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Communities in DSpace
Investing in Blue Natural Capital to Secure a Future for the Red Sea EcosystemsFor millennia, coastal and marine ecosystems have adapted and flourished in the Red Sea’s unique environment. Surrounded by deserts on all sides, the Red Sea is subjected to high dust inputs and receives very little freshwater input, and so harbors a high salinity. Coral reefs, seagrass meadows, and mangroves flourish in this environment and provide socio-economic and environmental benefits to the bordering coastlines and countries. Interestingly, while coral reef ecosystems are currently experiencing rapid decline on a global scale, those in the Red Sea appear to be in relatively better shape. That said, they are certainly not immune to the stressors that cause degradation, such as increasing ocean temperature, acidification and pollution. In many regions, ecosystems are already severely deteriorating and are further threatened by increasing population pressure and large coastal development projects. Degradation of these marine habitats will lead to environmental costs, as well as significant economic losses. Therefore, it will result in a missed opportunity for the bordering countries to develop a sustainable blue economy and integrate innovative nature-based solutions. Recognizing that securing the Red Sea ecosystems’ future must occur in synergy with continued social and economic growth, we developed an action plan for the conservation, restoration, and growth of marine environments of the Red Sea. We then investigated the level of resources for financial and economic investment that may incentivize these activities. This study presents a set of commercially viable financial investment strategies, ecological innovations, and sustainable development opportunities, which can, if implemented strategically, help ensure long-term economic benefits while promoting environmental conservation. We make a case for investing in blue natural capital and propose a strategic development model that relies on maintaining the health of natural ecosystems to safeguard the Red Sea’s sustainable development.
Species-Specific Variations in the Metabolomic Profiles of Acropora hyacinthus and Acropora millepora Mask Acute Temperature Stress Effects in Adult Coral ColoniesCoral reefs are suffering unprecedented declines in health state on a global scale. Some have suggested that human assisted evolution or assisted gene flow may now be necessary to effectively restore reefs and pre-condition them for future climate change. An understanding of the key metabolic processes in corals, including under stressed conditions, would greatly facilitate the effective application of such interventions. To date, however, there has been little research on corals at this level, particularly regarding studies of the metabolome of Scleractinian corals. Here, the metabolomic profiles [measured using 1H nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H NMR) and ultra-high-performance liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS)] of two dominant reef building corals, Acropora hyacinthus and A. millepora, from two distinct geographical locations (Australia and Singapore) were characterized. We assessed how an acute temperature stress (an increase of 3.25°C ± 0.28 from ambient control levels over 8 days), shifted the corals’ baseline metabolomic profiles. Regardless of the profiling method utilized, metabolomic signatures of coral colonies were significantly distinct between coral species, a result supporting previous work. However, this strong species-specific metabolomic signature appeared to mask any changes resulting from the acute heat stress. On closer examination, we were able to discriminate between control and temperature stressed groups using a partial least squares discriminant analysis classification model (PLSDA). However, in all cases “late” components needed to be selected (i.e., 7 and 8 instead of 1 and 2), suggesting any treatment effect was small, relative to other sources of variation. This highlights the importance of pre-characterizing the coral colony metabolomes, and of factoring that knowledge into any experimental design that seeks to understand the apparently subtle metabolic effects of acute heat stress on adult corals. Further research is therefore needed to decouple these apparent individual and species-level metabolomic responses to climate change in corals.
Going with the flow: How corals in high‐flow environments can beat the heatCoral reefs are experiencing unprecedented declines in health on a global scale leading to severe reductions in coral cover. One major cause of this decline is increasing sea surface temperature. However, conspecific colonies separated by even small spatial distances appear to show varying responses to this global stressor. One factor contributing to differential responses to heat stress is variability in the coral's micro‐environment, such as the amount of water flow a coral experiences. High flow provides corals with a variety of health benefits, including heat stress mitigation. Here, we investigate how water flow affects coral gene expression and provides resilience to increasing temperatures. We examined host and photosymbiont gene expression of Acropora cf. pulchra colonies in discrete in situ flow environments during a natural bleaching event. In addition, we conducted controlled ex situ tank experiments where we exposed A. cf. pulchra to different flow regimes and acute heat stress. Notably, we observed distinct flow‐driven transcriptomic signatures related to energy expenditure, growth, heterotrophy and a healthy coral host–photosymbiont relationship. We also observed disparate transcriptomic responses during bleaching recovery between the high‐ and low‐flow sites. Additionally, corals exposed to high flow showed “frontloading” of specific heat‐stress‐related genes such as heat shock proteins, antioxidant enzymes, genes involved in apoptosis regulation, innate immunity and cell adhesion. We posit that frontloading is a result of increased oxidative metabolism generated by the increased water movement. Gene frontloading may at least partially explain the observation that colonies in high‐flow environments show higher survival and/or faster recovery in response to bleaching events.
The design and feasibility of a work-focused relational group-CBT treatment programme to enhance job retention in employed service-users with moderate-severe recurrent depression.Background: Employees with moderate-severe recurrent depression are at risk of losing their jobs. A search of the literature revealed that most psychotherapeutic interventions are not work-focused, and there are none that have been specifically designed to enhance job retention in employed service-users of UK Community Mental Health Teams. A subsequent update of the research evidence using the same literature search strategy plus another search with more stringent inclusion criteria found several studies of work-focused psychotherapeutic interventions. However, but there is still a gap in terms of work-focused psychotherapeutic interventions specifically designed for employees with more severe mental health problems. Methods: The Medical Research Council guidance for the development and evaluation of complex interventions was used throughout this study. Firstly, an effectiveness review of relevant psychotherapeutic interventions revealed several over-arching principles which appeared to underpin their effects such as using a care pathway incorporating multi-disciplinary teamwork, guideline concordance, informed clinical decision-making, tracking of progress, and the use of outreach to encourage clients to complete treatment. Secondly, a stakeholder consultation was undertaken during the planning period, and realist analysis of the focus group data identified six plausible mechanisms of change which allowed for modification of the new intervention design and refinement of the programme theory. Thirdly, piloting involved a small feasibility study using a quasi-experimental pre-post design with eight participants which generated both quantitative and qualitative data regarding clinical and work outcomes. Fourthly, a further stakeholder consultation was undertaken during the reviewing period to consider re-design of the new intervention in terms of improving acceptability and accessibility. Finally, a process of mixed methods data integration was used to make recommendations for further implementation and evaluation in a definitive trial. Results: Six provisional Context-Intervention-Mechanism-Outcome (CIMO) configurations were developed into a programme theory. Overall, implementation and evaluation of the new intervention were feasible although problems were encountered in recruiting sufficient numbers for randomisation, and with collecting follow up data. It was also expensive to provide compared to CBT programmes in primary and secondary mental healthcare services. Outcomes suggest the new intervention is a promising treatment for moderate-severe recurrent depression for some women and may help them in maintaining their employment. Acceptability could be improved by making the new intervention more interesting and stimulating, with a focus on coping over the long-term. Accessibility could be improved by making the new intervention more understandable, delivering it at the worksite, and making it peer-led. Conclusions: Job retention for employed service-users may be enhanced if the tertiary individual level Treatment Programme is re-designed as a primary organisational level Training (and staff support) Programme informed by group-CBT.
Contractors’ selection criteria for sustainable infrastructure delivery in NigeriaThe research reported in this study developed and validated a framework for the pre-evaluation of contractors for sustainable infrastructure projects through Public-Private Partnership (PPP) in Nigeria. The proposed framework uses the Analytic Network Process (ANP) to select contractors for build-operate-transfer (BOT) contractors. Theoretically grounded on a system theory, a sustainable infrastructure delivery (SID) model is developed in this research. One of its important features is the ability to solve complex decision problems, typical of a decision-making process that involves selection of contractors for PPP projects. At the deductive phase of the proposed model is the integration of the ANP (multi-criteria decision-making technique) for data synthesis. An extensive literature review was conducted with regard to selection criteria for contractors. Furthermore, a web-based questionnaire survey was undertaken, aimed at capturing the perception of the Nigerian construction professionals regarding the importance of these criteria for pre-evaluation of contractors for public infrastructure procurement. A total of 143 questionnaires was received and their feedbacks were analysed with the IBM SPSS statistical package. The findings revealed a broad range of 55 relevant criteria that were linked to sustainable contractor selection. Through the application of factor analysis, the number of the criteria was reduced to 16, after multicollinearity issues in the data set had been resolved. The 16 factors were modelled to pairwise comparison matrices, transforming decision making process from linear to a systemic approach. A purposeful sampling methodology was then applied for the selection of decision-making panel (DM), who completed the pairwise comparison survey. The survey results were synthesised by ANP. The final solution derived order of significance of the two categories of contractors- multinational construction corporations (MCC) and local construction contractors (LCC) in respect to the delivery of a sustainable infrastructure. Sensitivity analysis of the research findings reveals that the 16 criteria have differential comparative advantages, which requires critical judgement during contractors’ pre-evaluation process. Although the overall priorities rank multinational construction corporations (MCC) higher than local construction companies (LCC), it is not absolute that MCC will deliver a better value for money on all tangible and intangible elements of sustainable infrastructure attributes. LCC outperform on some of the key criteria such as local employment creation and local material sourcing, which are essential pre-evaluation criteria. This research proposes a novel framework to harmonise sustainability indicators in contractor selection and offers a new theoretical insight into the approach to contractors’ selection criteria during pre-evaluation process, which contributes to the enhancement of PPP delivery in Nigeria. Overall, the proposed SID model has demonstrated the need for a shift in the modus operandi of the government’s ministries, department and agencies (MDAs) in Nigeria from unidirectional to systemic selection techniques. It clearly demonstrates the appropriateness of the ANP to predict the contractor that will deliver more sustainable infrastructure.