Natural Processes (natural + process)

Distribution by Scientific Domains

Selected Abstracts

Synergistic effect of insect herbivory and plant parasitism on the performance of the invasive tree Schinus terebinthifolius

Veronica Manrique
Abstract Schinus terebinthifolius Raddi (Anacardiaceae) is an introduced tree from South America that has invaded many ecosystems throughout central and south Florida, USA. Exploratory surveys in the plant's native range identified several potential biocontrol agents, including the leaflet rolling moth, Episimus unguiculus Clarke (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae). The larval stages of E. unguiculus tie together the plant leaflets while feeding and can completely defoliate small plants. The native love vine, Cassytha filiformis L. (Lauraceae), has been found parasitizing S. terebinthifolius in Florida. Natural processes such as plant parasitism may be one of the components of an integrated approach for S. terebinthifolius management in Florida. Thus, the objective of this study was to evaluate the combined effects of insect herbivory and plant parasitism on the performance of S. terebinthifolius. A factorial design experiment was conducted in the greenhouse to determine the effect of C. filiformis parasitism and E. unguiculus feeding damage on the growth and biomass of S. terebinthifolius. Results showed that plant parameters, including leaflet biomass, growth rate, and flower production, were negatively affected by plant parasitism and insect herbivory. Moreover, the decrease in S. terebinthifolius performance was greater when these two factors were combined, indicative of a synergistic relationship. In addition, the combined effect of C. filiformis and E. unguiculus suppressed plant performance for at least 2 months after the moths were removed. Therefore, increased control of S. terebinthifolius stands may be achieved in those areas where C. filiformis is present in Florida (e.g., pinelands, hammock forests) if the biocontrol agent E. unguiculus is approved for release. [source]

The Role of Ground Water in Generating Streamflow in Headwater Areas and in Maintaining Base Flow,

Thomas C. Winter
Abstract:, The volume and sustainability of streamflow from headwaters to downstream reaches commonly depend on contributions from ground water. Streams that begin in extensive aquifers generally have a stable point of origin and substantial discharge in their headwaters. In contrast, streams that begin as discharge from rocks or sediments having low permeability have a point of origin that moves up and down the channel seasonally, have small incipient discharge, and commonly go dry. Nearly all streams need to have some contribution from ground water in order to provide reliable habitat for aquatic organisms. Natural processes and human activities can have a substantial effect on the flow of streams between their headwaters and downstream reaches. Streams lose water to ground water when and where their head is higher than the contiguous water table. Although very common in arid regions, loss of stream water to ground water also is relatively common in humid regions. Evaporation, as well as transpiration from riparian vegetation, causing ground-water levels to decline also can cause loss of stream water. Human withdrawal of ground water commonly causes streamflow to decline, and in some regions has caused streams to cease flowing. [source]

The Emerging Era of Novel Tropical Forests

BIOTROPICA, Issue 5 2009
Ariel E. Lugo
ABSTRACT In 1966 Eugene P. Odum delivered a speech before the Ecological Society of America that transformed the way ecologists looked at succession. His comparison of mature and successional systems lead ecologists to place secondary forests in an inferior position relative to mature ones to the point that today, prominent tropical biologists argue for and against the conservation value of secondary forests. Nevertheless, we live in the era of secondary forests that is rapidly giving way to a new era of novel tropical forests. Research in Puerto Rico documents the emergence of novel forests, which are different in terms of species composition, dominance, and relative importance of species from forests that were present before the island was deforested. These novel forests emerged without assistance. They are a natural response to the new environmental conditions created by human activity. Natural processes have remixed or reassembled native and introduced plant and animal species into novel communities adapted to anthropogenic environmental conditions. Novel forests are expected to protect soils, cycle nutrients, support wildlife, store carbon, maintain watershed functions, and mitigate species extinctions. The dawn of the age of tropical novel forests is upon us and must not be ignored. [source]

Influence of liver copper status of mare and newborn foal on the development of osteochondrotic lesions

P. R. van WEEREN
Summary Reason for performing study: To elucidate the highly contentious role of copper in the pathogenesis of osteochondrosis. Hypothesis: There would be no relationship between liver copper concentration of mares and foals and incidence of radiographically detectable osteochondrotic lesions in foals and yearlings was tested. Methods: Liver copper concentration was assessed in biopsies taken within 4 days after birth from both mares and foals and from the same foals at age 5 months. Biopsies were taken in the standing, sedated animal under ultrasonographic guidance. Radiographs were taken of both hocks (lateromedial, dorsoplantar and dorsomedial-plantarolateral oblique views) and stifles (lateromedial and caudolateral-craniomedial oblique views) at ages 5 and 11 months and scored for the presence and severity of osteochondrotic lesions. Results: Copper concentrations in newborn foals were high with a large variation (351 ± 201 mg/kg DM). They declined until reaching values comparable to those in mature animals at 5 months (20 ± 8 mg/kg DM; mares: 19 ± 20 mg/kg DM). Radiographic osteochondrotic lesions decreased in number and severity from 5 to 11 months. This pattern was more predominant in the stifle than in the hock, as has been described previously. Conclusions: There was no relationship between foal or mare liver copper concentration and osteochondrosis status at either 5 or 11 months. However, osteochondrotic lesions in foals with low-level copper status at birth decreased significantly less in number and severity than those in foals with high-level copper status at birth. Potential relevance: It is concluded that copper is not likely to be an important factor in the aetiopathogenesis of osteochondrosis, but this study indicates that there may be a significant effect of high copper status on the natural process of repair of early lesions. [source]

A genetic algorithm approach to solving the anti-covering location problem

EXPERT SYSTEMS, Issue 5 2006
Sohail S. Chaudhry
Abstract: In this paper we address the problem of locating a maximum weighted number of facilities such that no two are within a specified distance from each other. A natural process of evolution approach, more specifically a genetic algorithm, is proposed to solve this problem. It is shown that through the use of a commercially available spreadsheet-based genetic algorithm software package, the decision-maker with a fundamental knowledge of spreadsheets can easily set up and solve this optimization problem. Also, we report on our extensive computational experience using three different data sets. [source]

Unravelling the microbial role in ooid formation , results of an in situ experiment in modern freshwater Lake Geneva in Switzerland

GEOBIOLOGY, Issue 4 2008
ABSTRACT The microbial role in the formation of the cortex of low-Mg calcite freshwater ooids in western part of Lake Geneva in Switzerland has been suggested previously, but not demonstrated conclusively. Early work mostly concentrated in hypersaline milieus, and hence little is known about their genesis in freshwater environments. We designed an in situ experiment to mimic the natural process of low-Mg calcite precipitation. A special device was placed in the ooid-rich bank of the lake. It contained frosted glass (SiO2) slides, while quartz (SiO2) is the most abundant mineral composition of ooid nuclei that acted as artificial substrates to favour microbial colonization. Microscopic inspection of the slides revealed a clear seasonal pattern of carbonate precipitates, which were always closely associated with biofilms that developed on the surface of the frosted slides containing extracellular polymeric substance, coccoid and filamentous cyanobacteria, diatoms and heterotrophic bacteria. Carbonate precipitation peaks during early spring and late summer, and low-Mg calcite crystals mostly occur in close association with filamentous and coccoid cyanobacteria (e.g. Tolypothrix, Oscillatoria and Synechococcus, Anacystis, respectively). Further scanning electron microscope inspection of the samples revealed low-Mg calcite with crystal forms varying from anhedral to euhedral rhombohedra, depending on the seasons. Liquid cultures corroborate the in situ observations and demonstrate that under the same physicochemical conditions the absence of biofilms prevents the precipitation of low-Mg calcite crystals. These results illustrate that biofilms play a substantial role in low-Mg calcite ooid cortex formation. It further demonstrates the involvement of microbes in the early stages of ooid development. Combined with ongoing microbial cultures under laboratory-controlled conditions, the outcome of our investigation favoured the hypothesis of external microbial precipitation of low-Mg calcite as the main mechanism involved in the early stage of ooid formation in freshwater Lake Geneva. [source]

Trends in timing of low stream flows in Canada: impact of autocorrelation and long-term persistence

Eghbal Ehsanzadeh
Abstract The annual timing of river flows might indicate changes that are climate related. In this study, trends in timing of low flows for the Reference Hydrometric Basin Network were investigated under three different hypotheses namely: independence, short-term persistence (STP) and long-term persistence (LTP). Both summer and winter time series were characterized with scaling behaviour providing strong evidence of LTP. The Mann,Kendall trend test was modified to account for STP and LTP, and used to detect trends in timing of low flows. It was found that considering STP and LTP resulted in a significant decrease in the number of detected trends. Numerical analysis showed that the timing of summer 7-day low flows exhibited significant trends in 16, 9 and 7% of stations under independence, STP and LTP assumptions, respectively. Timing of summer low flow shifted toward later dates in western Canada, whereas the majority of stations in the east half of the country (except Atlantic Provinces) experienced a shift toward earlier dates. Timing of winter low flow experienced significant trends in 20, 12, and 6% of stations under independence, STP and LTP assumptions, respectively. Shift in timing of winter low flow toward earlier dates was dominant all over the country where it shifted toward earlier dates in up to 3/4 of time series with significant trends. There are local patterns of upward significant/insignificant trends in southeast, southwest and northern Canada. This study shows that timing of low flows in Canada is time dependent; however, addressing the full complexity of memory properties (i.e. short term vs long term) of a natural process is beyond the scope of this study. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. [source]

A BEM-based genetic algorithm for identification of polarization curves in cathodic protection systems

Panayiotis Miltiadou
Abstract The purpose of this work is to apply an inverse boundary element formulation in order to develop efficient algorithms for identification of polarization curves in a cathodic protection system. The problem is to minimize an objective function measuring the difference between observed and BEM-predicted surface potentials. The numerical formulation is based on the application of genetic algorithms, which are robust search techniques emulating the natural process of evolution as a means of progressing towards an optimum solution. Examples of application are included in the paper for different types of polarization curves in finite and infinite electrolytes. The accuracy and efficiency of the numerical results are verified by comparison with standard conjugate gradient techniques. As a result of this research, the genetic algorithm approach is shown to be more robust, independent of the position of the sensors and of initial guesses, and will be further developed for three-dimensional applications. Copyright © 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. [source]

Understanding and changing Health Systems , an instinctive and natural process?


Nurses' Views of Factors That Help and Hinder Their Intrapartum Care

Martha Sleutel
Objective:, To explore labor and delivery nurses' views of intrapartum care, particularly factors that help or hinder their efforts to provide professional labor support. Design:, Content analysis of narrative comments that nurses wrote on questionnaires during a two-part research study on professional labor support in 2001. Participants:, Intrapartum registered nurses. Results:, Six themes emerged under the category of factors that hinder nurses' intrapartum care: (a) hastening, controlling, and mechanizing birth; (b) facility culture and resources; (c) mothers' knowledge, language, and medical status; (d) outdated practices; (e) conflict; and (f) professional/ethical decline. Under the category of factors that help nurses' intrapartum care, four themes emerged: (a) teamwork and collaboration, (b) philosophy of birth as a natural process, (c) facility culture and resources, and (d) nursing impact, experience, and autonomy. Conclusions:, Nurses conveyed a spectrum of feelings from intense pride and pleasure to disillusionment, dissatisfaction, and distress based on barriers and facilitators to their ability to provide effective optimal care. They felt strongly that medical interventions often hindered their care and prevented them from providing labor support. Nurses offered blunt, often scathing criticism and also glowing praise for their colleagues in nursing, nurse-midwifery, and medicine regarding the quality of their care. JOGNN, 36, 203-211; 2007. DOI: 10.1111/J.1552-6909.2007.00146.x [source]

Architecture-based semantic evolution of embedded remotely controlled systems

Lawrence Chung
Abstract Evolution of a software system is a natural process. In most systems, evolution takes place during the maintenance phase of their life cycles. Those systems that have reached their limit in evolution have usually reached their end of useful life and may have to be replaced. However, there are systems in which evolution occurs during the operational phase of their life cycles. Such systems are designed to evolve while in use or, in other words, be adaptable. Semantically adaptable systems are of particular interest to industry as such systems often times adapt themselves to environment change with little or no intervention from their developing or maintaining organization. Since embedded systems usually have a restricted hardware configuration, it is difficult to apply the techniques developed for non-embedded systems directly to embedded systems. This paper focuses on evolution through adaptation and develops the concepts and techniques for semantic evolution in embedded systems. As the first step in the development of a software solution, architectures of software systems themselves have to be made semantically evolvable. In this paper we explore various architectural alternatives for the semantic evolution of embedded systems,these architectures are based on four different techniques that we have identified for semantic evolution in embedded systems. The development of these architectures follows the systematic process provided by the non-functional requirement (NFR) framework, which also permits the architectures to be rated in terms of their evolvability. As the field of embedded systems is vast, this paper concentrates on those embedded systems that can be remotely controlled. In this application domain the embedded system is connected to an external controller by a communication link such as ethernet, serial, radio frequency, etc., and receives commands from and sends responses to the external controller via the communication link. The architectures developed in this paper have been partly validated by applying them in a real embedded system,a test instrument used for testing cell phones. These architectures and techniques for semantic evolution in this application domain give a glimpse of what can be done in achieving semantic evolution in software-implemented systems. Copyright © 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. [source]

Historical Review of Penile Prosthesis Design and Surgical Techniques: Part 1 of a Three-Part Review Series on Penile Prosthetic Surgery

Gerard D. Henry MD
ABSTRACT Introduction., Throughout history, many attempts to cure complete impotence have been recorded. Early attempts at a surgical approach involved the placement of rigid devices to support the natural process of erection formation. However, these early attempts placed the devices outside of the corpora cavernosa, with high rates of erosion and infection. Today, most urologists in the United States now place an inflatable penile prosthesis (IPP) with an antibiotic coating inside the tunica albuginea. Aim., The article describes the key historical landmarks in penile prosthesis design and surgical techniques. Methods., The article reviews and evaluates the published literature for important contributions to penile prosthesis design and surgical techniques. Main Outcome Measures., The article reviews and evaluates the historical landmarks in penile prosthesis design and surgical techniques that appear to improve outcomes and advance the field of prosthetic urology for the treatment of erectile dysfunction. Results., The current review demonstrates the stepwise progression starting with the use of stenting for achieving rigidity in the impotent patient. Modern advances were first used in war-injured patients which led to early implantation with foreign material. The design and techniques of penile prostheses placement have advanced such that now, more complications are linked to medical issues than failure of the implant. Conclusions., Today's IPPs have high patient satisfaction rates with low mechanical failure rates. Gerard D. Henry. Historical review of penile prosthesis design and surgical techniques: Part 1 of a three-part review series on penile prosthetic surgery. J Sex Med 2009;6:675,681. [source]

Habitat-mediated size selection in endangered Atlantic salmon fry: selectional restoration assessment

Michael M. Bailey
Abstract Preservation of adaptive variation is a top priority of many species restoration programs, but most restoration activities are conducted without direct knowledge of selection that might foster or impair adaptation and restoration goals. In this study, we quantified geographic variation in selection on fry size of endangered Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) during the 6-week period immediately following stocking in the wild. We also used a model selection approach to assess whether habitat variables influence patterns of such selection. We found evidence for significant size-selection in five out of six selection trials. Interestingly, the strength and pattern of selection varied extensively among sites, and model selection suggested that this variation in phenotypic selection was related to geographic variation in the presence of large woody debris and the slope of the stream gradient. The strong selection differentials we observed should be a concern for endangered salmon restoration, whether they reflect natural processes and an opportunity to maintain adaptation, or an indicator of the potentially deleterious phenotypic consequences of hatchery practices. [source]

Bacteria in the cold deep-sea benthic boundary layer and sediment,water interface of the NE Atlantic

Carol Turley
Abstract This is a short review of the current understanding of the role of microorganisms in the biogeochemistry in the deep-sea benthic boundary layer (BBL) and sediment,water interface (SWI) of the NE Atlantic, the gaps in our knowledge and some suggestions of future directions. The BBL is the layer of water, often tens of meters thick, adjacent to the sea bed and with homogenous properties of temperature and salinity, which sometimes contains resuspended detrital particles. The SWI is the bioreactive interface between the water column and the upper 1 cm of sediment and can include a large layer of detrital material composed of aggregates that have sedimented from the upper mixed layer of the ocean. This material is biologically transformed, over a wide range of time scales, eventually forming the sedimentary record. To understand the microbial ecology of deep-sea bacteria, we need to appreciate the food supply in the upper ocean, its packaging, passage and transformation during the delivery to the sea bed, the seasonality of variability of the supply and the environmental conditions under which the deep-sea bacteria grow. We also need to put into a microbial context recent geochemical findings of vast reservoirs of intrinsically labile organic material sorped onto sediments. These may well become desorped, and once again available to microorganisms, during resuspension events caused by deep ocean currents. As biotechnologists apply their tools in the deep oceans in search of unique bacteria, an increasing knowledge and understanding of the natural processes undertaken and environmental conditions experienced by deep-sea bacteria will facilitate this exploitation. [source]

Living under an atomic force microscope

GEOBIOLOGY, Issue 3 2005
An optimized approach for in vivo investigations on surface alterations towards biomineral nucleation on cyanobacterial cells
ABSTRACT An approach for long-term in vivo investigations on cyanobacterial cell surface changes at high spatial resolution by Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) was developed in this study. Until recently, changes of bacterial cell surfaces due to changes of the chemical environment could neither be investigated in situ nor in vivo. However, in vivo investigations give insights into kinetics of cell response to environmental changes and mineral nucleation at the cell's surface. Continuously cultured cyanobacteria of the representative freshwater strain Synechococcus leopoliensis (PCC 7942) were washed and artificially immobilized on poly-l-lysine-coated glass slides. Both immobilization and environmental conditions were optimized in order to facilitate long-term experiments (> 100 h) with living cells. AFM samples were investigated in situ in two different solutions: Culture medium was used for cultivation experiments and nutrient-free NaHCO3/CaCl2 solutions (supersaturated with respect to calcite) for long-term characterizations of the changes in cell surface topography. Cell viability under these conditions was investigated by AFM, TEM and epifluorescence microscopy, independently. No indications for extended starvation were found within the relevant timescales. Analysing the influence of Ca2+ on the surface of S. leopoliensis, we found significant changes compared to a Ca-free solution. Few hours after CaCl2 was added to the circumfluent solution, small protuberances were observed on the cell surface. These are promising results to environmental scientists for a wide range of applications, as cell response to environmental changes can now be monitored online and in vivo at timescales, which are relevant for natural processes. Most especially studies of biomineralization and mineral nucleation on bacterial cell surfaces will profit from this new approach. [source]

Environmental Relations and Biophysical Transition: The Case of Trinket Island

Simron Jit Singh
ABSTRACT To what extent is an island economy cut off from the rest of the world? Defined as a mass of land bounded by water, island societies connect and exchange with their surroundings rather intensely. Based on empirical research, this paper explores the role of a ,remote' island society on Trinket in generating or sheltering itself from the process of globalisation in which con-textually given borders are transgressed and displaced. To this end, we apply the concepts of societal metabolism and colonising natural processes operationalised by Material and Energy Flow Analysis (MEFA), and Human Appropriation of Net Primary Production (HANPP) respectively. Using these biophysical indicators, we describe the transition from a metabolism based upon the natural environment to metabolism based on exchange with other societies. Data presented in this paper further reveal a process of industrialisation and integration into the global market of a so-called ,closed' and ,inaccessible' island society. [source]

Coastal and ancient harbour geoarchaeology

GEOLOGY TODAY, Issue 1 2010
N. Marriner
What roles have human impacts and natural processes had in shaping the evolution of Mediterranean coastlines during the Holocene? Where, when and how did societies transform the coastal zone? At what scales and rhythms did these changes take place? What can ancient harbour sediments tell us about human-environment interactions? During the past 20 years, geoarchaeological research in the Mediterranean has attempted to understand the interplay between culture and nature, and more particularly how environments and processes have played a role in Holocene human occupation of the coastal zone. This approach has drawn on the multidisciplinary study of sediments, as archives of information, to attempt to differentiate between anthropogenic and natural factors, the latter, we argue, having played an increasingly secondary role with time. Three important spatial scales of analysis have emerged, local, regional and Mediterranean, all of which are outlined here. [source]

Stoichiometric impacts of increased carbon dioxide on a planktonic herbivore

Abstract The partial pressure of carbon dioxide (pCO2) in lake ecosystems varies over four orders of magnitude and is affected by local and global environmental perturbations associated with both natural and anthropogenic processes. Little is known, however, about how changes in pCO2 extend into the function and structure of food webs in freshwater ecosystems. To fill this gap, we performed laboratory experiments using the ecologically important planktonic herbivore Daphnia and its algal prey under a natural range of pCO2 with low light and phosphorus supplies. The experiment showed that increased pCO2 stimulated algal growth but reduced algal P : C ratio. When feeding on algae grown under high pCO2, herbivore growth decreased regardless of algal abundance. Thus, high CO2 -raised algae were poor food for Daphnia. Short-term experimental supplementation of PO4 raised the P content of the high CO2 -raised algae and improved Daphnia growth, indicating that low Daphnia growth rates under high pCO2 conditions were due to lowered P content in the algal food. These results suggest that, in freshwater ecosystems with low nutrient supplies, natural processes as well as anthropogenic perturbations resulting in increased pCO2 enhance algal production but reduce energy and mass transfer efficiency to herbivores by decreasing algal nutritional quality. [source]

A review of the suspended sediment budget at the confluence of the Paraná and Paraguay Rivers

Mario L. Amsler
Abstract In this paper, the sediment budget at the confluence of the Paraná,Paraguay Rivers is updated on the basis of new suspended sediment concentration data, obtained during the 1990s at carefully located cross-sections, after the construction of several large reservoirs. With these data, it was possible to estimate that the suspended sediment load transported by the Upper Paraná River had decreased by 60% due to the influence of the dams. This decrease occurred in spite of the influence of climate change across the Upper Paraná and Paraguay basin, which increased the precipitation and surface runoff. As a consequence of these anthropogenic and natural processes, the Bermejo River (the main source of wash load to the system) accounts for an increasing proportion of the sediment transport along the middle and lower reaches of the Paraná River. The Paraná River currently transports about 120 × 106 t year,1 of wash load, with nearly 90% of this being supplied by the Bermejo. The contribution from the Bermejo is now about 35% larger than its contribution during the 1970s, when it accounted for approximately 60% of the sediment load of the Paraná River. These changes that have occurred over the last 30 years have enhanced the natural asymmetrical distribution of solid and water discharges in the Paraná River basin. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. [source]

The use of size,frequency diagrams to characterize prehistoric fish catches and to assess human impact on inshore fisheries

Foss Leach
Abstract Archaeological collections of fish bones from previously excavated sites in New Zealand are being re-examined and selected bones measured in order to estimate original fish size, reconstruct prehistoric fish catches and assess human impact on the fishery over the course of about 800 years of New Zealand prehistory. Several problems hamper this research, such as small sample sizes, lack of significant stratigraphy at many sites, inconsistent field collection strategies and failure to retain all of the material after initial analysis. Although some common fish species show a significant decline in mean size between pre-European and early historic samples on the one hand, and modern populations on the other, we have found little support for the common belief that there was a decline in mean fish size during the pre-European period. We have observed increases over time in the mean size of snapper (Pagrus auratus), blue cod (Parapercis colias) and undifferentiated species of Labridae from several sites scattered throughout New Zealand. Distinguishing between changes in fish population structures owing to natural processes, such as surface sea water changes, and those which are the result of human over-fishing is not simple, because both processes can operate simultaneously. We draw on modern fish quota management models to separate these processes. Important factors for each species are inshore biomass and the recruitment rate at different temperature regimes. In the case of blue cod, we find that there are signs in the catch diagrams of changes in fishing technology, and that 30,80% of catches are undersized fish in terms of modern management criteria. Copyright © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. [source]

Orthogonal Chemical Genetic Approaches for Unraveling Signaling Pathways

IUBMB LIFE, Issue 6 2005
Kavita Shah
Abstract While chemical genetic approach uses small molecules to probe protein functions in cells or organisms, orthogonal chemical genetics refers to strategies that utilize reengineered protein-small molecule interfaces, to alter specificities, in order to probe their functions. The advantage of orthogonal chemical genetics is that the changes at the interfaces are generally so minute that it goes undetected by natural processes, and thus depicts a true physiological picture of biological phenomenon. This review highlights the recent advances in the area of orthogonal chemical genetics, especially those designed to probe signaling processes. Dynamic protein-protein and enzyme-substrate interactions following stimuli form the foundation of signal transduction. These processes not only break spatial and temporal boundaries between interacting proteins, but also impart distinct regulatory properties by creating functional diversity at the interfaces. Functional and temporal modulation of these dynamic interactions by specific chemical probes provides extremely powerful tools to initiate, ablate, decouple and deconvolute different components of a signaling pathway at multiple stages. Not surprisingly, multiple receptor-ligand reengineering approaches have been developed in the last decade to selectively manipulate these transient interactions with the aim of unraveling signaling events. However, given the diversity of protein-protein interactions and novel chemical genetic probes developed to perturb these processes, a short review cannot do adequate justice to all aspects of signaling. For this reason, this review focuses on some orthogonal chemical-genetic strategies that are developed to study signaling processes involving enzyme-substrate interactions. IUBMB Life, 57: 397-405, 2005 [source]

From bobolinks to bears: interjecting geographical history into ecological studies, environmental interpretation, and conservation planning

David R. Foster
Abstract In these days of supercomputer-based global climate models, large ecosystem experiments including Biosphere II, and aircraft-borne sensors of ozone holes it is often overlooked that many fundamental insights into ecological processes and major environmental issues come not through reductionist or high-tech studies of modern conditions but from thoughtful consideration of nature's history. In fact, it is foolhardy to make any ecological interpretation of modern landscapes or environments or to formulate policy in conservation or natural resource management without an historical context that extends back decades, at least, but preferably centuries or millennia. Oftentimes, the ecological and conservation communities, in their search for more detail on the present and simulation of the future, appear to have forgotten the value of a deep historical perspective in research and application. However, the willingness of the geographical sciences to embrace broad temporal and spatial perspectives and to consider cultural as well as natural processes is worth emulating as we address environmental subjects in the new millennium. [source]

Direct atomic force microscopy observations of monovalent ion induced binding of DNA to mica

Summary Multivalent ions in solution are known to mediate attraction between two like-charged molecules. Such attraction has proved useful in atomic force microscopy (AFM) where DNA may be immobilized to a mica surface facilitating direct imaging in liquid. Theories of DNA immobilization suggest that either ,salt bridging' or fluctuation in the positions of counter ions about both the mica surface and DNA backbone secure DNA to the mica substrate. Whilst both theoretical and experimental evidence suggest that immobilization is possible in the presence of divalent ions, very few studies identify that such immobilization is possible with monovalent ions. Here we present direct AFM evidence of DNA immobilized to mica in the presence of only monovalent ions. Our data depict E. coli plasmid pBR322 adsorbed onto the negatively charged mica both after short (10 min) and long (24 h) incubation periods. These data suggest the need to re-explore current theories of like-charge attraction to include the possibility of monovalent interactions. We suggest that this DNA immobilization strategy may offer the potential to image natural processes with limited immobilization forces and hence enable maximum conformational freedom of the immobilized biomolecule. [source]


Naveen Kumar Sharma
Ongoing climatic changes coupled with various natural processes and the outcomes of human activities are not only loading the atmosphere with diverse kinds of biological particles but also changing their prevalence and spatial distribution. Despite having considerable ecological and economic significance, including their possible impact on human health, airborne algae are the least-studied organisms in both aerobiological and phycological studies. The present review has been written to bring together all available information, including a brief survey of the literature, the ecology of airborne algae, mechanisms involved in their aerosolization, the role of environmental factors in shaping the structure and composition of aero-algal flora, and other significant information associated with airborne algae. This review provides information on methodological approaches and related problems, along with suggestions for areas of future research on airborne algae. [source]


Paul E. Todhunter
ABSTRACT: The flood hydroclimatology of the Grand Forks flood of April 1997, the most costly flood on a per capita basis for a major metropolitan area in United States history, is analyzed in terms of the natural processes that control spring snowmelt flooding in the region. The geomorphological characteristics of the basin are reviewed, and an integrated assessment of the hydroclimatological conditions during the winter of 1996 to 1997 is presented to gain a real-world understanding of the physical basis of this catastrophic flood event. The Grand Forks flood resulted from the principal flood-producing factors occurring at either historic or extreme levels, or at levels conducive to severe flooding. Above normal fall precipitation increased the fall soil moisture storage and reduced the spring soil moisture storage potential. A concrete frost layer developed that effectively reduced the soil infiltration capacity to zero. Record snowfall totals and snow cover depths occurred across the basin because of the unusual persistence of a blocking high circulation pattern throughout the winter. A severe, late spring blizzard delayed the snowmelt season and replenished the snow cover to record levels for early April. This blizzard was followed by a sudden transition to an extreme late season thaw due to the abrupt breakdown of the blocking circulation pattern. The presence of river ice contributed to backwater effects and affected the timing of tributary inflows to the main stem of the Red River. Only the absence of spring rains prevented an even more catastrophic flood disaster from taking place. This paper contributes to our understanding of the flood hydroclimatology of catastrophic flood events in an unusual flood hazard region that possesses relatively flat terrain, a north-flowing river, and an annual peak discharge time series dominated by spring snowmelt floods. [source]

Y chromosome haplotyping in Scandinavian wolves (Canis lupus) based on microsatellite markers

A.-K. Sundqvist
Abstract The analysis of mitochondrial DNA sequences has for a long time been the most extensively used genetic tool for phylogenetic, phylogeographic and population genetic studies. Since this approach only considers female lineages, it tends to give a biased picture of the population history. The use of protein polymorphisms and microsatellites has helped to obtain a more unbiased view, but complementing population genetic studies with Y chromosome markers could clarify the role of each sex in natural processes. In this study we analysed genetic variability at four microsatellite loci on the canid Y chromosome. With these four microsatellites we constructed haplotypes and used them to study the genetic status of the Scandinavian wolf population, a population that now contains 60,70 animals but was thought to have been extinct in the 1970s. In a sample of 100 male wolves from northern Europe we found 17 different Y chromosome haplotypes. Only two of these were found in the current Scandinavian population. This indicates that there should have been at least two males involved in the founding of the Scandinavian wolf population after the bottleneck in the 1970s. The two Scandinavian Y chromosome haplotypes were not found elsewhere in northern Europe, which indicates low male gene flow between Scandinavia and the neighbouring countries. [source]


ABSTRACT. We model the value of environmental research in the presence of uncertainty about thesources of environmental pollutants and natural processes affecting the level of pollution. The model may be used to estimate the value of environmental research directed at resolving the uncertainty. We illustrate the model using a numerical simulation of a hypothetical case involving nutrient pollution of coastal waters. We show that the ex ante value of research is positively related to the level of uncertainty. There is a diminishing return with respect to the level of research investment. We find that research is more valuable ex post if it leads to unexpected findings. [source]

The Use of Natural Systems to Remediate Groundwater: Department of Energy Experience at the Savannah River Site

REMEDIATION, Issue 3 2002
Gerald C. Blount
Natural remediation is moving toward the forefront as engineers clean groundwater at the Savannah River Site (SRS), a major Department of Energy (DOE) installation near Aiken, South Carolina. This article reviews two successful, innovative remediation methods currently being deployed: biosparging to treat chlorinated solvents and phytoremediation to address tritium in groundwater. The biosparging system reintroduces oxygen into the groundwater and injects nutrient compounds for in-situ remediation. The system has greatly reduced the concentrations of trichloroethylene (TCE) and vinyl chloride in wells downgradient from a sanitary landfill (SLF). Phytoremediation is an emerging technology that promises effective and inexpensive cleanup of certain hazardous wastes. Using natural processes, plants can break down, trap and hold, or transpire contaminants. This article discusses the use of phytoremediation to reduce the discharge of tritium to an on-site stream at SRS. © 2002 Wiley Periodicals Inc.* [source]

Intra- and Interannual Vegetation Change: Implications for Long-Term Research

Julie E. Korb
Abstract To draw reliable conclusions from forest restoration experiments, it is important that long-term measurements be repeatable or year-to-year variability may interfere with the correct interpretation of treatment effects. We used permanent plots in a long-term restoration study in southwestern Colorado to measure herbaceous and shrub vegetation at three dates within a single year (June, July, and August), and between years (2003 and 2005), on untreated control plots in a warm, dry mixed conifer forest. Growing season precipitation patterns were similar between 2003 and 2005, so differences in vegetation should be related primarily to differences in the sampling month. Significant indicator species for each sampling month were present within a single year (2005), primarily reflecting early-season annuals. We found no significant differences for total species abundance (2005). Species richness, abundance, and indicator species were significantly different between years for different sampling months indicating that sampling should be conducted within a similar time frame to avoid detecting differences that are not due to treatment effects or variations in year-to-year climate. These findings have implications for long-term research studies where the objectives are to detect changes over time in response to treatments, climate variation, and natural processes. Long-term sampling should occur within a similar phenological time frame each year over a short amount of time and should be based on the following criteria: (1) the sampling period is congruent with research objectives such as detecting rare species or peak understory abundance and (2) the sampling period is feasible in regard to personnel and financial constraints. [source]

The Naturalness versus Wildness Debate: Ambiguity, Inconsistency, and Unattainable Objectivity

Ben Ridder
Abstract The naturalness versus wildness debate has gained some prominence in recent years and has seen considerable discussion of issues akin to those that have generated such tension between restorationists and preservationists. This debate is hampered by the terms in which it is framed. The primary meaning of both naturalness and wildness relates to the description of processes or behavior that lack human intervention. This enables human activities and artifacts (such as childbirth, food, and medicine) to be rated according to naturalness. However, when the terms are applied to the description of species and ecosystems, process-oriented definitions are forgotten in favor of historical benchmarks. This can result in serious inconsistencies between those who adhere to the different interpretations, exemplified by the tendency of conservationists to view "naturalness" as being consistent with human intervention in natural processes. The choice of one or the other interpretation is motivated by whether one prioritizes the conservation of biodiversity or minimizing human intervention. There have been claims that naturalness provides an objective measure for assessing biodiversity and calls for value-laden terms to be avoided. Yet, the values are central, and the best that can be hoped for is that the debate be framed using terms that are more indicative of these underlying values. It is suggested here that naturalness versus wildness be recast as "protecting biodiversity" versus "respect for nature's autonomy." Not only do these terms avoid the ambiguities of their forebears but they also expose the debate as the result of slight shifts in value priorities rather than fundamentally opposed worldviews. [source]