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Concept: Season


In anurans reproductive behavior is strongly seasonal. During the spring, frogs emerge from hibernation and males vocalize for mating or advertising territories. Female frogs have the ability to evaluate the quality of the males' resources on the basis of these vocalizations. Although studies revealed that central single torus semicircularis neurons in frogs exhibit season plasticity, the plasticity of peripheral auditory sensitivity in frog is unknown. In this study the seasonally plasticity of peripheral auditory sensitivity was test in the Emei music frog Babina daunchina, by comparing thresholds and latencies of auditory brainstem responses (ABRs) evoked by tone pips and clicks in the reproductive and non-reproductive seasons. The results show that both ABR thresholds and latency differ significantly between the reproductive and non-reproductive seasons. The thresholds of tone pip evoked ABRs in the non-reproductive season increased significantly about 10 dB than those in the reproductive season for frequencies from 1 KHz to 6 KHz. ABR latencies to waveform valley values for tone pips for the same frequencies using appropriate threshold stimulus levels are longer than those in the reproductive season for frequencies from 1.5 to 6 KHz range, although from 0.2 to 1.5 KHz range it is shorter in the non-reproductive season. These results demonstrated that peripheral auditory frequency sensitivity exhibits seasonal plasticity changes which may be adaptive to seasonal reproductive behavior in frogs.

Concepts: Seasons, Spring, Winter, Hertz, Frequency, Sound, Frog, Season


Understanding why some hybrid zones are bimodal and others unimodal can aid in identifying barriers to gene exchange following secondary contact. The hybrid zone between the grasshoppers Chorthippus brunneus and C. jacobsi contains a mix of allopatric parental populations and inter-mingled bimodal and unimodal sympatric populations, and provides an ideal system to examine the roles of local selection and gene flow between populations in maintaining bimodality. However, it is first necessary to confirm, over a larger spatial scale, previously identified associations between population composition and season and habitat. Here we use cline-fitting of one morphological and one song trait along two valley transects, and intervening mountains, to confirm previously identified habitat associations (mountain versus valley) and seasonal changes in population composition. As expected from previous findings of studies on a smaller spatial scale, C. jacobsi dominated mountain habitats and mixed populations dominated valleys, and C. brunneus became more prevalent in August. Controlling for habitat and incorporating into the analysis seasonal changes in cline parameters and the standard errors of parental trait values revealed wider clines than previous studies (best estimates of 6.4 to 24.5 km in our study versus 2.8 to 4.7 km in previous studies) and increased percentage of trait variance explained (52.7% and 61.5% for transects 1 and 2 respectively, versus 17.6%). Revealing such strong and consistent patterns within a complex hybrid zone will allow more focused examination of the causes of variation in bimodality in mixed populations, in particular the roles of local selection versus habitat heterogeneity and gene flow between differentiated populations.

Concepts: Grasshoppers, Chorthippus brunneus, Season, Hybrid, Allopatric speciation, Chorthippus, Speciation, Hybrid zone


Varroa mites and viruses are the currently the high-profile suspects in collapsing bee colonies. Therefore, seasonal variation in varroa load and viruses (Acute-Kashmir-Israeli complex (AKI) and Deformed Wing Virus (DWV)) were monitored in a year-long study. We investigated the viral titres in honey bees and varroa mites from 23 colonies (15 apiaries) under three treatment conditions: Organic acids (11 colonies), pyrethroid (9 colonies) and untreated (3 colonies). Approximately 200 bees were sampled every month from April 2011 to October 2011, and April 2012. The 200 bees were split to 10 subsamples of 20 bees and analysed separately, which allows us to determine the prevalence of virus-infected bees. The treatment efficacy was often low for both treatments. In colonies where varroa treatment reduced the mite load, colonies overwintered successfully, allowing the mites and viruses to be carried over with the bees into the next season. In general, AKI and DWV titres did not show any notable response to the treatment and steadily increased over the season from April to October. In the untreated control group, titres increased most dramatically. Viral copies were correlated to number of varroa mites. Most colonies that collapsed over the winter had significantly higher AKI and DWV titres in October compared to survivors. Only treated colonies survived the winter. We discuss our results in relation to the varroa-virus model developed by Stephen Martin.

Concepts: Apiology, Season, Apidae, Bumblebee, Honey bee, Varroa destructor, Insect, Beekeeping


Reduced exposure to daytime sunlight and increased exposure to electrical lighting at night leads to late circadian and sleep timing [1-3]. We have previously shown that exposure to a natural summer 14 hr 40 min:9 hr 20 min light-dark cycle entrains the human circadian clock to solar time, such that the internal biological night begins near sunset and ends near sunrise [1]. Here we show that the beginning of the biological night and sleep occur earlier after a week’s exposure to a natural winter 9 hr 20 min:14 hr 40 min light-dark cycle as compared to the modern electrical lighting environment. Further, we find that the human circadian clock is sensitive to seasonal changes in the natural light-dark cycle, showing an expansion of the biological night in winter compared to summer, akin to that seen in non-humans [4-8]. We also show that circadian and sleep timing occur earlier after spending a weekend camping in a summer 14 hr 39 min:9 hr 21 min natural light-dark cycle compared to a typical weekend in the modern environment. Weekend exposure to natural light was sufficient to achieve ∼69% of the shift in circadian timing we previously reported after a week’s exposure to natural light [1]. These findings provide evidence that the human circadian clock adapts to seasonal changes in the natural light-dark cycle and is timed later in the modern environment in both winter and summer. Further, we demonstrate that earlier circadian timing can be rapidly achieved through natural light exposure during a weekend spent camping.

Concepts: Time, Natural environment, Sleep, Season, Circadian rhythm


Arctic reindeer experience extreme changes in environmental light from continuous summer daylight to continuous winter darkness. Here, we show that they may have a unique mechanism to cope with winter darkness by changing the wavelength reflection from their tapetum lucidum (TL). In summer, it is golden with most light reflected back directly through the retina, whereas in winter it is deep blue with less light reflected out of the eye. The blue reflection in winter is associated with significantly increased retinal sensitivity compared with summer animals. The wavelength of reflection depends on TL collagen spacing, with reduced spacing resulting in shorter wavelengths, which we confirmed in summer and winter animals. Winter animals have significantly increased intra-ocular pressure, probably produced by permanent pupil dilation blocking ocular drainage. This may explain the collagen compression. The resulting shift to a blue reflection may scatter light through photoreceptors rather than directly reflecting it, resulting in elevated retinal sensitivity via increased photon capture. This is, to our knowledge, the first description of a retinal structural adaptation to seasonal changes in environmental light. Increased sensitivity occurs at the cost of reduced acuity, but may be an important adaptation in reindeer to detect moving predators in the dark Arctic winter.

Concepts: Fundamental physics concepts, Season, Electromagnetic radiation, Wavelength, Reflection, Refraction, Eye, Light


Migratory birds track seasonal resources across and between continents. We propose a general strategy of tracking the broad seasonal abundance of resources throughout the annual cycle in the longest-distance migrating land birds as an alternative to tracking a certain climatic niche or shorter-term resource surplus occurring, for example, during spring foliation. Whether and how this is possible for complex annual spatiotemporal schedules is not known. New tracking technology enables unprecedented spatial and temporal mapping of long-distance movement of birds. We show that three Palearctic-African species track vegetation greenness throughout their annual cycle, adjusting the timing and direction of migratory movements with seasonal changes in resource availability over Europe and Africa. Common cuckoos maximize the vegetation greenness, whereas red-backed shrikes and thrush nightingales track seasonal surplus in greenness. Our results demonstrate that the longest-distance migrants move between consecutive staging areas even within the wintering region in Africa to match seasonal variation in regional climate. End-of-century climate projections indicate that optimizing greenness would be possible but that vegetation surplus might be more difficult to track in the future.

Concepts: Europe, Human migration, Climate change, Cuckoo, Africa, Bird, Bird migration, Season


The effects of rapid Arctic warming and ice loss on weather patterns in the Northern Hemisphere is a topic of active research, lively scientific debate and high societal impact. The emergence of Arctic amplification-the enhanced sensitivity of high-latitude temperature to global warming-in only the last 10-20 years presents a challenge to identifying statistically robust atmospheric responses using observations. Several recent studies have proposed and demonstrated new mechanisms by which the changing Arctic may be affecting weather patterns in mid-latitudes, and these linkages differ fundamentally from tropics/jet-stream interactions through the transfer of wave energy. In this study, new metrics and evidence are presented that suggest disproportionate Arctic warming-and resulting weakening of the poleward temperature gradient-is causing the Northern Hemisphere circulation to assume a more meridional character (i.e. wavier), although not uniformly in space or by season, and that highly amplified jet-stream patterns are occurring more frequently. Further analysis based on self-organizing maps supports this finding. These changes in circulation are expected to lead to persistent weather patterns that are known to cause extreme weather events. As emissions of greenhouse gases continue unabated, therefore, the continued amplification of Arctic warming should favour an increased occurrence of extreme events caused by prolonged weather conditions.

Concepts: Scientific method, Causality, Emergence, Global warming, Season, Climate, Extreme weather, Weather


BACKGROUND: Prior studies have suggested that the darkness of winter impacts the level of mental distress and sleeping problems. Our study investigated whether people living in the sub-arctic had more sleeping problems or mental distress during winter. METHODS: The cross sectional population Troms[latin small letter o with stroke] Study was conducted in Troms[latin small letter o with stroke], North Norway, at 69.4 degrees North and above the Arctic Circle. The study included entire birth cohorts and random samples of the population aged 30 to 87 years. Data was collected continuously from 1 October 2007 to the end of December 2008 except July. 8951 persons completed questionnaires including the HSCL-10 and the MCTQ. RESULTS: There were no significant differences in the reporting of current mental distress depending on season. Significantly more reported current sleeping problems in winter than in the other seasons, and less sleeping problems was found in spring. CONCLUSIONS: In this sub-arctic population, insomnia was most prevalent in winter, but there were no significant seasonal differences in mental distress. Although some people in the sub-arctic clearly are mentally negatively affected by the darkness of winter, the negative impact of winter on mental distress for the adult population is not conclusive.

Concepts: Winter, Spring, Arctic Circle, Arctic Ocean, Tromsø, Arctic, Season, Norway


Chloride concentrations in northern U.S. included in this study have increased substantially over time with average concentrations approximately doubling from 1990 to 2011, outpacing the rate of urbanization in the northern U.S. Historical data were examined for 30 monitoring sites on 19 streams that had chloride concentration and flow records of 18 to 49years. Chloride concentrations in most studied streams increased in all seasons (13 of 19 in all seasons; 16 of 19 during winter); maximum concentrations occurred during winter. Increasing concentrations during non-deicing periods suggest that chloride was stored in hydrologic reservoirs, such as the shallow groundwater system, during the winter and slowly released in baseflow throughout the year. Streamflow dependency was also observed with chloride concentrations increasing as streamflow decreased, a result of dilution during rainfall- and snowmelt-induced high-flow periods. The influence of chloride on aquatic life increased with time; 29% of sites studied exceeded the concentration for the USEPA chronic water quality criteria of 230mg/L by an average of more than 100 individual days per year during 2006-2011. The rapid rate of chloride concentration increase in these streams is likely due to a combination of possible increased road salt application rates, increased baseline concentrations, and greater snowfall in the Midwestern U.S. during the latter portion of the study period.

Concepts: Season, Concentration, Time, Salt, Groundwater, Water pollution, Hydrology, Water


In recent years, the Northern Hemisphere has suffered several devastating regional summer weather extremes, such as the European heat wave in 2003, the Russian heat wave and the Indus river flood in Pakistan in 2010, and the heat wave in the United States in 2011. Here, we propose a common mechanism for the generation of persistent longitudinal planetary-scale high-amplitude patterns of the atmospheric circulation in the Northern Hemisphere midlatitudes. Those patterns-with zonal wave numbers m = 6, 7, or 8-are characteristic of the above extremes. We show that these patterns might result from trapping within midlatitude waveguides of free synoptic waves with zonal wave numbers k ≈ m. Usually, the quasistationary dynamical response with the above wave numbers m to climatological mean thermal and orographic forcing is weak. Such midlatitude waveguides, however, may favor a strong magnification of that response through quasiresonance.

Concepts: Waves, Pacific Ocean, Season, United States, Tropical cyclone, Pakistan, Weather, Climate