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  • Self-reassurance, not self-esteem, serves as a buffer between self-criticism and depressive symptoms

    Petrocchi, Nicola; Dentale, Francesco; Gilbert, Paul; Department of Economics and Social Sciences, John Cabot University, Rome, Italy; Department of Clinical Psychology, Sapienza University of Rome, Italy; Centre for Compassion Research and Training, University of Derby, UK (Wiley Online Library, 2018-06-15)
    Several studies suggest that self‐criticism and self‐reassurance operate through different mechanisms and might interact with each other. This study examined the hypothesis that self‐reassurance serves as a buffer between self‐criticism and depressive symptoms in a way that self‐esteem, which is rooted in a different motivational system, may not. We hypothesized that self‐criticism would be correlated with high levels of depressive symptoms but that this association would be weaker at higher levels of self‐reassurance abilities. We also hypothesized that self‐esteem, a self‐relating process based on feeling able and competent to achieve life goals, would not buffer the relationship between self‐criticism and depression. Self‐criticism, self‐reassurance, depressive symptoms, and self‐esteem were assessed in a sample of 419 participants (66% females; Mage = 33.40, SD = 11.13). At higher levels of self‐reassurance, the relationship between self‐criticism and depressive symptoms became non‐significant, supporting the buffering hypothesis of self‐reassurance. Despite the high correlation between self‐esteem and self‐reassurance, self‐esteem did not moderate the relationship between self‐criticism and depressive symptoms. Results support the growing evidence that not all positive self‐relating processes exert the same protective function against psychopathological consequences of self‐criticism. Implications for psychotherapy and the validity of using compassion‐focused interventions with clients with self‐critical issues are discussed. Self‐reassurance and self‐criticism are distinct processes and they should not be considered positive and negative variations of a single dimension. Different types of positive self‐relating do not show the same correlation with depressive symptoms. The ability to be self‐reassuring protects against the psychopathological correlates of self‐criticism while having high self‐esteem does not. Compassion‐focused interventions are promising avenues to help clients counteract the negative impact of self‐criticism on mood.
  • Compassionate faces: Evidence for distinctive facial expressions associated with specific prosocial motivations

    Falconer, Caroline, J.; Lobmaier, Janek, S.; Cristoforou, Marina; Kamboj, Sunjeev, K.; King, John, A.; Gilbert, Paul; Brewin, Chris, R.; Department of Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology, University College London, London, United Kingdom; Institute of Psychology, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland; University of Derby (PLoS ONE, 2018-01-23)
    Compassion is a complex cognitive, emotional and behavioural process that has important real-world consequences for the self and others. Considering this, it is important to understand how compassion is communicated. The current research investigated the expression and perception of compassion via the face. We generated exemplar images of two compassionate facial expressions induced from two mental imagery tasks with different compassionate motivations (Study 1). Our kind- and empathic compassion faces were perceived differently and the empathic-compassion expression was perceived as best depicting the general definition of compassion (Study 2). Our two composite faces differed in their perceived happiness, kindness, sadness, fear and concern, which speak to their underling motivation and emotional resonance. Finally, both faces were accurately discriminated when presented along a compassion continuum (Study 3). Our results demonstrate two perceptually and functionally distinct facial expressions of compassion, with potentially different consequences for the suffering of others.
  • Commentary Regarding Wilson et al. (2018) 'Effectiveness of ‘Self-Compassion’ Related Therapies: a Systematic Review and Meta-analysis.” All Is Not as It Seems

    Kirby, J; Gilbert, Paul; Compassionate Mind Research Group, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Brisbane 4072, Australia; The University of Derby, Derby, UK (Springer US, 2019-02-09)
    This commentary paper reviews the recently made claims by Wilson et al. (Mindfulness, 2018) from their meta-analysis of what they call self-compassion therapies. They argue that a range of different therapy modalities can be classified as self-compassion therapies, including compassion-focused therapy, dialectical behaviour therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy and mindfulness-based interventions. The results from their meta-analyses found that these self-compassion therapies were effective at increasing self-compassion and reducing depressive and anxiety symptoms. This meta-analysis also found that self-compassion-related therapies did not produce better outcomes than active control conditions. This indicates that such self-compassion therapies are unlikely to have any specific effect over and above the general benefits of any active treatment. We will indicate a number of reasons why this conclusion is not warranted. We first contextualise what is meant by compassion-focused therapies, and we then discuss four key concerns: (1) the heterogeneity and classification of the “self-compassion therapies”; (2) the measure used to assess self-compassion; (3) the comparison to the active control conditions; and (4) the inaccurate comments made about the Kirby et al. (Behavior Therapy, 2017b) meta-analysis. Although it is encouraging to see the increasing number of randomised controlled trials, and now meta-analyses of compassion-focused therapies, the conclusions made by Wilson et al. (Mindfulness, 2018) in their meta-analysis are misleading.
  • Compassion Focused Approaches to Working With Distressing Voices

    Heriot-Maitland, Charles; McCarthy-Jones, Simon; Longden, Eleanor; Gilbert, Paul; University of Glasgow; Kings College London; Trinity College Dublin; Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust; University of Derby (Frontiers, 2019-02-01)
    This paper presents an outline of voice-hearing phenomenology in the context of evolutionary mechanisms for self- and social- monitoring. Special attention is given to evolved systems for monitoring dominant-subordinate social roles and relationships. These provide information relating to the interpersonal motivation of others, such as neutral, friendly or hostile, and thus the interpersonal threat, versus safe, social location. Individuals who perceive themselves as subordinate and dominants as hostile are highly vigilant to down-rank threat and use submissive displays and social spacing as basic defenses. We suggest these defense mechanisms are especially attuned in some individuals with voices, in which this fearful-subordinate – hostile-dominant relationship is played out. Given the evolved motivational system in which voice-hearers can be trapped, one therapeutic solution is to help them switch into different motivational systems, particularly those linked to social caring and support, rather than hostile competition. Compassion focused therapy (CFT) seeks to produce such motivational shifts. Compassion focused therapy aims to help voice-hearers, (i) notice their threat-based (dominant-subordinate) motivational systems when they arise, (ii) understand their function in the context of their lives, and (iii) shift into different motivational patterns that are orientated around safeness and compassion. Voice-hearers are supported to engage with biopsychosocial components of compassionate mind training, which are briefly summarized, and to cultivate an embodied sense of a compassionate self-identity. They are invited to consider, and practice, how they might wish to relate to themselves, their voices, and other people, from the position of their compassionate self. This paper proposes, in line with the broader science of compassion and CFT, that repeated practice of creating internal patterns of safeness and compassion can provide an optimum biopsychosocial environment for affect-regulation, emotional conflict-resolution, and therapeutic change. Examples of specific therapeutic techniques, such as chair-work and talking with voices, are described to illustrate how these might be incorporated in one-to-one sessions of CFT.
  • Challenges for third sector organisations in cutback management: a sporting case study of the implications of publicness.

    Bostock, James; Breese, Richard; Crowther, Philip; Ridley-Duff, Rory; Univeristy of Derby; Sheffield Hallam University (Routledge, 2019-03-01)
    Cutback management is a key theme for public services in an era of austerity, but the responsibilities for implementing public funding cutbacks do not always fall upon managers employed in the public sector. This article focuses on the cutbacks at third sector organisations (TSOs) – three national governing bodies (NGBs) of sport – which were affected by UK Sport’s ‘No Compromise’ policy following the 2012 Olympics. The article introduces the public funding cutback decision hierarchy as a novel framework which is used alongside existing theory to assess the implications of the severity and immediacy of cutback.
  • Inspiratory muscle training (IMT) for adults discharged from hospital with community acquired pneumonia (CAP) – a feasibility study

    Pick, HJ; Faghy, Mark; Cresswell, G; Lim, WS; Bewick, T; Human Science Research Centre, University of Derby; Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, Nottingham, UK; Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Derby, UK (2018-12-01)
    Patients report significant morbidity following community-acquired pneumonia (CAP); 70% report persistent symptoms and up to 50% impaired daily activity at 4 weeks post-discharge. Respiratory muscle weakness is one possible mechanism for delayed recovery. Inspiratory muscle training (IMT) increases strength and endurance of inspiratory muscles, with improvements in patient-reported outcomes in other conditions. To our knowledge IMT has not previously been investigated in CAP. To assess the tolerability of IMT in adults discharged from hospital with community-acquired pneumonia. Patients hospitalised with a diagnosis of CAP between February 2017 and March 2018 were eligible for inclusion and convenience sampling was used for participant selection. Participants received an IMT device (POWERbreath KHP2) following familiarisation. Training frequency (twice daily) and load (50% PImax) were fixed, however training volume was incremental during weeks 1–3 (10, 20, 30 breaths) and constant thereafter (30 breaths.) Participants were followed by combination of telephone and clinic visits for 9 weeks. Outcomes of interest were; utilisation of IMT device per protocol (defined as >94% training adherence), patient-reported IMT acceptability, and number of device-related side effects. Statistical analysis was conducted using Stata (version 15.1.) Twenty-two participants were recruited; 16 were male (72.7%), mean age was 55.2 years (range 27.9–77.3.) Participants completed IMT per protocol in 72.7% cases. One unrelated, unexpected serious adverse event (death) occurred during follow-up and 3 participants active at this time were stopped from further IMT by research sponsor pending investigation. Two participants were lost to follow-up. Side effects during IMT were reported on 15 occasions across 22 participants over a total 1183 training days. Reported side effects included chest pain (x2), cough (x1), dyspnoea (x4), and dizziness (x8). All side-effects were rated grade 1 and did not prevent participants from continuing training. Participant-reported IMT acceptability, defined by participants rating training as both ‘useful’ and ‘helpful’ at each follow-up contact, was 99.4%. Inspiratory muscle training appears to be safe, tolerable, and acceptable to patients following CAP. Distinguishing CAP related symptoms and device-related side effects is challenging in patients recovering following an acute infective illness. A clinical trial to determine efficacy is warranted.
  • Effects of 4 multitargeted receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitors on regional hemodynamics in conscious, freely moving rats.

    Fretwell, Laurice; Woolard, Jeanette; Carter, Joanne; De Montfort University, Leicester; University of Nottingham (FASEB, 2016-12-16)
    VEGF inhibitors, including receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitors, are used as adjunct therapies in a number of cancer treatments. An emerging issue with these drugs is that most cause hypertension. To gain insight into the physiological mechanisms involved, we evaluated their regional hemodynamic effects in conscious rats. Male Sprague Dawley rats (350-450 g) were chronically implanted with pulsed Doppler flow probes (renal and mesenteric arteries, and the descending abdominal aorta) and catheters (jugular vein, peritoneal cavity, and distal abdominal aorta). Regional hemodynamics were measured over 4 d, before and after daily administration of cediranib (3 and 6 mg/kg, 3 and 6 mg/kg/h for 1 h, i.v.), sorafenib (10 and 20 mg/kg, 10 and 20 mg kg/h for 1 h, i.v.), pazopanib (30 and100 mg/kg, i.p.), or vandetanib (12.5 and 25 mg/kg, i.p.). All drugs evoked significant increases.
  • Styles of leadership, fears of compassion, and competing to avoid inferiority.

    Basran, Jaskaran; Pires, Claudia; Matos, Marcela; McEwan, Kirsten; Gilbert, Paul; University of Derby; University of Coimbra (Frontiers, 2019-01-22)
    There is general agreement that styles of leadership evolved from mammalian group living strategies that form social ranks. In both non-human primates and humans, different styles of hierarchical dominant-subordinate and leader-follower behavior can be observed. These can be described in terms of dimensions of antisocial (relatively self-focused, aggressive and threat-based) and prosocial (relatively empathic, caring, and supportive) interpersonal styles. The aim of this study was to explore how a set of established self-report questionnaires might relate to these two dimensions. Two hundred and nineteen students completed questionnaires assessing ruthless self-advancement, coalition building, and dominant leadership styles, as well as hypercompetitiveness, narcissism, striving to avoid inferiority, compassion focused and ego focused goals, fears of compassion, social safeness and attachment (in)security. A principal component analysis supported an antisocial leadership style factor which comprised of ruthless self-advancement, narcissism and hypercompetitiveness. This was significantly correlated with fears of compassion, ego focused goals, insecure striving (striving to avoid inferiority), fears of losing out, fears of being overlooked, fears of being rejected, and avoidant relating in close relationships. It was significantly negatively correlated with compassionate goals. As the results did not reveal a clear factor solution for a prosocial leadership style, we chose to use the coalition building leadership style variable. This showed the opposite pattern, being significantly negatively correlated with narcissism, hypercompetitiveness, fears of compassion, fears of active rejection, and avoidance in close relationships. It was significantly positively correlated with secure striving, compassionate goals, and social safeness. We also found that fears of compassion for others was a partial mediator of the relationship between insecure striving with antisocial leadership style. Moreover, lower fears of compassion for the self emerged as a key mediator for the relationship between non-avoidant attachment with coalition building leadership style and, secure non-striving with coalition building leadership style. While the motive to accumulate social power, resources and dominance may be linked to antisocial forms of leadership, the intensity of the drive may also be linked to unaddressed threats and fears of rejection and fears of compassion. Efforts to promote more ethical, moral and prosocial forms of leadership may falter if such fears are left unaddressed.
  • The factor structure of the Forms of Self-Criticising/Attacking & Self-Reassuring Scale in thirteen distinct populations.

    Halamová, Júlia; Kanovský, Martin; Gilbert, Paul; Troop, Nicholas A.; Zuroff, David C.; Hermanto, Nicola; Petrocchi, Nicola; Sommers-Spijkerman, Marion; Kirby, James N.; Shahar, Ben; Krieger, Tobias; Matos, Marcela; Asano, Kenichi; Yu, FuYa; Basran, Jaskaran; Kupeli, Nuriye; Comenius University in Bratislava; University of Derby; University of Hertfordshire; McGill University; John Cabot University; University of Twente; The University of Queensland; University of Jerusalem; University of Bern; University of Coimbra; Chiba University; Ministry of Education, Yilan City, Taiwan; The Compassionate Mind Foundation; University College London, (Springer, 2018-06-13)
    There is considerable evidence that self-criticism plays a major role in the vulnerability to and recovery from psychopathology. Methods to measure this process, and its change over time, are therefore important for research in psychopathology and well-being. This study examined the factor structure of a widely used measure, the Forms of Self-Criticising/Attacking & Self-Reassuring Scale in thirteen nonclinical samples (N = 7510) from twelve different countries: Australia (N = 319), Canada (N = 383), Switzerland (N = 230), Israel (N = 476), Italy (N = 389), Japan (N = 264), the Netherlands (N = 360), Portugal (N = 764), Slovakia (N = 1326), Taiwan (N = 417), the United Kingdom 1 (N = 1570), the United Kingdom 2 (N = 883), and USA (N = 331). This study used more advanced analyses than prior reports: a bifactor item-response theory model, a two-tier item-response theory model, and a non-parametric item-response theory (Mokken) scale analysis. Although the original three-factor solution for the FSCRS (distinguishing between Inadequate-Self, Hated-Self, and Reassured-Self) had an acceptable fit, two-tier models, with two general factors (Self-criticism and Self-reassurance) demonstrated the best fit across all samples. This study provides preliminary evidence suggesting that this two-factor structure can be used in a range of nonclinical contexts across countries and cultures. Inadequate-Self and Hated-Self might not by distinct factors in nonclinical samples. Future work may benefit from distinguishing between self-correction versus shame-based self-criticism.
  • Active recovery strategy and lactate clearance in elite swimmers.

    Faghy, Mark A; Lomax, Mitch; Brown, Peter I; Human Science Research Centre; University of Portsmouth; English Institute of Sport (Edizioni Minerva Medica, 2018-11-21)
    Swimming requires sustained high performance, with limited recovery between heats, recovery strategies are essential to performance but are often self-regulated and sub- optimal. Accordingly, we investigated a physiologically determined recovery protocol.
  • The Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Quality of Life scale (PCOSQOL): development and preliminary validation .

    Williams, Sophie; Sheffield, David; Knibb, Rebecca C.; University of Derby; Aston University; University of Derby, UK; University of Derby, UK; University of Derby, UK (Sage, 2018-07-19)
    Polycystic ovary syndrome is an endocrine disorder amongst women, which can negatively impact quality of life. Research proposes that a more sensitive PCOS quality of life measure is needed. This study aims to develop and initially validate a quality of life scale for women with the condition in the United Kingdom. Women with PCOS (n = 714) took part in the development and initial validation of the 35-item polycystic ovary syndrome quality of life scale (PCOSQOL)(α = .95). Subscales include Impact of PCOS (α = .95), Infertility (α = .95), Hirsutism (α = .97) and Mood (α = .89). The PCOSQOL scale represents aspects of quality of life important to women with PCOS and may be more sensitive for use in the clinical and research settings.
  • “This is my cheating ex”: gender and sexuality in revenge porn.

    Hearn, Jeff; Hall, Matthew; University of Huddersfield; Örebro University; Hanken School of Economics; University of Ulster; University of Derby (Sage Publications, 2018-11-14)
    Revenge pornography is the online, and at times offline, non-consensual distribution, or sharing, of explicit images by ex-partners, partners, others, or hackers seeking revenge or entertainment. In this article, we discursively analyse a selected range of electronic written texts accompanying explicit images posted by self-identified straight/gay/lesbian (male-to-female, female-to-male, male-to-male, female-to-female postings) on a popular revenge pornography website ‘’. Situating our analysis in debates on gender and sexuality, we examine commonalities and differences in the complex and sometimes contradictory ways in which gender and sexuality are invoked in posters’ accounts of their motivations for revenge pornography.
  • The influence of caffeine expectancies on sport, exercise and cognitive performance.

    Shabir, Akbar; Hooton, Andy; Tallis, Jason; Higgins, Matthew F.; University of Derby; Coventry University (MDPI, 2018-10-17)
    Caffeine (CAF) is widely consumed across sport and exercise for its reputed ergogenic properties, including central nervous stimulation and enhanced muscular force development. However, expectancy and the related psychological permutations that are associated with oral CAF ingestion are generally not considered in most experimental designs and these could be important in understanding if/how CAF elicits an ergogenic effect. The present paper reviews 17 intervention studies across sport, exercise, and cognitive performance. All explore CAF expectancies, in conjunction with/without CAF pharmacology. Thirteen out of 17 studies indicated expectancy effects of varying magnitudes across a range of exercise tasks and cognitive skills inclusive off but not limited to; endurance capacity, weightlifting performance, simple reaction time and memory. Factors, such as motivation, belief, and habitual CAF consumption habits influenced the response. In many instances, these effects were comparable to CAF pharmacology. Given these findings and the lack of consistency in the experimental design, future research acknowledging factors, such as habitual CAF consumption habits, habituated expectations, and the importance of subjective post-hoc analysis will help to advance knowledge within this area.
  • Exploring the interplay between passive following on Facebook, fear of missing out, self-esteem, social comparison, age, and life satisfaction in a community-based sample.

    Giagkou, Stella; Hussain, Zaheer; Pontes, Halley M.; University of Derby; Nottingham Trent University (Graphy Publications, 2018-09-22)
    Facebook is amongst the most frequently used Social Networking Sites (SNSs) worldwide. Previous research reported SNS use such as Facebook use may have both positive and negative psychological impact on users, particularly with regards to users’ psychological wellbeing and life satisfaction. To fully acknowledge the extent to which SNS use may affect psychological wellbeing and life satisfaction, different forms of SNS use and experiences need to be taken into account by researchers. There is currently a lack of research investigating how Passive Facebook Use may impact on users’ well being. The present study sought to investigate how passive following on Facebook, fear of missing out, self-esteem, social comparison, and age may affect life satisfaction. A sample of 196 Facebook users (Mean age = 31.16, SD = 8.75) completed an online survey consisting of several psychometric tools. Overall, the results obtained suggest that life satisfaction may be differentially affected by a wide range of SNS-related experiences such as social comparison and fear of missing out. The implications of these findings for the use of SNSs are discussed.
  • Predictors of problematic smartphone use: an examination of the integrative pathways model and the role of age, gender, impulsiveness, excessive reassurance seeking, extraversion, and depression.

    Mitchell, Lewis; Hussain, Zaheer; University of Derby (MDPI, 2018-08-14)
    Background: The progression of mobile phone technology has led to the development of multi-functional smartphones providing access to features such as social media, e-mail, and videos alongside the basic functions of a mobile phone. Increasing amounts of research has explored the potential addictive nature of smartphones to develop a theoretical framework that describes personality factors related to problematic use. The present study examined the Integrative Pathways Model and the effect of age, gender, impulsiveness, excessive reassurance seeking, extraversion, and depression on problematic smartphone use. Method: A total of 147 smartphone users (mean age = 30.96, SD = 12.97, 69.4% female) completed an online survey comprising of measures of problematic smartphone use, excessive reassurance seeking, extraversion, depression, and impulsiveness. Results: Age, impulsiveness, excessive reassurance seeking, and depression were all significantly related to problematic smartphone use, however extraversion was not significantly related. Furthermore, age and impulsiveness were significant independent predictors of problematic smartphone use. No gender differences were found. Conclusions: The findings presented several factors that predict problematic smartphone use, implications and suggestions for future research are discussed.
  • Deep ocean minerals minimize eccentric exercise-induced inflammatory response of rat skeletal muscle.

    Saovieng, Suchada; Wu, Jinfu; Huang, Chih-Yang; Kao, Chung-Lan; Higgins, Matthew F.; Chuanchaiyakul, Rungchai; Kuo, Chia-Hua; University of Derby (Frontiers, 2018-09-28)
    Background: We have previously shown an accelerated recovery from muscle fatigue in men challenged by prolonged exercise after oral deep ocean minerals (DOM) supplementation. Here, we hypothesized a decrease in eccentric exercise-induced muscle inflammation in rats regularly consuming DOM-containing drinks (hardness 600 mg/L and fructose 11%). Methods: Forty-seven male Sprague Dawley rats were randomized into 4 groups: Control (C, N = 12), Fructose (F, N = 12), Fructose+Exercise (FE, N = 12), and Fructose+Exercise+DOM (FED, N = 11). Since fructose is a commonly used ingredient in beverages, 11% of fructose was added as a vehicle of the study. Soleus muscles of rats were analyzed 24 h after an acute bout of downhill running following 9 weeks of DOM supplementation. Results: Leukocyte infiltration and TNF-a mRNA of muscle in the FE group were 5 times and 4 times greater the F group, respectively, (P < 0.05). Both markers in the FED group were significantly lower than those in the FE group (P < 0.05). IL-10 mRNA of muscle in the F group was >eight fold greater than the C group (P < 0.05). The reduced glutathione (GSH) of muscle in the F group was 34% lower than that in the C group (P < 0.05). However, GSH levels were similar for the C and FED groups. Conclusion: Prolonged fructose supplementation modulates inflammatory balance of rat skeletal muscle. The results of the study suggest that DOM can minimize eccentric exercise-induced inflammatory cytokine responses in rat skeletal muscle.
  • An exercise-induced improvement in isolated skeletal muscle contractility does not affect the performance-enhancing benefit of 70μM caffeine treatment.

    Tallis, Jason; Higgins, Matthew F; Cox, Val M; Duncan, Michael J; James, Rob S; Derby University; Coventry University (The Company of Biologists Ltd., 2018-09-17)
    This study aimed to examine the effects of exercise-induced increases in skeletal muscle contractile performance on isolated skeletal muscle caffeine sensitivity. 30-week old CD1 mice (n=28) either acted as controls or underwent eight weeks of voluntary wheel running. Following the treatment intervention, whole soleus (SOL) or a section of the costal diaphragm (DIA) was isolated from each mouse and tested to determine the effect of 70μM caffeine on work loop power output. Although caffeine elicited a significant increase in power of both the SOL and the DIA, relative to a non-caffeine control, the effect was not different between the experimental groups, despite the muscles of the trained group producing significantly greater muscle power. There was no significant relationship between training volume or baseline work loop power and the caffeine response. These results indicate that an exercise-induced increase in muscle performance did not influence the performance-enhancing effects of caffeine.
  • A further modification of Dioni’s mounting media to allow staining,clearing and mounting of Acari

    Chick, Andrew I. R.; University of Derby (2018-09-10)
    Modified Dioni’s media has previously been presented as an alternative to tradition Gum Chloral mounting media for microscopical specimens. This paper aims to explore a further modification of Dioni’s mounting media with the objective to provide a simple solution to clear, stain and mount Acari specimens in regions where obtaining Chloral Hydrate based media is problematic.
  • Bacterial and fungal communities in a degraded ombrotrophic peatland undergoing natural and managed re-vegetation

    Elliott, David R.; Caporn, Simon; Nwaishi, Felix; Nilsson, R. Henrik; Sen, Robin; Manchester Metropolitan University (Public Library of Science, 2015-05)
    The UK hosts 15–19% of global upland ombrotrophic (rain fed) peatlands that are estimated to store 3.2 billion tonnes of carbon and represent a critical upland habitat with regard to biodiversity and ecosystem services provision. Net production is dependent on an imbalance between growth of peat-forming Sphagnum mosses and microbial decomposition by microorganisms that are limited by cold, acidic, and anaerobic conditions. In the Southern Pennines, land-use change, drainage, and over 200 years of anthropogenic N and heavy metal deposition have contributed to severe peatland degradation manifested as a loss of vegetation leaving bare peat susceptible to erosion and deep gullying. A restoration programme designed to regain peat hydrology, stability and functionality has involved re-vegetation through nurse grass, dwarf shrub and Sphagnum re-introduction. Our aim was to characterise bacterial and fungal communities, via high-throughput rRNA gene sequencing, in the surface acrotelm/mesotelm of degraded bare peat, long-term stable vegetated peat, and natural and managed restorations. Compared to long-term vegetated areas the bare peat microbiome had significantly higher levels of oligotrophic marker phyla (Acidobacteria, Verrucomicrobia, TM6) and lower Bacteroidetes and Actinobacteria, together with much higher ligninolytic Basidiomycota. Fewer distinct microbial sequences and significantly fewer cultivable microbes were detected in bare peat compared to other areas. Microbial community structure was linked to restoration activity and correlated with soil edaphic variables (e.g. moisture and heavy metals). Although rapid community changes were evident following restoration activity, restored bare peat did not approach a similar microbial community structure to non-eroded areas even after 25 years, which may be related to the stabilisation of historic deposited heavy metals pollution in long-term stable areas. These primary findings are discussed in relation to bare peat oligotrophy, re-vegetation recalcitrance, rhizosphere-microbe-soil interactions, C, N and P cycling, trajectory of restoration, and ecosystem service implications for peatland restoration.
  • Niche partitioning of bacterial communities in biological crusts and soils under grasses, shrubs and trees in the Kalahari

    Elliott, David R.; Thomas, Andrew David; Hoon, Steve R.; Sen, Robin; Manchester Metropolitan University (Springer, 2014-06)
    The Kalahari of southern Africa is characterised by sparse vegetation interspersed with microbe-dominated biological soil crusts (BSC) which deliver a range of ecosystem services including soil stabilisation and carbon fixation. We characterised the bacterial communities of BSCs (0–1 cm depth) and the subsurface soil (1–2 cm depth) in an area typical of lightly grazed Kalahari rangelands, composed of grasses, shrubs, and trees. Our data add substantially to the limited amount of existing knowledge concerning BSC microbial community structure, by providing the first bacterial community analyses of both BSCs and subsurface soils of the Kalahari region based on a high throughput 16S ribosomal RNA gene sequencing approach. BSC bacterial communities were distinct with respect to vegetation type and soil depth, and varied in relation to soil carbon, nitrogen, and surface temperature. Cyanobacteria were predominant in the grass interspaces at the soil surface (0–1 cm) but rare in subsurface soils (1–2 cm depth) and under the shrubs and trees. Bacteroidetes were significantly more abundant in surface soils of all areas even in the absence of a consolidated crust, whilst subsurface soils yielded more sequences affiliated to Acidobacteria, Actinobacteria, Chloroflexi, and Firmicutes. The common detection of vertical stratification, even in disturbed sites, suggests a strong potential for BSC recovery after physical disruption, however severe depletion of Cyanobacteria near trees and shrubs may limit the potential for natural BSC regeneration in heavily shrub-encroached areas.

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