Connect with us

News

The Unexpected Social Habits of Sick House Finches

Published

on

House Finch

Unlike many other species, house finches, according to new research, enhance social connections while ill, especially during feeding, which may hasten the spread of disease. In contrast to common social distancing behaviors, this study offers fresh perspectives on how social behavior shifts during illness and contributes to a better knowledge of group dynamics and the transmission of disease in social animals.

In recent years, social separation has become second nature to many of us when we’re unwell, yet some sick animals seem to approach things differently. Marissa Langager, a PhD candidate at the College of Science’s Department of Biological Sciences, recently completed a study on house finches that produced an unexpected finding.

This sociable backyard bird species is more likely than other social animals to gravitate toward healthy flock members when they are ill, either actively or passively. In fact, while sick, sick birds like to do so even more than healthy ones do.

Langager, whose research interests are social behavior and disease ecology, stated, “The recent pandemic years of isolating and quarantining have shown us that social distancing to avoid getting sick can also have detrimental aspects for group living animals.”

Going it alone can be quite expensive for sick animals, especially if they depend on their healthy group members to help them locate food or fend off predators. Ultimately, given that bird feeders, where house finches like to congregate to feed, are a primary means of spreading disease, this may be the reason why sick finches become even more gregarious, thereby endangering their healthy flock mates.

Dana Hawley (left) and Marissa Langager, a graduate student, go over data. Credit: Virginia Tech photo by Spencer Coppage

The Ecology and Evolution journal just published a research by Langager titled “Let’s stick together: Infection enhances preferences for social grouping in a songbird species,” which she co-authored with James S. Adelman from the University of Memphis and her advisor Dana Hawley.

Few research before this one specifically looked at how acute infections from infectious pathogens affect social preferences; instead, they more broadly investigated the reasons why certain animals evolved to be sociable in the first place and the advantages of living in a social environment.

According to Langager, this study clarifies how social animals act when ill and can help guide future research in the same area.

She stated, “It is important to understand the costs and benefits of group living more broadly, since all social animals — including humans — get sick.” This information might help us forecast how diseases spread among social animals. Additionally, it can assist us in determining when and where healthy animals should evolve the capacity to keep healthy group members safe from sick members of the group.

The study’s unexpected findings motivated Langager to investigate further in her PhD dissertation to find out exactly what might be causing the sick finches to prefer feeding in a social group.

For the birds I research, maintaining social ties can require a significant amount of energy. Therefore, the reason these birds are exerting the effort to remain in their social groupings even when they are ill is probably because it benefits them, the expert added.

Langager has designed a series of tests to investigate whether or not a sick bird’s group membership affects its behavior, altering its response to a predator and influencing its capacity to successfully hunt for food.

“I have always been interested in how animals interact with one another, and working with a gregarious species of bird in Dr. Hawley’s lab has given me many opportunity to investigate disease ecology in a social context. It’s the obvious and ideal location for me to carry out my research,” Langager remarked.

Welcome to SciencePush.com, your gateway to the captivating realms of scientific discovery, mathematics, the mysteries of space, and the laws that govern our universe. We're here to ignite your curiosity and expand your understanding of the world around us. Our team of dedicated scientists, mathematicians, astrophysicists, and science enthusiasts are committed to bringing you engaging and enlightening content that explores the frontiers of human understanding.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

News

Scientists 3D print human skin with hair follicles

Published

on

(A) Schematic of the strategy for printing hair follicle structures within the reconstructed skin models. (B) Live image of representative skin model in culture at day 2.

When you think of hair, what first thing comes to mind? It’s likely that most people consider factors like color, hairdo, and other aesthetic considerations. Since many individuals associate their hair with their visual identity, it seems sense that the hair care sector is so large. However, Pankaj Karande, a biological engineer, has rather different ideas about hair.

“Hair is more than just what we typically think of; it is also a miniature organ that plays a crucial role in skin health maintenance and healing,” says Karande, an associate professor of chemical and biological engineering at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York.

Karande and his colleagues recently printed hair follicles on human skin tissue cultured in a lab. This is a novel advancement that has the potential to change numerous industries.Skin created in a lab can be used to treat illnesses, mend wounds, protect animals from cosmetic trials, and maybe even create “leather” that has the same texture and appearance as actual animal hides.

The potential of skin generated in a lab

The skin appears to be one of the easiest organs to build in the lab, despite its seeming simplicity. It is composed of several cell types distributed across several tissue layers. Skin can have a complicated structure and vary in its mechanical characteristics depending on the environment. Your skin responds differently on your back than it does on your face or hands, for example. Our ability to engage with the outside world is facilitated by nerve endings, which transmit hot and cold, sharp and dull feelings. All layers of skin are covered in blood vessels, which transport waste products and nutrients back and forth as well as vital immune cells to the site of injury.

Imagine starting with a small number of donor stem cells and building this intricate mess of biological traits from scratch. It’s difficult, but it’s worthwhile to overcome the significant obstacles. A vast number of people suffering from third-degree burns would greatly benefit from skin grafted from a lab. In order to protect human skin from any negative effects, we also test drugs and cosmetics on innumerable animals.

However, in order to fully realize the promise of lab-grown skin, the engineering must closely resemble natural skin, including hair follicles.

Because of their stem cells, hair follicles are essential for thermoregulation, perspiration production, and skin repair. They also serve as entry points for cosmetics and topical medications.

In order to produce a bio-ink for the printer, the Rensselaer researchers first grew skin and follicle cells and then combined them with proteins. The epidermis was painstakingly built by the printer, which also embedded the channels that the hair cells needed to grow into structures resembling follicles. Although the two- to three-week lifespan of these tissues now prevents full hair shaft growth, the team hopes to increase this duration, which will improve their utility for skin grafts and drug testing.

3D bioprinted skin models with hair follicles applied. Science Advances is credited.

Our study serves as a proof of concept that 3D-bioprinting may be used to precisely and consistently build hair follicle structures. Future skin biomanufacturing will not be feasible without an automated procedure like this, according to study main author Karande’s news statement.

Rebuilding hair follicles with cells generated from humans has not always proven easy. Our findings expands on previous research that suggests these cells may be able to generate new hair shafts or follicles when cultured in a three-dimensional environment, according to Karande.

Continue Reading

News

While Media Obsess About Some Warmth, Globe Seeing Plenty Of Unusual Cold Events • Watts Up With That?

Published

on

A Stunningly Good Hurricane Forecast • Watts Up With That?

Early November had the greatest snowpack extent ever recorded by NOAA in America thanks to the season’s first Arctic air blast, which also shattered hundreds of low temperature records.

With the Great Lakes, the northern Plains, the Rocky Mountains, and northern New England all seeing heavy snowfall, 17.9% of the Lower 48 experienced snowfall as November arrived, setting a new record that has been in the books since 2003.

Numerous locations reported having the snowiest Halloween ever.

Not only was Halloween the snowiest ever recorded in Muskegon, Michigan, with 22 inches, but it was also the snowiest day and month in October. With 36 inches of snow, Glasgow, Montana, had the snowiest start to the season.

From Texas to Maine, the nation’s low temperature records were broken by the cold, which also caused the average temperature in the Lower 48 to plummet to -0.5°C, or more than 5 degrees Celsius below normal.

A historic November cold snap strikes Australia and Argentina

Much of South America has been affected by a late cold snap, particularly Argentina. The nation saw its coldest November weather since records have been kept.

Several high and low records have been broken. The 2°C record set on November 4, 1992 was beaten by the 0.1°C at Córdoba Airport, the 1.6°C record in Chamical, the 4.5°C mark recorded on November 9, 2010, and the 2.8°C record in Mendova, which beat the 3.2°C record in 1992, are the new lows.

The records for Gualeguaychú (13.8°C), which was set in 1992, and Paraná (13.5°C), which was set in 1936, are the new lows.

It was extremely cold—up to 24 degrees Celsius below normal—and it affected most of Argentina:

Chart: [tropicaltidbits.com] GFS 2m temperature anomaly (°C) from November 2.

In the Australian

The east was chilly and the west was scorching. In New South Wales, there were new November lows of -2.5°C in Young and -0.1°C in Parkes.

October in Uruguay is chilly

Uruguay was similarly affected by the South American frost that began in early November, carrying over from the very chilly October. October 2023 saw average temperatures that were -0.5 to -1 °C below the multi-year average.

Mongolian herders are killed by snowstorms

The shepherds’ seasonal treks in northern China, Kazakhstan, and Mongolia were interrupted by the cold and snow last year.

The lowest temperatures since the 1980s claimed the lives of herders in Xinjiang, a region in northwest China, in November of last year. Snowstorms and record-breaking lows of -48.6°C caused hundreds of livestock and lambs to freeze to death.

This is the subject of a disturbing video on Twitter!

The alarmist blog Wetteronline.de also resurfaced with the winter capers in China and Mongolia (which resurface in a news item below).

China’s record snowfall

As the first significant snowstorm of the season hit northern China, schools were closed and trains and buses were canceled. The weather service predicts that the cold front will produce record-breaking snowfall.

Chinese state broadcaster CCTV reports that flights have been canceled and major highways closed in northeastern towns like Heilongjiang province’s capital, Harbin.

Snowfall in Anchorage is heavy.

On Sunday and Monday, Anchorage experienced its first significant snowfall, with over 15 cm falling on November 5 alone.

This was the most fresh snow to fall in the city on November 5th, according to the National Weather Service. So, it was evident that the previous record of 10 cm from 1964 had been exceeded.

Source: Videos on Twitter

Recent study: since 1999, Antarctica has cooled by more than 1°C

The Central, East, and nearly complete Pacific regions will see significant cooling in the twenty-first century, which “implies considerable uncertainties in the future temperature projections of the CMIP6 models.” Zhang and others, 2023

According to new research, West Antarctica’s mean annual temperatures decreased by more than -1.8°C between 1999 and 2018, as reported by trickszone.com. With the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) cooling at a pace of 1.84°C every ten years, the cooling was most noticeable in the spring.

The majority of the Antarctic continent has dropped by more than 1°C during the past 20 years, per Zhang et al.’s findings. Take a look at this chart, which illustrates the roughly 1 °C cooling trend for East Antarctica from 2000 to 2018:

https://electroverse.info/ is the link.

In the Alps, one meter of early-season snow

This week has seen a lot of snowfall in the European Alps. “It appears to be going well,” says planetski.eu.
In several places, the amount of snowfall has surpassed one meter, and the zero degree line has dropped to 1,500 meters.

Amazing early winter levels have been recorded in the western Swiss Alps at Verbier and Glacier 3000, as well as at Courmayeur and La Thuile in northwestern Italy. High levels have also been reported in the northern French Alps, including the ski resorts of Tgnes, Le Arcs, La Rosiere, and Chamonix.

Many European ski resorts—two in Finland, one in Norway, seven in Austria, three in Italy, and three in Switzerland—have already opened for business. This weekend, more ski areas were scheduled to open, including Verbier in Switzerland (on Friday, November 10).

Due to an upsurge in requests following the recent snowfall, operators in France are likewise getting ready for an early opening.

Russia is 90% blanketed in snow.

Ninety percent of Russia is covered in snow, according to Roman Vilfand, scientific director of the Russian Hydrometeorological Center.

Snow covers all of Siberia and the region south of the Urals, including Transbaikalia; in the Khabarovsk Territory and Primorye, the average amount of snowfall is 20 cm, while in Sakhalin, it can reach 8 cm.

The majority of Karelia and the northern part of Arkhangelsk region, including Arkhangelsk itself, are covered in snow. While snow has been accumulating in the Komi Republic for a while, it is still present in the Perm Krai to the north.

According to a report by hmn.ru, the snow cover’s border on the European side extends north of Moscow and St. Petersburg.

Vilfand provided an illustration of the situation by saying, “Now we can say that 90% of the territory is covered in snow.”

More snowfall in China that breaks records

Northeast China experienced a record-breaking early snowfall this week, which resulted in the cancellation of flights, closures of roads, cancellations of trains, and closures of schools.

The first snowfall in northeast China generally falls between late November and early December, but this week’s precipitation came unusually early, according to a senior meteorologist at the National Meteorological Center.

The highest of China’s four warning levels, a “red” blizzard alert, was issued by Harbin, which is extremely uncommon.

Numerous Chinese provinces saw heavy snowfall, which caused significant disruption.

The provinces of Jilin, Heilongjiang, and Inner Mongolia are under an orange blizzard warning, according to China’s National Meteorological Service.

The second issue is the persistent cold, and laborers are already working nonstop to clear snow off roads and restore power.

It makes sense that the western media won’t cover this storm since it is a “proper” early winter Arctic storm.

Russia is at -40°C.

The low temperatures are also appearing early and widely, following the report that 90% of Russia is buried in snow [see above].

According to gismeteo.ru, “the Russian winter is taking its course.”

On October 11, Russia recorded the first -20 °C of the season, and on October 17, the first -30 °C.

And now, at -40°C, the continental cold has peaked.

It was -40°C last weekend in the Khabarovsk Territory’s Tuguro-Chumikansky area. Even by Russian standards, this temperature is “very cold,” even in the dead of winter, much less in early November.

Continue Reading

News

The cause behind the Optus outage explained

Published

on

The cause behind the Optus outage explained

The reason for the network outage that occurred last Wednesday and impacted over 10 million consumers in Australia for more than 12 hours has been disclosed by Optus.

Let’s first examine the (very technical) statement that Optus released on Monday before deciphering its meaning.

Around 4:05 a.m. AEDT on Wednesday, the business reported that “changes to routing information” from an international peering network, “following a routine software upgrade,” had an impact on its network.

“Our network’s routing information modifications spread through several tiers, surpassing safety thresholds on important routers that were unable to manage them. In order to protect themselves, those routers disconnected from the Optus IP Core network as a result, according to the business.

The crew had to put in a lot of work to complete the restoration, and in certain situations, Optus had to physically reconnect or reboot routers, which meant sending workers to several different locations throughout Australia. That’s why the restoration proceeded gradually during the day.

Though not very informative, the statement does validate rumors from the previous week that the outage was caused by software rather than a problem with the physical infrastructure.

According to Dr. Mark Gregory, an associate professor in RMIT University’s School of Engineering, “human error” resulted in a “cascading failure” that triggered the outage.

Gregory says, “It appears that a routine software upgrade to one or more key routers was the cause of the outage,” despite the Optus statement being poorly phrased.

A software update and an upgrade are not the same thing. An upgrade is a brand-new version of the software rather than a modification to the one that is already in use.

According to Gregory, “a cascading failure occurred when routing information from an international peering network was received and on key routers exceeded preset safety levels.”

The optimal route between two locations on the internet—the source and the destination networks—is determined using routing information. A router is a device that controls the flow of traffic between networks, and internet peering is the reciprocal exchange of traffic between these networks.

Gregory claims that when the important routers were overloaded with too many of these “routing information changes,” they “disconnected from the Optus IP Core network, bringing down the entire network.”

Thus, ought this outage to have been avoided?

Gregory claims that “Optus has not explained what went wrong with the test procedure that should have taken place prior to the routing software upgrade occurring.”

Furthermore, there’s no explanation for why there seems to have been a lack of redundancy among the important routers, which would have allowed the critical routers to fall back on the redundant routers—which are probably still using the older version of the software—in the event of a problem.

“There are still many unanswered questions that Optus has not addressed.”

Mark Stewart, a research fellow at The University of Adelaide’s Centre for Defence Communications and Information Networking, concurs.

“A large telecom ought to have a more advanced disaster recovery plan than the typical business network. Stewart claims that they ought to have at the very least a plan in place for remotely rebooting their computers or undoing the modifications.

“The Optus statement does not explain why this was a unique event or what safeguards they put in place to lessen its effects.”

The Optus network outage serves as a stark reminder of how brittle Australia’s telecommunications infrastructure is, given how much reliance it has on services like hospitals, public transportation, and EFTPOS transactions.

“In an era where society heavily depends on interconnected technology, establishing trust in service providers is crucial from a consumer standpoint,” says Graeme Hughes, director of Griffith University’s Griffith Business Lab.

For example, 000 could not be dialled from Optus landlines.

One unexpected finding is that mobile phones turned out to be more dependable than landlines in this instance when it came to emergency calls. The mobile phone standards allow emergency calls to be placed over any network provider. As a result, phones moved automatically from Optus to Vodafone or Telstra,” says Hughes.

“During natural disasters, the Australian government is already working on mobile roaming between carriers.”Additional network interruptions could be covered by extending this.

However, Hughes notes that putting it into practice in Australia would involve some challenging regulatory and commercial talks.

“There are some obvious lessons to be learned from the Optus outage for government, commercial, and residential internet and phone service consumers. Don’t use a single provider for all of your phone and internet needs. Maintain links to several networks if you are offering services that are vital to public safety.

In order to investigate the main effects of the network failure and how it may be avoided from happening again, Optus is facing a Senate investigation as well as a separate Federal Government post-event telecommunications study.

 

Continue Reading

Trending Posts

Trending