SciCombinator

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

Journal: Royal Society open science

248

Authoritarianism has resurfaced as a research topic in political psychology, as it appears relevant to explain current political trends. Authoritarian attitudes have been consistently linked to feelings of disgust, an emotion that is thought to have evolved to protect the organism from contamination. We hypothesized that body odour disgust sensitivity (BODS) might be associated with authoritarianism, as chemo-signalling is a primitive system for regulating interpersonal contact and disease avoidance, which are key features also in authoritarianism. We used well-validated scales for measuring BODS, authoritarianism and related constructs. Across two studies, we found that BODS is positively related to authoritarianism. In a third study, we showed a positive association between BODS scores and support for Donald Trump, who, at the time of data collection, was a presidential candidate with an agenda described as resonating with authoritarian attitudes. Authoritarianism fully explained the positive association between BODS and support for Donald Trump. Our findings highlight body odour disgust as a new and promising domain in political psychology research. Authoritarianism and BODS might be part of the same disease avoidance framework, and our results contribute to the growing evidence that contemporary social attitudes might be rooted in basic sensory functions.

Concepts: Psychology, Theory, Donald Trump, Ivana Trump, Fred Trump

188

The use of information provided by others to tackle life’s challenges is widespread, but should not be employed indiscriminately if it is to be adaptive. Evidence is accumulating that animals are indeed selective and adopt ‘social learning strategies’. However, studies have generally focused on fish, bird and primate species. Here we extend research on social learning strategies to a taxonomic group that has been neglected until now: otters (subfamily Lutrinae). We collected social association data on captive groups of two gregarious species: smooth-coated otters (Lutrogale perspicillata), known to hunt fish cooperatively in the wild, and Asian short-clawed otters (Aonyx cinereus), which feed individually on prey requiring extractive foraging behaviours. We then presented otter groups with a series of novel foraging tasks, and inferred social transmission of task solutions with network-based diffusion analysis. We show that smooth-coated otters can socially learn how to exploit novel food sources and may adopt a ‘copy when young’ strategy. We found no evidence for social learning in the Asian short-clawed otters. Otters are thus a promising model system for comparative research into social learning strategies, while conservation reintroduction programmes may benefit from facilitating the social transmission of survival skills in these vulnerable species.

Concepts: Otters, Mustelidae, Mammals of Asia, Otter, Social, Aonyx, Smooth-coated Otter, Lutrogale

171

Water management that alters riverine ecosystem processes has strongly influenced deltas and the people who depend on them, but a full accounting of the trade-offs is still emerging. Using palaeoecological data, we document a surprising biogeochemical consequence of water management in the Colorado River basin. Complete allocation and consumptive use of the river’s flow has altered the downstream estuarine ecosystem, including the abundance and composition of the mollusc community, an important component in estuarine carbon cycling. In particular, population declines in the endemic Colorado delta clam, Mulinia coloradoensis, from 50–125 individuals m(-2) in the pre-dam era to three individuals m(-2) today, have likely resulted in a reduction, on the order of 5900-15 000 t C yr(-1) (4.1-10.6 mol C m(-2) yr(-1)), in the net carbon emissions associated with molluscs. Although this reduction is large within the estuarine system, it is small in comparison with annual global carbon emissions. Nonetheless, this finding highlights the need for further research into the effects of dams, diversions and reservoirs on the biogeochemistry of deltas and estuaries worldwide, underscoring a present need for integrated water and carbon planning.

Concepts: Oxygen, Carbon dioxide, Water, River, Estuary, River delta, Colorado River, Mactridae

55

High-elevation environments above 2500 metres above sea level (m.a.s.l.) were among the planet’s last frontiers of human colonization. Research on the speed and tempo of this colonization process is active and holds implications for understanding rates of genetic, physiological and cultural adaptation in our species. Permanent occupation of high-elevation environments in the Andes Mountains of South America tentatively began with hunter-gatherers around 9 ka according to current archaeological estimates, though the timing is currently debated. Recent observations on the archaeological site of Soro Mik'aya Patjxa (8.0-6.5 ka), located at 3800 m.a.s.l. in the Andean Altiplano, offer an opportunity to independently test hypotheses for early permanent use of the region. This study observes low oxygen (δ(18)O) and high carbon (δ(13)C) isotope values in human bone, long travel distances to low-elevation zones, variable age and sex structure in the human population and an absence of non-local lithic materials. These independent lines of evidence converge to support a model of permanent occupation of high elevations and refute logistical and seasonal use models. The results constitute the strongest empirical support to date for permanent human occupation of the Andean highlands by hunter-gatherers before 7 ka.

Concepts: Scientific method, South America, Bolivia, Andes, Peru, Altiplano, Lake Titicaca, Aconcagua

45

Invasive lionfish (Pterois volitans and P. miles) have spread widely across the western Atlantic and are recognized as a major threat to native marine biodiversity. Although lionfish inhabit both shallow reefs and mesophotic coral ecosystems (MCEs; reefs from 30 to 150 m depth), the primary management response implemented by many countries has been diver-led culling limited to reefs less than 30 m. However, many reef fish undergo ontogenetic migrations, with the largest and therefore most fecund individuals found at greatest depths. Here, we study lionfish density, body size, maturity and dietary patterns across the depth gradient from the surface down to 85 m on heavily culled reefs around Utila, Honduras. We found lionfish at increased densities, body size and weight on MCEs compared with shallow reefs, with MCEs also containing the greatest proportion of actively spawning females, while shallow reefs contained the greatest proportion of immature lionfish. We then compared lionfish behaviour in response to divers on shallow culled and mesophotic unculled Utilan reefs, and on shallow unculled reefs in Tela Bay, on the Honduran mainland. We found that mesophotic lionfish exhibited high alert distances, consistent with individuals previously exposed to culling despite being below the depth limits of removal. In addition, when examining stomach content, we found that fish were the major component of lionfish diets across the depth gradient. Importantly, our results suggest that despite adjacent shallow culling, MCEs retain substantial lionfish populations that may be disproportionately contributing towards continued lionfish recruitment onto the shallow reefs of Utila, potentially undermining current culling-based management.

Concepts: Density, Coral reef, Population density, Honduras, Culling, Scorpaenidae, Pterois, Lionfish

45

The sexes differ in how and when they allocate energy towards reproduction, but how this influences phenotypic plasticity in daily activity patterns is unclear. Here, we use collar-mounted light loggers and triaxial accelerometers to examine factors that affect time spent above ground and overall dynamic body acceleration (ODBA), an index of activity-specific energy expenditure, across the active season of free-living, semi-fossorial arctic ground squirrels (Urocitellus parryii). We found high day-to-day variability in time spent above ground and ODBA with most of the variance explained by environmental conditions known to affect thermal exchange. In both years, females spent more time below ground compared with males during parturition and early lactation; however, this difference was fourfold larger in the second year, possibly, because females were in better body condition. Daily ODBA positively correlated with time spent above ground in both sexes, but females were more active per unit time above ground. Consequently, daily ODBA did not differ between the sexes when females were early in lactation, even though females were above ground three to six fewer hours each day. Further, on top of having the additional burden of milk production, ODBA data indicate females also had fragmented rest patterns and were more active during late lactation. Our results indicate that sex differences in reproductive requirements can have a substantial influence on activity patterns, but the size of this effect may be dependent on capital resources accrued during gestation.

Concepts: Male, Reproduction, Female, Sexual dimorphism, Gender, Sex, Hermaphrodite, Secret Life

39

Palaechthonid plesiadapiforms from the Palaeocene of western North America have long been recognized as among the oldest and most primitive euarchontan mammals, a group that includes extant primates, colugos and treeshrews. Despite their relatively sparse fossil record, palaechthonids have played an important role in discussions surrounding adaptive scenarios for primate origins for nearly a half-century. Likewise, palaechthonids have been considered important for understanding relationships among plesiadapiforms, with members of the group proposed as plausible ancestors of Paromomyidae and Microsyopidae. Here, we describe a dentally associated partial skeleton of Torrejonia wilsoni from the early Palaeocene (approx. 62 Ma) of New Mexico, which is the oldest known plesiadapiform skeleton and the first postcranial elements recovered for a palaechthonid. Results from a cladistic analysis that includes new data from this skeleton suggest that palaechthonids are a paraphyletic group of stem primates, and that T. wilsoni is most closely related to paromomyids. New evidence from the appendicular skeleton of T. wilsoni fails to support an influential hypothesis based on inferences from craniodental morphology that palaechthonids were terrestrial. Instead, the postcranium of T. wilsoni indicates that it was similar to that of all other plesiadapiforms for which skeletons have been recovered in having distinct specializations consistent with arboreality.

Concepts: Mammal, Primate, Phylogenetics, Clade, Plesiadapiformes, Euarchontoglires, Treeshrew, Euarchonta

29

Is there an association between art and changes in the economic conditions of urban neighbourhoods? While the popular media and policymakers commonly believe this to be the case, quantitative evidence remains lacking. Here, we use metadata of geotagged photographs uploaded to the popular image-sharing platform Flickr to quantify the presence of art in London neighbourhoods. We estimate the presence of art in neighbourhoods by determining the proportion of Flickr photographs which have the word ‘art’ attached. We compare this with the relative gain in residential property prices for each Inner London neighbourhood. We find that neighbourhoods which have a higher proportion of ‘art’ photographs also have greater relative gains in property prices. Our findings demonstrate how online data can be used to quantify aspects of the visual environment at scale and reveal new connections between the visual environment and crucial socio-economic measurements.

Concepts: Sociology, Culture, Art, Media studies, Relative gain, Absolute gain, Geotagging, International relations terms

26

The Cambrian radiation of complex animals includes a dramatic increase in the depth and intensity of bioturbation in seafloor sediment known as the ‘agronomic revolution’. This bioturbation transition was coupled with a shift in dominant trace fossil style from horizontal surficial traces in the late Precambrian to vertically penetrative trace fossils in the Cambrian. Here we show the existence of the first vertically penetrative trace fossils from the latest Ediacaran: dense occurrences of the U-shaped trace fossilArenicolitesfrom late Precambrian marine carbonates of Western Mongolia. Their Ediacaran age is established through stable carbon isotope chemostratigraphy and their occurrence stratigraphically below the first appearance of the trace fossilTreptichnus pedum. TheseArenicolitesare large in diameter, penetrate down to at least 4 cm into the sediment, and were presumably formed by the activity of bilaterian animals. They are preserved commonly as paired circular openings on bedding planes with maximum diameters ranging up to almost 1 cm, and as U- and J-shaped tubes in vertical sections of beds. Discovery of these complex penetrative trace fossils demonstrates that the agronomic revolution started earlier than previously considered.

Concepts: Animal, Fossil, Paleontology, Cambrian explosion, Cambrian, Trace fossil, Treptichnus pedum, Kimberella

23

Restorative brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) have been proposed to enhance stroke rehabilitation. Restorative BCIs are able to close the sensorimotor loop by rewarding motor imagery (MI) with sensory feedback. Despite the promising results from early studies, reaching clinically significant outcomes in a timely fashion is yet to be achieved. This lack of efficacy may be due to suboptimal feedback provision. To the best of our knowledge, the optimal feedback update interval (FUI) during MI remains unexplored. There is evidence that sensory feedback disinhibits the motor cortex. Thus, in this study, we explore how shorter than usual FUIs affect behavioural and neurophysiological measures following BCI training for stroke patients using a single-case proof-of-principle study design. The action research arm test was used as the primary behavioural measure and showed a clinically significant increase (36%) over the course of training. The neurophysiological measures including motor evoked potentials and maximum voluntary contraction showed distinctive changes in early and late phases of BCI training. Thus, this preliminary study may pave the way for running larger studies to further investigate the effect of FUI magnitude on the efficacy of restorative BCIs. It may also elucidate the role of early and late phases of motor learning along the course of BCI training.

Concepts: Psychology, Neuroscience, Motor control, Integral, Topology, Evoked potential, Audio feedback, Lebesgue measure