• Effects of a no-take reserve on mangrove fish assemblages: incorporating seascape connectivity

      Marley, GSA; Deacon, AE; Phillip, DAT; Lawrence, AJ (Inter-Research Science Center, 2020-09-10)
      No-take reserves (NTRs) have been effective at conserving fish assemblages in tropical systems such as coral reefs, but have rarely been evaluated in turbid tropical estuaries. The present study evaluated the effect of a mangrove NTR on the conservation of juvenile fish abundance, commercial fish biomass and biodiversity at the assemblage level, and the abundance of juveniles, target and non-target adults at the family level. The evaluation incorporated one aspect of seascape connectivity, namely proximity to the sea, or in this case, the Gulf of Paria. Linear mixed models showed that the NTR had a positive effect only on species richness at the assemblage level. However, juvenile fish abundance, commercial fish biomass, taxonomic distinctness and functional diversity were not enhanced in the NTR. The inclusion of connectivity in these models still failed to identify any positive effects of the NTR at the assemblage level. Yet, there were significant benefits to juvenile fish abundance for 5 of 7 families, and for 1 family of non-target adults. Possible explanations for the limited success of the NTR for fish assemblages include failing to account for the ecology of fish species in NTR design, the drawbacks of ‘inside-outside’ (of the NTR) experimental designs and the fact that fishing does not always impact non-target species. It is important to recognise that mangrove NTRs do not necessarily benefit fish assemblages as a whole, but that finer-scale assessments of specific families may reveal some of the proclaimed benefits of NTRs in tropical estuaries.
    • The importance of long-term genetic monitoring of reintroduced populations: inbreeding in the natterjack toad (Epidalea calamita)

      Muir, Anna P.; Phillips, Susanna; Geary, Matt; Allmark, Matthew; Bennett, Sarah; Norman, Kim; Ball, Rachel J; Peters, Catherine; University of Chester; Cheshire Wildlife Trust; Eni UK Ltd (British Herpetological Society, 2020-07-31)
      Genetic monitoring is an important, but frequently lacking, component of management actions to support long-term persistence in reintroduced populations. Populations that remain small, due to demographic processes and genetic diversity, are more likely to experience a second extinction event. The natterjack toad (Epidelea calamita) is legally protected in Britain and was the subject of a reintroduction programme in the 1990s. However, subsequent genetic assessment has been mostly lacking. The aim of this study was to assess the genetic diversity of two reintroduced populations of natterjack toads in order to inform conservation management. Adults were sampled and nine microsatellites amplified to assess neutral genetic variation within each site and for comparison with the source population. Inbreeding was observed at the reintroduction sites, as evidenced by high FIS values (0.43 and 0.72), low observed compared to expected heterozygosities, and significant deviation from Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium. Observed heterozygosity is currently lower in the reintroduction sites than it was in the source population at the time of the reintroductions (Red Rocks: 0.15±0.20; Talacre: 0.12±0.20; Ainsdale (source): 0.29). Evidence for a bottleneck was not found, although this is likely a result of sampling overlapping generations. No within-site population structuring was observed. Such low genetic diversity has not previously been recorded in any natterjack population. Genetic rescue, combined with pool creation, is the most viable option for safeguarding the species at these sites into the future. Our work highlights the importance of ongoing genetic monitoring, in collaboration with conservation organisations, to support conservation management.
    • Social Experience of Captive Livingstone’s Fruit Bats (Pteropus livingstonii)

      Stanley, Christina R; Smith, Tessa; Welch, Morgan J; Hosie, Charlotte; Wormell, Dominic; Price, Eluned; University of Chester; Jersey Zoo (MDPI, 2020-07-30)
      Social network analysis has been highlighted as a powerful tool to enhance the evidence-based management of captive-housed species through its ability to quantify the social experience of individuals. We apply this technique to explore the social structure and social roles of 50 Livingstone’s fruit bats (Pteropus livingstonii) housed at Jersey Zoo, Channel Islands, through the observation of associative, affiliative, and aggressive interactions over two data collection periods. We implement binomial mixture modelling and characteristic-based assortment quantification to describe the complexity and organisation of social networks, as well as a multiple regression quadratic assignment procedural (MRQAP) test to analyse the relationship between network types. We examine the effects of individual characteristics (i.e., sex, age, and dominance rank) on social role by fitting models to explain the magnitude of node metrics. Additionally, we utilize a quadratic assignment procedural (QAP) test to assess the temporal stability of social roles over two seasons. Our results indicate that P. livingstonii display a non-random network structure. Observed social networks are positively assorted by age, as well as dominance rank. The frequency of association between individuals correlates with a higher frequency of behavioural interactions, both affiliative and aggressive. Individual social roles remain consistent over ten months. We recommend that, to improve welfare and captive breeding success, relationships between individuals of similar ages and dominance levels should be allowed to persist in this group where possible, and separating individuals that interact frequently in an affiliative context should be avoided.
    • Margaret Chorley Crosfield, FGS: the very first female Fellow of the Geological Society

      Burek, C. V.; orcid: 0000-0002-7931-578X (Geological Society of London, 2020-07-10)
      AbstractIn May 1919 the first female Fellows of the Geological Society were elected and from then on attended meetings at the Society. The first person on the female fellows’ list was Margaret Chorley Crosfield. She was born in 1859 and died in 1952. She lived all her life in Reigate in Surrey. After studying and then leaving Cambridge, Margaret had sought to join the Geological Society of London for many years, in order to gain recognition of her research work, but also to attend meetings and use the library. This paper will look at her history and trace her geological achievements in both stratigraphy and palaeontology, as well as her extraordinary field notebooks that she left to the Geological Survey. She worked closely with two female geological colleagues, Mary Johnston and Ethel Skeat. Margaret Crosfield epitomizes the educated, amateur, independent woman who wanted to be recognized for her work, especially fieldwork, at a time when female contributions, especially in the field sciences, were not always acknowledged or even appreciated.
    • Distribution, status and recent population dynamics of Alpine ibex Capra ibex in Europe

      Brambillla, Alice; von Hardenberg, Achaz; Nelli, Luca; Bassano, Bruno; University of Zurich, University of Chester, University of Glasgow, Gran Paradiso National PArk (Wiley, 2020-04-20)
      1. Despite its recent successful and well-documented reintroduction history, a comprehensive and current update of the distribution and status of the Alpine ibex Capra ibex is lacking. As some concerns persist about its conservation, a status update appears essential for future conservation and management strategies on a large scale. 2. We provide an exhaustive update of the geographic range of the species, alongside estimates of its current abundance and population trends from 2004 to 2015. 3. We gathered census and distribution data for all the Alpine ibex colonies from management authorities and research groups that monitor them in different countries, and from the literature and publicly available reports. We produced a distribution map, reported the number of individuals observed in the most recent censuses, and estimated global, national, and local population trends using Bayesian hierarchical models. 4. Our model estimated that there were a total of 55297 Alpine ibex in the Alps in 2015 (lower 95% Credible Interval [CrI]: 51157; upper 95% CrI: 62710). The total number of individuals appears to have increased slightly over the last 10 years from the 47000-51000 estimated in previous reports. Positive population trends were observed in Switzerland and Italy, while no trend was apparent in France. For Austria, Germany, and Slovenia, there were insufficient data to estimate a trend. The slopes of the colonies’ trends were positively correlated with the year of colony foundation. 5. The geographic range of the Alpine ibex does not seem to have increased in size in recent years, although the accuracy of the spatial data varies among countries. 6. The periodic and standardised collection of census data for all colonies and a common policy of data-sharing at a European level appear essential for monitoring the global trend of this species and for planning balanced conservation and management actions.
    • Current strength, temperature, and bodyscape modulate cleaning services for giant manta rays

      Murie, Calum; Spencer, Matthew; Oliver, Simon; University of Chester (Springer, 2020-04-07)
      The cleaner-client system among reef teleosts has received considerable attention in both wild and captive environments, but the spatially and taxonomically diverse associations between cleaner fish and elasmobranchs are less understood. Using remote video, we investigated interactions between giant manta rays (Mobula birostris) and cleaner wrasse at a seamount in the Philippines. Cleaning events occurred between 11:00 and 16:00 hours on a seasonal basis and were constrained by current strengths and ambient water temperatures. The frequency with which giant manta rays interacted with cleaner fish varied on an individual basis. Blue streaked cleaner wrasse (Labroides dimidiatus) and moon wrasse (Thalassoma lunare) selectively foraged on manta rays’ gills and pelvis, with L. dimidiatus also demonstrating slight preferences for the pectoral fins. Cleaners’ foraging preferences may indicate ectoparasitic infections in specific areas of a manta ray’s body. The exclusivity with which giant manta rays visited a particular cleaning station on the seamount may be a response to the quality of services that cleaners provide there. Giant mantas’ fidelity to this site may also be attributed to localised concentrations of food that are available nearby. The seamount provides habitat that appears to be important to the life history strategies of the region’s giant manta rays.
    • A novel method to optimise the utility of underused moulted plumulaceous feather samples for genetic analysis in bird conservation.

      Peters, Catherine; Nelson, Howard; Rusk, Bonnie; Muir, Anna P.; Rusk, Bonnie L.; University of Chester (Springer, 2019-10-24)
      Non-invasive sampling methods are increasingly being used in conservation research as they reduce or eliminate the stress and disturbance resulting from invasive sampling of blood or tissue. Here we present a protocol optimised for obtaining usable genetic material from moulted plumulaceous feather samples. The combination of simple alterations to a ‘user-developed’ method, comprised of increased incubation time and modification of temperature and volume of DNA elution buffer, are outlined to increase DNA yield and significantly increase DNA concentration (W = 81, p <0.01, Cohens’s d= 0.89). We also demonstrate that the use of a primerless Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) technique increases DNA quality and amplification success when used prior to PCR reactions targeting avian mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). A small amplicon strategy proved effective for mtDNA amplification using PCR, targeting three overlapping 314-359bp regions of the cytochrome oxidase I barcoding region which, when combined, aligned with target-species reference sequences. We provide evidence that samples collected non-invasively in the field and kept in non-optimal conditions for DNA extraction can be used effectively to sequence a 650bp region of mtDNA for genetic analysis.
    • “You Can’t Really Hug a Tiger”: Zookeepers and Their Bonds with Animals

      Birke, Lynda; Hosey, Geoff; Melfi, Vicky (Informa UK Limited, 2019-09-20)
    • Preparation of Primary Rat Hepatocyte Spheroids Utilizing the Liquid-Overlay Technique.

      Kyffin, Jonathan A; Cox, Christopher R; Leedale, Joseph; Colley, Helen E; Murdoch, Craig; Mistry, Pratibha; Webb, Steven D; Sharma, Parveen (2019-09)
      Herein, we describe a protocol for the preparation and analysis of primary isolated rat hepatocytes in a 3D cell culture format described as spheroids. The hepatocyte cells spontaneously self-aggregate into spheroids without the need for synthetic extracellular matrices or hydrogels. Primary rat hepatocytes (PRHs) are a readily available source of primary differentiated liver cells and therefore conserve many of the required liver-specific functional markers, and elicit the natural in vivo phenotype when compared with common hepatic cells lines. We describe the liquid-overlay technique which provides an ultra-low attachment surface on which PRHs can be cultured as spheroids. © 2019 The Authors. Basic Protocol 1: Preparation of agarose-coated plates Basic Protocol 2: Primary rat hepatocyte isolation procedure Basic Protocol 3: Primary rat hepatocyte spheroid culture Basic Protocol 4: Immunofluorescent analysis of PRH spheroids. [Abstract copyright: © 2019 The Authors.]
    • Individual, social, and environmental factors affecting salivary and fecal cortisol levels in captive pied tamarins (Saguinus bicolor)

      Wormell, Dominic; Smith, Tessa E.; Price, Eluned E.; Ahsmann, J.; Glendewar, G.; Hunt, J.; Coleman, Robert, C.; University of Chester (Wiley, 2019-08-01)
      Pied tamarins (Saguinus bicolor) are endangered New World primates, and in captivity appear to be very susceptible to stress. We measured cortisol in 214 saliva samples from 36 tamarins and in 227 fecal samples from 27 tamarins, and investigated the effects of age, sex, pregnancy, rearing history, social status, weight, group composition, and enclosure type using generalized linear mixed models. There was no effect of age on either fecal or salivary cortisol levels. Female pied tamarins in late pregnancy had higher fecal cortisol levels than those in early pregnancy, or nonpregnant females, but there was no effect of pregnancy on salivary cortisol. Females had higher salivary cortisol levels than males, but there was no effect of rearing history. However, for fecal cortisol, there was an interaction between sex and rearing history. Hand‐reared tamarins overall had higher fecal cortisol levels, but while male parent‐reared tamarins had higher levels than females who were parent‐ reared, the reverse was true for hand‐reared individuals. There was a trend towards lower fecal cortisol levels in subordinate individuals, but no effect of status on salivary cortisol. Fecal but not salivary cortisol levels declined with increasing weight. We found little effect of group composition on cortisol levels in either saliva or feces, suggesting that as long as tamarins are housed socially, the nature of the group is of less importance. However, animals in off‐show enclosures had higher salivary and fecal cortisol levels than individuals housed on‐show. We suggest that large on‐show enclosures with permanent access to off‐exhibit areas may compensate for the effects of visitor disturbance, and a larger number of tamarins of the same species housed close together may explain the higher cortisol levels found in tamarins living in off‐show accommodation, but further research is needed.
    • The importance of research applicability

      McLennan, Krista M.; University of Chester (The Humane Society Institute for Science and Policy, 2019-06-30)
      Marino & Merskin’s (2019) review contains key information about the complexity of sheep and their intelligence level, but lacks practical application. The key to making any long-term changes to sheep welfare at an industry level is by generating research that is practically relevant to the sector. The practical application of research should be considered at the design stage and in consultation with producers. Additionally, thought needs to be given to how the practical application of the research will be transferred to those people directly involved in animal care (e.g. producers, stockpersons, etc.). Focusing on the practical relevance and application of research at all stages of the process will foster changes to long-held beliefs and attitudes.
    • Ida Slater: A Collection Researcher in a Male World at the Beginning of the 20th Century

      Sendino, Consuelo; Ducker, Erik; Burek, Cynthia V. (SAGE Publications, 2019-06-27)
      Ida Lilian Slater (1881-1969) was one of the first women to work as a geologist in a male world, and although her career was short, she made important contributions to the Early Palaeozoic of Wales and Scotland. Her main work was based on a collection of a group of fossil scypho-zoan polyps gathered not by her but by another significant woman, Elizabeth Anderson, widely known as Mrs. Robert Gray (1831-1924). The majority of this collection is kept at the Natural History Museum (NHM), London, and the Sedgwick Museum, Cambridge. She worked in the former one for two years describing species and comparing specimens for her monograph on British conulariids. Although her work was based not only on this group, she will be remembered by her important contribution to the conulariids through collections. The NHM collection is considered the best in the world in terms of diversity and the second best in its number of specimens, while the Sedgwick Museum has a smaller collection that is still considered the second best in diversity and number of specimens in the United Kingdom. Her work has been cited for more than 100 years and continues to be cited to this day by researchers on this group of fossils.
    • Archibald Geikie: His influence on and support for the roles of female geologists

      Burek, Cynthia V.; University of Chester (Geological Society of London, 2019-06-19)
      This chapter explores the interaction between Archibald Geikie and female geologists in their many different roles and within the social context of his life time (1835-1924). The roles adopted by female geologists altered around 1875 due to a change in the educational and legal background. Geikie’s attitude to female fieldwork and research publications changes through time too. His life is divided up into 5 different stages according to his influence. Case studies of both single and married women are explored looking at the influence and interaction they had with Archibald Geikie. They include Maria Ogilvie Gordon, Catherine Raisin, Annie Greenly, Gertrude Elles, Ethel Skeat and Ethel Wood. Was one female role more acceptable to him than others? Geikie seems to accept most of the roles they undertook and he supported them wherever he could.
    • Conceptual and methodological issues relating to pain assessment in mammals: the development and utilisation of pain facial expression scales.

      McLennan, Krista M.; Miller, Amy, L.; Dalla Costa, Emanuela; Stucke, Diana; Corke, Murray J.; Broom, Donald M.; Leach, Matthew C.; University of Chester; Newcastle University; c Università degli Studi di Milano; Havelland Equine Clinic; University of Cambridge (Elsevier, 2019-06-12)
      Effective management of pain is critical to the improvement of animal welfare. For this to happen, pain must be recognised and assessed in a variety of contexts. Pain is a complex phenomenon, making reliable, valid, and feasible measurement challenging. The use of facial expressions as a technique to assess pain in non-verbal human patients has been widely utilised for many years. More recently this technique has been developed for use in a number of non-human species: rodents, rabbits, ferrets, cats, sheep, pigs and horses. Facial expression scoring has been demonstrated to provide an effective means of identifying animal pain and in assessing its severity, overcoming some of the limitations of other measures for pain assessment in animals. However, there remain limitations and challenges to the use of facial expression as a welfare assessment tool which must be investigated. This paper reviews current facial expression pain scales (“Grimace Scales"), discussing the general conceptual and methodological issues faced when assessing pain, and highlighting the advantages of using facial expression scales over other pain assessment methods. We provide guidance on how facial expression scales should be developed so as to be valid and reliable, but we also provide guidance on how they should be used in clinical practice.
    • Patterns in island endemic forest-dependent bird research: the Caribbean as a case-study

      Devenish-Nelson, Eleanor S.; orcid: 0000-0002-9029-4772; email: ellie.devenish@ed.ac.uk; Weidemann, Douglas; Townsend, Jason; Nelson, Howard P. (Springer Netherlands, 2019-05-04)
      Abstract: Unequal patterns in research effort can result in inaccurate assessments of species extinction risk or ineffective management. A group of notable conservation concern are tropical island endemic birds, many of which are also forest-dependent, which increases their vulnerability to extinction. Yet, island bird species have received limited research attention compared to their continental congeners, despite this taxon being globally regarded as well-studied. We used the insular Caribbean, a globally important endemism hotspot with high rates of deforestation, to explore research bias of island and regional endemic forest-dependent birds. A review of the published literature (n = 992) found no significant increase in the number of studies over the search period. Research effort was significantly higher among species with threatened status, long generation time, wide habitat breadth and low to intermediate elevational distributions. Among family groups, the Psittacidae received the highest research effort, while the Cuculidae were the most underrepresented family (30-fold higher and six-fold less than expected, respectively). We found geographic biases in effort, with Jamaica having six-fold less and Puerto Rico eight times more research than expected for their level of endemism. These patterns likely reflect individual interests and limited capacity and funding, typical of Small Island Developing States. With over 50% of species in this review having declining population trends, we recommend prioritizing research that emphasises conservation- and management-relevant data across underrepresented families and islands, by fostering greater collaboration between researchers, practitioners and the existing local amateur ornithological community.
    • The effect of rainfall upon the behaviour and use of under-road culverts in four amphibian species

      Gleeson, Timothy; Petrovan, Silviu; Muir, Anna P.; University of Chester (Oxford Academic, 2019-04-29)
      Habitat fragmentation and road mortalities are major contributors towards declines in amphibian populations. This has seen the introduction of culverts, passages that run under roads and provide safe passage for amphibians. Research investigating the effects of rainfall upon amphibian culvert use is limited. This study, conducted at Frankfield Loch in Glasgow, assesses how time elapsed since rainfall influences migration behaviour and the use of culverts across four different species; common toads (Bufo bufo), common frogs (Rana temporaria and newts, a group composed of smooth newts (Lissotriton vulgaris) and palmate newts (Lissotriton helveticus). Analysis of images taken by a custom made, time lapse camera found that significantly fewer common toads (r = 0.148, n = 468, p = 0.001) and common frogs (r = −0.175, n = 106, p = 0.037) used the culvert as time since rainfall increased. This may have been caused by the culvert not maintaining wet enough conditions for amphi- bians. The study also found that more newts (r = 0.272, n = 92, p = 0.004) and common toads (r = 0.531, n = 19, p = 0.010) were using the culvert to move away from Frankfield Loch as time since rainfall increased. An increase in juvenile newts was also observed as time since rainfall increased (r = 0.214, n = 92, p = 0.020). This may have been caused by a decrease in baro- metric pressure, which follows a decrease in rainfall, acting as a cue for migration and juvenile dispersal. The study recom- mends careful consideration of the design of each culvert, incorporating species-specific preferences and the requirements of juveniles. The study also suggests that where possible the culvert should be designed to hold water for longer.
    • Recognising the potential role of native ponies in conservation management

      Stanley, Christina R.; Fraser, Marecia; Hegarty, Matt; University of Chester; Aberystwyth University (Elsevier, 2019-04-28)
      Population control of feral horses has been the subject of public debate in many parts of the world in recent years due to wide-reaching ecological and societal impacts. However, the feral populations in these high-profile cases are not ‘native’ but are instead descended from animals which escaped from or were released by settlers. This paper considers i) the potential role of indigenous equids as conservation grazers within native ecosystems currently in poor condition, and ii) the value of supporting semi-wild native ponies specifically. We argue that the high ecological overlap between ponies and cattle reported in a range of studies means that they should be considered as alternative tools for conservation management, particularly in scenarios where there is a need to reduce the dominance of plant species avoided by more-selective small ruminants such as sheep. Semi-wild ponies could be particularly suited to conservation grazing because their genomes have been predominately shaped by natural and not artificial selection, meaning they may have adaptations no longer present in domesticated equids. With agricultural and environmental policy in the EU and UK under major review, it is anticipated that the wider delivery of public goods, rather than primary production, will be prioritised under future subsidy payment schemes. Recognising the value of native ponies as conservation grazers would broaden the range of routes by which land managers could achieve biodiversity gain, while simultaneously supporting at-risk equine genotypes.
    • Development of an Automated Pain Facial Expression Detection System for Sheep (Ovis Aries).

      McLennan, Krista M.; Mahmoud, Marwa; University of Chester; University of Cambridge (MDPI, 2019-04-25)
      Detecting signs of pain in sheep is a challenging problem, as they are a prey species and would usually try to hide any signs that they are unwell or injured. This means that treating ill or injured sheep and preventing any further spread of contagious diseases such as footrot can be slow. The recent development and publication of a Sheep Pain Facial Expression Scale (SPFES) has provided a tool to reliably detect pain in this species. However, due to the increase in intensification in farming and larger flock sizes being cared for by individual farmers, there is less time to spend monitoring sheep for changes in behaviour that may indicate illness or injury. Having an automated system that could detect changes in the facial expression of individual sheep would mean that farmers could receive information directly about particular individuals that need assessment. This would allow treatment to be provided in a timely and direct manner, reducing suffering. We have been developing the SPFES further in order for it to become an automated system. In this paper, we present our novel framework that integrates SPFES concepts with automatic facial expression analysis technologies.
    • Isoform-specific Ras signaling is growth factor dependent

      Hood, Fiona E.; Klinger, Bertram; Newlaczyl, Anna U.; Sieber, Anja; Dorel, Mathurin; Oliver, Simon P.; Coulson, Judy M.; Bluthgen, Nils; Prior, Ian A.; University of Liverpool; Universitätsmedizin Berlin; University of Chester (ASCB, 2019-04-11)
      HRAS, NRAS and KRAS isoforms are almost identical proteins that are ubiquitously expressed and activate a common set of effectors. In vivo studies have revealed that they are not biologically redundant; however, the isoform-specificity of Ras signaling remains poorly understood. Using a novel panel of isogenic SW48 cell lines endogenously expressing wild type or G12V mutated activated Ras isoforms we have performed a detailed characterization of endogenous isoform-specific mutant Ras signaling. We find that despite displaying significant Ras activation, the downstream outputs of oncogenic Ras mutants are minimal in the absence of growth factor inputs. The lack of mutant KRAS-induced effector activation observed in SW48 cells appears to be representative of a broad panel of colon cancer cell lines harboring mutant KRAS. For MAP kinase pathway activation in KRAS mutant cells, the requirement for co-incident growth factor stimulation occurs at an early point in the Raf activation cycle. Finally, we find that Ras isoform-specific signaling was highly context dependent and did not conform to the dogma derived from ectopic expression studies.