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Concept: British Isles


Our aim is to measure and compare the academic and research output of neurosurgical departments across the UK and Ireland.

Concepts: United Kingdom, Europe, English people, British Isles, London, Northern Ireland, Irish Sea, Isle of Man


Contamination with exogenous DNA is a constant hazard to ancient DNA studies, since their validity greatly depend on the ancient origin of the retrieved sequences. Since contamination occurs sporadically, it is fundamental to show positive evidence for the authenticity of ancient DNA sequences even when preventive measures to avoid contamination are implemented. Recently the presence of wheat in the United Kingdom 8000 years before the present has been reported based on an analysis of sedimentary ancient DNA (Smith et al. 2015). Smith et al. did not present any positive evidence for the authenticity of their results due to the small number of sequencing reads that were confidently assigned to wheat. We developed a computational method that compares postmortem damage patterns of a test dataset with bona fide ancient and modern DNA. We applied this test to the putative wheat DNA and find that these reads are most likely not of ancient origin.

Concepts: DNA, United Kingdom, English people, British Isles, British people, Channel Islands, Northern Ireland, Ancient DNA


Early human migration is largely determined by geography and human needs. These are both deterministic parameters when small populations move into unoccupied areas where conflicts and large group dynamics are not important. The early period of human migration into the British Isles provides such a laboratory which, because of its relative geographical isolation, may allow some insights into the complex dynamics of early human migration and interaction.

Concepts: Demography, Population, United Kingdom, Europe, Immigration, English people, British Isles, British people


The Mesolithic-to-Neolithic transition marked the time when a hunter-gatherer economy gave way to agriculture, coinciding with rising sea levels. Bouldnor Cliff, is a submarine archaeological site off the Isle of Wight in the United Kingdom that has a well-preserved Mesolithic paleosol dated to 8000 years before the present. We analyzed a core obtained from sealed sediments, combining evidence from microgeomorphology and microfossils with sedimentary ancient DNA (sedaDNA) analyses to reconstruct floral and faunal changes during the occupation of this site, before it was submerged. In agreement with palynological analyses, the sedaDNA sequences suggest a mixed habitat of oak forest and herbaceous plants. However, they also provide evidence of wheat 2000 years earlier than mainland Britain and 400 years earlier than proximate European sites. These results suggest that sophisticated social networks linked the Neolithic front in southern Europe to the Mesolithic peoples of northern Europe.

Concepts: United Kingdom, Europe, England, British Isles, British people, Northern Europe, English Channel, Isle of Man


Forecasts of summer weather patterns months in advance would be of great value for a wide range of applications. However, seasonal dynamical model forecasts for European summers have very little skill, particularly for rainfall. It has not been clear whether this low skill reflects inherent unpredictability of summer weather or, alternatively, is a consequence of weaknesses in current forecast systems. Here we analyze atmosphere and ocean observations and identify evidence that a specific pattern of summertime atmospheric circulation–the summer East Atlantic (SEA) pattern–is predictable from the previous spring. An index of North Atlantic sea-surface temperatures in March-April can predict the SEA pattern in July-August with a cross-validated correlation skill above 0.6. Our analyses show that the sea-surface temperatures influence atmospheric circulation and the position of the jet stream over the North Atlantic. The SEA pattern has a particularly strong influence on rainfall in the British Isles, which we find can also be predicted months ahead with a significant skill of 0.56. Our results have immediate application to empirical forecasts of summer rainfall for the United Kingdom, Ireland, and northern France and also suggest that current dynamical model forecast systems have large potential for improvement.

Concepts: Prediction, Atlantic Ocean, United Kingdom, Europe, Ocean, Tropical cyclone, British Isles, Irish Sea


This document represents the first position statement produced by the British Society of Gastroenterology and Association of Upper Gastrointestinal Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland, setting out the minimum expected standards in diagnostic upper gastrointestinal endoscopy. The need for this statement has arisen from the recognition that while technical competence can be rapidly acquired, in practice the performance of a high- quality examination is variable, with an unacceptably high rate of failure to diagnose cancer at endoscopy. The importance of detecting early neoplasia has taken on greater significance in this era of minimally invasive, organ- preserving endoscopic therapy. In this position statement we describe 38 recommendations to improve diagnostic endoscopy quality. Our goal is to emphasise practices that encourage mucosal inspection and lesion recognition, with the aim of optimising the early diagnosis of upper gastrointestinal disease and improving patient outcomes.

Concepts: Diagnosis, United Kingdom, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Great Britain, Kingdom of Great Britain, Wales, Endoscopy, British Isles


Sungir (Russia) is a key Mid-Upper Palaeolithic site in Eurasia, containing several spectacular burials that disclose early evidence for complex burial rites in the form of a range of grave goods deposited along with the dead. Dating has been particularly challenging, with multiple radiocarbon dates ranging from 19,160±270 to 28,800±240 BP for burials that are believed to be closely similar in age. There are disparities in the radiocarbon dates of human bones, faunal remains and charcoal found on the floor of burials [1], [2], [3]. Our approach has been to develop compound-specific methods using High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) to separate single amino acids, such as hydroxyproline, and thereby avoid the known human contamination on the bones themselves. Previously, we applied this technique to obtain radiocarbon dates of ∼30,000 BP for Sungir 2, Sungir 3 and a mammoth bone from the occupation levels of the site [4]. The single amino acid radiocarbon dates were in good agreement with each other compared to all the dates previously reported, supporting their reliability. Here we report new hydroxyproline dates for two more human burials from the same site, Sungir 1 and Sungir 4. All five hydroxyproline dates reported are statistically indistinguishable and support an identical age for the group. The results suggest that compound-specific radiocarbon analysis should be considered seriously as the method of choice when precious archaeological remains are to be dated because they give a demonstrably contaminant-free radiocarbon age. The new ages are, together with the previously dated ‘Red Lady of Paviland’ human in the British Isles, the earliest for Mid Upper Palaeolithic burial behaviour in Eurasia, and point to the precocious appearance of this form of rite in Europe Russia.

Concepts: Amino acid, Acid, Amine, Carbon, High performance liquid chromatography, British Isles, Burial, Upper Paleolithic


care home residents are aged, many have multiple co-morbidities and low levels of functioning. Yet, the UK has no routinely available, national data on health in care homes. The aim of this study is to identify longitudinal or nationally representative cross-sectional sources of information on the health and wellbeing of older adults residing in care homes in the UK and Ireland.

Concepts: Cross-sectional study, United Kingdom, Europe, Nursing, Ireland, English people, British Isles, Northern Ireland


External ventricular drain (EVD) insertion is a common neurosurgical procedure. EVD-related infection (ERI) is a major complication that can lead to morbidity and mortality. In this study, we aimed to establish a national ERI rate in the UK and Ireland and determine key factors influencing the infection risk.

Concepts: United Kingdom, Europe, English language, English people, British Isles, Northern Ireland, Irish Sea, Isle of Man


Where wildlife disease requires management, culling is frequently considered but not always effective. In the British Isles, control of cattle tuberculosis (TB) is hindered by infection in wild badger (Meles meles) populations. Large-scale badger culling can reduce the incidence of confirmed cattle TB, but these benefits are undermined by culling-induced changes in badger behavior (termed perturbation), which can increase transmission among badgers and from badgers to cattle. Test-vaccinate/remove (TVR) is a novel approach that entails testing individual badgers for infection, vaccinating test-negative animals, and killing test-positive animals. Imperfect capture success, diagnostic sensitivity, and vaccine effectiveness mean that TVR would be expected to leave some infected and some susceptible badgers in the population. Existing simulation models predict that TVR could reduce cattle TB if such small-scale culling causes no perturbation, but could increase cattle TB if considerable perturbation occurs. Using data from a long-term study, we show that past small-scale culling was significantly associated with four metrics of perturbation in badgers: expanded ranging, more frequent immigration, lower genetic relatedness, and elevated prevalence of Mycobacterium bovis, the causative agent of TB. Though we could not reject the hypothesis that culling up to three badgers per social group might avoid perturbation, we also could not reject the hypothesis that killing a single badger prompted detectable perturbation. When considered alongside existing model predictions, our findings suggest that implementation of TVR, scheduled for 2014, risks exacerbating the TB problem rather than controlling it. Ongoing illegal badger culling is likewise expected to increase cattle TB risks.

Concepts: Vaccine, Tuberculosis, Mycobacterium, Mycobacterium bovis, British Isles, Badger, European Badger, Meles