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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.


News Article | April 17, 2017
Site: www.prweb.com

When people think about spinal cord injuries, thoughts generally turn toward Christopher Reeve who was thrown from his horse during trial events for an equestrian competition in 1995, and Steven McDonald, who was shot three times in 1986 after serving two years as an officer with the New York Police Department. Reeve’s and McDonald’s heroic and visible survival stories brought the severity of spinal cord injuries into the international dialogue. Today at the College of Staten Island (CSI), Maria Knikou, PhD, is holding clinical trials of her breakthrough research designed to develop effective rehabilitation strategies to improve the walking ability of persons with spinal cord injuries that have affected the function of the central nervous system. During her ongoing trials, she has recently worked with eight people with spinal cord injuries, including a 20-year-old who fell out of a golf cart and broke his neck nine months ago, and a Midwestern woman who broke her neck. These people, who have been diagnosed with tetraplegia (a spinal cord injury above the first thoracic vertebra or within cervical sections Cervical 1-8) and severe paralysis of the legs, came to CSI to participate in the research trials. After completing four to six weeks of therapy with Dr. Knikou, the patients saw motor function improve, with increased control and reduced spasticity. According to spinalcord.com, “The spinal cord carries nerve fibers traveling both from the brain to the rest of the body and from the body back to the brain. Those coming from the brain are responsible for voluntary control of muscles. Those traveling toward the brain carry sensation.” Dr. Knikou’s non-invasive therapy focuses on assessing the signal transfer from the brain to the legs in order to strengthen and enhance that pathway and provide gains in motor function. Patients who undergo the phase one therapy may be eligible for the phase two Robotic Gait Training, designed to further stimulate brain, spinal, and muscular health on a pathway for improved mobility. People who participate in the trials are provided a stipend, and certain expenses may be covered. Persons who are interested in learning if they are eligible candidates for this unique therapeutic approach should contact Dr. Knikou, Professor of Human Neurophysiology in the Physical Therapy Department of the School of Health Sciences at 718.982.3316 or maria.knikou(at)csi.cuny.edu. All trials are conducted on the Willowbrook campus of the College of Staten Island in New York City. "Dr Knikou's forward-thinking and expertise in human neurophysiology have enabled her to be extremely successful, with ongoing grant support from New York State and other private foundations," commented Dean Maureen Becker, PhD. "She is one of the leading researchers in the School of Health Sciences at the College of Staten Island and her work, one day, will impact the lives of millions of individuals with spinal cord injury." Dr. Knikou’s research project is funded by the New York State Department of Health, Spinal Cord Injury Research Board, under the Project to Accelerate Research Translation (PART) award. She mentors high school, undergraduate, and graduate students, as well as postdoctoral research fellows and junior faculty. Dr. Knikou serves on several editorial boards and has published her research work in high-ranking, peer-reviewed scientific journals. For more information about the College of Staten Island School of Health Sciences visit http://www.csi.cuny.edu/schoolofhealthsciences. About the College of Staten Island The College of Staten Island is a senior college of The City University of New York (CUNY) offering Doctoral programs, Advanced Certificate programs, and Master’s programs, as well as Bachelor’s and Associate’s degrees. CSI is ranked 3rd in New York State by MONEY magazine for Best Colleges and 6th in the nation on CollegeNet’s Social Mobility Index. CSI is also a “Top Master’s University,” as ranked by Washington Monthly; in the Top 15% for Alumni Salary Potential according to Payscale; and has been named a Military Friendly School for seven consecutive years by GI Jobs magazine. The CUNY Interdisciplinary High-Performance Computing Center, one of the most powerful supercomputers in the New York City region, handles big-data analysis for faculty researchers and their student research teams, as well as researchers nationwide. The 204-acre park-like campus of CSI, the largest in NYC, is fully accessible and contains an advanced, networked infrastructure to support technology-based teaching, learning, and research. Dolphin Cove Resident Halls, the college’s new apartment-style luxury suites, celebrates its third year at full occupancy housing students from across NYC, the United States, and the world.


News Article | December 26, 2016
Site: news.yahoo.com

It's a line you'll hear in almost any crime show after someone finds the body — the detective turns to the medical examiner and asks, "Time of death?" But in real life, medical examiners don't have a very precise method for figuring out how long ago someone died. Now, researchers say they could use the bacteria found on the body to provide a more accurate way to pinpoint the time of death, according to a new study. In the study, published today (Dec. 22) in the journal PLOS ONE, researchers examined the "necrobiomes" of 21 cadavers. The necrobiome, or the community of bacteria found on a dead body, changes considerably as time passes after death and the body decomposes, according to the study. [The Science of Death: 10 Tales from the Crypt and Beyond] Currently, medical examiners estimate the time of death by physically inspecting the body for signs of early-phase decomposition and, in later stages of decomposition, by looking at the insects present on the body, the researchers wrote. But "these techniques are notoriously unreliable," thanks to factors such as temperature, weather conditions and geographic location, the researchers wrote. But "by knowing which microbes take over a dead body and how long it takes, forensic scientists might be able to use [the necrobiome] to determine time of death or other aspects of a crime scene," Robert DeSalle, curator of molecular systematics at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, said in a statement. DeSalle was not involved in the study. In the study, the researchers took samples of bacteria from the ear and nasal canals of the cadavers, which were at the Anthropological Research Facility at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. The cadavers were placed outdoors, in a temperate, deciduous forest, and were left to decompose naturally over the course of several weeks. The researchers sequenced the DNA of the bacteria, and used their findings to construct a model that could predict a body's time of death to up to 55 "accumulated degree-days," which is equal to about two summer days. Accumulated degree-days are a way to measure the passage of time and temperature simultaneously, said senior study author Nathan Lents, a professor of microbiology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice at The City University of New York. Because human decomposition is strictly dependent on both time and temperature, scientists cannot consider the passage of time alone, Lents told Live Science. "When it comes to rates of decay, one day in summer time is like two weeks in winter time," he said. The bacterial communities found on a dead body change over time, Lents said. "Think about a decomposing vertebrate as an ecosystem" teeming with various life-forms, Lents said. "The ecosystem is very dynamic because the environment of the decomposing host is in a state of wild changes." For example, cycles of high and low oxygen levels play a role in which bacteria are present, as oxygen is consumed and carbon dioxide builds up in the body. But the body's tissues eventually rupture, and oxygen flows back in, changing the environment again. There are also cycles of high and low nutrient richness, Lents said; nutrient levels may be low until a tissue ruptures and nutrients spill out. Ultimately, "the environment is a feeding frenzy for alternating groups of organisms, setting up a succession of bacteria that proliferate when their time comes," Lents said. [Ear Maggots and Brain Amoeba: 5 Creepy Flesh-Eating Critters] But researchers still have a great deal to learn about this ecosystem, Lents added. The new study is "a very promising proof of concept," Lents said in a statement. Still, the method could be improved by adding more data, from a larger study at multiple locations, and involving bacteria from additional parts of the body, they wrote in the study.


News Article | February 16, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Leading neuroscience researchers and scholars from across New York will gather for the inaugural SUNY-CUNY Neuroscience Research Forum on Thursday, February 23, 2017, from 9:30 A.M. to 4:15 P.M. The forum will be held in the D'Ambra Auditorium at the Life Sciences Research Building on the Uptown Campus at the University at Albany. The State University of New York (SUNY) and the City University of New York (CUNY) are home to leading public research universities deeply committed to work that addresses state and global challenges. In service of this mission, the SUNY-CUNY Neuroscience Research Forum, a brainchild of Drs. James Dias, Vice President for Research at UAlbany and Mark Hauber, Interim Vice Provost for Research at CUNY Central, seeks to foster faculty collaborations and research synergies across the state of New York, and to spur multi-investigator, large-scale, and multi-institutional extramural funding pursuits in neuroscience. Prof. Yasmin Hurd, a nationally acclaimed researcher on addiction and related psychiatric disorders from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, will present the keynote address and discuss her pioneering new research on the transgenerational effects of cannabis on the developing brain. This keynote will be followed by break-out sessions moderated by SUNY and CUNY Vice Presidents, Vice Provosts, and Deans of Research and Science. Specifically, the SUNY-CUNY Neuroscience Research Forum will convene interdisciplinary, thematically-based group discussions, afford opportunities to share research interest along with current and planned endeavors, enable networking and collaborative interactions, and conclude with a plenary session to summarize Forum activities and to discuss future collaborative opportunities in neuroscience research among SUNY, CUNY and other neuroscience colleagues. Alexander N. Cartwright, SUNY Provost, and Executive Vice Chancellor said, "This is such an important endeavor and my sincere thanks go to the SUNY, CUNY and state-wide participants. Together we can make life-changing advances in neuroscience research and discovery that go well beyond what one institution can do alone. This type of collaboration underscores New York State's capacity for leadership in the field." Mark Hauber, Interim Vice Provost for Research at CUNY noted: "Neuroscience by definition is an interdisciplinary field that needs to bring together researchers from diverse fields for success. Focusing on neuroscience as part of ongoing initiatives for SUNY-CUNY collaborations brings our diverse faculty and student talents together to increase extramural funding and high-impact productivity of research at New York State's public university systems." UAlbany Vice President for Research James A. Dias said, "Neuroscience in the 21st century is clearly in the midst of a seismic transformation with an unprecedented focus on multi-investigator, interdisciplinary collaborative research strategies aimed at overcoming some of today's most complex and perplexing scientific challenges. This is why I could not be more pleased that the University at Albany is hosting the first ever SUNY-CUNY Neuroscience Research Forum bringing faculty scholars and scientists together to forge new research collaborations and spark novel extramural funding pursuits in search of the next scientific breakthrough to improve the health and well-being of society." Hosted on the UAlbany campus, one of the four distinguished SUNY University Centers, the SUNY-CUNY Neuroscience Research Forum will be held in the D'Ambra Auditorium of the 194,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art Life Sciences Research Building - home to a number of UAlbany's top neuroscience researchers. The founding members of the SUNY-CUNY Neuroscience Research Forum include the State University of New York, the City University of New York Office of Research, SUNY Downstate Medical Center, SUNY Optometry, and the University at Albany. Both Research Foundations of SUNY and CUNY are participating in this effort. Faculty and industry partners from more than 15 SUNY, CUNY and independent universities and colleges will be participating in the event. SUNY is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, with 64 college and university campuses located within 30 miles of every home, school, and business in the state. In 2015-16, SUNY served nearly 1.3 million students, including nearly 600,000 in credit-bearing courses and programs and more than 700,000 through continuing education and community outreach programs. For more information, please visit http://www. . The City University of New York is the nation's largest and 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 and graduate schools. The University serves nearly 275,000 degree-credit students and 218,083 adults, continuing and professional education students. For more information, please visit: http://www. A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral, and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciences, business, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare, and sociology taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers. For more information on CUNY research, please contact Shante Booker (shante.booker@cuny.edu) or visit: http://www. For more information on SUNY Research, please contact Holly Liapis 518-320-1311 or visit: http://www.


News Article | November 21, 2016
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Washington D.C.-- Dr. Ilona Kretzschmar of the City College of the City University of New York (CUNY) has been named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Election as an AAAS Fellow is an honor bestowed upon AAAS members by their peers. This year 391 members have been awarded this honor by AAAS because of their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications. New Fellows will be presented with an official certificate and a gold and blue (representing science and engineering, respectively) rosette pin on Saturday, 18 February from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. at the AAAS Fellows Forum during the 2017 AAAS Annual Meeting in Boston, Mass. This year's AAAS Fellows will be formally announced in the AAAS News & Notes section of the journal Science on 25 November 2016. As part of the Section on Engineering, Dr. Kretzschmar was elected as an AAAS Fellow for distinguished contributions to the field of colloid and interface science, particularly in terms of fabricating and understanding heterogeneous particles. Dr. Kretzschmar has contributed extensively to the field of anisotropic building blocks, more specifically Janus and patchy particles. Anisotropic building blocks are a new class of materials with anisotropy-driven properties that allow for manipulation through external fields and gradients. For example, her team was first to present a feasible method for the fabrication of patchy particles and has since explored the assembly of Janus and patchy particles in external electric and magnetic fields, their applicability as active materials and their behavior at fluid/fluid interfaces. Dr. Kretzschmar and her group continuously strive to discover new deposition and scalable fabrication methods to generate novel anisotropic building blocks at the nanoscopic and microscopic length scale that exhibit unprecedented chemical, mechanical, and optical properties. Upon learning of this honor, Dr. Kretzschmar described herself as delighted, humbled, and a little bit stunned. "Especially the fact that members are elected to Fellow status by their peers makes this nomination special to me," Dr. Kretzschmar said. "My thanks go to the many people who have enabled me along the way; my mentors who showed the way, my students who brought and continue to bring my research ideas to fruition, and my fellow colleagues who believe in my ability and vision." The tradition of AAAS Fellows began in 1874. Currently, members can be considered for the rank of Fellow if nominated by the steering groups of the Association's 24 sections, or by any three Fellows who are current AAAS members (so long as two of the three sponsors are not affiliated with the nominee's institution), or by the AAAS chief executive officer. Fellows must have been continuous members of AAAS for four years by the end of the calendar year in which they are elected. Each steering group reviews the nominations of individuals within its respective section and a final list is forwarded to the AAAS Council, which votes on the aggregate list. The Council is the policymaking body of the Association, chaired by the AAAS president, and consisting of the members of the board of directors, the retiring section chairs, delegates from each electorate and each regional division, and two delegates from the National Association of Academies of Science. 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 or visit http://www. The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the world's largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal Science as well as Science Translational Medicine, Science Signaling, a digital, open-access journal, Science Advances, Science Immunology, and Science Robotics. AAAS was founded in 1848 and includes nearly 250 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals. Science has the largest paid circulation of any peer-reviewed general science journal in the world. The non-profit AAAS is open to all and fulfills its mission to "advance science and serve society" through initiatives in science policy, international programs, science education, public engagement, and more. For the latest research news, log onto EurekAlert!, the premier science-news Web site, a service of AAAS. See http://www. .


News Article | February 15, 2017
Site: www.prweb.com

Akademos, Inc. announced today that it has partnered with The City University of New York, the nation’s leading urban public university, to provide online bookstore services that will give students access to a vast selection of low-cost textbooks along with a convenient, personalized ordering experience. Students from twelve CUNY colleges will be able to shop for textbooks in new, used, rental and eBook formats from any device using a custom-branded version of the mobile-optimized Akademos online bookstore. Students using Akademos’ proprietary peer-to-peer marketplace of over 100 million new and used textbooks will save an average of 60% off the list price of their course materials. “Governor Cuomo has announced an important initiative to make CUNY’s two- and four-year colleges tuition-free for many of New York’s middle class families. The partnership between CUNY and Akademos will further the Governor’s goal of affordability by addressing the rising cost of textbooks, a challenge CUNY students have been facing for some time,” said CUNY Chancellor James B. Milliken. Executive Vice Chancellor and University Provost Vita Rabinowitz added: “Our experience shows that students who purchase their textbooks are more likely to succeed in their courses of study. I am delighted that we are addressing this textbook affordability barrier while helping all CUNY students. Our students and faculty have responded well to the value and service Akademos already provides four of our colleges, and we are pleased to extend this service to additional CUNY colleges.” After a competitive vetting and bidding process, CUNY selected Akademos as its exclusive vendor for online bookstore services. Akademos currently serves Queens College, John Jay College, Medgar Evers College and CUNY School of Law. Over the next year, eight additional CUNY colleges will transition to Akademos service, including: Hunter College, Brooklyn College, City College, Bronx Community College, Hostos Community College, York College, School of Professional Studies, and Guttman Community College. Thereafter, remaining CUNY colleges may select and utilize Akademos’ services if they wish. “We are thrilled that CUNY selected Akademos as its exclusive online bookstore provider,” said John Squires, Akademos CEO. “We are eager to work with CUNY colleges to help lower the cost of learning materials, by providing students new low-cost choices from our broad supply of providers. In addition, our advanced faculty adoption software and curriculum consulting services will aid faculty in selecting innovative, high-quality materials for instruction that may further reduce costs for CUNY students and support the educational mission of the colleges.” To learn more about expanding affordable textbook options for students and online bookstore offerings for educational institutions, visit akademos.com. About The City University of New York 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, the William E. Macaulay Honors College at CUNY, the CUNY School of Medicine, the CUNY Graduate School and University Center, the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, the CUNY School of Law, the CUNY School of Professional Studies and the CUNY School of Public Health and Health Policy. The University serves more than 274,350 degree-seeking students and 260,000 adult and continuing education students. College Now, the University’s academic enrichment program, is offered at CUNY campuses and more than 300 high schools throughout the five boroughs of New York City. The University offers online baccalaureate and master’s degrees through the School of Professional Studies. About Akademos Akademos offers customized, online bookstore services and solutions that support what’s most important to institutions. From full-service virtual bookstores to unique products supporting on-campus shops, Akademos delivers cost savings for students while providing administrators and faculty with critical control over the textbook adoption and delivery process. Akademos offers an innovative textbook marketplace, best-in-class eCommerce platform, eLearning solutions, and a unique adoption and analytics portal. The company’s comprehensive supply-chain solution and commitment to responsive personal service makes it the choice of leading institutions throughout the country. Akademos helps institutions deliver the right course materials, at affordable prices, on time. Learn more at akademos.com.


News Article | February 17, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

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. The American Museum of Natural History, founded in 1869, is one of the world's preeminent scientific, educational, and cultural institutions. The Museum encompasses 45 permanent exhibition halls, including those in the Rose Center for Earth and Space and the Hayden Planetarium, as well as galleries for temporary exhibitions. It is home to New York State's official memorial to Theodore Roosevelt, a tribute to Roosevelt's enduring legacy of environmental conservation. The Museum's approximately 200 scientists draw on a world-class research collection of more than 33 million artifacts and specimens, some of which are billions of years old, and on one of the largest natural history libraries in the world. Through its Richard Gilder Graduate School, the Museum grants the Ph.D. degree in Comparative Biology and the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) degree, the only such program at any museum in the United States. Annual physical attendance has grown to approximately 5 million, and the Museum's exhibitions and Space Shows can be seen in venues on six continents. The Museum's website, digital videos, and apps for mobile devices bring its collections, exhibitions, and educational programs to millions more around the world. Visit amnh.org for more information. Become a fan of the Museum on Facebook at facebook.com/naturalhistory, and follow us on Instagram at @AMNH, Tumblr at amnhnyc, or Twitter at twitter.com/AMNH.


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 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 19, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Dr. Gita Martohardjono of Queens College and The Graduate Center, City University of New York (CUNY) will speak at the Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) to take place in Boston from February 16 - 20, 2017. Dr. Martohardjono will present "Regression in Second Language Acquisition and Loss" on Sunday, February 19, 10 - 11:30 a.m. in Room 312 of the Hynes Convention Center. Dr. Martohardjono will present research on two bilingual populations: heritage speakers of Spanish, who speak Spanish at home but are dominant in English, and native Spanish speakers who are fluent in English but dominant in Spanish. Her work examines whether and how the first-learned language, Spanish, is vulnerable to changes that may be traced to influence from the later-learned language, English. Using technology that measures electrical activity in the brain (EEG) during a listening task, her team showed that brain responses in both populations exhibit changes in the processing of Spanish. The results reveal that changes in Spanish can be predicted by the current use of English: the greater the amount of English used, the greater the change in brain response to Spanish. Her findings support other psycholinguistic and neurolinguistic studies that show permeability in the first-learned language and point to neural flexibility in adulthood. As such, social and psychological factors, rather than changes in the brain, would appear to make language learning in adults more difficult. Dr. Martohardjono said, "For many years the field of second language acquisition believed that learning language in adulthood was doomed to failure due to lack of brain plasticity. The recent use of brain imaging technologies in multilingual populations shows just how dynamic the adult brain in fact is, even in language learning." Over half of all people, including many "late learners," speak two or more languages, and Dr. Martohardjono's work is critical in helping us understand multilingual development from the perspective of brain function. Dr. Martohardjono focuses on the development of syntax, semantics and phonology in adult second language acquisition and bilingualism. Her projects investigate the acquisition of gap structures, such as wh-questions, relative clauses, control structures and null pronouns in bilingual adults and children from a cross-linguistic perspective. She has examined a variety of languages, including Italian, Spanish, Indonesian, Chinese, Korean and Japanese. Recent projects investigate non-standard varieties of Italian and Spanish, as spoken by "heritage" speakers, and include the use of electrophysiology (ERP) and eye tracking. Since 2004, she has conducted research on immigrant students with low literacy in the native language, and has been a leader in the construction of academic language and literacy assessments benefiting this population. She currently leads several projects to create multilingual, online assessments for use in New York public schools. The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the world's largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal Science as well as Science Translational Medicine, Science Signaling, a digital, open-access journal, Science Advances, Science Immunology, and Science Robotics. AAAS was founded in 1848 and includes nearly 250 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals. Science has the largest paid circulation of any peer-reviewed general science journal in the world. The non-profit AAAS is open to all and fulfills its mission to "advance science and serve society" through initiatives in science policy, international programs, science education, public engagement, and more. 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 or visit http://www.

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