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  • Molecular phylogenetics of sub-Saharan African natricine snakes, and the biogeographic origins of the Seychelles endemic Lycognathophis seychellensis

    Deepak, V; Maddock, Simon T; Williams, Rhiannon; Nagy, Zoltán T; Conradie, Werner; Rocha, Sara; James Harris, D; Perera, Ana; Gvoždík, Václav; Doherty-Bone, Thomas M; et al. (Elsevier, 2021-03-17)
    Phylogenetic relationships of sub-Saharan African natricine snakes are understudied and poorly understood, which in turn has precluded analyses of the historical biogeography of the Seychelles endemic Lycognathophis seychellensis. We inferred the phylogenetic relationships of Seychelles and mainland sub-Saharan natricines by analysing a multilocus DNA sequence dataset for three mitochondrial (mt) and four nuclear (nu) genes. The mainland sub-Saharan natricines and L. seychellensis comprise a well-supported clade. Two maximally supported sets of relationships within this clade are (Limnophis,Natriciteres) and (Afronatrix,(Hydraethiops,Helophis)). The relationships of L. seychellensis with respect to these two lineages are not clearly resolved by analysing concatenated mt and nu data. Analysed separately, nu data best support a sister relationship of L. seychellensis with (Afronatrix,(Hydraethiops,Helophis)) and mt data best support a sister relationship with all mainland sub-Saharan natricines. Methods designed to cope with incomplete lineage sorting strongly favour the former hypothesis. Genetic variation among up to 33 L. seychellensis from five Seychelles islands is low. Fossil calibrated divergence time estimates support an overseas dispersal of the L. seychellensis lineage to the Seychelles from mainland Africa ca. 43–25 Ma, rather than this taxon being a Gondwanan relic.
  • Exploring students' perceptions and opinions about an institutional hierarchy of healthcare professionals and its impact on their inter- professional learning outcomes

    Rabani, Raiharn; Key, Michelle; Morrissey, Hana; Ball, Patrick (International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP), 2021-04-06)
    Context: Institutional hierarchy is a phenomenon associated with clinical tribalism. Inter-professional learning is thought to improve a healthcare team's collaboration and communication. Aim: The aim was to evaluate student understanding of institutional hierarchy and perceptions and opinions on their participation in inter-professional learning. Method: Using a questionnaire, this study gathered the opinions of fourth year pharmacy students who had completed two inter-professional learning sessions. Quantitative and qualitative analyses were conducted. Results: Students (87.7%, n=50) were aware of the institutional hierarchy concept, listing the order as doctors, pharmacists, nurses then allied health. 61.4% (n=35) were willing to participate in inter-professional learning sessions. Students (70.1%, n=40) agreed that inter-professional learning sessions have added benefit to patient-centred care, and to understanding different healthcare roles in depth (82.5%, n=47) but failed in diminution of the hierarchical ideology. Conclusions: Inter-professional learning sessions did not change students' opinions about posiGoning of doctors as the top of the healthcare institutional hierarchy.
  • Researchers’ attitudes towards the h-index on Twitter 2007–2020: criticism and acceptance

    Thelwall, Mike; Kousha, Kayvan (Springer Nature, 2021-12-31)
    The h-index is a well-known indicator of the scientific impact of an academic publishing career. Its hybrid publishing/citation nature and inherent bias against younger researchers, women, people in low resourced countries, and those not prioritizing publishing arguably give it little value for most formal and informal research evaluations. Nevertheless, it is well-known by academics, used in some promotion decisions, and is prominent in bibliometric databases, such as Google Scholar. In the context of this apparent conflict, it is important to understand researchers’ attitudes towards the h-index. This article used public tweets in English to analyse how scholars discuss the h-index in public: is it mentioned, are tweets about it positive or negative, and has interest decreased since its shortcomings were exposed. The January 2021 Twitter Academic Research initiative was harnessed to download all English tweets mentioning the h-index from the 2006 start of Twitter until the end of 2020. The results showed a constantly increasing number of tweets. Whilst the most popular tweets unapologetically used the h-index as an indicator of research performance, 28.5% of tweets were critical of its simplistic nature and others joked about it (8%). The results suggest that interest in the h-index is still increasing online despite scientists willing to evaluate the h-index in public tending to be critical. Despite this, in limited situations it may be effective at succinctly conveying the message that a researcher has had a successful publishing career.
  • Detectable respiratory SARS‐CoV‐2 RNA is associated with low vitamin D levels and high social deprivation

    Livingston, Mark; Plant, Aiden; Dunmore, Simon; Hartland, Andrew; Jones, Stephen; Laing, Ian; Ramachandran, Sudarshan (Wiley, 2021-04-02)
    Background Accumulating evidence links COVID‐19 incidence and outcomes with vitamin D status. We investigated if an interaction existed between vitamin D levels and social deprivation in those with and without COVID‐19 infection. Methods Upper‐ or lower‐respiratory tract samples from 104 patients were tested for SARS‐CoV‐2 RNA in accordance with Public Health England criteria (January–May 2020) using RT‐PCR. The latest serum total 25‐hydroxyvitamin D(25‐OHD) levels, quantified by LC‐MS/MS, was obtained for each patient (September 2019–April 2020). Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) was generated for each patient. Univariate and logistic regression analyses examined associations between age, gender, 25‐OHD, IMD score and SARS‐CoV‐2 result in the total cohort and subgroups. Results In the total cohort, a positive SARS‐CoV‐2 test was significantly associated with lower 25‐OHD levels and higher IMD. A positive test was associated with higher IMD in the male subgroup and with lower 25‐OHD levels in those aged >72 years. Low 25‐OHD and IMD quintile 5 were separately associated with positive COVID‐19 outcome in the cohort. Patients in IMD quintile 5 with vitamin D levels ≤34.4 nmol/L were most likely to have a positive COVID‐19 outcome, even more so if aged >72 years (OR: 19.07, 95%CI: 1.71–212.25; p=0.016). Conclusions In this cohort, combined low vitamin D levels and higher social deprivation were most associated with COVID‐19 infection. In older age, this combination was even more significant. Our data supports the recommendations for normalising vitamin D levels in those with deficient / insufficient levels and in groups at high‐risk for deficiency.
  • Oxytocin promotes prosocial behavior and related neural responses in infantmacaques at-risk for compromised social development

    Festante, Fabrizia; Rayson, Holly; Paukner, Annika; Kaburu, Stefano; Toschi, Giulia; Fox, Nathan A; Ferrari, Pier Francesco (Elsevier, 2021-04-02)
    Although positive effects of oxytocin (OT) on social functioning are well-demonstrated, little is known about the mechanisms through which OT may drive early social development, or its therapeutic efficacy in infancy. To address these critical issues, we investigated the effects of exogenous OT on neural (EEG) and behavioral responses during observation of live facial gestures in infant macaques with limited social exposure (i.e. nursery-reared). Three key findings were revealed. First, OT increased alpha suppression over posterior scalp regions during observation of facial gestures but not non-biological movement, suggesting that OT targets self-other matching and attentional cortical networks involved in social perception from very early infancy. Second, OT increased infant production of matching facial gestures and attention towards the most socially-relevant facial stimuli, both behaviors typically silenced by early social deprivation. Third, infants with higher cortisol levels appeared to benefit the most from OT, displaying greater improvements in prosocial behaviors after OT administration. Altogether, these findings suggest that OT promotes prosocial behaviors and associated neural responses likely impacted by early social adversity, and demonstrate the potential of OT administration to ameliorate social difficulties in the context of neurodevelopmental and early-emerging psychiatric disorders, at a developmental stage when brain plasticity is greatest.
  • DFT study of ligand binding in the β1 adrenergic receptor

    Safarian, Daryna; Simons, Megan; Evans, Rebecca G; Peterson, Larryn W; Cafiero, Mauricio (Elsevier, 2021-03-09)
    The β2-adrenergic receptor, located in the prostate region, binds noradrenaline and can influence the growth of prostate tumors. The removal of Adrb2, the gene for this receptor, can halt tumor growth and thus can serve as an alternative to chemotherapy for cancer treatment. Inhibition of the receptor may have similar effects. Comparison of β2- (PDB ID: 5X7D) and β1-adrenergic receptor (PDB ID: 2Y04) structures showed a conserved binding region on Chain A offset by approximately eight amino acids between the two receptors. The structure of the β1-adrenergic receptor with the bound partial agonist salbutamol was used to create a model of the active site of the β2-adrenergic receptor. Potential inhibitors were optimized in the receptor binding site using M062X/6-31G with relaxed amino acid sidechains. Interaction energies between the ligands and the receptor were calculated using M062X/6-311+G*. Positively charged inhibitors show greater interaction energies as compared to negatively charged inhibitors.
  • Plasma membrane calcium ATPase 1 regulates human umbilical vein endothelial cell angiogenesis and viability

    Njegic, Alexandra; Swiderska, Agnieszka; Marris, Charlotte; Armesilla, Angel L; Cartwright, Elizabeth J (Elsevier, 2021-03-26)
  • Covid-19 vaccine hesitancy on English-language Twitter

    Thelwall, Mike; Kousha, Kayvan; Thelwall, Saheeda (Ediciones Profesionales de la Informacion SL, 2021-03-15)
    Covid-19 vaccine hesitancy seems likely to increase mortality rates and delay the easing of social distancing restrictions. Online platforms with large audiences may influence vaccine hesitancy by spreading fear and misinformation that is avoided by the mainstream media. Understanding what types of vaccine hesitancy information is shared on the popular social web site Twitter may therefore help to design interventions to address misleading attitudes. This study applies content analysis to a random sample of 446 vaccine hesitant Covid-19 tweets in English posted between 10 March and 5 December 2020. The main themes discussed were conspiracies, vaccine development speed, and vaccine safety. Most (79%) of those tweeting refusal to take a vaccine expressed right-wing opinions, fear of a deep state, or conspiracy theories. A substantial minority of vaccine refusers (18%) mainly tweeted non-politically about other themes. The topics on Twitter reflect vaccine concerns, but those stating vaccine refusal in non-political contexts may unsettle the wider Twitter network by reaching outside right-wing areas of Twitter.
  • Facilitating successful smart campus transitions: a systems thinking-SWOT analysis approach

    Awuzie, Bankole; Ngowi, Alfred Beati; Omotayo, Temitope; Obi, Lovelin; Akotia, Julius (MDPI, 2021-02-25)
    An identification of strengths, weakness, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) factors remains imperative for enabling a successful Smart Campus transition. The absence of a structured approach for analyzing the relationships between these SWOT factors and the influence thereof on Smart Campus transitions negate effective implementation. This study leverages a systems thinking approach to bridge this gap. Data were collected through a stakeholder workshop within a University of Technology case study and analyzed using qualitative content analysis (QCA). This resulted in the establishment of SWOT factors affecting Smart Campus transitions. Systems thinking was utilized to analyze the relationships between these SWOT factors resulting in a causal loop diagram (CLD) highlighting extant interrelationships. A panel of experts drawn from the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and South Africa validated the relationships between the SWOT factors as elucidated in the CLD. Subsequently, a Smart Campus transition framework predicated on the CLD archetypes was developed. The framework provided a holistic approach to understanding the interrelationships between various SWOT factors influencing Smart Campus transitions. This framework remains a valuable tool for facilitating optimal strategic planning and management approaches by policy makers, academics, and implementers within the global Higher Education Institution (HEI) landscape for managing successful Smart Campus transition at the South African University of Technology (SAUoT) and beyond.
  • Enhanced properties of well-defined polymer networks prepared by a sequential thiol-Michael - radical thiol-ene strategy (STMRT)

    Cespedes, Sergio; Hand, Rachel; Chmel, Nikola; Moad, Graeme; Keddie, Daniel; Schiller, Tara L. (Elsevier, 2021-12-31)
    A sequential thiol-Michael - radical thiol-ene (STMRT) strategy was used to produce poly(ethylene glycol)-based model networks and enable establishment of a structure-property relationship from the network characteristics. Selective double thiol-Michael reactions on a series of poly(ethylene glycol) diacrylates (PEGDA), that differed in average chain length, with two molar equivalents of the trithiol trimethylolpropane tris(3mercaptopropionate) (TMPTMP) yielded well-defined telechelic poly(ethylene glycol)-based tetrathiols. These tetrathiols were in turn used to produce model (co-)networks by photo-induced radical thiol-ene polymerization with either the same poly(ethylene glycol) diacrylates or with tri(ethyleneglycol) divinylether (TEGDVE). The properties of these networks were studied by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) and dynamic mechanical thermal analysis (DMTA). The STMRT-produced model networks possess storage moduli (Eʹ) up to 4-fold larger and glass transition temperatures (Tg) of up to 10 °C lower than conventionally produced counterparts. The STMRT strategy allows the properties of the model networks to be finely tuned by manipulation of crosslink density and average polymer chain length.
  • Addressing the challenges of research on human-wildlife interactions using the concept of coupled natural & human systems

    Balasubramaniam, Krishna N; Bliss-Moreau, Eliza; Beisner, Brianne A; Marty, Pascal; Kaburu, Stefano; McCowan, Brenda (Elsevier, 2021-12-31)
    With the global expansion of human populations, research on human-wildlife interactions (HWIs) has become increasingly important in conservation science. Despite its growing importance, such research faces challenges that include a bias towards evaluating wildlife- compared to human-related aspects of interactions, limited focus on the complexity of HWIs and their effects, assessments of more observable compared to hidden/subtle effects, and the lack of comparative studies. Here we review how the Coupled Natural and Human Systems (CNHS) approach has been useful to address these challenges. We demonstrate the relative dearth in studies that have implemented CNHS approaches in the context of HWIs, compared to human interactions with biophysical, abiotic, and other biotic natural systems. We next review conceptual CNHS frameworks implemented to model HWIs, their structural and functional similarities and differences, and reveal how they help to address some, but not all, of the afore-mentioned challenges. We then construct a general, integrated conceptual framework for human-wildlife CNHS borrowing elements from pre-existing frameworks, which includes a standardized designation/nomenclature of CNHS components and their relationships and builds on pre-existing frameworks by placing a greater emphasis on less visible outcomes of HWIs that remain under-represented in the CNHS literature. We discuss the potential and scope of this integrated framework in terms of its usefulness to address the above challenges, and the importance of moving human-wildlife CNHS frameworks from merely providing conceptual platforms towards their analytical utility as single ‘whole’ systems.
  • High-throughput screening platforms in the discovery of novel drugs for neurodegenerative diseases

    Aldewachi, H; Al-Zidan, RN; Conner, MT; Salman, MM (MDPI, 2021-02-23)
    Neurodegenerative diseases (NDDs) are incurable and debilitating conditions that result in progressive degeneration and/or death of nerve cells in the central nervous system (CNS). Identification of viable therapeutic targets and new treatments for CNS disorders and in particular, for NDDs is a major challenge in the field of drug discovery. These difficulties can be attributed to the diversity of cells involved, extreme complexity of the neural circuits, the limited capacity for tissue regeneration, and our incomplete understanding of the underlying pathological processes. Drug discovery is a complex and multidisciplinary process. The screening attrition rate in current drug discovery protocols mean that only one viable drug may arise from millions of screened compounds resulting in the need to improve discovery technologies and protocols to address the multiple causes of attrition. This has identified the need to screen larger libraries where the use of efficient high-throughput screening (HTS) becomes key in the discovery process. HTS can investigate hun-dreds of thousands of compounds per day. However, if fewer compounds could be screened without compromising the probability of success, the cost and time would be largely reduced. To that end, recent advances in computer-aided design, in silico libraries, and molecular docking software combined with the upscaling of cell-based platforms have evolved to improve screening efficiency with higher predictability and clinical applicability. We review, here, the increasing role of HTS in contemporary drug discovery processes, in particular for NDDs, and evaluate the criteria underlying its successful application. We also discuss the requirement of HTS for novel NDD therapies and examine the major current challenges in validating new drug targets and developing new treatments for NDDs.
  • Olfactory signals and fertility in olive baboons

    Vaglio, Stefano; Minicozzi, Pamela; Kessler, Sharon E; Walker, David; Setchell, Joanna M (Springer Nature, 2021-12-31)
    Female primates signal impending ovulation with a suite of sexual signals. Studies of these signals have focussed on visual, and to a lesser extent, acoustic signals, neglecting olfactory signals. We aimed to investigate the information content of female olfactory signals in captive olive baboons (Papio anubis) and relate these to the female fertile period. We studied eight adult females living in four groups at the CNRS Station de Primatologie, Rousset-sur-Arc, France. We used vaginal cytology to detect ovulation. We investigated the volatile component of odour signals using solid-phase microextraction and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. We found a total of 74 volatile compounds, of which we tentatively identified 25, including several ketones, alcohols, aldehydes, terpenes, volatile fatty acids and hydrocarbons that have been identified in odour profiles of other primates. Our results show that vaginal odour intensity differs with sexual cycle stage suggesting that odour might play a role in signalling female baboon fertility. We found differences in vaginal odour between females living in all-female and in mixed sex groups but we could not distinguish the effects of group composition, female age and identity. This study of olfactory signalling improves our understanding of how female primates advertise their sexual receptivity.
  • Jagged2 controls the generation of motor neuron and oligodendrocyte progenitors in the ventral spinal cord

    Rabadán, MA; Cayuso, J; Le Dréau, G; Cruz, C; Barzi, M; Pons, S; Briscoe, J; Martí, E; Instituto de Biología Molecular de Barcelona, CSIC, Parc Científic de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain. (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2011-07-01)
    In the developing spinal cord, motor neurons (MNs) and oligodendrocytes arise sequentially from a common pool of progenitors. However, the genetic network responsible for this neurogenesis to gliogenesis switch is largely unknown. A transcriptome analysis identified the Notch ligand Jagged2 (JAG2) as a Sonic hedgehog-regulated factor transiently expressed in MN progenitors (pMNs). In vivo loss-and gain-of-function experiments show that JAG2 schedules the differentiation of the pMN progenitors. At early developmental stages, Olig2 expressing pMN progenitors that enter the differentiation pathway exclusively generate MNs. At these times, the activation of the Notch pathway by JAG2 maintains selected pMN progenitors in an undifferentiated state by two mechanisms; first it inhibits MN generation by reducing Olig2 proteins levels, and second it directly inhibits the premature generation of oligodendrocyte progenitors (OLPs) by maintaining high levels of Hes5. Later, extinction of JAG2 from the pMN results in the loss of Hes5 expression, heralding the gliogenic phase of pMN progenitors. Strikingly, downregulation of JAG2 in pMN progenitors is sufficient to promote the precocious generation of OLPs. Together these data provide evidence that JAG2 is a key regulator of the timely and ordered generation of two of the defining cell types in the spinal cord, MNs and OLPs. © 2012 Macmillan Publishers Limited All rights reserved.
  • Long term conditions and mental health: an audit of local data

    Morrissey, Hana; Arikawe, Olutayo; Paul, Pamela; Sandhu, Manjinder; Sadique, Zain; Ball, Patrick (International Journal of Current Pharmaceutical Research, 2021-03-23)
    Objective: Studies have shown that mental health is affected by poor physical health, with people living in the deprived area are the most affected. Community Pharmacists potentially have a new role in supporting people with mental illness and dementia to manage their medications. The aim of this local audit was to compare the local population to the national and global population, to inform the development and provision of local pharmacy mental health screening services, to support patients diagnosed with long-term conditions. Methods: This project was designed as an audit of anonymised local data, to inform the development of services offered by community pharmacies to improve adherence to therapy amongst patients diagnosed with long-term conditions in the Black Country, UK. It forms part of a larger study granted ethical approval by the Health Research Authority in 2018. It was carried out against the background of the Covid-19 epidemic. A total of 652 patients pharmacy records were reviewed between March and April 2020. No patient identifiers were included in the reviewed data. Results: This means that the results of this analysis might not be applicable to the entire local population outside the 31-90 y of age range. Conclusion: It is was demonstrated during COVID-19 that pharmacists are well-positioned as easily accessible health care facilities to support patients, especially when the other NHS facilities are stretched or closed. Community pharmacies are in a position to offer large-scale screening programs such as self-completed anxiety, depression and cognitive function screening surveys and refer to general practitioners for further investigations. It is also recommended that the New Medicines Service include mental health disorder patients prescribed pharmacological therapy and to allow the pharmacists appropriate access to medical records to facilitate safe, integrated and effective patient care.
  • Spectral analysis of body movement during deep brain stimulation in Parkinson’s disease

    Patel, Mitesh; Nilsson, Maria H; Rehncrona, Stig; Tjernström, Fredrik; Magnusson, Måns; Johansson, Rolf; Fransson, Per-Anders (Elsevier, 2021-03-18)
    Background The characteristics of Parkinson’s disease (PD) include postural instability and resting tremor. However, reductions of tremor amplitude do not always improve postural stability. Research question What is the effect of deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the subthalamic nucleus (STN) on spectral analysis of body movement in patients with PD when tested without anti-PD medication? The effect of visual cues was also studied. Methods Ten patients with PD (mean age 64.3 years, range 59−69 years) and 17 control participants (mean age 71.2 years, range 65–79 years) were recruited. Spectral power following a period of quiet stance (35 s) was analysed in three different spectral power bands (0−4 Hz, 4−7 Hz and 7−25 Hz). Motion markers were secured to the head, shoulder, hip, and knee, which recorded movements in two directions, the anteroposterior and lateral. Results DBS STN significantly changed the spectral distribution pattern across the body in the anteroposterior (p = 0.029) and lateral directions (p ≤ 0.003). DBS predominantly reduced spectral power at the head (p ≤ 0.037) and shoulder (p ≤ 0.031) in the lateral direction. The spectral power of the lower and upper body in patients with PD, with DBS ON, were more similar to the control group, than to DBS OFF. Visual cues mainly reduced spectral power in the anteroposterior direction at the shoulder (p ≤ 0.041) in controls and in patients with PD with DBS ON. Significance There is an altered postural strategy in patients with PD with DBS ON as shown by an altered spectral power distribution pattern across body segments and a reduction of spectral power in the lateral direction at the head and shoulder. A reduction of spectral power in controls and in patients with PD with DBS ON suggests that visual cues are able to reduce spectral power to some extent, but not with DBS OFF where postural sway and power are larger.
  • Letter: risk of severe COVID-19 outcomes associated with inflammatory bowel disease medications - reassuring insights from the United Kingdom PREPARE-IBD multi centre cohort study

    Lamb, CA; Sebastian, S; Kent, AJ; Segal, JP; Gonzalez, HA; Brookes, MJ; Mehta, SJ; Subramanian, S; Bhala, N; Hicks, LC; et al. (Wiley-Blackwell, 2021-12-31)
  • Oral and intravenous iron therapy differentially alter the on- and off-tumor microbiota in anemic colorectal cancer patients

    Phipps, Oliver; Al-Hassi, Hafid Omar; Quraishi, Mohammed Nabil; Dickson, Edward A; Segal, Jonathan; Steed, Helen; Kumar, Aditi; Acheson, Austin G; Beggs, Andrew D; Brookes, Matthew J (MDPI, 2021-03-16)
    Iron deficiency anemia is a common complication of colorectal cancer and may require iron therapy. Oral iron can increase the iron available to gut bacteria and may alter the colonic microbiota. We performed an intervention study to compare oral and intravenous iron therapy on the colonic tumor-associated (on-tumor) and paired non-tumor-associated adjacent (off-tumor) microbiota. Anemic patients with colorectal adenocarcinoma received either oral ferrous sulphate (n = 16) or intravenous ferric carboxymaltose (n = 24). On- and off-tumor biopsies were obtained post-surgery and microbial profiling was performed using 16S ribosomal RNA analysis. Off-tumor α- and β-diversity were significantly different between iron treatment groups. No differences in on-tumor diversity were observed. Off-tumor microbiota of oral iron-treated patients showed higher abundances of the orders Clostridiales, Cytophagales, and Anaeroplasmatales compared to intravenous iron-treated patients. The on-tumor microbiota was enriched with the orders Lactobacillales and Alteromonadales in the oral and intravenous iron groups, respectively. The on- and off-tumor microbiota associated with intravenous iron-treated patients infers increased abundances of enzymes involved in iron sequestration and anti-inflammatory/oncogenic metabolite production, compared to oral iron-treated patients. Collectively, this suggests that intravenous iron may be a more appropriate therapy to limit adverse microbial outcomes compared to oral iron.
  • The effects of a zoo environment on free-living, native small mammal species

    Elwell, Emily; Leeson, Christopher; Vaglio, Stefano (Wiley, 2021-03-25)
    One of the main threats to native species conservation is urbanization. It is causing changes to natural habitats and species composition. Urban green spaces have shown to have conservation value for native species by providing safe spaces in urban areas. They typically contain a variety of habitats and plant species which is correlated with greater abundance and diversity of small mammal species. Zoos are a vital resource for animal conservation and, in some instances, could be considered as an urban green space for native species conservation. Their unique environment provides free-living, native species an abundance of resources including food and shelter. This project involved the live trapping of free-living small mammal species (<40 g) between enclosures in Dudley Zoological Gardens to study the effects of the zoo environment. There were no significant differences found between total number of captures and trap proximity to enclosures. There was a significant difference in total captures found between different enclosure trapping areas. Generalized linear mixed models were fitted to the data and there were significant relationships between abundance and both habitat type and enclosure species. Habitats associated with semi-natural woodland had the greatest diversity and total captures of small mammals. Total captures was lower in trapping areas that were associated with predatory species. Similar to research on green spaces, habitat was an important factor determining abundance, but predator enclosures were a factor unique to zoos. This study illustrates the potential of zoos as an urban green space and for the study of small mammals.
  • Briefing: Beyond Brexit: trade and procurement implications for the UK construction industry

    Charlson, Jennifer (ICE Publishing, 2021-03-10)
    The UK left the EU, commonly referred to as ‘Brexit’, on 31 January 2020. From 31 December 2020, new EU law does not apply and the European Court of Justice no longer has jurisdiction in the UK. The new EU-UK relationship, which began on 1 January 2021, is explained. The majority of the provisions of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) came into force in the UK on 31 December 2020. Significant issues for the construction industry are detailed including supply chain concerns, the ‘level playing field’ implications, restrictions on the movement of people, limitations on the recognition of professional qualifications and different product standards. Regarding procurement, the TCA has mandated consideration of environmental, labour and social issues and that UK and EU suppliers must be treated equally in both the UK and EU. The UK is now an independent signatory to the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on Government Procurement. Northern Ireland, as an outcome of the Northern Ireland Protocol, has in effect remained in the EU’s single market for goods.

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