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Trans-Himalayan land of Upper Mustang in Nepal may face serious food insecurity

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Land tamed through generations of hard work in Mustang is threatened by unanticipated freaky weather patterns in the recent years.

Food security is a global challenge especially in developing countries with a growing population and less land to cultivate. Erratic weather patterns due to global warming in the recent years have increased uncertainty in the productivity of agricultural produce particularly in mountainous regions. New research published in Dhaulagiri Journal of Sociology and Anthropology, a journal hosted on the INASP-supported Nepal Journals Online platform, has shed light on the new aspects of climate change in Nepal's Himalayan region and has linked it with the state of food insecurity in the Trans-Himalayan land of Upper Mustang.

 

Guiana Shield: world gold prices determine the extent of deforestation

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That old safe haven, gold, could well seal the destiny of at least part of the forests of the Guiana Shield. This is what emerged from work by researchers from CIRAD, the CNRS and the University of French Guiana, published in the journal Environmental Research Letters. For the first time, the scientists involved used maps of annual deforestation based on high-resolution satellite images to examine the impact of gold mining on the tropical rainforests of the Guiana Shield between 2001 and 2014. This new analysis, which covered Guyana, Surinam, French Guiana and the Brazilian state of Amapá, showed that when gold prices rise, deforestation increases, and that when they fall, deforestation decreases. It also revealed subtantial disparities from one country to another, which would warrant drafting more coordinated regulatory policies on the scale of the Guiana Shield, and casts doubt on the relevance of global deforestation control mechanisms such as REDD+.

 

New Study Examines Gender Differences in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Among Military Personne

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Journal of Women's Health

 

A study of U.S. Navy healthcare personnel has shown that when comparing the prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among women and men who had similar deployment experiences, and especially combat experience, the risk of PTSD was significantly higher among women. PTSD risk rose for both men and women with an increasing number of combat exposures, as reported in Journal of Women's Health, a peer-reviewed publication from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers. The article is available free on the Journal of Women's Health website until April 1, 2017.

 

“Smart” genetic library – making disease diagnosis much easier

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STAT1 Mutations

 

Hiroshima University finds way to determine disease-causing mutations.

Researchers at Hiroshima University have developed a smart genetic reference library for locating and weeding out disease-causing mutations in populations. The technique and database, developed by Dr. Satoshi Okada, of HU’s Graduate School of Biomedical & Health Sciences, has successfully estimated naturally occurring rare-variants in the STAT1 gene – and determined the diseases that would result. Using alanine scanning – a method for assessing the functional potential of genes, this study, the first of its kind, should assist doctors in diagnosing primary-immunodeficiency in patients.

 

Car sharing: ecco le città più condivisibili

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Un team di ricercatori di Istituto di informatica e telematica del Cnr, Mit, Cornell University e Uber ha utilizzato i big data per predirne l’effetto in 30 città: lo studio potrebbe fornire indicazioni per trasformare il futuro del trasporto a livello globale. Milano ha un potenziale di condivisione dei viaggi cinque volte maggiore di Roma. A livello globale, ai primi posti New York e Vienna.  La ricerca pubblicata su Nature Scientific Reports.

Un gruppo di ricercatori dell’Istituto di informatica e telematica del Consiglio nazionale delle ricerche (Iit-Cnr), del Mit, della Cornell University e della società Uber ha utilizzato una quantità senza precedenti di dati sulla mobilità per predire le potenzialità del ride-sharing in 30 città globali. Attraverso l’analisi di oltre 200 milioni di viaggi di taxi effettuati a New York, Singapore, San Francisco e Vienna, i ricercatori hanno scoperto le leggi della mobilità condivisa che possono essere applicate a qualsiasi città. La ricerca, pubblicata nel numero di marzo 2017 della rivista Nature Scientific Reports, potrebbe fornire indicazioni per trasformare il futuro del trasporto a livello globale.

 

Il popolo dei Dolmen siciliani

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Cista dolmenica a Butera, Sicilia

 

Nell'antica età del bronzo (fine III millennio a.C.) si diffusero in Europa grandi costruzioni in pietra, i dolmen, rinvenuti da poco anche in Sicilia, seppure con dimensioni più ridotte. Dei loro costruttori si conosce quasi nulla, ma lo studio di due archeologi preistorici siciliani, Salvo Piccolo e Alessandro Bonfanti, tenta  di dissolvere la nebbia che aleggia sul popolo che li ha realizzati nella nostra isola più grande. Da anni, infatti, i due studiosi indagano i contesti che gravitano sui piccoli megaliti siciliani, giungendo a evidenti risultati: “Dolmen, menhir e cromlech – dice Piccolo – sono monumenti preistorici in pietra diffusi un po' ovunque in Europa. I primi, sono costituiti da due pilastri e un lastrone orizzontale sovrapposto, dentro i quali si inumavano i defunti; i secondi erano  segnacoli funerari, allineati e infissi verticalmente nel terreno a indicare, probabilmente, la via siderale per l'aldilà (ad esempio i menhir di Carnac, in Francia). I cromlech, invece, erano costruzioni di forma circolare al cui interno si celebravano riti arcani sollecitati dalle osservazioni astrali. Com'è facile intuire si trattava di architetture parecchio elaborate, testimoni di conoscenze astronomiche sorprendenti che ben si prestavano agli esoterismi religiosi”.

 

 

The functional origin of dinosaur bipedalism: Cumulative evidence from bipedally inclined reptiles and disinclined mammals

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Bipedalism is a trait basal to, and widespread among, dinosaurs. It has been previously argued that bipedalism arose in the ancestors of dinosaurs for the function of freeing the forelimbs to serve as predatory weapons. However, this argument does not explain why bipedalism was retained among numerous herbivorous groups of dinosaurs. We argue that bipedalism arose in the dinosaur line for the purpose of enhanced cursoriality. Modern facultatively bipedal lizards offer an analog for the first stages in the evolution of dinosaurian bipedalism. Many extant lizards assume a bipedal stance while attempting to flee predators at maximum speed. Bipedalism, when combined with a caudofemoralis musculature, has cursorial advantages because the caudofemoralis provides a greater source of propulsion to the hindlimbs than is generally available to the forelimbs. That cursorial advantage explains the relative abundance of cursorial facultative bipeds and obligate bipeds among fossil diapsids and the relative scarcity of either among mammals. Having lost their caudofemoralis in the Permian, perhaps in the context of adapting to a fossorial lifestyle, the mammalian line has been disinclined towards bipedalism, but, having never lost the caudofemoralis of their ancestors, cursorial avemetatarsalians (bird-line archosaurs) were naturally inclined towards bipedalism.

 

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jtbi.2017.02.032

 

 

Why is the giant panda black and white?

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Although the external appearances of most mammals are drab browns and grays used to match their backgrounds, certain species stand out as exceptions, perhaps the most notable being the giant panda. Using a comparative phylogenetic approach, we examined associations between different pelage regions and socioecological variables across carnivores and ursid subspecies to shed light on the giant panda’s black and white pelage coloration. Analyses of fur color and background environments suggest that the giant panda’s white face, nape, dorsum, flank, belly, and rump are adapted for crypsis against a snowy background, whereas its black shoulders and legs are adapted for crypsis in shade. Dark markings on the head are not used in crypsis, however, but in communication: Dark ears may be involved with signaling intent about ferocity whereas dark eye marks may serve in individual recognition. There is no compelling support for their fur color being involved in temperature regulation, disrupting the animal’s outline, or in reducing eye glare. We infer that the giant panda’s unique pelage coloration serves a constellation of functions that enable it to match its background in different environments and to communicate using facial features.

 

 

 

Use of Opioid Pain Medications May Affect Liver Transplant Patients’ Survival

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An analysis of nearly 30,000 patients undergoing liver transplantation in the United States between 2008 and 2014 found elevated death and organ loss rates in the first 5 years after transplantation among recipients with the highest use of opioid pain medications while on the waiting list. Higher risks mainly emerged after the first transplant anniversary, a pattern that may in part reflect sustained opioid use. Sixty five percent of those with the highest level of opioid use on the waiting list continued moderate to high level use in the first year after transplantation.

 

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