1,106 research outputs found

    Using citizen science in the photo-identification of adult individuals of an amphibian based on two facial skin features

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    Among amphibians, adults have traditionally been identified in capture-mark-recapture studies using invasive marking techniques with associated ethical, cost and logistical considerations. However, species in this group may be strong candidates for photo-identification based on natural skin features that removes many of these concerns, with this technique opening up opportunities for citizen scientists to be involved in animal monitoring programs. We investigated the feasibility of using citizen science to distinguish between individuals of an Australian anuran (the sandpaper frog, Lechriodus fletcheri) based on a visual analysis of their natural skin features. We collected photographs of marked individuals in the field over three breeding seasons using a smartphone device. This photo-database was used to create an online survey to determine how easily members of the general public could photo-match individuals by a comparison of two facial skin features; black banding that runs horizontally above the tympanum and a background array of tubercles present in this region. Survey participants were provided with 30 closed, multiple choice questions in which they were asked to match separate images of a query frog from small image pools of potential candidate matches. Participants were consistently able to match individuals with a low matching error rate (mean ± SD of 26 ± 5) despite the relatively low quality of photographs taken from a smartphone device in the field, with most query frogs being matched by a majority of participants (mean ± SD of 86.02 ± 9.52%). These features were found to be unique and stable among adult males and females. Thus, photo-identification is likely to be a valid, non-invasive method for capture-mark-recapture for L. fletcheri, and likely many anurans that display similar facial skin features. This may become an important alternative to artificial marking techniques, with the challenges of manual photo-matching reduced by spreading workloads among members of the public that can be recruited online

    Overcoming the critical slowing down of flat-histogram Monte Carlo simulations: Cluster updates and optimized broad-histogram ensembles

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    We study the performance of Monte Carlo simulations that sample a broad histogram in energy by determining the mean first-passage time to span the entire energy space of d-dimensional ferromagnetic Ising/Potts models. We first show that flat-histogram Monte Carlo methods with single-spin flip updates such as the Wang-Landau algorithm or the multicanonical method perform sub-optimally in comparison to an unbiased Markovian random walk in energy space. For the d=1,2,3 Ising model, the mean first-passage time \tau scales with the number of spins N=L^d as \tau \propto N^2L^z. The critical exponent z is found to decrease as the dimensionality d is increased. In the mean-field limit of infinite dimensions we find that z vanishes up to logarithmic corrections. We then demonstrate how the slowdown characterized by z>0 for finite d can be overcome by two complementary approaches - cluster dynamics in connection with Wang-Landau sampling and the recently developed ensemble optimization technique. Both approaches are found to improve the random walk in energy space so that \tau \propto N^2 up to logarithmic corrections for the d=1 and d=2 Ising model

    The Absolute Magnitude of RRc Variables From Statistical Parallax

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    We present the first definitive measurement of the absolute magnitude of RR Lyrae c-type variable stars (RRc) determined purely from statistical parallax. We use a sample of 247 RRc selected from the All Sky Automated Survey (ASAS) for which high-quality light curves, photometry and proper motions are available. We obtain high-resolution echelle spectra for these objects to determine radial velocities and abundances as part of the Carnegie RR Lyrae Survey (CARRS). We find that M_(V,RRc) = 0.52 +/- 0.11 at a mean metallicity of [Fe/H] = -1.59. This is to be compared with previous estimates for RRab stars (M_(V,RRab) = 0.75 +/- 0.13 and the only direct measurement of an RRc absolute magnitude (RZ Cephei, M_(V, RRc) = 0.27 +/- 0.17). We find the bulk velocity of the halo to be (W_pi, W_theta, W_z) = (10.9,34.9,7.2) km/s in the radial, rotational and vertical directions with dispersions (sigma_(W_pi), sigma_(W_theta), sigma_(W_z)) = (154.7, 103.6, 93.8) km/s. For the disk, we find (W_pi, W_theta, W_z) = (8.5, 213.2, -22.1) km/s with dispersions (sigma_(W_pi), sigma_(W_theta), sigma_(W_z)) = (63.5, 49.6, 51.3) km/s. Finally, we suggest that UCAC2 proper motion errors may be overestimated by about 25%Comment: Submitted to ApJ. 11 pages including 6 figure

    Cluster AgeS Experiment (CASE): RR Lyrae stars from the globular cluster Omega Centauri as standard candles

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    New photometry of RRab and RRc stars in Omega Cen is used to calibrate their absolute magnitudes M_V as a function of: a) metallicity; and b) the Fourier parameters of light curves in the V band. The zero point of both calibrations relies on the distance modulus to the cluster derived earlier by the CASE project based on observations of the detached eclipsing binary OGLE GC17. For RRab variables we obtained a relation of M_V=(0.26\pm 0.08)[Fe/H]+(0.91\pm 0.13). A dereddened distance modulus to the LMC based on that formula is μ0=18.56±0.14\mu_{0}=18.56\pm 0.14 mag. The second calibration of M_V, which is based on Fourier coefficients of decomposed light curves, results in the LMC distance of μ0=18.51±0.07\mu_{0}=18.51\pm 0.07 mag.Comment: accepted for publication in MNRAS, 13 pages, 8 figure

    Finding Needles in Haystacks: The Use of Quantitative Proteomics for the Early Detection of Colorectal Cancer

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    Colorectal cancer (CRC) is a common and treatable disease if diagnosed early. Current population screening programs are suboptimal, and consequently, there is a need for the development of new methodologies for early diagnosis of CRC. In the past 10 years, unprecedented technological advancements in the field of mass spectrometry (MS)-based proteomics have progressively increased the sophistication and utility of these investigations, leading to the draft mapping of the human proteome. These exciting studies have shaped our mechanistic understanding of the human genome and begun to provide us with a suite of novel biomarkers to predict the onset, progression and severity of many debilitating diseases. Thus, sophisticated MS workflows coupled with revolutionary protein quantification techniques hold promise for the field of MS-based plasma proteomics, particularly valuable in the context of early stage identification of curable CRC. However, within the last 40 years, no new plasma protein biomarkers of CRC have been translated into clinical practice. Here. we discuss the application of proteomic technologies within the field of CRC, highlighting contemporary MS-based plasma proteomic strategies that could be exploited to deliver on the promise of a panel of sensitive and specific plasma-based biomarkers with which to non-invasively detect early stage CRC

    The McDonald Observatory Planet Search: New Long-Period Giant Planets, and Two Interacting Jupiters in the HD 155358 System

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    We present high-precision radial velocity (RV) observations of four solar-type (F7-G5) stars - HD 79498, HD 155358, HD 197037, and HD 220773 - taken as part of the McDonald Observatory Planet Search Program. For each of these stars, we see evidence of Keplerian motion caused by the presence of one or more gas giant planets in long-period orbits. We derive orbital parameters for each system, and note the properties (composition, activity, etc.) of the host stars. While we have previously announced the two-gas-giant HD 155358 system, we now report a shorter period for planet c. This new period is consistent with the planets being trapped in mutual 2:1 mean-motion resonance. We therefore perform an in-depth stability analysis, placing additional constraints on the orbital parameters of the planets. These results demonstrate the excellent long-term RV stability of the spectrometers on both the Harlan J. Smith 2.7 m telescope and the Hobby-Eberly telescope.Comment: 38 pages, 10 figures, 6 tables. Accepted for publication in Ap

    Rab11-FIP3 is a cell cycle-regulated phosphoprotein

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    <b>BACKGROUND:</b> Rab11 and its effector molecule, Rab11-FIP3 (FIP3), associate with recycling endosomes and traffic into the furrow and midbody of cells during cytokinesis. FIP3 also controls recycling endosome distribution during interphase. Here, we examine whether phosphorylation of FIP3 is involved in these activities.<p></p> <b>RESULTS:</b> We identify four sites of phosphorylation of FIP3 in vivo, S-102, S-280, S-347 and S-450 and identify S-102 as a target for Cdk1-cyclin B in vitro. Of these, we show that S-102 is phosphorylated in metaphase and is dephosphorylated as cells enter telophase. Over-expression of FIP3-S102D increased the frequency of binucleate cells consistent with a role for this phospho-acceptor site in cytokinesis. Mutation of S-280, S-347 or S-450 or other previously identified phospho-acceptor sites (S-488, S-538, S-647 and S-648) was without effect on binucleate cell formation and did not modulate the distribution of FIP3 during the cell cycle. In an attempt to identify a functional role for FIP3 phosphorylation, we report that the change in FIP3 distribution from cytosolic to membrane-associated observed during progression from anaphase to telophase is accompanied by a concomitant dephosphorylation of FIP3. However, the phospho-acceptor sites identified here did not control this change in distribution.<p></p> <b>CONCLUSIONS:</b> Our data thus identify FIP3 as a cell cycle regulated phosphoprotein and suggest dephosphorylation of FIP3 accompanies its translocation from the cytosol to membranes during telophase. S102 is dephosphorylated during telophase; mutation of S102 exerts a modest effect on cytokinesis. Finally, we show that de/phosphorylation of the phospho-acceptor sites identified here (S-102, S-280, S-347 and S-450) is not required for the spatial control of recycling endosome distribution or function
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