ResearchPad - sunset Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[Road lighting density and brightness linked with increased cycling rates after-dark]]> Cycling has a range of benefits as is recognised by national and international policies aiming to increase cycling rates. Darkness acts as a barrier to people cycling, with fewer people cycling after-dark when seasonal and time-of-day factors are accounted for. This paper explores whether road lighting can reduce the negative impact of darkness on cycling rates. Changes in cycling rates between daylight and after-dark were quantified for 48 locations in Birmingham, United Kingdom, by calculating an odds ratio. These odds ratios were compared against two measures of road lighting at each location: 1) Density of road lighting lanterns; 2) Relative brightness as estimated from night-time aerial images. Locations with no road lighting showed a significantly greater reduction in cycling after-dark compared with locations that had some lighting. A nonlinear relationship was found between relative brightness at a location at night and the reduction in cyclists after-dark. Small initial increases in brightness resulted in large reductions in the difference between cyclist numbers in daylight and after-dark, but this effect reached a plateau as brightness increased. These results suggest only a minimal amount of lighting can promote cycling after-dark, making it an attractive mode of transport year-round.

<![CDATA[Altered Entrainment to the Day/Night Cycle Attenuates the Daily Rise in Circulating Corticosterone in the Mouse]]>

The suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) is a circadian oscillator entrained to the day/night cycle via input from the retina. Serotonin (5-HT) afferents to the SCN modulate retinal signals via activation of 5-HT1B receptors, decreasing responsiveness to light. Consequently, 5-HT1B receptor knockout (KO) mice entrain to the day/night cycle with delayed activity onsets. Since circulating corticosterone levels exhibit a robust daily rhythm peaking around activity onset, we asked whether delayed entrainment of activity onsets affects rhythmic corticosterone secretion. Wheel-running activity and plasma corticosterone were monitored in mice housed under several different lighting regimens. Both duration of the light∶dark cycle (T cycle) and the duration of light within that cycle was altered. 5-HT1B KO mice that entrained to a 9.5L:13.5D (short day in a T = 23 h) cycle with activity onsets delayed more than 4 h after light offset exhibited a corticosterone rhythm in phase with activity rhythms but reduced 50% in amplitude compared to animals that initiated daily activity <4 h after light offset. Wild type mice in 8L:14D (short day in a T = 22 h) conditions with highly delayed activity onsets also exhibited a 50% reduction in peak plasma corticosterone levels. Exogenous adrenocorticotropin (ACTH) stimulation in animals exhibiting highly delayed entrainment suggested that the endogenous rhythm of adrenal responsiveness to ACTH remained aligned with SCN-driven behavioral activity. Circadian clock gene expression in the adrenal cortex of these same animals suggested that the adrenal circadian clock was also aligned with SCN-driven behavior. Under T cycles <24 h, altered circadian entrainment to short day (winter-like) conditions, manifest as long delays in activity onset after light offset, severely reduces the amplitude of the diurnal rhythm of plasma corticosterone. Such a pronounced reduction in the glucocorticoid rhythm may alter rhythmic gene expression in the central nervous system and in peripheral organs contributing to an array of potential pathophysiologies.

<![CDATA[Are trait-growth models transferable? Predicting multi-species growth trajectories between ecosystems using plant functional traits]]>

Plant functional traits are increasingly used to generalize across species, however few examples exist of predictions from trait-based models being evaluated in new species or new places. Can we use functional traits to predict growth of unknown species in different areas? We used three independently collected datasets, each containing data on heights of individuals from non-resprouting species over a chronosquence of time-since-fire sites from three ecosystems in south-eastern Australia. We examined the influence of specific leaf area, woody density, seed size and leaf nitrogen content on three aspects of plant growth; maximum relative growth rate, age at maximum growth and asymptotic height. We tested our capacity to perform out-of-sample prediction of growth trajectories between ecosystems using species functional traits. We found strong trait-growth relationships in one of the datasets; whereby species with low SLA achieved the greatest asymptotic heights, species with high leaf-nitrogen content achieved relatively fast growth rates, and species with low seed mass reached their time of maximum growth early. However these same growth-trait relationships did not hold across the two other datasets, making accurate prediction from one dataset to another unachievable. We believe there is evidence to suggest that growth trajectories themselves may be fundamentally different between ecosystems and that trait-height-growth relationships may change over environmental gradients.

<![CDATA[Inactivity/sleep in two wild free-roaming African elephant matriarchs – Does large body size make elephants the shortest mammalian sleepers?]]>

The current study provides details of sleep (or inactivity) in two wild, free-roaming African elephant matriarchs studied in their natural habitat with remote monitoring using an actiwatch subcutaneously implanted in the trunk, a standard elephant collar equipped with a GPS system and gyroscope, and a portable weather station. We found that these two elephants were polyphasic sleepers, had an average daily total sleep time of 2 h, mostly between 02:00 and 06:00, and displayed the shortest daily sleep time of any mammal recorded to date. Moreover, these two elephants exhibited both standing and recumbent sleep, but only exhibited recumbent sleep every third or fourth day, potentially limiting their ability to enter REM sleep on a daily basis. In addition, we observed on five occasions that the elephants went without sleep for up to 46 h and traversed around 30 km in 10 h, possibly due to disturbances such as potential predation or poaching events, or a bull elephant in musth. They exhibited no form of sleep rebound following a night without sleep. Environmental conditions, especially ambient air temperature and relative humidity, analysed as wet-bulb globe temperature, reliably predict sleep onset and offset times. The elephants selected novel sleep sites each night and the amount of activity between sleep periods did not affect the amount of sleep. A number of similarities and differences to studies of elephant sleep in captivity are noted, and specific factors shaping sleep architecture in elephants, on various temporal scales, are discussed.

<![CDATA[Geographic Variation in Daily Temporal Activity Patterns of a Neotropical Marsupial (Gracilinanus agilis)]]>

The temporal activity of animals is an outcome of both biotic and abiotic factors, which may vary along the geographic range of the species. Therefore, studies conducted with a species in different localities with distinct features could elucidate how animals deal with such factors. In this study, we used live traps equipped with timing devices to investigate the temporal activity patterns of the didelphid Gracilinanus agilis in two dry-woodland areas of the Brazilian savanna (Cerrado). These areas were located about 660 km apart, one in Central Brazil and the other in Southeastern Brazil. We compared such patterns considering both reproductive and non-reproductive periods, and how it varies as a function of temperature on a seasonal basis. In Central Brazil, we found a constant, and temperature-independent activity during the night in both reproductive and non-reproductive periods. On the other hand, in Southeastern Brazil, we detected a constant activity during the reproductive period, but in the non-reproductive period G. agilis presented a peak of activity between two and four hours after sunset. Moreover, in this latter we found a relation between temporal activity and temperature during the autumn and spring. These differences in temporal activity between areas, observed during the non-reproductive period, might be associated with the higher seasonal variability in temperature, and lower mean temperatures in the Southeastern site in comparison to the Central one. In Southeastern Brazil, the decrease in temperature during the non-reproductive season possibly forced G. agilis to be active only at certain hours of the night. However, likely due to the reproductive activities (intensive foraging and searching for mates) this marsupial showed constant, temperature-independent activity during the night in the reproductive period at both sites.

<![CDATA[Olfactory Assessment of Competitors to the Nest Site: An Experiment on a Passerine Species]]>

Since most avian species have been considered anosmic or microsmatic, olfaction and associated behavioural patterns have hardly been investigated. Most importantly, empirical data on avian olfaction is not equally distributed among species. Initial investigations focused on species with relatively big olfactory bulbs because they were thought to have better olfactory capabilities. Hence, in this study we tested the ability of house sparrows (Passer domesticus) to use chemical cues as parameters to estimate nest features. House sparrows are a commonly used model species, but their olfactory capabilities have not been studied so far. We offered two different odours to males and females, namely the scent of mouse urine (Mus musculus domesticus), representing a possible competitor and a threat to eggs and hatchlings, and the odour of hay, representing a familiar and innocuous odour. The experiment was performed at the sunset to simulate a first inspection to new possible roosting or nesting sites. Interestingly, males but not females preferred to spend significantly more time in front of the hay odour, than in front of the scent of mouse urine. Our results strengthen the hypothesis that oscines can not only perceive odours but also use olfaction to assess the environment and estimate nest site quality.

<![CDATA[First Ecological Study of the Bawean Warty Pig (Sus blouchi), One of the Rarest Pigs on Earth]]>

The Bawean warty pig (Sus blouchi) is an endemic pig species confined to the 192 km2 large island of Bawean in the Java Sea, Indonesia. Due to a lack of quantitative ecological research, understanding of natural history and conservation requirements have so far been based solely on anecdotal information from interviews with local people and study of captive and museum specimens. In this study we provide the first assessment of population and habitat preferences for S. blouchi by using camera trapping. From the 4th of November 2014 to January 8th 2015, we placed camera traps at 100 locations in the forested protected areas on Bawean. In 690.31 camera days (16567.45 hours) we captured 92 independent videos showing S. blouchi. Variation in S. blouchi trapping rates with cumulative trap effort stabilized after 500 camera days. An important outcome is that, in contrast to the suggestion of previous assessments, only S. blouchi was detected and no S. scrofa was found, which excludes hybridization threats. We fitted a Random Encounter Model, which does not require the identification of individual animals, to our camera-trapping data and estimated 172–377 individuals to be present on the island. Activity patterns and habitat data indicate that S. blouchi is mainly nocturnal and prefers community forests and areas near forest borders. Next to this, we found a positive relationship between S. blouchi occupancy, distance to nearest border, litter depth and tree density in the highest ranking occupancy models. Although these relationships proved non-significant based on model averaging, their presence in the top ranking models suggests that these covariables do play a role in predicting S. blouchi occurrence on Bawean. The estimated amount of sites occupied reached 58%. Based on our results, especially the estimation of the population size and area of occupancy, we determine that the species is Endangered according to the IUCN/SSC Red List criteria.

<![CDATA[Spatial and Temporal Variations in the Occurrence and Foraging Activity of Coastal Dolphins in Menai Bay, Zanzibar, Tanzania]]>

Understanding temporal patterns in distribution, occurrence and behaviour is vital for the effective conservation of cetaceans. This study used cetacean click detectors (C-PODs) to investigate spatial and temporal variation in occurrence and foraging activity of the Indo-Pacific bottlenose (Tursiops aduncus) and Indian Ocean humpback (Sousa plumbea) dolphins resident in the Menai Bay Conservation Area (MBCA), Zanzibar, Tanzania. Occurrence was measured using detection positive minutes. Inter-click intervals were used to identify terminal buzz vocalisations, allowing for analysis of foraging activity. Data were analysed in relation to spatial (location) and temporal (monsoon season, diel phase and tidal phase) variables. Results showed significantly increased occurrence and foraging activity of dolphins in southern areas and during hours of darkness. Higher occurrence at night was not explained by diel variation in echolocation rate and so were considered representative of occurrence patterns. Both tidal phase and monsoon season influenced occurrence but results varied among sites, with no general patterns found. Foraging activity was greatest during hours of darkness, High water and Flood tidal phases. Comparisons of echolocation data among sites suggested differences in the broadband click spectra of MBCA dolphins, possibly indicative of species differences. These dolphin populations are threatened by unsustainable fisheries bycatch and tourism activities. The spatial and temporal patterns identified in this study have implications for future conservation and management actions with regards to these two threats. Further, the results indicate future potential for using passive acoustics to identify and monitor the occurrence of these two species in areas where they co-exist.

<![CDATA[Early post-treatment choroidal thickness to alert sunset glow fundus in patients with Vogt-Koyanagi-Harada disease treated with systemic corticosteroids]]>


To determine if early post-treatment central choroidal thickness (CCT) changes can predict sunset glow fundus (SGF) development in patients with Vogt-Koyanagi-Harada (VKH) disease treated using systemic corticosteroids.


This retrospective case series included 39 eyes of 21 treatment-naïve patients with acute VKH disease who could be followed up for more than 12 months after systemic corticosteroid therapy. The eyes were divided into two groups according to whether SGF was present or absent at 12 months (9 eyes of 5 patients versus 30 eyes of 16 patients, respectively). Using enhanced depth imaging optical coherence tomography, CCT values were measured before treatment, then at 1 week and 1 and 3 months after treatment in both groups and compared between the two groups.


Development of SGF was found 4–11 months after treatment. Mean post-treatment CCT decreased significantly at all examinations compared with baseline in both groups, along with resolution of serous retinal detachment. One week after treatment, mean CCT was significantly higher in eyes with SGF than in those without (P = 0.024). SGF was present at 12 months in 9 of 22 eyes with CCT values > 410 μm at 1 week after starting treatment, in contrast with none of 17 eyes with CCT ≤ 410 μm at this time (P = 0.003).


The current study suggested the potential validity of early post-treatment CCT as a feasible index to alert future progression to SGF in patients with VKH disease treated using systemic corticosteroids.