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The social sciences can help provide a deeper understanding of human-farm animal relations. However, social science research exploring problematic human-farm animal interactions can be of a sensitive nature. Studies that carry risks for participants and the researcher are known methodologically as sensitive research. However, there is little discussion in the animal welfare sciences on how best to conduct research of this nature on animal owners, despite recommendations being made for more interdisciplinary collaboration between the animal welfare sciences and social sciences. Drawing on social science research conducted in 2012 on the human element of on-farm animal welfare incidents in the Republic of Ireland, this short communication presents a case study of the sensitivities and challenges involved in carrying out social science research related to farm animal welfare. This communication details the steps involved in recruiting participants, the methodological challenges encountered, and the approaches used to overcome these challenges. Our experience suggests that when conducting socially sensitive research, careful consideration needs to be applied to the recruitment process, and the study design must aim to minimise the potential risks for all involved. Professionals in the field, such as veterinarians, can play an important role in outlining some of the implications involved, and in overcoming research challenges. Understanding the challenges to this form of research will help to maximise research potential.
Incorporating theoretic insights from ageing biology could advance the “staying alive” hypothesis. Higher male extrinsic mortality can weaken selection against ageing-related diseases and self-preservation, leading to high male intrinsic mortality. This may incidentally result in female-biased longevity-promoting traits, a possibility that will require rigorous testing in order to disentangle from the adaptive self-preservation hypothesis presented in the target article.
Seed retention, and ultimately seed shatter, are extremely important for the efficacy of harvest weed seed control (HWSC) and are likely influenced by various agroecological and environmental factors. Field studies investigated seed-shattering phenology of 22 weed species across three soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.]-producing regions in the United States. We further evaluated the potential drivers of seed shatter in terms of weather conditions, growing degree days, and plant biomass. Based on the results, weather conditions had no consistent impact on weed seed shatter. However, there was a positive correlation between individual weed plant biomass and delayed weed seed–shattering rates during harvest. This work demonstrates that HWSC can potentially reduce weed seedbank inputs of plants that have escaped early-season management practices and retained seed through harvest. However, smaller individuals of plants within the same population that shatter seed before harvest pose a risk of escaping early-season management and HWSC.
Political and social attitudes have been shown to differ by sex in a way that tracks individual self-interest. We propose that these attitudes also change strategically to serve the best interests of either male or female kin. To test this hypothesis, we developed a measure of gendered fitness interests (GFI) – an index which reflects the sex, relatedness and residual reproductive value of close kin. We predicted that people with male-biased GFI (i.e. people with more male kin of a reproductive age) would have more conservative attitudes towards gender-related issues (e.g. gender roles, women's rights, abortion rights). An online study using an American sample (N = 560) found support for this hypothesis. Further analyses revealed that this relationship was driven not only by people's own sex and reproductive value but also by those of their descendant kin. Exploratory analyses also found a positive association between male-biased GFI and a measure of conformity, as well as a smaller association between male-biased GFI and having voted Republican in the last election. Both of these associations were statistically mediated by gender-related conservatism. These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that GFI influences sociopolitical attitudes.
Potential effectiveness of harvest weed seed control (HWSC) systems depends upon seed shatter of the target weed species at crop maturity, enabling its collection and processing at crop harvest. However, seed retention likely is influenced by agroecological and environmental factors. In 2016 and 2017, we assessed seed-shatter phenology in 13 economically important broadleaf weed species in soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] from crop physiological maturity to 4 wk after physiological maturity at multiple sites spread across 14 states in the southern, northern, and mid-Atlantic United States. Greater proportions of seeds were retained by weeds in southern latitudes and shatter rate increased at northern latitudes. Amaranthus spp. seed shatter was low (0% to 2%), whereas shatter varied widely in common ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia L.) (2% to 90%) over the weeks following soybean physiological maturity. Overall, the broadleaf species studied shattered less than 10% of their seeds by soybean harvest. Our results suggest that some of the broadleaf species with greater seed retention rates in the weeks following soybean physiological maturity may be good candidates for HWSC.
Seed shatter is an important weediness trait on which the efficacy of harvest weed seed control (HWSC) depends. The level of seed shatter in a species is likely influenced by agroecological and environmental factors. In 2016 and 2017, we assessed seed shatter of eight economically important grass weed species in soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] from crop physiological maturity to 4 wk after maturity at multiple sites spread across 11 states in the southern, northern, and mid-Atlantic United States. From soybean maturity to 4 wk after maturity, cumulative percent seed shatter was lowest in the southern U.S. regions and increased moving north through the states. At soybean maturity, the percent of seed shatter ranged from 1% to 70%. That range had shifted to 5% to 100% (mean: 42%) by 25 d after soybean maturity. There were considerable differences in seed-shatter onset and rate of progression between sites and years in some species that could impact their susceptibility to HWSC. Our results suggest that many summer annual grass species are likely not ideal candidates for HWSC, although HWSC could substantially reduce their seed output during certain years.
The association between Clostridioides difficile colonization and C. difficile infection (CDI) is unknown in solid-organ transplant (SOT) patients. We examined C. difficile colonization and healthcare-associated exposures as risk factors for development of CDI in SOT patients.
The retrospective study cohort included all consecutive SOT patients with at least 1 screening test between May 2017 and April 2018. CDI was defined as the presence of diarrhea (without laxatives), a positive C. difficile clinical test, and the use of C. difficile-directed antimicrobial therapy as ordered by managing clinicians. In addition to demographic variables, exposures to antimicrobials, immunosuppressants, and gastric acid suppressants were evaluated from the time of first screening test to the time of CDI, death, or final discharge.
Of the 348 SOT patients included in our study, 33 (9.5%) were colonized with toxigenic C. difficile. In total, 11 patients (3.2%) developed CDI. Only C. difficile colonization (odds ratio [OR], 13.52; 95% CI, 3.46–52.83; P = .0002), age (OR, 1.09; CI, 1.02–1.17; P = .0135), and hospital days (OR, 1.05; 95% CI, 1.02–1.08; P = .0017) were independently associated with CDI.
Although CDI was more frequent in C. difficile colonized SOT patients, the overall incidence of CDI was low in this cohort.
Describe the epidemiological and molecular characteristics of an outbreak of Klebsiella pneumoniae carbapenemase (KPC)–producing organisms and the novel use of a cohorting unit for its control.
A 566-room academic teaching facility in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Solid-organ transplant recipients.
Infection control bundles were used throughout the time of observation. All KPC cases were intermittently housed in a cohorting unit with dedicated nurses and nursing aids. The rooms used in the cohorting unit had anterooms where clean supplies and linens were placed. Spread of KPC-producing organisms was determined using rectal surveillance cultures on admission and weekly thereafter among all consecutive patients admitted to the involved units. KPC-positive strains underwent pulsed-field gel electrophoresis and whole-genome sequencing.
A total of 8 KPC cases (5 identified by surveillance) were identified from April 2016 to April 2017. After the index patient, 3 patients acquired KPC-producing organisms despite implementation of an infection control bundle. This prompted the use of a cohorting unit, which immediately halted transmission, and the single remaining KPC case was transferred out of the cohorting unit. However, additional KPC cases were identified within 2 months. Once the cohorting unit was reopened, no additional KPC cases occurred. The KPC-positive species identified during this outbreak included Klebsiella pneumoniae, Enterobacter cloacae complex, and Escherichia coli. blaKPC was identified on at least 2 plasmid backbones.
A complex KPC outbreak involving both clonal and plasmid-mediated dissemination was controlled using weekly surveillances and a cohorting unit.
The goal of this study was to perform in situ electrochemical polymerization of poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) (PEDOT) in peripheral nerves to create a soft, precisely located injectable conductive polymer electrode for bi-directional communication. Intraneural PEDOT polymerization was performed to target both outer and inner fascicles via custom fabricated 3D printed cuff electrodes and monomer injection strategies using a combination electrode-cannula system. Electrochemistry, histology, and laser light sheet microscopy revealed the presence of PEDOT at specified locations inside of peripheral nerve. This work demonstrates the potential for using in situ PEDOT electrodeposition as an injectable electrode for recording and stimulation of peripheral nerves.
The ability to interface electronic materials with the peripheral nervous system is required for stimulation and monitoring of neural signals. Thus, the design and engineering of robust neural interfaces that maintain material-tissue contact in the presence of material or tissue micromotion offer the potential to conduct novel measurements and develop future therapies that require chronic interface with the peripheral nervous system. However, such remains an open challenge given the constraints of existing materials sets and manufacturing approaches for design and fabrication of neural interfaces. Here, we investigated the potential to leverage a rapid prototyping approach for the design and fabrication of nerve cuffs that contain supporting features to mechanically stabilize the interaction between cuff electrodes and peripheral nerve. A hybrid 3D printing and robotic-embedding (i.e., pick-and-place) system was used to design and fabricate silicone nerve cuffs (800 µm diameter) containing conforming platinum (Pt) electrodes. We demonstrate that the electrical impedance of the cuff electrodes can be reduced by deposition of the conducting polymer poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) polystyrene sulfonate (PEDOT:PSS) on cuff electrodes via a post-processing electropolymerization technique. The computer-aided design and manufacturing approach was also used to design and integrate supporting features to the cuff that mechanically stabilize the interface between the cuff electrodes and the peripheral nerve. Both ‘self-locking’ and suture-assisted locking mechanisms are demonstrated based on the principle of making geometric alterations to the cuff opening via 3D printing. Ultimately, this work shows 3D printing offers considerable opportunity to integrate supporting features, and potentially even novel electronic materials, into nerve cuffs that can support the design and engineering of next generation neural interfaces.
The Taipan galaxy survey (hereafter simply ‘Taipan’) is a multi-object spectroscopic survey starting in 2017 that will cover 2π steradians over the southern sky (δ ≲ 10°, |b| ≳ 10°), and obtain optical spectra for about two million galaxies out to z < 0.4. Taipan will use the newly refurbished 1.2-m UK Schmidt Telescope at Siding Spring Observatory with the new TAIPAN instrument, which includes an innovative ‘Starbugs’ positioning system capable of rapidly and simultaneously deploying up to 150 spectroscopic fibres (and up to 300 with a proposed upgrade) over the 6° diameter focal plane, and a purpose-built spectrograph operating in the range from 370 to 870 nm with resolving power R ≳ 2000. The main scientific goals of Taipan are (i) to measure the distance scale of the Universe (primarily governed by the local expansion rate, H0) to 1% precision, and the growth rate of structure to 5%; (ii) to make the most extensive map yet constructed of the total mass distribution and motions in the local Universe, using peculiar velocities based on improved Fundamental Plane distances, which will enable sensitive tests of gravitational physics; and (iii) to deliver a legacy sample of low-redshift galaxies as a unique laboratory for studying galaxy evolution as a function of dark matter halo and stellar mass and environment. The final survey, which will be completed within 5 yrs, will consist of a complete magnitude-limited sample (i ⩽ 17) of about 1.2 × 106 galaxies supplemented by an extension to higher redshifts and fainter magnitudes (i ⩽ 18.1) of a luminous red galaxy sample of about 0.8 × 106 galaxies. Observations and data processing will be carried out remotely and in a fully automated way, using a purpose-built automated ‘virtual observer’ software and an automated data reduction pipeline. The Taipan survey is deliberately designed to maximise its legacy value by complementing and enhancing current and planned surveys of the southern sky at wavelengths from the optical to the radio; it will become the primary redshift and optical spectroscopic reference catalogue for the local extragalactic Universe in the southern sky for the coming decade.
Degradation of 3-amino-l,2,4-triazole-5-C14 (amitrole-5-C14) in autoclaved, potassium azide, ethylene oxide, and dry-heat sterilized soil was compared with that observed in nonsterile soils by measuring evolved C14O2. Amitrole degradation occurred in azide and ethylene oxide-sterilized and nonsterile soils but not in autoclaved soils. Only slight degradation occurred in autoclaved soil re-inoculated with mixed cultures of soil microorganisms isolated from soil in which amitrole had been rapidly degraded. Addition of EDTA-Na to nonsterile and ethylene oxide sterilized soils reduced amitrole degradation. Addition of organic amendments to amitrole treated soil stimulated microbial activity but reduced amitrole degradation. Addition of specific metallic salts to certain soils increased the rate of amitrole degradation. Amitrole degradation occurred rapidly in several free radical generating chemical systems. These results and additional observations indicate that amitrole degradation, at least in three soils examined, was largely a chemical process, and that microbial involvement was only indirect.
Fluometuron adsorption and degradation were determined in soil collected at three depths from no-till + no cover, conventional-till + no cover, no-till + vetch cover, and conventional-till + vetch cover in continuous cotton. These combinations of tillage + cover crop + soil depth imparted a range of organic matter and pH to the soil. Soil organic matter and pH ranged from 0.9 to 2.5% and from 4.7 to 6.5, respectively. Fluometuron adsorption was affected by soil depth, tillage, and cover crop. In surface soils (0 to 4 cm), fluometuron adsorption was greater in no-till + vetch plots than in conventional-tilled + no cover plots. Soil adsorption of fluometuron was positively correlated with organic matter content and cation exchange capacity. Fluometuron degradation was not affected by adsorption, and degradation empirically fit a first-order model. Soil organic matter content had no apparent effect on fluometuron degradation rate. Fluometuron degradation was more rapid at soil pH > 6 than at pH ≤ 5, indicating a potential shift in microbial activity or population due to lower soil pH. Fluometuron half-life ranged from 49 to 90 d. These data indicate that tillage and cover crop may affect soil dissipation of fluometuron by altering soil physical and chemical properties that affect fluometuron degrading microorganisms or bioavailability.
This research examined the effect of mechanical soil disturbance (none or tilled) and legume crop residues (none or hairy vetch) on fluometuron dissipation for 2 yr from the top 0 to 8 cm of soil in a 10 yr field experiment. Soil pH in the upper 0 to 8 cm was ≤ 5.6, and soil organic matter was highest in plots not-tilled and plots which had a vetch cover crop. Calculated initial half-lives of fluometuron ranged from 19 to 38 d in the 2 yr. Neither tillage nor cover crop influenced early-season fluometuron dissipation. However, there were detectable amounts of fluometuron in all treatments 1 yr after application.
Parasites of the genera Plasmodium and Haemoproteus (Apicomplexa: Haemosporida) are a diverse group of pathogens that infect birds nearly worldwide. Despite their ubiquity, the ecological and evolutionary factors that shape the diversity and distribution of these protozoan parasites among avian communities and geographic regions are poorly understood. Based on a survey throughout the Neotropics of the haemosporidian parasites infecting manakins (Pipridae), a family of Passerine birds endemic to this region, we asked whether host relatedness, ecological similarity and geographic proximity structure parasite turnover between manakin species and local manakin assemblages. We used molecular methods to screen 1343 individuals of 30 manakin species for the presence of parasites. We found no significant correlations between manakin parasite lineage turnover and both manakin species turnover and geographic distance. Climate differences, species turnover in the larger bird community and parasite lineage turnover in non-manakin hosts did not correlate with manakin parasite lineage turnover. We also found no evidence that manakin parasite lineage turnover among host species correlates with range overlap and genetic divergence among hosts. Our analyses indicate that host switching (turnover among host species) and dispersal (turnover among locations) of haemosporidian parasites in manakins are not constrained at this scale.
Streptococcus pneumoniae (Spn) is a leading cause of community-acquired pneumonia (CAP), yet existing diagnostic tools remain inadequate. We aimed to evaluate laboratory and radiological methods for detecting pneumococcal aetiology in CAP patients and to estimate Spn prevalence in this group. All-aged patients hospitalized with clinically defined CAP in northern Togo were enrolled during 2010–2013. Latent class analysis pooled results of semi-automated blood culture (SABC), whole blood lytA real-time polymerase chain reaction (rt-PCR), serum C-reactive protein (CRP), and chest radiography (CXR) and categorized patients as likely pneumococcal or non-pneumococcal CAP. We enrolled 1684 patients; 1501 had results for all tests. CXR, SABC, lytA rt-PCR and CRP >71·2 mg/l had sensitivities of 94% [95% confidence interval (CI) 87–100], 13% (95% CI 10–16), 17% (95% CI 14–21) and 78% (95% CI 75–80), and specificities of 88% (95% CI 84–93), 100% (95% CI 99–100), 97% (95% CI 96–99) and 77% (95% CI 75–79), respectively. Pneumococcal attributable proportion was 34% (95% CI 32–37), increasing with age and in men. We estimated that Spn caused one third of CAP. Whole blood lytA rt-PCR was more sensitive than SABC; both had low sensitivity and high specificity. Conversely CXR was highly sensitive and reasonably specific; it could be a useful tool for epidemiological studies aiming to define Spn pneumonia incidence across all ages.
The dissemination of information by extension agents on dairy management practices used to control mastitis and the reception and use of that information by producers are investigated. Producers are surveyed to determine current practices used. The relationship between milk yield, somatic cell count, management practices, and producer and production characteristics is estimated. Subjective probabilities are elicited from “experts,” extension agents, and producers concerning the impact and cost of various management practices. Subjective marginal value products and marginal input costs are computed and compared for the respondent groups. Stochastic dominance is used to rank the relative importance of the practices as perceived by the respondents.
In order to solve the partial differential equations that arise in the Hartree- Fock theory for diatomicmolecules and inmolecular theories that include electron correlation, one needs efficient methods for solving partial differential equations. In this article, we present numerical results for a two-variablemodel problem of the kind that arises when one solves the Hartree-Fock equations for a diatomic molecule. We compare results obtained using the spline collocation and domain decomposition methods with third-order Hermite splines to results obtained using the more-established finite difference approximation and the successive over-relaxation method. The theory of domain decomposition presented earlier is extended to treat regions that are divided into an arbitrary number of subregions by families of lines parallel to the two coordinate axes. While the domain decomposition method and the finite difference approach both yield results at the micro-Hartree level, the finite difference approach with a 9- point difference formula produces the same level of accuracy with fewer points. The domain decompositionmethod has the strength that it can be applied to problemswith a large number of grid points. The time required to solve a partial differential equation for a fine grid with a large number of points goes down as the number of partitions increases. The reason for this is that the length of time necessary for solving a set of linear equations in each subregion is very much dependent upon the number of equations. Even though a finer partition of the region has more subregions, the time for solving the set of linear equations in each subregion is very much smaller. This feature of the theory may well prove to be a decisive factor for solving the two-electron pair equation, which – for a diatomic molecule – involves solving partial differential equations with five independent variables. The domain decomposition theory also makes it possible to study complex molecules by dividing them into smaller fragments that are calculated independently. Since the domain decomposition approachmakes it possible to decompose the variable space into separate regions in which the equations are solved independently, this approach is well-suited to parallel computing.