The Southern Megalopolis: Using the Past to Predict the Future of Urban Sprawl in the Southeast U.S.
The future health of ecosystems is arguably as dependent on urban sprawl as it is on human-caused climatic warming. Urban sprawl strongly impacts the urban ecosystems it creates and the natural and agro-ecosystems that it displaces and fragments. Here, we project urban sprawl changes for the next 50 years for the fast-growing Southeast U.S. Previous studies have focused on modeling population density, but the urban extent is arguably as important as population density per se in terms of its ecological and conservation impacts. We develop simulations using the SLEUTH urban growth model that complement population-driven models but focus on spatial pattern and extent. To better capture the reach of low-density suburban development, we extend the capabilities of SLEUTH by incorporating street-network information. Our simulations point to a future in which the extent of urbanization in the Southeast is projected to increase by 101% to 192%. Our results highlight areas where ecosystem fragmentation is likely, and serve as a benchmark to explore the challenging tradeoffs between ecosystem health, economic growth and cultural desires.
Hierarchical Genetic Analysis of German Cockroach (Blattella germanica) Populations from within Buildings to across Continents
Understanding the population structure of species that disperse primarily by human transport is essential to predicting and controlling human-mediated spread of invasive species. The German cockroach (Blattella germanica) is a widespread urban invader that can actively disperse within buildings but is spread solely by human-mediated dispersal over longer distances; however, its population structure is poorly understood. Using microsatellite markers we investigated population structure at several spatial scales, from populations within single apartment buildings to populations from several cities across the U.S. and Eurasia. Both traditional measures of genetic differentiation and Bayesian clustering methods revealed increasing levels of genetic differentiation at greater geographic scales. Our results are consistent with active dispersal of cockroaches largely limited to movement within a building. Their low levels of genetic differentiation, yet limited active spread between buildings, suggests a greater likelihood of human-mediated dispersal at more local scales (within a city) than at larger spatial scales (within and between continents). About half the populations from across the U.S. clustered together with other U.S. populations, and isolation by distance was evident across the U.S. Levels of genetic differentiation among Eurasian cities were greater than those in the U.S. and greater than those between the U.S. and Eurasia, but no clear pattern of structure at the continent level was detected. MtDNA sequence variation was low and failed to reveal any geographical structure. The weak genetic structure detected here is likely due to a combination of historical admixture among populations and periodic population bottlenecks and founder events, but more extensive studies are needed to determine whether signatures of global movement may be present in this species.
See: Your Building’s Roach Problem Is a Family Affair (Atlantic CityLab)
Several studies indicate that exposure to suicide in movies is linked to subsequent imitative suicidal behavior, so-called copycat suicides, but little is currently known about whether the link between exposure to suicidal movies and suicidality is reflected in individual film preferences. 943 individuals participated in an online survey. We assessed associations between preferred film genres as well as individual exposure to and rating of 50 pre-selected films (including 25 featuring a suicide) with suicidal ideation, hopelessness, depression, life satisfaction, and psychoticism. Multiple regression analyses showed that preferences for film noir movies and milieu dramas were associated with higher scores on suicidal ideation, depression and psychoticism, and low scores on life satisfaction. Furthermore, preferences for thrillers and horror movies as well as preferences for tragicomedies, tragedies and melodramas were associated with higher scores of some of the suicide risk factors. There was also a dose-response relationship between positive rating of suicide films and higher life satisfaction. Due to the cross-sectional design of the study causality cannot be assessed. Individual film genre preferences seem to reflect risk factors of suicide, with film genres focusing on sad contents being preferred by individuals with higher scores on suicide risk factors. However, suicide movies are more enjoyed by viewers with higher life satisfaction, which may reflect a better ability to cope with such content.
Proximity to Coast Is Linked to Climate Change Belief
Source: PLoS ONE
Psychologists have examined the many psychological barriers to both climate change belief and concern. One barrier is the belief that climate change is too uncertain, and likely to happen in distant places and times, to people unlike oneself. Related to this perceived psychological distance of climate change, studies have shown that direct experience of the effects of climate change increases climate change concern. The present study examined the relationship between physical proximity to the coastline and climate change belief, as proximity may be related to experiencing or anticipating the effects of climate change such as sea-level rise. We show, in a national probability sample of 5,815 New Zealanders, that people living in closer proximity to the shoreline expressed greater belief that climate change is real and greater support for government regulation of carbon emissions. This proximity effect held when adjusting for height above sea level and regional poverty. The model also included individual differences in respondents’ sex, age, education, political orientation, and wealth. The results indicate that physical place plays a role in the psychological acceptance of climate change, perhaps because the effects of climate change become more concrete and local.
Reducing Dysfunctional Beliefs about Sleep Does Not Significantly Improve Insomnia in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
The present study examined to examine whether improvement of insomnia is mediated by a reduction in sleep-related dysfunctional beliefs through cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia. In total, 64 patients with chronic insomnia received cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia consisting of 6 biweekly individual treatment sessions of 50 minutes in length. Participants were asked to complete the Athens Insomnia Scale and the Dysfunctional Beliefs and Attitudes about Sleep scale both at the baseline and at the end of treatment. The results showed that although cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia greatly reduced individuals’ scores on both scales, the decrease in dysfunctional beliefs and attitudes about sleep with treatment did not seem to mediate improvement in insomnia. The findings suggest that sleep-related dysfunctional beliefs endorsed by patients with chronic insomnia may be attenuated by cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia, but changes in such beliefs are not likely to play a crucial role in reducing the severity of insomnia.
Public Support for Conserving Bird Species Runs Counter to Climate Change Impacts on Their Distributions
There is increasing evidence that global climate change will alter the spatiotemporal occurrences and abundances of many species at continental scales. This will have implications for efficient conservation of biodiversity. We investigate if the general public in Denmark are willing to pay for the preservation of birds potentially immigrating and establishing breeding populations due to climate change to the same extent that they are for native species populations currently breeding in Denmark, but potentially emigrating due to climate change. We find that Danish citizens are willing to pay much more for the conservation of birds currently native to Denmark, than for bird species moving into the country – even when they are informed about the potential range shifts associated with climate change. The only exception is when immigrating species populations are under pressure at European level. Furthermore, people believing climate change to be man-made and people more knowledgeable about birds tended to have higher WTP for conservation of native species, relative to other people, whereas their preferences for conserving immigrant species generally resembled those of other people. Conservation investments rely heavily on public funding and hence on public support. Our results suggest that cross-country coordination of conservation efforts under climate change will be challenging in terms of achieving an appropriate balance between cost-effectiveness in adaptation and the concerns of a general public who seem mostly worried about protecting currently-native species.
Typologies of sleep problems have usually relied on identifying underlying causes or symptom clusters. In this study the value of using the patient’s own reasons for sleep disturbance are explored. Using secondary data analysis of a nationally representative psychiatric survey the patterning of the various reasons respondents provided for self-reported sleep problems were examined. Over two thirds (69.3%) of respondents could identify a specific reason for their sleep problem with worry (37.9%) and illness (20.1%) representing the most commonly reported reasons. And while women reported more sleep problems for almost every reason compared with men, the patterning of reasons by age showed marked variability. Sleep problem symptoms such as difficulty getting to sleep or waking early also showed variability by different reasons as did the association with major correlates such as worry, depression, anxiety and poor health. While prevalence surveys of ‘insomnia’ or ‘poor sleep’ often assume the identification of an underlying homogeneous construct there may be grounds for recognising the existence of different sleep problem types particularly in the context of the patient’s perceived reason for the problem.
The Future of Large Old Trees in Urban Landscapes
Source: PLoS ONE
Large old trees are disproportionate providers of structural elements (e.g. hollows, coarse woody debris), which are crucial habitat resources for many species. The decline of large old trees in modified landscapes is of global conservation concern. Once large old trees are removed, they are difficult to replace in the short term due to typically prolonged time periods needed for trees to mature (i.e. centuries). Few studies have investigated the decline of large old trees in urban landscapes. Using a simulation model, we predicted the future availability of native hollow-bearing trees (a surrogate for large old trees) in an expanding city in southeastern Australia. In urban greenspace, we predicted that the number of hollow-bearing trees is likely to decline by 87% over 300 years under existing management practices. Under a worst case scenario, hollow-bearing trees may be completely lost within 115 years. Conversely, we predicted that the number of hollow-bearing trees will likely remain stable in semi-natural nature reserves. Sensitivity analysis revealed that the number of hollow-bearing trees perpetuated in urban greenspace over the long term is most sensitive to the: (1) maximum standing life of trees; (2) number of regenerating seedlings ha−1; and (3) rate of hollow formation. We tested the efficacy of alternative urban management strategies and found that the only way to arrest the decline of large old trees requires a collective management strategy that ensures: (1) trees remain standing for at least 40% longer than currently tolerated lifespans; (2) the number of seedlings established is increased by at least 60%; and (3) the formation of habitat structures provided by large old trees is accelerated by at least 30% (e.g. artificial structures) to compensate for short term deficits in habitat resources. Immediate implementation of these recommendations is needed to avert long term risk to urban biodiversity.
Leveraging Position Bias to Improve Peer Recommendation
Source: PLoS ONE
With the advent of social media and peer production, the amount of new online content has grown dramatically. To identify interesting items in the vast stream of new content, providers must rely on peer recommendation to aggregate opinions of their many users. Due to human cognitive biases, the presentation order strongly affects how people allocate attention to the available content. Moreover, we can manipulate attention through the presentation order of items to change the way peer recommendation works. We experimentally evaluate this effect using Amazon Mechanical Turk. We find that different policies for ordering content can steer user attention so as to improve the outcomes of peer recommendation.
See: Content kingmaker — quality or webpage position? (EurekAlert!)
School mental health services: signpost for out-of-school service utilization in adolescents with mental disorders? A nationally representative United States cohort
School mental health services are important contact points for children and adolescents with mental disorders, but their ability to provide comprehensive treatment is limited. The main objective was to estimate in mentally disordered adolescents of a nationally representative United States cohort the role of school mental health services as guide to mental health care in different out-of-school service sectors.
Analyses are based on weighted data (N = 6483) from the United States National Comorbidity Survey Replication Adolescent Supplement (participants’ age: 13–18 years). Lifetime DSM-IV mental disorders were assessed using the fully structured WHO CIDI interview, complemented by parent report. Adolescents and parents provided information on mental health service use across multiple sectors, based on the Service Assessment for Children and Adolescents.
School mental health service use predicted subsequent out-of-school service utilization for mental disorders i) in the medical specialty sector, in adolescents with affective (hazard ratio (HR) = 3.01, confidence interval (CI) = 1.77–5.12), anxiety (HR = 3.87, CI = 1.97–7.64), behavior (HR = 2.49, CI = 1.62–3.82), substance use (HR = 4.12, CI = 1.87–9.04), and eating (HR = 10.72, CI = 2.31–49.70) disorders, and any mental disorder (HR = 2.97, CI = 1.94–4.54), and ii) in other service sectors, in adolescents with anxiety (HR = 3.15, CI = 2.17–4.56), behavior (HR = 1.99, CI = 1.29–3.06), and substance use (HR = 2.48, CI = 1.57–3.94) disorders, and any mental disorder (HR = 2.33, CI = 1.54–3.53), but iii) not in the mental health specialty sector.
Our findings indicate that in the United States, school mental health services may serve as guide to out-of-school service utilization for mental disorders especially in the medical specialty sector across various mental disorders, thereby highlighting the relevance of school mental health services in the trajectory of mental care. In light of the missing link between school mental health services and mental health specialty services, the promotion of a stronger collaboration between these sectors should be considered regarding the potential to improve and guarantee adequate mental care at early life stages.
Your Morals Depend on Language
Source: PLoS ONE
Should you sacrifice one man to save five? Whatever your answer, it should not depend on whether you were asked the question in your native language or a foreign tongue so long as you understood the problem. And yet here we report evidence that people using a foreign language make substantially more utilitarian decisions when faced with such moral dilemmas. We argue that this stems from the reduced emotional response elicited by the foreign language, consequently reducing the impact of intuitive emotional concerns. In general, we suggest that the increased psychological distance of using a foreign language induces utilitarianism. This shows that moral judgments can be heavily affected by an orthogonal property to moral principles, and importantly, one that is relevant to hundreds of millions of individuals on a daily basis.
Paternal Alcohol Exposure Reduces Alcohol Drinking and Increases Behavioral Sensitivity to Alcohol Selectively in Male Offspring
Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is heritable, but the genetic basis for this disease remains poorly understood. Although numerous gene variants have been associated with AUD, these variants account for only a small fraction of the total risk. The idea of inheritance of acquired characteristics, i.e. “epigenetic inheritance,” is re-emerging as a proven adjunct to traditional modes of genetic inheritance. We hypothesized that alcohol drinking and neurobiological sensitivity to alcohol are influenced by ancestral alcohol exposure. To test this hypothesis, we exposed male mice to chronic vapor ethanol or control conditions, mated them to ethanol-naïve females, and tested adult offspring for ethanol drinking, ethanol-induced behaviors, gene expression, and DNA methylation. We found that ethanol-sired male offspring had reduced ethanol preference and consumption, enhanced sensitivity to the anxiolytic and motor-enhancing effects of ethanol, and increased Bdnf expression in the ventral tegmental area (VTA) compared to control-sired male offspring. There were no differences among ethanol- and control-sired female offspring on these assays. Ethanol exposure also decreased DNA methylation at the BdnfÆpromoter of sire’s germ cells and hypomethylation was maintained in the VTA of both male and female ethanol-sired offspring. Our findings show that paternal alcohol exposure is a previously unrecognized regulator of alcohol drinking and behavioral sensitivity to alcohol in male, but not female, offspring. Paternal alcohol exposure also induces epigenetic alterations (DNA hypomethylation) and gene expression changes that persist in the VTA of offspring. These results provide new insight into the inheritance and development of alcohol drinking behaviors.
See: Dad’s alcohol consumption could influence sons’ drinking, Pitt study finds (EurekAlert!)
Risky Music Listening, Permanent Tinnitus and Depression, Anxiety, Thoughts about Suicide and Adverse General Health
To estimate the extent to which exposure to music through earphones or headphones with MP3 players or at discotheques and pop/rock concerts exceeded current occupational safety standards for noise exposure, to examine the extent to which temporary and permanent hearing-related symptoms were reported, and to examine whether the experience of permanent symptoms was associated with adverse perceived general and mental health, symptoms of depression, and thoughts about suicide.
A total of 943 students in Dutch inner-city senior-secondary vocational schools completed questionnaires about their sociodemographics, music listening behaviors and health. Multiple logistic regression analyses were used to examine associations.
About 60% exceeded safety standards for occupational noise exposure; about one third as a result of listening to MP3 players. About 10% of the participants experienced permanent hearing-related symptoms. Temporary hearing symptoms that occurred after using an MP3 player or going to a discotheque or pop/rock concert were associated with exposure to high-volume music. However, compared to participants not experiencing permanent hearing-related symptoms, those experiencing permanent symptoms were less often exposed to high volume music. Furthermore, they reported at least two times more often symptoms of depression, thoughts about suicide and adverse self-assessed general and mental health.
Risky music-listening behaviors continue up to at least the age of 25 years. Permanent hearing-related symptoms are associated with people’s health and wellbeing. Participants experiencing such symptoms appeared to have changed their behavior to be less risky. In order to induce behavior change before permanent and irreversible hearing-related symptoms occur, preventive measurements concerning hearing health are needed.
Binge drinking, the most common form of alcohol consumption, is associated with increased mortality and morbidity; yet, its biological consequences are poorly defined. Previous studies demonstrated that chronic alcohol use results in increased gut permeability and increased serum endotoxin levels that contribute to many of the biological effects of chronic alcohol, including alcoholic liver disease. In this study, we evaluated the effects of acute binge drinking in healthy adults on serum endotoxin levels. We found that acute alcohol binge resulted in a rapid increase in serum endotoxin and 16S rDNA, a marker of bacterial translocation from the gut. Compared to men, women had higher blood alcohol and circulating endotoxin levels. In addition, alcohol binge caused a prolonged increase in acute phase protein levels in the systemic circulation. The biological significance of the in vivo endotoxin elevation was underscored by increased levels of inflammatory cytokines, TNFα and IL-6, and chemokine, MCP-1, measured in total blood after in vitro lipopolysaccharide stimulation. Our findings indicate that even a single alcohol binge results in increased serum endotoxin levels likely due to translocation of gut bacterial products and disturbs innate immune responses that can contribute to the deleterious effects of binge drinking.
See: Single episode of binge drinking can adversely affect health, according to new study (Science Daily)
Monitoring Wildlife-Vehicle Collisions in the Information Age: How Smartphones Can Improve Data Collection
Currently there is a critical need for accurate and standardized wildlife-vehicle collision data, because it is the underpinning of mitigation projects that protect both drivers and wildlife. Gathering data can be challenging because wildlife-vehicle collisions occur over broad areas, during all seasons of the year, and in large numbers. Collecting data of this magnitude requires an efficient data collection system. Presently there is no widely adopted system that is both efficient and accurate.
Our objective was to develop and test an integrated smartphone-based system for reporting wildlife-vehicle collision data. The WVC Reporter system we developed consisted of a mobile web application for data collection, a database for centralized storage of data, and a desktop web application for viewing data. The smartphones that we tested for use with the application produced accurate locations (median error = 4.6–5.2 m), and reduced location error 99% versus reporting only the highway/marker. Additionally, mean times for data entry using the mobile web application (22.0–26.5 s) were substantially shorter than using the pen/paper method (52 s). We also found the pen/paper method had a data entry error rate of 10% and those errors were virtually eliminated using the mobile web application. During the first year of use, 6,822 animal carcasses were reported using WVC Reporter. The desktop web application improved access to WVC data and allowed users to easily visualize wildlife-vehicle collision patterns at multiple scales.
The WVC Reporter integrated several modern technologies into a seamless method for collecting, managing, and using WVC data. As a result, the system increased efficiency in reporting, improved accuracy, and enhanced visualization of data. The development costs for the system were minor relative to the potential benefits of having spatially accurate and temporally current wildlife-vehicle collision data.
Odor Valence Linearly Modulates Attractiveness, but Not Age Assessment, of Invariant Facial Features in a Memory-Based Rating Task
Scented cosmetic products are used across cultures as a way to favorably influence one’s appearance. While crossmodal effects of odor valence on perceived attractiveness of facial features have been demonstrated experimentally, it is unknown whether they represent a phenomenon specific to affective processing. In this experiment, we presented odors in the context of a face battery with systematic feature manipulations during a speeded response task. Modulatory effects of linear increases of odor valence were investigated by juxtaposing subsequent memory-based ratings tasks – one predominantly affective (attractiveness) and a second, cognitive (age). The linear modulation pattern observed for attractiveness was consistent with additive effects of face and odor appraisal. Effects of odor valence on age perception were not linearly modulated and may be the result of cognitive interference. Affective and cognitive processing of faces thus appear to differ in their susceptibility to modulation by odors, likely as a result of privileged access of olfactory stimuli to affective brain networks. These results are critically discussed with respect to potential biases introduced by the preceding speeded response task.
See: Pleasant smells increase facial attractiveness (Science Daily)
Do Unto Others: Doctors’ Personal End-of-Life Resuscitation Preferences and Their Attitudes toward Advance Directives
High-intensity interventions are provided to seriously-ill patients in the last months of life by medical sub-specialists. This study was undertaken to determine if doctors’ age, ethnicity, medical sub-specialty and personal resuscitation and organ donation preferences influenced their attitudes toward Advance Directives (AD) and to compare a cohort of 2013 doctors to a 1989 (one year before the Patient Self Determination Act in 1990) cohort to determine any changes in attitudes towards AD in the past 23 years.
Doctors in two academic medical centers participated in an AD simulation and attitudes survey in 2013 and their responses were compared to a cohort of doctors in 1989.
Resuscitation and organ donation preferences (2013 cohort) and attitudes toward AD (1989 and 2013 cohorts).
In 2013, 1081 (94.2%) doctors of the 1147 approached participated. Compared to 1989, 2013 cohort did not feel that widespread acceptance of AD would result in less aggressive treatment even of patients who do not have an AD (p<0.001, AUC = 0.77); had greater confidence in their treatment decisions if guided by an AD (p<.001, AUC = 0.58) and were less worried about legal consequences of limiting treatment when following an AD (p<.001, AUC = 0.57). The gender (p = 0.00172), ethnicity (χ2 14.68, DF = 3,p = .0021) and sub-specialty (χ2 28.92, p = .004, DF = 12) influenced their attitudes towards AD. 88.3% doctors chose do-not-resuscitate status and wanted to become organ donors. Those less supportive of AD were more likely to opt for “full code” even if terminally ill and were less supportive of organ donation.
Doctors' attitudes towards AD has not changed significantly in the past 23 years. Doctors' gender, ethnicity and sub-specialty influence their attitudes towards AD. Our study raises questions about why doctors continue to provide high-intensity care for terminally ill patients but personally forego such care for themselves at the end of life.