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News Article | April 17, 2017
Site: www.sciencemag.org

For 2 years in a row, a pair of wolves has managed to survive on Isle Royale, Michigan, the last of their kind on the wilderness island. Researchers continue to track the wolves and their moose prey, in the last installments of the world’s longest running predator-prey study.  They report today that although the wolves hunt successfully, they are too few to affect the moose population. Aquatic as well as terrestrial vegetation is taking a hit as moose numbers climb, according to the study’s 59th annual report. After Canadian wolves colonized the island in 1949, the wolf population peaked at 50 in 1980, and as recently as a decade ago, 30 wolves prowled the island, a U.S. National Park. The island’s now-famous predator-prey study has tracked how wolf and moose numbers have risen and fallen in tandem over the decades, and left their mark on the island’s ecology. In contrast to last year’s winter study, when wolf tracks were the only evidence of the predators, wildlife ecologist Rolf Peterson spotted both wolves sitting on lake ice on the January afternoon he arrived on the island.  Weeks later, Peterson and co-investigator John Vucetich, both of Michigan Technological University in Houghton, found the wolves feeding on a freshly-killed moose calf. “We were very lucky,” Peterson says. “There was no mystery left in terms of the wolf population,” or what they were eating. The researchers also observed that, in what normally would have been the wolves’ breeding period, the 7-year-old female bared her teeth in response to the close interest of the 9-year-old male; he is both her father and half sibling.  Researchers don’t expect the highly inbred pair to reproduce. The two wolves otherwise appeared healthy and still have all their canines, a key sign of well-being in the carnivores. The pair has already surpassed the average Isle Royale wolf lifespan of 4 years, dodging the main causes of death for their ancestors on the island: other wolves and starvation. “They are swimming in moose,” Vucetich says. The four wolf-killed carcasses the researchers spotted made little dent in the overall moose population, estimated at 1600 in aerial surveys conducted this past winter.  The 20% increase from last winter is consistent with the population’s growth rate over the past 6 years, as the inbred wolf population dwindled and collapsed.  Both beaver and moose abundance have tripled since 2011, “undoubtedly because of lack of predation,” Vucetich says. With moose density on the Guam-sized island already five to ten times higher than on the mainland--and with the numbers on track to double in three to four years—browsing on the island’s vegetation is intense. One aquatic plant, floating watershield (Brassenia  schreberi), which was abundant six years ago when moose were at historic lows, now thrives in ponds only where moose are excluded. “It’s the aquatic equivalent of deforestation,” says plant ecologist Eric Hellquist of SUNY Oswego, noting that moose’s effect on aquatic vegetation is not as well studied as that on terrestrial plants. Isle Royale’s ponds are demonstrating “how apex predators can have cascading effects on food webs.” As the effects of the missing predators ripple through the island, the Park Service is assessing about 5000 public comments on its proposal to introduce 20 to 30 wolves to the island to establish a new population. The next steps on that plan are expected by the end of this year.

Kettle A.J.,SUNY Oswego | Asbjorn Vollestad L.,University of Oslo | Wibig J.,University of Lodz
Fish and Fisheries | Year: 2011

The collapse in recruitment of the European eel (Anguilla anguilla) since the early 1980s has been ascribed to possible overfishing, poisoning, parasitism, habitat loss and changes in ocean circulation. It is unclear which mechanism is most important, and firm data are lacking to make an assessment of the factors that apply over the full continental range. On the other hand, the recruitment of the American eel (A. rostrata) has declined along the western Atlantic at about the same time. This suggests a candidate mechanism that can affect both species together. A change in ocean climate may be a likely explanation, which is supported by a possible link between the North Atlantic Oscillation and one important recruitment index. However, it is unsafe to discard the other possible mechanisms because of lack of evidence. Habitat loss, in particular, may be important. We review over a century of evidence to suggest how the eel may have declined through progressive habitat loss that accelerated in the early 1980s as the result of economic development linked with hydrological changes. Although no single line of evidence can definitely prove one hypothesis for the eel decline, the total body of information may indicate a pronounced susceptibility in the southwest corner of the continental range closest to the Sargasso Sea that has been particularly affected by drought and dam construction. The sexual dimorphism of the species together with the energy requirements of the spawning migration may provide insight to explain the population collapse. © 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

News Article | November 10, 2015
Site: www.biosciencetechnology.com

A variety of ancient tetrapods—four-limbed ancestors of man, the other mammals, amphibians, and reptiles—could regenerate limbs and tails, says a startling paper in Nature. Among modern tetrapods, only salamanders fully regenerate limbs and tails. It was thought this was also true eons ago, as only salamanders grow digits front to back—while all other tetrapods grow them back to front. But Nature reported that, as far back as 300 million years ago, many different tetrapods—whether their digits formed backwards or forwards—fully regrew lost limbs. “The findings are surprising, and provide an important consideration when trying to understand genes specific to limb regeneration,” Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute regeneration expert James Godwin, Ph.D., told Bioscience Technology. The idea of regeneration as a lost ancient trait has been around “for some time. The news that regeneration predates stem [most primitive precursors of] salamanders provides critical evidence regenerative capacity was part of the original vertebrate blueprint, or acquired very early in vertebrate evolution. This paper is important. It extends our understanding of the evolutionary timeline of regeneration.” Godwin was uninvolved in the work. “A great surprise to see many early tetrapods capable of regenerating limbs and tails in a manner only salamanders do among extant tetrapods,” senior author, and visiting Brown University paleontologist Floria Witzmann, Ph.D., told Bioscience Technology. “We thought this was a derived characteristic in salamanders. Now it seems vice versa. Regeneration limb capacity appears a primitive characteristic of tetrapods only retained in salamanders. Other tetrapods –human beings – might possess the latent potential to regenerate limbs. This might lead to new approaches in regeneration research.” University of Basel vertebrate embryologist Rolf Zeller, Ph.D., told Bioscience Technology: “It is interesting the authors provide evidence, by analysis of fossil records, that in early tetrapods (distal) limb and tail regeneration appears more widespread than today.” Zeller, also uninvolved, cautioned limb regeneration has not yet been observed in fossil amniota (including human ancestors), just more distant fossil microsaurs. Others agreed, but consider microsaurs to be more closely related to amniota than to amphibians. And University of Padova evolutionary developmental biologist Alessandro Minelli, Ph.D., told Bioscience Technology the new study was “very important” for another reason: its proof fossil morphology (form) is key. “It shows that, in evolutionary developmental biology, morphology can be of no lesser value than molecular genetics,” said Minelli, also uninvolved. “Study of fossil ontogenies has revealed important features of evolution of development in vertebrates and trilobites, not to mention Cambrian larvae of invertebrates of problematic affinities. More is expected.” Alone among modern four-limbed vertebrates, salamanders regenerate hurt or missing limbs and tails their entire adult lives. As noted, it was thought the strange way they develop limbs was related to their regenerative skills. In other modern tetrapods digits form “post-axially,” back to front. Modern salamander digits form “pre-axially,” front to back. A team from Brown University, SUNY Oswego, and the Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin, looked for the link between regeneration and the salamander limb oddity in fossils of different Carboniferous and Permian (300-million-year old) amphibian groups from many natural history museums. Analyzed were a variety of individual amphibians at different developmental stages. Unexpectedly, the teams saw evidence of salamander-esque regenerative qualities in both ancient amphibians that developed digits like modern vertebrates, and ancient tetrapods that did not. First author Museum für Naturkunde paleontologist Nadia Froebisch, Ph.D., told Bioscience Technology: “We were surprised to find evidence for salamander-like regenerative capacities in tails and limbs in very distant lineages of Paleozoic tetrapod, some on the stem lineage to modern amphibians, but also in groups belonging to more distant relatives, and even in lepospondyl, which are more closely related to amniotes (that is, all fully terrestrial vertebrates, today represented by all birds, reptiles, and mammals). This indicates regenerative capacities are not special and derived for salamanders, but may be the primitive condition for all tetrapods.” Some of the evidence they found, she said: “Micromelerpeton [extinct European amphibian genus] shows a pattern and combination of abnormalities in the limbs characteristic for abnormalities in regenerated limbs of salamanders, differing from abnormalities associated with initial development.” More evidence, she said: Among microsaurs (aforementioned lepospondyls), they found specimens with asymmetries in limbs. “On one side, the limb is well-developed, and in accordance with the overall developmental stage of the individual. On the right side, the upper arm is equally well-developed, but more distal limb elements are much less well-developed, not fully ossified and differentiated, indicating a possible ongoing regeneration of the distal part.” Also among the specimens, the team saw that, “the tails in some microsaurs are very obviously regenerating: the well-developed vertebral column stops abruptly, and continues with small elements just differentiating. In salamanders, the primordial part of the new vertebral column in the tail is already subdivided on the cellular level, and these segments then give rise to new vertebral elements. This is also visible in microsaur specimens.” “There is no easy answer” why most tetrapods lost the skill, Froebisch said. “It seems counterintuitive something so seemingly useful as regenerating a limb should get lost. However, there could be good reasons, such as high energetic costs. Or another highly adaptive feature incompatible with regeneration was selected for, and regeneration got lost as a byproduct.” Salamanders are special in many ways, “including their metabolism, amazing plasticity in life history patterns, and in showing the largest cell sizes among extant vertebrates. It is also possible they are still regenerating because regeneration was never actively selected against (or for). So it is just still around.” “Astonishing” loss Witzmann told Bioscience Technology: “At first sight, it is astonishing a characteristic so obviously beneficial like limb regeneration was lost in most extant tetrapods. However, a number of hypotheses are summarized in a Bely and Nyberg review. Regeneration of limbs and other body parts are certainly energy intensive. In some cases, costs may be greater than advantages. Bely & Nyberg cite an example: for taxa with a short life-span, it might be more beneficial to spend more energy producing offspring, than regenerating body parts (which could take a long time).” Then there is the fact that adult frogs cannot regenerate limbs, but tadpoles can until metamorphic climax. Galis et al propose “the capacity of limb regeneration is timed to embryonic limb development. In amniotes, limbs are patterned during the phylotypic stage. Limbs develop relatively late in amphibians, after the phylotypic stage.” If it was adaptive for most tetrapods to lose regenerative talents, this could spell trouble for humans trying to revive them. But was it? “I don't think so,” Sorbonne Research Center on Paleobiodiversity and Paleoenvironments vertebrate paleontologist Michel Laurin, Ph.D., told Bioscience Technology. He was uninvolved with the new study. “It might be a by-product of other evolutionary constraints leading to adaptive characteristics outweighing the disadvantage of losing regenerative capacity.” Zeller noted that while “lizards drop tails, an advantage in escaping predators, this is apparently not the case for limbs. Maybe the potential to regenerate limbs was retained in few species due to evolutionary constraints, rather than a true and significant selective advantage.” Apparently, regeneration was not scotched to avoid cancer, as “salamander proteins have been shown to stop spreading cancer cells,” said Froebisch. “Fascinating system.” Laurin said a key step will be to check links “between developmental complexity and regenerative capacity. Even if we document the loss of regenerative capacity in amniotes, we will still never know why it happened if it is a singular event occurring on a branch (at the base of amniotes, or deeper in the tree) where other characteristics changed. How could we be sure to which of these regeneration loss is linked?” Another “big step,” said Zeller: determining “to what extent limb regeneration relies on the same molecular networks as tetrapod limb development, and to what extent gene regulatory networks governing regeneration are active during limb development in higher tetrapods.” Witzmann wants to investigate, on histological slides, “how bone injury healing proceeds on the tissue level in fossilized early tetrapods capable of limb and tail regeneration. It would be interesting to compare results with bone healing in extant amphibians.” Like Zeller, Minelli warned regeneration evidence is still wanting among amniotes. But he said the paper opens “a new vista on the evolutionary origin of the very peculiar pattern of digit formation only found in salamanders among living tetrapods. Parsimony applied to previously available evidence suggested this mode of digit formation was a specialization of salamander lineage. The newly added data suggest instead the mechanism was already present at least 80 million years before the origin of the salamander. Thus, the opposite polarity in digit formation, as found in all other living tetrapods, must have evolved secondarily in the frogs and – perhaps – amniotes (if this will depend on the condition at node two in the tree of figure 1, still unresolved).” Many questions remain, says Godwin. “It is clear all extant salamanders regenerate limbs, and the fossil record indicates this is a trait that goes back to early salamander ancestors. It is perhaps not too surprising preaxial limb development may have been present in Temnospondyli.” It is unclear if regeneration “is an acquired trait in some species (possibly through transposable elements acting as enhancers providing new functions), or if some species maintained regenerative abilities present in a common ancestor, and others lost these abilities at the expense of traits with higher selective pressure (e.g. the immune system). There is strong evidence on both sides of the ledger. It is likely a mixture of both, depending on tissue and injury context.” Limb and tail regeneration the same—or different? Limb regeneration, he added, “may rely on a limb-specific program. There is no guarantee tail regeneration uses exactly the same mechanism.” So a key next step, he said, is to precisely identify and quantify components acting as “roadblocks to human regeneration, while continuing the search for salamander-specific molecular pathways that could provide a blueprint for engineering human tissue regeneration. Humans are relatively fragile when it comes to tissue injury as adults. We have a lot to learn.” Godwin added salamanders regenerate in two different ways that humans also do—via stimulation of existing adult stem cells, and dedifferentiation of mature cells—if humans perform less dramatic feats. (For a look at recent developments in the understanding of natural human dedifferentiation in stomach, trachea, and kidney in response to stress, see earlier Bioscience Technology story.) “This is still an unresolved question that my students and I are working hard on,” Godwin told Bioscience Technology.  “Many different cell types are involved in salamander regeneration response of various tissue types.  In the heart, cardiomyocytes are replaced from existing cardiomyocytes with a transient down-regulation of mature cardiac genes [dedifferentiation of mature cells].” Godwin continued: “In the case of the limb, we still do not know the contribution of endogenous [native] stem cells in salamanders, but we do see that some cells dedifferentiate and express more embryonic gene markers.  Some multipotency is also observed.  This also in true in other contexts of salamander regeneration, such as the eye.  In limb muscle cells, it seems that in the newt the ratio is about 70 percent dedifferentiation, and about 30 percent pax7 satellite (muscle- restricted stem cells) from work done in Andras Simon's lab.  In a recent paper where Simon's lab joined with Elly Tanaka's lab, species differences between newts and axolotls were seen.  Axolotls replace their muscle in a mechanism like we do. So I think in a complex structure like the limb, the answer is likely to be: both.”

Green-Hamann S.,University of Maine, United States | Campbell Eichhorn K.,SUNY Oswego | Sherblom J.C.,University of Maine, United States
Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication | Year: 2011

The present study investigates why people participate in Second Life social support groups. Twenty-three participants in Alcoholics Anonymous and Cancer Caregiver groups that meet in Second Life were interviewed and asked how satisfied they are with those meetings, what influences their satisfaction, what they find most helpful, what they like the least, the nature of their relationships in the group, and what surprised them the most. Their responses identify the text-based anonymity, nearly synchronous communication, visual representation of avatars, and use of time and virtual space as influences that stimulate hyperpersonal relationship development in their Second Life social support groups. © 2011 International Communication Association.

News Article | December 14, 2015
Site: www.biosciencetechnology.com

“The school day has been the same since the Roosevelt era—the Teddy Roosevelt era,” said Michael Zigman, founder of i2 Learning. “Silos of classes, unrelated to each other? Today’s school day comes from an era where everything was an assembly-line. Today, the world is collaborative and interdisciplinary, demanding thought, not just absorption of fact. The school day needs to be changed.” So, he told Bioscience Technology: “We are changing it.” Zigman started small. He and friend Ethan Berman, a technology entrepreneur formerly with JP Morgan, launched a highly innovative, hands-on STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) summer program in 2013 for middle schoolers in two empty schools. The initial reason was simply that Berman’s kids needed something to do, and “liked science over soccer.” The duo chose Boston’s Roxbury Latin (RL) because Berman was on the RL board and there was space there. They added a second school—Chapin Academy in New York—because Berman’s daughter went there. Then they contacted people they knew at area colleges and museums, from MIT and the Boston Museum of Science to the New York Hall of Science, to design innovative courses that might give kids real-life-like science experience—that beat soccer. Together, they and their enthusiastic new partners—from some of the most advanced science institutes in the world—easily whipped up 30 novel classes. As soon as that summer of two, four-to-six-week science camps was over, the two felt they had something compelling on their hands. They had attracted over 350 kids, 25 percent of whose tuition was paid for by scholarships, and most of whom had reacted to science more as fans than as students. The i2 crew decided to expand into the school day—immediately. “No programs have focused on absolutely immersing middle-school kids in science during the school day before,” explained Zigman, who had been a technology investment banker for 17 years, and is a New York Academy of Sciences (NYAS) board member. There are a lot of science camps for high schoolers. There are Citizen Schools for under-privileged kids after school. But there was nothing highly immersive during the school day, “nothing rigorous,” for kids in the extremely formative grades of four through eight, he said. From CSI to surgical techniques to interactive monsters So they immediately expanded to a week during the 2013-2014 school year at the above two schools, and one public school in Port Chester, NY. Seeing immediate success there, they attracted more collaborators, including Harvard University, Bose, and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. Having created more than 65 courses, they brought their novel intensive science program into the 2014-2015 school year, to 23 schools across the country, from New York to Boston, Connecticut to California. The program ran a unique full week of five science-only school days. All the teachers in middle-school grades were trained and enlisted in many cases.  “Non-science teachers too,” Zigman told Bioscience Technology. The program generated another unexpected benefit: “We got some non-science teachers very interested in science.” The courses were, and are, far from standard science fare. One course teaches children how to engineer prosthetics. Another teaches them robotics. Another teaches them indoor, LED-lit, stacked farming. Another is a CSI (crime scene investigation) course, “taught by real FBI guys. Everybody loved that one—including the FBI guys.” Another course teaches surgical techniques, from suturing to endoscopies. A personal favorite of Zigman’s is a course in which children learn how to build “interactive stuffed monsters using sensors and conductive thread,” he said. “The thread has a current running through it so that you can create monsters that speak or sing when you squeeze them.” As that course makes toys “come alive,” as its tagline suggests, it is a favorite among Zigman’s smaller followers, as well. Last month, the Columbia University Teacher’s College wrote a review of a program that i2 ran in the Port Chester school. “The level of student engagement was high across the observed classrooms,” read the report. “Students would frequently lean forward, exclaim with excitement, and generally showed on-task behavior.  The evaluator noted that students would ‘groan’ when they had to go to other classes (electives), lunch, or when school ended for the day. Some teachers indicated that the project-based work was engaging for students that normally were not so engaged.” The report also noted students in i2 Learning “participated in engaging and authentic [educational development] projects. The student level of on-task behavior and enthusiasm was extremely high. Students had unique opportunities to collaborate, innovate, and problem-solve throughout their experience in the four- day i2 Learning curriculum.” Continued the report: “Evaluators consistently noted that students were deeply engaged in the design process.” One teacher told the reviewers: “All students rose to the challenge—just incredible!” Schools have used “language immersion” for years to better teach children second languages. Language immersion in the past took the form of semesters abroad. More recently, it has manifested in the teaching of non-language courses in second languages in select US schools. Such “dual language” schools have been increasing. The New York Times (NYT) recently reported that, in New York City, there were 39 new or expanded dual-language programs this fall alone, for a total of 180 programs that offer immersive language training in Arabic, Chinese, French, Haitian-Creole, Hebrew, Korean, Polish, Russian and Spanish. In Utah, the NYT reported, nine percent of the state’s public elementary students were participants in dual-language programs. In Portland, Oregon, one in five kindergartners and 10 percent of all students are enrolled in such programs. Delaware and North Carolina are also pursuing the approach. Arguments for immersive dual-language programs range from the fact that the global economy demands bi-lingualism, to the fact that dual-lingualism may sharpen cognition and stave off dementia in later life. “Science immersion” is far less common. But Zigman is far from the only person arguing that, one way or another, more intensive science education may be even more important—and soon. For instance, the NYAS reports that 75 percent of jobs will require some kind of science training by 2018. The Best Schools, looking at Department of Labor stats, found that at least 17 of the top 25 paying jobs in the US already involve extensive science training. Now that it costs less than $1,000 to sequence the human genome, Big Data jobs may increase so fast there will soon be a shortage of between 140,000 to 190,000 people with the proper analytical skills to translate it—let alone a shortage of 1.5 million managers and analysts who use it for key decisions, says Forbes. And then there is the simple fact that science inspires. “One reason we went immediately from a camp—which we still do—to the school-year day: in the summer you only get the kids who raise their hands,” Zigman said. “In the winter, you get them all, including the kids who don’t give a hoot about science. You can open their eyes, get subject matter in front of them they do not normally see, change their lives.” More importantly, he said, when you do that immersively, “so that science is all that they are doing, they can better acquire scientists’ ability to dare to fail, leave fear of failure at the door, lose themselves in subject matter. That is everything, but you can’t it get in a 40 minute period, where you are just getting into things when the bell rings.” The future Zigman’s team is working with a few schools on his next goal: launching an even more immersive program that would devote half the school day to science for an unheard-of one-to-two months. In 2015-2016, 13 of 15 of i2’s school-year programs are being held in public schools. The team is in 30 to 40 schools total for week-long school-day programs so far. They are in some 40 schools in the summers, when they are also able to lure in professional scientists in to give one-off talks. “A full 75 percent of all jobs may not require science training by as early as 2018,” Zigman concluded. “But we are moving that way fast. There is no turning back from that.” Other immersive science programs for kids include: W.M. Keck Science Department’s week-long summer programs for college-bound high school students (projects include the analysis and of the genome and proteome of a bacteria); a high school girls’ summer immersion computer program sponsored by CUNY and Girls Who Code; SUNY Oswego’s summer youth programs for high school students; Deep River Science Academy’s six week science program for high school students; and Jump Start, a one-week, University of Maryland science program for 50 top high schoolers.

Experimental evolution studies, coupled with new advances in DNA sequencing technology, have become a powerful tool for exploring how populations respond to selection at the genomic level. Recent experiments in microbes typically have found evidence for multiple novel mutations, which are usually fixed. In contrast, in animal model systems, evolutionary responses seem to involve more modest changes in the frequencies of pre-existing alleles, probably because these populations outcross and are usually initialized with greater levels of standing variation. In this experiment, I used whole-genome resequencing to estimate allele frequencies and look for novel substitutions in experimentally evolved populations of Caenorhabditis elegans. These populations were founded with a fixed pair of deleterious mutations introgressed into multiple wild genetic backgrounds and allowed to evolve for 50 generations with a mixed mating system. There is evidence for some recombination between ancestral haplotypes, but selective sweeps seem to have resulted in the fixation of large chromosomal segments throughout most of the genome. In addition, a few new mutations were detected. Simulations suggest that strong selection and low outcrossing rates are likely explanations for the observed outcomes, consistent with earlier work showing large fitness increases in these populations over 50 generations. These results also show clear parallels to population genetic patterns in C. elegans in nature: recent selective sweeps, high linkage disequilibrium, and low effective recombination rates. Thus, the genomic consequences of selection depend heavily on the biology of the organism in question, including its mating system and levels of genetic variation. Copyright © 2014 Chandler.

Sonchak L.,SUNY Oswego
Journal of Health Economics | Year: 2015

This paper evaluates the impact of state-level Medicaid reimbursement rates for obstetric care on prenatal care utilization across demographic groups. It also uses these rates as an instrumental variable to assess the importance of prenatal care on birth weight. The analysis is conducted using a unique dataset of Medicaid reimbursement rates and 2001-2010 Vital Statistics Natality data. Conditional on county fixed effects, the study finds a modest, but statistically significant positive relationship between Medicaid reimbursement rates and the number of prenatal visits obtained by pregnant women. Additionally, higher rates are associated with an increase in the probability of obtaining adequate care, as well as a reduction in the incidence of going without any prenatal care. However, the effect of an additional prenatal visit on birth weight is virtually zero for black disadvantaged mothers, while an additional visit yields a substantial increase in birth weight of over 20. g for white disadvantaged mothers. © 2015 Elsevier B.V.

Sonchak L.,SUNY Oswego
Maternal and Child Health Journal | Year: 2016

Objectives To investigate the impact of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) on a variety of infant health outcomes using recent South Carolina Vital Statistics data (2004–2012). Methods To account for non-random WIC participation, the study relies on a maternal fixed effects estimation, due to the availability of unique maternally linked data. Results The results indicate that WIC participation is associated with an increase in birth weight and length of gestation, decrease in the probability of low birth weight, prematurity, and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit admission. Additionally, addressing gestational bias and accounting for the length of gestation, WIC participation is associated with a decrease in the probability of delivering a low weight infant and a small for gestational age infant among black mothers. Conclusions for Practice Accounting for non-random program participation, the study documents a large improvement in birth outcomes among infants of WIC participating mothers. Even in the context of somewhat restrictive gestation-adjusted specification, the positive impact of WIC remains within the subsample of black mothers. © 2016, Springer Science+Business Media New York.

The present study explored the development of spontaneous eye blinking (SEB) and its relationship to approach-inhibition behavior during the second half of the first year. The dopaminergic regulation of SEB in adult primates provides an empirical basis for studying blinking in infants, and dopamine's role in infant temperament provides justification for examining approach-inhibition specifically. A longitudinal design with an experimental manipulation was used to examine developmental change in the rate of SEB. Healthy, full-term infants (N = 74) were observed at 4 and 12 months. Blinking rate was observed during a quiet baseline and a randomly assigned stimulus condition. Then, approach-inhibition responses were examined as stimulus objects were presented. Experimental conditions altered blink rate at both ages, but the effects varied by age and stimulus type. At 12 months, individual differences in SEB were associated with positive affect during the approach-inhibition task. The divergent effects for the cognitive and social conditions suggest that the mechanisms regulating blink rate have distinct relationships to these behavioral domains and that these undergo changes during the first year. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Laundre J.W.,SUNY Oswego | Hernandez L.,SUNY Oswego | Ripple W.J.,Oregon State University
Open Ecology Journal | Year: 2010

"Predation risk" and "fear" are concepts well established in animal behavior literature. We expand these concepts to develop the model of the "landscape of fear". The landscape of fear represents relative levels of predation risk as peaks and valleys that reflect the level of fear of predation a prey experiences in different parts of its area of use. We provide observations in support of this model regarding changes in predation risk with respect to habitat types, and terrain characteristics. We postulate that animals have the ability to learn and can respond to differing levels of predation risk. We propose that the landscape of fear can be quantified with the use of well documented existing methods such as givingup densities, vigilance observations, and foraging surveys of plants. We conclude that the landscape of fear is a useful visual model and has the potential to become a unifying ecological concept. © Laundré et al.

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