346 research outputs found

    Rapid prototyping as a faculty-wide activity: An innovative approach to the redesign of courses and instructional medthods at the University of Twente

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    At the Faculty of Educational Science and Technology (Toegepaste Onderwijskunde, T.O.) of the University of Twente a revolutionary process of institutional change is occurring. Under the banner of C@MPUS+, we have made a commitment to blend the best of our old values of good teaching and an attractive campus life with new didactics and advanced technologies so that we can extend our already unique curriculum and instructional practice over distance and time, as well as enrich it

    Local positive feedback and the persistence and recovery of fringe Avicennia marina (Forssk.) Vierh. mangroves

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    While mangrove restoration efforts are reasonably successful, failure often occurs in high wave energy situations. Due to differences in wave energy, seedling mortality rates vary strongly with position on the intertidal flat between high water spring and high water neap elevations. However, a local positive feedback can be present between the pneumatophores of adult mangroves and the survival of mangrove seedlings to trigger recovery. In this study, a mangrove population of Avicennia marina is modelled to determine the effects of seedling mortality and local positive feedback on mangrove recovery. The model uses life history data and dispersal to simulate population dynamics. The mangrove range limits are determined by high water spring and high water neap levels. The results indicate that within these limits mangrove populations with life-history parameter values as derived from literature are indeed capable of fast growth under conditions with low seedling mortality. Local positive feedback has then a small positive influence on population recovery after mangrove loss. If, however, mortality rates increase, such as in high wave energy situations, the importance of a positive feedback increases. The model shows that a positive feedback may, given high seedling mortality rates, be an important factor for mangrove recovery. While a positive feedback may enable mangrove persistence in unfavourable conditions, destruction of adult mangroves can remove the positive feedback, which would render the system uninhabitable and practically prohibits reforestation of such areas. The model results and the presence of positive feedbacks and their importance for population dynamics in harsh conditions indicate that investigating and understanding possible feedbacks could be crucial for successful restoration effort

    Environmental factors influencing the spread of the highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 virus in wild birds in Europe

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    A large number of occurrences of the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 virus in wild birds were reported in Europe. The relationship between the occurrence pattern and environmental factors has, however, not yet been explored. This research uses logistic regression to quantify the relationships between anthropogenic or physical environmental factors and HPAI H5N1 occurrences. Our results indicate that HPAI H5N1 occurrences are highly correlated with the following: the increased normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) in December; intermediate NDVI in March; lower elevations; increased minimum temperatures in January; and reduced precipitation in January. A predictive risk map of HPAI H5N1 occurrences in wild birds in Europe was generated on the basis of five key environmental factors. Independent validation of the risk map showed the predictive model to be of high accuracy (79%). The analysis suggests that HPAI H5N1 occurrences in wild birds are strongly influenced by the availability of food resources and are facilitated by increased temperatures and reduced precipitation. We therefore deduced that HPAI H5N1 occurrences in wild birds in Europe are probably caused by contact with other wild birds and not by contact with domestic poultry. These findings are important considerations for the global surveillance of HPAI H5N1 occurrences in wild birds

    A comparison of faecal analysis with backtracking to determine the diet composition and species preference of the black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis minor)

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    The diet of black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis minor) was studied using backtracking and faecal analysis in South Africa. Both methods yielded different results, with a large bias for dominant species. Results of backtracking showed that the rhinos browsed on 80 plant species. Grasses comprised 4.5% of the diet in the faecal analysis, but were not recorded during the backtracking. The backtracking method, along with a measure of forage availability, was used to identify two groups of plant species, those species taken in a higher proportion than available in the field and those taken in a lower proportion. Chemical analyses showed that these two species groups were similar in in vitro digestibility, macro-elements and fibre constituents. Mean bite size and species contribution to the diet were not correlated with any of the forage quality parameters, indicating that rhinos were not maximising nutrient intake or minimising fibre intake of these consumed plant species

    Strategic assessment of the magnitude and impacts of sand mining in Poyang Lake, China

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    Planning for the extraction of aggregates is typically dealt with at a case to case basis, without assessing environmental impacts strategically. In this study we assess the impact of sand mining in Poyang Lake, where dredging began in 2001 after sand mining in the Yangtze River had been banned. In April 2008 concern over the impact on the biodiversity led to a ban on sand mining in Poyang Lake until further plans could be developed. Planning will require consideration of both sand extraction in relation to available sediment resources and also environmental impacts within the context of future demand for sand in the lower Yangtze Valley. We used pairs of near-infrared (NIR) Aster satellite imagery to estimate the number of vessels leaving the lake. Based on this we calculated a rate of sand extraction of 236 million m3 year-1 in 2005–2006. This corresponds to 9% of the total Chinese demand for sand. It qualifies Poyang Lake as probably the largest sand mining operation in the world. It also indicates that sand extraction currently dominates the sediment balance of the lower Yangtze River. A positive relation between demand for sand and GDP, revealed by historic data from the USA, suggests that the current per capita demand for sand in China might increase in the near future from 2 to 4 m3 year-1. We review various environmental impacts and question whether it will be possible to preserve the rich biodiversity of the lake, while continuing at the same time satisfying the increasing Chinese demand for sand. Finally we review alternative options for sand mining, in order to relieve the pressure from the Poyang Lake ecosyste
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