Fire ecology manipulation by California native cultures

Before the colonial era, 100,000s of people lived on the land now called California, and many of their cultures manipulated fire to control the availability of plants they used for food, fuel, tools, and ritual. Contemporary tribes continue to use fire to maintain desired habitat and natural resources.Frank Lake, an ecologist with the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Station, will lead a field trip to the Stone Lake National Wildlife Refuge during the Ecological Society of America’s 99th Annual Meeting in Sacramento, Cal., this August. Visitors will learn about plant and animal species of cultural importance to local tribes. Don Hankins, a faculty associate at California State University at Chico and a member of the Miwok people, will co-lead the trip, which will end with a visit to California State Indian Museum.Lake will also host a special session on a “sense of place,” sponsored by the Traditional Ecological Knowledge section of the Ecological Society, that will bring representatives of local tribes into the Annual Meeting to share their cultural and professional experiences working on tribal natural resources issues.”The fascinating thing about the Sacramento Valley and the Miwok lands where we are taking the field trip is that it was a fire and flood system,” said Lake. “To maintain the blue and valley oak, you need an anthropogenic fire system.”Lake, raised among the Yurok and Karuk tribes in the Klamath River area of northernmost California, began his career with an interest in fisheries, but soon realized he would need to understand fire to restore salmon. Fire exerts a powerful effect on ecosystems, including the quality and quantity of water available in watersheds, in part by reducing the density of vegetation.”Those trees that have grown up since fire suppression are like straws sucking up the groundwater,” Lake said.The convergence of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers was historically one of the largest salmon bearing runs on the West Coast, Lake said, and the Miwok, Patwin and Yokut tribal peoples who lived in the area saw and understood how fire was involved.California native cultures burned patches of forest in deliberate sequence to diversify the resources available within their region. The first year after a fire brought sprouts for forage and basketry. In 3 to 5 years, shrubs produced a wealth of berries. Mature trees remained for the acorn harvest, but burning also made way for the next generation of trees, to ensure a consistent future crop. …

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Cognitive function and oral perception in independently-living octogenarians

Today, at the 43rd Annual Meeting & Exhibition of the American Association for Dental Research (AADR), held in conjunction with the 38th Annual Meeting of the Canadian Association for Dental Research, Kazunori Ikebe, from Osaka University, Japan, will present a research study titled “Cognitive Function and Oral Perception in Independently-living Octogenarians.”In this study, researchers hypothesized that the decline of cognitive impairment is involved in oral perceptions since its preclinical stage. The aim of this study was to examine association of cognitive function with tactile and taste perceptions in independently-living 80-year-old elderly.The participants were community-dwelling and independently-living elderly (n=956, 80 years old) excluding those with dementia. Cognitive function was measured using the Japanese version of the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA-J) that was the assessment tool of mild cognitive impairment. Oral tactile perception was tested by oral stereognostic ability (OSA) with the test pieces comprised six shaped forms. Subjects were told they should use their tongue and palate to identify the shape. The correct identification of the shape was scored. Taste perception was evaluated by the whole mouth gustatory test with 1-ml of water solution included the four basic tastes (sweet, sour, salty and bitter). The concentration answered the taste correctly was taken as the recognition threshold.Multiple linear regression analysis was used to examine relationships between tactile and taste perceptions and cognitive function after controlling for gender and number of teeth. P-values<0.05 were considered to be statistically significant.</p>The OSA score was positively associated with number of teeth. On the other hand, taste thresholds of sour, salty and bitter were significantly lower in female than males. …

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Severity of sleep apnoea predicts aggressiveness of melanoma

Sep. 9, 2013 — The severity of sleep apnoea can independently predict the aggressiveness of malignant skin melanoma, according to a new study.The research, presented today at the European Respiratory Society (ERS) Annual Congress, adds new evidence to a number of studies that have found a link between cancer and the sleep disorder.Previous studies have looked at a link between sleep apnoea and both mortality and incidence rates from cancer. Some experimental studies in mice have also shown that reduced oxygen levels in the blood, which is common in sleep apnoea, enhanced tumour growth. This is the first study in humans to look at the link between a specific type of cancer (skin melanoma) and sleep apnoea.Researchers studied 56 patients diagnosed with malignant skin melanomas. They measured the aggressiveness of the cancer along with the presence and severity of sleep apnoea.60.7% of the patients had sleep apnoea and 14.3% had severe sleep apnoea. The results found that the melanoma was more aggressive as the severity of sleep apnoea increased. This was the case for all three measurements for sleep apnoea severity. The severity measurements were also linked with other factors of aggressiveness, including the growth rate or the depth of invasion of the tumour.Lead author, Dr Francisco Campos-Rodriguez, from the Hospital de Valme in Seville, Spain, said: “This is the first study in a human sample to show that sleep apnoea can worsen the outcomes of melanoma. The findings are from a preliminary small sample, but if the results are confirmed in larger studies, this would have important clinical implications, particularly as sleep apnoea can be easily treated and this could open up new therapeutic possibilities for people with both conditions. We have just begun a bigger prospective trial enrolling 450 patients with cutaneous melanoma to analyse this link further.”

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Mindfulness training improves attention in children

Sep. 5, 2013 — A short training course in mindfulness improves children’s ability to ignore distractions and concentrate better.These are the findings of a study carried out by Dominic Crehan and Dr Michelle Ellefson at the University of Cambridge being presented today, 6 September 2013, at the British Psychological Society’s Cognitive Developmental Psychology Annual Conference at the University of Reading.Dominic explained: “Mindfulness involves paying attention in a particular way — on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgementally. It has been shown to reduce levels of stress and depression, and to improve feelings of well-being, but to date researchers have not established a link between mindfulness and attention skills in children.”The researchers recruited thirty children (girls and boys aged 10 to 11 years old) to take part in a mindfulness course as part of their school curriculum. The children took part in the mindfulness course in two groups at different times, and so the researchers were able to compare the groups and see the effects of the course. To do this, they measured the children’s levels of mindfulness using a questionnaire. They also measured their attention skills, using a computer game designed specifically for this purpose. They made these measurements on three occasions, at three month intervals, so that they could measure changes in attention skills over time as a result of the mindfulness course.The results indicated that an improvement in the children’s ability to focus and deal with distractions was associated with the mindfulness course.Dominic said: “The ability to pay attention in class is crucial for success at school. Mindfulness appears to have an effect after only a short training course, which the children thoroughly enjoyed! Through their training, the children actually learn to watch their minds working and learn to control their attention. These findings could be particularly important for helping children with attention difficulties such as ADHD. …

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People have more empathy for battered dogs than human adult, but not child, victims

Aug. 10, 2013 — People have more empathy for battered puppies and full grown dogs than they do for some humans — adults, but not children, finds new research to be presented at the 108th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association.”Contrary to popular thinking, we are not necessarily more disturbed by animal rather than human suffering,” said Jack Levin, the Irving and Betty Brudnick Professor of Sociology and Criminology at Northeastern University. “Our results indicate a much more complex situation with respect to the age and species of victims, with age being the more important component. The fact that adult human crime victims receive less empathy than do child, puppy, and full grown dog victims suggests that adult dogs are regarded as dependent and vulnerable not unlike their younger canine counterparts and kids.”In their study, Levin and co-author Arnold Arluke, a sociology professor at Northeastern University, considered the opinions of 240 men and women, most of whom were white and between the ages of 18-25, at a large northeastern university. Participants randomly received one of four fictional news articles about the beating of a one-year-old child, an adult in his thirties, a puppy, or a 6-year-old dog. The stories were identical except for the victim’s identify. After reading their story, respondents were asked to rate their feelings of empathy towards the victim.”We were surprised by the interaction of age and species,” Levin said. “Age seems to trump species, when it comes to eliciting empathy. In addition, it appears that adult humans are viewed as capable of protecting themselves while full grown dogs are just seen as larger puppies.”Interestingly, the researchers found that the difference in empathy for children versus puppies was statistically non-significant.As for considering the opinions of 240 college students, Levin said it is common practice to use homogenous samples for studies such as his that center around an experiment. “Unlike survey research, experiments usually employ a homogenous sample in order to establish a cause and effect relationship rather than to generalize a large population,” Levin said. …

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Moms’ high-fat, sugary diets may lead to heavy offspring with a taste for alcohol, sensitivity to drugs

Aug. 4, 2013 — Vulnerability to alcohol and drug abuse may begin in the womb and be linked to how much fatty and sugary foods a mother eats during pregnancy, according to findings from animal lab experiments presented at APA’s 121st Annual Convention.”The majority of women in the U.S. at child-bearing age are overweight, and this is most likely due to overeating the tasty, high-fat, high-sugar foods you find everywhere in our society. The rise in prenatal and childhood obesity and the rise in number of youths abusing alcohol and drugs merits looking into all the possible roots of these growing problems,” said Nicole Avena, PhD, a research neuroscientist with the University of Florida’s McKnight Brain Institute.Compared to pups of rats that ate regular rodent chow, the offspring of rats that ate high-fat or high-sugar diets while pregnant weighed more as adults and drank more alcohol, and those on high-sugar diets also had stronger responses to commonly abused drugs such as amphetamine, Avena said. Her presentation examined experiments from three studies, each lasting about three months and involving three to four adult female rats and 10 to12 offspring in each dietary condition.Researchers compared weight and drug-taking behavior between the offspring of rats fed diets rich in fats, sucrose or high-fructose corn syrup with the offspring of rats fed regular rodent chow during gestation or nursing. They tested both sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup because they are chemically different and could cause different outcomes, Avena said. Sucrose occurs naturally and is commonly processed from sugar cane or sugar beets into table sugar, whereas high-fructose corn syrup is synthesized from corn.To determine effects of the mothers’ diets during gestation, the offspring of rats fed the high-fat, high-sucrose or high- fructose corn syrup diets were nursed by mother rats that were eating regular chow. To determine the effects of the mothers’ diets on the offspring during nursing, the pups with mothers that had eaten regular chow were nursed by mother rats that were eating either the high-fat, high-sucrose or high-fructose corn syrup diets.The pregnant rats’ high-fat diet contained 50 percent fat, 25 percent carbohydrate and 25 percent protein, whereas the control diet reflected a recommended human diet, with 25 percent fat, 50 percent carbohydrate and 25 percent protein, Avena said. The offspring of rats that had high-fat diets while pregnant drank significantly more alcohol in adulthood than the offspring of rats with the regular chow diet, while there were no differences in the average daily amount of water they drank or chow they ate. The offspring of rats on the high-fat diet while pregnant also had significantly higher levels of triglycerides, a type of fat found in the bloodstream that can increase the risk of heart disease. …

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50 percent of rheumatoid arthritis patients discontinue medication within the first two years

June 13, 2013 — Data presented at EULAR 2013, the Annual Congress of the European League Against Rheumatism, show that up to one-third of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients discontinue or change therapy within the first year of treatment.Loss of efficacy was the most common reason given (35.8%), followed by safety (20.1%), physician or patient preference (27.8% and 17.9%, respectively) and access to treatment (9.0%). Rates and rationale for treatment discontinuation were similar for both tumour necrosis factor inhibitors (TNFi) and non-TNFi biologics.RA is a chronic autoimmune disease that principally attacks flexible joints. Affecting approximately 1 in 100 people worldwide, RA can cause pain, stiffness, progressive joint destruction and deformity, and reduce physical function, quality of life and life expectancy. At least 50% of RA patients in developed countries are unable to hold down a full-time job within 10 years of onset.2Lead author of the study, Vibeke Strand, MD, Clinical Professor, Stanford University School of Medicine, Portola Valley, California, USA, said, “RA is a progressive disease which, if left untreated, can significantly and permanently reduce joint function, patient mobility and quality of life. Studies have shown that patients sustain maximum benefit from RA treatment in the first two years3 — yet our data highlight significant discontinuation rates during this time period.”Dr. Strand continued, “While there is no cure for RA, initiating treatment early and improving adherence can enable patients to lead active and productive lives. These data are derived from a US experience, which is associated with a significantly greater prevalence of biologic utilisation than is typically seen elsewhere. The results may, therefore, be different in societies with less prevalent utilization of these agents.”The study was designed to examine initiation of biologic therapies within the US Consortium of Rheumatology Researchers of North America (CORRONA) database and characterise reasons for their discontinuation. Treatment discontinuation was defined as the first report of stopping initial therapy or initiation of a new biologic at/or between visits on a follow-up MD questionnaire, with up to three reasons captured.In total, 6,209 patients meeting the following criteria 2002 from the CORRONA registry were included: age >18 years; RA onset age >16 years; ≥6 months of follow-up available after initiation of first or subsequent biologic therapy, defined as a visit ≥180 days after initiation of biologic therapy. A total of 5,010 patients (80.7%) received TNFi, 1,199 (19.3%) received non-TNFi and 2,693 patients were biologic-naïve.Median time to discontinuation was 26.5 months in those receiving TNFi versus 20.5 months for non-TNFi. …

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