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Open access

Balázs Deák, Csaba Albert Tóth, Ádám Bede, Iva Apostolova, Tatyana M. Bragina, Ferenc Báthori and Miklós Bán

Abstract

Eurasian steppes have an essential role in conserving biodiversity, but due to the huge habitat loss in the past centuries they are often preserved only in small refuges. Among such refuges are the ancient steppic burial mounds (the so called ‘kurgans’) which have a high cultural and historical importance and are also essential sites of nature conservation. Despite their high number (approximately half million) and conservational importance there is a huge lack of knowledge on the locality and conservational state of the kurgans in most regions of Eurasia. To fill this knowledge gap, we built a public database which allows to record and query basic information on their cultural values and factors (such as land cover type, threatening factors, cover of woody species) that might serve as a basis for their effective conservation. The database provides a transparent, public and easy-to-use source for conservation managers and landscape planners focussed on grassland conservation. In addition, it also provides background information for other associate disciplines and public agencies dealing with the protection of cultural heritage.

Open access

Jürgen Dengler, Alla Aleksanyan, Didem Ambarlı, Idoia Biurrun, Iwona Dembicz, Anna Kuzemko, Péter Török, Stephen Venn and Michael Vrahnakis

Abstract

This report summarises the activities and achievements of the Eurasian Dry Grassland Group (EDGG) from January 2018 through July 2019. During the reported period, two Eurasian Grassland Conference (EGCs) took place: the 15th EGC in Sulmona, Italy, and the 16th EGC in Graz, Austria. The 11th and 12th EDGG Field Workshops studied vegetation diversity patterns in the inner alpine valleys of Austria and Switzerland, while the 13th Field Workshop was organised in Armenia. The formerly electronic newsletter of EDGG (Bulletin of the Eurasian Dry Grassland) was transformed into a peer-reviewed international journal, called Palaearctic Grasslands, which now is attracting both scientific and photographic contributions. Furthermore, the EDGG homepage was re-constructed with a new design and content management system. The EDGG has also finalised two grassland-related Special Features during the past 1.5 years in the international journals Tuexenia and Hacquetia, and contributed with eight chapters to the book Grasslands of the World: Diversity, Management and Conservation. The vegetation-plot database GrassPlot, containing standardised multi-scale data from Palaearctic grasslands and closely connected with EDGG, has developed well, as did some other regional and national grassland-focused databases.

Open access

J. Vázquez, E. Lacarra, J. Morán, M.A. Sánchez, A. González and J. Bruzual

Abstract

EDAS (EGNOS Data Access Service) is the EGNOS internet broadcast service, which provides free of charge access to the data collected and generated by the EGNOS infrastructure. EDAS disseminates over the Internet, both in real time and via an FTP archive, the raw data of the GPS, GLONASS (no commitment on GLONASS data is provided (1)) and EGNOS GEO satellites collected by the receivers located at the EGNOS reference stations, which are mainly distributed over Europe and North Africa. The EDAS services offer several types of GNSS data in various protocols and formats, such as DGNSS corrections. This paper reports on the results of some in-field tests conducted by ESSP and Topcon Agriculture to confirm the suitability of EDAS DGNSS corrections for precision farming in Europe.

The European Commission (EC) is the owner of EGNOS system (including EDAS) and has delegated the exploitation of EGNOS to the European GNSS Agency (GSA). EDAS service provision is performed by ESSP, as EGNOS Services Provider, under contract with the GSA, the EGNOS program manager.

In the ENC 2018 article “EDAS (EGNOS Data Access Service): Differential GPS corrections performance test with state-of-the-art precision agriculture system”, ESSP and Topcon Agriculture presented the results of the first in-field test conducted in a dynamic and real-life environment in the summer of 2017. The test results indicated that the EDAS DGNSS corrections could enable a reliable pass-to-pass accuracy performance for a wide range of precision agriculture applications and become an attractive solution for cereal farms, when the farm is located in the vicinity of an EGNOS reference station. In particular, Topcon Agriculture acknowledged that the observed performance was sufficient to support the following precision agriculture applications: spraying and spreading of any crop type, tilling and harvesting of cereal.

Then, ESSP and Topcon Agriculture engaged in additional testing activities to further characterise the EDAS DGPS performance in different scenarios (i.e. at various European locations and with a variety of distances between the designated farm and the target EGNOS reference station).

In each test, multiple runs with the rover tractors have been performed over the reference patterns predefined in the Topcon guidance systems. Data recorded during the tests has been analysed in detail, looking at the key performance indicators (e.g. cross track error and pass-to-pass performance) that characterize the EDAS DGPS performance for precision agriculture applications. Different techniques for the computation of the pass-to-pass accuracy performance have been used, including a procedure to measure live in the field and a post-processing alternative. The diversity of scenarios available allows drawing conclusions on the applicability of EDAS DGPS corrections (in terms of maximum distance from the target EGNOS station) for precision agriculture and also understanding the impact of operationally relevant aspects such as the quality of the mobile internet coverage (highly variable across Europe).

The EDAS system and its architecture, the main types of data disseminated through EDAS services and the online information available to the EDAS users are introduced in this paper. In particular, the EDAS Ntrip service is described in detail, since it provides the differential corrections to the GPS and GLONASS satellites at the EGNOS reference stations in RTCM format, which are the basis for the present study.

The article also reports on the results of the latest tests, which have been performed using Topcon receivers, vehicles and auto-steering systems. In all cases, two different Topcon guidance systems on board tractors were running simultaneously to assess the EDAS DGPS positioning performance with respect to a the reference provided by a top-performing RTK-based Topcon solution.

The objective of this paper is to draw conclusions on the use of EDAS DGPS corrections as a reliable free-of-charge alternative for precision farming in Europe (especially for cereal farms), based on the available performance results from the testing campaign and the feedback from the involved precision agriculture experts.

Open access

Marina Ruxandra Oțelea, Anca Streinu-Cercel, Daniela Manolache, Andreea Mutu, Lavinia Călugăreanu, Dana Mateș and Oana Săndulescu

Abstract

In many large cohort studies, the night shift constitutes a risk factor for developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes in workers. Current screening tests for people working in night shift include fasting glycaemia and electrocardiography. In fact, there are few studies focused on the description of the electrocardiographic changes after the night shift. This article describes the protocol of the “ECG modifications induced by the disturbance of the circadian rhythm in night-shift workers (ECGNoct)” study, which was initiated by the National Institute for Infectious Diseases “Prof. Dr. Matei Balș”. Nurses represent the target population.

The protocol includes a full medical and occupational history, lifestyle habits (smoking, alcohol, nutrition), anthropometric and blood pressure measurements, blood tests (fasting glycemia, total cholesterol, triglycerides and high density lipoprotein cholesterol) and electrocardiogram recording. For nurses working in (night) shifts, we will record the electrocardiogram before and soon after the night shift. A cross sectional study will analyze the incidence of the metabolic syndrome criteria, the cardio-metabolic diseases and the electrocardiographic modifications and will compare the results between the group of nurses working and the group of nurse who do not. Based on these results, a longitudinal study will test the hypothesis that night shift increases the risk for cardio-metabolic diseases and that the electrocardiographic modifications precede the clinical symptoms. The results of the study will provide data on the association of night shifts and other non-occupational risk factors with the cardio-metabolic diseases in this specific population of healthcare workers that potentially will integrate into the occupational medicine policies.

Open access

Edwin Williams and Yan Jin

Abstract

Standard Guidance, Navigation, and Control (GN&C) systems take state data from a navigation system and create a trajectory that minimizes some a-priori determined cost function. These cost functions are typically time, money, weight, or any general physically realizable quantity. Previous work has been done to show the effectiveness of using risk as the sole objective function. However, this previous work used Poisson distributions and historical estimates to achieve this goal. In this paper we present the situation-risk assessment (SRA) method contained within the intelligent situation assessment and collision avoidance (iSC) platform. The SRA method uses data clustering, and pattern recognition to create a historically based estimate of guidance probabilities. These are then used in data driven, dynamic models to create the future probability fields of the situation. This probability, along with the other agent’s goals and objectives, are then used to create a minimum risk guidance solution in the nautical environment.

Open access

Jürgen Dengler, Stefan Widmer, Eline Staubli, Manuel Babbi, Jamyra Gehler, Daniel Hepenstrick, Ariel Bergamini, Regula Billeter, Steffen Boch, Sven Rohrer and Iwona Dembicz

Abstract

The upper Rhone valley in the Swiss canton of Valais is one of the driest and most continental of the inner-alpine valleys and harbours a rich xerothermic flora. We studied syntaxonomy and ecology of dry grasslands and their species richness patterns. In 2018 we recorded 28 vegetation plots (10 m2) and three nested-plot series of 0.0001 to 100 m2 on the south-facing slopes above the village of Ausserberg. Mean richness of all species ranged from 1.7 on 1 cm2 to 47.3 on 100 m2, with little contribution of bryophytes and lichens. The species-area relationship for total richness closely followed a power function. Modified TWINSPAN yielded a three-cluster solution, which could easily be matched with three orders of the class Festuco-Brometea: Stipo pulcherrimae-Festucetalia pallentis (xeric, rocky), Festucetalia valesiacae (xeric, non-rocky) and Brachypodietalia pinnati (meso-xeric). The subdivision of the xeric types into two orders is new for Swiss dry grasslands, where these types up to now had been joined in a single alliance Stipo-Poion within the Festucetalia valesiacae.

Open access

Marina Ruxandra Oțelea and Daniela Dragu

Abstract

Employees with diabetes and nephropathy need special medical surveillance that involves occupational medicine specialists. However, diabetes is not a unique phenotype and each patient need to be carefully assessed. Age, gender, body mass index, renal function impairment (eGFR, creatinine, urea, uric acid), indicators of diabetes control (fasting glycaemia and HbA1C), the presence of co-morbidities, dyslipidaemia, level of serum albumin and total protein, cytokines and other inflammatory markers should be considered in a comprehensive evaluation of the severity of the chronic kidney disease and of the treatment plan. Chronic kidney disease in type 2 diabetes has many facets and various degrees of severity; therefore, permanent communication between the occupational medicine specialist and the treating physician should be maintained. For this purpose, this article reviews the current pathological mechanisms proposed for the explanation of the chronic kidney disease, the diagnostic and the general therapeutic recommendations and also the possible occupational interventions in patients with type 2 diabetic nephropathy.

Open access

Livia-Cristina Borcan, Florin Borcan, Elena-Ana Păuncu and Mirela Cleopatra Tomescu

Abstract

Hydrogen sulphide, a highly toxic gas, can be used in crenotherapy to balance all metabolic processes (minerals, fats and proteins). The main aims of this study were to correlate the weather characteristics with the atmospheric H2S level and to evaluate the antidote activity of B12 Vitamin in the case of prolonged exposure to this compound. 46 volunteers, people from the medical staff of an important Romanian thermal water spring spa, with professional exposure at H2S, were enrolled in this study; numerical data about their blood pressure, atmospheric H2S concentration and about the weather conditions were collected every month for one year. The results indicate an improvement in the blood pressure of volunteers treated with Vitamin B12; no significant correlation between the concentration of total urinary sulphur and the concentration of atmospheric H2S level was found.

Open access

Orsolya Valkó, Rocco Labadessa, Salza Palpurina, Sabina Burrascano, Atushi Ushimaru and Stephen Venn

Abstract

Palaearctic grasslands are diverse and dynamic ecosystems that are in the focus of ecology, conservation biology and agronomy. This special issue is dedicated to the biodiversity and conservation issues of Palaearctic grasslands and was initiated by the Eurasian Dry Grassland Group members attending the 14th Eurasian Dry Grassland Conference (EDGC) at Sulmona, Italy in 2018. The papers in this special issue cover a wide range of grassland ecosystems from mountain dry grasslands to lowland loess grasslands, feathergrass steppes and wet grasslands, and focus on the biodiversity values and conservation issues of Palaearctic grasslands. We believe that this compilation will contribute to a better understanding of the ecology of grasslands and support their more effective conservation.

Open access

Dorin-Gheorghe Triff, Zorica Triff, Mușata-Dacia Bocoș and Eugenia Naghi

Abstract

During periodic occupational medical checkup, in a sample including all employees from two high schools, a secondary school and a kindergarten, we administered through voluntary completion, questionnaires which assessed the employees’ occupational stress in terms of individual characteristics, anxiety, sense of self-efficacy, work ability, emotional exhaustion and health status (using ShortForm 36 questionnaire). A number of 233 questionnaires were returned. Only the occupational stressor represented by communication with superiors correlates significantly negatively with work ability in all four units. Work ability and communication with superiors also have average scores which differ significantly and are concordant in all four units. In the secondary school, work ability has the highest average value and the lowest average value of “communication with superiors” stressor. The same values are decreasing for WAI in order, from high school 2 to high school 1 and kindergarten while the stressor represented by communication with superiors has increasing values in order from high school no 2 to high school no. 1, and kindergarten. These results show that programmes to reduce occupational stress in school units should primarily address the school unit leadership in order to improve their communication with employees.