Graduate Center

Sun City Center, United States

Graduate Center

Sun City Center, United States
SEARCH FILTERS
Time filter
Source Type

News Article | April 18, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

If you are raised by other species, then how do you know who you are? Although heterospecific foster parents rear brood parasitic brown-headed cowbird chicks, juvenile cowbirds readily recognize and affiliate with other cowbirds. That's because they have a secret handshake or password. Specifically, the "password" hypothesis helps explain this paradox of species recognition: Social recognition processes in brood parasites are initiated by exposure to a password: in the case of cowbirds, a specific chatter call. A new study appearing in the Journal of Experimental Biology describes the neural basis for password-based species recognition in cowbirds. Roughly 1% of bird species are obligate brood parasites. Female obligate brood parasites shirk parental care duties by laying their eggs in the nests of other females. This breeding strategy is extremely successful for the female parasite but raises questions, particularly with respect to species recognition. For instance, how does a juvenile bird that is not raised by familial members come to recognize its own species and avoid imprinting on the host species that cared for it from the day it hatched? One possibility is that young brood parasites use a password to identify conspecifics, and learning about species-specific signals occurs only after the password is used to find conspecifics. Researchers have now demonstrated the neural basis for password-based species recognition in an obligate brood parasite. They showed that the auditory forebrain regions in cowbirds, which respond selectively to learned vocalizations, such as songs, also respond selectively to non-learned chatter. However, if the password is not used to locate other cowbirds, the young brood parasite will mis-imprint on its host species -- a process manifested in the brain by elevated gene induction in response to the host's song. "Our study reveals a neural basis for this password as well as a neural signature of mis-imprinting in young brood parasites that have prolonged exposure to host species songs," said Dr. Kathleen Lynch, lead author of the study and Assistant Professor of Biology at Hofstra University. Dr. Mark Hauber, Professor of Psychology at Hunter College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY), who co-authored the article, first carried out behavioral experiments to find evidence for password-based species recognition. Dr. Hauber said, "After our discovery of the password as a behavioral mechanism in parasitic cowbirds over 15 years ago as a graduate student, it is rewarding for me to be working on an NSF [National Science Foundation] grant to identify the neural basis of this behavior as a professor." Unlike parental male songbirds, which usually learn to sing at a very young age by mimicking their fathers, parasitic cowbirds learn song in their second year and delay song production until their third year. "This study is interesting because the particular life history of brood parasitic songbirds such as the brown-headed cowbird requires song learning to proceed differently in this species than in most others," said Dr. Jill Soha, Associate Scholar at Duke University, who was not affiliated with the study. "Understanding the neural mechanisms that guide this type of song learning advances our knowledge not only of brood parasite ontogeny and evolution but also, through comparative study, our understanding of the neural mechanisms underlying song learning in general." Dr. Lynch and her colleagues have revealed novel insights into the neural basis of species recognition in cowbirds, which dovetail with known behavioral responses and advance our understanding of social recognition in brood parasites. Hofstra University is a dynamic private institution of higher education where more than 11,000 full- and part-time students choose from undergraduate and graduate offerings in liberal arts and sciences, business, engineering, applied science, communication, education, health sciences and human services, honors studies, the Maurice A. Deane School of Law and the Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine. The City University of New York is the nation's leading urban public university. Founded in New York City in 1847, the University comprises 24 institutions: 11 senior colleges, seven community colleges, and additional professional schools. The University serves nearly 275,000 degree-credit students and 218,083 adult, continuing and professional education students. For more information, please contact: Shante Booker and or visit http://www.


If you are raised by other species, then how do you know who you are? Although heterospecific foster parents rear brood parasitic brown-headed cowbird chicks, juvenile cowbirds readily recognize and affiliate with other cowbirds. That's because they have a secret handshake or password. Specifically, the "password" hypothesis helps explain this paradox of species recognition: Social recognition processes in brood parasites are initiated by exposure to a password: in the case of cowbirds, a specific chatter call. A new study appearing in the Journal of Experimental Biology describes the neural basis for password-based species recognition in cowbirds. Roughly 1% of bird species are obligate brood parasites. Female obligate brood parasites shirk parental care duties by laying their eggs in the nests of other females. This breeding strategy is extremely successful for the female parasite but raises questions, particularly with respect to species recognition. For instance, how does a juvenile bird that is not raised by familial members come to recognize its own species and avoid imprinting on the host species that cared for it from the day it hatched? One possibility is that young brood parasites use a password to identify conspecifics, and learning about species-specific signals occurs only after the password is used to find conspecifics. Researchers have now demonstrated the neural basis for password-based species recognition in an obligate brood parasite. They showed that the auditory forebrain regions in cowbirds, which respond selectively to learned vocalizations, such as songs, also respond selectively to non-learned chatter. However, if the password is not used to locate other cowbirds, the young brood parasite will mis-imprint on its host species—a process manifested in the brain by elevated gene induction in response to the host's song. "Our study reveals a neural basis for this password as well as a neural signature of mis-imprinting in young brood parasites that have prolonged exposure to host species songs," said Dr. Kathleen Lynch, lead author of the study and Assistant Professor of Biology at Hofstra University. Dr. Mark Hauber, Professor of Psychology at Hunter College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY), who co-authored the article, first carried out behavioral experiments to find evidence for password-based species recognition. Dr. Hauber said, "After our discovery of the password as a behavioral mechanism in parasitic cowbirds over 15 years ago as a graduate student, it is rewarding for me to be working on an NSF [National Science Foundation] grant to identify the neural basis of this behavior as a professor." Unlike parental male songbirds, which usually learn to sing at a very young age by mimicking their fathers, parasitic cowbirds learn song in their second year and delay song production until their third year. "This study is interesting because the particular life history of brood parasitic songbirds such as the brown-headed cowbird requires song learning to proceed differently in this species than in most others," said Dr. Jill Soha, Associate Scholar at Duke University, who was not affiliated with the study. "Understanding the neural mechanisms that guide this type of song learning advances our knowledge not only of brood parasite ontogeny and evolution but also, through comparative study, our understanding of the neural mechanisms underlying song learning in general." Dr. Lynch and her colleagues have revealed novel insights into the neural basis of species recognition in cowbirds, which dovetail with known behavioral responses and advance our understanding of social recognition in brood parasites. More information: A neural basis for password-based species recognition in an avian brood parasite Journal of Experimental Biology 2017 : doi: 10.1242/jeb.158600 , jeb.biologists.org/content/early/2017/04/12/jeb.158600


The opening ceremony was held on May 17th at 10 am at CUNY on the Concourse, 2501 Grand Concourse BRONX, NY--(Marketwired - May 17, 2017) - EON Reality Inc., the world leader in Virtual Reality based knowledge transfer for industry and education, and Lehman College of the City University of New York (CUNY), the largest urban public higher education system in the United States, announce the official opening of Lehman College's new Virtual Training Academy and Development Lab. The opening ceremony was held on May 17th at 10 am at CUNY on the Concourse, 2501 Grand Concourse. The new Academy and Lab will focus on training students to become AR and VR developers and for developing new AR and VR knowledge transfer applications. These efforts will directly benefit Lehman's students as the focus of the Academy will be on core areas of interest for Lehman College. Students from the Academy will also leverage EON Reality's AVR Platform developing content for the Virtual Trainer, AR Knowledge Injection, and EON Creator AVR. "We're honored to partner with Lehman College to establish an AR and VR training and development center," said Dan Lejerskar, Chairman of EON Reality. "By bringing our experience in development and training together with Lehman College's subject matter expertise in continuing education, we hope that together we can help prepare students, new and old, for their dream careers. While initially focused on the needs of Lehman College's students, we intend for the applications developed here to help students in the CUNY system and in the greater region." "This vital partnership with EON Reality is a great example of how Lehman is cementing its place as the most important, mission-critical senior college of The City University of New York," said José Luis Cruz, President of Lehman College. "This effort will provide our students with invaluable, state-of-the-art experiential training and position them for career opportunities in the burgeoning VR/AR industry." As established industries continue to be disrupted by technological advances, workers who have been displaced will need retraining to find a new trade. This, along with the increasing amount of knowledge needed and shrinking budgets, necessitates a faster knowledge transfer solution, such as VR and AR, to teach more with less time and less money. The Virtual and Augmented Reality industries are quickly growing and require an infusion of talent to meet the market's demands, which some project to be around $150 billion by 2020. The non-credit course will be held on nights and weekends at Lehman's School of Continuing and Professional Studies to maximize participation. Tuition will be $499 for CUNY students and employees, and $599 for non-CUNY applicants and will be linked to employment opportunities in the fast-growing fields of Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR). About Lehman College: As CUNY's only senior college in the Bronx, Lehman College enrolls over 13,000 students and offers over 90 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Lehman is home to 12 CUNY doctoral programs (most in conjunction with the CUNY Graduate Center) and has a long-standing collaboration with the New York Botanical Garden. Lehman is a Hispanic-Serving Institution where 91 languages are spoken and students hail from 142 different ancestries; nearly 40 percent of students hold two passports. In recent years Lehman students have won Fulbrights scholarships, National Science Foundation awards, and fellowships from the George P. Soros and Jeannette K. Watson foundations, as well as the Organization of American States. In 2015, Washington Monthly selected Lehman as the No. 3 "Best Bang for the Buck" college in the Northeast. Its tree-lined, 37-acre campus once housed the United Nations Security Council, where in 1946 diplomats drafted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. About EON Reality: EON Reality is the world leader in in Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) based knowledge transfer for industry and education. EON Reality's success is tied to its belief that knowledge is a human right and should be available, accessible, and affordable for every human on the planet. To carry this out, EON Reality, since 1999, has developed the de-facto standard for Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality based knowledge transfer software that supports devices from mobile phones to large immersive domes. EON Reality's global app development network, with twenty-two locations worldwide, has created the world's leading AR and VR library for knowledge transfer with over 7,000 applications. Over 36 million people worldwide have downloaded these applications. For further information, visit www.eonreality.com.


News Article | April 19, 2017
Site: phys.org

Researchers set up time-lapse cameras to record penguin behavior during the dark Antarctic winter. Credit: T. Hart Not even the most intrepid researcher wants to spend winter in Antarctica, so how can you learn what penguins are doing during those cold, dark months? Simple: Leave behind some cameras. Year-round studies across the full extent of a species' range are especially important in polar areas, where individuals within a single species may adopt a variety of different migration strategies to get by, and a new study from The Auk: Ornithological Advances uses this unique approach to get new insights into Gentoo Penguin behavior. Gentoo Penguins are of interest to scientists because they're increasing at the southern end of their range in the Western Antarctic Peninsula, a region where other penguin species are declining. Little is known about their behavior during the nonbreeding season, so Caitlin Black and Tom Hart of the University of Oxford and Andrea Raya Rey of Argentina's Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Cientificas y Técnicas used time-lapse cameras to examine patterns in Gentoo Penguins' presence at breeding sites across their range during the off season. They found both temporal and spatial factors driving winter attendance—for example, more Gentoo Penguins were present at breeding sites when there was open water or free-floating pack ice than when the shoreline was iced in, and more Gentoo Penguins were at breeding sites earlier in nonbreeding season than later. The researchers deployed the cameras at seven sites including Argentina, Antarctica, and several islands. Each camera took eight to fourteen photos per day, and volunteer "citizen scientists" were recruited to count the penguins in each image via a website (penguinwatch.org). Overall, the seven sites fell into three distinct groups in terms of winter attendance, each with its own patterns of site occupation. These findings could have important implications for understanding how localized disturbances due to climate change and fisheries activity affect penguin populations during the nonbreeding season. "Working with cameras allows us to understand half of this species' life without having to spend the harsh winter in Antarctica. It has been exciting to discover more about why Gentoos are present year-round at breeding sites without having to handle a single bird," says Black. "I believe the applications for this technology are far-reaching for colonial seabirds and mammals, and we are only just beginning to discover the uses of time-lapse cameras as deployed virtual ecologists in field studies." "What most seabirds do away from their nest is often anybody's guess. For Antarctic birds, this is compounded by the long periods of darkness that penguins and others must face in the winter," adds Mark Hauber, Editor-in-Chief of The Auk: Ornithological Advances and Professor of Animal Behavior at Hunter College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. "This new research in The Auk: Ornithological Advances on Gentoo Penguins colonies reveals critical year-to-year differences in where the birds are when they are not nesting: In some years, only the most temperate sites are visited, and in other years both southerly and northerly locations are busy with penguins." Explore further: New study reveals what penguins eat More information: "Peeking into the bleak midwinter: Investigating nonbreeding strategies of Gentoo Penguins using a camera network" April 19, 2017, americanornithologypubs.org/doi/full/10.1642/AUK-16-69.1


News Article | May 11, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Invasive parasites are a biological oxymoron. And yet, they are in our backyards! This study analyzes the case of a brood parasitic bird, the pin-tailed whydah (Vidua macroura) and its recent spread into the Americas! Biodiversity hotspots--or places with large numbers of species found nowhere else on earth--also tend to make suitable habitats for invasive species that can, in turn, destabilize ecosystems and supplant indigenous biota. A new study in The Condor: Ornithological Applications predicts where the pin-tailed whydah, a songbird native to sub-Saharan Africa that has expanded its natural range thanks to the pet trade, may next spread in North America and Hawaii. The pin-tailed whydah is a brood parasitic bird that lays its eggs in other bird species, typically small African finches, and has been introduced from Africa to Puerto Rico and southern California. In this study, researchers used species distribution models to predict where the whydah may continue to spread in the continental U.S., Hawaii, and the Antilles. To determine the whydah's potential distribution, they used sightings of this species reported to the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF). The investigators then identified suitable whydah habitat by finding correlations between locations where these finches have been seen and global climate data. As brood parasites, whydahs need hosts to complete their life cycle, so the researchers also used the presence of six known host species that have been co-introduced in the whydah's new range to predict suitable habitat. Their species distribution model indicated high habitat suitability in areas of high biodiversity where whydahs do not currently live, including the West Coast of the U.S., Hawaii, and most islands of the Antilles. Robert Crystal-Ornelas, lead author and PhD student in Ecology and Evolution at Rutgers University-New Brunswick, said, "We identified key areas in the continental U.S., Hawaii, and the Antilles, that have not yet experienced pin-tailed whydah invasion, but which contain suitable climate and host species for this parasitic bird to potentially spread." Dr. Mark Hauber, the senior author of the study and Professor in Animal Behavior and Conservation at Hunter College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY), said, "our work has now shown how parasitic birds, including common cuckoos from Eurasia and pin-tailed whydahs from Africa are likely to invade increasingly novel and expansive regions in the Western Hemisphere." The pin-tailed whydah is a host generalist--it can parasitize novel species that share no co-evolutionary history with it and that, therefore, have developed no defenses to mitigate the reproductive costs of parasitism. To create their model, the researchers took into consideration five known historical hosts and one known novel host--all exotic species to North America and Hawaii. The presence of these hosts in a suitable habitat could enable introduced whydahs to establish a bridgehead population, providing an opportunity for the birds to utilize indigenous hosts and to increase their population and range. "This study shows how humans are not just transplanting individual species but entire ecological networks, where here an invasive bird species will likely be able to expand in the Americas due to a previous introduction of its host species," said Dr. James Russell, a conservation biologist at the University of Auckland, who was not affiliated with the study. "Worryingly, the study predicts the introduced species will most strongly invade already vulnerable island ecosystems, where it could potentially begin parasitizing native bird species, which would be a very novel form of invasive species impact." The map that Rob Crystal-Ornelas and his colleagues have created will help scientist to prioritize monitoring and research efforts, which fully gauge the risk of additional whydah populations in North America. The City University of New York is the nation's leading urban public university. Founded in New York City in 1847, the University comprises 24 institutions: 11 senior colleges, seven community colleges, and additional professional schools. The University serves nearly 275,000 degree-credit students and 218,083 adult, continuing and professional education students. Rutgers University-New Brunswick is where Rutgers began 250 years ago. Rutgers' flagship is a leading public research institution, a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities, home to internationally acclaimed faculty, and the big Ten Conference's most diverse university. Among the top 25 public universities, as ranked by US News & World Report, Rutgers-New Brunswick serves 40, 720 full- and part-time students in 18 schools and colleges. For more information, please contact Mark Hauber or visit http://www.


News Article | May 11, 2017
Site: phys.org

Biodiversity hotspots—or places with large numbers of species found nowhere else on earth—also tend to make suitable habitats for invasive species that can, in turn, destabilize ecosystems and supplant indigenous biota. A new study in The Condor: Ornithological Applications predicts where the pin-tailed whydah, a songbird native to sub-Saharan Africa that has expanded its natural range thanks to the pet trade, may next spread in North America and Hawaii. The pin-tailed whydah is a brood parasitic bird that lays its eggs in other bird species, typically small African finches, and has been introduced from Africa to Puerto Rico and southern California. In this study, researchers used species distribution models to predict where the whydah may continue to spread in the continental U.S., Hawaii, and the Antilles. To determine the whydah's potential distribution, they used sightings of this species reported to the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF). The investigators then identified suitable whydah habitat by finding correlations between locations where these finches have been seen and global climate data. As brood parasites, whydahs need hosts to complete their life cycle, so the researchers also used the presence of six known host species that have been co-introduced in the whydah's new range to predict suitable habitat. Their species distribution model indicated high habitat suitability in areas of high biodiversity where whydahs do not currently live, including the West Coast of the U.S., Hawaii, and most islands of the Antilles. Robert Crystal-Ornelas, lead author and PhD student in Ecology and Evolution at Rutgers University-New Brunswick, said, "We identified key areas in the continental U.S., Hawaii, and the Antilles, that have not yet experienced pin-tailed whydah invasion, but which contain suitable climate and host species for this parasitic bird to potentially spread." Dr. Mark Hauber, the senior author of the study and Professor in Animal Behavior and Conservation at Hunter College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY), said, "our work has now shown how parasitic birds, including common cuckoos from Eurasia and pin-tailed whydahs from Africa are likely to invade increasingly novel and expansive regions in the Western Hemisphere." The pin-tailed whydah is a host generalist—it can parasitize novel species that share no co-evolutionary history with it and that, therefore, have developed no defenses to mitigate the reproductive costs of parasitism. To create their model, the researchers took into consideration five known historical hosts and one known novel host—all exotic species to North America and Hawaii. The presence of these hosts in a suitable habitat could enable introduced whydahs to establish a bridgehead population, providing an opportunity for the birds to utilize indigenous hosts and to increase their population and range. "This study shows how humans are not just transplanting individual species but entire ecological networks, where here an invasive bird species will likely be able to expand in the Americas due to a previous introduction of its host species," said Dr. James Russell, a conservation biologist at the University of Auckland, who was not affiliated with the study. "Worryingly, the study predicts the introduced species will most strongly invade already vulnerable island ecosystems, where it could potentially begin parasitizing native bird species, which would be a very novel form of invasive species impact." The map that Rob Crystal-Ornelas and his colleagues have created will help scientist to prioritize monitoring and research efforts, which fully gauge the risk of additional whydah populations in North America.


News Article | May 11, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Professor Eleanore Wurtzel of the Department of Biological Sciences at Lehman College and a doctoral faculty member of the PhD Program in Biology (Plant Sciences and Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental subprograms) and PhD Program in Biochemistry of the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY) has been named a 2017 Fellow of the International Carotenoid Society (ICS) during this inaugural year for Fellow selection. The ICS recognizes members whose consistent contributions to the Society, the scientific community, and the general public demonstrate a commitment to excellence, leadership, and sound ethics. The 2017 ICS Fellows will be formally announced at the 18th International Symposium on Carotenoids to be held in Lucerne, Switzerland from July 9 - 14, 2017. Dr. Wurtzel will also present a plenary lecture on "A novel gate-keeper of carotenoid biosynthesis in plants" on Wednesday, July 12 at 9:15 a.m. in Lucerne Hall. Dr. Wurtzel was elected as an ICS Fellow for significant career-long contributions to research on provitamin A carotenoid biosynthesis, which is enabling sustainable solutions to global vitamin A deficiency. Her interdisciplinary research integrates molecular biology, cell biology, biochemistry, genetics, bioinformatics, and systems biology. For example, Dr. Wurtzel and her team took advantage of natural genetic diversity to elucidate pathway control points and to develop molecular markers for breeding high-provitamin A maize, identifying gene families and their roles in controlling carotenoid accumulation. Most recently, the Wurtzel laboratory discovered Z-ISO, a new carotenoid enzyme, which is essential for biosynthesis of all plant carotenoids, including provitamin A carotenoids. This breakthrough led to the discovery of a new prototype function for heme proteins, uncovered a novel means for regulating carotenoid biosynthesis in plants, and redefined the carotenoid biosynthetic pathway in plants. Upon learning of this honor, Dr. Wurtzel described herself as very much surprised. "My career has been devoted to making a difference in global health which was its own reward," Dr. Wurtzel said. "I am humbled and grateful for this unexpected recognition." Since its establishment in 1996 at the 11th International Symposium on Carotenoids in Leiden, The Netherlands, the ICS has supported and encouraged all areas of carotenoid science--pure and applied, academic and commercial, research and educational. The ICS endeavors to facilitate contacts and multi-disciplinary cooperation between carotenoid workers in different parts of the world and different areas of the carotenoid field; to promote education, communication, and the exchange of ideas and expertise; and to provide help and advice to new and younger researchers entering the carotenoid field and to those in poorer countries. As a truly international and independent organization, the ICS seeks to increase public awareness of the carotenoid field and of exciting new advances, and to provide reasoned, authoritative statements on controversial matters. The City University of New York is the nation's leading urban public university. Founded in New York City in 1847, the University comprises 24 institutions: 11 senior colleges, seven community colleges, and additional professional schools. The University serves nearly 275,000 degree-credit students and 218,083 adult, continuing and professional education students. For more information, please contact Shante Booker (shante.booker@cuny.edu) or visit http://www.


News Article | February 18, 2017
Site: phys.org

A pair of aquarium-held cichlids of the species Telegramma brichardi. Credit: Oliver Lucanus New DNA-based research provides compelling evidence that a group of strange-looking fish living near the mouth of the Congo River are evolving due to the intense hydraulics of the river's rapids and deep canyons. The study, led by scientists at the American Museum of Natural History, the City University of New York, and Fordham University, reveals that fishes in this part of the river live in "neighborhoods" that are separated from one another by the waters' turbulent flow. In some cases, the researchers found that fishes living less than a mile away from their relatives are actually exchanging very few genes. Many represent distinct species, according to the new study now out in the journal Molecular Ecology. "In this very short section of the Congo, we find a tremendous diversity of fishes," said Melanie Stiassny, Axelrod Research Curator in the Museum's Department of Ichthyology and an author on the study. "We also know that this part of the river is relatively young, originating only about 3 to 5 million years ago. So what is it about this system that makes it such a pump for species?" For the last 10 years, Stiassny and her colleagues, including hydrologists and geologists, have studied the lower Congo River—the final 200-mile stretch of the freshwater river before it empties into the Atlantic Ocean. Exceptional in depth, speed, and turbulence, the lower Congo is home to the world's most extreme rapids. The region is also remarkable for its biodiversity; scientists have identified more than 300 species of fish living there. That diversity has long seemed puzzling to scientists because the lower Congo appeared to lack physical barriers which, if difficult to traverse, are understood to drive speciation by preventing animals from either side from breeding. Over time, this causes each group to develop separately. The new study, which focuses on a group of freshwater, rock-dwelling cichlid fishes of the genus Teleogramma, adds weight to a theory long proposed by Stiassny and other experts: that the dynamic forces of the river itself are acting like barriers, generating diversity by isolating certain fishes from others for so long that their populations travel down different evolutionary paths. "The genetic separation between these fishes show that the rapids are working as strong barriers, keeping them apart," said lead author Elizabeth Alter, from The City University of New York's Graduate Center and York College. "What's particularly unique about the lower Congo is that this diversification is happening over extremely small spatial scales, over distances as small as 1.5 kilometers. There is no other river like it." The researchers analyzed the genomes of more than 50 individual fishes representing each of the different Teleogramma populations found in the lower Congo. They found that their species ranges correspond to geographic regions broadly separated by major hydrological and topographic barriers, indicating that these features are likely important drivers of diversification. The authors also note that there are important conservation implications to this work: about 25 percent of the fish in the lower Congo are endemic, or only found in this particular location. But the area is currently being proposed as a site for major dam development. "Activity like that would majorly interrupt the evolutionary potential of this system," Stiassny said. Jason Munshi-South, from Fordham University, was also an author on this paper. Explore further: Name of new weakly electric fish species reflects hope for peace in Central Africa More information: S. Elizabeth Alter et al, Genomewide SNP data reveal cryptic phylogeographic structure and microallopatric divergence in a rapids-adapted clade of cichlids from the Congo River, Molecular Ecology (2017). DOI: 10.1111/mec.13973


News Article | February 17, 2017
Site: www.chromatographytechniques.com

New DNA-based research provides compelling evidence that a group of strange-looking fish living near the mouth of the Congo River are evolving due to the intense hydraulics of the river's rapids and deep canyons. The study, led by scientists at the American Museum of Natural History, the City University of New York, and Fordham University, reveals that fishes in this part of the river live in "neighborhoods" that are separated from one another by the waters' turbulent flow. In some cases, the researchers found that fishes living less than a mile away from their relatives are actually exchanging very few genes. Many represent distinct species, according to the new study now out in the journal Molecular Ecology. "In this very short section of the Congo, we find a tremendous diversity of fishes," said Melanie Stiassny, Axelrod Research Curator in the Museum's Department of Ichthyology and an author on the study. "We also know that this part of the river is relatively young, originating only about 3 to 5 million years ago. So what is it about this system that makes it such a pump for species?" For the last 10 years, Stiassny and her colleagues, including hydrologists and geologists, have studied the lower Congo River -- the final 200-mile stretch of the freshwater river before it empties into the Atlantic Ocean. Exceptional in depth, speed, and turbulence, the lower Congo is home to the world's most extreme rapids. The region is also remarkable for its biodiversity; scientists have identified more than 300 species of fish living there. That diversity has long seemed puzzling to scientists because the lower Congo appeared to lack physical barriers which, if difficult to traverse, are understood to drive speciation by preventing animals from either side from breeding. Over time, this causes each group to develop separately. The new study, which focuses on a group of freshwater, rock-dwelling cichlid fishes of the genus Teleogramma, adds weight to a theory long proposed by Stiassny and other experts: that the dynamic forces of the river itself are acting like barriers, generating diversity by isolating certain fishes from others for so long that their populations travel down different evolutionary paths. "The genetic separation between these fishes show that the rapids are working as strong barriers, keeping them apart," said lead author Elizabeth Alter, from The City University of New York's Graduate Center and York College. "What's particularly unique about the lower Congo is that this diversification is happening over extremely small spatial scales, over distances as small as 1.5 kilometers. There is no other river like it." The researchers analyzed the genomes of more than 50 individual fishes representing each of the different Teleogramma populations found in the lower Congo. They found that their species ranges correspond to geographic regions broadly separated by major hydrological and topographic barriers, indicating that these features are likely important drivers of diversification. The authors also note that there are important conservation implications to this work: about 25 percent of the fish in the lower Congo are endemic, or only found in this particular location. But the area is currently being proposed as a site for major dam development. "Activity like that would majorly interrupt the evolutionary potential of this system," Stiassny said. Jason Munshi-South, from Fordham University, was also an author on this paper.


News Article | February 16, 2017
Site: www.prweb.com

A new clinical study conducted by Evelyn Ramirez-Coombs, CUNY Graduate Center, and Bittylab is giving parents and pediatricians a non-drug option when treating infant acid reflux. The study found that after a two-week trial using the Bare Air-Free baby bottle 75% of infants no longer had symptoms of acid reflux, and there was a 52% reduction in their GER score. Acid reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux (GER) affects two-thirds of 4-month olds, yet there has never been a proven method to reduce or eliminate its symptoms. Desperate parents often turn to pediatricians who will prescribe acid reflux medications (also known as proton pump inhibitors) to babies more than four months old even though there is no research to show medications are effective in normally-developing infants. According to Eric Hassall, a pediatric gastroenterologist from Sutter Pacific Medical Foundation in San Francisco, “There is no science that backs using proton pump inhibitors for infants, but there is ‘GERD mania.’ The largest clinical trial in infants found that a proton pump inhibitor was no better than placebo.” The Bare Air-Free baby bottle design was inspired by a mother’s breast as it only dispenses air-free milk upon suction. This innovative air-free technology is now clinically proven to eliminate reflux symptoms, gas and colic due to the following: Air-Free Milk: The unique syringe-like design dispenses air-free milk to prevent gas buildup. Upright Feeding: Bare doesn’t have to be turned upside down like other bottles, which allows baby to feed in an upright position to reduce regurgitation of stomach acids. Baby-Controlled Flow: The ability for baby to control the flow and pace of feeding with suction-flow – not gravity-flow – to help prevent overfeeding. “We were inspired to conduct this study after receiving feedback from multiple parents about how our product helped manage their infant’s acid reflux,” says Priska Diaz, mom and founder of Bittylab, makers of Bare Air-Free baby bottle. “I’m so glad we are finally able to offer a solution with scientific evidence for infants (and parents) seeking relief from acid reflux and we look forward to advancing this research.” The study tracked changes in GER symptoms in 122 infants over a two-week period using the Bare Air-Free feeding system exclusively. The infants were divided into two groups. The GER group was defined as infants with clinically significant ratings of GER symptoms based on the Infant- GER Questionnaire (I-GERQ), an empirically validated measure for infant presentation of GER, used by both researchers and clinicians. A sample of infants with typical GI functioning were also recruited and placed in the control group. After a two-week trial of using Bare Air-Free, parents reported significant decreases in GER symptoms via the same I-GERQ. Approximately 75% of babies in the high GER group no longer met clinical criteria for GER, and showed a 52% reduction in symptoms. Furthermore, the data revealed that even control group babies saw a 49% reduction in GI discomfort after using Bare. Overall, Bare Air-Free was found to be effective in reducing clinical symptoms of GER in infants, and is found to be beneficial for GI/feeding discomfort in typical babies as well. For more information about Bare Air-Free and the study findings, go to Bittylab.com. The Bare Air-Free feeding system is available at Bittylab.com, Babies "R" Us, Walmart.com and Amazon. About Bittylab Bittylab was founded in 2010 by Priska Diaz after struggling with her son’s feeding challenges. A designer by trade, Diaz was determined to eliminate the increased gassiness common among bottle-fed babies and developed a baby bottle that eliminates air swallowed while helping with breastfeeding. Based on her own personal insight “my breasts don’t have air vents, why should baby bottles?,” Bittylab introduced the Bare Air-Free feeding system for infants who suffer gas, colic and GERD.

Loading Graduate Center collaborators
Loading Graduate Center collaborators