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Concept: Channel Islands


Contamination with exogenous DNA is a constant hazard to ancient DNA studies, since their validity greatly depend on the ancient origin of the retrieved sequences. Since contamination occurs sporadically, it is fundamental to show positive evidence for the authenticity of ancient DNA sequences even when preventive measures to avoid contamination are implemented. Recently the presence of wheat in the United Kingdom 8000 years before the present has been reported based on an analysis of sedimentary ancient DNA (Smith et al. 2015). Smith et al. did not present any positive evidence for the authenticity of their results due to the small number of sequencing reads that were confidently assigned to wheat. We developed a computational method that compares postmortem damage patterns of a test dataset with bona fide ancient and modern DNA. We applied this test to the putative wheat DNA and find that these reads are most likely not of ancient origin.

Concepts: DNA, United Kingdom, English people, British Isles, British people, Channel Islands, Northern Ireland, Ancient DNA


Chronic low-frequency anthropogenic sound, such as shipping noise, may be negatively affecting marine life. The EU’s Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) includes a specific indicator focused on this noise. This indicator is the yearly average sound level in third-octave bands with centre frequencies at 63Hz and 125Hz. These levels are described for Falmouth Bay, UK, an active port at the entrance to the English Channel. Underwater sound was recorded for 30min h(-1) over the period June 2012 to November 2013 for a total of 435days. Mean third-octave levels were louder in the 125-Hz band (annual mean level of 96.0dB re 1μPa) than in the 63-Hz band (92.6dB re 1 μPa). These levels and variations are assessed as a function of seasons, shipping activity and wave height, providing comparison points for future monitoring activities, including the MSFD and emerging international regulation.

Concepts: European Union, United Kingdom, Acoustics, Sound, Sound pressure, Channel Islands, English Channel, Cornwall


Milk is the largest source of iodine in UK diets and an earlier study showed that organic summer milk had significantly lower iodine concentration than conventional milk. There are no comparable studies with winter milk or the effect of milk fat class or heat processing method. Two retail studies with winter milk are reported. Study 1 showed no effect of fat class but organic milk was 32.2% lower in iodine than conventional milk (404 vs. 595 μg/L; P<0.001). Study 2 found no difference between conventional and Channel Island milk but organic milk contained 35.5% less iodine than conventional milk (474 vs. 306 μg/L; P<0.001). UHT and branded organic milk also had lower iodine concentrations than conventional milk (331 μg/L; P<0.001 and 268 μg/L: P<0.0001 respectively). The results indicate that replacement of conventional milk by organic or UHT milk will increase the risk of sub-optimal iodine status especially for pregnant/lactating women.

Concepts: Nutrition, Concentration, Chemistry, Milk, Butter, Saturation, Channel Islands, Ultra-high-temperature processing


The English Channel is one of the world’s busiest sea areas with intense shipping and port activity juxtaposed with recreation, communications and important conservation areas. Opportunities for marine renewable energy vie with existing activities for space. The current governance of the English Channel is reviewed and found to lack integration between countries, sectors, legislation and scientific research. Recent developments within the EU’s marine management frameworks are significantly altering our approach to marine governance and this paper explores the implications of these new approaches to management of the English Channel. Existing mechanisms for cross-Channel science and potential benefits of an English Channel scale perspective are considered. In conclusion, current management practices are considered against the 12 Malawi Principles of the ecosystem approach resulting in proposals for enhancing governance of the region through science at the scale of the English Channel.

Concepts: United Kingdom, England, France, British Isles, Channel Islands, English Channel, Cornwall, Poole


The aim of this study was to analyse the migration of doctors between the UK and France, in an attempt to identify the reasons for these migrations.

Concepts: European Union, United Kingdom, Europe, Human migration, English language, Canada, Channel Islands, Decolonization


The Californian Channel Islands are near-shore islands with high levels of endemism, but extensive habitat loss has contributed to the decline or extinction of several endemic taxa. A key parameter for understanding patterns of endemism and demography in island populations is the magnitude of inter-island dispersal. This paper estimates the extent of migration and genetic differentiation in three extant and two extinct populations of Channel Island song sparrows (Melospiza melodia graminea). Inter-island differentiation was substantial (G'‘ST: 0.14-0.37), with San Miguel Island having the highest genetic divergence and lowest migration rates. Santa Rosa and Santa Cruz Island populations were less diverged with higher migration rates. Genetic signals of past population declines were detected in all of the extant populations. The Channel Island populations were significantly diverged from mainland populations of M. m. heermanni (G’‘ST: 0.30-0.64). Ten mtDNA haplotypes were recovered across the extant and extinct Channel Island population samples. Two of the ten haplotypes were shared between the Northern and Southern Channel Islands, with one of these haplotypes being detected on the Californian mainland. Our results suggest that there is little contemporary migration between islands, consistent with early explanations of avian biogeography in the Channel Islands, and that song sparrow populations on the northern Channel Islands are demographically independent.

Concepts: Extinction, British Isles, Channel Islands, English Channel, Channel Islands of California, Song Sparrow, Guernsey, Channel Islands National Park


Pleistocene aridification in central North America caused many temperate forest-associated vertebrates to split into eastern and western lineages. Such divisions can be cryptic when Holocene expansions have closed the gaps between once-disjunct ranges or when local morphological variation obscures deeper regional divergences. We investigated such cryptic divergence in the gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus), the most basal extant canid in the world. We also investigated the phylogeography of this species and its diminutive relative, the island fox (U. littoralis), in California. The California Floristic Province was a significant source of Pleistocene diversification for a wide range of taxa and, we hypothesized, for the gray fox as well. Alternatively, gray foxes in California potentially reflected a recent Holocene expansion from further south. We sequenced mitochondrial DNA from 169 gray foxes from the southeastern and southwestern United States and 11 island foxes from three of the Channel Islands. We estimated a 1.3% sequence divergence in the cytochrome b gene between eastern and western foxes and used coalescent simulations to date the divergence to approximately 500,000 years before present (YBP), which is comparable to that between recognized sister species within the Canidae. Gray fox samples collected from throughout California exhibited high haplotype diversity, phylogeographic structure, and genetic signatures of a late-Holocene population decline. Bayesian skyline analysis also indicated an earlier population increase dating to the early Wisconsin glaciation (~70,000 YBP) and a root height extending back to the previous interglacial (~100,000 YBP). Together these findings support California’s role as a long-term Pleistocene refugium for western Urocyon. Lastly, based both on our results and re-interpretation of those of another study, we conclude that island foxes of the Channel Islands trace their origins to at least 3 distinct female founders from the mainland rather than to a single matriline, as previously suggested.

Concepts: North America, Canidae, Fox, Channel Islands, English Channel, Channel Islands of California, Island Fox, Urocyon


Lupus disease measures such as the SLE Disease Activity Index (SLEDAI) and the British Isles Lupus Assessment Group (BILAG) Index are challenging to interpret. The Lupus Foundation of America-Rapid Evaluation of Activity in Lupus (LFA-REAL) is intended to provide an efficient application of anchored visual analogue scores, each representing the individual severity of active symptoms, with the sum of individual scores deriving an overall disease activity assessment.

Concepts: United Kingdom, Europe, Systemic lupus erythematosus, English people, British Isles, British people, Channel Islands, British Islands


Species that have a high likelihood of surviving the discarding process have become great concern since the European Union reformed the Common Fisheries Policy and enacted a landing obligation prohibiting the discarding any individuals of species under quota. Among species presenting an elevated survival potential, plaice (Pleuronectes platessa) is one of the most discarded in the coastal otter trawl fishery in the English Channel. The objective of this study is to provide the most reliable estimates of plaice survival after release in commercial conditions, and to identify the factors that influence survival rates. A captivity experiment was conducted in January-February in the English fishery to assess the survival of discarded plaice as a function of a semi-quantitative index of fish vitality, which has been demonstrated to be a good proxy of fish survival in comparable fishing and environmental conditions. This study examined the potential of this index to estimate discard survival in three trials from the English and French fisheries and at three different seasons. The vitality index was then used to analyse the influence of several factors (fishing practices, environmental conditions and fish biological characteristics) on the discard survival. The survival rates for plaice were accurately estimated at 62.8% in January-February, 66.6% in November and 45.2% in July. While these rates remained substantial whatever the fishing, environmental or fish biological conditions, the time fish spent on the deck, the bottom and air temperatures, the tow depth and the fish length had a significant influence on plaice survival. In practice, plaice survival could be enhanced by releasing the fish early during catch sorting and avoiding exposure to extreme air temperatures.

Concepts: European Union, United Kingdom, France, Overfishing, Channel Islands, North Sea, Wild fisheries, Pleuronectes


There is concern regarding the amount of fruit and vegetables consumed and high sugar intakes in children’s diets. Regional dietary differences in the British Isles could underlie variations in health outcomes, but little is known about these differences. Our aim was to compare diets of children enrolled in observational birth cohort studies in the Isle of Man (IoM-ELSPAC) and in south-west England (ALSPAC). Dietary intakes were assessed by 3-day food records in IoM and ALSPAC at an age of 7 years. Comparisons of mean daily nutrient, and food and food group intakes were made between the studies and with UK national dietary guidelines. Diets in both regions were adequate for most nutrients except dietary fibre, but in both groups intake of free sugars was three times higher than the UK recommended maximum. There were differences between the two regions, particularly higher energy, protein, and carbohydrate intakes in IoM. IoM children consumed greater amounts of red meat, bread, full-fat milk, and sugar-sweetened drinks. IoM children had higher intakes of energy and some nutrients and food groups than ALSPAC children, and similar low intakes of fruits and vegetables. Children’s diets in both regions could be improved, particularly considering the increasing prevalence of childhood obesity and the UK recommendation to lower the intake of free sugars.

Concepts: Cohort study, Nutrition, United Kingdom, Carbohydrate, Sugar, British Isles, Channel Islands, Isle of Man