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Concept: Geography


The emergence in the United States of large-scale “megaregions” centered on major metropolitan areas is a phenomenon often taken for granted in both scholarly studies and popular accounts of contemporary economic geography. This paper uses a data set of more than 4,000,000 commuter flows as the basis for an empirical approach to the identification of such megaregions. We compare a method which uses a visual heuristic for understanding areal aggregation to a method which uses a computational partitioning algorithm, and we reflect upon the strengths and limitations of both. We discuss how choices about input parameters and scale of analysis can lead to different results, and stress the importance of comparing computational results with “common sense” interpretations of geographic coherence. The results provide a new perspective on the functional economic geography of the United States from a megaregion perspective, and shed light on the old geographic problem of the division of space into areal units.

Concepts: Algorithm, United States, Geography, Economics, Space, New York City, Philadelphia, Economic geography


The human skin is an organ with a surface area of 1.5-2 m(2) that provides our interface with the environment. The molecular composition of this organ is derived from host cells, microbiota, and external molecules. The chemical makeup of the skin surface is largely undefined. Here we advance the technologies needed to explore the topographical distribution of skin molecules, using 3D mapping of mass spectrometry data and microbial 16S rRNA amplicon sequences. Our 3D maps reveal that the molecular composition of skin has diverse distributions and that the composition is defined not only by skin cells and microbes but also by our daily routines, including the application of hygiene products. The technological development of these maps lays a foundation for studying the spatial relationships of human skin with hygiene, the microbiota, and environment, with potential for developing predictive models of skin phenotypes tailored to individual health.

Concepts: DNA, Archaea, Bacteria, Ribosomal RNA, Geography, 16S ribosomal RNA, Skin, Map


Recent investigations indicate that personality traits are unevenly distributed geographically, with some traits being more prevalent in certain places than in others. The geographical distributions of personality traits are associated with a range of important political, economic, social, and health outcomes. The majority of research on this subject has focused on the geographical distributions and macro-level correlates of personality across nations or regions of the United States. The aim of the present investigation was to replicate and extend that past work by examining regional personality differences in Great Britain. Using a sample of nearly 400,000 British residents, we mapped the geographical distributions of the Big Five Personality traits across 380 Local Authority Districts and examined the associations with important political, economic, social, and health outcomes. The results revealed distinct geographical clusters, with neighboring regions displaying similar personality characteristics, and robust associations with the macro-level outcome variables. Overall, the patterns of results were similar to findings from past research.

Concepts: Present, United States, Geography, United Kingdom, Big Five personality traits, Local government, British Empire, Regional geography


In this paper, we combine the most complete record of daily mobility, based on large-scale mobile phone data, with detailed Geographic Information System (GIS) data, uncovering previously hidden patterns in urban road usage. We find that the major usage of each road segment can be traced to its own - surprisingly few - driver sources. Based on this finding we propose a network of road usage by defining a bipartite network framework, demonstrating that in contrast to traditional approaches, which define road importance solely by topological measures, the role of a road segment depends on both: its betweeness and its degree in the road usage network. Moreover, our ability to pinpoint the few driver sources contributing to the major traffic flow allows us to create a strategy that achieves a significant reduction of the travel time across the entire road system, compared to a benchmark approach.

Concepts: Geography, Geographic information system, Robert Duvall, Mobile phone, Road, Traffic, Cartography, Geographic information science


Bicycle sharing systems exist in hundreds of cities around the world, with the aim of providing a form of public transport with the associated health and environmental benefits of cycling without the burden of private ownership and maintenance. Five cities have provided research data on the journeys (start and end time and location) taking place in their bicycle sharing system. In this paper, we employ visualization, descriptive statistics and spatial and network analysis tools to explore system usage in these cities, using techniques to investigate features specific to the unique geographies of each, and uncovering similarities between different systems. Journey displacement analysis demonstrates similar journey distances across the cities sampled, and the (out)strength rank curve for the top 50 stands in each city displays a similar scaling law for each. Community detection in the derived network can identify local pockets of use, and spatial network corrections provide the opportunity for insight above and beyond proximity/popularity correlations predicted by simple spatial interaction models.

Concepts: Geography, Difference, Networks, Property, Similarity, The Opportunity, Bicycle sharing system, Bike rental


Modern information and communication technologies, especially the Internet, have diminished the role of spatial distances and territorial boundaries on the access and transmissibility of information. This has enabled scientists for closer collaboration and internationalization. Nevertheless, geography remains an important factor affecting the dynamics of science. Here we present a systematic analysis of citation and collaboration networks between cities and countries, by assigning papers to the geographic locations of their authors' affiliations. The citation flows as well as the collaboration strengths between cities decrease with the distance between them and follow gravity laws. In addition, the total research impact of a country grows linearly with the amount of national funding for research & development. However, the average impact reveals a peculiar threshold effect: the scientific output of a country may reach an impact larger than the world average only if the country invests more than about 100,000 USD per researcher annually.

Concepts: Time, Earth, Geography, Science, Research, Social sciences, Internet, Human geography


We examine representations of time among the Mianmin of Papua New Guinea. We begin by describing the patterns of spatial and temporal reference in Mian. Mian uses a system of spatial terms that derive from the orientation and direction of the Hak and Sek rivers and the surrounding landscape. We then report results from a temporal arrangement task administered to a group of Mian speakers. The results reveal evidence for a variety of temporal representations. Some participants arranged time with respect to their bodies (left to right or toward the body). Others arranged time as laid out on the landscape, roughly along the east/west axis (either east to west or west to east). This absolute pattern is consistent both with the axis of the motion of the sun and the orientation of the two rivers, which provides the basis for spatial reference in the Mian language. The results also suggest an increase in left to right temporal representations with increasing years of formal education (and the reverse pattern for absolute spatial representations for time). These results extend previous work on spatial representations for time to a new geographical region, physical environment, and linguistic and cultural system.

Concepts: Southeast Asia, Sun, Geography, Indonesia, Space, Papua New Guinea, New Guinea, Empire of Japan


BACKGROUND: Geographic variables play an important role in the study of epidemics. The role of one such variable, population density, in the spread of influenza is controversial. Prior studies have tested for such a role using arbitrary thresholds for population density above or below which places are hypothesized to have higher or lower mortality. The results of such studies are mixed. The objective of this study is to estimate, rather than assume, a threshold level of population density that separates low-density regions from high-density regions on the basis of population loss during an influenza pandemic. We study the case of the influenza pandemic of 1918–19 in India, where over 15 million people died in the short span of less than one year. METHODS: Using data from six censuses for 199 districts of India (n=1194), the country with the largest number of deaths from the influenza of 1918–19, we use a sample-splitting method embedded within a population growth model that explicitly quantifies population loss from the pandemic to estimate a threshold level of population density that separates low-density districts from high-density districts. RESULTS: The results demonstrate a threshold level of population density of 175 people per square mile. A concurrent finding is that districts on the low side of the threshold experienced rates of population loss (3.72%) that were lower than districts on the high side of the threshold (4.69%). CONCLUSIONS: This paper introduces a useful analytic tool to the health geographic literature. It illustrates an application of the tool to demonstrate that it can be useful for pandemic awareness and preparedness efforts. Specifically, it estimates a level of population density above which policies to socially distance, redistribute or quarantine populations are likely to be more effective than they are for areas with population densities that lie below the threshold.

Concepts: Demography, Population, Population ecology, Geography, Population density, Pandemic, World population, Overpopulation


In the past decade, large scale mobile phone data have become available for the study of human movement patterns. These data hold an immense promise for understanding human behavior on a vast scale, and with a precision and accuracy never before possible with censuses, surveys or other existing data collection techniques. There is already a significant body of literature that has made key inroads into understanding human mobility using this exciting new data source, and there have been several different measures of mobility used. However, existing mobile phone based mobility measures are inconsistent, inaccurate, and confounded with social characteristics of local context. New measures would best be developed immediately as they will influence future studies of mobility using mobile phone data. In this article, we do exactly this. We discuss problems with existing mobile phone based measures of mobility and describe new methods for measuring mobility that address these concerns. Our measures of mobility, which incorporate both mobile phone records and detailed GIS data, are designed to address the spatial nature of human mobility, to remain independent of social characteristics of context, and to be comparable across geographic regions and time. We also contribute a discussion of the variety of uses for these new measures in developing a better understanding of how human mobility influences micro-level human behaviors and well-being, and macro-level social organization and change.

Concepts: Psychology, Geography, Geographic information system, Accuracy and precision, Behavior, Human behavior, Mobile phone, Cartography


Traditional methods for monitoring influenza are haphazard and lack fine-grained details regarding the spatial and temporal dynamics of outbreaks. Twitter gives researchers and public health officials an opportunity to examine the spread of influenza in real-time and at multiple geographical scales. In this paper, we introduce an improved framework for monitoring influenza outbreaks using the social media platform Twitter. Relying upon techniques from geographic information science (GIS) and data mining, Twitter messages were collected, filtered, and analyzed for the thirty most populated cities in the United States during the 2013-2014 flu season. The results of this procedure are compared with national, regional, and local flu outbreak reports, revealing a statistically significant correlation between the two data sources. The main contribution of this paper is to introduce a comprehensive data mining process that enhances previous attempts to accurately identify tweets related to influenza. Additionally, geographical information systems allow us to target, filter, and normalize Twitter messages.

Concepts: Spatial analysis, Geography, Geographic information system, Influenza, Learning, Data mining, Cartography, Geographic information science