ResearchPad - earth-sciences https://www.researchpad.co Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[Assessing entomological risk factors for arboviral disease transmission in the French Territory of the Wallis and Futuna Islands]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_13872 The French overseas Territory of the Wallis and Futuna Islands, located in the South Pacific, has been affected by several dengue epidemics, but did not face Zika or chikungunya outbreaks, unlike other neighboring islands. The near-exclusive presence of the Aedes polynesiensis mosquito in the islands of Wallis and Futuna confirmed the role played by this mosquito as a vector of dengue fever. A local Ae. polynesiensis population was recently shown to be able to transmit the Zika virus under experimental conditions, but its susceptibility to the chikungunya virus was still unknown, and recent data on the presence of other potential arbovirus vectors were missing. Therefore, we investigated the entomological risk factors for the transmission of arboviral diseases in the Wallis and Futuna Islands. We reported the occurrence and distribution of different Aedes species, especially the abundant presence of Ae. polynesiensis across the territory and the spread of Ae. aegypti in the island of Wallis. Our results demonstrated the ability of local Ae. polynesiensis populations to transmit the chikungunya virus. These findings highlight the risk of arbovirus transmission in the Wallis and Futuna Islands and provide relevant data to guide prevention and vector control strategies in the territory.

]]>
<![CDATA[A network analysis of research productivity by country, discipline, and wealth]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_13855 Research productivity has been linked to a country’s intellectual and economic wealth. Further analysis is needed to assess the association between the distribution of research across disciplines and the economic status of countries.MethodsBy using 55 years of data, spanning 1962 to 2017, of Elsevier publications across a large set of research disciplines and countries globally, this manuscript explores the relationship and evolution of relative research productivity across different disciplines through a network analysis. It also explores the associations of those with economic productivity categories, as measured by the World Bank economic classification. Additional analysis of discipline similarities is possible by exploring the cross-country evolution of those disciplines.ResultsResults show similarities in the relative importance of research disciplines among most high-income countries, with larger idiosyncrasies appearing among the remaining countries. This group of high-income countries shows similarities in the dynamics of the relative distribution of research productivity over time, forming a stable research productivity cluster. Lower income countries form smaller, more independent and evolving clusters, and differ significantly from each other and from higher income countries in the relative importance of their research emphases. Country-based similarities in research productivity profiles also appear to be influenced by geographical proximity.ConclusionsThis new form of analyses of research productivity, and its relation to economic status, reveals novel insights to the dynamics of the economic and research structure of countries. This allows for a deeper understanding of the role a country’s research structure may play in shaping its economy, and also identification of benchmark resource allocations across disciplines for developing countries. ]]> <![CDATA[Impacts of host gender on <i>Schistosoma mansoni</i> risk in rural Uganda—A mixed-methods approach]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_13851 Globally, over 230 million people are infected with schistosomiasis, an infectious disease caused by parasitic helminths. Humans can get infected when they contact water which contains Schistosoma parasites. Although the disease can be treated with a drug, people get rapidly reinfected in certain high-transmission settings. Drug treatment alone may not be sufficient to eliminate this disease and additional interventions such as health promotion or improvements in water and sanitation need to be scaled up. To provide recommendations to these control programmes we carried out interdisciplinary research in Eastern Uganda to understand the influence of gender on schistosomiasis risk. We found that the water contact behaviour of boys and girls is quite similar, and we did not see differences in reinfection or genetic diversity of the parasite between boys and girls. Differences in water contact between genders is greater in adults, and further research is required for these individuals. In this setting, infection rates are high in school-aged children and there are no differences between genders. These results emphasise improved control efforts for all school-aged children in communities like these. Our interdisciplinary approach provided complementary findings. Such an integrated approach can therefore have more power to meaningfully inform policy on schistosomiasis control.

]]>
<![CDATA[Comparability of modern contraceptive use estimates between a face-to-face survey and a cellphone survey among women in Burkina Faso]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_13849 The proliferation of cell phone ownership in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) presents the opportunity to collect public health indicators at a lower cost compared to face-to-face (FTF) surveys. This analysis assesses the equivalence of modern contraceptive prevalence estimates between a nationally representative FTF survey and a cell phone survey using random digit dialing (RDD) among women of reproductive age in Burkina Faso.MethodsWe analyzed data from two surveys conducted in Burkina Faso between December 2017 and May 2018. The FTF survey conducted by Performance Monitoring and Accountability (PMA2020) comprised a nationally representative sample of 3,556 women of reproductive age (15–49 years). The RDD survey was conducted using computer-assisted telephone interviewing and included 2,379 women of reproductive age.ResultsCompared to FTF respondents, women in the RDD sample were younger, were more likely to have a secondary degree and to speak French. RDD respondents were more likely to report using modern contraceptive use (40%) compared to FTF respondents (26%) and the difference remained unchanged after applying post-stratification weights to the RDD sample (39%). This difference surpassed the equivalence margin of 4%. The RDD sample also produced higher estimates of contraceptive use than the subsample of women who owned a phone in the FTF sample (32%). After adjusting for women’s sociodemographic factors, the odds of contraceptive use were 1.9 times higher (95% CI: 1.6–2.2) in the RDD survey compared to the FTF survey and 1.6 times higher (95% CI: 1.3–1.8) compared to FTF phone owners.ConclusionsModern contraceptive prevalence in Burkina Faso is over-estimated when using a cell phone RDD survey, even after adjusting for a number of sociodemographic factors. Further research should explore causes of differential estimates of modern contraceptive use by survey modes. ]]> <![CDATA[Investigating barriers and challenges to the integrated management of neglected tropical skin diseases in an endemic setting in Nigeria]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_13828 Community perceptions of causation of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) of the skin may play an important role in access to or utilization of health services. The World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended empowerment of populations affected by or at risk of NTDs in control interventions. Furthermore, the WHO recommends that social mobilisation needs to be maintained in order to create demand for integrated management of skin NTDs and to address specific community aspects and concerns related to the diseases. There are no studies on community knowledge, attitudes and practices (KAP) on skin NTDs co-occurring in the same community in Nigeria. We surveyed community members and health workers and also held group discussions with community members, health workers and individuals with lymphatic filariasis and Buruli ulcer in order to assess their understanding of the causes, treatment and effects of the skin NTDs (leprosy, Buruli ulcer and lymphatic filariasis) which were all occurring in the study communities. There was a shared understanding that these NTDs were caused by germ/infection or through witchcraft/curse/poison. Also, a substantial proportion of the community believed that these conditions are not amenable to treatment. The focus group discussions reinforced these findings.

]]>
<![CDATA[Mesh smoothing algorithm based on exterior angles split]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_13823 Since meshes of poor quality give rise to low accuracy in finite element analysis and kinds of inconveniences in many other applications, mesh smoothing is widely used as an essential technique for the improvement of mesh quality. With respect to this issue, the main contribution of this paper is that a novel mesh smoothing method based on an exterior-angle-split process is proposed. The proposed method contains three main stages: the first stage is independent element geometric transformation performed by exterior-angle-split operations, treating elements unconnected; the second stage is to offset scaling and displacement induced by element transformation; the third stage is to determine the final positions of nodes with a weighted strategy. Theoretical proof describes the regularity of this method and many numerical experiments illustrate its convergence. Not only is this method applicable for triangular mesh, but also can be naturally extended to arbitrary polygonal surface mesh. Quality improvements of demonstrations on triangular and quadrilateral meshes show the effectiveness of this method.

]]>
<![CDATA[Instigation of indigenous thermophilic bacterial consortia for enhanced oil recovery from high temperature oil reservoirs]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_13812 The purpose of the study involves the development of an anaerobic, thermophilic microbial consortium TERIK from the high temperature reservoir of Gujarat for enhance oil recovery. To isolate indigenous microbial consortia, anaerobic baltch media were prepared and inoculated with the formation water; incubated at 65°C for 10 days. Further, the microbial metabolites were analyzed by gas chromatography, FTIR and surface tension. The efficiency of isolated consortia towards enhancing oil recovery was analyzed through core flood assay. The novelty of studied consortia was that, it produces biomass (600 mg/l), bio-surfactant (325 mg/l), and volatile fatty acids (250 mg/l) at 65°C in the span of 10 days, that are adequate to alter the surface tension (70 to 34 mNm -1) and sweep efficiency of zones facilitating the displacement of oil. TERIK was identified as Clostridium sp. The FTIR spectra of biosurfactant indicate the presence of N-H stretch, amides and polysaccharide. A core flooding assay was designed to explore the potential of TERIK towards enhancing oil recovery. The results showed an effective reduction in permeability at residual oil saturation from 2.14 ± 0.1 to 1.39 ± 0.05 mD and 19% incremental oil recovery.

]]>
<![CDATA[Forecasting the monthly incidence rate of brucellosis in west of Iran using time series and data mining from 2010 to 2019]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_13811 The identification of statistical models for the accurate forecast and timely determination of the outbreak of infectious diseases is very important for the healthcare system. Thus, this study was conducted to assess and compare the performance of four machine-learning methods in modeling and forecasting brucellosis time series data based on climatic parameters.MethodsIn this cohort study, human brucellosis cases and climatic parameters were analyzed on a monthly basis for the Qazvin province–located in northwestern Iran- over a period of 9 years (2010–2018). The data were classified into two subsets of education (80%) and testing (20%). Artificial neural network methods (radial basis function and multilayer perceptron), support vector machine and random forest were fitted to each set. Performance analysis of the models were done using the Root Mean Square Error (RMSE), Mean Absolute Error (MAE), Mean Absolute Root Error (MARE), and R2 criteria.ResultsThe incidence rate of the brucellosis in Qazvin province was 27.43 per 100,000 during 2010–2019. Based on our results, the values of the RMSE (0.22), MAE (0.175), MARE (0.007) criteria were smaller for the multilayer perceptron neural network than their values in the other three models. Moreover, the R2 (0.99) value was bigger in this model. Therefore, the multilayer perceptron neural network exhibited better performance in forecasting the studied data. The average wind speed and mean temperature were the most effective climatic parameters in the incidence of this disease.ConclusionsThe multilayer perceptron neural network can be used as an effective method in detecting the behavioral trend of brucellosis over time. Nevertheless, further studies focusing on the application and comparison of these methods are needed to detect the most appropriate forecast method for this disease. ]]> <![CDATA[Examination of the ocean as a source for atmospheric microplastics]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_13804 Global plastic litter pollution has been increasing alongside demand since plastic products gained commercial popularity in the 1930’s. Current plastic pollutant research has generally assumed that once plastics enter the ocean they are there to stay, retained permanently within the ocean currents, biota or sediment until eventual deposition on the sea floor or become washed up onto the beach. In contrast to this, we suggest it appears that some plastic particles could be leaving the sea and entering the atmosphere along with sea salt, bacteria, virus’ and algae. This occurs via the process of bubble burst ejection and wave action, for example from strong wind or sea state turbulence. In this manuscript we review evidence from the existing literature which is relevant to this theory and follow this with a pilot study which analyses microplastics (MP) in sea spray. Here we show first evidence of MP particles, analysed by μRaman, in marine boundary layer air samples on the French Atlantic coast during both onshore (average of 2.9MP/m3) and offshore (average of 9.6MP/m3) winds. Notably, during sampling, the convergence of sea breeze meant our samples were dominated by sea spray, increasing our capacity to sample MPs if they were released from the sea. Our results indicate a potential for MPs to be released from the marine environment into the atmosphere by sea-spray giving a globally extrapolated figure of 136000 ton/yr blowing on shore.

]]>
<![CDATA[Adaptive genetic diversity and evidence of population genetic structure in the endangered Sierra Madre Sparrow (<i>Xenospiza baileyi</i>)]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_11235 The magnitude and distribution of genetic diversity through space and time can provide useful information relating to evolutionary potential and conservation status in threatened species. In assessing genetic diversity in species that are of conservation concern, several studies have focused on the use of Toll-like receptors (TLRs). TLRs are innate immune genes related to pathogen resistance, and polymorphisms may reflect not only levels of functional diversity, but may also be used to assess genetic diversity within and among populations. Here, we combined four potentially adaptive markers (TLRs) with one mitochondrial (COI) marker to evaluate genetic variation in the endangered Sierra Madre Sparrow (Xenospiza baileyi). This species offers an ideal model to investigate population and evolutionary genetic processes that may be occurring in a habitat restricted endangered species with disjunct populations (Mexico City and Durango), the census sizes of which differ by an order of magnitude. TLRs diversity in the Sierra Madre Sparrow was relatively high, which was not expected given its two small, geographically isolated populations. Genetic diversity was different (but not significantly so) between the two populations, with less diversity seen in the smaller Durango population. Population genetic structure between populations was due to isolation and different selective forces acting on different TLRs; population structure was also evident in COI. Reduction of genetic diversity in COI was observed over 20 years in the Durango population, a result likely caused by habitat loss, a factor which may be the main cause of diversity decline generally. Our results provide information related to the ways in which adaptive variation can be altered by demographic changes due to human-mediated habitat alterations. Furthermore, our findings may help to guide conservation schemes for both populations and their restricted habitat.

]]>
<![CDATA[Stereoscopic optimization of industrial structure of the equipment manufacturing industry from the perspective of collaborative emissions reduction: Evidence from China]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_11230 Equipment manufacturing industry is one of the major industries of the Chinese economy. Previous researches have revealed that the industry has dilemmas of unreasonable industrial structure and high pollution. Using the data of 30 provinces in 2006-2015 in China, this study calculated a comprehensive pollution indicator when estimating the possible pollution reduction brought by the optimization of industrial structure and then evaluated the reasonable level of capital allocation of provinces and industries by using the methods of nonlinear programming and stochastic frontier method. Under the target of collaborative emission reduction, the results show that the optimized output of China’s equipment manufacturing industry could be increased by 5.42%, the energy intensity could be reduced by about 10.4%, and the comprehensive emission intensity could be reduced by about 7.47%. Due to the industry heterogeneity and regional heterogeneity, industrial capacity should be transferred between industries and regions. Since the capital investment in the equipment manufacturing industry is significantly mismatched between industries and regions, the capital allocation of provincial industries in China needs to be adjusted properly. This study provides theoretically and practically reference for collaborative pollution reduction, industry restructure, spatial layout and capital investment, which contributes to achieving the stereoscopic optimization of equipment manufacturing industry.

]]>
<![CDATA[Sustainability management of short-lived freshwater fish in human-altered ecosystems should focus on adult survival]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_7859 Fish populations globally are susceptible to endangerment through exploitation and habitat loss. We present theoretical simulations to explore how reduced adult survival (age truncation) might affect short-lived freshwater fish species in human-altered contemporary environments. Our simulations evaluate two hypothetical "average fish" and five example fish species of age 1 or age 2 maturity. From a population equilibrium baseline representing a natural, unaltered environment we impose systematic reductions in adult survival and quantify how age truncation affects the causes of variation in population growth rate. We estimate the relative contributions to population growth rate arising from simulated temporal variation in age-specific vital rates and population structure. At equilibrium and irrespective of example species, population structure (first adult age class) and survival probability of the first two adult age classes are the most important determinants of population growth. As adult survival decreases, the first reproductive age class becomes increasingly important to variation in population growth. All simulated examples show the same general pattern of change with age truncation as known for exploited, longer-lived fish species in marine and freshwater environments. This implies age truncation is a general potential concern for fish biodiversity across life history strategies and ecosystems. Managers of short-lived, freshwater fishes in contemporary environments often focus on supporting reproduction to ensure population persistence. However, a strong focus on water management to support reproduction may reduce adult survival. Sustainability management needs a focus on mitigating adult mortality in human-altered ecosystems. A watershed spatial extent embracing land and water uses may be necessary to identify and mitigate causes of age truncation in freshwater species. Achieving higher adult survival will require paradigm transformations in society and government about water management priorities.

]]>
<![CDATA[The 2015-2016 El Niño increased infection parameters of copepods on Eastern Tropical Pacific dolphinfish populations]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_7672 The oceanographic conditions of the Pacific Ocean are largely modified by El Niño (EN), affecting several ecological processes. Parasites and other marine organisms respond to environmental variation, but the influence of the EN cycle on the seasonal variation of parasitic copepods has not been yet evaluated. We analysed the relation between infection parameters (prevalence and mean intensity) of the widespread parasitic copepods Caligus bonito and Charopinopsis quaternia in the dolphinfish Coryphaena hippurus and oceanography during the strong 2015–16 EN. Fish were collected from capture fisheries on the Ecuadorian coast (Tropical Eastern Pacific) over a 2-year period. Variations of sea surface temperature (SST), salinity, chlorophyll a (Chl-a), Oceanic Niño Index (ONI), total host length (TL) and monthly infection parameters of both copepod species were analysed using time series and cross-correlations. We used the generalised additive models for determine the relationship between environmental variables and infection parameters. The total body length of the ovigerous females and the length of the eggs of C. bonito were measured in both periods. Infection parameters of both C. bonito and Ch. quaternia showed seasonal and annual patterns associated with the variation of environmental variables examined (SST, salinity, Chl-a and ONI 1+2). Infection parameters of both copepod species were significantly correlated with ONI 1+2, SST, TL and Chl-a throughout the GAMLSS model, and the explained deviance contribution ranged from 16%-36%. Our results suggest than an anomaly higher than +0.5°C triggers a risen in infection parameters of both parasitic copepods. This risen could be related to increases in egg length, female numbers and the total length of the ovigerous females in EN period. This study provides the first evidence showing that tropical parasitic copepods are sensitive to the influence of EN event, especially from SST variations. The observed behaviour of parasitic copepods likely affects the host populations and structure of the marine ecosystem at different scales.

]]>
<![CDATA[Wing morphology predicts individual niche specialization in <i>Pteronotus mesoamericanus</i> (Mammalia: Chiroptera)]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_7639 Morphological variation between individuals can increase niche segregation and decrease intraspecific competition when heterogeneous individuals explore their environment in different ways. Among bat species, wing shape correlates with flight maneuverability and habitat use, with species that possess broader wings typically foraging in more cluttered habitats. However, few studies have investigated the role of morphological variation in bats for niche partitioning at the individual level. To determine the relationship between wing shape and diet, we studied a population of the insectivorous bat species Pteronotus mesoamericanus in the dry forest of Costa Rica. Individual diet was resolved using DNA metabarcoding, and bat wing shape was assessed using geometric morphometric analysis. Inter-individual variation in wing shape showed a significant relationship with both dietary dissimilarity based on Bray-Curtis estimates, and nestedness derived from an ecological network. Individual bats with broader and more rounded wings were found to feed on a greater diversity of arthropods (less nested) in comparison to individuals with triangular and pointed wings (more nested). We conclude that individual variation in bat wing morphology can impact foraging efficiency leading to the observed overall patterns of diet specialization and differentiation within the population.

]]>
<![CDATA[Paleogenetic study on the 17th century Korean mummy with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5aafccf3463d7e7f05234537

While atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) is known to be common among modern people exposed to various risk factors, recent paleopathological studies have shown that it affected ancient populations much more frequently than expected. In 2010, we investigated a 17th century Korean female mummy with presumptive ASCVD signs. Although the resulting report was a rare and invaluable conjecture on the disease status of an ancient East Asian population, the diagnosis had been based only on anatomical and radiological techniques, and so could not confirm the existence of ASCVD in the mummy. In the present study, we thus performed a paleogenetic analysis to supplement the previous conventional diagnosis of ASCVD. In aDNA extracted from the same Korean mummy, we identified the risk alleles of seven different SNPs (rs5351, rs10757274, rs2383206, rs2383207, rs10757278, rs4380028 and rs1333049) that had already been revealed to be the major risk loci of ASCVD in East Asian populations. The reliability of this study could be enhanced by cross-validation using two different analyses: Sanger and SNaPshot techniques. We were able to establish that the 17th century Korean female had a strong genetic predisposition to increased risk of ASCVD. The current paleogenetic diagnosis, the first of its kind outside Europe, re-confirms its utility as an adjunct modality for confirmatory diagnosis of ancient ASCVD.

]]>
<![CDATA[The applicability of recreation-grade GNSS receiver (GPS watch, Suunto Ambit Peak 3) in a forested and an open area compared to a mapping-grade receiver (Trimble Juno T41)]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N8984bd8b-66a6-4b6e-8af7-92a53859b107

Due to developments in global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) and the miniaturization of their components, the usage of Global Positioning System (GPS) is no longer restricted to professional applications, but has become available in various consumer type devices, such as wristwatches. These commercial devices, however, were primarily designed for tracking activities in predominately urban settings and their accuracy has not been tested in forested areas. In this study, we present an assessment of the positional accuracy of a GPS watch (Ambit Peak 3, Suunto, Finland) under different forest cover types, seasons and meteorological conditions within the Whitehall Forest GPS Test Site located in Athens, Georgia, USA. As a standard of comparison, the performance of the GPS watch measurements was juxtaposed to that of a mapping-grade receiver (Juno T41, Trimble Inc., USA). In this study, we analyzed the differences between the determined and control positions using root-mean-square-error (RMSE), along with the distribution of observed positions through the standard deviational ellipse. The results suggest that the seasonal variations contributed to a statistically significant impact on the RMSE values for the GPS watch. However, there were no statistically significant differences in horizontal position accuracy by forest cover-type when using the GPS watch. Furthermore, no significant differences were found in horizontal position accuracy during the leaf-off period between the RMSE values for the GPS watch and those of the mapping-grade receiver. Lastly, the positional accuracies for both types of receivers were found to be weakly, but significantly correlated with fluctuations in air temperature and absolute humidity.

]]>
<![CDATA[Partition dependence in financial aid distribution to income categories]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N0611b39b-d559-4542-a5d9-a69c54a62df4

When allocating resources, people often diversify across categories even when those categories are arbitrary, such that allocations differ when identical sets of options are partitioned differently (“partition dependence”). The first goal of the present work (Experiment 1) was to replicate an experiment by Fox and colleagues in which graduate students exhibited partition dependence when asked how university financial aid should be allocated across arbitrarily partitioned income brackets. Our sample consisted of community members at a liberal arts college where financial aid practices have been recent topics of debate. Because stronger intrinsic preferences can reduce partition dependence, these participants might display little partition dependence with financial aid allocations. Alternatively, a demonstration of strong partition dependence in this population would emphasize the robustness of the effect. The second goal was to extend a “high transparency” modification to the present task context (Experiment 2) in which participants were shown both possible income partitions and randomly assigned themselves to one, to determine whether partition dependence in this paradigm would be reduced by revealing the study design (and the arbitrariness of income categories). Participants demonstrated clear partition dependence in both experiments. Results demonstrate the robustness of partition dependence in this context.

]]>
<![CDATA[Future trends of water resources and influences on agriculture in China]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N87c2566a-6970-4c5f-9ecf-ecac024e386a

Water resources are indispensable for all social-economic activities and ecosystem functions. In addition, changes in water resources have great significance for agricultural production. This paper uses five global climate models from CMIP5 to evaluate the future spatiotemporal variation in water resources in China under four RCP scenarios. The results show that the available precipitation significantly decreases due to evapotranspiration. Comparing the four RCP scenarios, the national average of the available precipitation is the highest under the RCP 2.6 and 4.5 scenarios, followed by that under the RCP 8.5 scenario. In terms of spatial distribution, the amount of available precipitation shows a decreasing trend from southeast to northwest. Regarding temporal changes, the available precipitation under RCP 8.5 exhibits a trend of first increasing and then decreasing, while the available precipitation under the RCP 6.0 scenario exhibits a trend of first decreasing and then increasing. Under the RCP 2.6 and 4.5 scenarios, the available precipitation increases, and the RCP 4.5 scenario has a higher rate of increase than that of RCP 2.6. In the context of climate change, changes in water resources and temperature cause widespread increases in potential agricultural productivity around Hu’s line, especially in southwestern China. However, the potential agricultural productivity decreases in a large area of southeastern China. Hu’s line has a partial breakthrough in the locking of agriculture, mainly in eastern Tibet, western Sichuan, northern Yunnan and northwestern Inner Mongolia. The results provide a reference for the management and deployment of future water resources and can aid in agricultural production in China.

]]>
<![CDATA[Effects of sea-level rise on physiological ecology of populations of a ground-dwelling ant]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N7f89605c-5421-4b76-a019-ba0e7ddd5b34

Introduction

Sea-level rise is a consequence of climate change that can impact the ecological and physiological changes of coastal, ground-dwelling species. Sea-level rise has a potential to inundate birds, rodents, spiders, and insects that live on the ground in coastal areas. Yet, there is still much to be learned concerning the specifics of these impacts. The red imported fire ant Solenopsis invicta (Buren) excavates soil for its home and is capable of surviving flooding. Because of their ground-dwelling life history and rapid reproduction, fire ants make an ideal model for discovery and prediction of changes that may be due to sea-level rise. There are up to 500,000 individuals in a colony, and these invasive ants naturally have a painful sting. However, observations suggest that colonies of fire ants that dwell in tidally-influenced areas are more aggressive with more frequent stings and more venom injected per sting (behavioral and physiological changes) than those located inland. This may be an adaption to sea-level rise. Therefore, the objective of this study is to elucidate differences in inland and coastal defensiveness via micro-dissection and comparison of head width, head length, stinger length, and venom sac volume. But first because fire ants’ ability to raft on brackish tidal water is unknown, it had to be determined if fire ants could indeed raft in brackish water and examine the behavior differences between those flooded with freshwater vs. saltwater.

Methods

To test the coastal-aggression hypothesis, inland colonies and coastal colonies, which experience relatively greater amounts of flooding, specifically regular tidal and windblown water and oscillations (i.e. El Nińo Southern Oscillation) from the Gulf of Mexico, were collected. To mimic sea-level rise, the colonies were flooded in salinities that correspond to both their collection site and conditions found in a variety of locales and situations (such as storm surge from a tropical storm). Individual ants were immediately taken from each colony for dissection before flooding, 1-hour into flooding, and 24-hours into flooding.

Results and discussion

Fire ants use their venom to defend themselves and to communicate alarm or aggression. Dissections and measurement of heads, venom sacs, and stingers revealed both coastal and inland colonies experience an increase in venom sac volume after 24 hours; in fact coastal colonies increased their venom volume by 75% after 24 h of flooding Whether this venom sac enlargement is due to diffusion of water or venom sac production is unknown. These ground-dwelling ants exhibit physiological and behavioral adaptations to ongoing sea-level rise possibly indicating that they are responding to increased flooding. Fire ants will raft on high-salinity water; and sea-level rise may cause stings by flooded ants to be more severe because of increased venom volume.

]]>
<![CDATA[Land use change affects water erosion in the Nepal Himalayas]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N98261953-1324-4322-aaeb-9737bf3bbcea

Soil erosion is a global environmental threat, and Land Use Land Cover Changes (LUCC) have significant impacts on it. Nepal, being a mountainous country, has significant soil erosion issues. To examine the effects of LUCC on water erosion, we studied the LUCC in Sarada, Rapti and Thuli Bheri river basins of Nepal during the 1995–2015 period using the Remote Sensing. We calculated the average annual soil loss using the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation and Geographical Information System. Our results suggest that an increase in the agricultural lands at the expense of bare lands and forests escalated the soil erosion through the years; rates being 5.35, 5.47 and 6.03 t/ha/year in 1995, 2007 and 2015, respectively. Of the different land uses, agricultural land experienced the most erosion, whereas the forests experienced the least erosion. Agricultural lands, particularly those on the steeper slopes, were severely degraded and needed urgent soil and water conservation measures. Our study confirms that the long term LUCC has considerable impacts on soil loss, and these results can be implemented in similar river basins in other parts of the country.

]]>