ResearchPad - rivers https://www.researchpad.co Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![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.

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<![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.

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<![CDATA[Origin of the natural variation in the storage of dietary carotenoids in freshwater amphipod crustaceans]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N905bc2f7-7243-429f-9b99-7855ae079227

Carotenoids are diverse lipophilic natural pigments which are stored in variable amounts by animals. Given the multiple biological functions of carotenoids, such variation may have strong implications in evolutionary biology. Crustaceans such as Gammarus amphipods store large amounts of these pigments and inter-population variation occurs. While differences in parasite selective pressure have been proposed to explain this variation, the contribution of other factors such as genetic differences in the gammarid ability to assimilate and/or store pigments, and the environmental availability of carotenoids cannot be dismissed. This study investigates the relative contributions of the gammarid genotype and of the environmental availability of carotenoids in the natural variability in carotenoid storage. It further explores the link of this natural variability in carotenoid storage with major crustacean immune parameters. We addressed these aspects using the cryptic diversity in the amphipod crustacean Gammarus fossarum and a diet supplementation protocol in the laboratory. Our results suggest that natural variation in G. fossarum storage of dietary carotenoids results from both the availability of the pigments in the environment and the genetically-based ability of the gammarids to assimilate and/or store them, which is associated to levels of stimulation of cellular immune defences. While our results may support the hypothesis that carotenoids storage in this crustacean may evolve in response to parasitic pressure, a better understanding of the specific roles of this large pigment storage in the crustacean physiology is needed.

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<![CDATA[Iron influence on dissolved color in lakes of the Upper Great Lakes States]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c6dc9b9d5eed0c48452a0ba

Colored dissolved organic matter (CDOM), a major component of the dissolved organic carbon (DOC) pool in many lakes, is an important controlling factor in lake ecosystem functioning. Absorption coefficients at 440 nm (a440, m-1), a common measure of CDOM, exhibited strong associations with dissolved iron (Fediss) and DOC in 280 lakes of the Upper Great Lakes States (UGLS: Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan), as has been found in Scandinavia and elsewhere. Linear regressions between the three variables on UGLS lake data typically yielded R2 values of 0.6–0.9, suggesting that some underlying common processes influence organic matter and Fediss. Statistical and experimental evidence, however, supports only a minor role for iron contributions to a440 in UGLS lakes. Although both DOC and Fediss were significant variables in linear and log-log regressions on a440, DOC was the stronger predictor; adding Fediss to the linear a440-DOC model improved the R2 only from 0.90 to 0.93. Furthermore, experimental additions of FeIII to colored lake waters had only small effects on a440 (average increase of 0.242 m-1 per 100 μg/L of added FeIII). For 136 visibly stained waters (with a440 > 3.0 m-1), where allochthonous DOM predominates, DOM accounted for 92.3 ± 5.0% of the measured a440 values, and Fediss accounted for the remainder. In 75% of the lakes, Fediss accounted for < 10% of a440, but contributions of 15–30% were observed for 7 river-influenced lakes. Contributions of Fediss in UGLS lakes to specific UV absorbance at 254 nm (SUVA254) generally were also low. Although Fediss accounted for 5–10% of measured SUVA254 in a few samples, on average, 98.1% of the SUVA254 signal was attributable to DOM and only 1.9% to Fediss. DOC predictions from measured a440 were nearly identical to those from a440 corrected to remove Fediss contributions. Overall, variations in Fediss in most UGLS lakes have very small effects on CDOM optical properties, such as a440 and SUVA254, and negligible effects on the accuracy of DOC estimated from a440, data for which can be obtained at broad regional scales by remote sensing methods.

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<![CDATA[Population genetic structure and geographical variation in Neotricula aperta (Gastropoda: Pomatiopsidae), the snail intermediate host of Schistosoma mekongi (Digenea: Schistosomatidae)]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c58d632d5eed0c48403188e

Background

Neotricula aperta is the snail-intermediate host of the parasitic blood-fluke Schistosoma mekongi which causes Mekong schistosomiasis in Cambodia and the Lao PDR. Despite numerous phylogenetic studies only one DNA-sequence based population-genetic study of N. aperta had been published, and the origin, structure and persistence of N. aperta were poorly understood. Consequently, a phylogenetic and population genetic study was performed, with addition of new data to pre-existing DNA-sequences for N. aperta from remote and inaccessible habitats, including one new taxon from Laos and 505 bp of additional DNA-sequence for all sampled taxa,.

Principal findings

Spatial Principal Component Analysis revealed the presence of significant spatial-genetic clustering. Genetic-distance-based clustering indicated four populations with near perfect match to a priori defined ecogeographical regions. Spring-dwelling taxa were found to form an ecological isolate relative to other N. aperta. The poor dispersal capabilities suggested by spatial-genetic analyses were confirmed by Bayesian inference of migration rates. Population divergence time estimation implied a mid-Miocene colonisation of the present range, with immediate and rapid radiation in each ecogeographical region. Estimated effective population sizes were large (120–310 thousand).

Conclusions

The strong spatial-genetic structure confirmed the poor dispersal capabilities of N. aperta—suggesting human-mediated reintroduction of disease to controlled areas as the primary reason for control failure. The isolation of the spring-dwelling taxa and ecogeographical structure suggests adaptation of sub-populations to different habitats; the epidemiological significance of this needs investigation. The large effective population sizes indicate that the high population densities observed in surveyed habitats are also present in inaccessible areas; affording great potential for recrudescence driven by animal-reservoir transmission in remote streams. Mid-Miocene colonisation implies heterochronous evolution of these snails and associated schistosomes and suggests against coevolution of snail and parasite. Heterochronicity favours ecological factors as shapers of host-parasite specificity and greater potential for escape from schistosomiasis control through host-switching.

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<![CDATA[An ecologically constrained procedure for sensitivity analysis of Artificial Neural Networks and other empirical models]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c5b5252d5eed0c4842bc656

Sensitivity analysis applied to Artificial Neural Networks (ANNs) as well as to other types of empirical ecological models allows assessing the importance of environmental predictive variables in affecting species distribution or other target variables. However, approaches that only consider values of the environmental variables that are likely to be observed in real-world conditions, given the underlying ecological relationships with other variables, have not yet been proposed. Here, a constrained sensitivity analysis procedure is presented, which evaluates the importance of the environmental variables considering only their plausible changes, thereby exploring only ecological meaningful scenarios. To demonstrate the procedure, we applied it to an ANN model predicting fish species richness, as identifying relationships between environmental variables and fish species occurrence in river ecosystems is a recurring topic in freshwater ecology. Results showed that several environmental variables played a less relevant role in driving the model output when that sensitivity analysis allowed them to vary only within an ecologically meaningful range of values, i.e. avoiding values that the model would never handle in its practical applications. By comparing percent changes in MSE between constrained and unconstrained sensitivity analysis, the relative importance of environmental variables was found to be different, with habitat descriptors and urbanization factors that played a more relevant role according to the constrained procedure. The ecologically constrained procedure can be applied to any sensitivity analysis method for ANNs, but obviously it can also be applied to other types of empirical ecological models.

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<![CDATA[High-accuracy detection of malaria vector larval habitats using drone-based multispectral imagery]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c4a305cd5eed0c4844bfe34

Interest in larval source management (LSM) as an adjunct intervention to control and eliminate malaria transmission has recently increased mainly because long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs) and indoor residual spray (IRS) are ineffective against exophagic and exophilic mosquitoes. In Amazonian Peru, the identification of the most productive, positive water bodies would increase the impact of targeted mosquito control on aquatic life stages. The present study explores the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) for identifying Nyssorhynchus darlingi (formerly Anopheles darlingi) breeding sites with high-resolution imagery (~0.02m/pixel) and their multispectral profile in Amazonian Peru. Our results show that high-resolution multispectral imagery can discriminate a profile of water bodies where Ny. darlingi is most likely to breed (overall accuracy 86.73%- 96.98%) with a moderate differentiation of spectral bands. This work provides proof-of-concept of the use of high-resolution images to detect malaria vector breeding sites in Amazonian Peru and such innovative methodology could be crucial for LSM malaria integrated interventions.

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<![CDATA[Redescription of Corydoras undulatus Regan, 1912 (Siluriformes: Callichthyidae), with comments on the identity of Corydoras latus Pearson, 1924]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c58d620d5eed0c4840316aa

A redescription of Corydoras undulatus Regan, 1912 is presented. The original description of C. undulatus is very succinct, as is its diagnosis, which is based only on external morphology. Additional information in the scientific literature on this species is scarce. Specimens from the distribution area of this species were analyzed; Paraná and Paraguay river basins in Argentina, Uruguay river basin in Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay, and the Laguna dos Patos system in Brazil. Morphological analysis, principal component analysis (PCA), meristic comparison and osteological description were performed. Corydoras undulatus can be distinguished from its congeners mainly by having the following combination of characters: mesethmoid short, with anterior tip short, smaller than 50% of the entire bone length; posterior margin of the pectoral-fin spine with nearly all serrations directed towards origin of spine; pectoral-fin spine with conical serrations; and its peculiar color pattern. The analysis of the material from the different basins did not indicate relevant morphological differences, suggesting that the species presents a wide distribution in La Plata and Laguna dos Patos drainages. The shared geographic distribution between these two systems is also present in other fish species. The current work presents data about the type locality, taxonomy, osteology, distribution and ontogenetic variation of color pattern in C. undulatus. Comments on the identity of a very similar congener, Corydoras latus, will also be provided.

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<![CDATA[Wetland biomass inversion and space differentiation: A case study of the Yellow River Delta Nature Reserve]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c633952d5eed0c484ae64a1

With wetlands categorized as one of the three major ecosystems, the study of wetland health has global environmental implications. Multiple regression models were employed to establish relationships between Landsat-8 images, vegetation indices and field measured biomass in the Yellow River Delta Nature Reserve. These models were then used to estimate the spatial distribution of wetland vegetative biomass. The relationships between wetland vegetative biomass and soil factors (organic matter, nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, water soluble salt, pH and moisture) were modeled. We were able to achieve higher correlations and improved model fits using vegetative indices and spectral bands 1–5 as independent variables. Several important soil factors were isolated, including soil moisture and salt concentrations, which affect wetland biomass spatial distributions. Overall, wetland biomass decreased from land to the ocean and from the river courses outward.

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<![CDATA[Effects of moderate thermal anomalies on Acropora corals around Sesoko Island, Okinawa]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c5b5279d5eed0c4842bc91d

Over the past several decades, coral reef ecosystems have experienced recurring bleaching events. These events were predominantly caused by thermal anomalies, which vary widely in terms of severity and spatio-temporal distribution. Acropora corals, highly prominent contributors to the structural complexity of Pacific coral reefs, are sensitive to thermal stress. Response of Acropora corals to extremely high temperature has been well documented. However, studies on the effects of moderately high temperature on Acropora corals are limited. In the summer of 2016, a moderate coral bleaching event due to moderately high temperature was observed around Sesoko Island, Okinawa, Japan. The objective of this study was to examine thermal tolerance patterns of Acropora corals, across reefs with low to moderate thermal exposure (degree heating weeks ~2–5°C week). Field surveys on permanent plots were conducted from October 2015 to April 2017 to compare the population dynamics of adult Acropora corals 6 months before and after the bleaching events around Sesoko Island. Variability in thermal stress response was driven primarily by the degree of thermal stress. Wave action and turbidity may have mediated the thermal stress. Tabular and digitate coral morphologies were the most tolerant and susceptible to thermal stress, respectively. Growth inhibition after bleaching was more pronounced in the larger digitate and corymbose coral morphologies. This study indicates that Acropora populations around Sesoko Island can tolerate short-term, moderate thermal challenges.

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<![CDATA[Fish under pressure: Examining behavioural responses of Iberian barbel under simulated hydropeaking with instream structures]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c5217cdd5eed0c4847945e9

Hydropeaking is the rapid change in the water flow downstream of a hydropower plant, driven by changes in daily electricity demand. These fluctuations may produce negative effects in freshwater fish. To minimize these impacts, previous studies have proposed habitat enhancement structures as potential mitigation measures for salmonids. However, the recommendation of these mitigation measures for cyprinids remains scarce and their effects unknown. In this study, the effects of potential habitat mitigation structures under simulated hydropeaking and base-flow conditions are examined for Iberian barbel (Luciobarbus bocagei) in an indoor flume. Solid triangular pyramids and v-shaped structures were evaluated as potential flow-refuging areas and compared with a configuration without structures. A novel, interdisciplinary approach is applied to investigate individual and group responses to rapidly changing flows, by assessing physiological (glucose and lactate), movement behaviour (structure use, sprints and drifts) and the pressure distribution using a fish-inspired artificial lateral line flow sensor. The major findings of this study are four-fold: 1) Under hydropeaking conditions, the v-shaped structures triggered a lactate response and stimulated individual structure use, whereas solid structures did not elicit physiological adjustments and favoured individual and group structure use. Overall, both solid structures and their absence stimulated sprints and drifts. 2) The hydrodynamic conditions created in hydropeaking did not always reflect increased physiological responses or swimming activity. 3) Each event-structure combination resulted in unique hydrodynamic conditions which were reflected in the different fish responses. 4) The most relevant flow variable measured was the pressure asymmetry, which is caused by the vortex size and shedding frequency of the structures. Considering the non-uniform nature of hydropeaking events, and the observation that the fish responded differently to specific flow event-structure combinations, a diverse set of instream structures should be considered for habitat-based hydropeaking mitigation measures for Iberian barbel.

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<![CDATA[Age structure of the Australian lungfish (Neoceratodus forsteri)]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c52180fd5eed0c484796f65

The Australian lungfish has been studied for more than a century without any knowledge of the longevity of the species. Traditional methods for ageing fish, such as analysis of otolith (ear stone) rings is complicated in that lungfish otoliths differ from teleost fish in composition. As otolith sampling is also lethal, this is not appropriate for a protected species listed under Australian legislation. Lungfish scales were removed from 500 fish from the Brisbane, Burnett and Mary rivers. A sub–sample of scales (85) were aged using bomb radiocarbon techniques and validated using scales marked previously with oxytetracycline. Lungfish ages ranged from 2.5–77 years of age. Estimated population age structures derived using an Age Length Key revealed different recruitment patterns between river systems. There were statistically significant von Bertalanffy growth model parameters estimated for each of the three rivers based on limited sample sizes. In addition, length frequency distributions between river systems were also significantly different. Further studies will be conducted to review drivers that may explain these inter-river differences.

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<![CDATA[Experimental study on bed pressure around geotextile mattress with sloping plate]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c57e6eed5eed0c484ef441b

A geotextile mattress with sloping curtain is a newly proposed countermeasure against river and estuarine scour. In previous laboratory experiments, a geotextile mattress with sloping curtain was capable of protecting the bed downstream from scour and stimulating sediment deposition on both sides. However, the seepage scour under its geotextile mattress is inadequately researched at present. In this study, the Geotextile Mattress with Sloping Plate (GMSP) is proposed based on the simplification of the geotextile mattress with sloping curtain with the construction feasibility considered. A series of experiments was conducted to investigate the pressure distribution around the GMSP and the averaged seepage hydraulic gradient beneath its mattress. The results indicate remarkable pressure difference on two sides of the GMSP. The minimum bed pressure appears about 1.3 times the plate height downstream to the GMSP. The averaged seepage hydraulic gradient beneath the mattress increases with the sloping angle increasing from 35° to 60° in general. The averaged hydraulic gradient also ascends as the relative plate height increases, but reduces as the opening ratio increases at opening ratios greater than 0.143. The safety boundary for the averaged hydraulic gradient under the geotextile mattress of the GMSP could get much smaller than the critical hydraulic gradient of piping and can easily be overwhelmed. This phenomenon can mainly be attributed to the discontinuous contact between the mattress and the seabed. A suggestion for the parametric design of the GMSP is to extend the width of the mattress to reduce the risk of seepage failure.

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<![CDATA[Diarrheal bacterial pathogens and multi-resistant enterobacteria in the Choqueyapu River in La Paz, Bolivia]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c46656bd5eed0c484519147

Water borne diarrheal pathogens might accumulate in river water and cause contamination of drinking and irrigation water. The La Paz River basin, including the Choqueyapu River, flows through La Paz city in Bolivia where it is receiving sewage, and residues from inhabitants, hospitals, and industry. Using quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR), we determined the quantity and occurrence of diarrheagenic Escherichia coli (DEC), Salmonella enterica, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Shigella spp. and total enterobacteria in river water, downstream agricultural soil, and irrigated crops, during one year of sampling. The most abundant and frequently detected genes were gapA and eltB, indicating presence of enterobacteria and enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC) carrying the heat labile toxin, respectively. Pathogen levels in the samples were significantly positively associated with high water conductivity and low water temperature. In addition, a set of bacterial isolates from water, soil and crops were analyzed by PCR for presence of the genes blaCTX-M, blaKPC, blaNDM, blaVIM and blaOXA-48. Four isolates were found to be positive for blaCTX-M genes and whole genome sequencing identified them as E. coli and one Enterobacter cloacae. The E. coli isolates belonged to the emerging, globally disseminated, multi-resistant E. coli lineages ST648, ST410 and ST162. The results indicate not only a high potential risk of transmission of diarrheal diseases by the consumption of contaminated water and vegetables but also the possibility of antibiotic resistance transfer from the environment to the community.

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<![CDATA[Whooping crane use of riverine stopover sites]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c3fa5e2d5eed0c484ca9b1e

Migratory birds like endangered whooping cranes (Grus americana) require suitable nocturnal roost sites during twice annual migrations. Whooping cranes primarily roost in shallow surface water wetlands, ponds, and rivers. All these features have been greatly impacted by human activities, which present threats to the continued recovery of the species. A portion of one such river, the central Platte River, has been identified as critical habitat for the survival of the endangered whooping crane. Management intervention is now underway to rehabilitate habitat form and function on the central Platte River to increase use and thereby contribute to the survival of whooping cranes. The goal of our analyses was to develop habitat selection models that could be used to direct riverine habitat management activities (i.e., channel widening, tree removal, flow augmentation, etc.) along the central Platte River and throughout the species’ range. As such, we focused our analyses on two robust sets of whooping crane observations and habitat metrics the Platte River Recovery Implementation Program (Program or PRRIP) and other such organizations could influence. This included channel characteristics such as total channel width, the width of channel unobstructed by dense vegetation, and distance of forest from the edge of the channel and flow-related metrics like wetted width and unit discharge (flow volume per linear meter of wetted channel width) that could be influenced by flow augmentation or reductions during migration. We used 17 years of systematic monitoring data in a discrete-choice framework to evaluate the influence these various metrics have on the relative probability of whooping crane use and found the width of channel unobstructed by dense vegetation and distance to the nearest forest were the best predictors of whooping crane use. Secondly, we used telemetry data obtained from a sample of 38 birds of all ages over the course of seven years, 2010–2016, to evaluate whooping crane use of riverine habitat within the North-central Great Plains, USA. For this second analysis, we focused on the two metrics found to be important predictors of whooping crane use along the central Platte River, unobstructed channel width and distance to nearest forest or wooded area. Our findings indicate resource managers, such as the Program, have the potential to influence whooping crane use of the central Platte River through removal of in-channel vegetation to increase the unobstructed width of narrow channels and through removal of trees along the bank line to increase unforested corridor widths. Results of both analyses also indicated that increases in relative probability of use by whooping cranes did not appreciably increase with unobstructed views ≥200 m wide and unforested corridor widths that were ≥330 m. Therefore, managing riverine sites for channels widths >200 m and removing trees beyond 165 m from the channel’s edge would increase costs associated with implementing management actions such as channel and bank-line disking, removing trees, augmenting flow, etc. without necessarily realizing an additional appreciable increase in use by migrating whooping cranes.

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<![CDATA[Flows of people in villages and large centres in Bronze Age Italy through strontium and oxygen isotopes]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c3fa5e7d5eed0c484ca9ecb

This study investigates to what extent Bronze Age societies in Northern Italy were permeable accepting and integrating non-local individuals, as well as importing a wide range of raw materials, commodities, and ideas from networks spanning continental Europe and the Mediterranean.

During the second millennium BC, the communities of Northern Italy engaged in a progressive stabilization of settlements, culminating in the large polities of the end of the Middle/beginning of the Late Bronze Age pivoted around large defended centres (the Terramare). Although a wide range of exotic archaeological materials indicates that the inhabitants of the Po plain increasingly took part in the networks of Continental European and the Eastern Mediterranean, we should not overlook the fact that the dynamics of interaction were also extremely active on local and regional levels.

Mobility patterns have been explored for three key-sites, spanning the Early to Late Bronze Age (1900–1100 BC), namely Sant’Eurosia, Casinalbo and Fondo Paviani, through strontium and oxygen isotope analysis on a large sample size (more than 100 individuals). The results, integrated with osteological and archaeological data, document for the first time in this area that movements of people occurred mostly within a territorial radius of 50 km, but also that larger nodes in the settlement system (such as Fondo Paviani) included individuals from more distant areas. This suggests that, from a demographic perspective, the process towards a more complex socio-political system in Bronze Age Northern Italy was triggered by a largely, but not completely, internal process, stemming from the dynamics of intra-polity networks and local/regional power relationships.

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<![CDATA[Stoichiometric multitrophic networks reveal significance of land-sea interaction to ecosystem function in a subtropical nutrient-poor bight, South Africa]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c3d0111d5eed0c484037fe9

Nearshore marine ecosystems can benefit from their interaction with adjacent ecosystems, especially if they alleviate nutrient limitations in nutrient poor areas. This was the case in our oligo- to mesotrophic study area, the KwaZulu-Natal Bight on the South African subtropical east coast, which is bordered by the Agulhas current. We built stoichiometric, multitrophic ecosystem networks depicting biomass and material flows of carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus in three subsystems of the bight. The networks were analysed to investigate whether the southern, middle and northern bight function similarly in terms of their productivity, transfer efficiency between trophic levels, material cycling, and nutrient limitations. The middle region of the bight was clearly influenced by nutrient additions from the Thukela River, as it had the highest ecosystem productivity, lower transfer efficiencies and degree of cycling. Most nodes in the networks were limited by phosphorus, followed by nitrogen. The middle region adjacent to the Thukela River showed a lower proportion of P limitation especially in summer. Interestingly, there was a clear distinction in sensitivities to nutrient limitations between lower and higher trophic level organisms. This is a reflection of their discrepant nutrient turnover times that are either higher, or lower, than that of the systems, and which might provide a balance to the system through this antagonistic influence. Furthermore, by tracking the stoichiometry through entire food webs it appeared how important the role of lower trophic level organisms was to regulate stoichiometry to more suitable ratios for higher trophic level requirements. Although we gained good insight into the behaviour of the three subsystems in the KZN Bight and the role of terrestrial influence on their functioning, a merged approach of incorporating data on metabolic constraints derived from experiments could further improve the representativeness of multitrophic stoichiometric ecosystem networks.

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<![CDATA[Aquatic macroinvertebrates stabilize gravel bed sediment: A test using silk net-spinning caddisflies in semi-natural river channels]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c3667f4d5eed0c4841a6abc

Organisms can have large effects on the physical properties of the habitats where they live. For example, measurements in laboratory stream microcosms have shown that the presence of silk net-spinning insect larvae (Trichoptera: Hydropsychidae) can increase the shear force required to initiate movement of riverbed sediments. Few studies, however, have moved beyond laboratory settings to quantify the engineering impacts of aquatic insects under more complex field conditions. To bridge the gap between small-scale laboratory experiments and natural stream ecosystems, we conducted experiments in large (50 m2) outdoor river channels where net-spinning aquatic insects were manipulated in sediment patches that were 5 to 25 times larger than in previous studies. We tested whether larvae of two caddisfly species (Arctopsyche californica and Ceratopsyche oslari) influenced the stability of gravel during simulated floods when alone in monoculture and together in polyculture. On average, populations of caddisflies increased the critical shear stress required to initiate sediment movement by 20% compared to treatments without caddisflies. Per capita effects of caddisflies on sediment stability were similar between previous laboratory studies and this field experiment, and Arctopsyche had a larger per capita effect than Ceratopsyche, perhaps because of its larger size and stronger silk. Contrary to prior laboratory flume results, the effects of the two species on critical shear stress when together were similar to the additive expectation of both species when alone, but effects of the two species together were higher than the additive expectation when we accounted for density. Comparisons of total population and per capita effects suggest that caddisfly density, identity, and coexisting species likely have effects on the magnitude of caddisfly impacts on critical shear stress. Our findings imply that consideration of both the abundances and traits of ecosystem engineers is needed to describe and model their effects on sediment mobility.

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<![CDATA[Modular structure in fish co-occurrence networks: A comparison across spatial scales and grouping methodologies]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c1d5bc9d5eed0c4846ec993

Network modules are used for diverse purposes, ranging from delineation of biogeographical provinces to the study of biotic interactions. We assess spatial scaling effects on modular structure, using a multi-step process to compare fish co-occurrence networks at three nested scales. We first detect modules with simulated annealing and use spatial clustering tests (interspecific distances among species’ range centroids) to determine if modules consist of species with broadly overlapping ranges; strong spatial clustering may reflect environmental filtering, while absence of spatial clustering may reflect positive interspecific relationships (commensalism or mutualism). We then use non-hierarchical, multivariate cluster analysis as an alternative method to identify fish subgroups, we repeat spatial clustering tests for the multivariate clusters, then compare spatial clustering results among modules and clusters. Next, we compare species lists within modules and clusters, and estimate congruence as the proportion of species assigned to the same groups by the two methods. Finally, we use a well-documented nest associate complex (fishes that deposit eggs in the gravel nests of a common host) to assess whether strong within-group associations may, in fact, reflect positive interspecific relationships. At each scale, 2–4 network modules were detected but a consistent relationship between scale and the number of modules was not observed. Significant spatial clustering was detected at all scales for network modules and multivariate clusters but was less prevalent at smaller scales. Congruence between modules and clusters was always < 90% and generally decreased as the number of groups increased. At all scales, the complete nest associate complex was completely preserved within a single network module, but not within a single multivariate cluster. Collectively, our results suggest that network modules are promising tools for studying positive interactions and that smaller scales may be preferable in this research.

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<![CDATA[Direct fishing and eDNA metabarcoding for biomonitoring during a 3-year survey significantly improves number of fish detected around a South East Asian reservoir]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c1c0b13d5eed0c4844273db

Biodiversity has to be accurately evaluated to assess more precisely possible dam effects on fish populations, in particular on the most biodiverse rivers such as the Mekong River. To improve tools for fish biodiversity assessment, a methodological survey was performed in the surroundings of a recent hydropower dam in the Mekong basin, the Nam Theun 2 project. Results of two different approaches, experimental surface gillnets capture and environmental DNA metabarcoding assays based on 12S ribosomal RNA and cytochrome b, were compared during 3 years (2014–2016). Pitfalls and benefits were identified for each method but the combined use of both approaches indisputably allows describing more accurately fish diversity around the reservoir. Importantly, striking convergent results were observed for biodiversity reports. 75% of the fish species caught by gillnets (62/82) were shown by the metabarcoding study performed on DNA extracted from water samples. eDNA approach also revealed to be sensitive by detecting 30 supplementary species known as present before the dam construction but never caught by gillnets during 3 years. Furthermore, potential of the marker-genes study might be underestimated since it was not possible to assign some sequences at lower taxonomic levels. Although 121 sequences were generated for this study, a third of species in the area, that exhibits high endemism, are still unknown in DNA databases. Efforts to complete local reference libraries must continue to improve the taxonomic assignment quality when using the non-invasive and promising eDNA approach. These results are of broader interest because of increasing number of hydropower projects in the Mekong Basin. They reveal the crucial importance to sample tissues/DNA of species before dam projects, i.e. before the species could become endangered and difficult to catch, to obtain more precise biomonitoring in the future as we believe eDNA metabarcoding will rapidly be integrated as a standard tool in such studies.

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