Influence of litter and weather on seedling recruitment in a mixed oak-pine woodland.
The effects of regular litter removal and annual variation in temperature and precipitation on seedling recruitment of species differing in their seed size and mode of dispersal were studied in a 16-year (1984-1999) experiment in a mixed oak-pine wood in southern Poland. Litter was the most important factor in determining spatial variability in seedling recruitment, whereas differences in climatic conditions among years, especially temperature fluctuations in late winter and early spring, determined the temporal variability in seedling recruitment. Compared with control plots, significantly more new individuals of bryophytes and seedlings as well as a number of new species of vascular plants were noted in the litter-removal plots over the 16-year study. Litter strongly impeded seedling emergence of small-seeded species. The negative effect of litter on seedling recruitment of large-seeded species and the recruitment of new shoots in species growing clonally was much weaker. There was a significant positive correlation between the numbers of seedlings in the litter-removal and control plots and temperatures in January to March. In the litter-removal plots this mainly affected small-seeded species. Seedling recruitment was less consistently related to variation in precipitation. Positive relationships were found only between the number of seedlings of large-seeded species in the litter-removal plots and precipitation in July of the current year and in September of the previous year, and between the number of seedlings in the control plots and precipitation in September and November of the previous year. (+info)
The effect of weather on respiratory and cardiovascular deaths in 12 U.S. cities.
We carried out time-series analyses in 12 U.S. cities to estimate both the acute effects and the lagged influence of weather on respiratory and cardiovascular disease (CVD) deaths. We fit generalized additive Poisson regressions for each city using nonparametric smooth functions to control for long time trend, season, and barometric pressure. We also controlled for day of the week. We estimated the effect and the lag structure of both temperature and humidity based on a distributed lag model. In cold cities, both high and low temperatures were associated with increased CVD deaths. In general, the effect of cold temperatures persisted for days, whereas the effect of high temperatures was restricted to the day of the death or the day before. For myocardial infarctions (MI), the effect of hot days was twice as large as the cold-day effect, whereas for all CVD deaths the hot-day effect was five times smaller than the cold-day effect. The effect of hot days included some harvesting, because we observed a deficit of deaths a few days later, which we did not observe for the cold-day effect. In hot cities, neither hot nor cold temperatures had much effect on CVD or pneumonia deaths. However, for MI and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease deaths, we observed lagged effects of hot temperatures (lags 4-6 and lags 3 and 4, respectively). We saw no clear pattern for the effect of humidity. In hierarchical models, greater variance of summer and winter temperature was associated with larger effects for hot and cold days, respectively, on respiratory deaths. (+info)
The influence of outside temperature and season on the incidence of hip fractures in patients over the age of 65.
BACKGROUND: It is often assumed that hip fractures occur more commonly in winter, but the evidence is conflicting. It is important to clarify this issue to aid planning of health resources and understanding of the aetiology of these fractures in the elderly. AIM: To determine whether the incidence of fractures altered with the daily temperature, seasons or months of the year. METHOD: Over a five-year period we studied 818 patients, over the age of 65, who presented to one district general hospital with a fracture of the proximal femur. RESULTS: No significant difference was found in the incidence of fractures with different temperatures, changes of temperature, season or month of the year. Also, there was no significant difference in the characteristics of patients (age, sex, pre-injury mobility, residence, functional and mental scores) presenting in different seasons or temperature ranges. Patients presenting in winter months had a significantly longer inpatient stay, which may have been due to the strain on the social services over this time. CONCLUSION: Other factors must be analysed when considering the aetiology of hip fractures in the elderly. There may be no extra demand on surgical facilities or other acute resources to treat hip fractures during the winter months in southern England. (+info)
Buffered tree population changes in a quaternary refugium: evolutionary implications.
A high-resolution pollen record from western Greece shows that the amplitude of millennial-scale oscillations in tree abundance during the last glacial period was subdued, with temperate tree populations surviving throughout the interval. This provides evidence for the existence of an area of relative ecological stability, reflecting the influence of continued moisture availability and varied topography. Long-term buffering of populations from climatic extremes, together with genetic isolation at such refugial sites, may have allowed lineage divergence to proceed through the Quaternary. Such ecologically stable areas may be critical not only for the long-term survival of species, but also for the emergence of new ones. (+info)
Global air pollution crossroads over the Mediterranean.
The Mediterranean Intensive Oxidant Study, performed in the summer of 2001, uncovered air pollution layers from the surface to an altitude of 15 kilometers. In the boundary layer, air pollution standards are exceeded throughout the region, caused by West and East European pollution from the north. Aerosol particles also reduce solar radiation penetration to the surface, which can suppress precipitation. In the middle troposphere, Asian and to a lesser extent North American pollution is transported from the west. Additional Asian pollution from the east, transported from the monsoon in the upper troposphere, crosses the Mediterranean tropopause, which pollutes the lower stratosphere at middle latitudes. (+info)
Different responses of Ross River virus to climate variability between coastline and inland cities in Queensland, Australia.
AIMS: To examine the potential impact of climate variability on the transmission of Ross River virus (RRv) infection, and to assess the difference in the potential predictors of RRv incidence in coastline and inland regions, Queensland, Australia. METHODS: Information on the RRv cases notified between 1985 to 1996 was obtained from the Queensland Department of Health. Climate and population data were supplied by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology and the Australia Bureau of Statistics, respectively. The function of cross correlations was used to compute a series of correlations between climate variables (rainfall, maximum temperature, minimum temperature, relative humidity, and high tide) and the monthly incidence of RRv disease over a range of time lags. Time series Poisson regression models were performed to adjust for the autocorrelations of the monthly incidences of RRv disease and the confounding effects of seasonality, the case notification time, and population sizes. RESULTS: The cross correlation function shows rainfall, maximum temperature, minimum temperature, and relative humidity at a lag of 1-2 months and high tide in the current month were significantly associated with the monthly incidence of RRv in the coastline region. Relative humidity and rainfall at a lag of two months was also significantly associated with the monthly incidence of RRv in the inland region. The results of Poisson regressive models show that the incidence of RRv disease was significantly associated with rainfall, maximum temperature, minimum temperature, relative humidity, and high tide in the coastline region, and with rainfall and relative humidity in the inland region. There was a significant interaction between climate variables and locality in RRv transmission. CONCLUSIONS: Climate variability may have played a significant role in the transmission of RRv. There appeared to be different responses of RRv to climate variability between coastline and inland cities in Queensland, Australia. Maximum temperature appeared to exhibit a greater impact on the RRv transmission in coastline than in inland cities. Minimum temperature and relative humidity at 3 pm inland seemed to affect the RRv transmission more than at the coastline. However, the relation between climate variables and RRv needs to be viewed within a wider context of other social and environmental factors, and further research is needed. (+info)
How do people solve the "weather prediction" task?: individual variability in strategies for probabilistic category learning.
Probabilistic category learning is often assumed to be an incrementally learned cognitive skill, dependent on nondeclarative memory systems. One paradigm in particular, the weather prediction task, has been used in over half a dozen neuropsychological and neuroimaging studies to date. Because of the growing interest in using this task and others like it as behavioral tools for studying the cognitive neuroscience of cognitive skill learning, it becomes especially important to understand how subjects solve this kind of task and whether all subjects learn it in the same way. We present here new experimental and theoretical analyses of the weather prediction task that indicate that there are at least three different strategies that describe how subjects learn this task. (1) An optimal multi-cue strategy, in which they respond to each pattern on the basis of associations of all four cues with each outcome; (2) a one-cue strategy, in which they respond on the basis of presence or absence of a single cue, disregarding all other cues; or (3) a singleton strategy, in which they learn only about the four patterns that have only one cue present and all others absent. This variability in how subjects approach this task may have important implications for interpreting how different brain regions are involved in probabilistic category learning. (+info)
Grassland responses to global environmental changes suppressed by elevated CO2.
Simulated global changes, including warming, increased precipitation, and nitrogen deposition, alone and in concert, increased net primary production (NPP) in the third year of ecosystem-scale manipulations in a California annual grassland. Elevated carbon dioxide also increased NPP, but only as a single-factor treatment. Across all multifactor manipulations, elevated carbon dioxide suppressed root allocation, decreasing the positive effects of increased temperature, precipitation, and nitrogen deposition on NPP. The NPP responses to interacting global changes differed greatly from simple combinations of single-factor responses. These findings indicate the importance of a multifactor experimental approach to understanding ecosystem responses to global change. (+info)