485 research outputs found

    Balancing the dilution and oddity effects: Decisions depend on body size

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    Background Grouping behaviour, common across the animal kingdom, is known to reduce an individual's risk of predation; particularly through dilution of individual risk and predator confusion (predator inability to single out an individual for attack). Theory predicts greater risk of predation to individuals more conspicuous to predators by difference in appearance from the group (the ‘oddity’ effect). Thus, animals should choose group mates close in appearance to themselves (eg. similar size), whilst also choosing a large group. Methodology and Principal Findings We used the Trinidadian guppy (Poecilia reticulata), a well known model species of group-living freshwater fish, in a series of binary choice trials investigating the outcome of conflict between preferences for large and phenotypically matched groups along a predation risk gradient. We found body-size dependent differences in the resultant social decisions. Large fish preferred shoaling with size-matched individuals, while small fish demonstrated no preference. There was a trend towards reduced preferences for the matched shoal under increased predation risk. Small fish were more active than large fish, moving between shoals more frequently. Activity levels increased as predation risk decreased. We found no effect of unmatched shoal size on preferences or activity. Conclusions and Significance Our results suggest that predation risk and individual body size act together to influence shoaling decisions. Oddity was more important for large than small fish, reducing in importance at higher predation risks. Dilution was potentially of limited importance at these shoal sizes. Activity levels may relate to how much sampling of each shoal was needed by the test fish during decision making. Predation pressure may select for better decision makers to survive to larger size, or that older, larger fish have learned to make shoaling decisions more efficiently, and this, combined with their size relative to shoal-mates, and attractiveness as prey items influences shoaling decisions

    Approximating Optimal Behavioural Strategies Down to Rules-of-Thumb: Energy Reserve Changes in Pairs of Social Foragers

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    Functional explanations of behaviour often propose optimal strategies for organisms to follow. These ‘best’ strategies could be difficult to perform given biological constraints such as neural architecture and physiological constraints. Instead, simple heuristics or ‘rules-of-thumb’ that approximate these optimal strategies may instead be performed. From a modelling perspective, rules-of-thumb are also useful tools for considering how group behaviour is shaped by the behaviours of individuals. Using simple rules-of-thumb reduces the complexity of these models, but care needs to be taken to use rules that are biologically relevant. Here, we investigate the similarity between the outputs of a two-player dynamic foraging game (which generated optimal but complex solutions) and a computational simulation of the behaviours of the two members of a foraging pair, who instead followed a rule-of-thumb approximation of the game's output. The original game generated complex results, and we demonstrate here that the simulations following the much-simplified rules-of-thumb also generate complex results, suggesting that the rule-of-thumb was sufficient to make some of the model outcomes unpredictable. There was some agreement between both modelling techniques, but some differences arose – particularly when pair members were not identical in how they gained and lost energy. We argue that exploring how rules-of-thumb perform in comparison to their optimal counterparts is an important exercise for biologically validating the output of agent-based models of group behaviour

    Cognitive behaviour therapy versus counselling intervention for anxiety in young people with high-functioning autism spectrum disorders: a pilot randomised controlled trial

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    The use of cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) as a treatment for children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has been explored in a number of trials. Whilst CBT appears superior to no treatment or treatment as usual, few studies have assessed CBT against a control group receiving an alternative therapy. Our randomised controlled trial compared use of CBT against person-centred counselling for anxiety in 36 young people with ASD, ages 12–18. Outcome measures included parent- teacher- and self-reports of anxiety and social disability. Whilst each therapy produced improvements inparticipants, neither therapy was superior to the other to a significant degree on any measure. This is consistent with findings for adults

    Detrimental Effects of Non-Functional Spermatozoa on the Freezability of Functional Spermatozoa from Boar Ejaculate

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    In the present study, the impact of non-functional spermatozoa on the cryopreservation success of functional boar spermatozoa was evaluated. Fifteen sperm-rich ejaculate fractions collected from five fertile boars were frozen with different proportions of induced non-functional sperm (0 –native semen sample-, 25, 50 and 75% non-functional spermatozoa). After thawing, the recovery of motile and viable spermatozoa was assessed, and the functional of the spermatozoa was evaluated from plasma membrane fluidity and intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation upon exposure to capacitation conditions. In addition, the lipid peroxidation of the plasma membrane was assessed by the indirect measurement of malondialdehyde (MDA) generation. The normalized (with respect to a native semen sample) sperm motility (assessed by CASA) and viability (cytometrically assessed after staining with Hoechst 33342, propidium iodide and fluorescein-conjugated peanut agglutinin) decreased (p<0.01) as the proportion of functional spermatozoa in the semen samples before freezing decreased, irrespective of the semen donor. However, the magnitude of the effect differed (p<0.01) among boars. Moreover, semen samples with the largest non-functional sperm subpopulation before freezing showed the highest (p<0.01) levels of MDA after thawing. The thawed viable spermatozoa of semen samples with a high proportion of non-functional spermatozoa before freezing were also functionally different from those of samples with a low proportion of non-functional spermatozoa. These differences consisted of higher (p<0.01) levels of intracellular ROS generation (assessed with 5-(and-6) chloromethyl-20,70-dichlorodihydrofluorescein diacetate acetyl ester; CM-H2DCFDA) and increased (p<0.01) membrane fluidity (assessed with Merocyanine 540). These findings indicate that non-functional spermatozoa in the semen samples before freezing negatively influence the freezability of functional spermatozoa

    Effects of bovine spermatozoa preparation on embryonic development in vitro

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    The aim of our research was to examine the ability of density gradient preparation BoviPure(® )and swim up method on bull sperm separation and in vitro embryo production (IVP) systems. Frozen/thawed semen from six Simmental bulls was pooled and treated using both methods. The sperm motility, concentration, membrane activity, membrane integrity and acrosomal status were evaluated and compared before and after sperm processing using BoviPure(® )and swim up methods. We also evaluated and compared cleavage rates, embryo yield and quality between the methods. There were significant differences (P < 0.05) between the sperm characteristics before and after BoviPure(®), but not after swim up method. However, there were significant differences for sperm results among those two mentioned methods. A total of 641 oocytes were matured and fertilized in vitro and cultured in SOFaaBSA. The percentage of cleavage (Day 2) and the percentage of hatched embryos (Day 9) were similar for both methods. However, embryo production rate (Day 7) was significantly higher using BoviPure(® )method (P < 0.05). Also, total cell number and embryo differential staining (inner cell mass and trophectoderm cells) of Day 7 morulas and blastocysts showed that BoviPure(® )treated sperm displayed higher quality embryos compared to swim up method (P < 0.05). Our results indicate that BoviPure(® )method has an enhanced capacity in sperm selection for in vitro embryo production when compared with swim up method. So, we concluded that BoviPure(® )could be considered as a better alternative to swim up method for separating bull spermatozoa from frozen/thawed semen for IVP of bovine embryos

    MicroRNAs in pulmonary arterial remodeling

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    Pulmonary arterial remodeling is a presently irreversible pathologic hallmark of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). This complex disease involves pathogenic dysregulation of all cell types within the small pulmonary arteries contributing to vascular remodeling leading to intimal lesions, resulting in elevated pulmonary vascular resistance and right heart dysfunction. Mutations within the bone morphogenetic protein receptor 2 gene, leading to dysregulated proliferation of pulmonary artery smooth muscle cells, have been identified as being responsible for heritable PAH. Indeed, the disease is characterized by excessive cellular proliferation and resistance to apoptosis of smooth muscle and endothelial cells. Significant gene dysregulation at the transcriptional and signaling level has been identified. MicroRNAs are small non-coding RNA molecules that negatively regulate gene expression and have the ability to target numerous genes, therefore potentially controlling a host of gene regulatory and signaling pathways. The major role of miRNAs in pulmonary arterial remodeling is still relatively unknown although research data is emerging apace. Modulation of miRNAs represents a possible therapeutic target for altering the remodeling phenotype in the pulmonary vasculature. This review will focus on the role of miRNAs in regulating smooth muscle and endothelial cell phenotypes and their influence on pulmonary remodeling in the setting of PAH

    Feasibility and acceptability of expressive writing with postpartum women: a randomised controlled trial

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    Abstract Background: Pregnancy, birth and adjusting to a new baby is a potentially stressful time that can negatively affect women’s mental and physical health. Expressive writing, where people write about a stressful event for at least 15 minutes on three consecutive days, has been associated with improved health in some groups but it is not clear whether it is feasible and acceptable for use with postpartum women. This study therefore examined the feasibility and acceptability of expressive writing for postpartum women as part of a randomised controlled trial (RCT). Methods: The Health After Birth Trial (HABiT) was an RCT evaluating expressive writing for postpartum women which included measures of feasibility and acceptability. At 6 to 12 weeks after birth 854 women were randomised to expressive writing, a control writing task or normal care, and outcome measures of health were measured at baseline, one month later and six months later. Feasibility was measured by recruitment, attrition, and adherence to the intervention. Quantitative and qualitative measures of acceptability of the materials and the task were completed six months after the intervention. Results: Recruitment was low (10.7% of those invited to participate) and the recruited sample was from a restricted sociodemographic range. Attrition was high, increased as the study progressed (35.8% at baseline, 57.5% at one month, and 68.1% at six months) and was higher in the writing groups than in the normal care group. Women complied with instructions to write expressively or not, but adherence to the instruction to write for 15 minutes per day for three days was low (Expressive writing: 29.3%; Control writing: 23.5%). Acceptability measures showed that women who wrote expressively rated the materials/task both more positively and more negatively than those in the control writing group, and qualitative comments revealed that women enjoyed the writing and/or found it helpful even when it was upsetting. Conclusions: The feasibility of offering expressive writing as a universal self-help intervention to all postpartum women 6 to 12 weeks after birth in the HABiT trial was low, but the expressive writing intervention was acceptable to the majority of women who completed it

    Sleep Disorders and Demand for Medical Services: Evidence from a Population-Based Longitudinal Study

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    Background: The aim of this study was to investigate whether insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) were predictors of hospitalizations or emergency department visits during two years following the Sao Paulo Epidemiologic Sleep Study (EPISONO) sample. Methods and Findings: All participants (n = 1,101) who underwent a baseline evaluation between July and December 2007 were contacted in December 2009 and asked to fill out a questionnaire about body weight changes, number of hospitalizations and visits to the emergency department. Participants lost during the follow-up period represented 3.2 % (n = 35) and 7 subjects had died. Hospitalizations were reported by 116 volunteers (10.5%) and emergency department visits were reported by 136 participants (12.4%). The average body mass index (BMI) did not vary significantly between the first and the second assessment [26.7(95%CI:26.3–27.1) vs. 26.9(26.5–27.4) kg/m2]. After adjusting for confounders, a multiple logistic regression model revealed that female gender [1.4(1.0–1.9)], age 40years,insomniadiagnosedaccordingtotheDSMIVcriteria[1.6(1.02.6)],andapneahypopneaindex40 years, insomnia diagnosed according to the DSM-IV criteria [1.6(1.0–2.6)], and apneahypopnea index 15 [1.5(1.0–2.2)] were predictors of hospitalizations and/or demand for emergency services. Conclusion: Our study of a probabilistic sample of the Sao Paulo inhabitants shows that over a period of two years, insomnia and OSA were both associated with health impairment. Considering the high prevalence and public health burden of slee

    Quorum Decision-Making in Foraging Fish Shoals

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    Quorum responses provide a means for group-living animals to integrate and filter disparate social information to produce accurate and coherent group decisions. A quorum response may be defined as a steep increase in the probability of group members performing a given behaviour once a threshold minimum number of their group mates already performing that behaviour is exceeded. In a previous study we reported the use of a quorum response in group decision-making of threespine sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus) under a simulated predation threat. Here we examine the use of quorum responses by shoals of sticklebacks in first locating and then leaving a foraging patch. We show that a quorum rule explains movement decisions by threespine sticklebacks toward and then away from a food patch. Following both to and from a food patch occurred when a threshold number of initiators was exceeded, with the threshold being determined by the group size

    The ASAS-SN bright supernova catalogue - III. 2016

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    This catalogue summarizes information for all supernovae discovered by the All-Sky Automated Survey for SuperNovae (ASAS-SN) and all other bright (mpeak ≤ 17), spectroscopically confirmed supernovae discovered in 2016. We then gather the near-infrared through ultraviolet magnitudes of all host galaxies and the offsets of the supernovae from the centres of their hosts from public data bases. We illustrate the results using a sample that now totals 668 supernovae discovered since 2014 May 1, including the supernovae from our previous catalogues, with type distributions closely matching those of the ideal magnitude limited sample from Li et al. This is the third of a series of yearly papers on bright supernovae and their hosts from the ASAS-SN team
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