2,928 research outputs found

    Citizen scientists filling knowledge gaps of phosphate pollution dynamics in rural areas

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    In situ monitoring is fundamental to manage eutrophication in rivers and streams. However, in recent decades, the frequency and spatial coverage of regulatory monitoring have often been reduced due to funding and infrastructure limitations. This reduction has made it impossible to provide adequate coverage for most water bodies. In this study, trained citizen scientists filled spatial and temporal gaps in agency monitoring across a major catchment in rural England. By integrating data from citizen scientists, regulatory agencies, and the local water company, it was possible to demonstrate the opportunities for hypothesis-based citizen scientist monitoring to identify continuous and event-driven sources of phosphate pollution. Local citizen scientists effectively covered important spatial gaps, investigating river conditions both upstream and downstream of suspected pollution point sources, improving the identification of their temporal dynamics. When combined with long-term monitoring data from regulatory agencies, it became possible to identify areas within the catchment that exhibited increased phosphate concentrations during periods of low river discharge (summer). Inter-annual trends and anomaly detection suggested that continuous pollution sources dominated over event-driven sources in many sub-basins, allowing for the prioritisation of mitigation actions. This study highlights the opportunity for citizen scientists to fill gaps in regulatory monitoring efforts and contribute to the improved management of eutrophication in rural catchments

    A systematic review of human evidence for the intergenerational effects of exposure to ionizing radiation

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    To provide a synthesis of the published evidence pertaining to the intergenerational health effects of parental preconceptional exposure to ionizing radiation in humans. The study populations are the descendants of those who were exposed to ionizing radiation prior to conception. A Boolean search identified publications for review in accordance with Office of Health Assessment and Translation guidelines. Initially, a risk of bias assessment was conducted for each published study and relevant data extracted. Information was organized into adverse health outcome groups and exposure situations. To make an assessment from the body of evidence within each group, an initial confidence rating was assigned, before factors including inconsistencies between studies, magnitude of effect, dose response and confounders were considered. From this, ‘an effect’, ‘no effect’ or whether the evidence remained ‘inadequate’ to determine either effect or no effect, was ascertained. This assessment was based primarily upon the author’s conclusions within that evidence-base and, by binomial probability testing of the direction of effect reported. 2441 publications were identified for review which after screening was reduced to 127. For the majority of the adverse health groups, we find there to be inadequate evidence from which to determine whether the health effect was, or was not, associated with parental preconceptional radiation exposure. This was largely due to heterogeneity between individual study’s findings and conclusions within each group and, the limited number of studies within each group. We did observe one health grouping (congenital abnormalities) in occupationally exposed populations, where an increase in effect relative to their controls or large magnitude of effects, were reported, although it is noted that the authors of these studies interpreted their findings as most likely not to be associated with parental radiation exposure. We find there to be a lack of evidence to enable the formal assessment of radiation-related adverse effects in offspring of exposed humans. This is not the same as there being no clear evidence that effects may occur but does infer that if adverse health effects do arise in children of exposed parents, then these effects are small and difficult to reproducibly measure. Inconsistencies in designing studies are unavoidable, however we highlight the need for an element of standardization and, more sharing of primary datasets as part of open access initiatives, in order for future reviews to make reasonable conclusions. Overall, there is a need for future work to ensure comparable measures between studies where possible.</p

    Image_1_Rhinovirus protease cleavage of nucleoporins: perspective on implications for airway remodeling.TIF

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    Human Rhinoviruses (RV) are a major cause of common colds and infections in early childhood and can lead to subsequent development of asthma via an as yet unknown mechanism. Asthma is a chronic inflammatory pulmonary disease characterized by significant airway remodeling. A key component of airway remodeling is the transdifferentiation of airway epithelial and fibroblast cells into cells with a more contractile phenotype. Interestingly, transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-β), a well characterized inducer of transdifferentiation, is significantly higher in airways of asthmatics compared to non-asthmatics. RV infection induces TGF-β signaling, at the same time nucleoporins (Nups), including Nup153, are cleaved by RV proteases disrupting nucleocytoplasmic transport. As Nup153 regulates nuclear export of SMAD2, a key intermediate in the TGF-β transdifferentiation pathway, its loss of function would result in nuclear retention of SMAD2 and dysregulated TGF-β signaling. We hypothesize that RV infection leads to increased nuclear SMAD2, resulting in sustained TGF-β induced gene expression, priming the airway for subsequent development of asthma. Our hypothesis brings together disparate studies on RV, asthma and Nup153 with the aim to prompt new research into the role of RV infection in development of asthma.</p

    Investigating the role of hydrological connectivity on the processing of organic carbon in tropical aquatic ecosystems

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    Inland waters are highways of carbon and nutrient flows between the land and ocean. Aquatic environments integrate multiple sources and processes over space and time that influence ecosystem functionality. The complexity of these systems and their multiple interactions with the surrounding environment are conceptualised, but often lack empirical scrutiny that allows further understanding of how inland waters mobilise, transport, and utilise carbon and nutrients. This is particularly evident in tropical waters. Here, we apply advanced geochemical analyses of dissolved organic matter (DOM) composition in conjunction with algal pigment biomarkers, to determine the seasonal variability of organic matter production, processing and export for a tropical, floodpulse wetland, Tasik Chini (Malaysia). We identify two phases in the hydrological cycle: Phase 1 signifying a transition from the wet season with high suspended sediment and dissolved organic carbon concentrations. DOM is composed of humic substances, building blocks and lower molecular weight compounds. Towards the end this phase then are periods of increased water clarity and algal productivity. This is followed by Phase 2, which has a greater contribution of autochthonous DOM, composed of proteinaceous material, concomitant with lower dissolved nutrient concentrations, increased mixotrophic algae and emergent vegetation. Based on this framework, we highlight the role of such tropical wetland lakes as hydrological “bottlenecks,” through a lentic/lotic switch that shifts aquatic transport of carbon and nutrients from lateral river continuum supply to flood pulses. We highlight the need to consider inherent biases of spatial and temporal scaling when examining freshwater ecosystems along the land-ocean aquatic continuum

    Do risk, time and prosocial preferences predict risky sexual behaviour of youths in a low-income, high-risk setting?

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    Young people in sub-Saharan Africa are particularly at high risk of sexually transmitted infections. Little is known about their preferences and even less about their association with risky sexual behaviour. We conducted incentivized economic experiments to measure risk, time and prosocial preferences in Zimbabwe. Preferences measured at baseline predict biomarker and self-reported measures of risky sexual behaviour gathered 12 months later. We find robust evidence that individuals more altruistic at baseline are more likely to be Herpes Simplex Virus Type-2 (HSV-2) positive 12 months later. Analysis by sex shows this association is driven by our sample of women. Having more sexual partners is associated with greater risk tolerance amongst men and greater impatience amongst women. Results highlight heterogeneity in the association between preferences and risky sexual behaviour

    Permanent magnet brushless drives for aircraft flight control surface actuation

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    The paper describes research into electromechanical actuation systems for the flight control surfaces of large civil aircraft. More significantly, the merits of permanent magnet brushless drive technology for the actuation of a spoiler surface is considered</p

    Permanent magnet brushless drives for aircraft flight control surface actuation

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    The paper describes research into electromechanical actuation systems for the flight control surfaces of large civil aircraft. More significantly, the merits of permanent magnet brushless drive technology for the actuation of a spoiler surface is considered</p

    Students’ Experiences of English-Medium Instruction at the Postgraduate Level: Challenges and Sustainable Support for Success

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    More and more students are exploring overseas destinations and English-Medium Instruction (EMI) environments for their postgraduate studies. While it is known that students can often struggle in an EMI environment, the challenges faced by postgraduate students, and the support they receive or need, are not fully understood. By adopting a two-stage qualitative sequential data collection approach, this study explored the experiences and perceptions of full-time postgraduate students from Mainland China studying in a one-year Master of Education programme at a Hong Kong university during their first semester. Data were collected through an online survey (N = 73) and three in-depth group interviews (N = 12). The analysis of data offered a holistic understanding of the students’ challenges, needs, and struggles. The findings provide suggestions for support that teachers and programmes can provide to postgraduate students, as well as student self-help support strategies. Several sustainable support strategies are proposed to assist students in adjusting and succeeding in the EMI context at the postgraduate level

    Using lake sediments to assess the long-term impacts of anthropogenic activity in tropical river deltas

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    Tropical river deltas, and the social-ecological systems they sustain, are changing rapidly due to anthropogenic activity and climatic change. Baseline data to inform sustainable management options for resilient deltas is urgently needed and palaeolimnology (reconstructing past conditions from lake or wetland deposits) can provide crucial long-term perspectives needed to identify drivers and rates of change. We review how palaeolimnology can be a valuable tool for resource managers using three current issues facing tropical delta regions: hydrology and sediment supply, salinisation and nutrient pollution. The unique ability of palaeolimnological methods to untangle multiple stressors is also discussed. We demonstrate how palaeolimnology has been used to understand each of these issues, in other aquatic environments, to be incorporated into policy. Palaeolimnology is a key tool to understanding how anthropogenic influences interact with other environmental stressors, providing policymakers and resource managers with a ‘big picture’ view and possible holistic solutions that can be implemented

    Unpacking and validating the 'integration' core concept of physiology by an Australian team

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    Consensus was reached on seven core concepts of physiology using the Delphi method, including “integration,” outlined by the descriptor “cells, tissues, organs, and organ systems interact to create and sustain life.” This core concept was unpacked by a team of 3 Australian physiology educators into hierarchical levels, identifying 5 themes and 10 subthemes, up to 1 level deep. The unpacked core concept was then circulated among 23 experienced physiology educators for comments and to rate both level of importance and level of difficulty for each theme and subtheme. Data were analyzed using a one-way ANOVA to compare between and within themes. The main theme (theme 1: the body is organized within a hierarchy of structures, from atoms to molecules, cells, tissues, organs, and organ systems) was almost universally rated as Essential. Interestingly, the main theme was also rated between Slightly Difficult to Not Difficult, which was significantly different from all other subthemes. There were two separate subsets of themes in relation to importance, with three themes rating between Essential and Important and the two other themes rating as Important. Two subsets in the difficulty of the main themes were also identified. While many core concepts can be taught concurrently, Integration requires the application of prior knowledge, with the expectation that learners should be able to apply concepts from “cell-cell communication,” “homeostasis,” and “structure and function,” before understanding the overall Integration core concept. As such, themes from the Integration core concept should be taught within the endmost semesters of a Physiology program. NEW &amp; NOTEWORTHY This article proposes the inclusion of a core concept regarding “integration” into physiology-based curricula, with the descriptor “cells, tissues, organs, and organ systems interact to create and sustain life.” This concept expands prior knowledge and applies physiological understanding to real-world scenarios and introduces contexts such as medications, diseases, and aging to the student learning experience. To comprehend the topics within the Integration core concept, students will need to apply learned material from earlier semesters.</p
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