• Are you lookin’ at me? A mixed-methods case study to investigate the influence of coaches’ presence on performance testing outcomes in male academy rugby league players

      Richardson, Ben; Dobbin, Nick; White, Christopher; Bloyce, Daniel; Twist, Craig; University of Chester; York St John University; Manchester Metropolitan University; Wrexham Glyndwr University; University of Chester (Sage Publications, 2022-09-21)
      The study used a mixed-methods approach to examine how the presence of coaches influenced male academy rugby league players’ performance during physical performance testing. Fifteen male rugby players completed two trials of 20 m sprint, countermovement jump and prone Yo-Yo test; one with only the lead researcher present and a second where the lead researcher conducted the battery with both the club’s lead S&C coach, academy manager, and the first team assistant and head coach present. Players and coaches then completed one-to-one semi-structured interviews to explore their beliefs, attitudes and opinions towards physical performance testing. In all tests, the players’ performance was better when the coaches were present compared to when this was conducted by the sport scientist alone. Interviews revealed performance testing was used by coaches to exercise their power over players to socialise them into a desired culture. Players’ own power was evident through additional effort during testing when coaches were present. Practitioners should ensure consistency in the presence of significant observers during performance testing of male rugby players to minimise their influence on test outcome.
    • N-3 fatty acid supplementation mediates lipid profile, including small dense LDL, when combined with statins: a randomized double blind placebo controlled trial

      Mushtaq, Sohail; Dogay Us, Gediz; University of Chester; Maastricht University (BMC, 2022-09-01)
      Background: Epidemiological and clinical evidence suggests that high-dose intake of omega 3 fatty acids (n-3 FA) have a favorable role in altering serum triglycerides (TG) and non-high density lipoprotein cholesterol (non-HDL-C) when combined with statins in hyperlipidemic patients. Their efficacy in altering low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) particle size is yet to be established. Aim: This study evaluated the effects of supplementing 4 g/day Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) on serum blood lipids, including small, dense LDL-C particle concentration, in hyperlipidemic patients receiving stable statin therapy. Methods: In this randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind parallel group study, 44 patients on statin therapy for > 8 weeks with non-HDL-C concentrations above 130 mg/dL were randomized into two groups. For 8 weeks, together with their prescribed statin, the intervention group received 4 g/day EPA + DHA (3000 mg EPA + 1000 mg DHA in ethyl ester form) and the placebo group received 4 g/day olive oil (OO). Measurements of serum non-HDL-C, TG, total cholesterol (TC), high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), LDL-C (including large - LDL I; intermediate - LDL II; and small - LDL III subclasses), very-low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (VLDL-C) concentration, were taken at baseline and post-intervention. Dietary intake was assessed with a weighed intake, 3-day food diary at week 4. Primary outcome measures were percent change in LDL III, non-HDL-C and LDL particle number. Results: At the end of treatment, the median percent change in serum LDL III concentration was significantly greater in the n-3 FA group plus atorvastatin compared to placebo (− 67.5% vs − 0%, respectively; P < 0.001). Supplemen- tation with n-3 FA plus atorvastatin led to significant reductions in serum non-HDL-C (− 9.5% vs 4.7%, P < 0.01), TG (− 21.5% vs 6.2%, P < 0.001) and VLDL-C (− 36.9% vs 4.0%, P < 0.001) and TC (− 6.6% vs 2.1%, P < 0.001). Between the groups, no significant difference in percent change in the serum concentration of LDL-C, HDL-C, as well as in the LDL I and LDL II subclasses was observed. Conclusion: In this group of hyperlipidemic patients on a stable statin prescription, OM3 plus atorvastatin improved small dense LDL concentrations, non-HDL-C, VLDL-C and TG to a greater extent than atorvastatin alone. Further stud- ies are warranted in this area.
    • The effects of allogrooming and social network position on behavioural indicators of stress in female lion-tailed macaques (Macaca silenus)

      Yates, Kerrie; Stanley, Christina R.; Bettridge, Caroline; Manchester Metropolitan University; University of Chester; Bangor University (Elsevier, 2022-08-28)
      Allogrooming serves an important social function in primates and confers short term benefits such as parasite removal and stress-relief. There is currently mixed evidence as to the immediate impact of allogrooming on an individual’s stress levels, which may be influenced by their role in the grooming dyad, position in their social network, or their relationship with their grooming partner. In this study of seven captive adult female lion-tailed macaques (Macaca silenus) in a mixed sex group at Chester Zoo, UK, we found evidence to support a tension-reduction function of allogrooming. Focal animal sampling showed that the duration of self-directed behaviour (SDB), which indicates moderate to high levels of stress, was significantly lower in the five-minute period following allogrooming than the five-minute minute period preceding it for both recipients and groomers. However, when compared to match-control periods, both SDB rates and durations were significantly lower across all individuals in the five-minute period both before and after allogrooming, indicating that although allogrooming reduces stress, it is also more likely to occur when individuals are already in a relatively relaxed state. The rate and duration of SDB post-grooming did not correlate with the strength of a dyad’s bond (based on proximity). This suggests that it is the act of allogrooming itself, rather than the identity of the partner, that reduces stress for both parties. Analysis of the proximity network highlighted a clear cost to social integration; node strength, a measure of the number and strength of an individual’s direct relationships, positively correlated with the duration of self-directed behaviour, suggesting that more gregarious individuals may experience higher levels of stress. These findings add to the growing body of literature that examines the effect of the individual social environment on primate stress levels, and also highlight the need to further investigate the link between social integration and the stress experienced by group-living animals.
    • Quantifying the hip-ankle synergy in short-term maximal cycling

      Burnie, Louise; Barratt, Paul; Davids, Keith; Worsfold, Paul; Wheat, Jon; Northumbria University; Sheffield Hallam University; English Institute of Sport; BAE Systems Digital; University of Chester (Elsevier, 2022-08-24)
      Simulation studies have demonstrated that the hip and ankle joints form a task-specific synergy during the downstroke in maximal cycling to enable the power produced by the hip extensor muscles to be transferred to the crank. The existence of the hip-ankle synergy has not been investigated experimentally. Therefore, we sought to apply a modified vector coding technique to quantify the strength of the hip-ankle moment synergy in the downstroke during short-term maximal cycling at a pedalling rate of 135 rpm. Twelve track sprint cyclists performed 3 × 4 s seated sprints at 135 rpm, interspersed with 2 × 4 s seated sprints at 60 rpm on an isokinetic ergometer. Data from the 60 rpm sprints were not analysed in this study. Joint moments were calculated via inverse dynamics, using pedal forces and limb kinematics. The hip-ankle moment synergy was quantified using a modified vector coding method. Results showed, for 28.8% of the downstroke the hip and ankle moments were in-phase, demonstrating the hip and ankle joints tend to work in synergy in the downstroke, providing some support findings from simulation studies of cycling. At a pedalling rate of 135 rpm the hip-phase was most frequent (42.5%) significantly differing from the in- (P = 0.044), anti- (P < 0.001), and ankle-phases (P = 0.004), demonstrating hip-dominant action. We believe this method shows promise to answer research questions on the relative strength of the hip-ankle synergy between different cycling conditions (e.g., power output and pedalling rates).
    • From dyads to collectives: a review of honeybee signalling

      Hasenjager, Matthew J.; Franks, Victoria R.; Leadbeater, Ellouise; orcid: 0000-0002-4029-7254; email: elli.leadbeater@rhul.ac.uk (Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 2022-08-22)
      Abstract: The societies of honeybees (Apis spp.) are microcosms of divided labour where the fitness interests of individuals are so closely aligned that, in some contexts, the colony behaves as an entity in itself. Self-organization at this extraordinary level requires sophisticated communication networks, so it is not surprising that the celebrated waggle dance, by which bees share information about locations outside the hive, evolved here. Yet bees within the colony respond to several other lesser-known signalling systems, including the tremble dance, the stop signal and the shaking signal, whose roles in coordinating worker behaviour are not yet fully understood. Here, we firstly bring together the large but disparate historical body of work that has investigated the “meaning” of such signals for individual bees, before going on to discuss how network-based approaches can show how such signals function as a complex system to control the collective foraging effort of these remarkable social insect societies.
    • Collagen fingerprinting of Caribbean archaeological fish bones: Methodological implications for historical fisheries baselines and anthropogenic change

      Harvey, Virginia L.; LeFebvre, Michelle J.; Sharpe, Ashley E.; Toftgaard, Casper; DeFrance, Susan D.; Giovas, Christina M.; Fitzpatrick, Scott M.; Buckley, Michael; University of Manchester; University of Florida; Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute; National Museum of Denmark; Simon Fraser University; University of Oregon. (Elsevier, 2022-08-22)
      The Caribbean Sea is the most species-rich sea in the Atlantic, largely due to its vast coral reef systems. However, its high biodiversity and endemism face unprecedented anthropogenic threats, including synergistic modern pressures from overfishing, climate change and bioinvasion. Archaeological data indicate initial human settle- ment of the Caribbean ~7000 years before present (yr BP), with regionally variable human impacts on fisheries through time based on standard morphological identification of fish bone. Such studies, however, are challenged by the low taxonomic resolution of archaeological fish bone identifications due to high species diversity and morphological similarity between members of different families or genera. Here, we present collagen finger- printing (Zooarchaeology by Mass Spectrometry; ZooMS) as a method to overcome this challenge, applying it to 1000 archaeological bone specimens identified morphologically as ray-finned fish (superclass Actinopterygii) from 13 circum-Caribbean sites spanning ca. 3150–300 yr BP (years before present). The method successfully identified collagen-containing samples (n = 720) to family (21%), genus (57%), and species (13%) level. Of the 209 samples that were morphologically identified below superclass, collagen fingerprinting verified the taxo- nomic identity of 94% of these, but also refined the identifications to a lower [more precise] taxon in 45% of cases. The remaining 6% of morphological identifications were found to be incorrectly assigned. This study represents the largest application of ZooMS to archaeological fish bones to date and advances future research through the identification of up to 20 collagen biomarkers for 45 taxa in 10 families and 2 orders. The results indicate that refinement of ZooMS archaeological fish identifications in this study is limited not by the quality of the preserved collagen but by the extent of the available modern collagen reference collection. Thus, efforts should be directed towards expanding collagen fingerprint databases in the first instance. Significantly, the high- resolution taxonomic identifications of archaeological bone that ZooMS can offer make ancient fisheries data highly relevant to modern sustainability and conservation efforts in the Caribbean. Additionally, more precise identifications will allow archaeologists to address a variety of questions related to cultural fishing practices and changes in fish stocks through time. This study supports the use of ZooMS as an effective biochemical tool available for mass-taxonomic identification of archaeological fish bone samples spanning century to millennial time scales in the circum-Caribbean.
    • From dyads to collectives: a review of honeybee signalling

      Hasenjager, Matthew; Franks, Victoria; Leadbeater, Ellouise; University of Tennessee; University of Chester; Royal Holloway University of London (Springer, 2022-08-22)
      The societies of honeybees (Apis spp) are microcosms of divided labour where the fitness interests of individuals are so closely aligned that, in some contexts, the colony behaves as an entity in itself. Self-organization at this extraordinary level requires sophisticated communication networks, so it is not surprising that the celebrated “waggle dance”, by which bees share information about locations outside the hive, evolved here. Yet bees within the colony respond to several other lesser-known signalling systems, including the tremble dance, the stop signal and the shaking signal, whose roles in coordinating worker behaviour are not yet fully understood. Here, we firstly bring together the large but disparate historical body of work that has investigated the “meaning” of such signals for individual bees, before going on to discuss how network-based approaches can show how such signals function as a complex system to control the collective foraging effort of these remarkable social insect societies.
    • Postnatal Protein Intake as a Determinant of Skeletal Muscle Structure and Function in Mice-A Pilot Study

      Giakoumaki, Ifigeneia; Pollock, Natalie; Aljuaid, Turki; Sannicandro, Anthony J.; Alameddine, Moussira; Owen, Euan; Myrtziou, Ioanna; Ozanne, Susan E.; Kanakis, Ioannis; Goljanek-Whysall, Katarzyna; et al. (MDPI, 2022-08-08)
      Sarcopenia is characterised by an age-related decrease in the number of muscle fibres and additional weakening of the remaining fibres, resulting in a reduction in muscle mass and function. Many studies associate poor maternal nutrition during gestation and/or lactation with altered skeletal muscle homeostasis in the offspring and the development of sarcopenia. The aim of this study was to determine whether the musculoskeletal physiology in offspring born to mouse dams fed a low-protein diet during pregnancy was altered and whether any physiological changes could be modulated by the nutritional protein content in early postnatal stages. Thy1-YFP female mice were fed ad libitum on either a normal (20%) or a low-protein (5%) diet. Newborn pups were cross-fostered to different lactating dams (maintained on a 20% or 5% diet) to generate three groups analysed at weaning (21 days): Normal-to-Normal (NN), Normal-to-Low (NL) and Low-to-Normal (LN). Further offspring were maintained ad libitum on the same diet as during lactation until 12 weeks of age, creating another three groups (NNN, NLL, LNN). Mice on a low protein diet postnatally (NL, NLL) exhibited a significant reduction in body and muscle weight persisting up to 12 weeks, unlike mice on a low protein diet only prenatally (LN, LNN). Muscle fibre size was reduced in mice from the NL but not LN group, showing recovery at 12 weeks of age. Muscle force was reduced in NLL mice, concomitant with changes in the NMJ site and changes in atrophy-related and myosin genes. In addition, μCT scans of mouse tibiae at 12 weeks of age revealed changes in bone mass and morphology, resulting in a higher bone mass in the NLL group than the control NNN group. Finally, changes in the expression of miR-133 in the muscle of NLL mice suggest a regulatory role for this microRNA in muscle development in response to postnatal diet changes. Overall, this data shows that a low maternal protein diet and early postnatal life low-protein intake in mice can impact skeletal muscle physiology and function in early life while postnatal low protein diet favours bone integrity in adulthood.
    • Phylogenetic placement and life history trait imputation for Grenada Dove Leptotila wellsi

      Peters, Catherine; Geary, Matthew; Nelson, Howard; Rusk, Bonnie; von Hardenberg, Achaz; Muir, Anna P.; University of Chester; University of Cambridge; Grenada Dove Conservation Programme (Cambridge University Press, 2022-08-05)
      Phylogenetic analyses can be used to resolve taxonomic uncertainties and reconstruct a species’ evolutionary history. This can be combined with ecological data to predict missing life history traits which are important for creation of conservation management strategies. We investigated the evolutionary and life history of the Critically Endangered Grenada Dove Leptotila wellsi by estimating its phylogenetic placement and using this new phylogeny to test the accuracy of phylogenetic comparative methods for estimating both documented and unknown life history traits. We extracted DNA from two Grenada Dove samples and obtained sequences from three mitochondrial markers: Cytochrome oxidase I (COI), NADH dehydrogenase 2 (ND2) and Cytochrome b (Cyt b); and one nuclear marker: β-Fibrinogen intron 7 (β-FIB). We present the first genetic data obtained for the Grenada Dove. Our data identifies the Grey-Chested Dove Leptotila cassinii as the species which shares both a most recent common ancestor, with an estimated divergence of approximately 2.53 million years ago, and the smallest genetic distance (p=0.0303) with the Grenada dove. Life history trait values for the Grenada Dove predicted from our analyses using phylogenetic imputation are: clutch size=2 (±0.09) eggs, clutches per year=1.4 (±0.81), incubation time=14.2 (±0.75) days, hatching weight=3.8 (±1.05) grams and single imputation: fledging age (genus median) =15.5 days, longevity (genus median) =8.6 years. This study contributes novel information regarding evolutionary history and life history characteristics to inform long-term conservation actions for a Critically Endangered species.
    • Individual and situational factors affecting the movement characteristics and internal responses to Touch match-play during an international tournament.

      Dobbin, Nick; Thorpe, Cari; Highton, Jamie; Twist, Craig; Manchester Metropolitan University; University of Chester (Taylor and Francis, 2022-08-03)
      The purpose of this study was to examine the influence of individual and situational factors on the movement characteristics and internal responses of players to an international Touch tournament. Using 47 International Touch players (25 men and 22 women), the associations between the movement characteristics and internal responses with individual (sprint, glycolytic test, Yo-Yo intermittent recovery test level 1 [Yo-Yo IR1], jump performance and wellbeing) and situational (sex, squad, position, competition day, points scored/conceded, result, and opposition rank) factors were examined using linear mixed modelling. Yo-Yo IR1 distance was associated with all movement characteristics and internal responses (r=-0.29 to 0.37), whilst sprint and glycolytic times only influenced mean heart rate (HRmean) (r=0.15) and high-speed distance (r=0.10), respectively. Sex influenced high-speed distance (r=-0.41), whilst squad was associated with playing time and HRmean (r=-0.10-0.33). Other associations included: playing position with all movement characteristics (r=-0.67-0.81); points conceded with relative distance (r=-0.14); winning with high metabolic power and session RPE (r=-0.07-0.09), and opposition rank with HRmean and RPE (r=0.11-0.35). Individual and situational factors can influence the movement characteristics and internal responses to Touch and should be considered when developing the characteristics of players and interpreting responses to match-play.
    • Peptide mass fingerprinting of preserved collagen in archaeological fish bones for the identification of flatfish in European waters

      Dierickx, Katrien; Presslee, Samantha; Hagan, Richard; Oueslati, Tarek; Harland, Jennifer; Hendy, Jessica; Orton, David; Alexander, Michelle; Harvey, Virginia L.; University of York; University of Lille (The Royal Society, 2022-07-27)
      Bones of Pleuronectiformes (flatfish) are often not identified to species due to the lack of diagnostic features on bones that allow adequate distinction between taxa. This hinders in-depth understanding of archaeological fish assemblages and particularly flatfish fisheries throughout history. This is especially true for the North Sea region, where several commercially significant species have been exploited for centuries, yet their archaeological remains continue to be understudied. In this research, 8 peptide biomarkers for 18 different species of Pleuronectiformes from European waters are described using MALDI-TOF MS and LC-MS/MS data obtained from modern reference specimens. Bone samples (n=202) from three archaeological sites in the UK and France dating to the medieval period (c. 7th–16th century CE) were analysed using ZooMS. Of the 201 that produced good quality spectra, 196 were identified as flatfish species, revealing a switch in targeted species through time and indicating that ZooMS offers a more reliable and informative approach for species identification than osteological methods alone. We recommend this approach for future studies of archaeological flatfish remains as the precise species uncovered from a site can tell much about the origin of the fish, where people fished and whether they traded between regions.
    • The kidney matrisome in health, aging and disease

      Lausecker, Franziska; Lennon, Rachel; Randles, Michael J.; The University of Manchester; University of Chester (Elsevier, 2022-07-20)
      Dysregulated extracellular matrix is the hallmark of fibrosis, and it has a profound impact on kidney function in disease. Furthermore, perturbation of matrix homeostasis is a feature of aging and is associated with declining kidney function. Understanding these dynamic processes, in the hope of developing therapies to combat matrix dysregulation, requires the integration of data acquired by both well-established and novel technologies. Owing to its complexity, the extracellular proteome, or matrisome, still holds many secrets and has great potential for the identification of clinical biomarkers and drug targets. The molecular resolution of matrix composition during aging and disease has been illuminated by cutting-edge mass spectrometry-based proteomics in recent years, but there remain key questions about the mechanisms that drive altered matrix composition. Basement membrane components are particularly important in the context of kidney function; and data from proteomic studies suggest that switches between basement membrane and interstitial matrix proteins are likely to contribute to organ dysfunction during aging and disease. Understanding the impact of such changes on physical properties of the matrix, and the subsequent cellular response to altered stiffness and viscoelasticity, is of critical importance. Likewise, the comparison of proteomic datasets from multiple organs is required to identify common matrix biomarkers and shared pathways for therapeutic intervention. Coupled with single cell transcriptomics there is the potential to identify the cellular origin of matrix changes, which could enable cell targeted therapy. This review provides a contemporary perspective of the complex kidney matrisome and draws comparison to altered matrix in heart and liver disease.
    • Pre- and peri-operative clinical information, physiological observations and outcome measures following flexible ureterorenoscopy (FURS), for the treatment of kidney stones. A single-centre observational clinical pilot-study in 51 patients

      Hughes, Stephen Fôn; orcid: 0000-0001-6558-9037; email: Stephen.hughes6@wales.nhs.uk; Moyes, Alyson Jayne; Jones, Kevin; Bell, Christopher; Duckett, Abigail; Moussa, Ahmed; Shergill, Iqbal (BioMed Central, 2022-07-14)
      Abstract: Background: Kidney stone disease contributes to a significant proportion of routine urological practice and remains a common cause of worldwide morbidity. The main aim of this clinical-pilot study was to investigate the effect of flexible ureterorenoscopy (FURS) on pre- and peri-operative clinical information, physiological observations and outcome measures. Methods: Included were 51 patients (31 males, 20 females), who underwent elective FURS, for the treatment of kidney stones. Pre-operative and peri-operative clinical information, and post-operative physiological observations and outcome measures were collected using a standard case report form. Pre-operative clinical information included age, gender, BMI, previous history of stone formation and hypertension. Pre-operative stone information included the size (mm), Hounsfield units (HU), laterality and intra-renal anatomical location. Peri-operative surgical details included surgical time in minutes; Laser use; Duration and energy of laser; and post-operative stenting. The physiological outcomes measured included systolic and diastolic blood pressure (mmHg), Likert pain score, temperature, heart rate (bpm) and respiration rate (bpm). Following initial descriptive analysis, a series of Pearson’s correlation coefficient tests were performed to investigate the relationship between surgical factors other variable factors. Results: A series of significant, positive correlations were observed between; age and surgical time (p = 0.014, r = 0.373); stone size and Hounsfield unit (p = 0.029, r = 0.406); surgical time and duration of laser (p < 0.001, r = 0.702); surgical time and BMI (p = 0.035, r = 0.322); baseline heart rate and Hounsfield unit (p = 0.026, r = − 0.414); base line heart rate and BMI (p = 0.030, r = 0.307).; heart rate at 120-min post FURS and age (p = 0.038, r = − 0.308); baseline pain score and BMI (p = 0.010, r = 0.361); baseline respiration rate and BMI (p = 0.037, r = 0.296); respiration rate at 240-min post FURS and BMI (p = 0.038, r = 0.329); respiration rate at 120 min post FURS and age (p = 0.022, r = − 0.330). Four patients developed post-operative complications (3—UTIs with urinary retention, 1–urosepsis). Conclusions: We report that following FURS there is an association between various physiological, clinical and surgical parameters. Although these correlations are weak, they warrant further investigation as these may be linked with untoward complications, such as infection that can occur following FURS. This data, however, will need to be validated and reproduced in larger multi-centre studies.
    • Wasserstein GAN based Chest X-Ray Dataset Augmentation for Deep Learning Models: COVID-19 Detection Use-Case

      Hussain, B. Zahid; Andleeb, Ifrah; Ansari, Mohammad Samar; Joshi, Amit Mahesh; Kanwal, Nadia (IEEE, 2022-07-11)
    • Can Player Tracking Devices Monitor Changes in Internal Response During Multidirectional Running?

      Oxendale, Chelsea L.; Highton, Jamie; Twist, Craig; Smith, Grace; University of Chester (Taylor and Francis, 2022-07-07)
      Purpose: We examined the movement, physiological and muscle function responses to running with and without (i.e. linear) multiple directional changes to understand which measures of external demands better reflected changes in the internal response. Methods: Twelve team sport athletes completed a linear and multidirectional running trial during which movement characteristics, oxygen consumption (), blood lactate (B[La]) and heart rate (HR) were measured. Isometric peak torque of knee extensors and flexors was also assessed before and after each trial. Results: High speed running distance was higher during the linear trial (p < 0.001), whereas time at high metabolic power (p = 0.046), number of accelerations (p < 0.001), summated HR (p = 0.003) and B[La] (p = 0.002) were higher during the multidirectional trial. Integrated external to internal ratios of high-speed running: summated HR and high-speed running: total were different between multidirectional and linear trials (p ≤ 0.001). Conversely, high metabolic power: summated HR and high metabolic power: total were similar (p ≥ 0.246). Small decrements in knee flexor (p = 0.003) and extensor torque (p = 0.004) were observed after both trials. Conclusion: Time at high metabolic power better reflects the increased internal response during running with more directional changes than high speed running
    • The effects of prehabilitation on body composition in patients undergoing multimodal therapy for esophageal cancer

      Halliday, Laura J; Boshier, Piers R; Doganay, Emre; Wynter-Blyth, Venetia; Buckley, John P.; Moorthy, Krishna (Oxford University Press (OUP), 2022-07-07)
      Summary Prehabilitation aims to optimize a patient’s functional capacity in preparation for surgery. Esophageal cancer patients have a high incidence of sarcopenia and commonly undergo neoadjuvant therapy, which is associated with loss of muscle mass. This study examines the effects of prehabilitation on body composition during neoadjuvant therapy in esophageal cancer patients. In this cohort study, changes in body composition were compared between esophageal cancer patients who participated in prehabilitation during neoadjuvant therapy and controls who did not receive prehabilitation. Assessment of body composition was performed from CT images acquired at the time of diagnosis and after neoadjuvant therapy. Fifty-one prehabilitation patients and 28 control patients were identified. There was a significantly greater fall in skeletal muscle index (SMI) in the control group compared with the prehabilitation patients (Δ SMI mean difference = −2.2 cm2/m2, 95% CI –4.3 to −0.1, p=0.038). Within the prehabilitation cohort, there was a smaller decline in SMI in patients with ≥75% adherence to exercise in comparison to those with lower adherence (Δ SMI mean difference = −3.2, 95% CI –6.0 to −0.5, P = 0.023). A greater decrease in visceral adipose tissue (VAT) was seen with increasing volumes of exercise completed during prehabilitation (P = 0.046). Loss of VAT during neoadjuvant therapy was associated with a lower risk of post-operative complications (P = 0.017). By limiting the fall in SMI and promoting VAT loss, prehabilitation may have multiple beneficial effects in patients with esophageal cancer. Multi-center, randomized studies are needed to further explore these findings.
    • Long term analysis of social structure: evidence of age-based consistent associations in male Alpine ibex

      Brambilla, Alice; von Hardenberg, Achaz; Canedoli, Claudia; Brivio, Francesca; Sueur, Cédric; Stanley, Christina R.; University of Zurich; University of Chester; University of Milano Bicocca; University of Sassari; University de Strasbourg; Institut Universitaire de France (Wiley, 2022-06-28)
      Despite its recognized importance for understanding the evolution of animal sociality as well as for conservation, long term analysis of social networks of animal populations is still relatively uncommon. We investigated social network dynamics in males of a gregarious mountain ungulate (Alpine ibex, Capra ibex) over ten years focusing on groups, sub-groups and individuals, exploring the dynamics of sociality over different scales. Despite the social structure changing between seasons, the Alpine ibex population was highly cohesive: fission–fusion dynamics lead almost every male in the population to associate with each other male at least once. Nevertheless, we found that male Alpine ibex showed preferential associations that were maintained across seasons and years. Age seemed to be the most important factor driving preferential associations while other characteristics, such as social status, appeared less crucial. We also found that centrality measures were influenced by age and were also related to individual physical condition. The multi-scale and long-term frame of our study helped us show that ecological constrains, such as resource availability, may play a role in shaping associations in a gregarious species, but they cannot solely explain sociality and preferential association that are likely also to be driven by life-history linked physiological and social needs. Our results highlight the importance of long-term studies based on individually recognizable subjects to help us build on our understanding of the evolution of animal sociality.
    • Effects of strength training on the biomechanics and coordination of short-term maximal cycling.

      Burnie, Louise; Barratt, Paul; Davids, Keith; orcid: 0000-0003-1398-6123; Worsfold, Paul; Wheat, Jonathan Stephen; orcid: 0000-0002-1107-6452 (2022-06-28)
      The aim was to investigate the effects of a gym-based strength training intervention on biomechanics and intermuscular coordination patterns during short-term maximal cycling. Twelve track sprint cyclists performed 3 × 4 s seated sprints at 135 rpm, interspersed with 2 × 4 s seated sprints at 60 rpm on an isokinetic ergometer, repeating the session 11.6 ± 1.4 weeks later following a training programme that included two gym-based strength training sessions per week. Joint moments were calculated via inverse dynamics, using pedal forces and limb kinematics. EMG activity was measured for 9 lower limb muscles. Track cyclists 'leg strength" increased (7.6 ± 11.9 kg, = 0.050 and ES = 0.26) following the strength training intervention. This was accompanied by a significant increase in crank power over a complete revolution for sprints at 135 rpm (26.5 ± 36.2 W, = 0.028 and ES = 0.29). The increase in leg strength and average crank power was associated with a change in biceps femoris muscle activity, indicating that the riders successfully adapted their intermuscular coordination patterns to accommodate the changes in personal constraints to increase crank power.
    • Anthropogenic influences on habitat use by African Houbaras Chlamydotis undulata on Lanzarote, Canary Islands

      Geary, Matthew; Cooper, Joseph R.; Collar, Nigel J.; University of Chester; BirdLife International (Elsevier, 2022-06-27)
      African Houbara Chlamydotis undulata is threatened in North Africa by unsustainable hunting and massive overuse of captive-bred birds to replace wild losses. A small population on the Canary Islands is protected from these threats, but the archipelago is economically dependent on tourism which has led to extensive land-use change, particularly close to the coasts. We investigated the drivers of houbara distribution and abundance in and around the large semi-desert El Jable region of northern Lanzarote in order to identify potential measures to conserve this important population. All houbaras seen during point counts in the centre of 30 tetrads (2 km ×2 km) were recorded, along with their location. We used negative binomial regression to evaluate the effects of land use and human activity on the abundance of birds at tetrad scale. At finer scale we used logistic regression to assess the effect of land use on the distribution of displaying males. We recorded 196 houbara sightings on our surveys, although only 10 males were observed displaying. Houbara abundance had a quadratic relationship with the proportion of huerta (agricultural gardens) in a tetrad. The distribution of male displays was positively related to the proportion of long-abandoned farmland within a 100 m radius of their display site. African Houbaras favour the vicinity of small-scale agriculture and abandoned farmland, but avoid areas with higher levels of human land-use. Reduction of extensive land-use change and disturbance in El Jable are key conservation measures.
    • Social roles influence cortisol levels in captive Livingstone's fruit bats (Pteropus livingstonii)

      Edwards, Morgan J.; Stanley, Christina R.; Hosie, Charlotte A.; Richdon, Sarah; Price, Eluned; Wormell, Dominic; Smith, Tessa E.; University of Chester; Bristol Zoological Society; Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust (Elsevier, 2022-06-27)
      A critical component of conserving and housing species ex situ is an explicit scientific understanding of the physiological underpinnings of their welfare. Cortisol has been repeatedly linked to stress, and therefore used as an indicator of welfare for many species. In order to measure cortisol in the Livingstone's fruit bat (Pteropus livingstonii; a critically endangered keystone species) without disturbing the captive population, we have developed and validated a non-invasive, novel hormone extraction procedure and faecal glucocorticoid assay. A total of 92 faecal samples, 73 from the P. livingstonii breeding colony at Jersey Zoo, Channel Islands and 19 samples from P. livingstonii housed at Bristol Zoological Gardens, UK, have been collected and analyzed. Mixed-effect modelling of the influence of physiological state variables on cortisol concentration revealed that lactating females had higher cortisol levels than non-lactating females, indicating that our assay is measuring biologically relevant hormone concentrations. Males and older bats also had higher cortisol than non-lactating females and younger individuals. Further analysis applied social network methodology to compare the cortisol levels of bats with different social roles. We found that individuals that linked social groups possessed higher than average cortisol levels and conversely, individuals with high-quality, positive relationships had lower cortisol levels. These results demonstrate, for the first time in a bat species, social mediation of stress hormones. Lastly, the frequency of vocalisation was found to positively correlate with cortisol concentration in males, suggesting that this behaviour may be used by animal management as a visual indicator of a bat's hormonal status. Hence, this research has provided unique insights and empirical scientific knowledge regarding the relationship between the physiology and social behaviour of P. livingstonii, therefore allowing for recommendations to be made to optimise bat welfare at the individual level.