• Behavioural development in wild Western lowland gorillas (gorilla gorilla gorilla)

      Fletcher, Alison W.; Nowell, Angela A. (University of Liverpool (University of Chester), 2005-02)
      Behavioural development has received little attention in primates, despite having important influences on infant mortality, interbirth intervals, and therefore, growth of populations. Gorillas have long developmental periods, exhibit strong maternal bonds and integrate into intricate social systems, making them an ideal species in which to investigate non-human primate development. Gorillas exist across a range of habitats, and differences in behaviour, both within and between species reflect socioecological differences, for example, in the availability and distribution of food. Consequently, by using gorillas as a model, opportunities also exist to investigate environmental constraints on the development of independence. This study provides the first detailed analysis, with reference to ecological factors, of the development of behavioural skills and relationships in wild western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla). Behavioural development of western lowland gorillas is then compared with published accounts of development in mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei) to determine the extent to which differing ecology influences behaviour. The study was conducted at Mbeli Bai in the Republic of Congo, a large, marshy clearing, visited by gorillas predominantly for feeding purposes. Data were collected using scan, focal, all-occurrence and ad libitum sampling methods from 58 gorillas below 8 years of age. Spatial relationships, suckling, and the nature of interactions involving immature individuals were analysed. The distribution of time between different behaviours by immatures, and the development of independent feeding and travelling behaviour was also investigated, and all were tested for differences as a result of immature age, sex and social group, or the mother's parity. Towards the end of infancy, individuals showed competent feeding behaviour in the bai. However, western lowland gorillas were not weaned until the juvenile period, and until this time, close association was common between mothers and offspring. With increasing independence from the mother there was limited investment in relationships with other individuals, and instead, a greater emphasis was placed on developing skills through play, alloparenting and agonistic interactions. When results were compared with those of mountain gorillas, there was evidence of increased investment in relationships, particularly with the silverback, by immature mountain gorillas, which was assumed to reflect lower rates of natal dispersal by mountain gorillas, and the greater likelihood that relationships with individuals in the natal group could prove useful in the future. Suckling and close proximity to the mother continued until later ages in western lowland gorillas, resulting in clear differences between them mountain gorillas in the duration of investment by mothers. More frugivorous western lowland gorillas required increased levels of investment by the mother before independence could be achieved, demonstrating the effect that resource availability can have on behavioural development in species where resources are widely and unpredictably dispersed.
    • The classification and management of limestone pavements - an endangered habitat

      Burek, Cynthia V.; Alexander, Roy; Thom, Tim; Willis, Sue D. M. (University of Liverpool (University of Chester), 2011-01)
      This thesis describes an in-depth study of limestone pavements across North West England and North Wales. The aim was to combine elements of geodiversity and biodiversity in order to create a holistic limestone pavement classification to inform future management. A field-based research protocol was used to assess a stratified random sample (46 pavements), accounting for approximately 10% of the limestone pavements in the geographical area. Detailed analyses of key elements are presented, along with important issues that continue to pose threats to this Annex One Priority Habitat. This research resulted in a comprehensive classification, using TWINSPAN analysis and Nonmetric Multidimensional Scaling, identifying six distinct holistic functional groups. The prime factors driving limestone pavement morphology, and hence the classification, were established to be lithology, proximity to structural fault, altitude and human intervention, particularly in terms of grazing intensity. Three upland, open limestone pavement classes were formed. Of these, the richest in terms of geodiversity and biodiversity was the group with the thickest bedding planes and hence the deepest grikes, typically greater than 1m. The class that was most species-poor was "at the highest altitude (above 450m), formed on the thin limestones of the Yoredales. These were characterised by shallow, wide grikes. The third upland limestone pavement group had mid-range grikes, generally 0.5-1m in depth, and small clints. Two wooded classes were identified. One was a lowland 'classic' wooded limestone pavement group with deep, narrow grikes and shallow soils. Indicator species included Juniperus communis and Taxus baccata. The second wooded group was situated proximal to a major structural fault. In this group the pavement dip ranged between 10°-40° with well-runnelled clints that were heavily moss-covered. The sixth group was low altitude, proximal to the coast, characterised by low moss growth, un-vegetated clints and the presence of Ulex europaeus. Conservation management was identified as key to the quality of the limestone pavement habitat and this thesis identifies best management practises and links these to the holistic limestone pavement classification. Finally, as a sample case study, this thesis presents mollusc species and diversity from eleven of the Yorkshire limestone pavements. Analysis establishes significant links between geodiversity and mollusc populations, with key drivers for mollusc communities echoing those of plant species on limestone pavement.
    • Conflict management in wild spider monkeys (Ateles geoffroyi yucatanensis)

      Schaffner, Colleen; Rebecchini, Luisa (University of Liverpool (University of Chester), 2010-05)
      Animals living in groups are frequently exposed to conflicts of interest which can escalate into aggression. Aggressive interactions may be a means to resolve incompatibility among objectives. Nevertheless, aggression may undermine the benefits of group living by disrupting the relationships between opponents. Thus, conflict management mechanisms have evolved to cope with the potential damage brought about by aggressive interactions. The aim of my thesis was to investigate the mechanisms to prevent aggressive escalation and to mitigate its negative consequences in 2 communities of wild spider monkeys (Ateles geoffroyi yucanensis). I also examined the factors, such as relationship characteristics, affecting the occurrence of these mechanisms. Spider monkeys live in communities with a high degree of fission fusion dynamics in which individuals frequently split and merge into subgroups of variable composition. The implications of this social system for conflict management were also explored. To characterise spider monkeys’ social relationships, two components were identified and labelled compatibility and risk. These components were further related to relationship characteristics, such as kinship, sex combinations, and tenure in the community. Kin had more compatible relationships than non kin, but there was no difference for risk. Male-male dyads were characterised as being significantly more compatible and riskier than either female-female dyads or male-female dyads. Furthermore, individuals with longer tenure had riskier relationships than individuals with shorter tenure. Among the post-conflict management mechanisms spider monkeys did not engage in reconciliation, redirected aggression, or bystander affiliation. However, an option afforded by their high degree of fission fusion dynamics was used in the aftermath of aggression. Fission from former aggressors was more likely to occur within one hour of the aggressive conflicts than in control periods. Furthermore, individuals sharing riskier and less compatible relationships had significantly shorter latencies to fission compared to those with less risky and more compatible relationships. These patterns suggest that fission may function to reduce the possibility of renewed aggression and cope with increased post-conflict anxiety. Indeed, anxiety levels were higher in the recipients of aggression during the first 5 post-conflict minutes compared to baseline levels. Whereas fission may be a mechanism to cope with the negative consequences of aggressive escalation, fusion of subgroups could lead to uncertainty and hostility. Indeed, aggression increased in the first five post-fusion minutes compared to baseline levels. There was also an increase in post-fusion friendly behaviours, which may function as signals of good intentions. This view was confirmed as post-fusion aggression was reduced when friendly behaviours took place. In addition, shorter latencies of post-fusion aggression and friendly behaviours were found between individuals with riskier relationships compared to those with less risky relationships. Prevention of aggressive conflicts may also be achieved by adjusting subgroup size to the availability of feeding resources thereby reducing competition. The effectiveness of this flexible adjustment was demonstrated during a period of drastic reduction in food sources caused by two consecutive hurricanes at the field site. Mean subgroup size and fusion rates were significantly reduced in the post-hurricane compared to pre-hurricane periods. Hence, my thesis adds to the study of social relationships and conflict management in non-human animals by making several contributions. I provided the first evidence of relationship components in new world monkeys. I then examined the potential of fission-fusion dynamics as a means to manage conflicts among community members. I was the first demonstrating that fission is a post-conflict mechanism. Fission from the former aggressor was especially used by individuals with riskier and less compatible relationships. Subgroup fusion increased aggressive conflicts, especially between individuals with riskier relationships, but post-fusion friendly behaviours reduced them. The effectiveness of fission-fusion dynamics in conflict management was further demonstrated by how the spider monkeys coped with the potential increase in conflict among community members due to a dramatic reduction in food supplies due to two hurricanes. Overall, spider monkeys appear to deal with conflicts using the full range of the flexible social options afforded by their social system.
    • Delivery and engagement in public health nutrition: The use of ethnographic fiction to examine the socio-cultural experiences of food and health among mothers of young children in Skelmersdale, Lancashire

      Ellahi, Basma; Cox, Peter; Gregg, Rebecca A. (University of Liverpool (University of Chester), 2013-04)
      Encouraging good nutrition is particularly important in the early years of life for the development of appropriate food habits and healthy adults in later life. These are governed by many contending and conflicting influences. Objective: This research examines the food choice influences for mothers of young children in Skelmersdale, West Lancashire (UK). Participants were recruited from a large community food intervention (clients) and were compared with those not involved in the initiative (non-clients). This enabled the reflection of the broader socio-cultural experiences of food and the influence of “structure” and “agency” on food choices. The research adopted a phenomenological approach using ethnographic recording techniques (interview and observation). The research findings are presented as ethnographic fictions. These short fictional stories provide a “thick” description of the participant’s lifeworld. They locate these choices in the person and the place. A hierarchy of food choice influences emerged from the data, with three main findings. Most prominently, the influence of individual capacity on the food choices made. Secondly, the influence of place, town planning and the geography of an area on food choices. Thirdly, the influence of gender, relationships and social networks. Central to the thesis of this research is the use of ethnographic fiction to enable a better understanding of the complexity involved in food choice and community development approaches to nutritional change. The use of ethnographic fiction conveyed a better understanding of people and of the role and impact of an intervention upon the wider processes involved in food choice. Ethnographic fiction was used here for the first time in public health nutrition to explain the complex picture of food choice for mothers of young children in Skelmersdale, and to convey new insight on food choice and the complexity of food choice influence.
    • The development and effectiveness of perceptual training programme for coaches and judges in gymnastics

      Lafferty, Moira E.; Page, Jennifer L. (University of Liverpool (University of Chester), 2009-03)
      This thesis investigated the development and effectiveness of a perceptual training programmes for coaches and judges in gymnastics. Study one examined the variability of visual search for coaches and judges when viewing handspring vaults. The study found that there were no significant differences between the mean number of fixations, fixation duration and number of areas fixated across two time-points four weeks apart. In addtion, the natural range of variation of the number of fixations, fixation duration and number of area fixated was found to be 9/7%, 5.7% and 14.2% (expressed as coefficient of variation). Study two examined differences between expert and novice gymnastics coaches' and judges' visual search. Analysis of gaze behaviour showed that experts make significantly more fixations of significantly longer duration to significantly fewer areas than novies. There was no significant difference between the outcome juddgements made by the expert and novice coaches and judges. These findings suggest that visual search may be a contributing factor to expert performance in judgement formation. Study three explored the visual search pattern and knowledge used by expert coaches and judges when making decisions. Data were gathered through the used of eye-tracking and semi-structered interviews. Analyses established that experts tend to fixate on the torso and shoulders of gymnasts throughout the vault, and that there are three to four specific areas which are explored during each phase of a vault. Study four examined the effectiveness of a perceptual training programme for a perceptual traning and control group. Fixation number, fixation duration, number of areas fixated and outcome judgement were recorded at baseline, immediently after the programme and four weeks after it had been withdrawn. 2 (control vs. perceputal training) x 3 (intervention phase) ANOVA's with repeated measures showed that the perceptual training group produced significantly less error at the retention stage for number of fixations (F (2,6) = 12.57, p = 0.01, effect size n2 = .81), at the post-test for fixation duration (F (2,6) = 7.49, p = 0.02, effect size n2 = .71). However post-hoc analyses could not detect the difference for number of areas fixated. In study five, four participants that took part in the experiental condition watched a perceptual training DVD twice a week for six weeks. The case study data showed that the expert and novices who watched the perceptual training DVD made changes to their visual search variables and judgements and therefore became more analogous to the experts from study three to baseline to the post-test. However, only the novices retained the beneficial effects of the intervention. To conclude, this programme of research examinaed the development and effectiveness of a perceptual training programee for coaches' and judges' in gymnastics. This thesis suggests that a perceptual training programme based on the visual search and declarative knowledge of expert coaches and judges is effective at altering visual search and enhancing decision making for noveice coaches and judges. This research programme therefore promotes the use of perceptual training programmes for novice coaches and judges in sport.
    • The development of a novel rugby league match simulation protocol

      Twist, Craig; Nicholas, Ceri; Lamb, Kevin L.; Sykes, Dave (University of Liverpool (University of Chester)University of Chester, 2011-12)
      The effectiveness of recovery interventions following prolonged multiple sprint team sports matches has rarely been studied despite the potential for exercise-induced muscle damage to adversely affect training in the days following games. The lack of research related to this topic is probably owing to the wide variability that exists in the movement demands of players between matches and the impact that this has on the subsequent rate and magnitude of recovery which makes it difficult to detect meaningful differences when conducting research with small sample sizes. Therefore, the purpose of this thesis was to develop a rugby league-specific match simulation protocol that replicates the movement demands, physiological responses and subsequent recovery from matches in order to study the effectiveness of recovery interventions. Hence, two time-motion analysis studies were conducted using a semi-automated image recognition system to inform the development of the rugby league match simulation protocol (RLMSP). Whilst mean total distance covered over the duration of the match was 8,503 m, ball in play and stoppage work-to-rest ratios were 1:6.9 and 1:87.4, respectively, for all players. Furthermore, a significant decline in high and very high intensity running locomotive rates were observed between the initial and final 20 min periods of the match. Thus a RLMSP was devised to replicate the overall movement demands, intra-match fatigue and recovery from a senior elite rugby league match. Not only was there a low level of variability in the movement demands during the RLMSP over consecutive trials, but with the exception of creatine kinase, the rate and magnitude of recovery following the RLMSP was similar to that that has been published following competitive matches. Therefore, the RLMSP devised in this thesis may be a more appropriate research tool for assessing the effectiveness of recovery interventions following match related exercise than following actual match play.
    • The effect of bone matrix extract on bone cell activity

      Williams, John H. H.; Powell, Diane E. (University of Liverpool (University of Chester), 2006-10)
      Bone remodelling is a complex process, which involves the coupling of bone formation to completed foci of bone resorption, the balance between these 2 processes determines if bone is lost or gained at a particular site. During bone resorption osteoclasts release growth factors sequestered in bone matrix, which are thought to initiate new bone formation. On the other hand, osteoblasts can regulate osteoclast activity through the expression of the counter-acting cytokines, RANKL and OPG. The aim of this project was to determine if factors released during bone resorption impact on the RANKL/OPG system or on osteoclasts directly to regulate bone remodelling. OPG secretion was characterized in a number of osteoblast-like cells and the osteosarcoma cell line MG-63 was chosen as a model for osteoblastic cell behaviour in vitro. EDTA bone extracts prepared from normal human cortical bone powder were used to treat MG-63 cells in vitro. The response to the extract was dependent on the purification procedure used. OPG production was inhibited by partially purified extracts prepared using hydrophobic interaction chromatography, C18 SPE. In comparison extracts prepared using size exclusion centrifugal filters stimulated OPG secretion in confluent MG-63 cells. Therefore bone matrix constituents were able to influence osteoclast activity directly and indirectly through the osteoblastic cells to produce the same response. The simplest mechanism for this co-ordinated response would be the presence of one factor in the extract that is able to influence both osteoblasts and osteoclasts. The identity of the factor responsible for the opposing effects seen in the bone matrix extracts is at the moment unknown. The work presented in this thesis clearly demonstrated that unknown growth factors present in bone matrix influence bone remodelling.
    • Extra-curricular education for sustainable development interventions in higher education

      Degg, Martin; Burek, Cynthia V.; Ribchester, Chris; Potter, Jacqueline; Lipscombe, Bryan P. (University of Liverpool (University of Chester), 2009-12)
      Universities are seen to have a central role in the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), partly through their teaching and research activities. However, the critique of Higher Education's (HE) contribution to sustainable development thus far points to the limitations of a discipline driven, curriculum content and solely student focused response. Within this context, extra-curricular interventions, for example, running awareness campaigns, creating groups and organising events, appear to have potential to advance ESD in HE. However, there has been little investigation or published work in this area. Ideas of non formal and informal education; constructivist theories of learning; concepts of free choice, tacit and social learning, and the notions of whole systems thinking and sustainable education all point to roles for interventions in the extra-curricular sphere. This thesis explores the use of extra-curricular interventions in HE through an empirical investigation in the UK. A 2006 postal survey of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) records the extent and type of interventions in use and opinions about their utility. A case study, developed through action research, reports the use and impact of extra-curricular ESD-related interventions at one HEI over an academic year (2006-07). In this case study, regular contact with a group of staff and students over the year is used to map changes in their thoughts and actions relating to sustainable development, and to record the influences attributed to these changes. Importantly, extra-curricular ESD-related interventions are found to be commonly used in UK HE, and to have a prominent position in ESD work despite their limited visibility in the literature. Their utility is confirmed as they are seen to provide experiences that contribute to student and staff learning, as well as institutional change. The evidence collected supports their roles as: disciplinary bridge', community bridge; socialisation scaffold, and social learning arena. They appear to have a useful developmental role in mobilising and motivating members of the campus community. As peripheral activities, however, extra-curricular interventions may be prone to erratic implementation through being under-resourced. They can extend participation in BSD although will not reach everyone. They are best viewed as a complementary part of BSD and linked to a process of curricular and pedagogic renewal. In addition to confirming the extent, utility and limitations of extra-curricular ESD practice, the research contributes a model to map understandings of sustainable development. This model points to a core environmental understanding to which extra layers and strands of thinking can be added. It also confirms the importance of non formal and informal influences in shaping people's conceptions of sustainable development.
    • Factors modifying welfare in captive lioned-tailed mazaques (Macaca silenus)

      Smith, Tessa E.; Skyner, Lindsay J. (University of Liverpool (University of Chester), 2006-07)
      The lion-tailed macaque (Macaca silenus) is endangered due to habitat destruction with less than 3500 individuals remaining in isolated fragments of South-West India. Lion-tailed macaques do not reproduce readily in captivity and captive breeding may be relied upon for future conservation. Poor welfare can have negative effects on reproduction so it is important that lion-tailed macaque welfare is examined in captive groups. The aims of this thesis were to understand certain aspects of lion-tailed macaque welfare (behaviour and HPA physiology) in captive populations, with the view to making suggestions for management to promote the species' welfare and reproduction. Behaviour (188 hours), urine (n=133) and faecal samples (n=294) were collected from 38 lion-tailed macaques housed in four groups at the North of England Zoological Society (Chester Zoo), Bristol Zoological Gardens, Assiniboine Park Zoo and San Diego Wild Animal Park. The study successfully developed and validated assays to detect cortisol in lion-tailed macaque urine and faeces. The assays were then subsequently used to explore behaviour and HPA activity in these endangered primates. The institution in which the individuals were housed and basic life history parameters (age and sex) were explored to further understand the interplay between behaviour and physiology. Social relationships were assessed by measuring proximity (inter-individual distances and time spent in "arms-reach"). Finally the effect of visitors on behaviour, HPA activity and enclosure use was explored. There was significant variation between institutions in behaviour and HPA activity but not proximity. The age of lion-tailed macaques modified their behaviour, but not their HPA activity or proximity. The sex of lion-tailed macaques did not modify behaviour, HPA activity or proximity. The effect of visitors on lion-tailed macaques in the current study is not clear and confirms previous research on the visitor effect on captive primates. It can be concluded from this research that lion-tailed macaques are sensitive to the environment in which they are housed, indicating factors which may have negative effects on their captive breeding rates and ability to cope with habitat fragmentation for population's in-situ. The study has highlighted the need for each captive and wild group of lion-tailed macaques to be considered and monitored separately with regard to welfare and breeding.
    • Hsp72 modulation of inflammatory immune responses

      Williams, John H. H.; Ireland, H. Elyse (University of Liverpool (University of Chester), 2009-03)
      The body initiates an immune response to danger signals. The Danger model of the immune system postulates that danger signals are produced by exogenous molecules from foreign invaders, such as bacteria, and endogenous molecules released from damaged or injured cells. The response involves antigen recognition leading to up-regulation of cytokines and cell surface markers, followed by the recruitment of antigen presenting cells and T-helper cells which determine how the immune system responds. Endogenous danger signals include Hsp72 and HMGB-1. This thesis describes the development of specific antibodies and ELISAs for use in the quantification and detection of intra-cellular Hsp72 from cell extracts, and released Hsp72 from cell cultures which enabled the confirmation of physiological levels of Hsp72 from model systems. The ability of endogenous Hsp72 to stimulate an immune response was demonstrated and this response was not solely due to LPS contamination of recombinant protein preparations. Hsp72 was able to augment the response to LPS. In the presence of another endogenous danger signal, HMGB-1, relative amounts of Hsp72 were shown to augment a pro-inflammatory response whilst being able to maintain an anti-inflammatory response demonstrating Hsp72 has the ability to modulate the immune response. Hsp72 was also shown to be able to stimulate an immune response by binding to cell surface receptors, which could be blocked by specific peptides corresponding to known receptors. These include some receptors not utilised by LPS. The proportion of these different danger signals has consequences for the progression and outcome of an immune response and this may well be modulated by imposition of a supplemental or future stress at different points. In the most severe case, this can lead to death through sepsis following trauma.
    • Interactions between extracellular Hsp72 and blood cells

      Williams, John H. H.; Ireland, H. Elyse; Williams, Helen (University of Liverpool (University of Chester), 2010-12)
      In recent years, compelling evidence has accumulated suggesting heat shock proteins (HSPs) which are generally believed to be localised and functioning mainly within eukaryotic cells as cyto-protective molecular chaperones, are also localised in the extracellular milieu. Depending on their localisation, on the cell surface (membrance-bound or embedded), or in the peripheral circulation, extracellular HSPs may induce apoptotic cell death, or in contrast protect cells from cell damage and/or cell death when exposed to cellular stress, or may even elicit a stimulatory effect on the innate immune response including cell activiation and cytokine secretion. Hence, the localisation of intracellular and extracellular HSPs appears to be critical in determining their roles in terms of stimulating cell death, cyto-protection, or immune activiation under normal physiological conditions and following exposure to stress stimuli. This thesis describes the intracellular expression, up-regulation, and cell surface localisation of endogenous HSPs: HSP27, Hsp60, Hsp72 and Hsp90 by flow cytometry, florescence microscopy and Western blotting, under control conditions and in response to environmental stress using in vitro and ex vivo models with the intention of determining their physiological roles. The ability of extracellularly administered HSPs (Hsp70 and Hsp72) to protect cultured U937 cells in vitro or peripheral primary human leukogytes or erythrocytes ex vivo from various stress stimuli was demonstrated and was found to be dependent on surface binding and/or internalisation via scavenger receptors (SRs) or phosphatidylserine (PS), which could be blocked by receptor specific ligands. Extracellular HSPs were also shown to be able to stimulate an immune response through the induction of U937 monocyte differentiation into macrophages as evidenced through the up-regulation of the surface receptors: CD36, SR-A1 and CD91 analysed by flow cytometry. These proteins were able to stimulate TNF-x and IL-10 production and secretion by U937 macrophages, shown by ELISA, and chemotatic properties were demonstrated using Boyden chambers. The cyto-protective and immune regulatory effects of extracellular HSPs have potential therapeutic value as treatments in a wide variety of clinical situations.
    • Localisation of heat shock proteins in haematological malignancies

      Williams, John H. H.; Hoyle, Christine; Dempsey, Nina C. (University of Liverpool (University of Chester), 2009-08)
      Although a number of HSPs have been shown to be up-regulated in a wide range of human cancers, the full significance of this remains to be determined. The localisation of HSPs seems to be critical in determining their role in cancer cell survival; High intracellular levels (iHsp) appear to be advantageous to the tumour cell, inhibiting key steps in apoptosis, while in some circumstances, surface expression (sHsp) appears to be detrimental to the cell, aiding immune recognition by various effector cells. Consequently, clarifying the importance of HSP cellular location in the cancer setting may lead to the development of novel therapies based upon manipulation of HSP localisation. This thesis had two major aims; (1) to investigate the cellular localisation of HSPs in leukocytes from patients with both myelocytic and lymphocytic malignancies in order to establish relationships between apoptosis and stage of disease (2) to study the synergistic effect of four chemotherapeutic drugs with membrane fluidising agents, compounds which have the potential to modulate HSP localisation. Hsp90 and Hsp27 expression was shown to be restricted to the inside of peripheral blood leukocytes, while Hsp72 was localised both intracellularly and on the cell surface. In CLL, iHsp90 and iHsp27 levels were found to be significantly higher than in control subjects, while surface and intracellular Hsp72 was shown to be expressed either at very high levels or at very low levels. Furthermore, iHsp90 levels were found to be associated with stage of disease, while iHsp27 levels were shown to negatively correlate with levels of apoptosis. CLL patients with stable disease were found to express higher levels of iHsp72 than patients with progressive disease. However, in AML and MDS, levels of all HSPs in peripheral blood were found to be similar to those seen in control subjects, but disease patients showed a much wider range of expression. In AML, levels of sHsp72 positively correlated in all cell types, an observation not made in MDS patients or control subjects. HSP localisation was shown to be affected by membrane fluidising agents, with a movement of Hsp72 and Hsp60 to the cell surface. This effect was not due to proteotoxicity and supports data implicating the cell membrane in the regulation of HSP responses. This manipulation of HSP localisation and the increase in membrane fluidity resulted in increased sensitivity of CLL cells to three chemotherapeutic agents and points to the possibility that manipulation of membrane fluidity, may have significant value in the development of new treatment regimes.
    • Maternal investment in mountain gorillas (Gorilla Beringei Beringei)

      Fletcher, Alison W.; Eckardt, Winnie (University of Liverpool (University of Chester), 2010-02)
      Investigating maternal investment (Ml) and mother-offspring relationships during the period of infant dependency is critically important to furthering the understanding of female reproductive strategies in primates. Infant primates are completely dependent upon their mothers. The way in which a mother allocates her resources therefore is crucial for infant survival, but is balanced Against her need to invest in subsequent offspring. One approach to examining how mothers might invest in their offspring stems from the Trivers & Willard hypothesis (TWH, 1973), which predicts that mothers in good condition should bias their investment towards sons and whereas mothers in poorer condition should bias investment toward daughters. Long-term demographic records on birth sex ratio and inter-birth interval suggest that female mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei) do not bias investment prenatally, but they may adjust postnatal Ml according to the TWH. This study investigated Ml and mother-offspring relationships in wild mountain gorillas, using behavioural correlates of Ml, including suckling, weaned age, physical contact, "transport, and grooming to redress the lack of understanding about Ml in this species. The appropriateness of TWH was investigated, integrating different indicators of maternal condition. Important determinants of Ml and mother-offspring relationships were considered, such as offspring age, parity, presence of siblings and maternal relatives, group size and lastly, personality, which has been largely neglected in nonhuman primates. The extent, to which the offspring influenced Ml patterns, was examined using the parent-offspring conflict theory (Trivers, 1972) as a theoretical framework. During 2006-2007, 38 mother-offspring dyads were observed in the Virunga massif, resulting in 1210 hours of direct behavioural observation. Additional field data from the previous four decades were integrated into the dataset for the analysis of suckling and weaned age. Gorilla personality was assessed through the Hominoid Personality Questionnaire. Findings relating to suckling frequency, weaned age, and maternal feeding activities were consistent with the TWH: sons suckled more often than daughters when they had mothers in good condition, whereas the reverse sex-pattern occurred in offspring with mothers in poorer condition. In addition, daughters were weaned at an earlier age than sons when mothers were in better condition, although this sex-difference reduced in older mothers that were categorised as being in good condition. Maternal feeding time and feeding efficiency revealed that mothers in poorer condition spent more time ingesting food when they had daughters, whereas mothers in better .condition spent more time ingesting food when they had sons. Furthermore, group size affected lactation duration with offspring in small groups being weaned earlier than offspring in large groups. Behavioural conflicts over Ml showed that the mother and offspring influenced Ml patterns during the period of dependency. Finally, six personality dimensions were identified, of which five revealed effects maternal behaviour, such as maternal retrieval, responsiveness and rejection, although their relative importance varied between those behaviours. In general, mother and offspring personality effects were complex due to their interactions with the developmental stage of offspring. In conclusion, my thesis research has made several novel contributions to furthering the understanding of female reproductive strategies in the highly endangered mountain gorilla. I presented the first evidence using behavioural data that females bias their postnatal investment towards the sex with the greatest fitness return as predicted by the TWH. My findings are discussed in the light of alternative Ml strategies, such as the local resource competition and enhancement model. My research has highlighted the importance of integrating anthropometric and physiological measures and demographic long-term data into future Ml studies to assess direct costs and benefits of Ml. The examination of mother-offspring behavioural conflicts showed that offspring have a strong impact on the level of Ml they receive. I have also examined the personality of a wild mountain gorilla population for the first time. My findings demonstrate that personality-parenting links are evident in several respects and I have demonstrated the great potential of personality as a determinant of maternal behaviour and mother-offspring relationships.
    • A mixed methods study of the early development of childhood overweight and obesity: Understanding the process of infant feeding

      Thurston, Miranda; Perry, Catherine (University of Liverpool (University of Chester)University of Chester, 2013-03)
      Prevalence of overweight and obesity has increased in adult and child populations during the last two to three decades in both developed and developing countries. Childhood obesity is common in the United Kingdom and has become a major public health issue. There is a growing body of evidence to suggest that the development of overweight and obesity in children has its roots in early life, with evidence of increasing weight over time in pre-school children. The study explored the early development of overweight in infants in Halton, an area of Northwest England. It was a mixed methods study comprising a quantitative analysis of routinely collected infant weight data and a longitudinal qualitative study of the process of weaning. Phase one - patterns of weight in Halton infants: The retrospective quantitative study utilised birthweight, and weight and length/height at eight weeks, eight months and 40 months of age from Halton infants born between 1994 and 2006 (16,328 singleton births). Analysis of these data provided further evidence of the early development of overweight, and highlighted patterns of infant overweight at eight months of age not previously reported. Phase two - longitudinal qualitative study of the process of weaning: Given the findings of phase one, factors that may influence early weight gain were considered. Therefore, the second phase focussed upon weaning, which has been little researched in terms of the way in which mothers manage the process. The aim was to explore weaning as a social process, focussing on the experience, knowledge, perceptions and actions of mothers as they weaned, in order to consider whether this could shed light on infant growth and development in general and the early development of overweight in particular. A grounded theory approach was utilised. Twenty one women were recruited and interviewed antenatally and then up to three times after their babies were born. A total of 67 interviews took place. A grounded theory, or ‘plausible account’, of the weaning process was developed. The centrality of the baby, and the way in which mothers talk about following the lead of the baby as they wean was highlighted, along with the ways in which this focus may falter or shift because of the complexity of influences on mothers’ lives. The primacy of embodied knowledge, that is the knowledge that mothers built up through the experience of feeding and weaning their infant, and the significance of being a mother in terms of being an ‘authority’ on feeding and weaning, were evident. In addition, the limitations of providing information, such as the feeding and weaning guidelines, without taking account of the individual mother, infant and their context was indicated. This is how some mistrust of the advice of health professionals, and possibly other ‘health messages’ emerged, as mothers did not see the advice as appropriate to them, their infant, or circumstances. Mothers did recognise babies as ‘bigger’ or ‘smaller’, but through valuing weight and weight gain were particularly aware of having small babies, which may have limited their capacity for recognising the significance of early signs of overweight in their infants. Final conclusions: Using mixed methods in this study allowed a broad picture of patterns of weight and overweight in Halton infants, and what some of the contributory factors to those patterns might be, to emerge, than if a single research method had been used. A number of implications for policy and practice: at an individual level in terms of the way in which women are supported to feed and wean their babies; and at a population level in terms of the monitoring of weight, were identified.
    • Novel anti-oxidant properties of cobalamin

      Williams, John H. H.; Andrew, Sarah M.; Altaie, Ala (University of Liverpool (University of Chester), 2009-09)
      Oxidative stress has been associated with a wide range of diseases, including cardiovascular diseases, Alzheimer's disease, atherosclerosis, Parkinson's disease and cancer. It also plays a role in the ageing process. Hyperhomocysteimia is commonly found to be associated with these diseases. The hyperhomocysteimia is a result of a deficiency in both folate and cobalamin Folate is known to reduce Hey and protect cells from apoptosis, but there are no studies investigating the impact of cobalamin on apoptosis induced by oxidative stress or the mechanism(s) of the protection. The aims of the research are to investigate the protective role of cobalamin and the possible mechanism(s) for this protection. It also examines the protective role of novel cobalamin and investigates their superior protection. The methods used in this research for apoptosis detection we used caspase-3 and the annexin-V, while for necrosis we used PI staining, where cell viability were detected using MTS assay. We also measured the generation of superoxide by Lucigenin-enhanced chemiluminescence and reactive oxygene species by using the redox active prob DCFH-DA. Moreover, the intracellular proteins were measured via staining with specific fluorescent-conjugated antibodies were detected using flowcytometry. Our result demonstrated that 25|iM of cobalamin protects cells from apoptosis. The protection by cobalamin was associated with induction of iHsp72 and iHO-1, and these are shown to be essential for the protection. Furthermore, our research demonstrated a novel mechanism of cobalamin-apoptosis protection involving induction of NfkB, ERK1/2 and AKT signal transduction pathways. In order to protect cells from apoptosis induced by oxidative stress, cobalamin induces the pNfkB which in turn regulate the iNOS and HO-1 induction. Cobalamin also induces thepERK1/2 which regulates the induction of Hps72 and Nrf2. And finally, pAKT induced by cobalamin which regulate the Nrf2 and HO-1 induction. The inhibition of any of theses pathways leads to loss the protection. The GSCbl and NACCbl provide a superior protection against oxidative stress, this protection involved induction of the signal transduction pathways and Hsps. To conclude; cobalamin provides protection against cells death induced by oxidative stress. Cobalamin achieves this by multiple pathways which include direct antioxidant stimulation and induction of signal transduction pathways. Different cobalamin derivatives have superior protections. These finding are a useful pharmaceutical tool in the treatment of the oxidative stress related diseases.
    • The prediction of maximal oxygen uptake from a perceptually-regulated exercise test (PRET)

      Lamb, Kevin L.; Buckley, John P.; Cotterrell, David; Morris, Mike (University of Liverpool (University of Chester), 2012-12)
      The Borg 6–20 rating of perceived exertion (RPE) scale is a common measure reported during exercise testing and training, and is usually taken as a response measurement to provide a subjective assessment of exercise intensity. A lesser used application of the scale is for regulating exercise intensity, referred to as its ‘production mode’. Recent research on this topic initiated by Eston et al. (2005) has led to a novel application of this procedure as a means of predicting an individual’s maximal oxygen uptake ( O2max) via a perceptually-regulated exercise test (PRET). The PRET could play a significant role in guiding exercise prescription and monitoring cardiorespiratory fitness levels in situations where the normal heart rate response is affected. The aim of this thesis is to develop further and test the integrity of the PRET technique. Firstly, a review of the evidence on the validity and reliability of the Borg RPE scale when used to regulate exercise intensity in healthy and unhealthy adults is presented, as to-date, no scholarly publication has synthesised the body of knowledge on this specific application of the scale. Subsequently, four studies were completed to investigate the effects of different methodological variations on the predictive capabilities of the PRET, including an examination (for the first time) of its utility among heart failure patients (Study 4). Study 1 re-visited the validity and reliability of the PRET technique utilising a modified protocol of differing durations (2 and 4 min bouts), with revised instructions and placing the graded exercise test (GXT) as the final trial during cycle ergometry. Superior results were observed to those reported in previous investigations (Eston et al., 2008; Faulkner et al. 2007; Eston et al., 2006) during the 3 min trial, further reinforcing the validity and reliability of this technique. Accordingly, Study 2 was the first to investigate the reliability and validity of a treadmill PRET protocol with a ceiling intensity of RPE 15, rather than RPE 17, and observed that a safer modified PRET (with practice) provides acceptably valid and reliable predictions of O2max in healthy adults. In addition, Study 3 extended the research thus far by investigating the PRET protocol during cycle exercise, once again with a ceiling intensity of RPE 15, and demonstrated that (with practice) a cycle-based PRET can yield reliable and valid predictions of O2max that compare favourably to previous investigations. Finally, given that the research employing a PRET has unanimously alluded to its likely value in clinical populations among whom heart rate as a physiological response to exercise is affected (e.g. via medication) and precluded as a means predicting O2max, Study 4 investigated the utility of a PRET in a beta-blocked population of heart failure patients. In the event, it was observed that a PRET (up to RPE 15) was too strenuous and needs to be capped at an intensity of RPE 13 in this population. In addition a continuous protocol seemed unsuitable due to its length and it was recommended that a discontinuous PRET protocol be investigated. Future research needs to investigate the utilisation of the PRET (i) in different exercise modes; (ii) determine the optimum number of practice trials required; (iii) whether a discontinuous or continuous protocol is more appropariate; (iv) whether the extrapolation should be made to RPE 19 or 20 and; (v) whether the PRET can be employed succesfully in other clinical populations.
    • Severe acute malnutrition and HIV in children in Malawi

      Fergusson, Pamela L. (University of Liverpool (University of Chester), 2009-07)
      Sub-Saharan Africa is more affected by the HIV epidemic than any other region of the world. At the same time, malnutrition remains a major public health concern. HIV and malnutrition are interlinked, both epidemiologically and physiologically, contributing to high mortality and poor growth and development of children in sub-Saharan Africa. This thesis aims to explore the impact of HIV on the treatment and care of children with severe acute malnutrition in Malawi. The thesis will investigate mortality and nutritional recovery in HIV-infected and uninfected children with SAM; HIV infection and nutritional status in carers of children with SAM; and caregiver perspectives on quality of care for children with SAM. The study is based on a prospective cohort study of 454 children with SAM and meta-analysis of 17 relevant studies; a cross sectional study of 322 carer-child pairs; and a qualitative study using a grounded theory approach.
    • Young people, sport and leisure: A sociological study of youth lifestyles

      Green, Ken; Lamb, Kevin L.; Thurston, Miranda; Smith, Andy (University of Liverpool (University of Chester)University of Chester, 2006-05)
      In Britain, as elsewhere, over the past two or three decades there has been growing concern over the extent to which sport and physical activity are becoming increasingly rare features of contemporary youth lifestyles. One corollary of this growing concern with youth lifestyles has been the widespread acceptance of a number of common sense assumptions about the nature of young people's sporting and leisure lives. Notwithstanding these concerns, Coalter (2004: 79) has noted recently that, at present, much of the existing research on young people, sport and leisure has consistently failed to explain adequately or provide 'any clear understanding of sport's (and physical activity's) place in participants' lifestyles'. The central objective of this sociological study, therefore, was to enhance our understanding of the place of sport and physical activity in the lives of a sample of 15-16-year-olds, and of the relationships between various aspects of their lives. More specifically, the thesis reports upon data generated by questionnaires completed by 1,010 15-16-year-olds who attended six secondary schools in the north-west of England and one secondary school in the north-east of Wales, as well as focus groups conducted with a sub-sample of 153 of these young people. The findings revealed that for many 15-16-year-olds, participation in sport and particularly 'lifestyle activities', was an integral aspect of both their school and leisure lives. In school physical education (PE) and extra-curricular PE, young people's participation - which was significantly related to sex and school attended - was largely dominated by competitive team-based sports that are typically gendered and stereotypical. The data also indicated that although there were no significant school- or age-related differences in participation in leisure-sport and physical activity overall, more males than females participated in sport and physical activity in their leisure time. Males were also the more frequent weekly participants and spent more time doing so than females. In addition, the data revealed that the leisure-sport and physical activity repertoires of 15-16-year-olds were characterized by involvement in more informally organized sports and highly-individualized recreational 'lifestyle activities', as well as a small number of team sports that were played competitively. It was also clear that participation in leisure-sport and physical activity was part of young people's quest for generating sociability and excitement in the company of friends and because it enabled them to do what they wanted, when they wanted and with whom they wanted. For many young people, however, and particularly the more frequent participants, playing sport and doing physical activity was just one component in their generally busy and wide-ranging leisure lives, which did not prevent them from engaging simultaneously in more sedentary activities (such as prolonged TV viewing and playing computer games) and commercially-oriented leisure activities, as well as consuming legal and illegal drugs. In this regard, it is argued that it is only possible to understand adequately where sport and physical activity fit into the multi-dimensional lives of 15-16-year-olds by examining those lives 'in the round', and by locating young people within the various networks of relationships to which they have belonged in the past, and which they continue to form in the present.