The Faculty of Life Sciences is predominantly based on the Chester Campus, with sports-related and computer-related courses also delivered at Warrington. A number of specialist courses are also delivered at our partner associate college at Reaseheath in Cheshire, as well as some delivery outside the UK. The Faculty also supports several research centres.

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Recent Submissions

  • Behavioural Indicators of Intra- and Inter-Specific Competition: Sheep Co-Grazing with Guanaco in the Patagonian Steppe

    Fernandez, Tomas; Lancaster, Alex; Moraga, Claudio A.; Radic-Schilling, Sergio; von Hardenberg, Achaz; Corti, Paulo; Universidad Austral de Chile; University of Chester; Fundacion CEQUA; Universidad de Magallanes (MDPI, 2021-11-22)
    In extensive livestock production, high densities may inhibit regulation processes, main- taining high levels of intraspecific competition over time. During competition, individuals typically modify their behaviours, particularly feeding and bite rates, which can therefore be used as indicators of competition. Over eight consecutive seasons, we investigated if variation in herd density, food availability, and the presence of a potential competitor, the guanaco (Lama guanicoe), was related with behavioural changes in domestic sheep in Chilean Patagonia. Focal sampling, instantaneous scan sampling, measures of bite and movement rates were used to quantify behavioural changes in domestic sheep. We found that food availability increased time spent feeding, while herd density was associated with an increase in vigilant behaviour and a decrease in bite rate, but only when food availability was low. Guanaco presence appeared to have no impact on sheep behaviour. Our results suggest that the observed behavioural changes in domestic sheep are more likely due to intraspecific competition rather than interspecific competition. Consideration of intraspecific competition where guanaco and sheep co-graze on pastures could allow management strategies to focus on herd density, according to rangeland carrying capacity.
  • Marginal habitats provide unexpected survival benefits to the Alpine marmot

    Ferrari, Caterina; Zanet, Stefania; Rolando, Antonio; Bertolino, Sandro; Bassano, Bruno; von Hardenberg, Achaz; University of Turin; Gran Paradiso National Park; University of Chester
    Age-specific survival trajectories can vary significantly among wild populations. Identifying the environmental conditions associated with such variability is of primary importance to understand the dynamics of free-ranging populations. In this study, we investigated survival variations among alpine marmot (Marmota marmota) families living in areas with opposite environmental characteristics: the typical habitat of the species (alpine meadow) and a marginal area bordering the forest. We used data collected during an 11-year study in the Gran Paradiso National Park (Italy) and performed a Bayesian survival trajectory analysis on marked individuals. Furthermore, we investigated, at a territorial level, the relationships among demographic parameters and habitat variables by using a path analysis approach. Contrary to our expectations, for most of the marmot’s lifespan, survival rate was higher in the marginal site closer to the forest and with lower visibility than in the alpine meadow site. Path analysis indicated that the number of families living close to each other negatively affected the stability of the dominant couple, which in turn affected both juvenile survival and reproduction. Given the lower number of neighbouring families which inhabited the marginal site and the potentially different predation pressure by the most effective predator in the area (Aquila chrysaetos), our results suggest that species adapted to live in open habitats may benefit from living in a marginal habitat. This study highlights the importance of habitats bordering the forest in the conservation of alpine marmots.
  • The content and load of preseason field-based training in a championship winning professional rugby league team: A case study

    Fairbank, Matthew; Highton, Jamie; Daniels, Matthew; Twist, Craig; University of Chester; St Helens RFC
    This study reports on the content and periodisation of the preseason field-based training for a professional rugby league team. Thirty elite male rugby league players (26 ± 5 y, 180.9 ± 6.5 cm, 94 ± 9 kg) completed an 8-week preseason. Global positioning system devices and heart rate were used to monitor physical and physiological responses of different field-based training components (speed, conditioning, rugby skill and game-based training). Rugby skill training contributed the most to total distance covered, conditioning was the greatest contributor to high-speed running (>15 km.h-1) and game-based training provided the greatest high metabolic distance (>20 and overall external load. Game-based training provided the greatest time with heart rate 80% estimated maximum. Field-based training comprised a 4-week increase in total distance, followed by a “regeneration week” in week 5 before a peak in load during week 6. The weekly pre-season cycle had lower loads on Monday and Thursday whereas Tuesday and Friday produced the highest loads. The preseason described herein adopted a progressive overload comprising a weekly undulating cycle. This study emphasises how skill and games-based training contributes significantly to the overall load of a professional rugby league team’s preseason with more traditional conditioning promoting high speed running load and high metabolic load.
  • Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) and Potential Links to Depression, Anxiety, and Chronic Stress

    Shea, Sue; Lionis, Christos; Kite, Chris; Atkinson, Lou; Chaggar, Surinderjeet; Randeva, Harpal S; Kyrou, Ioannis; University of Warwick; University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust; University of Crete; University of Chester; Coventry University; Aston University; Forum Health Centre; Agricultural University of Athens (MDPI, 2021-11-16)
    Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) constitutes the most common liver disease worldwide, and is frequently linked to the metabolic syndrome. The latter represents a clustering of related cardio-metabolic components, which are often observed in patients with NAFLD and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Furthermore, growing evidence suggests a positive association between metabolic syndrome and certain mental health problems (e.g., depression, anxiety, and chronic stress). Given the strong overlap between metabolic syndrome and NAFLD, and the common underlying mechanisms that link the two conditions, it is probable that potentially bidirectional associations are also present between NAFLD and mental health comorbidity. The identification of such links is worthy of further investigation, as this can inform more targeted interventions for patients with NAFLD. Therefore, the present review discusses published evidence in relation to associations of depression, anxiety, stress, and impaired health-related quality of life with NAFLD and metabolic syndrome. Attention is also drawn to the complex nature of affective disorders and potential overlapping symptoms between such conditions and NAFLD, while a focus is also placed on the postulated mechanisms mediating associations between mental health and both NAFLD and metabolic syndrome. Relevant gaps/weaknesses of the available literature are also highlighted, together with future research directions that need to be further explored.
  • Heterospecific Fear and Avoidance Behaviour in Domestic Horses (Equus caballus)

    Stanley, Christina; Wiśniewska, Anna; Janczarek, Iwona; Wilk, Izabela; Tkaczyk, Ewelina; Mierzicka, Martyna; Górecka‐Bruzda, Aleksandra; University of Chester; University of Life Sciences in Lublin; Polish Academy of Sciences (MDPI, 2021-10-28)
    Ridden horses have been reported to be fearful of cows. We tested whether cows could provoke behavioural and cardiac fear responses in horses, and whether these responses differ in magnitude to those shown to other potential dangers. Twenty horses were exposed to cow, a mobile object or no object. The time spent at different distances from the stimulus was measured. In a separate test, heart rate (HR), root mean square of successive differences between heartbeats (RMSSD) and the horses’ perceived fear were assessed at various distances from the stimuli. The horses avoided the area nearest to all stimuli. During hand‐leading, the cow elicited the highest HR and lowest RMSSD. Led horses’ responses to the cow and box were rated as more fearful as the distance to the stimulus decreased. Mares had a higher HR than geldings across all tests. HR positively correlated with the fearfulness rating at the furthest distance from the cow and box, and RMSSD negatively correlated with this rating in cow and control conditions. Our results show that these horses’ avoidance response to cows was similar or higher to that shown towards a novel moving object, demonstrating that potentially, both neophobia and heterospecific communication play a role in this reaction.
  • Treatment-Free Remission in Chronic Myeloid Leukemia: Can We Identify Prognostic Factors?

    Lucas, Claire; Saifullah, Hilbeen H.; University of Chester; University of Liverpool (MDPI, 2021-08-19)
    Following the development of tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI), the survival of patients with chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) drastically improved. With the introduction of these agents, CML is now considered a chronic disease for some patients. Taking into consideration the side effects, toxicity, and high cost, discontinuing TKI became a goal for patients with chronic phase CML. Patients who achieved deep molecular response (DMR) and discontinued TKI, remained in treatment-free remission (TFR). Currently, the data from the published literature demonstrate that 40–60% of patients achieve TFR, with relapses occurring within the first six months. In addition, almost all patients who relapsed regained a molecular response upon retreatment, indicating TKI discontinuation is safe. However, there is still a gap in understanding the mechanisms behind TFR, and whether there are prognostic factors that can predict the best candidates who qualify for TKI discontinuation with a view to keeping them in TFR. Furthermore, the information about a second TFR attempt and the role of gradual de-escalation of TKI before complete cessation is limited. This review highlights the factors predicting success or failure of TFR. In addition, it examines the feasibility of a second TFR attempt after the failure of the first one, and the current guidelines concerning TFR in clinical practice.
  • Sex and age-specific survival and life expectancy in a free ranging population of Indri indri (Gmelin, 1788).

    Rolle, Francesca; Torti, Valeria; Valente, Daria; De Gregorio, Chiara; Giacoma, Cristina; von Hardenberg, Achaz; University of Turin; University of Chester
    The critically endangered indri (Indri indri) is the largest extant lemur species and its population size is projected to decline over the next three generations due to habitat loss, hunting and climate change. Accurate information on the demographic parameters driving the population dynamics of indri is urgently needed to help decision-making regarding the conservation of this iconic species. We monitored and followed the life histories of 68 individually recognizable indris in 10 family groups in the Maromizaha New Protected Area (Madagascar) for 12 years. We estimated age and sex-specific survival trajectories using a Bayesian hierarchical survival model and found that the survival curves for male and female indris show a similar pattern, consistent with what found typically in primates; i.e., a high infant mortality rate which declines with age in the juvenile phase and increases again for adults. Also, life expectancies at 2 years of age (e2), were found to be similar between the sexes (e2 females = 7.8 years; e2 males = 7.5 years). We suggest that the lack of strong differences in the survival patterns for male and female indris are related to the strictly monogamous mating system and the lack of sexual dimorphism in this species. Our study provides, for the first time, robust estimates for demographic parameters of indris and one of the very few datasets on survival trajectories available for primates.
  • Interlaboratory Comparison of 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Assays: Vitamin D Standardization Program (VDSP) Intercomparison Study 2 – Part 2 Ligand Binding Assays – Impact of 25 Hydroxyvitamin D2 and 24R,25- Dihydroxyvitamin D3 on Assay Performance

    Mushtaq, Sohail; Wise, Stephen A.; Camara, Johanna E.; Burdette, Carolyn Q.; Hahm, Grace; Nalin, Federica; Kuszak, Adam J.; Merkel, Joyce; Durazo-Arvizu, Ramón A.; Williams, Emma L.; et al. (Springer, 2021-08-25)
    An interlaboratory comparison study was conducted by the Vitamin D Standardization Program (VDSP) to assess the performance of ligand binding assays (Part 2) for the determination of serum total 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D]. Fifty single-donor samples were assigned target values for concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D2 [25(OH)D2], 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 [25(OH)D3], 3-epi-25-hydroxyvitamin D3 [3-epi-25(OH)D3], and 24R,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 [24R,25(OH)2D3] using isotope dilution liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (ID LC-MS/MS). VDSP Intercomparison Study 2 Part 2 includes results from 17 laboratories using 32 ligand binding assays. Assay performance was evaluated using mean % bias compared to the assigned target values and using linear regression analysis of the test assay mean results and the target values. Only 50% of the ligand binding assays achieved the VDSP criterion of mean % bias ≤ |± 5%|. For the 13 unique ligand binding assays evaluated in this study, only 4 assays were consistently within ± 5% mean bias and 4 assays were consistently outside ± 5% mean bias regardless of the laboratory performing the assay. Based on multivariable regression analysis using the concentrations of individual vitamin D metabolites in the 50 single-donor samples, most assays underestimate 25(OH)D2 and several assays (Abbott, bioMérieux, DiaSorin, IDS-EIA, and IDS-iSYS) may have cross-reactivity from 24R,25(OH)2D3. The results of this interlaboratory study represent the most comprehensive comparison of 25(OH)D ligand binding assays published to date and is the only study to assess the impact of 24R,25(OH)2D3 content using results from a reference measurement procedure.
  • The internal and external demands of multi-directional running and the subsequent effect on side cut biomechanics in male and female team sport athletes

    Smith, Grace; Highton, Jamie; Twist, Craig; Oxendale, Chelsea L. (University of Chester, 2021-11)
    The aim of this thesis was to examine the physiological and biomechanical responses to multi-directional running in male and female team sport athletes. Chapter 4 compared measures of energy expenditure derived from indirect calorimetry and microtechnology, as well as high power and high-speed activity, during linear and multi-directional running. Measured energy expenditure was higher during the multidirectional trial (9.0 ± 2.0 cf. 5.9 ± 1.4 kcal.min-1), whereas estimated energy expenditure was higher during the linear trial (8.7 ± 2.1 cf. 6.5 ± 1.5 kcal.min-1). Whilst measures of energy expenditure were strongly related (r > 0.89, p < 0.001), metabolic power underestimated energy expenditure by 52% (95% LoA: 20-93%) and 34% (95% LoA: 12-59%) during the multi-directional and linear trial, respectively. Time at high power was 41% (95% LoA: 4-92%) greater than time at high speed during the multidirectional trial, whereas time at high power was 5% (95% LoA: -17-9%) lower than time at high speed during the linear trial. Chapter 5 explored the internal and external responses to linear and multi-directional running, specifically examining if measures of high speed and high power reflect changes in internal load. High speed distance (p < 0.001) was higher during the linear trial, whereas time at high power (p = 0.046) and accelerations performed (p < 0.001) were higher during the multi-directional trial. Summated HR (-0.8; ±0.5, p = 0.003), B[La] (-0.9; ±0.6, p = 0.002) and RPE (-0.7; ±0.6, p = 0.024) were higher during the multi-directional trial. There was a large difference in the ratio of high speed:summated HR (1.5; ±0.5, p = 0.001) and high speed:total V̇O2 (2.6; ±1.2, p < 0.001) between linear and multi-directional running, whilst high power:summated HR (0.3; ±0.5, p = 0.246) and high power:total V̇O2 (0.1;±0.8, p = 0.727) were similar. A small decrement in knee flexor torque was observed after the multi-directional (0.4; ±0.4, p = 0.017) and linear (0.2; ±0.3, p = 0.077) trials, respectively. Collectively, Chapters 4 and 5 reveal that more directional changes induce a greater internal response, despite reducing the high-speed distance someone is likely to cover. High power better reflects internal responses to multidirectional running than high speed, but microtechnology cannot be used to determine the absolute energy cost of multi-directional running. Chapters 6 and 7 explored alterations in side cut biomechanics in males and females immediately (Chapter 6) and 48 h (Chapter 7) after multi-directional running. In Chapter 6, 20 m sprint time was higher (ES: 0.65 – 1.17, p < 0.001) after multidirectional running, indicating the presence of fatigue. Males and females displayed trivial to moderate changes in trunk flexion (0.16 – 0.28, p = 0.082), peak hip internal rotation (0.46 – 0.54, p = 0.090), and knee flexion (0.17 – 0.41, p = 0.055) and higher knee abduction (0.40 – 0.51, p = 0.045) and internal rotation (0.59 – 0.81, p = 0.038) angular velocities, during the weight acceptance phase of side cuts after multidirectional running. Peak hip extensor (0.19 – 0.29, p = 0.055) and knee internal rotation moment (0.22 – 0.34, p = 0.052) displayed trivial to small increases after multidirectional running, whereas peak hip external rotation (0.44 – 0.57, p = 0.011), knee extensor (0.33 – 0.45, p = 0.003) moment and knee to hip extensor ratio (0.15 – 0.45, p = 0.005) were lower. In addition, IGRF displayed trivial to moderate changes (0.04 – 0.79, p = 0.066) and lateral GRF was lower (0.29 – 0.85, p = 0.002) after multidirectional running. In Chapter 7, CK concentration (2.4 – 4.94, p = 0.009), perceived muscle soreness (4.2 – 4.8, p < 0.001) and 20 m sprint time (0.6 – 0.9, p < 0.001) were higher 48 h after multi-directional running, indicating the presence of EIMD. Males and females displayed trivial to moderate changes in peak torso flexion (0.13 – 0.35, p = 0.055), hip internal rotation angular velocity (0.43 – 0.64, p = 0.073) and more knee internal rotation (0.31 – 0.5, p = 0.009) 48 h after multi-directional running. A tendency for an interaction between sex and time was noted for peak knee flexion (p = 0.068) and internal rotation angular velocity (p =0.057), with males only displaying a moderate increase. Males and females also displayed a lower peak knee extensor moment (0.43 – 0.56, p = 0.001) and a small increase in extensor moment (0.21 –0.46, p = 0.066) and knee external rotation moment (0.34 – 0.78, p = 0.062). An interaction between sex and time was noted for IGRF (p = 0.037); there was a large increase in IGRF at 48 h in females (1.4) but not males (0.08). For the first time, these data highlight multi-directional running which elicits fatigue and EIMD causes alterations in side cut biomechanics which can persist for at least 48 h. Specifically, both males and females performed side cuts in a more extended position, with higher peak angular velocities, and peak knee external rotation moments and less knee extensor moments both immediately and 48 h after multi-directional running.
  • Principal Component Analysis as a Novel Method for the Assessment of the Enclosure Use Patterns of Captive Livingstone’s Fruit Bats (Pteropus livingstonii)

    Smith, Tessa E; Stanley, Christina R; Hosie, Charlotte A; Edwards, Morgan J; Wormell, Dominic; Price, Eluned; University of Chester; Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust
    The Spread of Participation Index (SPI) is a standard tool for assessing the suitability of enclosure design by measuring how captive animals access space. This metric, however, lacks the precision to quantify individual-level space utilization or to determine how the distribution of resources and physical features within an enclosure might influence space use. Here we demonstrate how Principal Component Analysis (PCA) can be employed to address these aims and to therefore facilitate both individual-level welfare assessment and the fine-scale evaluation of enclosure design across a range of captive settings. We illustrate the application of this methodology by investigating enclosure use patterns of the Livingstone’s fruit bat (Pteropus livingstonii) population housed at Jersey Zoo. Focal sampling was used to estimate the time each of 44 individuals in the first data collection period and 50 individuals in the second period spent in each of 42 theoretical enclosure sections. PCA was then applied to reduce the 42 sections to five and seven ecologically relevant “enclosure dimensions” for the first and second data collection periods respectively. Individuals were then assigned to the dimension that most accurately represented their enclosure use patterns based on their highest dimensional eigenvalue. This assigned dimension is hereafter referred to as the individual’s Enclosure Use Style (EUS). Sex was found to be significantly correlated with an individual’s EUS in the second period, whilst age was found to significantly influence individual fidelity to assigned EUS. When assessing the effect of resource location on group-level preference for certain sections, the presence of feeders and proximity to public viewing areas in period one, and feeders and heaters in period two, were positively correlated with space use. Finally, individual EUS remained consistent between both data collection periods. We interpret these results for this species in the context of its observed behavioural ecology in the wild and evaluate the degree to which the current captive enclosure for this population allows for optimal individual welfare through the facilitation of spatial choice. We then explore how these methods could be applied to safeguard captive animal welfare across a range of other scenarios.
  • Uncertainty, Anxiety and Isolation: Experiencing the COVID-19 Pandemic and Lockdown as a Woman with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

    Atkinson, Lou; Kite, Chris; McGregor, G; James, Tamsin; Clark, Cain C T; Randeva, Harpal S; Kyrou, Ioannis; Aston University; University of Chester; Coventry University; University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire; University of Warwick
    Background: The COVID-19 pandemic and the related lockdown measures presented a significant risk to physical and mental wellbeing in affected populations. Women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) are predisposed to several cardio-metabolic risk factors which increase the susceptibility to severe COVID-19 and also exhibit increased likelihood of impaired mental health wellbeing. Therefore, these women who usually receive care from multiple primary and specialist healthcare services may be disproportionately impacted by this pandemic and the related restrictions. This study aimed to explore the lived experience of the first UK national lockdown as a woman with PCOS. Methods: As part of a larger cross-sectional study, 12 women with PCOS living in the UK during the first national COVID-19 lockdown were recruited to a qualitative study. Telephone interviews were conducted in June/July of 2020, and data collected were subjected to thematic analysis. Results: Five themes were identified. “My PCOS Journey” describes participants’ experiences of diagnosis, treatment and ongoing management of their PCOS. “Living Through Lockdown” describes the overall experience and impact of the lockdown on all aspects of participants’ lives. “Self-care and Managing Symptoms” describe multiple challenges to living well with PCOS during the lockdown, including lack of access to supplies and services, and disruption to weight management. “Healthcare on Hold” describes the uncertainty and anxiety associated with delays in accessing specialised healthcare for a range of PCOS aspects, including fertility treatment. “Exacerbating Existing Issues” captures the worsening of pre-existing mental health issues, and an increase in health anxiety and feelings of isolation. Conclusion: For the women with PCOS in this study, the COVID-19 pandemic and the first national lockdown was mostly experienced as adding to the pre-existing challenges of living with their condition. The mental health impact experienced by the study participants was increased due to lack of access to their normal support strategies, limitations on healthcare services and uncertainty about their risk of COVID-19.
  • Sleep disruption and depression, stress and anxiety levels in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) during the lockdown measures for COVID-19 in the UK

    Kite, Chris; Atkinson, Lou; McGregor, Gordon; Clark, Cain C T; Brown, James E; Kyrou, Ioannis; Randeva, Harpal S; University of Chester; Aston University; University Hospitals Coventry & Warwickshire National Health Service (NHS) Trust; Coventry University; University of Warwick (Frontiers Media, 2021-06-04)
    Background: Lockdown measures have been enforced globally in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Given the comorbidity burden in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), these lockdown measures may have a particularly negative impact on sleep health, quality of life (QoL), and depression/stress levels in this population. The aim of this study was to explore whether such potential problems were present in women with PCOS during the COVID-19 lockdown in the UK. Methods: UK women with PCOS were recruited through social media into a cross-sectional study during the COVID-19 lockdown. The study survey was delivered online, and included demographic and COVID-19 relevant questions, as well as validated questionnaires/scales, namely the Insomnia Severity Index (ISI), Depression Anxiety and Stress Scale (DASS-21), and PCOSQOL questionnaire. Results: Three hundred and thirty-three women with PCOS [median age: 30.0 (9.0) years] were recruited. Participants were dichotomized based on responses regarding the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on their sleep [negative (N = 242) vs. no/positive (N = 91) impact]. No differences were noted between groups regarding age, time since PCOS diagnosis, body mass index, or number of comorbidities. Based on the ISI, 44.2% of participants reporting a negative impact on sleep exhibited at least moderately severe clinical insomnia. Compared to those who reported no/positive effect on sleep, the participants reporting a negative impact on sleep also reported poorer QoL, based on the total PCOSQOL score, with a greater impact of PCOS and poorer mood in the corresponding PCOSQOL domains. Based on the DASS-21, the latter also had statistically higher depression and stress levels compared to the former. Finally, for this cohort significant inverse correlations were noted between the ISI and PCOSQOL scores (total and domain scores), whilst the DASS-21 and ISI scores were positively correlated (all p-values <0.001). Conclusion: The majority of recruited UK women with PCOS reported that the COVID-19 lockdown had a negative impact on their sleep, which was also associated with impaired QoL and higher depression/stress levels. Whilst further research is required, women with PCOS should be considered a vulnerable population that may experience an adverse impact on sleep, QoL and mental health well-being due to lockdown measures during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Changes in physical activity and sedentary behaviour due to enforced covid-19-related lockdown and movement restrictions: A protocol for a systematic review and meta-analysis

    Kite, Chris; Lagojda, Lukasz; Clark, Cain C T; Uthman, Olalekan; Denton, Francesca; McGregor, Gordon; Harwood, Amy E; Atkinson, Lou; Broom, David R; Kyrou, Ioannis; et al. (MDPI, 2021-05-14)
    Prolonged lockdown/restriction measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic have reportedly impacted opportunities to be physically active for a large proportion of the population in affected countries globally. The exact changes to physical activity and sedentary behaviours due to these measures have not been fully studied. Accordingly, the objective of this PROSPERO-registered systematic review is to evaluate the available evidence on physical activity and sedentary behaviours in the general population during COVID-19-related lockdown/restriction measures, compared to prior to restrictions being in place. Defined searches to identify eligible studies published in English, from November 2019 up to the date of submission, will be conducted using the following databases: CENTRAL, MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, SPORTDiscus, PSYCinfo, Coronavirus Research Database, Public Health Database, Publicly Available Content Database, SCOPUS, and Google Scholar. The applied inclusion criteria were selected to identify observational studies with no restrictions placed on participants, with outcomes regarding physical activity and/or sedentary behaviour during lockdown/restriction measures, and with comparisons for these outcomes to a time when no such measures were in place. Where appropriate, results from included studies will be pooled and effect estimates will be presented in random effects meta-analyses. To the best of our knowledge, this will be the first systematic review to evaluate one complete year of published data on the impact of COVID-19-related lockdown/restriction measures on physical activity and sedentary behaviour. Thus, this systematic review and meta-analysis will constitute the most up-to-date synthesis of published evidence on any such documented changes, and so will comprehensively inform clinical practitioners, public health agencies, researchers, policymakers and the general public regarding the effects of lockdown/restriction measures on both physical activity and sedentary behaviour.
  • A single dose of ChAdOx1 Chik vaccine induces neutralising antibodies against four chikungunya virus lineages in a phase 1 clinical trial

    Folegatti, Pedro M.; Harrison, Kate; Preciado-Llanes, Lorena; Ramos Lopez, Fernando; Bittaye, Mustapha; Kim, Young Chan; Flaxman, Amy; Bellamy, Duncan; Makinson, Rebecca; Sheridan, Jonathan; et al. (Nature Research, 2021-07-30)
    Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is a reemerging mosquito-borne virus that causes swift outbreaks. Major concerns are the persistent and disabling polyarthralgia in infected individuals. Here we present the results from a first-in-human trial of the candidate simian adenovirus vectored vaccine ChAdOx1 Chik, expressing the CHIKV full-length structural polyprotein (Capsid, E3, E2, 6k and E1). 24 adult healthy volunteers aged 18–50 years, were recruited in a dose escalation, open-label, nonrandomized and uncontrolled phase 1 trial (registry NCT03590392). Participants received a single intramuscular injection of ChAdOx1 Chik at one of the three preestablished dosages and were followed-up for 6 months. The primary objective was to assess safety and tolerability of ChAdOx1 Chik. The secondary objective was to assess the humoral and cellular immunogenicity. ChAdOx1 Chik was safe at all doses tested with no serious adverse reactions reported. The vast majority of solicited adverse events were mild or moderate, and self-limiting in nature. A single dose induced IgG and Tcell responses against the CHIKV structural antigens. Broadly neutralizing antibodies against the four CHIKV lineages were found in all participants and as early as 2 weeks after vaccination. In summary, ChAdOx1 Chik showed excellent safety, tolerability and 100% PRNT50 seroconversion after a single dose.
  • Perspectives on Adolescents’ Obesity Amidst the Nutrition Transition in Lebanon

    Fallows, Stephen; Kennedy, Lynne; Bou Kheir, Miriam (University of Chester, 2020)
    Adolescent obesity is a major public health concern, increasingly affecting low and middle-income countries (LMICs) undergoing the nutrition transition. In developed countries, governments had the time to adjust to this rise in the consequent non-communicable diseases (NCDs), whereas the developing world is facing a triple burden of nutrition-related disease simultaneously. However, amidst the nutrition transition, drivers to obesity may differ within the same country especially between the urban and rural areas, depending on the context and environmental factors. In order to unravel how the nutrition transition process unfolds in both urban and rural areas, an exploration of the factors affecting adolescents’ lifestyle and eating behaviours, in the current context was deemed appropriate. Additionally, exploring stakeholders’ views on adolescents’ obesity including facilitators and barriers to obesity prevention is key in intervention and policy drawing. This study thus aimed to explore in-depth, whether, how, and to what extent is the nutrition transition currently affecting adolescents’ environments in Lebanon, focusing on both adolescents’ and stakeholders’ perspectives, awareness, and barriers to the prevention of adolescents’ obesity. The study used a sequential multi-method approach along a bricolage methodology. The first phase of the study adopted a qualitative approach, involving focus groups with adolescents (n = 78) to explore their perceptions regarding their eating behaviours as well as the role of the environment surrounding them in both urban and rural areas. A number of direct (availability of Western foods, peer pressure, parental control, eating location, body image) and indirect (adolescence autonomy, role modeling, cultural beliefs, peer surveillance) factors seemed to influence adolescents’ eating behaviours. Almost similar behaviours were perceived between the urban and rural area, showcasing the impact of the nutrition transition in both areas although different underlying factors were stated. The factors identified in this study were grouped and discussed based on the socioecological model (SEM) highlighting the importance of the social and environmental influences on adolescents’ eating behaviours. The second phase of the study adopted a qualitative approach; using one-to-one interviews to investigate stakeholders’ opinions on adolescents’ obesity. The study highlighted the barriers and facilitators in preventing adolescents’ obesity in relation to adolescents’ eating behaviours and the surrounding environment. Key stakeholders interviewed in this phase included different sectors such as the Ministry of Education, Municipalities, Transportation NGOs, with a special emphasis on the school setting including school directors, manager of school cafeteria, sports teacher, school nurse and head teacher. Interviews revealed the lack of awareness concerning the obesity problem and the importance of the environmental influences, a lack of intersectoral cooperation between stakeholders in Lebanon and a greater emphasis on the individual responsibility in the prevention of adolescents’ obesity. This study has revealed and engaged with the varied conceptualisations of obesity causation amongst adolescents, in both urban and rural areas, amid the nutrition transition in Lebanon. Acknowledging that the causes of obesity are complex this study collects insights of both adolescents and key stakeholders’ perceptions; to date, no study has engaged with both in Lebanon, justifying the need for the present study. Clearly, in keeping with the literature on the different rate of nutrition transition between rural and urban environments further justifies the consideration of both context. Given the findings of this study in regards to the dramatic changes affecting both urban and rural areas regarding the number of meals consumed away from home, the increase in fast-food consumption and the increase in sedentary lifestyles, new challenges in relation to adolescent obesity prevention in LMICs are created. The creation of supportive local environments, in both urban and rural areas, represents an important avenue where eating behaviours concerns, and thus adolescents’ obesity can be addressed.
  • Deteriorations in physical qualities during a 10-week unsupervised off-season period in academy rugby union players

    Twist, Craig; Williams, Jack; Dobbin, Nick; University of Chester; Manchester Metropolitan University
    Purpose: To determine the changes in physical qualities of academy rugby union players over a 10-week unsupervised off-season period. Methods: Body mass, jump height, sprint performance, and intermittent running (30:15 IFT) of 64 academy rugby union players (age = 17.2 ± 0.4 y) were recorded before and after the off-season. Results: Changes in body mass (+1.4 ± 1.3 kg), countermovement jump (-2.2 ± 1.2 cm), squat jump (-1.5 ± 1.8 cm), 10 m sprint (+0.06 ± 0.05 s), 40 m sprint (+0.13 ± 0.11 s) and 30:15 IFT (-0.8 ± 0.8 kmh-1) were observed (P < 0.001, d = -1.77 to 0.47). Only changes in body mass were greater in forwards than backs (P = 0.036, d = 0.46). Players with higher end-of-season body mass, squat jump and 30:15 IFT had greater off-season changes (P = < 0.001 to 0.044; d = 0.63 to 0.94), whilst the pre-post difference in body mass influenced CMJ (P = 0.005, d = 0.75) and 10 m momentum change (P <0.001, d = 1.61). Conclusion: Understanding the individuality of the changes in physical qualities of academy rugby union players during the off-season is important to ensure players return safely to pre-season training loads.
  • Assessment of serum total 25-hydroxyvitamin D assay commutability of Standard Reference Materials and College of American Pathologists Accuracy-Based Vitamin D (ABVD) Scheme and Vitamin D External Quality Assessment Scheme (DEQAS) materials: Vitamin D Standardization Program (VDSP) Commutability Study 2

    Mushtaq, Sohail; Camara, Johanna E.; Wise, Stephen A.; Sempos, Christopher T.; University of Chester; National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST); National Institutes of Health (NIH); Vitamin D Standardization Program LLC (Springer, 2021-06-28)
    An interlaboratory study was conducted through the Vitamin D Standardization Program (VDSP) to assess commutability of Standard Reference Materials® (SRMs) and proficiency testing/external quality assessment (PT/EQA) samples for determination of serum total 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] using ligand binding assays and liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). A set of 50 single-donor serum samples were assigned target values for 25-hydroxyvitamin D2 [25(OH)D2] and 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 [25(OH)D3] using reference measurement procedures (RMPs). SRM and PT/EQA samples evaluated included SRM 972a (four levels), SRM 2973, six College of American Pathologists (CAP) Accuracy-Based Vitamin D (ABVD) samples, and nine Vitamin D External Quality Assessment Scheme (DEQAS) samples. Results were received from 28 different laboratories using 20 ligand binding assays and 14 LC-MS/MS methods. Using the test assay results for total serum 25(OH)D (i.e., the sum of 25(OH)D2 and 25(OH)D3) determined for the single-donor samples and the RMP target values, the linear regression and 95% prediction intervals (PIs) were calculated. Using a subset of 42 samples that had concentrations of 25(OH)D2 below 30 nmol/L, one or more of the SRM and PT/EQA samples with high concentrations of 25(OH)D2 were deemed non-commutable using 5 of 11 unique ligand binding assays. SRM 972a (level 4), which has high exogenous concentration of 3-epi-25(OH)D3, was deemed non-commutable for 50% of the LC-MS/MS assays.
  • Non-territorial GPS-tagged golden eagles Aquila chrysaetos at two Scottish wind farms: avoidance influenced by preferred habitat distribution, wind speed and blade motion status

    Fielding, Alan H; Anderson, David; Benn, Stuart; Dennis, Roy; Weston, Ewan; Whitfield, Philip; Natural Research Ltd; Forestry and Land Scotland; RSPB Scotland; Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation; University of Chester (Public Library of Science, 2021-08-05)
    Wind farms can have two broad potential adverse effects on birds via antagonistic processes: displacement from the vicinity of turbines (avoidance), or death through collision with rotating turbine blades. These effects may not be mutually exclusive. Using detailed data from 99 turbines at two wind farms in central Scotland and thousands of GPS-telemetry data from dispersing golden eagles, we tested three hypotheses. Before-and-after-operation analyses supported the hypothesis of avoidance: displacement was reduced at turbine locations in more preferred habitat and with more preferred habitat nearby. After-operation analyses (i.e. from the period when turbines were operational) showed that at higher wind speeds and in highly preferred habitat eagles were less wary of turbines with motionless blades: rejecting our second hypothesis. Our third hypothesis was supported, since at higher wind speeds eagles flew closer to operational turbines; especially – once more – turbines in more preferred habitat. After operation, eagles effectively abandoned inner turbine locations, and flight line records close to rotor blades were rare. While our study indicated that whole-wind farm functional habitat loss through avoidance was the substantial adverse impact, we make recommendations on future wind farm design to minimise collision risk further. These largely entail developers avoiding outer turbine locations which are in and surrounded by swathes of preferred habitat. Our study illustrates the insights which detailed case studies of large raptors at wind farms can bring and emphasises that the balance between avoidance and collision can have several influences.
  • Responses of dispersing GPS-tagged Golden Eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) to multiple wind farms across Scotland

    Fielding, Alan H; Anderson, David; Benn, Stuart; Dennis, Roy; Geary, Matthew; Weston, Ewan; Whitfield, Phil; Natural Research Ltd; Forestry and Land Scotland; RSPB Scotland; Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation; University of Chester (Wiley, 2021-07-20)
    Wind farms may have two broad potential adverse effects on birds via antagonistic processes: displacement from the vicinity of turbines (avoidance), or death through collision with rotating turbine blades. Large raptors are often shown or presumed to be vulnerable to collision and are demographically sensitive to additional mortality, as exemplified by several studies of the Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos. Previous findings from Scottish Eagles, however, have suggested avoidance as the primary response. Our study used data from 59 GPS-tagged Golden Eagles with 28 284 records during natal dispersal before and after turbine operation < 1 km of 569 turbines at 80 wind farms across Scotland. We tested three hypotheses using measurements of tag records’ distance from the hub of turbine locations: (1) avoidance should be evident; (2) older birds should show less avoidance (i.e. habituate to turbines); and (3) rotor diameter should have no influence (smaller diameters are correlated with a turbine’s age, in examining possible habituation). Four generalized linear mixed models (GLMMs) were constructed with intrinsic habitat preference of a turbine location using Golden Eagle Topography (GET) model, turbine operation status (before/after), bird age and rotor diameter as fixed factors. The best GLMM was subsequently verified by k-fold cross-validation and involved only GET habitat preference and presence of an operational turbine. Eagles were eight times less likely to be within a rotor diameter’s distance of a hub location after turbine operation, and modelled displacement distance was 70 m. Our first hypothesis expecting avoidance was supported. Eagles were closer to turbine locations in preferred habitat but at greater distances after turbine operation. Results on bird age (no influence to 5+ years) rejected hypothesis 2, implying no habituation. Support for hypothesis 3 (no influence of rotor diameter) also tentatively inferred no habituation, but data indicated birds went slightly closer to longer rotor blades although not to the turbine tower. We proffer that understanding why avoidance or collision in large raptors may occur can be conceptually envisaged via variation in fear of humans as the ‘super predator’ with turbines as cues to this life-threatening agent.
  • Evaluation of the Feasibility, Reliability, and Repeatability of Welfare Indicators in Free-Roaming Horses: A Pilot Study.

    Harley, Jessica; Stack, J.D.; Braid, H; McLennan, Krista M.; Stanley, Christina; University of Chester; University of Liverpool
    Validated assessment protocols have been developed to quantify welfare states for intensively managed sport, pleasure, and working horses. There are few protocols for extensively managed or free-roaming populations. Here, we trialed welfare indicators to ascertain their feasibility, reliability, and repeatability using free-roaming Carneddau Mountain ponies as an example population. The project involved (1) the identification of animal and resource-based measures of welfare from both the literature and discussion with an expert group; (2) testing the feasibility and repeatability of a modified body condition score and mobility score on 34 free-roaming and conservation grazing Carneddau Mountain ponies; and (3) testing a prototype welfare assessment template comprising 12 animal-based and 6 resource-based welfare indicators, with a total of 20 questions, on 35 free-roaming Carneddau Mountain ponies to quantify inter-assessor reliability and repeatability. This pilot study revealed that many of the indicators were successfully repeatable and had good levels of inter-assessor reliability. Some of the indicators could not be verified for reliability due to low/absent occurrence. The results indicated that many animal and resource-based indicators commonly used in intensively managed equine settings could be measured in-range with minor modifications. This study is an initial step toward validating a much-needed tool for the welfare assessment of free-roaming and conservation grazing ponies.

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