1 Tahrcountry Musings: February 2016

Friday, February 26, 2016

Healthier diabetic friendly bread formulated with natural plant pigment anthocyanin

A team of food scientists from the National University of Singapore (NUS) have formulated a recipe for making bread ideally suited for diabetic patients. The healthier bread was formulated by adding a natural plant pigment, called anthocyanin, extracted from black rice. This new bread gets digested at a slower rate which helps in improving blood glucose control. The bread is also high in antioxidants to boot. The findings open up exciting possibilities of creating healthier, diabetic-friendly food products.
The usual bread contains high amount of rapidly digestible starch, and have a high glycemic index. It is rapidly digested and absorbed into the bloodstream quickly, causing a sharp increase in blood sugar levels. Rapid digestion of bread may also result in people consuming more bread than required to make up the hungry feel. The excessive consumption of bread could increase the risk of overweight and obesity, and their associated diseases, such as Type II diabetes.
Anthocyanins are rich in antioxidant properties and may help prevent cardiovascular and neurological diseases, cancer, and inflammation according to the scientists.
Journal Reference:

Xiaonan Sui, Yan Zhang, Weibiao Zhou. Bread fortified with anthocyanin-rich extract from black rice as nutraceutical sources: Its quality attributes and in vitro digestibility. Food Chemistry, 2016; 196: 910

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The importance of simultaneously analyzing interacting mechanisms that acts at different spatial scales

Stability and distribution of predator–prey systems: local and regional mechanisms and patterns
Authors: Adam Lampert and Alan Hastings
Ecology letters Volume 19, Issue 3, March 2016, Pages 279–288

Here is an interesting paper. The researchers say at the beginning that explaining the coexistence and distribution of species in time and space remains a fundamental challenge. Species coexistence depends on both local and regional mechanisms but it is sometimes unclear which role each mechanism takes in a given ecosystem. Due to this reason it is very hard to predict the response of the ecosystem to environmental changes. Here the researchers developed a model to study spatial patterns of coexistence, focusing on predator–prey and host–parasite populations. They demonstrate both theoretically and empirically, that these systems may exhibit both local and regional patterns and mechanisms of coexistence. Changes such as spatial connectivity, may lead to a transition from regional to local coexistence or it may lead directly to extinction, depending on demographic parameters. 
The researcher’s signs off saying their research demonstrate the importance of simultaneously analyzing interacting mechanisms that act at different spatial scales to understand the response of ecosystems to environmental changes.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Umberto Eco – An Obituary

A guest blog post by Ramesh Wayanad

The great novelist Umberto Eco, who died at the age of 84, is often referred to as Italy’s best known literary export.
I was introduced to the joy of writings of Umberto Eco, by Mohanji. He gave me a copy of “The Name of the Rose”. I was hooked on to the novel and since then I have read whatever he wrote. I often made it a point to get the copy of his latest offering the minute they were available in India. He has also published more than 20 nonfiction books. I am an unabashed aficionado of Umberto Eco.
Umberto Eco is a recipient of Italy’s highest literary award, the Premio Strega. He was named a Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur by the French government.
With the passing of Umbeto Eco we have lost a great novelist, a great academician, and a great scholar in the field of semiotics
Umberto Eco is survived by his wife, Renate an architecture and arts teacher, whom he married in 1962 and with whom he had a son, Stefano, and daughter, Carlotta.

Umberto Eco, born January 5 1932, died February 19 2016

Friday, February 19, 2016

First scientific evidence to prove that meditation can change the brains of ordinary people and has the potential to improve their health.

It was with great fascination that I read a recent paper in the journal Biological Psychiatry titled “Alterations in resting state functional connectivity link mindfulness meditation with reduced interleukin-6: a randomized controlled trial” The paper gives scientific evidence to prove that benefits of meditation is not a placebo effect. It has the potential to change the brains of ordinary people and improve their health. Dr J. David Creswell, an associate professor of psychology and the director of the Health and Human Performance Laboratory at Carnegie Mellon University led the study. So, guys include meditation in your daily routine. It will do a world of good to you.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Large forest fragments outside protected areas are important for sustaining amphibian diversity

Patch size matters for amphibians in tropical fragmented landscapes
Mauricio Almeida-Gomesa, Marcus Vinícius Vieiraa,Carlos Frederico Duarte Rochab,
Jean Paul Metzgerc and Greet De Costerc.

Biological Conservation, Volume 195, March 2016, Pages 89–96

Fragment size is considered to be the main factor deciding species diversity for most taxa, but it is not well known how it affects amphibian diversity. In this new study the researchers contend that may be the scale at which previous studies were conducted was too small (only few forest fragments and/or a small range of fragment sizes considered) and/or the sampling method was not the most optimal one. Here the researchers investigated whether amphibian diversity is affected by patch size in the largest study (in terms of number of fragments and range of fragment sizes) ever conducted in tropical forests. The site selected was Brazilian Atlantic Forest, a highly threatened biodiversity hotspot.

The researchers found that, larger fragments had more species, more integer communities and a larger diversity of reproductive modes than smaller ones. The researchers contend that the result of their study  indicate that continuous forests are irreplaceable for amphibian conservation, but also show that large forest fragments outside these areas are important for sustaining amphibian diversity.

The study gives the first robust empirical evidence for the importance of fragment size for amphibian persistence in tropical fragmented landscapes. It also highlights the need for an adequate sampling design and method that enable the detection of a higher number of species.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Twitter can be used to effectively communicate speakers’ findings beyond conference halls

Using Twitter to communicate conservation science from a professional conference
Sara P. Bombaci, Cooper M. Farr, H. Travis Gallo, Anna M. Mangan, Lani T. Stinson, Monica Kaushik and Liba Pejchar
Conservation Biology, Volume 30, Issue 1, pages 216–225, February 2016

Here is an interesting paper. The researchers examine the feasibility of using twitter for scholarly discussion, dissemination of research, and extending and diversifying the scope of audiences reached. They examined live tweeting as a means of communicating conservation science at the 2013 International Congress for Conservation Biology (ICCB).  The groups often reached through live tweeting were not the presenters’ intended audiences. Policy makers and government and non-governmental organizations were rarely reached (0%, 4%, and 6% of audience, respectively). Over half the presenters believed the tweets about their talks were effective. 

The researchers recommend that presenters who want their science to be communicated accurately and broadly through Twitter should provide Twitter-friendly summaries that incorporate relevant hashtags and usernames.

The scientist caution that if Twitter does not accurately convey science due to the inherent brevity of this media, misinformation could cascade quickly through social media.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

The new book by Bernie Krause “Voices of the Wild”. A disappointment

I just finished reading the new book by Bernie Krause “Voices of the Wild” and I am a wee bit disappointed. All his previous works are outstanding and I would recommend those books unreservedly. Go ahead and read those books if you have not read them. “Voices of the Wild” is a short book by Bernie Krause. In this new book Bernie Krause discusses where the study of natural sounds has come from and discusses where it might be going. He dwells on how the soundscapes have changed over the last 40 years. I fully subscribe to what one reviewer said "This book is of the length and tone of a dry, academic thesis ".

Product details
·               Hardcover: 160 pages
·               Publisher: Yale University Press (29 October 2015)
·               ISBN-10: 0300206313

·               ISBN-13: 978-0300206319

Thursday, February 11, 2016

The first experimental evidence that noise alone can affect a wild vertebrate's early-life telomere length.

Traffic noise exposure affects telomere length in nestling house sparrows.
Biology letters, September 2015, Volume: 11 Issue: 9

This paper appeared couple of months back. I read it only yesterday. Researchers Alizée Meillère, François Brischoux, Cécile Ribout and Frédéric Angelier have shown that noise alone can affect a wild vertebrate's early-life telomere length

.Lot of evidences has come up recently to show that high noise levels can have major impacts on wildlife. Most of the research has been on adult animals, but there is nothing much on the effects of noise pollution on developing organisms in the research sphere. Here the researchers experimentally manipulated the acoustic environment of free-living house sparrows (Passer domesticus) breeding in nest boxes. Disturbance on nestlings’ telomere length and fledging success were put to test. Telomeres (the protective ends of chromosomes) are a predictor of longevity.  Nestlings reared under traffic noise exposure exhibited reduced telomere lengths. Based on their findings the researchers assert that noise alone can affect a wild vertebrate's early-life telomere length and it may entail important costs for developing organisms.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Use barley and improve your blood sugar levels, reduce appetite.

Here is good news for people prone to diabetes. A recent study from Lund University in Sweden shows that barley can rapidly improve people's health by reducing blood sugar levels and the risk for diabetes. The special mixture of dietary fibres found in barley does the trick.  Barley stimulates the increase of good bacteria and the release of important hormones. Participants' metabolism improved for up to 14 hours after the intake. Anne Nilsson, Associate Professor at the Food for Health Science Centre of University of Lind, headed the research. Details of the research appear in the latest issue of British Journal of Nutrition.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

A global assessment of the social and conservation outcomes of protected areas

J. A. Oldekop, G. Holmes, W. E. Harris and K. L. Evans conducted a global meta-analysis on 165 PAs using data from 171 published studies to assess how PAs affect the well-being of local people, the factors associated with these impacts, and most important  the relationship between PAs’ conservation and socioeconomic outcomes. The researchers found that protected areas associated with positive socioeconomic outcomes were more likely to report positive conservation outcomes. PAs which adopted a management strategy which empowered local people, reduced economic inequalities, and maintained cultural and livelihood benefits prospered more when compared to areas where strict measures were implemented to exclude anthropogenic influences to achieve biological conservation objectives. The researchers affirm that conservation and development objectives can be synergistic and highlight management strategies that increase the probability of maximizing both conservation performance and development outcomes of PAs.

Conservation Biology, Volume 30, Issue 1, pages 133–141, February 2016

Monday, February 08, 2016

Conservation action can be effective even when a population has lost 90% of its individuals

It was with great fascination that I read this paper titled "  Overcoming extinction - Understanding process of recovery in Tibetan Antelope". The paper appeared in the journal Ecosphere in the September 2015 edition. The paper points towards the potential for reversal of the process even in a population plunging towards extinction .The authors affirm that even when the population has entered extinction vortex there is hope.
The paper was authored by C. Leclerc , C. Bellard, G.M Luque and and F.Courchamp. Ecosphere Volume 6, Issue 9 September 2015
Pages 1- 14

Saturday, February 06, 2016

The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate—Discoveries from a Secret World

Here is wonderful book written by German forest ranger Peter Wohlleben that is sure to captivate you. According to Peter Wohlleben like human families, tree parents live together with their children, communicate with them, and support them as they grow. Peter explores the science behind the secret and previously unknown life of trees and their communication abilities. He adds "They can count, learn and remember; nurse sick neighbors; warn each other of danger by sending electrical signals across a fungal network known as the 'Wood Wide Web' – and, for reasons unknown, keep the ancient stumps of long-felled companions alive for centuries by feeding them a sugar solution through their roots."

Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: Greystone Books 
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1771642483

ISBN-13: 978-1771642484

Friday, February 05, 2016

Female marine turtles are outnumbering male turtles

The sex ratio of marine turtles is getting skewed. Female marine turtles are outnumbering male turtles. The phenomenon is attributed to global warming. The sex ratio of marine turtle hatchlings are influenced by ambient temperature. Warmer temperature produces more number of female hatchlings. The information is a direct outcome of research by University of Florida researchers. The study was headed by Asst: Professor Mariana Fuentes.

In Northern Brazil 94% female bias was noticed by researchers. In Southern Brazil 47% o male was hatchlings were observed. This is essential to sustain the population. Even though the researchers concentrated on Brazil the result is applicable to other areas also because all turtles have temperature determined sex determination.

The details appear in the latest issue of Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology