SciCombinator

Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

1336

Global declines in insects have sparked wide interest among scientists, politicians, and the general public. Loss of insect diversity and abundance is expected to provoke cascading effects on food webs and to jeopardize ecosystem services. Our understanding of the extent and underlying causes of this decline is based on the abundance of single species or taxonomic groups only, rather than changes in insect biomass which is more relevant for ecological functioning. Here, we used a standardized protocol to measure total insect biomass using Malaise traps, deployed over 27 years in 63 nature protection areas in Germany (96 unique location-year combinations) to infer on the status and trend of local entomofauna. Our analysis estimates a seasonal decline of 76%, and mid-summer decline of 82% in flying insect biomass over the 27 years of study. We show that this decline is apparent regardless of habitat type, while changes in weather, land use, and habitat characteristics cannot explain this overall decline. This yet unrecognized loss of insect biomass must be taken into account in evaluating declines in abundance of species depending on insects as a food source, and ecosystem functioning in the European landscape.

Concepts: Biodiversity, Insect, Ecology, Crustacean, Ecosystem, Taxonomic rank, Ant, Ecological economics

487

Objective To estimate financial payments from industry to US journal editors.Design Retrospective observational study.Setting 52 influential (high impact factor for their specialty) US medical journals from 26 specialties and US Open Payments database, 2014.Participants 713 editors at the associate level and above identified from each journal’s online masthead.Main outcome measures All general payments (eg, personal income) and research related payments from pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers to eligible physicians in 2014. Percentages of editors receiving payments and the magnitude of such payments were compared across journals and by specialty. Journal websites were also reviewed to determine if conflict of interest policies for editors were readily accessible.Results Of 713 eligible editors, 361 (50.6%) received some (>$0) general payments in 2014, and 139 (19.5%) received research payments. The median general payment was $11 (£8; €9) (interquartile range $0-2923) and the median research payment was $0 ($0-0). The mean general payment was $28 136 (SD $415 045), and the mean research payment was $37 963 (SD $175 239). The highest median general payments were received by journal editors from endocrinology ($7207, $0-85 816), cardiology ($2664, $0-12 912), gastroenterology ($696, $0-20 002), rheumatology ($515, $0-14 280), and urology ($480, $90-669). For high impact general medicine journals, median payments were $0 ($0-14). A review of the 52 journal websites revealed that editor conflict of interest policies were readily accessible (ie, within five minutes) for 17/52 (32.7%) of journals.Conclusions Industry payments to journal editors are common and often large, particularly for certain subspecialties. Journals should consider the potential impact of such payments on public trust in published research.

Concepts: Medicine, Specialty, The New England Journal of Medicine

390

To describe the average primary care physician consultation length in economically developed and low-income/middle-income countries, and to examine the relationship between consultation length and organisational-level economic, and health outcomes.

Concepts: Medicine, Economics, Social sciences, Primary care physician

364

Most mammalian species produce facial expressions. Historically, animal facial expressions have been considered inflexible and involuntary displays of emotional states rather than active attempts to communicate with others. In the current study, we aimed to test whether domestic dog facial expressions are subject to audience effects and/ or changes in response to an arousing stimulus (e.g. food) alone. We presented dogs with an experimental situation in which a human demonstrator was either attending to them or turned away, and varied whether she presented food or not. Dogs produced significantly more facial movements when the human was attentive than when she was not. The food, however, as a non-social but arousing stimulus, did not affect the dogs' behaviour. The current study is therefore evidence that dogs are sensitive to the human’s attentional state when producing facial expressions, suggesting that facial expressions are not just inflexible and involuntary displays of emotional states, but rather potentially active attempts to communicate with others.

Concepts: Psychology, Dog, Apex predator, Dog health, Carnivora, Gray Wolf

273

There is increasing recognition of the long-lasting effects of tsunamis on human populations. This is particularly notable along tectonically active coastlines with repeated inundations occurring over thousands of years. Given the often high death tolls reported from historical events though it is remarkable that so few human skeletal remains have been found in the numerous palaeotsunami deposits studied to date. The 1929 discovery of the Aitape Skull in northern Papua New Guinea and its inferred late Pleistocene age played an important role in discussions about the origins of humans in Australasia for over 25 years until it was more reliably radiocarbon dated to around 6000 years old. However, no similar attention has been given to reassessing the deposit in which it was found-a coastal mangrove swamp inundated by water from a shallow sea. With the benefit of knowledge gained from studies of the 1998 tsunami in the same area, we conclude that the skull was laid down in a tsunami deposit and as such may represent the oldest known tsunami victim in the world. These findings raise the question of whether other coastal archaeological sites with human skeletal remains would benefit from a re-assessment of their geological context.

Concepts: Human, Indonesia, Pacific Ocean, Papua New Guinea, Tsunami, Pleistocene, New Guinea, Mangrove

250

The flood hazard in New York City depends on both storm surges and rising sea levels. We combine modeled storm surges with probabilistic sea-level rise projections to assess future coastal inundation in New York City from the preindustrial era through 2300 CE. The storm surges are derived from large sets of synthetic tropical cyclones, downscaled from RCP8.5 simulations from three CMIP5 models. The sea-level rise projections account for potential partial collapse of the Antarctic ice sheet in assessing future coastal inundation. CMIP5 models indicate that there will be minimal change in storm-surge heights from 2010 to 2100 or 2300, because the predicted strengthening of the strongest storms will be compensated by storm tracks moving offshore at the latitude of New York City. However, projected sea-level rise causes overall flood heights associated with tropical cyclones in New York City in coming centuries to increase greatly compared with preindustrial or modern flood heights. For the various sea-level rise scenarios we consider, the 1-in-500-y flood event increases from 3.4 m above mean tidal level during 1970-2005 to 4.0-5.1 m above mean tidal level by 2080-2100 and ranges from 5.0-15.4 m above mean tidal level by 2280-2300. Further, we find that the return period of a 2.25-m flood has decreased from ∼500 y before 1800 to ∼25 y during 1970-2005 and further decreases to ∼5 y by 2030-2045 in 95% of our simulations. The 2.25-m flood height is permanently exceeded by 2280-2300 for scenarios that include Antarctica’s potential partial collapse.

Concepts: Oceanography, Storm, New York City, Tropical cyclone, Antarctica, Flood, Storm surge, Weather hazards

235

Volcanic eruptions provide tests of human and natural system sensitivity to abrupt shocks because their repeated occurrence allows the identification of systematic relationships in the presence of random variability. Here we show a suppression of Nile summer flooding via the radiative and dynamical impacts of explosive volcanism on the African monsoon, using climate model output, ice-core-based volcanic forcing data, Nilometer measurements, and ancient Egyptian writings. We then examine the response of Ptolemaic Egypt (305-30 BCE), one of the best-documented ancient superpowers, to volcanically induced Nile suppression. Eruptions are associated with revolt onset against elite rule, and the cessation of Ptolemaic state warfare with their great rival, the Seleukid Empire. Eruptions are also followed by socioeconomic stress with increased hereditary land sales, and the issuance of priestly decrees to reinforce elite authority. Ptolemaic vulnerability to volcanic eruptions offers a caution for all monsoon-dependent agricultural regions, presently including 70% of world population.The degree to which human societies have responded to past climatic changes remains unclear. Here, using a novel combination of approaches, the authors show how volcanically-induced suppression of Nile summer flooding led to societal unrest in Ptolemaic Egypt (305-30 BCE).

Concepts: Ancient Egypt, Egypt, Egyptians, Egyptian Arabic, Egyptian language, Achaemenid Empire, Egyptian hieroglyphs, Cleopatra VII

212

Intrusive memories, images, and hallucinations are hallmark symptoms of psychiatric disorders. Although often attributed to deficient inhibitory control by the prefrontal cortex, difficulty in controlling intrusive thoughts is also associated with hippocampal hyperactivity, arising from dysfunctional GABAergic interneurons. How hippocampal GABA contributes to stopping unwanted thoughts is unknown. Here we show that GABAergic inhibition of hippocampal retrieval activity forms a key link in a fronto-hippocampal inhibitory control pathway underlying thought suppression. Subjects viewed reminders of unwanted thoughts and tried to suppress retrieval while being scanned with functional magnetic resonance imaging. Suppression reduced hippocampal activity and memory for suppressed content. (1)H magnetic resonance spectroscopy revealed that greater resting concentrations of hippocampal GABA predicted better mnemonic control. Higher hippocampal, but not prefrontal GABA, predicted stronger fronto-hippocampal coupling during suppression, suggesting that interneurons local to the hippocampus implement control over intrusive thoughts. Stopping actions did not engage this pathway. These findings specify a multi-level mechanistic model of how the content of awareness is voluntarily controlled.

Concepts: Brain, Nuclear magnetic resonance, Magnetic resonance imaging, Memory, Cerebrum, Hippocampus, Limbic system, In vivo magnetic resonance spectroscopy

199

Wind turbines continuously remove kinetic energy from the lower troposphere, thereby reducing the wind speed near hub height. The rate of electricity generation in large wind farms containing multiple wind arrays is, therefore, constrained by the rate of kinetic energy replenishment from the atmosphere above. In recent years, a growing body of research argues that the rate of generated power is limited to around 1.5 W m(-2) within large wind farms. However, in this study, we show that considerably higher power generation rates may be sustainable over some open ocean areas. In particular, the North Atlantic is identified as a region where the downward transport of kinetic energy may sustain extraction rates of 6 W m(-2) and above over large areas in the annual mean. Furthermore, our results indicate that the surface heat flux from the oceans to the atmosphere may play an important role in creating regions where sustained high rates of downward transport of kinetic energy and thus, high rates of kinetic energy extraction may be geophysical possible. While no commercial-scale deep water wind farms yet exist, our results suggest that such technologies, if they became technically and economically feasible, could potentially provide civilization-scale power.

Concepts: Energy, Water, Atlantic Ocean, Ocean, Wind, Wind power, Wind farm, Wind turbine

195

Many high-grade serous carcinomas (HGSCs) of the pelvis are thought to originate in the distal portion of the fallopian tube. Serous tubal intra-epithelial carcinoma (STIC) lesions are the putative precursor to HGSC and identifiable in ~ 50% of advanced stage cases. To better understand the molecular etiology of HGSCs, we report a multi-center integrated genomic analysis of advanced stage tumors with and without STIC lesions and normal tissues. The most significant focal DNA SCNAs were shared between cases with and without STIC lesions. The RNA sequence and the miRNA data did not identify any clear separation between cases with and without STIC lesions. HGSCs had molecular profiles more similar to normal fallopian tube epithelium than ovarian surface epithelium or peritoneum. The data suggest that the molecular features of HGSCs with and without associated STIC lesions are mostly shared, indicating a common biologic origin, likely to be the distal fallopian tube among all cases.High-grade serous carcinomas (HGSCs) are associated with precursor lesions (STICs) in the fallopian epithelium in only half of the cases. Here the authors report the molecular analysis of HGSCs with and without associated STICs and show similar profiles supporting a common origin for all HGSCs.

Concepts: Cancer, RNA, Epithelium, Anatomical pathology, Carcinoma, Adenocarcinoma, Tubal ligation, Surface epithelial-stromal tumor