• Sharing SoTL findings with students: an intentional knowledge mobilization strategy

      Maurer, Trent W.; Woolmer, Cherie; Powell, Nichole L.; Sisson, Carol; Snelling, Catherine; Stalheim, Odd Rune; Turner, Ian J.; Georgia Southern University; Mount Royal University; Emory University; et al. (International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 2021-03-07)
      This paper critically examines the reasons for and processes of sharing SoTL findings with students. Framed by our commitment to SoTL’s role to make teaching “community property,” we interpret sharing SoTL findings with students as an act of knowledge mobilization, where SoTL might be disseminated, translated, or co-created with the student as a legitimate knowledge broker. We connect these knowledge mobilization processes with four primary reasons why faculty might want to share SoTL findings with students. Finally, we provide examples of knowledge mobilization that use different “voices” found in contemporary communication settings and that reach various student audiences in micro, meso, macro, and mega contexts.
    • Shoreline change and sea level rise at the Muni-Pomadze coastal wetland (Ramsar site), Ghana

      Davies-Vollum, K. Siân; West, Matthew; Sheffield Hallam University; University of Virginia, Charlottesville, USA (Springer, 2015-08-09)
      Lagoon-wetland systems are common along low-lying coastlines. They provide rich species habitats, multiple ecosystem services and socio-economic activities. They are particularly susceptible to the impacts of sea level rise (SLR), especially in less developed countries (LDCs) where economic and development constraints limit adaptation. The Muni-Pomadze lagoon is one of five coastal Ramsar sites in Ghana and one of many along the country’s coastline. It is an intermittently closed lagoon with extreme seasonal hydrological and physico-chemical variation. Field observation, digital mapping and GIS analysis of the shoreline has enabled an understanding of coastal change and SLR at the lagoon. From 1972 to 2014 the high water mark has shifted landwards with an average retreat rate of 0.22 m/year. Evidence of erosion and sediment washover indicate loss of and a shift landward of the sand barrier separating the lagoon from the ocean. Creation of an inundation map for a one-meter rise of sea level reveals fragementation and breaching of the barrier and an increasingly permanent connection to the ocean. A more open lagoon system stabilises hydrological and physico-chemical conditions, leading to increases in biodiversity and aquatic productivity. The lagoon currently has no consideration of SLR in its management plan. The results of this analysis and the limited development of the Muni-Pomadze lagoon support a no intervention approach to coastal management that allows SLR to transform the closed lagoon to an open estuary. A similar approach at comparable coastal wetland systems in Ghana and in other LDCs could prove an effective management option.
    • Slow on the draw: the representation of turtles, terrapins and tortoises in children’s literature

      Beaumont, Ellen S.; Briers, Erin; Harrison, Emma; University of Derby; The Orkney Campus of Heriot-Watt University, Stromness (Springer, 2019-08-08)
      Children’s picture books, both fiction and non-fiction, play a vital role in introducing the reader to the natural world. Here we examine the representation of turtles, terrapins and tortoises (Testudines) in 204 English language picture books and find a mean of 3.9 (SD 9.1) basic biological errors per book. Only 83 (40.7%) of the examined books were found to be error-free in the representation of Testudines, with no significant improvement in biological accuracy being observed over time (book publication date range 1974–2017). Suggestions are made as to how biological accuracy of children’s literature could be improved to help foster children’s understanding and wonder of the natural world. Fantasy and imagination have an important role within children’s literature, but here it is argued that the books children read should support future generations having sufficient understanding of the natural world to imagine the solutions to current environmental problems. A role of children’s picture books should not be to reinforce biological illiteracy.
    • Social capital development strategy and collaborative knowledge creation in higher education: the UK and Turkey

      Mikhaylov, Natalie S.; Beaumont, Ellen S.; Fierro, Isidro; University of Liverpool; University of Derby; Universidad de Especialidades Espíritu Santo (International Academy of Technology, Education and Development, 2016-11)
      The paper presents the second phase of international (four countries) study that explores the influence of social capital and personal learning networks (PLN) development approaches utilized by international students in multicultural learning environment and the types of the social and academic networks they develop on their collaborative knowledge development, in particular, on their preparation for international careers. A comparative analysis is conducted within three international programs (in Turkey, Ecuador, and the UK) that offer international education in English language for local and international students. The paper presents the preliminary results of a comparison in two locations – Turkey and UK. The study applies the concepts of collaborative knowledge development, social capital, and social networks. The study uses constructivist grounded theory, in particular, dimensional analysis to uncover the process of social capital and collaborative knowledge creation. Based on the data, collected through semi-structured interviews, and analyzed through dımensıonal analysis, the study has developed a process model, which takes into account the core social identity of the learner, as well as the existing and emergent social, personal learning ties, built on social capital. An additional goal of the study is to uncover the overlapping social and personal learning networks International and local students participate in and develop, to trace the knowledge sharing routes and to pinpoint knowledge creation hubs in these networks. As the result of the study, recommendations are developed for higher educational institutions (HEIs) and multinational enterprises (MNEs) regarding the steps they can take to promote collaborative and cross-cultural knowledge creation among their members. While we are not proposing any hypotheses or theoretical models until the completion of the continuous comparison analysis process, it is likely that the learners who are engaged in multi-dimensional and loosely connected PLN characterized by multiple networks consisted of weak ties and who utilize problem-solving models of knowledge creation are more likely to become cross/interculturally competent and are more likely to be prepared for global careers. However, the preliminary findings show that international students lack skills and desire to create functional PLN and tend to engage in multiple binding networks characterized by strong emotional bonds but limited knowledge creation. While is it premature at this stage to suggest any specific steps that IHEIs and other multicultural learning environments might take to encourage social and technological networking among international students and other members of the academic environment, some tentative recommendations are presented. The first part of the research was conducted in Turkey and Ecuador in the summer and fall of 2015 and the second part is in the spring of 2106 in UK and Turkey. Data is collected through semi-structured in-depth interviews, conducted in person and through Skype. The participants are volunteer students, both local and international, enrolled in the undergraduate programs in the participating HEIs. As the study is using Grounded Theory Method (GTM), the sampling of the interview participants is driven by theoretical developments.
    • Soil contamination with silver nanoparticles reduces Bishop pine growth and ectomycorrhizal diversity on pine roots

      Sweet, Michael J.; Singleton, Ian; University of Derby (Springer, 2015-11-21)
      Soil contamination by silver nanoparticles(AgNP)is of potential environmental concern but little work has been carried out on the effect of such contamination on ectomycorrhizal fungi (EMF). EMF are essential to forest ecosystem functions as they are known to enhance growth of trees by nutrient transfer. In this study, soil was experimentally contaminated with AgNP (0, 350 and 790 mg Ag/kg) and planted with Bishop pine seedlings. The effect of AgNP was subsequently measured, assessing variation in pine growth and ectomycorrhizal diversity associated with the root system. After only 1 month, the highest AgNP level had significantly reduced the root length of pine seedlings, which in turn had a small effect on aboveground plant biomass. However, after 4 months growth, both AgNP levels utilised had significantly reduced both pine root and shoot biomass. For example, even the lower levels of AgNP (350 mgAg/kg) soil, reduced fresh root biomass by approximately 57 %. The root systems of the plants grown in AgNP-contaminated soils lacked the lateral and fine root development seen in the control plants (no AgNP). Although, only five different genera of EMF were found on roots of the control plants, only one genus Laccaria was found on roots of plants grown in soil containing 350 mg AgNP/kg. At the higher levels of AgNP contamination, no EMF were observed. Furthermore, extractable silver was found in soils containing AgNP, indicating potential dissolution of silver ions (Ag) from the solid AgNP.
    • Spatial and seasonal reef calcification in corals and calcareous crusts in the central Red Sea.

      Roik, Anna; Roder, Cornelia; Röthig, Till; Voolstra, Christian R.; King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) (Springer., 2015-12-14)
      The existence of coral reef ecosystems critically relies on the reef carbonate framework produced by scleractinian corals and calcareous crusts (i.e., crustose coralline algae). While the Red Sea harbors one of the longest connected reef systems in the world, detailed calcification data are only available from the northernmost part. To fill this knowledge gap, we measured in situ calcification rates of primary and secondary reef builders in the central Red Sea. We collected data on the major habitat-forming coral genera Porites, Acropora, and Pocillopora and also on calcareous crusts (CC) in a spatioseasonal framework. The scope of the study comprised sheltered and exposed sites of three reefs along a crossshelf gradient and over four seasons of the year. Calcification of all coral genera was consistent across the shelf and highest in spring. In addition, Pocillopora showed increased calcification at exposed reef sites. In contrast, CC calcification increased from nearshore, sheltered to offshore, exposed reef sites, but also varied over seasons. Comparing our data to other reef locations, calcification in the Red Sea was in the range of data collected from reefs in the Caribbean and Indo-Pacific; however, Acropora calcification estimates were at the lower end of worldwide rates. Our study shows that the increasing coral cover from nearshore to offshore environments aligned with CC calcification but not coral calcification, highlighting the potentially important role of CC in structuring reef cover and habitats. While coral calcification maxima have been typically observed during summer in many reef locations worldwide, calcification maxima during spring in the central Red Sea indicate that summer temperatures exceed the optima of reef calcifiers in this region. This study provides a foundation for comparative efforts and sets a baseline to quantify impact of future environmental change in the central Red Sea.
    • Spatio-genetic population structure in mustached tamarins,Saguinus mystax

      Huck, Maren; Roos, Christian; Heymann, Eckhard W.; Abteilung für Verhaltensökologie & Soziobiologie, Deutsches Primatenzentrum; Gene Bank of Primates, FG Primatengenetik, Deutsches Primatenzentrum (2007)
      Dispersal and philopatry influence gene flow and thus the spatio-genetic structure within and between populations. In callitrichids the flexible social and mating system corresponds with a variable migration pattern where both sexes might be philopatric or might disperse. We investigated the relationship between the spatiogenetic structure and migration patterns in a population of mustached tamarins, Saguinus mystax. Using the rapidly evolving hypervariable region I (HVI) of the mitochondrial control region and 11 microsatellite markers we detected a high variation (HVI: 16 haplotypes in 69 individuals; microsatellites: HO ¼ 0.75, average: 7.45 alleles/locus), with mating partners usually not sharing the same haplotype, indicating that matings are generally between partners that are not closely related. Similar high variance of haplotype differences for male-male and female-female pairs, along with a slightly higher number of haplotype differences in males show that both sexes habitually migrate. Spatial analyses suggest that females usually migrate longer distances, corresponding to very limited breeding positions for females in a polyandrous social mating system.
    • Spatio-temporal dynamics and aetiology of proliferative leg skin lesions in wild British finches

      Lawson, Becki; Robinson, Robert A.; Fernandez, Julia Rodriguez-Ramos; John, Shinto K.; Benitez, Laura; Tolf, Conny; Risely, Kate; Toms, Mike P.; Cunningham, Andrew A.; Williams, Richard; et al. (Nature Publiching Group, 2018-10-10)
      Proliferative leg skin lesions have been described in wild finches in Europe although there have been no large-scale studies of their aetiology or epizootiology to date. Firstly, disease surveillance, utilising public reporting of observations of live wild finches was conducted in Great Britain (GB) and showed proliferative leg skin lesions in chaffinches (Fringilla coelebs) to be widespread. Seasonal variation was observed, with a peak during the winter months. Secondly, pathological investigations were performed on a sample of 39 chaffinches, four bullfinches (Pyrrhula pyrrhula), one greenfinch (Chloris chloris) and one goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis) with proliferative leg skin lesions and detected Cnemidocoptes sp. mites in 91% (41/45) of affected finches and from all species examined. Fringilla coelebs papillomavirus (FcPV1) PCR was positive in 74% (23/31) of birds tested: a 394 base pair sequence was derived from 20 of these birds, from all examined species, with 100% identity to reference genomes. Both mites and FcPV1 DNA were detected in 71% (20/28) of birds tested for both pathogens. Histopathological examination of lesions did not discriminate the relative importance of mite or FcPV1 infection as their cause. Development of techniques to localise FcPV1 within lesions is required to elucidate the pathological significance of FcPV1 DNA detection.
    • Special issue: from disciplinarity to interdisciplinarity and beyond in higher education on climate change

      Wilson, Gordon; Abbott, Dina; Open University; University of Derby (Inderscience publishers, 2012-05-31)
      This special issue explores the evolution of an innovative, integrative approach to climate change through collaborative production of an interdisciplinary education curriculum incorporating student mobility. It draws on the authors’ involvement in a European Union Erasmus project, ‘The lived experience of climate change: e-learning and virtual mobility’, which brings together eight universities plus an umbrella association across six countries. The project has developed a set of postgraduate curriculum resources on climate change that will become globally accessible.
    • Species effects on ecosystem processes are modified by faunal responses to habitat composition.

      Bulling, Mark T.; Solan, Martin; Dyson, Kirstie E.; Hernandez-Milian, Gema; Luque, Patricia; Pierce, Graham J.; Raffaelli, D.; Paterson, David M.; White, Piran C. L.; University of York, Environment Department (2008-12)
      Heterogeneity is a well-recognized feature of natural environments, and the spatial distribution and movement of individual species is primarily driven by resource requirements. In laboratory experiments designed to explore how different species drive ecosystem processes, such as nutrient release, habitat heterogeneity is often seen as something which must be rigorously controlled for. Most small experimental systems are therefore spatially homogeneous, and the link between environmental heterogeneity and its effects on the redistribution of individuals and species, and on ecosystem processes, has not been fully explored. In this paper, we used a mesocosm system to investigate the relationship between habitat composition, species movement and sediment nutrient release for each of four functionally contrasting species of marine benthic invertebrate macrofauna. For each species, various habitat configurations were generated by selectively enriching patches of sediment with macroalgae, a natural source of spatial variability in intertidal mudflats. We found that the direction and extent of faunal movement between patches differs with species identity, density and habitat composition. Combinations of these factors lead to concomitant changes in nutrient release, such that habitat composition effects are modified by species identity (in the case of NH4-N) and by species density (in the case of PO4-P). It is clear that failure to accommodate natural patterns of spatial heterogeneity in such studies may result in an incomplete understanding of system behaviour. This will be particularly important for future experiments designed to explore the effects of species richness on ecosystem processes, where the complex interactions reported here for single species may be compounded when species are brought together in multi-species combinations.
    • Species-Specific Variations in the Metabolomic Profiles of Acropora hyacinthus and Acropora millepora Mask Acute Temperature Stress Effects in Adult Coral Colonies

      Sweet, Michael; Bulling, Mark; Varshavi, Dorsa; Lloyd, Gavin R.; Jankevics, Andris; Najdekr, Lukáš; Weber, Ralf J. M.; Viant, Mark R.; Craggs, Jamie; University of Derby; et al. (Frontiers Media SA, 2021-03-25)
      Coral 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.
    • Stable isotope (δ18O and δ13C) sclerochronology of Callovian (Middle Jurassic) bivalves (Gryphaea (Bilobissa) dilobotes) and belemnites (Cylindroteuthis puzosiana) from the Peterborough Member of the Oxford Clay Formation (Cambridgeshire, England): Evidence of palaeoclimate, water depth and belemnite behaviour

      Mettam, Colin; Johnson, Andrew L. A.; Nunn, Elizabeth V.; Schöne, Bernd R.; University of Derby (Elsevier, 2014-01-25)
      Incremental δ18O and δ13C signals were obtained from three well-preserved specimens of Cylindroteuthis puzosiana and from three well-preserved specimens of Gryphaea (Bilobissa) dilobotes from the Peterborough Member of the Oxford Clay Formation (Cambridgeshire, England). Through-ontogeny (sclerochronological) δ18O data from G. (B.) dilobotes appear to faithfully record seasonal temperature variations in benthic Callovian waters of the study area, which range from c. 14 °C to c. 17 °C (arithmetic mean temperature c. 15 °C). Water depth is estimated to have been in the region of c. 50 m, based upon comparisons between these data, previously published non-incremental sea surface δ18O values, and a modern analogue situation. Productivity in Callovian waters was comparable with that in modern seas, based upon δ13C data from G. (B.)dilobotes, with 13C depletion occurring during warmer periods, possibly related to an interaction between plankton blooms and intra-annual variations in mixing across a thermocline. Incremental δ18O data from C.puzosiana provide temperature minima of c.11 °C for all specimens but with maxima varying between c.14 °C and c.16 °C for different individuals (arithmetic mean values c. 13 °C). Temperatures for late ontogeny, when the C. puzosiana individuals must have been living close to the study site and hence the analysed specimens of G. (B.) dilobotes, are closely comparable to those indicated by the latter. However, for significant portions of ontogeny C. puzosiana experienced temperatures between c. 2 °C and c. 3 °C cooler than the winter minimum as recorded by co-occurring G. (B.) dilobotes. Comparisons with modern seas suggest that descent to a depth of c. 1000 m would be necessary to explain such cool minimum temperatures. This can be discounted due to the lack of deep waters locally and due to estimates of the depth tolerance of belemnites. The most likely cause of cool δ18O signals from C. puzosiana is a cosmopolitan lifestyle including migration to more northerly latitudes. Mean δ13C values from C. puzosiana are comparable with those from G.(B.)dilobotes. However, the incrementally acquired data are highly variable and probably influenced by metabolic effects.The probable identification of migratory behaviour in C. puzosiana calls into question the reliability of some belemnite species as place-specific palaeoenvironmental archives and highlights the benefits of adopting a sclerochronological approach.
    • Stable mucus-associated bacterial communities in bleached and healthy corals of Porites lobata from the Arabian Seas

      Hadaidi, Ghaida; Röthig, Till; Yum, Lauren K.; Ziegler, Maren; Arif, Chatchanit; Roder, Cornelia; Burt, John; Voolstra, Christian R.; King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST); New York University, Abu Dhabi (Nature Research, 2017-03-31)
      Coral reefs are subject to coral bleaching manifested by the loss of endosymbiotic algae from coral host tissue. Besides algae, corals associate with bacteria. In particular, bacteria residing in the surface mucus layer are thought to mediate coral health, but their role in coral bleaching is unknown. We collected mucus from bleached and healthy Porites lobata colonies in the Persian/Arabian Gulf (PAG) and the Red Sea (RS) to investigate bacterial microbiome composition using 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing. We found that bacterial community structure was notably similar in bleached and healthy corals, and the most abundant bacterial taxa were identical. However, fine-scale differences in bacterial community composition between the PAG and RS were present and aligned with predicted differences in sulfur- and nitrogen-cycling processes. Based on our data, we argue that bleached corals benefit from the stable composition of mucus bacteria that resemble their healthy coral counterparts and presumably provide a conserved suite of protective functions, but monitoring of post-bleaching survival is needed to further confirm this assumption. Conversely, fine-scale site-specific differences highlight flexibility of the bacterial microbiome that may underlie adjustment to local environmental conditions and contribute to the widespread success of Porites lobata.
    • Structure of spermatodoses in shield-back bushcrickets (Tettigoniidae, Tettigoniinae)

      Vahed, Karim; University of Derby (Wiley, 2003-07)
      Many aspects of the reproductive anatomy and physiology of tettigoniids have been studied extensively. These include the large, externally visible spermatophores and the bundles of sperm, known as spermatodesms. However, spermatodoses, spermatophore-like structures found within the spermatheca, seem to have been almost completely overlooked: their structure has not been described since 1913 and they have subsequently received only passing mention in the literature. Each time the female mates, a separate spermatodose is formed. Here I use photographs, from light-microscopy, of whole and sectioned spermatodoses to describe the external and internal structure of spermatodoses of nine different genera within the subfamily Tettigoniinae. The structure of the spermatodoses is very similar for the different genera. Each spermatodose is pear- or onion-shaped and consists of a thin outer layer, enclosing a thick, gelatinous inner layer. A large sperm mass occupies the bulbous end of the spermatodose, while a thin sperm-tube leads from the sperm mass, along the center of the elongated neck of the spermatodose, and appears to exit at the pointed-tip of the spermatodose. Feather-like bundles of sperm (spermatodesms) were clearly visible within the sperm mass and also appeared to be present within the sperm-tube. The wall of the sperm tube appeared to be composed of material similar to that of the outer layer of the spermatodose. Within the spermatheca, spermatodoses appeared to be stratified in that only one of them ever occupied the position nearest to the spermathecal duct. The possible function of spermatodoses is discussed: it is proposed that they have evolved as a result of sexual conflict and function to protect the sperm from being destroyed by the female while they are in storage.
    • Substrate parameters affecting propagation of juvenile freshwater pearl mussels margaritifera margaritifera (bivalvia: margaritiferidae)

      Lavictoire, Louise; Notman, Gill; Pentecost, Allan; Moorkens, Evelyn; Ramsey, Andrew; Sweeting, Roger A.; University of Derby (Conchological Society, 2020)
      Interstitial habitat conditions are of critical importance to species inhabiting the hyporheic zone, particularly for moderately immobile species incapable of escaping poor habitat conditions. The critically endangered freshwater pearl mussel (Margaritifera margaritifera Linnaeus, 1758) has seen increasing propagation effort over the last three decades, often with mixed success. This study aimed to investigate parameters with the potential to affect juvenile survival in captivity by considering a range of habitat conditions within the substrate of a previously described propagation system using different substrate size classes (0.25–1 and 1–2mm) and cleaning regimes (weekly and monthly). Juvenile survival was highest in larger substrates, likely because of higher flow through larger pore spaces. This provided higher dissolved oxygen delivery in 1–2mm substrates cleaned weekly (8.26 ± 0.19 mg/L) and monthly (8.24 ± 0.44 mg/L), compared with 0.25–1mm substrates cleaned weekly (7.98 ± 0.44 mg/L) and monthly (6.78 ± 1.27 mg/L). The amount of organic material trapped in the substrate did not differ between treatments but the high concentrations of inorganic phosphorus liberated from ashed organic matter indicated phosphorus storage in phytoplankton. High dissolved oxygen concentrations and good water replacement between the water column and the substrate are crucial for survival in captive freshwater pearl mussels.
    • Surprises from the top of the mantle transition zone

      Rollinson, Hugh; University of Derby; University of Derby; Kedleston Road Derby DE22 1GB UK (Wiley Blackwell, 2016-03-07)
      Recent studies of chromite deposits from the mantle section of ophiolites have revealed a most unusual collection of minerals present as inclusions within the chromite. The initial discoveries were of diamonds from the Luobosa ophiolite in Tibet. Further work has shown that mantle chromitites from ophiolites in Tibet, the Russian Urals and Oman contain a range of crustal minerals including zircon, and a suite of highly reducing minerals including carbides, nitrides and metal alloys. Some of the minerals found represent very high pressure phases indicating that their likely minimum depth is close to the top of the mantle transition zone. These new results suggest that crustal materials may be subducted to mantle transition zone depths and subsequently exhumed during the initiation of new subduction zones—the most likely environment for the formation of their host ophiolites. The presence of highly reducing phases indicates that at mantle transition zone depths the Earth’s mantle is ‘super’-reducing.
    • Symbiotic microbes from marine invertebrates: Driving a new era of natural product drug discovery.

      Blockley, Alix; Elliott, David R.; Roberts, Adam; Sweet, Michael J.; University of Derby; Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI), 2017-10-28)
      Invertebrates account for more than 89% of all extant organisms in the marine environment, represented by over 174,600 species (recorded to date). Such diversity is mirrored in (or more likely increased by) the microbial symbionts associated with this group and in the marine natural products (or MNPs) that they produce. Since the early 1950s over 20,000 MNPs have been discovered, including compounds produced by symbiotic bacteria, and the chemical diversity of compounds produced from marine sources has led to them being referred to as "blue gold" in the search for new drugs. For example, 80% of novel antibiotics stemming from the marine environment have come from Actinomycetes, many of which can be found associated with marine sponges, and compounds with anti-tumorigenic and anti-diabetic potential have also been isolated from marine symbionts. In fact, it has been estimated that marine sources formed the basis of over 50% of FDA-approved drugs between 1981 and 2002. In this review, we explore the diversity of marine microbial symbionts by examining their use as the producers of novel pharmaceutical actives, together with a discussion of the opportunities and constraints offered by “blue gold” drug discovery.
    • There were no large volumes of felsic continental crust in the early Earth

      Rollinson, Hugh; University of Derby (Geological Society of America, 2017-02-17)
      New model growth curves for the continental crust based upon Hf-isotopes in zircon suggest that large volumes of felsic continental crust were present in the Hadean and early Archaean. These models sit uncomfortably with estimates of the volume of ancient crust preserved today and imply that the large volumes of crust that were created early in Earth history are now lost. However, this paper argues that there is no evidence from modern mantle geochemistry that very large volumes of early continental crust have been recycled into the mantle. In contrast significant volumes of Archaean crust may have been reworked into younger crust, although there is no evidence that this process took place in the early Archaean and Hadean. Geological evidence from the detrital zircon record does not show evidence for large volumes of very early felsic crust, rather, geochemical proxies for Eo-Archaean and Hadean crust strongly suggest that the earliest crusts on Earth, some of which may have been subaerial, were mafic. A lack of very early felsic crust on Earth calls for a re-evaluation of current crustal growth curves and geodynamic models for the start of plate tectonics, the role of supercontinents in early continent formation and the role of the subcontinental lithosphere in continent preservation. The earliest felsic rocks on Earth may have taken the form of oceanic plagiogranites or ocean-island potassic granites as found in the modern.
    • Till death (or an intruder) do us part: intrasexual-competition in a monogamous Primate

      Fernández-Duque, Eduardo; Huck, Maren; University of Pennsylvania, Department of Anthropology; Centro de Ecologia Aplicada del Litoral, CONICET (2013)
      Polygynous animals are often highly dimorphic, and show large sex-differences in the degree of intra-sexual competition and aggression, which is associated with biased operational sex ratios (OSR). For socially monogamous, sexually monomorphic species, this relationship is less clear. Among mammals, pair-living has sometimes been assumed to imply equal OSR and low frequency, low intensity intra-sexual competition; even when high rates of intra-sexual competition and selection, in both sexes, have been theoretically predicted and described for various taxa. Owl monkeys are one of a few socially monogamous primates. Using long-term demographic and morphological data from 18 groups, we show that male and female owl monkeys experience intense intra-sexual competition and aggression from solitary floaters. Pair-mates are regularly replaced by intruding floaters (27 female and 23 male replacements in 149 group-years), with negative effects on the reproductive success of both partners. Individuals with only one partner during their life produced 25% more offspring per decade of tenure than those with two or more partners. The termination of the pair-bond is initiated by the floater, and sometimes has fatal consequences for the expelled adult. The existence of floaters and the sporadic, but intense aggression between them and residents suggest that it can be misleading to assume an equal OSR in socially monogamous species based solely on group composition. Instead, we suggest that sexual selection models must assume not equal, but flexible, context-specific, OSR in monogamous species.