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Clarifying the relationship between depression symptoms and cardiometabolic and related health could clarify risk factors and treatment targets. The objective of this study was to assess whether depression symptoms in midlife are associated with the subsequent onset of cardiometabolic health problems.
The study sample comprised 787 male twin veterans with polygenic risk score data who participated in the Harvard Twin Study of Substance Abuse (‘baseline’) and the longitudinal Vietnam Era Twin Study of Aging (‘follow-up’). Depression symptoms were assessed at baseline [mean age 41.42 years (s.d. = 2.34)] using the Diagnostic Interview Schedule, Version III, Revised. The onset of eight cardiometabolic conditions (atrial fibrillation, diabetes, erectile dysfunction, hypercholesterolemia, hypertension, myocardial infarction, sleep apnea, and stroke) was assessed via self-reported doctor diagnosis at follow-up [mean age 67.59 years (s.d. = 2.41)].
Total depression symptoms were longitudinally associated with incident diabetes (OR 1.29, 95% CI 1.07–1.57), erectile dysfunction (OR 1.32, 95% CI 1.10–1.59), hypercholesterolemia (OR 1.26, 95% CI 1.04–1.53), and sleep apnea (OR 1.40, 95% CI 1.13–1.74) over 27 years after controlling for age, alcohol consumption, smoking, body mass index, C-reactive protein, and polygenic risk for specific health conditions. In sensitivity analyses that excluded somatic depression symptoms, only the association with sleep apnea remained significant (OR 1.32, 95% CI 1.09–1.60).
A history of depression symptoms by early midlife is associated with an elevated risk for subsequent development of several self-reported health conditions. When isolated, non-somatic depression symptoms are associated with incident self-reported sleep apnea. Depression symptom history may be a predictor or marker of cardiometabolic risk over decades.
The catastrophic declines of three species of ‘Critically Endangered’ Gyps vultures in South Asia were caused by unintentional poisoning by the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) diclofenac. Despite a ban on its veterinary use in 2006 (India, Nepal, Pakistan) and 2010 (Bangladesh), residues of diclofenac have continued to be found in cattle carcasses and in dead wild vultures. Another NSAID, meloxicam, has been shown to be safe to vultures. From 2012 to 2018, we undertook covert surveys of pharmacies in India, Nepal and Bangladesh to investigate the availability and prevalence of NSAIDs for the treatment of livestock. The purpose of the study was to establish whether diclofenac continued to be sold for veterinary use, whether the availability of meloxicam had increased and to determine which other veterinary NSAIDs were available. The availability of diclofenac declined in all three countries, virtually disappearing from pharmacies in Nepal and Bangladesh, highlighting the advances made in these two countries to reduce this threat to vultures. In India, diclofenac still accounted for 10–46% of all NSAIDs offered for sale for livestock treatment in 2017, suggesting weak enforcement of existing regulations and a continued high risk to vultures. Availability of meloxicam increased in all countries and was the most common veterinary NSAID in Nepal (89.9% in 2017). Although the most widely available NSAID in India in 2017, meloxicam accounted for only 32% of products offered for sale. In Bangladesh, meloxicam was less commonly available than the vulture-toxic NSAID ketoprofen (28% and 66%, respectively, in 2018), despite the partial government ban on ketoprofen in 2016. Eleven different NSAIDs were recorded, several of which are known or suspected to be toxic to vultures. Conservation priorities should include awareness raising, stricter implementation of current bans, bans on other vulture-toxic veterinary NSAIDs, especially aceclofenac and nimesulide, and safety-testing of other NSAIDs on Gyps vultures to identify safe and toxic drugs.
Populations of Critically Endangered White-rumped Gyps bengalensis and Slender-billed G. tenuirostris Vultures in Nepal declined rapidly during the 2000s, almost certainly because of the effects of the use in livestock of the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug diclofenac, which is nephrotoxic to Gyps vultures. In 2006, veterinary use of diclofenac was banned in Nepal and this was followed by the gradual implementation, over most of the geographical range of the two vulture species in Nepal, of a Vulture Safe Zone (VSZ) programme to advocate vulture conservation, raise awareness about diclofenac, provide vultures with NSAID-free food and encourage the veterinary use in livestock of a vulture-safe alternative NSAID (meloxicam). We report the results of long-term monitoring of vulture populations in Nepal before and after this programme was implemented, by means of road transects. Piecewise regression analysis of the count data indicated that a rapid decline of the White-rumped Vulture population from 2002 up to about 2013 gave way to a partial recovery between about 2013 and 2018. More limited data for the Slender-billed Vulture indicated that a rapid decline also gave way to partial recovery from about 2012 onwards. The rates at which populations were increasing in the 2010s exceeded the upper end of the range of increase rates expected in a closed population under optimal conditions. The possibility that immigration from India is contributing to the changes cannot be excluded. We present evidence from open and undercover pharmacy surveys that the VSZ programme had apparently become effective in reducing the availability of diclofenac in a large part of the range of these species in Nepal by about 2011. Hence, community-based advocacy and awareness-raising actions, and possibly also provisioning of safe food, may have made an important contribution to vulture conservation by augmenting the effects of changes in the regulation of toxic veterinary drugs.
Invasive rodents detrimentally affect native bird species on many islands worldwide, and rodent eradication is a useful tool to safeguard endemic and threatened species. However, especially on tropical islands, rodent eradications can fail for various reasons, and it is unclear whether the temporary reduction of a rodent population during an unsuccessful eradication operation has beneficial effects on native birds. Here we examine the response of four endemic land bird species on subtropical Henderson Island in the Pitcairn Island Group, South Pacific Ocean, following an unsuccessful rodent eradication in 2011. We conducted point counts at 25 sampling locations in 14 survey periods between 2011 and 2015, and modelled the abundance trends of all species using binomial mixture models accounting for observer and environmental variation in detection probability. Henderson Reed Warbler Acrocephalus taiti more than doubled in abundance (2015 population estimate: 7,194-28,776), and Henderson Fruit Dove Ptilinopus insularis increased slightly between 2011 and 2015 (2015 population estimate: 4,476–10,072), while we detected no change in abundance of the Henderson Lorikeet Vini stepheni (2015 population estimate: 554–3014). Henderson Crake Zapornia atra increased to pre-eradication levels following anticipated mortality during the operation (2015 population estimate: 4,960–20,783). A temporary reduction of rat predation pressure and rat competition for fruit may have benefitted the reed warbler and the fruit dove, respectively. However, a long drought may have naturally suppressed bird populations prior to the rat eradication operation in 2011, potentially confounding the effects of temporary rat reduction and natural recovery. We therefore cannot unequivocally ascribe the population recovery to the temporary reduction of the rat population. We encourage robust monitoring of island biodiversity both before and after any management operation to better understand responses of endemic species to failed or successful operations.
The Upper Mustang region of Nepal holds important breeding populations of Himalayan Griffon Gyps himalayensis. Despite this species being considered ‘Least Concern’ on the IUCN Red List, the population in Upper Mustang had declined substantially in the early to mid-2000s. During that period, the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug diclofenac was commonly used to treat illness and injury in domesticated ungulates throughout Nepal. The timing and magnitude of declines in Himalayan Griffon in Upper Mustang resemble the declines in resident populations of the ‘Critically Endangered’ White-rumped Vulture Gyps bengalensis and Slender-billed Vulture Gyps tenuirostris in Nepal, both of which are also known to be highly sensitive to diclofenac. Since 2006, the veterinary use of diclofenac has been banned in Nepal to prevent further vulture declines. In this paper, we analyse the population trend in Himalayan Griffon in Upper Mustang between 2002 and 2014 and show a partial recovery. We conclude that the decline is now occurring at a slower rate than previously observed and immigration from areas where diclofenac was either not or rarely used the probable explanation for the recovery observed.
The collapse of South Asia's Gyps vulture populations is attributable to the veterinary use of the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) diclofenac. Vultures died after feeding on carcasses of recently-medicated animals. The governments of India, Nepal and Pakistan banned the veterinary use of diclofenac in 2006. We analysed results of 62 necropsies and 48 NSAID assays of liver and/or kidney for vultures of five species found dead in India between 2000 and 2012. Visceral gout and diclofenac were detected in vultures from nine states and three species: Gyps bengalensis, Gyps indicus and Gyps himalayensis. Visceral gout was found in every vulture carcass in which a measurable level of diclofenac was detected. Meloxicam, an NSAID of low toxicity to vultures, was found in two vultures and nimesulide in five vultures. Nimesulide at elevated tissue concentrations was associated with visceral gout in four of these cases, always without diclofenac, suggesting that nimesulide may have similar toxic effects to those of diclofenac. Residues of meloxicam on its own were never associated with visceral gout. The proportion of Gyps vultures found dead in the wild in India with measurable levels of diclofenac in their tissues showed a modest and non-significant decline since the ban on the veterinary use of diclofenac. The prevalence of visceral gout declined less, probably because some cases of visceral gout from 2008 onwards were associated with nimesulide rather than diclofenac. Veterinary use of nimesulide is a potential threat to the recovery of vulture populations.
The Critically Endangered Himalayan Quail Ophrysia superciliosa has not been reliably recorded since 1876. Recent searches of historical sites have failed to detect the species, but we estimate an extinction year of 2023 giving us reason to believe that the species may still be extant. Species distribution models can act as a guide for survey efforts, but the current land cover in the historical specimen record locations is unlikely to reflect Himalayan Quail habitat preferences due to extensive modifications. Thus, we investigate the use of two proxy species: Cheer Pheasant Catreus wallechi and Himalayan Monal Lophophorus impejanus that taken together are thought to have macro-habitat requirements that encapsulate those of the Himalayan Quail. After modelling climate and topography space for the Himalayan Quail and these proxy species we find the models for the proxy species have moderate overlap with that of the Himalayan Quail. Models improved with the incorporation of land cover data and when these were overlaid with the Himalayan Quail climate model, we were able to identify suitable areas to target surveys. Using a measure of search effort from recent observations of other galliformes, we identify 923 km2 of suitable habitat surrounding Mussoorie in Northern India that requires further surveys. We conclude with a list of five priority survey sites as a starting point.
Three Critically Endangered Gyps vultures endemic to South Asia continue to decline due to the use of diclofenac to treat livestock. High nephrotoxicity of diclofenac to Gyps vultures, leading to death, has been established by experiment and observation, in four out of five Gyps vulture species which occur in South Asia. Declines have also been observed in South Asia’s four other non-Gyps vulture species, but to date there has been no evidence about the importance of diclofenac as a potential cause. Neither is there any evidence on the toxicity of diclofenac to the Accipitridae other than vultures. In this study, gross and microscopic lesions and diclofenac tissue levels in Steppe Eagles Aquila nipalensis found at a cattle carcass dump in Rajasthan, India, show evidence of the toxicity of diclofenac for this species. These findings suggest the possibility that diclofenac is toxic to other accipitrid raptors and is therefore a potential threat to much wider range of scavenging species in South Asia.
Populations of three vulture species of the genus Gyps, the Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus and Red-headed Vulture Sarcogyps calvus have declined markedly on the Indian subcontinent since the mid-1990s and all are now Critically Endangered or Endangered. Gyps vultures have been killed by the widely used non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug diclofenac, ingested when they feed on carcasses of domesticated ungulates treated with the drug shortly before death. However, it is not known whether Egyptian Vulture and Red-headed Vulture are also sensitive to diclofenac. Veterinary use of diclofenac was banned in India in 2006. Since then, the prevalence and concentration of diclofenac in domesticated ungulates carcasses has decreased and population declines of Gyps vultures have slowed or reversed. Here, we examine counts of Egyptian and Red-headed Vultures obtained on road transects in and near protected areas between 1992 and 2011. We found indications that the declines in both species appear to have slowed and possibly increased after the ban was introduced, though the small numbers of birds counted make this conclusion less robust than that for the Gyps species. These results suggest that both species may have been adversely impacted by diclofenac and that government bans on this drug, which are beginning to take effect, may benefit a wider range of vulture species in the Indian subcontinent than was previously thought.
Several factors threaten populations of albatrosses and giant petrels, including the impact of fisheries bycatch and, at some colonies, predation from introduced mammals. We undertook population monitoring on Gough Island of three albatross species (Tristan albatross Diomedea dabbenena L., sooty albatross Phoebetria fusca Hilsenberg, Atlantic yellow-nosed albatross Thalassarche chlororhynchos Gmelin) and southern giant petrels Macronectes giganteus (Gmelin). Over the study period, numbers of the Critically Endangered Tristan albatross decreased at 3.0% a year. Breeding success for this species was low (23%), and in eight count areas was correlated (r2 = 0.808) with rates of population decline, demonstrating chick predation by house mice Mus musculus L. is driving site-specific trends and an overall decline. Numbers of southern giant petrels were stable, contrasting with large increases in this small population since 1979. Significant population declines were not detected for either the Atlantic yellow-nosed or sooty albatross, however, caution should be applied to these results due to the small proportion of the population monitored (sooty albatross) and significant interannual variation in numbers. These trends confirm the Critically Endangered status of the Tristan albatross but further information, including a more accurate estimate of sooty albatross population size, is required before determining island wide and global population trends of the remaining species.
Satellite transmitters were attached to eight adult spectacled petrels Procellaria conspicillata Gould captured during the early incubation period at their breeding grounds on Inaccessible Island, one of the Tristan da Cunha Islands in the central South Atlantic Ocean. Data on their at-sea distribution was obtained for up to six months. All birds remained within the South Atlantic from 24–44°S, with most between 25 and 40°S. Breeding birds mainly foraged in oceanic waters, but failed breeders or non-breeders concentrated their foraging activity over the Rio Grande Rise and the Walvis Ridge and along the shelf break off the east coast of South America. Little foraging occurred along the Benguela shelf break off southern Africa. Non-breeders favoured relatively warm water with low chlorophyll concentrations, reducing the risk of bycatch in fisheries. Tracked birds spent 16% of their time in areas with high levels of tuna longline fishing activity, with overlap greater for non-breeding birds (22%) than breeding birds (3%). Birds in this study foraged in shallower waters along the continental shelf edge off South America than spectacled petrels tracked in this area in winter, potentially increasing their risk of exposure to demersal longline fisheries in this area in summer.
The predatory behaviour of introduced house mice Mus musculus at Gough Island is known to impact on albatross and petrels, resulting in the Tristan Albatross Diomedea dabbenena and Atlantic Petrel Pterodroma incerta being listed as “Critically Endangered” and “Endangered”, respectively. Although predation has been documented for two burrowing petrels and one albatross species, the impact of house mice on other burrowing petrels on Gough Island is unknown. We report burrow occupancy and breeding success of Atlantic Petrels, Soft-plumaged Petrels Pterodroma mollis, Broad-billed Prions Pachyptila vittata, Grey Petrels Procellaria cinerea and Great Shearwaters Puffinus gravis. With the exception of the Great Shearwater, breeding parameters of burrowing petrels at Gough Island were very poor, with low burrow occupancy (range 4–42%) and low breeding success (0–44%) for four species, and high rates of chick mortality in Atlantic Petrel burrows. Breeding success decreased with mass, suggesting that smaller species are hardest hit, and winter-breeding species had lower breeding success than summer breeders. The results indicate that introduced house mice are having a detrimental impact on a wider range of species than previously recorded and are likely to be causing population declines among most burrowing petrels on Gough Island. The very low values of burrow occupancy recorded for Soft-plumaged Petrels and Broad-billed Prions and greatly reduced abundance of burrowing petrels in comparison to earlier decades indicate that Gough Island’s formerly abundant petrel populations are greatly threatened by the impact of predatory house mice which can only be halted by the eradication of this species from the island.
Asian vultures have undergone dramatic declines of 90–99% in the Indian Subcontinent, as a consequence of poisoning by veterinary use of the drug diclofenac, and are at a high risk of extinction. Cambodia supports one of the only populations of three species (White-rumped Vulture Gyps bengalensis, Slender-billed Vulture G. tenuirostris and Red-headed Vulture Sarcogyps calvus) outside of South Asia where diclofenac use is not widespread. Conservation of the Cambodian sub-populations is therefore a global priority. This study analyses the results of a long-term research programme into Cambodian vultures that was initiated in 2004. Population sizes of each species are estimated at 50–200+ individuals, ranging across an area of approximately 300 km by 250 km, including adjacent areas in Laos and Vietnam. The principal causes of vulture mortality were poisoning (73%), probably as an accidental consequence of local hunting and fishing practices, and hunting or capture for traditional medicine (15%). This represents a significant loss from such a small population of long-lived, slow breeding, species such as vultures. Cambodian vultures are severely food limited and are primarily dependent on domestic ungulate carcasses, as wild ungulate populations have been severely depleted over the past 20 years. Local people across the vulture range still follow traditional animal husbandry practices, including releasing livestock into the open deciduous dipterocarp forest areas when they are not needed for work, providing the food source. Reducing threats through limiting the use of poisons (which are also harmful for human health) and supplementary food provisioning in the short to medium-term through ‘vulture restaurants’ is critical if Cambodian vultures are to be conserved.
Three species of resident Gyps vulture are threatened with extinction in South Asia due to the contamination of domestic ungulate carcasses with the drug diclofenac. Observed rates of population decrease are among the highest recorded for any bird species, leading to total declines in excess of 99.9% for the Oriental White-backed Vulture Gyps bengalensis in India between 1992 and 2007. Vultures have declined in Nepal, but quantitative information on the rate and scale of decreases is unavailable. Road transect surveys for vultures, following the same route, methodology and timing, were undertaken in lowland areas of Nepal for seven years from 2002 to 2011. The seven survey transects followed Nepal’s East-West highway and covered 1,010 km in three years of the survey, and 638 km in the remaining four years. Slender-billed Vultures G. tenuirostris were very scarce, with a maximum of five individuals in 2002 and none recorded in 2010 and 2011. Oriental White-backed Vultures were most commonly recorded, but decreased from 205 to 68 birds over the survey period, with an estimated annual rate of decline of 14% a year. If population decreases commenced in Nepal in the same year as in India, then White-backed Vultures in Nepal have declined by 91% since the mid-1990s. Few resident Gyps vultures remained in Eastern and Central regions of Nepal, with just one, nine and six birds recorded in the three surveys that covered these regions. The majority of threatened Gyps vultures in lowland Nepal are now found in Western and Mid Western regions, where conservation efforts have been focused in the last six years. Removing veterinary diclofenac from across the country and continuing to manage effective “vulture safe zones” are essential to conserve Nepal’s remaining vulture populations.
Use of the veterinary drug diclofenac is responsible for bringing three species of Gyps vultures endemic to South Asia to the brink of extinction, and the Government of India banned veterinary use of the drug in May 2006. To evaluate the effectiveness of the ban we undertook surveys of > 250 veterinary and general pharmacies in 11 Indian states from November 2007 to June 2010. Twelve different classes of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) were purchased from 176 pharmacies. Other than meloxicam (of negligible toxicity to vultures at likely concentrations in their food), diclofenac and ketoprofen (both toxic to vultures), little is known of the safety or toxicity of the remaining nine NSAIDs on sale. Meloxicam was the most commonly encountered drug, sold in 70% of pharmacies, but 50% of the meloxicam brands sold had paracetamol (acetaminophen) as a second ingredient. Diclofenac and ketoprofen were recorded in 36 and 29% of pharmacies, respectively, with states in western and central India having the highest prevalence of diclofenac (44–45%). Although the large number of manufacturers and availability of meloxicam is encouraging, the wide range of untested NSAIDs and continued availability of diclofenac is a major source of concern. Circumvention of the 2006 diclofenac ban is being achieved by illegally selling forms of diclofenac manufactured for human use for veterinary purposes. To provide a safer environment for vultures in South Asia we recommend reducing the size of vials of diclofenac meant for human use, to increase the costs of illegal veterinary use, and taking action against pharmaceutical manufacturers and pharmacies flouting the diclofenac ban.
Around 80% of the world population of Northern Rockhopper Penguin Eudyptes moseleyi is found at Tristan da Cunha and Gough Island in the South Atlantic Ocean, where populations appear to be declining. However, numbers of birds at Middle Island, a small satellite island of Nightingale Island at Tristan Cunha, have not been counted since 1973 when an estimated 100,000 pairs were recorded. Updated population counts were obtained for all four islands at Tristan da Cunha (Tristan, Inaccessible, Nightingale and Middle islands) in 2009 providing a census of the whole island group and the first repeat count of Middle Island. Estimated breeding numbers at these four islands were Tristan 6,700 pairs, Inaccessible 54,000 pairs, Nightingale 25,000 pairs and 83,000 pairs at Middle Island. These counts confirm that Tristan da Cunha is a vitally important site for this ?Endangered? species holding over 65% of the global population and that breeding number have been relatively stable over the last 30 years.
Populations of the recently split Northern Rockhopper Penguin Eudyptes moseleyi are restricted to Tristan da Cunha and Gough Island in the South Atlantic, and Amsterdam and St Paul in the Indian Ocean. The majority of the population is in the Atlantic (> 80%), but population trends at Tristan da Cunha and Gough are uncertain. Early records indicate “millions” of penguins used to occur at Tristan da Cunha and Gough Island. The most recent estimates indicate declines in excess of 90% for both Gough and the main island of Tristan that have occurred over at least 45 and 130 years, respectively. Numbers breeding at Inaccessible and Nightingale islands (TDC) also may have declined since the 1970s, albeit modestly, whereas numbers on Tristan appear stable over the last few decades. Current population estimates are 32,000–65,000 pairs at Gough, 18–27,000 at Inaccessible, 19,500 at Nightingale, and 3,200–4,500 at Tristan. Numbers and trends at Middle Island (TDC) are unknown. Middle Island supported an estimated 100,000 pairs in 1973, and recent observations suggest this colony is being impacted by competition for space with recently recolonising Subantarctic Fur Seals Arctocephalus tropicalis. Past human exploitation and the impact of introduced predators may be responsible for the historical decline in numbers at Tristan, but these factors cannot explain the sharp decrease (since the 1950s) at Gough Island. Overall, declines at Gough, Tristan, Nightingale and Inaccessible islands indicate a three-generation decline of > 50%. Taken in combination with recent decreases in Indian Ocean populations, the Northern Rockhopper Penguins is now categorised as globally ‘Endangered’. Determining the causal factors responsible for these recent declines is an urgent priority.