SciCombinator

Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Texas

187

In preparing for influenza pandemics, public health agencies stockpile critical medical resources. Determining appropriate quantities and locations for such resources can be challenging, given the considerable uncertainty in the timing and severity of future pandemics. We introduce a method for optimizing stockpiles of mechanical ventilators, which are critical for treating hospitalized influenza patients in respiratory failure. As a case study, we consider the US state of Texas during mild, moderate, and severe pandemics. Optimal allocations prioritize local over central storage, even though the latter can be deployed adaptively, on the basis of real-time needs. This prioritization stems from high geographic correlations and the slightly lower treatment success assumed for centrally stockpiled ventilators. We developed our model and analysis in collaboration with academic researchers and a state public health agency and incorporated it into a Web-based decision-support tool for pandemic preparedness and response.

Concepts: Public health, Influenza, Avian influenza, Influenza pandemic, U.S. state, Pandemic, World Health Organization, Texas

172

A large region of low-dissolved-oxygen bottom waters (hypoxia) forms nearly every summer in the northern Gulf of Mexico because of nutrient inputs from the Mississippi River Basin and water column stratification. Policymakers developed goals to reduce the area of hypoxic extent because of its ecological, economic, and commercial fisheries impacts. However, the goals remain elusive after 30 y of research and monitoring and 15 y of goal-setting and assessment because there has been little change in river nitrogen concentrations. An intergovernmental Task Force recently extended to 2035 the deadline for achieving the goal of a 5,000-km(2) 5-y average hypoxic zone and set an interim load target of a 20% reduction of the spring nitrogen loading from the Mississippi River by 2025 as part of their adaptive management process. The Task Force has asked modelers to reassess the loading reduction required to achieve the 2035 goal and to determine the effect of the 20% interim load reduction. Here, we address both questions using a probabilistic ensemble of four substantially different hypoxia models. Our results indicate that, under typical weather conditions, a 59% reduction in Mississippi River nitrogen load is required to reduce hypoxic area to 5,000 km(2) The interim goal of a 20% load reduction is expected to produce an 18% reduction in hypoxic area over the long term. However, due to substantial interannual variability, a 25% load reduction is required before there is 95% certainty of observing any hypoxic area reduction between consecutive 5-y assessment periods.

Concepts: Drainage basin, Florida, Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Gulf of Mexico, Mississippi River, Rio Grande

117

We present a comprehensive assessment of genomic diversity in the African-American population by studying three genotyped cohorts comprising 3,726 African-Americans from across the United States that provide a representative description of the population across all US states and socioeconomic status. An estimated 82.1% of ancestors to African-Americans lived in Africa prior to the advent of transatlantic travel, 16.7% in Europe, and 1.2% in the Americas, with increased African ancestry in the southern United States compared to the North and West. Combining demographic models of ancestry and those of relatedness suggests that admixture occurred predominantly in the South prior to the Civil War and that ancestry-biased migration is responsible for regional differences in ancestry. We find that recent migrations also caused a strong increase in genetic relatedness among geographically distant African-Americans. Long-range relatedness among African-Americans and between African-Americans and European-Americans thus track north- and west-bound migration routes followed during the Great Migration of the twentieth century. By contrast, short-range relatedness patterns suggest comparable mobility of ∼15-16km per generation for African-Americans and European-Americans, as estimated using a novel analytical model of isolation-by-distance.

Concepts: United States, White American, African American, Native Americans in the United States, Southern United States, Texas, American Civil War, English American

56

Three large lamniform shark vertebrae are described from the Lower Cretaceous of Texas. We interpret these fossils as belonging to a single individual with a calculated total body length of 6.3 m. This large individual compares favorably to another shark specimen from the roughly contemporaneous Kiowa Shale of Kansas. Neither specimen was recovered with associated teeth, making confident identification of the species impossible. However, both formations share a similar shark fauna, with Leptostyrax macrorhiza being the largest of the common lamniform sharks. Regardless of its actual identification, this new specimen provides further evidence that large-bodied lamniform sharks had evolved prior to the Late Cretaceous.

Concepts: Evolution, Cretaceous, Texas, Dinosaur, Shark, Plesiosaur, I formation, Shark episode

49

Cycles of demographic and organizational change are well documented in Neolithic societies, but the social and ecological processes underlying them are debated. Such periodicities are implicit in the “Pecos classification,” a chronology for the pre-Hispanic U.S. Southwest introduced in Science in 1927 which is still widely used. To understand these periodicities, we analyzed 29,311 archaeological tree-ring dates from A.D. 500 to 1400 in the context of a novel high spatial resolution, annual reconstruction of the maize dry-farming niche for this same period. We argue that each of the Pecos periods initially incorporates an “exploration” phase, followed by a phase of “exploitation” of niches that are simultaneously ecological, cultural, and organizational. Exploitation phases characterized by demographic expansion and aggregation ended with climatically driven downturns in agricultural favorability, undermining important bases for social consensus. Exploration phases were times of socio-ecological niche discovery and development.

Concepts: Time, Menstrual cycle, Native Americans in the United States, Texas, Invasive species, Colorado, New Mexico, Puebloan peoples

45

Climate models project rising drought risks over the southwestern and central U.S. in the twenty-first century due to increasing greenhouse gases. The projected drier regions largely overlay the major dust sources in the United States. However, whether dust activity in U.S. will increase in the future is not clear, due to the large uncertainty in dust modeling. This study found that changes of dust activity in the U.S. in the recent decade are largely associated with the variations of precipitation, soil bareness, and surface winds speed. Using multi-model output under the Representative Concentration Pathways 8.5 scenario, we project that climate change will increase dust activity in the southern Great Plains from spring to fall in the late half of the twenty-first century - largely due to reduced precipitation, enhanced land surface bareness, and increased surface wind speed. Over the northern Great Plains, less dusty days are expected in spring due to increased precipitation and reduced bareness. Given the large negative economic and societal consequences of severe dust storms, this study complements the multi-model projection on future dust variations and may help improve risk management and resource planning.

Concepts: Risk, United States, Climate, Storm, Texas, Wind power, Great Plains, Dust Bowl

45

Low-income and minority students are substantially underrepresented in gifted education programs. The disparities persist despite efforts by many states and school districts to broaden participation through changes in their eligibility criteria. One explanation for the persistent gap is that standard processes for identifying gifted students, which are based largely on the referrals of parents and teachers, tend to miss qualified students from underrepresented groups. We study this hypothesis using the experiences of a large urban school district following the introduction of a universal screening program for second graders. Without any changes in the standards for gifted eligibility, the screening program led to large increases in the fractions of economically disadvantaged and minority students placed in gifted programs. Comparisons of the newly identified gifted students with those who would have been placed in the absence of screening show that Blacks and Hispanics, free/reduced price lunch participants, English language learners, and girls were all systematically “underreferred” in the traditional parent/teacher referral system. Our findings suggest that parents and teachers often fail to recognize the potential of poor and minority students and those with limited English proficiency.

Concepts: Poverty, Education, United Kingdom, High school, School, Teaching English as a foreign language, Texas, Gifted education

28

Injuries are inherent to the sport of American football and often require operative management. Outcomes have been reported for certain surgical procedures in professional athletes in the National Football League (NFL), but there is little information comparing the career effect of these procedures.

Concepts: Surgery, College football, Reconstructive surgery, Texas, American football, Football, National Football League, Super Bowl

28

Objectives:  To evaluate key attributes, strengths, and limitations of the American Red Cross (ARC) disaster-related mortality surveillance system implemented during Hurricane Ike in Texas 2008, and to provide recommendations for system improvement. Methods:  We evaluated key attributes of the ARC mortality surveillance system. Evaluation included interviews with stakeholders and linking ARC data with the Texas Department of State Health Services' (DSHS) system for comparison. Results:  During September 11 through October 6, 2008, the ARC identified 38 deaths, whereas DSHS identified 74 deaths related to Hurricane Ike (sensitivity = 47%; positive predictive value = 92%). The ARC had complete data on 61% to 92% of deaths, and an 83% to 97% concordance was observed between the 2 systems for key variables. Conclusions:  The ARC surveillance system is simple, flexible, and stable. We recommend establishing written guidelines to improve data quality and representativeness. As an important supporting agency in disaster situations and the sole source of data regarding disaster-related mortality in multiple states, improvement of the ARC system will benefit stakeholders and promote dissemination of useful information for preventing future deaths.

Concepts: Improve, Texas, Tropical cyclone, Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Ike, Arc, American Red Cross, Galveston, Texas

27

Confirmed local transmission of Zika Virus (ZIKV) in Texas and Florida have heightened the need for early and accurate indicators of self-sustaining transmission in high risk areas across the southern United States. Given ZIKV’s low reporting rates and the geographic variability in suitable conditions, a cluster of reported cases may reflect diverse scenarios, ranging from independent introductions to a self-sustaining local epidemic.

Concepts: United States, U.S. state, Florida, Native Americans in the United States, Southern United States, Texas, American Civil War, Confederate States of America