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Assessing the impacts of invasive predators on the demography and distribution of native species is critical for understanding mechanisms of species persistence and informing the design of recovery programmes. On the oceanic island of Guam, the introduction of the predatory brown treesnake Boiga irregularis after World War II caused the near-total loss of the native forest avifauna. Localised snake control measures have been implemented since the early 1990s, yet it remains poorly understood how they have impacted Guam’s remaining native bird populations. To address this question, we combined intensive area searches of Andersen Air Force Base (AAFB) with island-wide transect surveys and opportunistic sightings to provide a comprehensive update on the distribution and abundance of Såli (Micronesian Starling, Aplonis opaca) – one of Guam’s last extant native bird species. Area searches of AAFB, where the largest remnant of the Såli population persists, revealed a 15-fold population increase since the last survey in the early 1990s, and transect surveys and opportunistic sightings indicate incipient recolonisation of other urbanised areas of northern and central Guam. We estimate the current island-wide population size at ~1,400 individuals. The population increase can likely be attributed to a combination of snake control measures and the Såli’s ability to exploit urban refugia for nesting and roosting. Although these trends demonstrate some population recovery, a skewed age ratio (>90% adults and subadults) at AAFB and a highly urbanised distribution and low abundance outside AAFB indicate that snake predation continues to strongly impact the population. More intensive snake suppression efforts, particularly in forested areas, may allow for the Såli population to attain its former distribution and abundance on Guam. More broadly, our findings reinforce the importance of urban areas as refugia for some threatened species.
The rocky shores of the north-east Atlantic have been long studied. Our focus is from Gibraltar to Norway plus the Azores and Iceland. Phylogeographic processes shape biogeographic patterns of biodiversity. Long-term and broadscale studies have shown the responses of biota to past climate fluctuations and more recent anthropogenic climate change. Inter- and intra-specific species interactions along sharp local environmental gradients shape distributions and community structure and hence ecosystem functioning. Shifts in domination by fucoids in shelter to barnacles/mussels in exposure are mediated by grazing by patellid limpets. Further south fucoids become increasingly rare, with species disappearing or restricted to estuarine refuges, caused by greater desiccation and grazing pressure. Mesoscale processes influence bottom-up nutrient forcing and larval supply, hence affecting species abundance and distribution, and can be proximate factors setting range edges (e.g., the English Channel, the Iberian Peninsula). Impacts of invasive non-native species are reviewed. Knowledge gaps such as the work on rockpools and host–parasite dynamics are also outlined.
Neuropsychological assessment aims to identify individual performance profiles in multiple domains of cognitive functioning; however, substantial variation exists in how deficits are defined and what cutoffs are used, and there is no universally accepted definition of neuropsychological impairment. The aim of this study was to derive and validate a clinical case definition rule to identify neuropsychological impairment in children and adolescents. An existing normative pediatric sample was used to calculate base rates of abnormal functioning on eight measures covering six domains of neuropsychological functioning. The dataset was analyzed by varying the range of cutoff levels [1, 1.5, and 2 standard deviations (SDs) below the mean] and number of indicators of impairment. The derived rule was evaluated by bootstrap, internal and external clinical validation (orthopedic and traumatic brain injury). Our neuropsychological impairment (NPI) rule was defined as “two or more test scores that fall 1.5 SDs below the mean.” The rule identifies 5.1% of the total sample as impaired in the assessment battery and consistently targets between 3 and 7% of the population as impaired even when age, domains, and number of tests are varied. The NPI rate increases in groups known to exhibit cognitive deficits. The NPI rule provides a psychometrically derived method for interpreting performance across multiple tests and may be used in children 6–18 years. The rule may be useful to clinicians and scientists who wish to establish whether specific individuals or clinical populations present within expected norms versus impaired function across a battery of neuropsychological tests. (JINS, 2015, 21, 596–609)
The Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory (DRAO) is carrying out a survey as part of an international collaboration to image the northe, at a common resolution, in emission from all major constituents of the interstellar medium; the neutral atomic gas, the molecular gas, the ionised gas, dust and relativistic plasma. For many of these constituents the angular resolution of the images (1 arcmin) will be more than a factor of 10 better than any previous studies. The aim is to produce a publicly-available database of high resolution, high-dynamic range images of the Galaxy for multi-phase studies of the physical states and processes in the interstellar medium. We will sketch the main scientific motivations as well as describe some preliminary results from the Canadian Galactic Plane Survey/Releve Canadien du Plan Galactique (CGPS/RCPG).
The lifetime performance and reliability of photovoltaic (PV) modules are critical factors in their successful deployment. Interfaces in thin film PV, such as that between the transparent conductive oxide (TCO) electrode and the absorber layer, are frequently an avenue for degradation; this degradation is promoted by exposure to environmental stressors such as irradiance, heat and humidity. Understanding and suppressing TCO degradation is critical to improving stability and extending the lifetime. Commercially available indium tin oxide (ITO), fluorine doped tin oxide (FTO) and aluminum doped zinc oxide (AZO) were exposed to damp heat (DH), ASTM G154 cycle 4, and modified ASTM G154 for up to 1000 hours. The TCOs’ electrical and optical properties and surface energies were determined before and after each exposure and their relative degradation classified. Data demonstrate that AZO degraded most rapidly of all the TCOs, whereas ITO and FTO degraded at lower to non-quantifiable rates. One approach to suppress degradation could be to use interfacial layers (IFLs), including organofunctional silane layers, to modify the TCO. We modified the TCO surfaces using a variety of organofunctional silanes, and determined a range of surface energies could be obtained without affecting the electrical and optical properties of the TCO. Degradation studies of TCOs with a silane layer were also conducted. We found that an inhomogeneous silane layer was able to delay the resistivity increase for ITO in DH.
The science of extra-solar planets is one of the most rapidly changing areas of astrophysics and since 1995 the number of planets known has increased by almost two orders of magnitude. A combination of ground-based surveys and dedicated space missions has resulted in 560-plus planets being detected, and over 1200 that await confirmation. NASA's Kepler mission has opened up the possibility of discovering Earth-like planets in the habitable zone around some of the 100,000 stars it is surveying during its 3 to 4-year lifetime. The new ESA's Gaia mission is expected to discover thousands of new planets around stars within 200 parsecs of the Sun. The key challenge now is moving on from discovery, important though that remains, to characterisation: what are these planets actually like, and why are they as they are?
In the past ten years, we have learned how to obtain the first spectra of exoplanets using transit transmission and emission spectroscopy. With the high stability of Spitzer, Hubble, and large ground-based telescopes the spectra of bright close-in massive planets can be obtained and species like water vapour, methane, carbon monoxide and dioxide have been detected. With transit science came the first tangible remote sensing of these planetary bodies and so one can start to extrapolate from what has been learnt from Solar System probes to what one might plan to learn about their faraway siblings. As we learn more about the atmospheres, surfaces and near-surfaces of these remote bodies, we will begin to build up a clearer picture of their construction, history and suitability for life.
The Exoplanet Characterisation Observatory, EChO, will be the first dedicated mission to investigate the physics and chemistry of Exoplanetary Atmospheres. By characterising spectroscopically more bodies in different environments we will take detailed planetology out of the Solar System and into the Galaxy as a whole.
EChO has now been selected by the European Space Agency to be assessed as one of four M3 mission candidates.