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Concept: Thresholds


During the Paris Conference in 2015, nations of the world strengthened the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change by agreeing to holding “the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C"1. However, "pre-industrial” was not defined. Here we investigate the implications of different choices of the pre-industrial baseline on the likelihood of exceeding these two temperature thresholds. We find that for the strongest mitigation scenario RCP2.6 and a medium scenario RCP4.5 the probability of exceeding the thresholds and timing of exceedance is highly dependent on the pre-industrial baseline, for example the probability of crossing 1.5°C by the end of the century under RCP2.6, varies from 61% to 88% depending on how the baseline is defined. In contrast, in the scenario with no mitigation, RCP8.5, both thresholds will almost certainly be exceeded by the middle of the century with the definition of the pre-industrial baseline of less importance. Allowable carbon emissions for threshold stabilisation are similarly highly dependent on the pre-industrial baseline. For stabilisation at 2°C, allowable emissions decrease by as much as 40% when earlier than 19th century climates are considered as a baseline.

Concepts: Climate, Weather, Definition, Climate change, United Nations, Limit, Global warming, Thresholds


Objective The purpose of this study was to examine the heart rate reserve (HRR) at first and second ventilatory thresholds (VT’s) in postmenopausal women and compare it with optimal intensity range recommended by the ACSM (40-84%HRR). An additional aim was to evaluate whether a higher aerobic power level corresponded to a higher HRR at VT’s. Methods Fifty-eight postmenopausal women participated in this study (aged 48-69). A graded 25Wmin(-2) cycle ergometer (Monark E839) exercise protocol was performed in order to assess aerobic power. The heart rate and gas-exchange variables were measured continuously using a portable gas analyzer system (Cosmed K4b). The first (VT(1)) and the second (VT(2)) VT’s were determined by the time course curves of ventilation and O(2) and CO(2) ventilatory equivalents. A K-means clustering analysis was used in order to identify VO(2max) groups (cut-off of 30.5mlkg(-1)min(-1)) and differences were evaluated by an independent sample t-test. Bland-Altman plots were performed to illustrate the agreement between methods. Results The women’s HRR values at VT(1) were similar to 40%HRR in both VO(2max) groups. At VT(2) both VO(2max) groups exhibited negative differences (P<0.01) for the predicted 84%HRR intensity (-14.46% in the lower VO(2max) group and -16.32% in the higher VO(2max) group). Conclusions An upper limit of 84% overestimates the %HRR value for the second ventilatory threshold, suggesting that the cardiorespiratory target zone for this population should be lower and narrower (40-70%HRR).

Concepts: Pulse, Student's t-test, Heart rate, The Higher, Thresholds, Threshold, Limit superior and limit inferior, K-means clustering


Flavour ingredients are an essential part of e-liquids. Their responsible selection and inclusion levels in e-liquids must be guided by toxicological principles. We propose an approach to the screening and toxicological risk assessment of flavour ingredients for e-liquids. The screening involves purity requirements and avoiding ingredients that are carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic to reproduction. Additionally, owing to the uncertainties involved in potency determination and the derivation of a tolerable level for respiratory sensitisation, we propose excluding respiratory sensitisers. After screening, toxicological data on the ingredients should be reviewed. Inhalation-specific toxicological issues, for which no reliable safe levels can currently be derived, can lead to further ingredient exclusions. We discuss the use of toxicological thresholds of concern for flavours that lack inhalation data suitable for quantitative risk assessment. Higher toxicological thresholds of concern are suggested for flavour ingredients (170 or 980μg/day) than for contaminant assessment (1.5μg/day). Analytical detection limits for measurements of potential reaction and thermal breakdown products in vaping aerosol, should be informed by the contaminant threshold. This principle leads us to recommend 5ng/puff as an appropriate limit of detection for untargeted aerosol measurements.

Concepts: Cancer, Measurement, Toxicology, Detection limit, Uncertainty, Risk assessment, Limit, Thresholds


While the direct physical impact on seabed biota is well understood, no studies have defined thresholds to inform an ecosystem-based approach to managing fishing impacts. We addressed this knowledge gap using a large-scale experiment that created a controlled gradient of fishing intensity and assessed the immediate impacts and short-term recovery. We observed a mosaic of taxon-specific responses at various thresholds. The lowest threshold of significant lasting impact occurred between 1 and 3 times fished and elicited a decrease in abundance of 39 to 70% for some sessile epifaunal organisms (cnidarians, bryozoans). This contrasted with significant increases in abundance and/or biomass of scavenging species (epifaunal echinoderms, infaunal crustaceans) by two to four-fold in areas fished twice and more. In spite of these significant specific responses, the benthic community structure, biomass and abundance at the population level appeared resilient to fishing. Overall, natural temporal variation in community metrics exceeded the effects of fishing in this highly dynamic study site, suggesting that an acute level of disturbance (fished over six times) would match the level of natural variation. We discuss the implications of our findings for natural resources management with respect to context-specific human disturbance and provide guidance for best fishing practices.

Concepts: Ecology, Gradient, Animal, Definition, Management, Knowledge, Thresholds, Krill


Global motion perception is a function of higher, or extrastriate, visual system circuitry. These circuits can be engaged in visually driven navigation, a behavior at which mice are adept. However, the properties of global motion perception in mice are unclear. Therefore, we developed a touchscreen-based, two-alternative forced choice (2AFC) task to explore global motion detection in mice using random dot kinematograms (RDK). Performance data was used to compute coherence thresholds for global motion perception. The touchscreen-based task allowed for parallel training and testing with multiple chambers and minimal experimenter intervention with mice performing hundreds of trials per session. Parameters of the random dot kinematograms, including dot size, lifetime, and speed, were tested. Mice learned to discriminate kinematograms whose median motion direction differed by 90 degrees in 7-24days after a 10-14day pre-training period. The average coherence threshold (measured at 70% correct) in mice for this task was 22±5%, with a dot diameter of 3.88mm and speed of 58.2mm/s. Our results confirm the ability of mice to perform global motion discriminations, and the touchscreen assay provides a flexible, automated, and relatively high throughput method with which to probe complex visual function in mice.

Concepts: Psychology, Visual perception, Visual system, Performance, Motion perception, Motion, Thresholds, Threshold


The impact of altitude training on haematological parameters and the Athlete Biological Passport (ABP) was evaluated in international-level elite athletes. One group of swimmers lived high and trained high (LHTH, n = 10) for three to four weeks at 2130 m or higher whereas a control group (n = 10) completed a three-week training camp at sea-level. Haematological parameters were determined weekly three times before and four times after the training camps. ABP thresholds for haemoglobin concentration ([Hb]), reticulocyte percentage (RET%), OFF score and the abnormal blood profile score (ABPS) were calculated using the Bayesian model. After altitude training, six swimmers exceeded the 99% ABP thresholds: two swimmers exceeded the OFF score thresholds at day +7; one swimmer exceeded the OFF score threshold at day +28; one swimmer exceeded the threshold for RET% at day +14; and one swimmer surpassed the ABPS threshold at day +14. In the control group, no values exceeded the individual ABP reference range. In conclusion, LHTH induces haematological changes in Olympic-level elite athletes which can exceed the individually generated references in the ABP. Training at altitude should be considered a confounding factor for ABP interpretation for up to four weeks after altitude exposure but does not consistently cause abnormal values in the ABP. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Concepts: Controlling for a variable, Scientific control, Anemia, Training, Confounding, John Wiley & Sons, Thresholds, Threshold


Demand for high-volume, short duration water withdrawals could create water stress to aquatic organisms in Fayetteville Shale streams sourced for hydraulic fracturing fluids. We estimated potential water stress using permitted water withdrawal volumes and actual water withdrawals compared to monthly median, low, and high streamflows. Risk for biological stress was considered at 20% of long-term median and 10% of high- and low-flow thresholds. Future well build-out projections estimated potential for continued stress. Most water was permitted from small, free-flowing streams and “frack” ponds (dammed streams). Permitted 12-h pumping volumes exceeded median streamflow at 50% of withdrawal sites in June, when flows were low. Daily water usage, from operator disclosures, compared to median streamflow showed possible water stress in 7-51% of catchments from June-November, respectively. If 100% of produced water was recycled, per-well water use declined by 25%, reducing threshold exceedance by 10%. Future water stress was predicted to occur in fewer catchments important for drinking water and species of conservation concern due to the decline in new well installations and increased use of recycled water. Accessible and precise withdrawal and streamflow data are critical moving forward to assess and mitigate water stress in streams that experience high-volume withdrawals.

Concepts: Biodiversity, Water, Futurology, Ecosystem, Hydrology, Potential, Thresholds, Hydraulic fracturing


The frequency of a variant in the general population is a key criterion used in the clinical interpretation of sequence variants. With certain exceptions, such as founder mutations, the rarity of a variant is a prerequisite for pathogenicity. However, defining the threshold at which a variant should be considered “too common” is challenging and therefore diagnostic laboratories have typically set conservative allele frequency thresholds.

Concepts: Genetics, Evolution, Genetic genealogy, Population genetics, Allele frequency, Mutation rate, Genetic drift, Thresholds


Osteoarthritis (OA)-associated pain is a leading cause of disability. Central Sensitization (CS), as a result of OA, is recognized as an important facet of human patients' chronic pain and has been measured in people using quantitative sensory threshold (QST) testing. The spontaneous canine OA model has been suggested as a good translational model, but CS has not been explored in this model. In this study QST was performed on dogs with and without spontaneous hip or stifle OA to determine if OA is associated with CS in this model. Mechanical (von Frey and blunt pressure) and thermal (hot and cold) sensory thresholds obtained in dogs with chronic OAassociated pain (n= 31) were compared to normal dogs (n=23). Dogs were phenotyped, joint pain scored, and testing was performed at the OA-affected joint, cranial tibial muscle and dorsal metatarsal region. QST summary data were evaluated using mixed effect models to understand the influence of OA status and covariates, and OA and control dogs compared.The presence of OA was strongly associated with hyperalgesia across all QST modalities at the index joint, cranial tibial muscle and metatarsal site. Mechanical QST were significantly moderately negatively correlated with total joint pain scores. The spontaneous canine OA model is associated with somatosensory sensitivity, likely indicative of central sensitization. These data further validate the canine spontaneous OA model as an appropriate model of the human OA pain condition.

Concepts: Knee, Pain, Sensory system, Sense, Chronic pain, Thresholds, Threshold, Sensitization


The Dutch animal welfare law includes so-called principle-based standards. This means that the objective is described in abstract terms, enabling farmers to comply with the law in their own way. Principle-based standards are, however, difficult for the inspection agency to enforce because strict limits are missing. This pilot project aimed at developing indicators (measurements) to assess the climate in pig houses, thus enabling the enforcement of principle-based standards. In total, 64 farms with weaners and 32 farms with growing-finishing pigs were visited. On each farm, a set of climate-related measurements was collected in six pens. For each of these measurements, a threshold value was set, and exceeding this threshold indicated a welfare risk. Farm inspections were carried out during winter and spring, thus excluding situations with heat stress. Assessment of the variation and correlation between measurements reduced the dataset from 39 to 12 measurements. Using a principal components analysis helped to select five major measurements as warning signals. The number of exceeded thresholds per pen and per farm was calculated for both the large (12) and small (five) sets of measurements. CO₂ and NH₃ concentrations were related to the outside temperature. On colder days, there was less ventilation, and thus CO₂ and NH₃ concentrations increased. Air quality, reflected in the CO₂ and NH₃ concentrations, was associated with respiratory problems. Eye scores were positively correlated with both pig and pen fouling, and pig and pen fouling were closely related. We selected five signal indicators: CO₂, NH₃, and tail and eye score for weaners and finishers, and added ear score for weaners and pig fouling for growing-finishing pigs. The results indicate that pig farms can be ranked based on five signal indicators related to reduced animal welfare caused by climatic conditions. This approach could be adopted to other principle-based standards for pigs as well as for other species.

Concepts: Climate, Principal component analysis, Correlation and dependence, Singular value decomposition, Pig, Farm, Thresholds, Threshold