294 research outputs found

    Aerodynamic imaging by mosquitoes inspires a surface detector for autonomous flying vehicles

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    Some flying animals use active sensing to perceive and avoid obstacles. Nocturnal mosquitoes exhibit a behavioral response to divert away from surfaces when vision is unavailable, indicating a short-range, mechanosensory collision-avoidance mechanism. We suggest that this behavior is mediated by perceiving modulations of their self-induced airflow patterns as they enter a ground or wall effect. We used computational fluid dynamics simulations of low-altitude and near-wall flights based on in vivo high-speed kinematic measurements to quantify changes in the self-generated pressure and velocity cues at the sensitive mechanosensory antennae. We validated the principle that encoding aerodynamic information can enable collision avoidance by developing a quadcopter with a sensory system inspired by the mosquito. Such low-power sensing systems have major potential for future use in safer rotorcraft control systems

    Dynamics of direct inter-pack encounters in endangered African wild dogs

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    Aggressive encounters may have important life history consequences due to the potential for injury and death, disease transmission, dispersal opportunities or exclusion from key areas of the home range. Despite this, little is known of their detailed dynamics, mainly due to the difficulties of directly observing encounters in detail. Here, we describe detailed spatial dynamics of inter-pack encounters in African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus), using data from custom-built high-resolution GPS collars in 11 free-ranging packs. On average, each pack encountered another pack approximately every 7 weeks and met each neighbour twice each year. Surprisingly, intruders were more likely to win encounters (winning 78.6% of encounters by remaining closer to the site in the short term). However, intruders did tend to move farther than residents toward their own range core in the short-term (1 h) post-encounter, and if this were used to indicate losing an encounter, then the majority (73.3%) of encounters were won by residents. Surprisingly, relative pack size had little effect on encounter outcome, and injuries were rare (<15% of encounters). These results highlight the difficulty of remotely scoring encounters involving mobile participants away from static defendable food resources. Although inter-pack range overlap was reduced following an encounter, encounter outcome did not seem to drive this, as both packs shifted their ranges post-encounter. Our results indicate that inter-pack encounters may be lower risk than previously suggested and do not appear to influence long-term movement and ranging

    Scio Ergo Sum: Knowledge of the Self in a Nonhuman Primate

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    The pressures of developing and maintaining intricate social relationships may have led to the evolution of enhanced cognitive abilities in many social nonhuman species, particularly primates. Knowledge of the dominance ranks and social relationships of other individuals, for example, is important in evaluating one’s position in the prevailing affiliative and dominance networks within a primate society and could be acquired through direct or perceived experience. Our analysis of allogrooming supplants among wild bonnet macaques had revealed that individual females successfully evaluate social relationships among other group females and possess egotistical knowledge of their own positions, relative to those of others, in the social hierarchy. These individuals, therefore, appeared to have abstracted and mentally represented their own personal attributes as well as those of other members of the group. Bonnet macaques also seem to recognise that other individuals have beliefs that may be different from their own, manipulate another individual’s actions and beliefs in a variety of social situations, and selectively reveal or withhold information from others—capabilities displayed by certain individuals that became evident in the course of our earlier studies on tactical deception in the species. In conclusion, the ability to develop belief systems and form mental representations, generated by direct personal experience, suggests a rather early evolutionary origin for fairly sophisticated cognitive capabilities, characterised by an objectified self with limited regulatory control over more subjective levels of self-awareness, in cercopithecine primates, pre-dating those of the great apes. We, therefore, argue, in this review, that bonnet macaques might represent an intermediate stage in the evolution of self-awareness, a process which began with the subjective awareness that characterises most, if not all, higher animal species and culminates in the most sophisticated form of symbolic self-awareness, apparently the hallmark of the human species alone

    Preference for novel faces in male infant monkeys predicts cerebrospinal fluid oxytocin concentrations later in life

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    The ability to recognize individuals is a critical skill acquired early in life for group living species. In primates, individual recognition occurs predominantly through face discrimination. Despite the essential adaptive value of this ability, robust individual differences in conspecific face recognition exist, yet its associated biology remains unknown. Although pharmacological administration of oxytocin has implicated this neuropeptide in face perception and social memory, no prior research has tested the relationship between individual differences in face recognition and endogenous oxytocin concentrations. Here we show in a male rhesus monkey cohort (N = 60) that infant performance in a task used to determine face recognition ability (specifically, the ability of animals to show a preference for a novel face) robustly predicts cerebrospinal fluid, but not blood, oxytocin concentrations up to five years after behavioural assessment. These results argue that central oxytocin biology may be related to individual face perceptual abilities necessary for group living, and that these differences are stable traits

    Determinants of immigration strategies in male crested macaques (Macaca nigra).

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    Immigration into a new group can produce substantial costs due to resistance from residents, but also reproductive benefits. Whether or not individuals base their immigration strategy on prospective costbenefit ratios remains unknown. We investigated individual immigration decisions in crested macaques, a primate species with a high reproductive skew in favour of high-ranking males. We found two different strategies. Males who achieved low rank in the new group usually immigrated after another male had immigrated within the previous 25 days and achieved high rank. They never got injured but also had low prospective reproductive success. We assume that these males benefitted from immigrating into a destabilized male hierarchy. Males who achieved high rank in the new group usually immigrated independent of previous immigrations. They recieved injuries more frequently and therefore bore immigration costs. They, however, also had higher reproductive success prospects. We conclude that male crested macaques base their immigration strategy on relative fighting ability and thus potential rank in the new group i.e. potential reproductive benefits, as well as potential costs of injury

    Genetic Diversity and Population Parameters of Sea Otters, Enhydra lutris, before Fur Trade Extirpation from 1741–1911

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    All existing sea otter, Enhydra lutris, populations have suffered at least one historic population bottleneck stemming from the fur trade extirpations of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. We examined genetic variation, gene flow, and population structure at five microsatellite loci in samples from five pre-fur trade populations throughout the sea otter's historical range: California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, and Russia. We then compared those values to genetic diversity and population structure found within five modern sea otter populations throughout their current range: California, Prince William Sound, Amchitka Island, Southeast Alaska and Washington. We found twice the genetic diversity in the pre-fur trade populations when compared to modern sea otters, a level of diversity that was similar to levels that are found in other mammal populations that have not experienced population bottlenecks. Even with the significant loss in genetic diversity modern sea otters have retained historical structure. There was greater gene flow before extirpation than that found among modern sea otter populations but the difference was not statistically significant. The most dramatic effect of pre fur trade population extirpation was the loss of genetic diversity. For long term conservation of these populations increasing gene flow and the maintenance of remnant genetic diversity should be encouraged

    PTEN deficiency: a role in mammary carcinogenesis

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    The PTEN gene is often mutated in primary human tumors and cell lines, but the low rate of somatic PTEN mutation in human breast cancer has led to debate over the role of this tumor suppressor in this disease. The involvement of PTEN in human mammary oncogenesis has been implicated from studies showing that germline PTEN mutation in Cowden disease predisposes to breast cancer, the frequent loss of heterozygosity at the PTEN locus, and reduced PTEN protein levels in sporadic breast cancers. To assay the potential contribution of PTEN loss in breast tumor promotion, Li et al. [1] crossed Pten heterozygous mice with mouse mammary tumor virus-Wnt-1 transgenic (Wnt-1 TG, Pten+/-) mice. Mammary ductal carcinoma developed earlier in Wnt-1 TG, Pten+/- mice than in mice bearing either genetic change alone, and showed frequent loss of the remaining wild-type PTEN allele. These data indicate a role for PTEN in breast tumorigenesis in an in vivo model

    Chronic Exposure to the Herbicide, Atrazine, Causes Mitochondrial Dysfunction and Insulin Resistance

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    There is an apparent overlap between areas in the USA where the herbicide, atrazine (ATZ), is heavily used and obesity-prevalence maps of people with a BMI over 30. Given that herbicides act on photosystem II of the thylakoid membrane of chloroplasts, which have a functional structure similar to mitochondria, we investigated whether chronic exposure to low concentrations of ATZ might cause obesity or insulin resistance by damaging mitochondrial function. Sprague-Dawley rats (n = 48) were treated for 5 months with low concentrations (30 or 300 µg kg−1 day−1) of ATZ provided in drinking water. One group of animals was fed a regular diet for the entire period, and another group of animals was fed a high-fat diet (40% fat) for 2 months after 3 months of regular diet. Various parameters of insulin resistance were measured. Morphology and functional activities of mitochondria were evaluated in tissues of ATZ-exposed animals and in isolated mitochondria. Chronic administration of ATZ decreased basal metabolic rate, and increased body weight, intra-abdominal fat and insulin resistance without changing food intake or physical activity level. A high-fat diet further exacerbated insulin resistance and obesity. Mitochondria in skeletal muscle and liver of ATZ-treated rats were swollen with disrupted cristae. ATZ blocked the activities of oxidative phosphorylation complexes I and III, resulting in decreased oxygen consumption. It also suppressed the insulin-mediated phosphorylation of Akt. These results suggest that long-term exposure to the herbicide ATZ might contribute to the development of insulin resistance and obesity, particularly where a high-fat diet is prevalent

    The relationship between organisational characteristics and the effects of clinical guidelines on medical performance in hospitals, a meta-analysis

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    We are grateful to our colleagues involved in the systematic review of guideline dissemination and implementation strategies across all settings especially Cynthia Fraser, Graeme MacLennan, Craig Ramsay, Paula Whitty, Martin Eccles, Lloyd Matowe, Liz Shirran. The systematic review of guideline dissemination and implementation strategies across all settings was funded by the UK NHS Health Technology Assessment Program. Dr Ruth Thomas is funded by a Wellcome Training Fellowship in Health Services Research. (Grant number GR063790MA). The Health Services Research Unit is funded by the Chief Scientists Office of the Scottish Executive Department of Health. Dr Jeremy Grimshaw holds a Canada Research Chair in Health Knowledge Transfer and Uptake. However the views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily the funders.Peer reviewedPublisher PD
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