Science Collected Works - Research Publications
Now showing items 1-12 of 177
Biodiversity conservation cannot afford COVID-19 communication bungles
(ELSEVIER SCIENCE LONDON, 2021-10-01)
With COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) dominating headlines, highlighting links between the pandemic and biodiversity may increase public awareness of the biodiversity crisis. However, ill-considered messages that frame nature as the problem rather than the solution could inadvertently propagate problematic narratives and undermine motivations and individual self-efficacy to conserve nature.
Citizen science for monitoring seasonal-scale beach erosion and behaviour with aerial drones
(NATURE RESEARCH, 2021-02-16)
Sandy beaches are highly dynamic systems which provide natural protection from the impact of waves to coastal communities. With coastal erosion hazards predicted to increase globally, data to inform decision making on erosion mitigation and adaptation strategies is becoming critical. However, multi-temporal topographic data over wide geographical areas is expensive and time consuming and often requires highly trained professionals. In this study we demonstrate a novel approach combining citizen science with low-cost unmanned aerial vehicles that reliably produces survey-grade morphological data able to model sediment dynamics from event to annual scales. The high-energy wave-dominated coast of south-eastern Australia, in Victoria, is used as a field laboratory to test the reliability of our protocol and develop a set of indices to study multi-scale erosional dynamics. We found that citizen scientists provide unbiased data as accurate as professional researchers. We then observed that open-ocean beaches mobilise three times as much sediment as embayed beaches and distinguished between slowed and accelerated erosional modes. The data was also able to assess the efficiency of sand nourishment for shore protection. Our citizen science protocol provides high quality monitoring capabilities, which although subject to important legislative preconditions, it is applicable in other parts of the world and transferable to other landscape systems where the understanding of sediment dynamics is critical for management of natural or anthropogenic processes.
Environment predicts repeated body size shifts in a recent radiation of Australian mammals
Closely related species that occur across steep environmental gradients often display clear body size differences, and examining this pattern is crucial to understanding how environmental variation shapes diversity. Australian endemic rodents in the Pseudomys Division (Muridae: Murinae) have repeatedly colonized the arid, monsoon, and mesic biomes over the last 5 million years. Using occurrence records, body mass data, and Bayesian phylogenetic models, we test whether body mass of 31 species in the Pseudomys Division can be predicted by their biome association. We also model the effect of eight environmental variables on body mass. Despite high phylogenetic signal in body mass evolution across the phylogeny, we find that mass predictably increases in the mesic biome and decreases in arid and monsoon biomes. As per Bergmann's rule, temperature is strongly correlated with body mass, as well as several other variables. Our results highlight two important findings. First, body size in Australian rodents has tracked with climate through the Pleistocene, likely due to several environmental variables rather than a single factor. Second, support for both Brownian motion and predictable change at different taxonomic levels in the Pseudomys Division phylogeny demonstrates how the level at which we test hypotheses can alter interpretation of evolutionary processes.
Digest: Colonizing rodents overcome ecological incumbency in an island system
Do primary radiations inhibit the persistence and diversification of secondary colonizers? Rowsey et al. test predictions of this "incumbency effect" by contrasting patterns of morphological variation in two murine rodent clades on the Philippine island of Luzon. They find that in this system, primary colonizers may impose constraints via biotic filtering, and may also restrict size evolution in secondary colonists.
Cross-sex hormone therapy in Australia: the prescription patterns of clinicians experienced in adult transgender healthcare
BACKGROUND: Despite increasing demand for transgender healthcare, guidelines for cross-sex hormone therapy are based on low-level evidence only. As most data are based on international expert opinions, interpretations and practices vary significantly. AIMS: To aid the development of Australian clinical guidelines, we aimed to identify cross-sex hormone therapy prescribing patterns among medical practitioners experienced in adult transgender healthcare. METHODS: We conducted an anonymous online survey of experienced hormone prescribers who were members of the Australian and New Zealand Professional Association for Transgender Health (ANZPATH). RESULTS: We received 35 responses from 43 individuals listed with ANZPATH. Mental health assessments prior to commencement of hormonal therapy were recommended by 80% of prescribers. The preferred first-line masculinising hormone therapy was intramuscular testosterone undecanoate (46% of respondents). The most commonly prescribed feminising agents were oral estradiol valerate (first line in 71.4%), with either spironolactone or cyproterone acetate. Most respondents (>90%) targeted sex steroid reference ranges of the affirmed gender, and 71.4% reviewed individuals every 2-3 months in the first year. Better training for doctors was seen as the most pressing priority for government funding, and 79.3% supported the development of local Australian-based guidelines. CONCLUSIONS: Experienced hormone prescribers in Australia largely use medication regimens and monitor sex steroid levels and potential adverse effects of sex hormone therapy in accordance with broad, subjective recommendations listed in international guidelines. Additional practitioner training is necessary, and local Australian-based guidelines would offer specific, relevant guidance to clinicians in the initiation and monitoring of cross-sex hormone therapy for adult transgender individuals.
Long-term follow-up of ICSI-conceived offspring compared with spontaneously conceived offspring: a systematic review of health outcomes beyond the neonatal period
BACKGROUND: A significant increase in the use of intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) since its introduction in 1992 has been observed worldwide, including beyond its original intended use for severe male factor infertility. Concerns regarding ICSI include the effects of poor quality spermatozoa on offspring health and future fertility, and of the technique itself. The health and development of ICSI-conceived children beyond early infancy have not been comprehensively assessed. OBJECTIVE: A systematic review of health outcomes of ICSI-conceived offspring beyond the neonatal period compared to spontaneously conceived (SC) offspring. DESIGN: PubMed, OVID Medline/Embase, InformIT, Web of Science, and ProQuest databases were searched for studies reporting on health outcomes in ICSI-conceived offspring beyond 28 days after birth. MAIN OUTCOMES MEASURE(S): Physical and psychosocial health. RESULTS: The search strategy yielded 2826 articles. Of these, 2580 were not relevant or did not meet inclusion criteria and 138 were duplicates. One hundred and eight full-text papers were evaluated further, and 48 satisfied the inclusion criteria. Most studies reported on neurodevelopment during early infancy and childhood with reassuring results. Growth, vision, and hearing of ICSI and SC offspring also appear comparable, although important differences in general physical health, and particularly metabolic and reproductive health have been described, including recently poorer semen quality among ICSI-conceived young adult men compared to SC peers. CONCLUSION: Whilst neurodevelopment, growth, vision, and hearing appear similar between ICSI and SC children, evidence suggests differences in general physical health, and metabolic and reproductive endpoints. The clinical significance of many findings, however, remains unclear, and further prospective, large, and good quality studies with a focus on all these health outcomes in ICSI-conceived young adults are required.