SciCombinator

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

918

Exomoons are the natural satellites of planets orbiting stars outside our solar system, of which there are currently no confirmed examples. We present new observations of a candidate exomoon associated with Kepler-1625b using the Hubble Space Telescope to validate or refute the moon’s presence. We find evidence in favor of the moon hypothesis, based on timing deviations and a flux decrement from the star consistent with a large transiting exomoon. Self-consistent photodynamical modeling suggests that the planet is likely several Jupiter masses, while the exomoon has a mass and radius similar to Neptune. Since our inference is dominated by a single but highly precise Hubble epoch, we advocate for future monitoring of the system to check model predictions and confirm repetition of the moon-like signal.

363

A number of studies indicate that tropical arthropods should be particularly vulnerable to climate warming. If these predictions are realized, climate warming may have a more profound impact on the functioning and diversity of tropical forests than currently anticipated. Although arthropods comprise over two-thirds of terrestrial species, information on their abundance and extinction rates in tropical habitats is severely limited. Here we analyze data on arthropod and insectivore abundances taken between 1976 and 2012 at two midelevation habitats in Puerto Rico’s Luquillo rainforest. During this time, mean maximum temperatures have risen by 2.0 °C. Using the same study area and methods employed by Lister in the 1970s, we discovered that the dry weight biomass of arthropods captured in sweep samples had declined 4 to 8 times, and 30 to 60 times in sticky traps. Analysis of long-term data on canopy arthropods and walking sticks taken as part of the Luquillo Long-Term Ecological Research program revealed sustained declines in abundance over two decades, as well as negative regressions of abundance on mean maximum temperatures. We also document parallel decreases in Luquillo’s insectivorous lizards, frogs, and birds. While El Niño/Southern Oscillation influences the abundance of forest arthropods, climate warming is the major driver of reductions in arthropod abundance, indirectly precipitating a bottom-up trophic cascade and consequent collapse of the forest food web.

225

Non-drinking among young people has increased over the past decade in England, yet the underlying factor driving this change is unknown. Traditionally non-drinking has been found to be associated with lower socio-economic status and poorer health. This study explores among which sub-groups non-drinking has increased, and how this correlates with changes in drinking patterns, to identify whether behaviours are becoming more polarised, or reduction is widespread among young people.

154

Polymorphic phenotypes of mammalian coat coloration have been important to the study of genetics and evolution, but less is known about the inheritance and fitness consequences of individual variation in complex coat pattern traits such as spots and stripes. Giraffe coat markings are highly complex and variable and it has been hypothesized that variation in coat patterns most likely affects fitness by camouflaging neonates against visually hunting predators. We quantified complex coat pattern traits of wild Masai giraffes using image analysis software, determined the similarity of spot pattern traits between mother and offspring, and assessed whether variation in spot pattern traits was related to fitness as measured by juvenile survival. The methods we described could comprise a framework for objective quantification of complex mammal coat pattern traits based on photographic coat pattern data. We demonstrated that some characteristics of giraffe coat spot shape were likely to be heritable, as measured by mother-offspring regression. We found significant variation in juvenile survival among phenotypic groups of neonates defined by multivariate clustering based on spot trait measurement variables. We also found significant variation in neonatal survival associated with spot size and shape covariates. Larger spots (smaller number of spots) and irregularly shaped or rounder spots (smaller aspect ratio) were correlated with increased survival. These findings will inform investigations into developmental and genetic architecture of complex mammal coat patterns and their adaptive value.

143

Beer is the most popular alcoholic beverage in the world by volume consumed, and yields of its main ingredient, barley, decline sharply in periods of extreme drought and heat. Although the frequency and severity of drought and heat extremes increase substantially in range of future climate scenarios by five Earth System Models, the vulnerability of beer supply to such extremes has never been assessed. We couple a process-based crop model (decision support system for agrotechnology transfer) and a global economic model (Global Trade Analysis Project model) to evaluate the effects of concurrent drought and heat extremes projected under a range of future climate scenarios. We find that these extreme events may cause substantial decreases in barley yields worldwide. Average yield losses range from 3% to 17% depending on the severity of the conditions. Decreases in the global supply of barley lead to proportionally larger decreases in barley used to make beer and ultimately result in dramatic regional decreases in beer consumption (for example, -32% in Argentina) and increases in beer prices (for example, +193% in Ireland). Although not the most concerning impact of future climate change, climate-related weather extremes may threaten the availability and economic accessibility of beer.

133

This study aimed to perform a systematic literature review of the clinical trial evidence on electrical stimulation for the treatment of neurogenic bowel dysfunction (NBD) after spinal cord injury (SCI).

133

Hygroelectricity is proposed as a means to produce electric power from air by absorbing gaseous or vaporous water molecules, which are ubiquitous in the atmosphere. Here, using a synergy between a hygroscopic bulk graphene oxide with a heterogeneous structure and interface mediation between electrodes/materials with Schottky junctions, we develop a high-performance hygroelectric generator unit with an output voltage approaching 1.5 V. High voltage (e.g., 18 V with 15 units) can be easily reached by simply scaling up the number of hygroelectric generator units in series, enough to drive commercial electronic devices. This work provides insight for the design and development of hygroelectric generators that may promote the efficient conversion of potential energy in the environmental atmosphere to electricity for practical applications.

133

The murine basic helix-loop-helix transcription (bHLH) factor mouse atonal homolog 6 (Math6) is expressed in numerous organs and supposed to be involved in several developmental processes. However, so far neither all aspects nor the molecular mechanisms of Math6 function have been explored exhaustively. To analyze the in vivo function of Math6 in detail, we generated a constitutive knockout (KO) mouse (Math6-/-) and performed an initial histological and molecular biological investigation of its main phenotype. Pregnant Math6-/- females suffer from a disturbed early placental development leading to the death of the majority of embryos independent of the embryonic Math6 genotype. A few placentas and fetuses survive the severe uterine hemorrhagic events at late mid-gestation (E13.5) and subsequently develop regularly. However, these fetuses could not be born due to obstructions within the gravid uterus, which hinder the birth process. Characterization of the endogenous spatiotemporal Math6 expression during placenta development reveals that Math6 is essential for an ordered decidualization and an important regulator of the maternal-fetal endocrine crosstalk regulating endometrial trophoblast invasion and differentiation. The strongly disturbed vascularization observed in the maternal placenta appears as an additional consequence of the altered endocrine status and as the main cause for the general hemorrhagic crisis.

131

Many patients remain without a diagnosis despite extensive medical evaluation. The Undiagnosed Diseases Network (UDN) was established to apply a multidisciplinary model in the evaluation of the most challenging cases and to identify the biologic characteristics of newly discovered diseases. The UDN, which is funded by the National Institutes of Health, was formed in 2014 as a network of seven clinical sites, two sequencing cores, and a coordinating center. Later, a central biorepository, a metabolomics core, and a model organisms screening center were added.

124

Sauropod dinosaurs were the largest terrestrial vertebrates; yet despite a robust global fossil record, the paucity of cranial remains complicates attempts to understand their paleobiology. An assemblage of small diplodocid sauropods from the Upper Jurassic Morrison Formation of Montana, USA, has produced the smallest diplodocid skull yet discovered. The ~24 cm long skull is referred to cf. Diplodocus based on the presence of several cranial and vertebral characters. This specimen enhances known features of early diplodocid ontogeny including a short snout with narrow-crowned teeth limited to the anterior portion of the jaws and more spatulate teeth posteriorly. The combination of size plus basal and derived character expression seen here further emphasizes caution when naming new taxa displaying the same, as these may be indicative of immaturity. This young diplodocid reveals that cranial modifications occurred throughout growth, providing evidence for ontogenetic dietary partitioning and recapitulation of ancestral morphologies.