Familial cancer on a Scottish island.
When the causes of death were determined in 18 relations of a child with Fanconi's anaemia 10 deaths were found to be due to carcinoma of various organs. Cases of osteogenic sarcoma, leukaemia, and Marfan's syndrome were also discovered among relatives. The family was from a remote community in the hebrides and there was considerable intermarriage. Suggestive evidence of heterozygosity was found by chromosome analysis. (+info
Age, sex, density, winter weather, and population crashes in Soay sheep.
Quantifying the impact of density, extrinsic climatic fluctuations, and demography on population fluctuations is a persistent challenge in ecology. We analyzed the effect of these processes on the irregular pattern of population crashes of Soay sheep on the St. Kilda archipelago, United Kingdom. Because the age and sex structure of the population fluctuates independently of population size, and because animals of different age and sex respond in different ways to density and weather, identical weather conditions can result in different dynamics in populations of equal size. In addition, the strength of density-dependent processes is a function of the distribution of weather events. Incorporating demographic heterogeneities into population models can influence dynamics and their response to climate change. (+info
Comparative ungulate dynamics: the devil is in the detail.
Attempts to relate species differences in population dynamics to variation in life histories rely on the assumption that the causes of contrasts in demography are sufficiently simple to be derived from first principles. Here, we investigate the causes of contrasts in dynamics between two ungulate populations on Hebridean islands (red deer and Soay sheep) and show that differences in stability, as well as in the effects of variation in density and climate, are related to differences in timing of reproduction relative to seasonal variation in resource abundance. In both populations, attempts to predict changes in population size sufficiently accurately for the results to be useful for management purposes require a knowledge of the responses of different age and sex categories to changes in density and climate, as well as of population structure. (+info
Photosynthetic responses of plant communities to sand burial on the machair dune systems of the outer hebrides, Scotland.
BACKGROUND AND AIMS: The effects of both short-term (2 weeks) and long-term (6 weeks) burial on the photosynthetic efficiency of four typical plant sub-communities of the machair sand dunes of the Outer Hebrides are described. Previous studies have examined the photosynthetic responses on individual species rather than the response at the community level. METHODS: Three replicate turves from four different sub-community types (foredune grassland, dune slack, three-year fallow and unploughed grassland) were subjected to short- and long-term burial treatments after acclimatisation in an unheated greenhouse for approximately 10 weeks. Three replicate control turves from each sub-community were left unburied. After treatment, photosynthetic rate was measured at 16-20 h and 40-44 h after re-exposure, using an infra-red gas analyser, with standardization by total leaf area for each turf. Effects of sub-community type, burial duration and time since re-exposure were analysed by 3-factor split-plot analysis of variance (ANOVA) with repeated measures for time since re-exposure in the subplots. KEY RESULTS: Buried turves were characterized by a low dark respiration rate, which may represent a maintenance response to burial. After removal of sand, each machair sub-community showed some capacity for an elastic photosynthetic response. There were no differences between the effects of short- and long-term burial on the photosynthetic efficiency of machair vegetation, although turves buried for 6 weeks generally attained photosynthetic rates approaching those of control rates sooner than turves buried for 2 weeks. Photosynthetic responses to burial varied between sub-communities, with the slack turves exhibiting the poorest capacity for recovery within the investigated 44-h period. CONCLUSIONS: In the machair environment, the ability to maintain photosynthetic equipment whilst buried, and the ability to bring about a relatively rapid reinstatement of photosynthetic mechanisms on emergence or exposure, is an important adaptation for survival. Survival is closely related to the ability of a plant to replenish carbohydrate reserves before the next burial event. (+info
Body concentration of caesium-137 in patients from Western Isles of Scotland.
OBJECTIVES: To compare caesium-137 concentrations in patients from the Western Isles Health Board, Glasgow area, and other parts of the Scottish mainland, and to investigate the source of 137Cs in patients from the Western Isles. DESIGN: Study of hypertensive patients having electrolyte concentrations measured, including 137Cs. Interview by questionnaire of island subjects about intake of foods likely to contain radiocaesium and the source of these foods. Measurement of 137Cs and 134Cs in food, urine, and vegetation. SETTING: Scottish mainland and Western Isles, 1979-86. All measurements before Chernobyl nuclear accident. PATIENTS: 413 consecutive patients referred to the blood pressure unit for investigation of hypertension. 60 from the Western Isles, including 44 from North Uist; 32 from North Uist participated in the dietary analysis. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Concentration of radiocaesium in the body, urine, food, and vegetation. Islanders' consumption of local produce. RESULTS: Patients from the Western Isles had five times higher body concentrations of 137Cs (median 2.54 (interquartile range 1.25-3.73)) Bq/gK) than did patients from around Glasgow (0.47 (0.26-0.66) Bq/gK) and other parts of the Scottish mainland (0.42 (0.24-0.71) Bq/gK). Islanders often consumed local milk and mutton, but ate local fish rarely. 137Cs and 134Cs were present in coastal (21.6 Bq/kg 137Cs, 0.25 Bq/kg 134Cs) and moorland (135.9, 0.65 Bq/kg) grasses and in islanders' urine (2.01, 0.013 Bq/l). Lower concentrations (0.336, 0.004 Bq/l), were found in the urine of Glasgow controls (p less than 0.001 for both isotopes). CONCLUSIONS: Islanders have excess body 137Cs concentrations, most of which probably comes from local milk and lamb. The radioactivity is not above the recommended safety limit. The presence of 134Cs suggests that nuclear reprocessing is the source of some of the radiocaesium. (+info
Eco-evolutionary dynamics: disentangling phenotypic, environmental and population fluctuations.
Climate change: is the dark Soay sheep endangered?
Bacteriuria in a Scottish island community. A comparison of chemical and cultural tests for bacteriuria applied in remote surroundings.
Four hundred and thirty-eight overtly healthy adults on Tiree were screened for bacteriuria by dip-inoculum culture and a tetrazolium reductase test.Dip-inoculum culture affords a simple and effective means of providing a service in quantitative urine bacteriology for communities remote from a laboratory.The pattern of bacteriuria on Tiree is much the same as in other communities surveyed. Criteria are discussed for assessing the sensitivity of the tetrazolium test in terms of quantitative urine culture. (+info