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05:16 Filmjungle English 2017

Voice-Sensitive Regions in the Dog and Human Brain Are Revealed by Comparative fMRI

During the approximately 18–32 thousand years of domestication [1], dogs and humans have shared a similar social environment [2]. Dog and human vocalizations are thus familiar and relevant to both species [3], although they belong to evolutionarily distant taxa, as their lineages split approximately 90–100 million years ago [4]. In this first comparative neuroimaging study of a nonprimate and a primate species, we made use of this special combination of shared environment and evolutionary distance. We presented dogs and humans with the same set of vocal and nonvocal stimuli to search for functionally analogous voice-sensitive cortical regions. We demonstrate that voice areas exist in dogs and that they show a similar pattern to anterior temporal voice areas in humans. Our findings also reveal that sensitivity to vocal emotional valence cues engages similarly located nonprimary auditory regions in dogs and humans. Although parallel evolution cannot be excluded, our findings suggest that voice areas may have a more ancient evolutionary origin than previously known. Genetic tagging, the unique identification of individuals by their DNA profile, has proven to be an effective method for research on several animal species. In this study we apply non-invasive genetic tagging from feather samples to reveal the genetic structure and estimate local population size of red-and-green macaws (Ara chloropterus) without the need to capture these animals. The study was centered in the Tambopata region of the Peruvian Amazon. Here macaws frequently visit clay licks and their naturally molted feathers provide a unique source of non-invasively sampled DNA. We analyzed 249 feathers using nine microsatellite loci and identified 221 unique genotypes. The remainder revealed 21 individuals which were ‘recaptured’ one or more times. Using a capture-mark-recapture model the average number of different individuals visiting clay licks within one breeding season was estimated to fall between 84 and 316 individuals per clay lick. Analysis of population genetic structure revealed only small genetic differences among regions and clay licks, suggesting a single red-and-green macaw genetic population. Our study confirms the utility of non-invasive genetic tagging in harsh tropical environment to obtain crucial population parameters about an abundant parrot species that is very difficult to capture in the wild.
  • Published: 2017
  • Publisher: Filmjungle
  • Language: English
03:42 Filmjungle German 2016

Exploring dispersal barriers using landscape genetic resistance modelling in scarlet macaws of the Peruvian Amazon

Context. Dispersal is essential for species persistence and landscape genetic studies are valuable tools for identifying potential barriers to dispersal. Macaws have been studied for decades in their natural habitat, but we still have no knowledge of how natural landscape features influence their dispersal. Objectives. We tested for correlations between landscape resistance models and the current population genetic structure of macaws in continuous rainforest to explore natural barriers to their dispersal. Methods. We studied scarlet macaws (Ara macao) over a 13,000 km2 area of continuous primary Amazon rainforest in south-eastern Peru. Using remote sensing imagery from the Carnegie Airborne Observatory, we constructed landscape resistance surfaces in CIRCUITSCAPE based on elevation, canopy height and above-ground carbon distribution. We then used individual- and population-level genetic analyses to examine which landscape features influenced gene flow (genetic distance between individuals and populations). Results. Across the lowland rainforest we found limited population genetic differentiation. However, a population from in an intermountain valley of the Andes (Candamo) showed detectable genetic differentiation from two other populations (Tambopata) located 20-60 km away (FST = 0.008, P = 0.001–0.003). Landscape resistance models revealed that genetic distance between individuals was significantly positively related to elevation. Conclusions. Our landscape resistance analysis suggests that mountain ridges between Candamo and Tambopata may limit gene flow in scarlet macaws. These results serve as baseline data for continued landscape studies of parrots, and will be useful for understanding the impacts of anthropogenic dispersal barriers in the future.
  • Published: 2016
  • Publisher: Filmjungle
  • Language: German
03:07 Filmjungle English 2017

The application of non-invasive genetic tagging reveals new insights into the clay lick use by macaws in the Peruvian Amazon

Genetic tagging, the unique identification of individuals by their DNA profile, has proven to be an effective method for research on several animal species. In this study we apply non-invasive genetic tagging from feather samples to reveal the genetic structure and estimate local population size of red-and-green macaws (Ara chloropterus) without the need to capture these animals. The study was centered in the Tambopata region of the Peruvian Amazon. Here macaws frequently visit clay licks and their naturally molted feathers provide a unique source of non-invasively sampled DNA. We analyzed 249 feathers using nine microsatellite loci and identified 221 unique genotypes. The remainder revealed 21 individuals which were ‘recaptured’ one or more times. Using a capture-mark-recapture model the average number of different individuals visiting clay licks within one breeding season was estimated to fall between 84 and 316 individuals per clay lick. Analysis of population genetic structure revealed only small genetic differences among regions and clay licks, suggesting a single red-and-green macaw genetic population. Our study confirms the utility of non-invasive genetic tagging in harsh tropical environment to obtain crucial population parameters about an abundant parrot species that is very difficult to capture in the wild.
  • Published: 2017
  • Publisher: Filmjungle
  • Language: English
02:20 Filmjungle English 2016

How dog brains process speech

During speech processing, human listeners can separately analyze lexical and intonational cues to arrive at a unified representation of communicative content. The evolution of this capacity can be best investigated by comparative studies. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we explored whether and how dog brains segregate and integrate lexical and intonational information. We found a hemispheric bias for processing meaningful words, independently of intonation; an auditory brain region for distinguishing intonationally marked and unmarked words; and increased activity in primary reward regions only when both lexical and intonational information were consistent with praise. Neural mechanisms to separately analyze and integrate word meaning and intonation in dogs suggest that this capacity can evolve in the absence of language. The first study to investigate how dog brains process speech shows that our best friends in the animal kingdom care about both what we say and how we say it. Dogs, like people, can separately process words and intonation, and praise activates dog’s reward center only when both words and intonation match, according to a study in Science. (http://science.sciencemag.org/content...) [Correction note (6 April 2017) -- The authors noticed that the directions left and right were inadvertently switched in reporting the results from dogs’ brains in this study. In fact, dogs showed right hemispheric bias for processing words, and a left hemisphere brain region to process intonation. This is now corrected in the online version of the paper. Importantly, this direction change does not affect the study's conclusions. The authors apologize for this error and any confusion it may have caused.]
  • Published: 2016
  • Publisher: Filmjungle
  • Language: English
11:41 Filmjungle English 2017

Extending Media Literacy Education

This article discusses the current relevance of videos for communicating science and presents the state of the art of Media Literacy Education programs for scientists in this area. Some initiatives of these programs are supported by university libraries and specialised libraries, and others by universities and research centres themselves. We introduce a program which is designed to provide scientists with specific training for creating and publishing video abstracts. The participants learn how to write a script for a video and acquire the basic skills they need to record audio and video, and edit footage together into a complete unit. This combines both scientific communication and creativity. The aim of this article is to show how scientists can effectively record video abstracts for their papers on their own, how libraries can support them in this issue, and how important it is to extend Media Literacy Education by programs for scientists.
  • Published: 2017
  • Publisher: Filmjungle
  • Language: English
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