crops more resilient and to mitigate the effects of stress on crop production. In this context, the use of root-associated microbial communities and chemical priming strategies able to improve plant tolerance to abiotic stresses, including drought, have attracted increasing attention in recent years. The current review offers an overview of recent research aimed at verifying the role of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi and chemical agents to improve plant tolerance to drought and to highlight the mechanisms involved in this improvement. Attention will be devoted mainly to current knowledge on the mechanisms involved in water transport.
Burnt mounds, or fulachtaí fiadh as they are known in Ireland, are probably the most common prehistoric site type in Ireland and Britain. Typically Middle–Late Bronze Age in age (although both earlier and later examples are known), they are artefact-poor and rarely associated with settlements. The function of these sites has been much debated with the most commonly cited uses being for cooking, as steam baths or saunas, for brewing, tanning, or textile processing. A number of major infrastructural development schemes in Ireland in the years 2002–2007 revealed remarkable numbers of these mounds often associated with wood-lined troughs, many of which were extremely well-preserved. This afforded an opportunity to investigate them as landscape features using environmental techniques – specifically plant macrofossils and charcoal, pollen, beetles, and multi-element analyses. This paper summarises the results from eight sites from Ireland and compares them with burnt mound sites in Great Britain. The fulachtaí fiadh which are generally in clusters, are all groundwater-fed by springs, along floodplains and at the bases of slopes. The sites are associated with the clearance of wet woodland for fuel; most had evidence of nearby agriculture and all revealed low levels of grazing. Multi-element analysis at two sites revealed elevated heavy metal concentrations suggesting that off-site soil, ash or urine had been used in the trough. Overall the evidence suggests that the most likely function for these sites is textile production involving both cleaning and/or dyeing of wool and/or natural plant fibres and as a functionally related activity to hide cleaning and tanning. Whilst further research is clearly needed to confirm if fulachtaí fiadh are part of the ‘textile revolution’ we should also recognise their important role in the rapid deforestation of the wetter parts of primary woodland and the expansion of agriculture into marginal areas during the Irish and British Bronze Ages.
Studies into the mechanisms underlying the active emmetropization process by which neonatal refractive errors are corrected, have described rapid, compensatory changes in the thickness of the choroidal layer in response to imposed optical defocus. While high frequency A-scan ultrasonography, as traditionally used to characterize such changes, offers good resolution of central (on-axis) changes, evidence of local retinal control mechanisms make it imperative that more peripheral, off-axis changes also be tracked. In this study, we used in vivo high resolution spectral domain-optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT) imaging in combination with the Iowa Reference Algorithms for 3-dimensional segmentation, to more fully characterize these changes, both spatially and temporally, in young, 7-day old chicks (n = 15), which were fitted with monocular +15 D defocusing lenses to induce choroidal thickening. With these tools, we were also able to localize the retinal area centralis, which was used as a landmark along with the ocular pectin in standardizing the location of scans and aligning them for subsequent analyses of choroidal thickness (CT) changes across time and between eyes. Values were derived for each of four quadrants, centered on the area centralis, and global CT values were also derived for all eyes. Data were compared with on-axis changes measured using ultrasonography. There were significant on-axis choroidal thickening that was detected after just one day of lens wear (∼190 µm), and regional (quadrant-related) differences in choroidal responses were also found, as well as global thickness changes 1 day after treatment. The ratio of global to on-axis choroidal thicknesses, used as an index of regional variability in responses, was also found to change significantly, reflecting the significant central changes. In summary, we demonstrated in vivo high resolution SD-OCT imaging, used in combination with segmentation algorithms, to be a viable and informative approach for characterizing regional (spatial), time-sensitive changes in CT in small animals such as the chick.
Production of maize in western Kenya is severely constrained by the parasitic weed striga. Although productivity of maize can be improved through adoption of improved varieties, adoption of such varieties remains low in the region, as the majority of smallholder farmers still grow unimproved open-pollinated varieties (landraces). The performance of two improved hybrid varieties was evaluated against six landraces in striga-infested soils in western Kenya. The varieties were planted in plots under natural striga infestation and were supplemented with pot experiments under artificial infestation. Striga emergence was lower in landraces than in the hybrid varieties in both field and pot experiments. Similarly, height of maize plants at harvest and grain yields were higher in the landraces than in the hybrids. After three continuous cropping seasons, in all treatments, striga seedbank density increased two to seven times. Seedbank increase was higher with hybrids and two of the landraces, ‘Rachar' and ‘Endere'. These results provide an insight into the potential role landraces could play in efforts toward an integrated management approach for striga in smallholder cropping systems. They also highlight the need to develop hybrid maize lines with local adaptation to biotic constraints, specifically striga.
The distribution of phlebotomine sand flies is widely reported to be changing in Europe. This can be attributed to either the discovery of sand flies in areas where they were previously overlooked (generally following an outbreak of leishmaniasis or other sand fly-related disease) or to true expansion of their range as a result of climatic or environmental changes. Routine surveillance for phlebotomines in Europe is localized, and often one of the challenges for entomologists working in non-leishmaniasis endemic countries is the lack of knowledge on how to conduct, plan and execute sampling for phlebotomines, or how to adapt on-going sampling strategies for other haematophagous diptera. This review brings together published and unpublished expert knowledge on sampling strategies for European phlebotomines of public health concern in order to provide practical advice on: how to conduct surveys; the collection and interpretation of field data; suitable techniques for the preservation of specimens obtained by different sampling methods; molecular techniques used for species identification; and the pathogens associated with sand flies and their detection methods.
Nearly 258 million ha (28%) of the United States is publicly owned land that is managed by federal government agencies. For example, the US Department of Agriculture's Forest Service (USFS) manages over 77 million ha of national forests and grasslands for the benefit of the American public. Given its legal directive to manage multiple uses, it is not surprising that conflicts arise among stakeholders over how this land should be used (Lansky, 1992). The USFS has much discretion in how land is managed, yet must often balance conflicting values of public use and benefit (Nie, 2004). As national priorities, social preferences and public awareness of national forest goods, services and values have changed over time, USFS managers have faced increased pressure to balance consumptive uses with the need for environmental protection. Competing stakeholder demands coupled with increased environmental risks (wildfires, tree diseases and insect epidemics) have resulted in an escalating conservation conflict that is manifested in administrative appeals, lawsuits and a growing distrust of the agency.
Over time, the USFS has embraced new directions and management paradigms to reduce conflict. Some of these have been ecosystem management, adaptive management and now collaborative management (e.g. Holling, 1978; Maser, 1988; Franklin, 1992; Boyce and Haney, 1997; Wondolleck and Yaffee, 2000; Brown et al., 2004). These approaches reflect changing societal values, political pressures and new scientific information.
A persistent conflict has been the logging of trees in national forests and related impacts on forest ecosystems (Lansky, 1992). The USFS’ timber sale programme has supported jobs and community stability through economic development. Logging has also been a mechanism to reduce the risk of wildfire by reducing tree density (fuel for fires) and vertical stand diversity (‘ladder’ fuels; North et al., 2009). However, logging can also negatively affect forest integrity, watershed quality, wildlife, aesthetic and spiritual values of forests (Satterfield, 2002; North et al., 2009).
The introduction of the Manila clam into British coastal waters in the 1980s was contested by conservation agencies. While recognizing the value of the clam for aquaculture, the government decided that it posed no invasive risk, as British sea temperatures would prevent naturalization. This proved incorrect. Here we establish the pattern of introduction and spread of the species over the first 30 years of its presence in Britain. We report archival research on the sequence of licensed introductions and examine their relationship in time and space to the appearance of wild populations as revealed in the literature and by field surveys. By 2010 the species had naturalized in at least 11 estuaries in southern England. These included estuaries with no history of licensed introduction. In these cases activities such as storage of catch before market or deliberate unlicensed introduction represent the probable mechanisms of dispersal. In any event naturalization is not an inevitable consequence of introduction and the chances of establishment over the period in question were finely balanced. Consequently in Britain the species is not currently aggressively invasive and appears not to present significant risk to indigenous diversity or ecosystem function. However it is likely to gradually continue its spread should sea surface temperatures rise as predicted.