Ocean Health Index Provides First Global Assessment Combining Natural and Human Dimensions of Sustainability

ScienceDaily (Aug. 15, 2012) — Using a new comprehensive index designed to assess the benefits to people of healthy oceans, scientists have evaluated the ecological, social, economic, and political conditions for every coastal country in the world. Their findings, published Aug. 15 in the journal Nature, show that the global ocean scores 60 out of 100 overall on the Ocean Health Index. Individual country scores range widely, from 36 to 86. The highest-scoring locations included densely populated, highly developed nations such as Germany, as well as uninhabited islands, such as Jarvis Island in the Pacific.

(Credit: http://learningcenter.nsta.org/)

Determining whether a score of 60 is better or worse than one would expect is less about analysis and more about perspective. “Is the score far from perfect with ample room for improvement, or more than half way to perfect with plenty of reason to applaud success? I think it’s both,” said lead author Ben Halpern, an ecologist at UC Santa Barbara. “What the Index does is help us separate our gut feelings about good and bad from the measurement of what’s happening.”

The Ocean Health Index is the first broad, quantitative assessment of the critical relationships between the ocean and people, framed in terms of the many benefits we derive from the ocean. Instead of simply assuming any human presence is negative, it asks what our impacts mean for the things we care about.

“Several years ago I led a project that mapped the cumulative impact of human activities on the world’s ocean, which was essentially an ocean pristine-ness index,” said Halpern, who is a researcher at UCSB’s National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS), as well as UCSB’s Marine Science Institute. He also directs UCSB’s Center for Marine Assessment and Planning. “That was and is a useful perspective to have, but it’s not enough. We tend to forget that people are part of all ecosystems — from the most remote deserts to the depths of the ocean. The Ocean Health Index is unique because it embraces people as part of the ocean ecosystem. So we’re not just the problem, but a major part of the solution, too.”

In all, more than 30 collaborators from universities, non-profit organizations, and government agencies, led by NCEAS and Conservation International, pulled together data on the current status and likely future condition for factors such as seafood, coastal livelihoods, and biodiversity. All together, 10 “shared goals” define the health of the ocean as its ability to provide such benefits now and in the future.

The Index emphasizes sustainability, penalizing practices that benefit people today at the expense of the ocean’s ability to deliver those benefits in the future. “Sustainability tends to be issue-specific, focused on sustainable agriculture, fisheries, or tourism, for example,” said Karen McLeod, one of the lead authors who is affiliated with COMPASS, a team of science-based communication professionals. “The Index challenges us to consider what sustainability looks like across all of our many uses of the ocean, simultaneously. It may not make our choices any easier, but it greatly improves our understanding of the available options and their potential consequences.”

By re-envisioning ocean health as a portfolio of benefits, the Ocean Health Index highlights the many different ways in which a place can be healthy. Just like a diversified stock portfolio can perform equally well in a variety of market conditions, many different combinations of goals can lead to a high Index score. In short, the Ocean Health Index highlights the variety of options for strategic action to improve ocean health.

“To many it may seem uncomfortable to focus on benefits to people as the definition of a healthy ocean,” said Steve Katona, another of the study’s lead authors, who is with Conservation International. “Yet, policy and management initiatives around the world are embracing exactly this philosophy. Whether we like it or not, people are key. If thoughtful, sustainable use of the oceans benefits human well-being, the oceans and their web of life will also benefit. The bottom line is ‘healthy ocean, healthy people, healthy planet.'”

Around the world, ocean policy lacks a shared definition of what exactly “health” means, and has no agreed-upon set of tools to measure status and progress. “The Index transforms the powerful metaphor of health into something concrete, transparent, and quantitative,” said McLeod. “This understanding of the whole, not just the parts, is necessary to conserve and restore ocean ecosystems. We can’t manage what we don’t measure.”

This first global assessment of the health of the ocean provides an important baseline against which future change can be measured. Without such a baseline, there is no way to know if things are actually getting better in response to management and conservation actions.

“The Index can provide strategic guidance for ocean policy,” said Andrew Rosenberg, another of the lead authors and a former member of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy. “Because the Index includes current status, trends, and factors affecting sustainability for 10 broadly shared goals, it enables managers to focus on key actions that can really make a difference in improving the health of the ocean and benefits we derive from a healthier ocean.”

Jake Rice, with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in Canada, who was not involved in the study, said: “No index, by itself, can be a sufficient guide to case-by-case decision-making. However, the Index can inform the public policy dialogue that is essential to sound governance. Moreover, the Index will improve and adapt with use and experience. All who care about the health of the oceans and the well-being of human societies that depend on them, should be looking forward to both the near-term benefits we can take from this work, and to the evolution of the Index as we gain experience with it.”

The authors readily acknowledge methodological challenges in calculating the Index, but emphasize that it represents a critical step forward. “We recognize the Index is a bit audacious,” said Halpern. “With policy-makers and managers needing tools to actually measure ocean health — and with no time to waste — we felt it was audacious by necessity.”

Other co-authors from NCEAS are Catherine Longo, Darren Hardy, Jennifer O’Leary, Marla Ranelletti, Courtney Scarborough, and Ben Best. Co-authors from Conservation International are Elizabeth Selig, Leah Karrer, and Greg Stone. Jameal Samhouri and Mike Fogarty are from NOAA. Sarah Lester, Steve Gaines, Kelsey Jacobsen, and Cris Elfes are from UCSB. Kristin Kleisner, Daniel Pauly, Rashid Sumaila, and Dirk Zeller are from the University of British Columbia. Other co-authors are Dan Brumbaugh from the American Museum of Natural History; F. Stuart (Terry) Chapin from the University of Alaska Fairbanks; Larry Crowder from Stanford University; Kendra Daly from the University of South Florida; Scott Doney from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution; Heather Leslie from Brown University; Elizabeth Neely from COMPASS; Steve Polasky from the University of Minnesota; Bud Ris from the New England Aquarium; and Kevin St. Martin from Rutgers University.

The founding partners of the Ocean Health Index are Conservation International, National Geographic, and New England Aquarium. The founding presenting sponsor of the Ocean Health Index was Pacific Life Foundation and a founding grant was provided by Beau and Heather Wrigley.

Story Source:

The above story is reprinted from materials provided byUniversity of California – Santa Barbara, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.

Journal Reference:

  1. Benjamin S. Halpern, Catherine Longo, Darren Hardy, Karen L. McLeod, Jameal F. Samhouri, Steven K. Katona, Kristin Kleisner, Sarah E. Lester, Jennifer O’Leary, Marla Ranelletti, Andrew A. Rosenberg, Courtney Scarborough, Elizabeth R. Selig, Benjamin D. Best, Daniel R. Brumbaugh, F. Stuart Chapin, Larry B. Crowder, Kendra L. Daly, Scott C. Doney, Cristiane Elfes, Michael J. Fogarty, Steven D. Gaines, Kelsey I. Jacobsen, Leah Bunce Karrer, Heather M. Leslie, Elizabeth Neeley, Daniel Pauly, Stephen Polasky, Bud Ris, Kevin St Martin, Gregory S. Stone, U. Rashid Sumaila, Dirk Zeller. An index to assess the health and benefits of the global ocean.Nature, 2012; DOI: 10.1038/nature11397

University of California – Santa Barbara (2012, August 15). Ocean health index provides first global assessment combining natural and human dimensions of sustainability.ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 19, 2012, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120815131703.htm

Babies May Not Have a ‘Moral Compass’ After All

ScienceDaily (Aug. 15, 2012) — New research from New Zealand’s University of Otago is casting doubt on a landmark US study that suggested infants as young as six months old possess an innate moral compass that allows them to evaluate individuals as ‘good’ or ‘bad’.

New research from New Zealand’s University of Otago is casting doubt on a landmark US study that suggested infants as young as six months old possess an innate moral compass that allows them to evaluate individuals as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. (Credit: © oksun70 / Fotolia)


The 2007 study by Yale University researchers provided the first evidence that 6- and 10-month-old infants could assess individuals based on their behaviour towards others, showing a preference for those who helped rather than hindered another individual.

Based on a series of experiments, researchers in the Department of Psychology at Otago have shown that the earlier findings may simply be the result of infants’ preferences for interesting and attention grabbing events, rather than an ability to evaluate individuals based on their social interactions with others.

The Otago study was recently published in PLoS One, an international, peer-reviewed, open-access, online journal.

Lead author Dr Damian Scarf says that the Yale study caused an international sensation when it was published in the leading journalNature.

“The paper received a lot of attention when it was first published, including coverage in the New York Times. It has received well over 100 citations since 2007, a phenomenal number over such a short period. The paper was initially brought to our attention by one of the PhD students in our lab. The head of the lab, Professor Harlene Hayne, suggested that a group of us read the paper together and then meet to discuss it. Our original motivation for reading the paper was merely interest. Obviously, the idea that morality is innate is extremely interesting and, if true, would raise questions about which components of our moral system are innate and also have implications for the wider issue of the roles that nature and nurture play in development,” says Dr Scarf.

In the original experiment, infants watched a wooden toy (i.e., the “climber”) attempt to climb a hill. They viewed two social interactions; one in which a “helper” toy nudged the climber up the hill, and another in which a “hinderer” toy nudged the climber down the hill.

After viewing these two scenarios, the infants were presented with a tray; on one side of the tray was the helper and on the other side was the hinderer. Amazingly, the majority of infants picked the helper over the hinderer. To further elucidate infants’ moral reasoning abilities, a “neutral” toy (i.e., a toy that neither helped nor hindered) was pitted against the helper or hinderer. When the neutral character was paired with the helper, the infants preferred the helper; when paired with the hinderer, they preferred the neutral character.

The paper concluded that the experiments show that infants can evaluate individuals based on how they interact with another individual, and that their ability to do this is ‘universal and unlearned’.

After reviewing videos of the Yale experiments, the Otago researchers noticed that two obvious perceptual events could be driving infants’ choices.

“On the help and hinder trials, the toys collided with one another, an event we thought infants may not like. Furthermore, only on the help trials, the climber bounced up and down at the top of hill, an event we thought infants may enjoy.”

The researchers carried out a series experiments to test these assumptions and, by manipulating the collision and bouncing events, were able to show that these perceptual events were driving infants’ choices of the helper over the hinderer, Dr Scarf says.

“For example, when we had the climber bounce at the bottom of the hill, but not at the top of the hill, infants preferred the hinderer, that is, the one that pushed the climber down the hill. If the social evaluation hypothesis was correct, we should have seen a clear preference for the helper, irrespective of the location of the bounce, because the helper always helped the climber achieve its goal of reaching the top of the hill.”

Although the Yale researchers have followed up their original study with further research findings that appear to support the original study, these too could be explained under the simple association hypothesis, he says.

“Their newer studies employ different paradigms but can still be explained using our simple association hypothesis. While we accept it is not easy to develop paradigms that perfectly match up the perceptual attributes of the helper and hinderer events, we still think there is room for improvement. I look forward to future studies on the topic of moral nativism and hope our study stimulates some discussion.”


Story Source:

The above story is reprinted from materials provided byUniversity of Otago, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.

Journal Reference:

  1. Damian Scarf, Kana Imuta, Michael Colombo, Harlene Hayne. Social Evaluation or Simple Association? Simple Associations May Explain Moral Reasoning in InfantsPLoS ONE, 2012; 7 (8): e42698 DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0042698

University of Otago (2012, August 15). Babies may not have a ‘moral compass’ after all.ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 17, 2012, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120815093230.htm

Children Who Spend Three-Quarters of Their Time in Sedentary Behavior Have Up to Nine Times Poorer Motor Coordination Than Active Peers

ScienceDaily (Aug. 13, 2012) — Children who spend more than three-quarters of their time engaging in sedentary behaviour, such as watching TV and sitting at computers, have up to nine times poorer motor coordination than their more active peers, reveals a study published in the American Journal of Human Biology.

(Credit: YMCA of the East Bay, Oakland, CA)


The study, involving Portuguese children, found that physical activity alone was not enough to overcome the negative effect of sedentary behaviour on basic motor coordination skills such as walking, throwing or catching, which are considered the building blocks of more complex movements.

“Childhood is a critical time for the development of motor coordination skills which are essential for health and well-being,” said lead author Dr Luis Lopes, from the University of Minho. “We know that sedentary lifestyles have a negative effect on these skills and are associated with decreased fitness, lower self-esteem, decreased academic achievement and increased obesity.”

Dr Lopes’ team studied 110 girls and 103 boys aged nine to ten from 13 urban elementary schools. The children’s sedentary behaviour and physical activity were objectively measured with accelerometers (a small device that children attach to their waist that quantifies movement counts and intensities) over five consecutive days. Motor coordination was evaluated with the KTK test (Körperkoordination Test für Kinder), which includes balance, jumping laterally, hopping on one leg over an obstacle and shifting platforms.

The tests were supplemented with a questionnaire for parents to assess health variables, before the authors compiled the results into three models to calculate odd ratios for predicting motor coordination. These were adjusted for physical activity, accelerometer wear time, waist to height ratio and home variables.

On average the children spent 75.6% of their time being sedentary, but the impact on motor coordination was found to be greater on boys than girls.

Girls who spent 77.3% or more of their time being sedentary were 4 to 5 times less likely to have normal motor coordination than more active girls. However, boys who were sedentary for more than 76% of their time were between 5 to 9 times less likely to have good or normal motor coordination than their active peers.

“It is very clear from our study that a high level of sedentary behaviour is an independent predictor of low motor coordination, regardless of physical activity levels and other key factors” said Lopes. “High sedentary behaviour had a significant impact on the children’s motor coordination, with boys being more adversely affected than girls.”

Until now there has been little research into the links between sedentary behaviour and motor coordination, but these findings reveal that physical activity did not counteract the negative effects that high levels of sedentary behaviour had on motor coordination.

“The results demonstrate the importance of setting a maximum time for sedentary behaviour, while encouraging children to increase their amount of physical activity,” concluded Lopes. “We hope that our findings will make a valuable contribution to the debate on child health and encourage future investigations on this subject.”

Story Source:

The above story is reprinted from materials provided byWiley, via AlphaGalileo.

Journal Reference:

  1. Luís Lopes, Rute Santos, Beatriz Pereira, Vítor Pires Lopes. Associations between sedentary behavior and motor coordination in childrenAmerican Journal of Human Biology, 2012; DOI: 10.1002/ajhb.22310

Wiley (2012, August 13). Children who spend three-quarters of their time in sedentary behavior have up to nine times poorer motor coordination than active peers. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 16, 2012, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120815082723.htm

Acute Stress Alters Control of Gene Activity: Researchers Examine DNA Methylation

ScienceDaily (Aug. 15, 2012) — Acute stress alters the methylation of the DNA and thus the activity of certain genes. This is reported by researchers at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum together with colleagues from Basel, Trier and London for the first time in the journal Translational Psychiatry. “The results provide evidence how stress could be related to a higher risk of mental or physical illness,” says Prof. Dr. Gunther Meinlschmidt from the Clinic of Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy at the LWL University Hospital of the RUB. The team looked at gene segments which are relevant to biological stress regulation.

In stressful social situations, the methylation patterns (bright spheres) of the DNA change. (Credit: Illustration: Christoph Unternährer and Christian Horisberger)

Epigenetics — the “second code” — regulates gene activity

Our genetic material, the DNA, provides the construction manual for the proteins that our bodies need. Which proteins a cell produces depends on the cell type and the environment. So-termed epigenetic information determines which genes are read, acting quasi as a biological switch. An example of such a switch is provided by methyl (CH3) groups that attach to specific sections of the DNA and can remain there for a long time — even when the cell divides. Previous studies have shown that stressful experiences and psychological trauma in early life are associated with long-term altered DNA methylation. Whether the DNA methylation also changes after acute psychosocial stress, was, however, previously unknown.

Two genes tested

To clarify this issue, the research group examined two genes in particular: the gene for the oxytocin receptor, i.e. the docking site for the neurotransmitter oxytocin, which has become known as the “trust hormone” or “anti-stress hormone”; and the gene for the nerve growth factor Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), which is mainly responsible for the development and cross-linking of brain cells. The researchers tested 76 people who had to participate in a fictitious job interview and solve arithmetic problems under observation — a proven means for inducing acute stress in an experiment. For the analysis of the DNA methylation, they took blood samples from the subjects before the test as well as ten and ninety minutes afterwards.

DNA methylation changes under acute psychosocial stress

Stress had no effect on the methylation of the BDNF gene. In a section of the oxytocin receptor gene, however, methylation already increased within the first ten minutes of the stressful situation. This suggests that the cells formed less oxytocin receptors. Ninety minutes after the stress test, the methylation dropped below the original level before the test. This suggests that the receptor production was excessively stimulated.

Possible link between stress and disease

Stress increases the risk of physical or mental illness. The stress-related costs in Germany alone amount to many billions of Euros every year. In recent years, there have been indications that epigenetic processes are involved in the development of various chronic diseases such as cancer or depression. “Epigenetic changes may well be an important link between stress and chronic diseases” says Prof. Meinlschmidt, Head of the Research Department of Psychobiology, Psychosomatics and Psychotherapy at the LWL University Hospital. “We hope to identify more complex epigenetic stress patterns in future and thus to be able to determine the associated risk of disease. This could provide information on new approaches to treatment and prevention.” The work originated within the framework of an interdisciplinary research consortium with the University of Trier, the University of Basel and King’s College London. The German Research Foundation and the Swiss National Science Foundation supported the study.

Story Source:

The above story is reprinted from materials provided byRuhr-Universitaet-Bochum. 

Journal Reference:

  1. E Unternaehrer, P Luers, J Mill, E Dempster, A H Meyer, S Staehli, R Lieb, D H Hellhammer, G Meinlschmidt.Dynamic changes in DNA methylation of stress-associated genes (OXTR, BDNF ) after acute psychosocial stressTranslational Psychiatry, 2012; 2 (8): e150 DOI: 10.1038/tp.2012.77

Ruhr-Universitaet-Bochum (2012, August 15). Acute stress alters control of gene activity: Researchers examine DNA methylation.ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 16, 2012, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120815082709.htm

Mutation in Male Moth’s Antenna Lets Him Find a Female at the Other End of a Football Field

ScienceDaily (Aug. 14, 2012) — A female moth sitting on a goal post could attract a male moth on the other end of a football field. And even if she switched her scent over time, the male could still find her because of a mutation to a single gene in his antenna.

A female moth sitting on a goal post could attract a male moth on the other end of a football field. And even if she switched her scent over time, the male could still find her because of a mutation to a single gene in his antenna. (Credit: Image courtesy of Montana State University)

A team of researchers led by Montana State University entomologist Kevin Wanner identified that gene after seeing how it adapted to even the slightest change in the chemicals female moths emit to attract males. The scientists explained their findings in the Aug. 13 online edition of theProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Understanding the genetics behind moth communication could lead to natural ways to control pests, said Wanner, who has dual assignments in the Department of Plant Sciences and Plant Pathology and MSU Extension. Scientists could someday design new scents that would make it impossible for male moths to find females of the same species. The European corn borer alone is one of the most damaging insect pests of corn throughout the United States and Canada. The losses it causes and the cost to control it is estimated at more than $1 billion each year.

In the meantime, the discovery that involved hundreds of moths, an MSU-University of Montana collaboration, and a vital piece of equipment adds to the basic understanding of insect genetics, Wanner said. One area of interest focuses on the genetic barriers that keep moths from mating outside their own species.

Scientists have studied communication between male and female moths and butterflies for more than a century. They found the first sex pheromones in moths 50 years ago. But they still know little about the molecular mechanics that make communication so specific to a species, Wanner said. In some cases, different moth species are so much alike that scientists can only tell them apart by their different pheromones.

Pheromones are the blends of chemical odors that females emit to attract males of the same species for mating. If the ratio or chemicals themselves change during the evolution of a new species, the male needs to adapt or he won’t be able to find the female. How male moths adapt to pheromone changes in females has been a long-standing question.

Female moths release just nanograms — a billionth of a gram — of pheromone from a gland at the tip of their abdomen, Wanner said. He added that this amount is far too small for humans to smell, but male moths within 300 feet of the females can detect it with the sensory cells on their antennae.

The journey that led to the PNAS paper began in 2008 when Wanner came to MSU. It continued in 2009 when Jean Allen became a master’s degree student in Wanner’s laboratory. Allen — who earned her undergraduate degree from New Mexico State University — received her master’s degree in December 2010 and is now a research associate in Wanner’s lab.

She started her thesis work by obtaining live corn borer moths raised in colonies at Cornell University in New York, from collaborator and coauthor Charles Linn Jr., Allen said. She extracted RNA, genetic material from the male moths’ antennae, to find the receptor genes that detect the female pheromone. She identified the probable receptor of interest.

Wanner then turned to Greg Leary and Michael Kavanaugh in the Center for Structural and Functional Neuroscience at the University of Montana. Since Wanner didn’t have an instrument to analyze male moth receptors to see how they responded to a parade of different pheromones, the two tested the receptors with their equipment. They also made a series of mutations that were later confirmed by Allen. After Wanner was able to buy an Opus Xpress instrument, Leary helped trained Allen how to use it.

After analyzing several receptors and 47 possibilities for amino acid mutations, the collaborators finally found the one that clearly provided an adaptation to the changing pheromone structure.

It was a eureka moment, according to Allen and Wanner.

“It was a lot of work,” Wanner added. “We had no rational way to know which one it was.”

He noted that the Opus Xpress instrument was critical for their discovery. Commonly used in pharmacology and medical research to study how different drugs interact with their target receptor, the instrument in this case allowed the researchers to study, in the lab, how the pheromone receptors in the male moth responded to different pheromone chemicals.

“Without this instrument, we would not have been able to identify the critical receptor and identify the specific mutation in that receptor that allowed it to adapt to a new pheromone structure,” Wanner said.

Story Source:

The above story is reprinted from materials provided byMontana State University. The original article was written by Evelyn Boswell.

Journal Reference:

  1. G. P. Leary, J. E. Allen, P. L. Bunger, J. B. Luginbill, C. E. Linn, I. E. Macallister, M. P. Kavanaugh, K. W. Wanner.Single mutation to a sex pheromone receptor provides adaptive specificity between closely related moth speciesProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2012; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1204661109

Montana State University (2012, August 14). Mutation in male moth’s antenna lets him find a female at the other end of a football field.ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 16, 2012, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120814121117.htm

Dermatologists’ Tips to Reduce the Signs of Aging

ScienceDaily (Aug. 14, 2012) — Getting better results from your anti-aging products can be as easy as following simple tips from dermatologists.

“People often think that the more expensive a product is, the more effective it will be,” said board-certified dermatologist Susan C. Taylor, MD, FAAD, founding director of the Skin of Color Center at St. Luke’s and Roosevelt Hospitals in New York City. “That’s not always the case. People need to shop smart since there are some very effective, affordable products in the skin care aisles of their local stores.”

To get the most from age-fighting products, Dr. Taylor recommends people also follow these tips:

1. Wear sunscreen every day since the sun’s rays can accelerate signs of aging. Use a sunscreen or facial moisturizer that offers broad-spectrum protection and has an SPF of at least 30. Be sure to apply sunscreen to all skin that is not covered by clothing.

2. Do not tan. Getting a tan from the sun or a tanning bed exposes you to harmful UV rays that can accelerate aging, causing wrinkles, age spots, a blotchy complexion and even skin cancer.

3. Moisturize. Moisturizing traps water in the skin, which can help reduce the appearance of some fine lines and make your complexion look brighter and younger.

4. Test products, even those labeled “hypoallergenic.” To test, dab a small amount of the product on your inner forearm twice a day for four to five days. If you do not have a reaction, it is likely safe for you to apply to your face.

5. Use the product as directed. Active ingredients can do more harm than good when too much is used. Applying more than directed can cause clogged pores, a blotchy complexion, or other unwanted effects.

6. Stop using products that sting or burn unless prescribed by a dermatologist. Irritating the skin makes signs of aging more noticeable.

o Some products prescribed by a dermatologist may cause stinging or burning. When under a dermatologist’s care, this can be safe and effective.

7. Limit the number of products. Using too many products on your skin, especially more than one anti-aging product, tends to irritate the skin. This often makes signs of aging more noticeable.

“It’s very important that people allow time for the product to work. While a moisturizer can immediately plump up fine lines, most products take at least six weeks to work and sometimes it can take three months,” said Dr. Taylor. “See a dermatologist if after following these tips you still do not see the expected results,” said Dr. Taylor.


Story Source:

The above story is reprinted from materials provided byAmerican Academy of Dermatology (AAD), via Newswise.


American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) (2012, August 14). Dermatologists’ tips to reduce the signs of aging. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 16, 2012, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120814085330.htm

The Scent of Love: Decomposition and Male Sex Pheromones

ScienceDaily (Aug. 10, 2012) — Young virgin female hide beetles (Dermestes maculatus) are attracted to cadavers by a combination of cadaver odour and male sex pheromones, finds a new study published in BioMed Central’s open access journal Frontiers in Zoology. Neither cadaver scent, nor male sex pheromones alone, caught the fancy of the fussy females. This predilection ensures that there is both a waiting male and food for her larvae, and optimises the chances of reproductive success.

Dermestes_maculatus. (Credit: Image courtesy of BioMed Central Limited)


Decomposition of a vertebrate cadaver is a sequential buffet for many carrion species including insects. Different species have evolved preferences for different stages during decomposition. The first to arrive are blow flies and flesh flies, whose larvae feed on the still moist tissue, followed by clown and rove beetles, who eat the larvae. Adult skin/hide beetles will start to arrive and feed on the remaining skin and ligaments, but will not breed until advanced decay has set in.

By the time the cadaver has been reduced to bones, hair, and dried out skin only the larvae of hide beetles, as well as scarabs and checkered beetles remain. The life cycle and sequence of arrival of these flies and beetles is so predictable that it can be used by forensic scientists to estimate time of death.

A team of researchers, led by Christian von Hoermann from Ulm University, Germany, filled olfactometers with different volatile scents and recorded which scents female hide beetles were attracted to. The scents used were pig cadaver, collected at different stages of decay, male pheromone gland extract, synthetic pheromones, and a control, pentane (an organic solvent which was used to extract the other odours).

The females ignored both the control and synthetic pheromone. In fact they pretty much ignored everything apart from the odour of piglet in the dry remains stage, as long as it was enhanced by male pheromones.

Christian von Hoermann explained, “Although cadaver odour alone is not sufficient to attract two to three week-old virgin female hide beetles, it is enough to attract newly emerged males.” Release of pheromones by these males appears to signal the cadaver as an appropriate site for feeding, mating and egg laying. Evolution seems to have ensured that hide beetle females only respond to a mate (or a food source for their larvae) when the other is also present, so that they can optimise the chances of their offspring’s survival.


Story Source:

The above story is reprinted from materials provided byBioMed Central Limited, via AlphaGalileo.

Journal Reference:

  1. Christian von Hoermann, Joachim Ruther and Manfred Ayasse. The attraction of virgin female hide beetles (Dermestes maculatus) to cadavers by a combination of decomposition odour and male sex pheromones.Frontiers in Zoology, 2012 (in press) [link]

BioMed Central Limited (2012, August 10). The scent of love: Decomposition and male sex pheromones. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 15, 2012, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120813203024.htm

How Computation Can Predict Group Conflict: Fighting Among Captive Pigtailed Macaques Provides Clues

ScienceDaily (Aug. 13, 2012) — When conflict breaks out in social groups, individuals make strategic decisions about how to behave based on their understanding of alliances and feuds in the group.

Researchers studied fighting among captive pigtailed macaques for clues about behavior and group conflict. (Credit: iStockphoto/Natthaphong Phanthumchinda)

But it’s been challenging to quantify the underlying trends that dictate how individuals make predictions, given they may only have seen a small number of fights or have limited memory.

In a new study, scientists at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery (WID) at UW-Madison develop a computational approach to determine whether individuals behave predictably. With data from previous fights, the team looked at how much memory individuals in the group would need to make predictions themselves. The analysis proposes a novel estimate of “cognitive burden,” or the minimal amount of information an organism needs to remember to make a prediction.

The research draws from a concept called “sparse coding,” or the brain’s tendency to use fewer visual details and a small number of neurons to stow an image or scene. Previous studies support the idea that neurons in the brain react to a few large details such as the lines, edges and orientations within images rather than many smaller details.

“So what you get is a model where you have to remember fewer things but you still get very high predictive power — that’s what we’re interested in,” says Bryan Daniels, a WID researcher who led the study. “What is the trade-off? What’s the minimum amount of ‘stuff’ an individual has to remember to make good inferences about future events?”

To find out, Daniels — along with WID co-authors Jessica Flack and David Krakauer — drew comparisons from how brains and computers encode information. The results contribute to ongoing discussions about conflict in biological systems and how cognitive organisms understand their environments.

The study, published in the Aug. 13 edition of theProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, examined observed bouts of natural fighting in a group of 84 captive pigtailed macaques at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center. By recording individuals’ involvement — or lack thereof — in fights, the group created models that mapped the likelihood any number of individuals would engage in conflict in hypothetical situations.

To confirm the predictive power of the models, the group plugged in other data from the monkey group that was not used to create the models. Then, researchers compared these simulations with what actually happened in the group. One model looked at conflict as combinations of pairs, while another represented fights as sparse combinations of clusters, which proved to be a better tool for predicting fights. From there, by removing information until predictions became worse, Daniels and colleagues calculated the amount of information each individual needed to remember to make the most informed decision whether to fight or flee.

“We know the monkeys are making predictions, but we don’t know how good they are,” says Daniels. “But given this data, we found that the most memory it would take to figure out the regularities is about 1,000 bits of information.”

Sparse coding appears to be a strong candidate for explaining the mechanism at play in the monkey group, but the team points out that it is only one possible way to encode conflict.

Because the statistical modeling and computation frameworks can be applied to different natural datasets, the research has the potential to influence other fields of study, including behavioral science, cognition, computation, game theory and machine learning. Such models might also be useful in studying collective behaviors in other complex systems, ranging from neurons to bird flocks.

Future research will seek to find out how individuals’ knowledge of alliances and feuds fine tunes their own decisions and changes the groups’ collective pattern of conflict.

The research was supported by the National Science Foundation, the John Templeton Foundation through the Santa Fe Institute, and UW-Madison.

Story Source:

The above story is reprinted from materials provided byUniversity of Wisconsin-Madison.

Journal Reference:

  1. Bryan C. Daniels, David C. Krakauer, and Jessica C. Flack. Sparse code of conflict in a primate society.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2012; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1203021109

University of Wisconsin-Madison (2012, August 13). How computation can predict group conflict: Fighting among captive pigtailed macaques provides clues. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 15, 2012, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120813155517.htm

Protective Bacteria in the Infant Gut Have Resourceful Way of Helping Babies Break Down Breast Milk

ScienceDaily (Aug. 13, 2012) — A research team at the University of California, Davis, has found that important and resourceful bacteria in the baby microbiome can ferret out nourishment from a previously unknown source, possibly helping at-risk infants break down components of breast milk.

(Credit: http://www.breastfeeding-problems.com/)


Breast milk is amazingly intricate, providing all of the nutrients necessary to sustain and strengthen infants in the first months of life. Moreover, this natural source of nutrition provides protection from infections, allergies and many other illnesses.

Breast milk also promotes the growth of protective bacteria in an infant’s intestine. Because breast milk contains glycans (complex sugars) that infants cannot breakdown, it promotes the growth a specific type of bacteria, called bifidobacteria, that can process these glycans. While it is known that bifidobacteria avail themselves of the free glycans in breast milk, it was not known whether these bacteria could also obtain glycans that were linked to proteins. Such proteins are called glycoproteins, and they are abundant in breast milk.

The research team led by David A. Mills at the UC-Davis investigated the ability of bifidobacteria to remove glycans from milk glycoproteins. Their work was recently published in the journal Molecular & Cellular Proteomics.

Mills’ group found that specific strains of bifidobacteria possessed enzymes capable of removing glycan groups from glycoproteins, enabling them to use these glycans as an additional food source. Surprisingly, one of the enzymes, EndoBI-1, was able to remove any type of N-linked glycan (glycans attached to proteins by the amino acid asparagine). This is unique among enzymes of this type and may provide a growth advantage for bifidobacteria in the infant intestine because the glycoproteins in breast milk have complex glycans attached.

Mills explains that the ability of EndBI-1 to remove a variety of complex N-linked glycans combined with its unusual heat stability make “this potentially a very useful tool in both food processing and proteomics/pharmaceutical research.”

The team’s work suggests that bifidobacteria do not primarily feed on the glycans from milk glycoproteins. However, the study did show that under the proper conditions bidfidobacteria can grow when protein-linked glycans are the only energy source.

“One obvious goal of this research is to find ways to translate the benefits provided by milk and bifidobacteria to at risk populations such as premature infants, malnourished children, among many others,” Mills says.


Story Source:

The above story is reprinted from materials provided byUniversity of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. The original article was written by Phyllis Picklesimer.

Journal Reference:

  1. R. S. Chapkin, C. Zhao, I. Ivanov, L. A. Davidson, J. S. Goldsby, J. R. Lupton, R. A. Mathai, M. H. Monaco, D. Rai, W. M. Russell, S. M. Donovan, E. R. Dougherty.Noninvasive stool-based detection of infant gastrointestinal development using gene expression profiles from exfoliated epithelial cellsAJP: Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology, 2010; 298 (5): G582 DOI: 10.1152/ajpgi.00004.2010

University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (2010, May 13). Why is breast milk best? It’s all in the genes. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 15, 2012, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100512172342.htm

For Young Birds, Getting Stressed out Can Be a Good Thing

ScienceDaily (Aug. 10, 2012) — Many studies have found that high levels of hormones that are associated with stress are a sign of poor fitness and reduced chance of survival — but recent research on young songbirds found that some elevated hormones can be a good thing, often the difference between life and death.


Stress in birds. New research found that stress in small birds such as this Swainson’s thrush can aid their survival. (Credit: Photo courtesy of Oregon State University)


The new research concluded that elevated levels of glucocorticoid hormones, which are part of the natural response to stress, were related to the movement, feeding, and anti-predator behaviors of juvenile birds.

The findings were made by researchers at Oregon State University with the Swainson’s thrush as an animal model.

There’s only about a one-in-three chance that juveniles of this bird species will survive, the study found, and it appeared to have more to do with their stress hormones than other factors such as vegetative cover or nesting site.

“In these birds, a little stress and elevated stress hormones were associated with greater survival,” said James Rivers, a researcher with the OSU Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society. “The conventional wisdom is that elevated levels of glucocorticoid hormones are bad for survival, but we found just the opposite.”

“Stress is more complex than we think,” he said.

The hormones associated with stress, which include cortisol in humans, can change the behavior and physiology of animals. If stress is too persistent and the hormone levels remain consistently too high, it appears to impede growth. But especially at vulnerable stages where the task is to keep up with the parents, get enough food to grow, or flee a predator, higher levels of stress hormones appear to improve survival chances.

This was one of the first studies of its type done in small songbirds, researchers said. Some previous research had suggested that increased hormone levels can allocate resources away from normal activities and have long-term health impacts.

The research was published in Functional Ecology, a professional journal. It was supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Science Foundation and other agencies.


Story Source:

The above story is reprinted from materials provided byOregon State University. 

Journal Reference:

  1. James W. Rivers, Andrea L. Liebl, Jennifer C. Owen, Lynn B. Martin, Matthew G. Betts. Baseline corticosterone is positively related to juvenile survival in a migrant passerine birdFunctional Ecology, 2012; DOI:10.1111/j.1365-2435.2012.02025.x

Oregon State University (2012, August 10). For young birds, getting stressed out can be a good thing. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 15, 2012, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120813092045.htm