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The search for life in the Universe is a fundamental problem of astrobiology and modern science. The current progress in the detection of terrestrial-type exoplanets has opened a new avenue in the characterization of exoplanetary atmospheres and in the search for biosignatures of life with the upcoming ground-based and space missions. To specify the conditions favourable for the origin, development and sustainment of life as we know it in other worlds, we need to understand the nature of global (astrospheric), and local (atmospheric and surface) environments of exoplanets in the habitable zones (HZs) around G-K-M dwarf stars including our young Sun. Global environment is formed by propagated disturbances from the planet-hosting stars in the form of stellar flares, coronal mass ejections, energetic particles and winds collectively known as astrospheric space weather. Its characterization will help in understanding how an exoplanetary ecosystem interacts with its host star, as well as in the specification of the physical, chemical and biochemical conditions that can create favourable and/or detrimental conditions for planetary climate and habitability along with evolution of planetary internal dynamics over geological timescales. A key linkage of (astro)physical, chemical and geological processes can only be understood in the framework of interdisciplinary studies with the incorporation of progress in heliophysics, astrophysics, planetary and Earth sciences. The assessment of the impacts of host stars on the climate and habitability of terrestrial (exo)planets will significantly expand the current definition of the HZ to the biogenic zone and provide new observational strategies for searching for signatures of life. The major goal of this paper is to describe and discuss the current status and recent progress in this interdisciplinary field in light of presentations and discussions during the NASA Nexus for Exoplanetary System Science funded workshop ‘Exoplanetary Space Weather, Climate and Habitability’ and to provide a new roadmap for the future development of the emerging field of exoplanetary science and astrobiology.
The use of tail chalk and estrus/heat expression scores (HEATSC) evaluation is instrumental in identifying cows with greater estrus expression and greater artificial insemination pregnancy rates (P/AI) in cows submitted to timed artificial insemination (TAI), and cows with low or no estrus expression present lower P/AI. It was intended in this study to improve the pregnancy rates in TAI for Bos indicus beef cows, and gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH) injection was hypothesized to increase pregnancy rates in a TAI program for cows submitted to progesterone–estradiol-based protocols with low or no estrus expression, evaluated by HEATSC. Cows (n= 2284) received a progesterone device and 2 mg estradiol benzoate, after 8 days the device was removed and 1 mg estradiol cypionate, 150 μg of d-cloprostenol and 300 IU equine chorionic gonadotropin was administered. All cows were marked with chalk and HEATSC evaluated (scales 1 to 3) at TAI performed on day 10. Animals with HEATSC1 and HEATSC2 (n= 937) received 100 μg de gonadorelin (GNRH group; n= 470), or 1 ml saline (Control group; n= 467), and cows with HEATSC3 (named HEAT group; n= 1347) received no additional treatment. The larger dominant follicle, evaluated on day 8and at TAI (day 10), was greater in HEAT group (P= 0.0145 and P <0.001, respectively). Corpus luteum (CL) area and progesterone concentration was evaluated on day 17, and CL area was larger in HEAT group, intermediary in Control and lower in GnRH group (Control= 2.68 cm2, GnRH= 2.37 cm2, HEAT group= 3.07 cm2, P <0.001). Greater progesterone concentrations were found in HEAT group than in Control and GnRH groups (Control= 4.74 ng/ml, GnRH= 4.29 ng/ml, HEAT group= 6.08 ng/ml, P<0.001). There was a difference in ovulation rate, greater in HEAT group than GnRH and Control groups (Control= 72.5%; GnRH= 81.25%; HEAT group= 90.71%; P= 0.0024). Artificial insemination pregnancy rates was greater in HEAT group (57.09% (769/1347) than in Control and GNRH groups, with positive effect of GnRH injection at the time of TAI in P/AI (Control= 36.18% (169/467), GnRH= 45.95% (216/470); P<0.0001). In conclusion, GnRH application in cows with low HEATSC (1 and 2) is a simple strategy, requiring no changes in TAI management to increase pregnancy rates in postpartum beef cows submitted to progesterone–estradiol-based TAI protocols, without reaching, however, the pregnancy rates of cows that demonstrate high estrus expression at the TAI.
Exposure to armed conflict and forced displacement constitute significant risks for mental health. Existing evidence-based psychological interventions have limitations for scaling-up in low-resource humanitarian settings. The WHO has developed a guided self-help intervention, Self Help Plus (SH+), which is brief, implemented by non-specialists, and designed to be delivered to people with and without specific mental disorders. This paper outlines the study protocol for an evaluation of the SH+ intervention in northern Uganda, with South Sudanese refugee women.
A two-arm, single-blind cluster-randomised controlled trial will be conducted in 14 villages in Rhino Camp refugee settlement, with at least 588 women experiencing psychological distress. Villages will be randomly assigned to receive either SH+ with enhanced usual care (EUC), or EUC alone. SH+ is a five-session guided self-help intervention delivered in workshops with audio-recorded materials and accompanying pictorial guide. The primary outcome is reduction in overall psychological distress over time, with 3 months post-treatment as the primary end-point. Secondary outcomes are self-defined psychosocial concerns, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms, hazardous alcohol use, feelings of anger, interethnic relations, psychological flexibility, functional impairment and subjective wellbeing. Psychological flexibility is a hypothesised mediator, and past trauma history and intervention attendance will be explored as potential moderators.
This trial will provide important information on the effectiveness of a scalable, guided self-help intervention for improving psychological health and wellbeing among people affected by adversity.
In this period of unprecedented levels of displacement, scalable interventions are needed to address mental health concerns of forced migrants in low-resource settings. This paper describes the adaptation and piloting of a guided, multi-media, self-help intervention, Self-Help Plus (SH+), which was developed to reduce psychological distress in large groups of people affected by adversity.
Using a phased approach that included community consultations, cognitive interviewing, facilitator training, pilot implementation, and a qualitative process evaluation, we adapted SH+ for use among South Sudanese refugees in a refugee settlement in northern Uganda.
The SH+ materials, including audio-recorded sessions and an accompanying illustrated manual, were translated into Juba Arabic. Cognitive interviewing primarily resulted in adaptations to language with some minor adaptations to content. Facilitator training and supervision led to further suggested changes to delivery methods. An uncontrolled pilot study (n = 65) identified changes in the expected direction on measures of psychological distress, functional impairment, depression, wellbeing, and psychological flexibility. The process evaluation resulted in further adaptations to intervention materials and the decision to focus future effectiveness evaluations of the intervention in its current form on South Sudanese female refugees.
We found that this potentially scalable, guided self-help intervention could be adapted for and feasibly implemented among female South Sudanese refugees in northern Uganda. These findings lay the groundwork for a future rigorous evaluation of SH+ in this context.
The properties of the acoustic modes are sensitive to magnetic activity. The unprecedented long-term Kepler photometry, thus, allows stellar magnetic cycles to be studied through asteroseismology. We search for signatures of magnetic cycles in the seismic data of Kepler solar-type stars. We find evidence for periodic variations in the acoustic properties of about half of the 87 analysed stars. In these proceedings, we highlight the results obtained for two such stars, namely KIC 8006161 and KIC 5184732.
Accurate models of X-ray absorption and re-emission in partly stripped ions are necessary to calculate the structure of stars, the performance of hohlraums for inertial confinement fusion and many other systems in high-energy-density plasma physics. Despite theoretical progress, a persistent discrepancy exists with recent experiments at the Sandia Z facility studying iron in conditions characteristic of the solar radiative–convective transition region. The increased iron opacity measured at Z could help resolve a longstanding issue with the standard solar model, but requires a radical departure for opacity theory. To replicate the Z measurements, an opacity experiment has been designed for the National Facility (NIF). The design uses established techniques scaled to NIF. A laser-heated hohlraum will produce X-ray-heated uniform iron plasmas in local thermodynamic equilibrium (LTE) at temperatures
eV and electron densities
. The iron will be probed using continuum X-rays emitted in a
diameter source from a 2 mm diameter polystyrene (CH) capsule implosion. In this design,
of the NIF beams deliver 500 kJ to the
mm diameter hohlraum, and the remaining
directly drive the CH capsule with 200 kJ. Calculations indicate this capsule backlighter should outshine the iron sample, delivering a point-projection transmission opacity measurement to a time-integrated X-ray spectrometer viewing down the hohlraum axis. Preliminary experiments to develop the backlighter and hohlraum are underway, informing simulated measurements to guide the final design.
We report, as a part of a long-term study of IR mergers and IR QSOs, detailed spectroscopic evidences for outflow (OF) features in nearby IR mergers/QSOs (with low and extreme velocity OF, LVOF and EVOF, respectively). We found EVOF in IRAS 01003-2238, 11119+3257, 13218+0552, 14394+5332, 15130-1958 and 15462-0450. The low velocity OF components were detected mainly in objects with starburst processes. Meanwhile the EVOF were found mainly in objects with obscured IR QSOs plus strong starbursts.
HST images of IR+BAL+Fe II QSOs show in practically all of these objects “arc or shell” features probably associated to galactic winds (GW) and/or merger processes. We present also new results of a study of the morphology, kinematics and ionized structure of IR mergers/QSOs with GW. This new study is based mainly in INTEGRAL two-dimensional (2D) fibre spectroscopy (obtained at La Palma 4.2 m telescope).
Iodine-129 is a high-yield fission product formed in nuclear reactors and is a risk-driving radionuclide in both contaminated land and radioactive waste disposal due to its high mobility and long half-life. Here, the bioreduction behaviour of iodate was investigated by tracking iodine speciation and concentration in solution during the development of progressive anoxia in sediment microcosm experiments incubated at neutral pH. Experiments with acetate added as an electron donor showed the expected cascade of terminal electron-accepting processes. Analysis of solution chemistry showed reduction of iodate to iodide during the early stages of metal (Mn(IV) and Fe(III)) reduction, but with no significant retention of iodine species on solids. There was, however, a net release of natural iodine associated with the sediments to solution when robust iron reduction / sulfate reduction had developed. In addition, over 210 days, the controls with no electron donor and the sterile controls showed no Mn(IV) or Fe(III) reduction but displayed modest sorption of iodate to the sediments in the absence of bioreduction. Overall these results show that under oxic conditions iodate may be partially sorbed to sediments over extended periods but that development of mildly reducing conditions leads to the reductive release of iodine to solution as iodide.
The nematode Angiostrongylus vasorum is becoming more widely recorded globally, and is of increasing concern as a cause of disease in dogs. Apparent geographic spread is difficult to confirm due to a lack of standardized disease recording systems, increasing awareness among veterinary clinicians, and recent improvements in diagnostic technologies. This study examines the hypothesis that A. vasorum has spread in recent years by repeating the methods of a previous survey of the fox population. The hearts and lungs of 442 foxes from across Great Britain were collected and examined by dissection and flushing of the pulmonary circulation and microscopic inspection of tracheal scrapes. Sampling and parasite extraction methods were identical to an earlier survey in 2005 to ensure comparability. Prevalence of A. vasorum was 18·3% (exact binomial confidence bounds 14·9–22·3), compared with 7·3% previously (5·3–9·9, n = 546), and had increased significantly in most regions, e.g. 7·4% in the Northern UK (previously zero) and 50·8% in the south-east (previously 23·2%). Other nematodes identified were Crenosoma vulpis (prevalence 10·8%, CI 8·1–14·2) and Eucoleus aerophilus (31·6%, CI 27·3–36·2). These data support the proposal that A. vasorum has increased in prevalence and has spread geographically in Great Britain.
Millions of people throughout the tropics consume wild meat. Overhunting reduces food security for people and large predators, yet little is known of the impact of hunting in systems where people and predators target the same prey species. We collate published data on predator diet in Belize with interview data about the consumption of wild and domestic meat by Belizeans, to compare the wild-meat diets of humans, jaguars Panthera onca and pumas Puma concolor and assess the sustainability of the combined offtake by humans and jaguars. Six wild mammal species (nine-banded armadillo Dasypus novemcinctus, paca Cuniculus paca, collared peccary Pecari tajacu, white-lipped peccary Tayassu pecari, red brocket deer Mazama americana and white-tailed deer Odocoileus virginianus) comprised 7% of the animal-protein meals eaten by Belizeans. Overall, 80% of these meals were eaten by 20% of interviewees, suggesting a necessary role of wild meat for the minority. The same species were found in 69 and 86% of jaguar and puma scats, respectively. We estimate a national annual harvest of c. 4,000 tonnes of these six wild mammals by humans and jaguars, of which 78% is hunted by people. Sustainability is difficult to evaluate because prey population data are lacking in Belize. However, simple models suggest that a sustainable harvest at this rate would require higher prey population densities than averages recorded in hunted Neotropical forests. We emphasize the need for robust regional estimates of game species densities, to improve assessments of sustainability and inform hunting regulations. We recommend that the requirements of predators as well as those of people be considered when assessing wild meat harvests.
Solar irradiance and precipitation are the most likely drivers of the seasonal variation of net primary productivity (NPP) in tropical forests. Since their roles remain poorly understood, we use litter traps, dendrometer bands and census data collected from one hectare permanent plots to quantify the seasonality of above-ground NPP components and weather parameters in 13 sites distributed along a 2800-m altitudinal gradient ranging from lowland Amazonia to the high Andes. We combine canopy leaf area index and litterfall data to describe the seasonality of canopy production. We hypothesize that solar irradiance is the primary driver of canopy phenology in wetter sites, whereas precipitation drives phenology in drier systems. The seasonal rhythm of canopy NPP components is in synchrony with solar irradiance at all altitudes. Leaf litterfall peaks in the late dry season, both in lowland (averaging 0.54 ± 0.08 Mg C ha y−1, n = 5) and montane forests (averaging 0.29 ± 0.04 Mg C ha y−1, n = 8). Peaks in above-ground coarse woody NPP appears to be triggered by the onset of rainfall in seasonal lowland rain forests (averaging 0.26 ± 0.04 Mg C ha y−1, n = 5, in November), but not in montane cloud forests.
We conducted an epidemiological, observational cohort study to determine the incidence and complications of acute otitis media (AOM) in children aged <6 years. Data on physician-diagnosed AOM were collected from retrospective review of medical charts for the year preceding enrolment and then prospectively in the year following enrolment. The study included 5776 children in Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, and the UK. AOM incidence was 256/1000 person-years [95% confidence interval (CI) 243–270] in the prospective study period. Incidence was lowest in Italy (195, 95% CI 171–222) and highest in Spain (328, 95% CI 296–363). Complications were documented in <1% of episodes. Spontaneous tympanic membrane perforation was documented in 7% of episodes. Both retrospective and prospective study results were similar and show the high incidence during childhood in these five European countries. Differences by country may reflect true differences and differences in social structure and diagnostic procedures.
There is increasing demand for the implementation of effects-based monitoring and surveillance (EBMS) approaches in the Great Lakes Basin to complement traditional chemical monitoring. Herein, we describe an ongoing multiagency effort to develop and implement EBMS tools, particularly with regard to monitoring potentially toxic chemicals and assessing Areas of Concern (AOCs), as envisioned by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI). Our strategy includes use of both targeted and open-ended/discovery techniques, as appropriate to the amount of information available, to guide a priori end point and/or assay selection. Specifically, a combination of in vivo and in vitro tools is employed by using both wild and caged fish (in vivo), and a variety of receptor- and cell-based assays (in vitro). We employ a work flow that progressively emphasizes in vitro tools for long-term or high-intensity monitoring because of their greater practicality (e.g., lower cost, labor) and relying on in vivo assays for initial surveillance and verification. Our strategy takes advantage of the strengths of a diversity of tools, balancing the depth, breadth, and specificity of information they provide against their costs, transferability, and practicality. Finally, a series of illustrative scenarios is examined that align EBMS options with management goals to illustrate the adaptability and scaling of EBMS approaches and how they can be used in management decisions.