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The alchemy of human variation: Race, ethnicity and Manoiloff's blood reaction

The alchemy of human variation: Race, ethnicity and Manoiloff's blood reaction

This paper examines the research on race determination conducted by Russian biochemist E.O. Manoiloff in the 1920s. Manoiloff claimed to have discovered a method which detected racial identity of an individual by a simple chemical reaction performed on a subject's blood sample. The method was published in one of the leading anthropological journals and it was not questioned for some time. It is obvious today that Manoiloff's claims were nothing short of ridiculous. The present study, based on the experimental history of sciences, tries to elucidate Manoiloff's procedures and reasons for his ‘success’. His experiments were repeated using both original and modern equipment. It has been demonstrated that Manoiloff's procedures, although rigorous at first glance, were highly arbitrary and methodologically flawed. It would appear that the socio-political and scientific contexts of the early twentieth century which favoured belief in the existence of clearly distinguishable racial types played a crucial role in the initial positive response to Manoiloff's research.

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Acoustic Divergence in Domestic Horses

Abstract

We tested whether pronounced morphological variability of horses caused by artificial selection was followed also by variation in their vocalization. We compared whinnies of 10 breeds representing horse varieties both in morphology and history using discrimination analyses (Wilks´ lambda = 0.070). Whinnies of Shetland pony were the most distinct from calls of other breeds (74.1% classification success). This result is in agreement with distinction based on morphological features. Whinnies of the primitive Hucul horse belonged among the most correctly classified ones (73.5%). Classification results of both Old Kladruby horse colour forms were very different: whinnies of the grey form revealed the least successful classification (18.9%) whilst calls of the black form showed one of the best classification outputs (72.4%). A surprising result was the extreme vocal distinction between the heaviest breeds, confirmed by discrimination analysis, the Czech-Moravian Belgian (55.5%), and Silesian Noriker (51.4%). This finding was contrary to their morphological similarity.

The relationship between morphological and acoustical variables revealed a significant correlation (r ˂ -0.57). Our results did not confirm the hypothesis of acoustic distinction in horse breeds based simply on their morphology. However, whinnies of an old breed, the Shetland pony, were the most distinct ones from all the others. The other old breeds, the Thoroughbred and the Old Kladruby horses, clustered together with the modern Czech warmblood. Our results seem to not confirm the second hypothesis of vocal distinction based on the length of time since establishment of the respective breed. Significant differences among horse breeds indicate the process of vocal distinction during the process of artificial selection.

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Drosophila melanogaster research: history, breakthrough and perspectives

Abstract

The common fruit fly, or Drosophila Melanogaster, has been used as an object of biomedicals studies for over a century. It has been mostly employed in genetic research, as it exhibits several advantages which make its use relatively easy and cheap, with the results widely translatable into further vertebrate studies. This model been the basis of the work of Christiane Nusslein-Volhard, who together with Eric Wieschaus unravelled much of the mystery surrounding early drosophila development in the 1970s-1980s, laying foundations for broader understanding of multicellular organism embryogenesis, which brought them a Nobel prize in Physiology and Medicine in 1995. The knowledge gained from drosophila studies improves the basic understanding of developmental processes, while the model itself is relatively easy to maintain, analyse and translate the results onto other species. While models such as Zebrafish present better with other vertebrates, drosophila remains a very important element of genetic research, finding even more applications with the development of current science and medicine. Hence, in this short review, the outline of the history, breakthroughs and perspectives of the drosophila research has been presented.

Open access
Changes of historical metadata reflected in the wind parameters at Iași meteorological station

Abstract

The metadata are defined as the informations behind the data. The purpose of the metadata in meteorological activity is to represent where, when, how and by whom meteorological data has been obtained, colected and recorded. Ideally, a comprehensive metadata base should contain records of all changes that have occured throughout the entire period in which the meteorological station has functioned, the so called „station history”. This paper renders the preliminary results of the analysed wind parameter values (percentages of wind calm and wind frequency) for the time period between 1961 and 2015 at Iași meteorological station. The data were analysed based on various historical metadata information (e.g. the emergence of new construction(s) around the station, relocation of the station, changes in the equipment used to measure the wind etc.), information that may influence the wind parameters measured at Iași weather station.

Open access
They don’t live forever: How life history data and encounter probability help to assess success of Muscardinus avellanarius translocations (Rodentia: Gliridae)

Abstract

The hazel dormouse (Muscardinus avellanarius) is a European Protected Species and for this reason, hazel dormice are protected from deliberate killing, injury or disturbance and its sites and resting places are also protected. During development projects impacts on hazel dormouse individuals and populations should be avoided. If avoidance is not possible measures of mitigation and compensation have to be implemented. In many cases the only suitable measure to prevent disturbance, killing or injury of individuals is the translocation of hazel dormice to another suitable habitat. The success of translocations has so far been rarely documented. To assess the success of translocations, the natural mortality of hazel dormice has to be considered as well as the likelihood of finding specific individuals during the proposed action. How these data affect the assessment of translocation success is calculated based on published data on seasonal survival rates of different cohorts and of unpublished monthly encounter probabilities of a population of marked animals. Depending on the time between the translocation event and the subsequent monitoring controls the number of hazel dormice likely to be alive can be low. For this reason, success cannot be evaluated with our method if the sample size is too small.

Open access
The Genus Bilabrella Lindl. (Orchidaceae, Habenariinae): General Characteristic and Research History of The Genus

Abstract

The genus Bilabrella (Habenarinae, Orchidaceae) was described by Lindley in 1834, but within next years, different authors incorporated it as the section of the genus Habenaria Willd. From 2003, Szlachetko and Kras stated that there were no grounds for distinguishing the sections Bilabrellae and Replicatae. They restored the genus Bilabrella, transfering to it 93 species from the section Replicatae and four species new to science were described. The poor condition of the old plant materials, the lack of some type specimens for many species described by Schlechter and problems with a series of transitional forms between some species are only few reasons, why the revision of the genus has not been published so far. Bilabrella comprises orchids found in Sub-Saharan Africa, Madagascar and neighbouring islands. Bilabrella differs from other Habenariinae in its unique combination of features

Open access
Populations of Muscardinus avellanarius in north-western Europe can survive in forest poor landscapes, when there are enough hedges (Rodentia: Gliridae)

Abstract

The hazel dormouse (Muscardinus avellanarius) is a strictly arboreal species. In its European lowland range, the forest coverage was heavily reduced during historical times, e.g. down to ca. 4% in the northern German federal state of Schleswig-Holstein in the 18th century. This low forest cover remained for 200 years. According to habitat models, hazel dormice cannot survive in the long-term in habitats with low levels of forest cover (<5–10%). To answer the question, how hazel dormouse populations survived in almost deforested areas the recent species distribution map for north-west Europe was analysed with a GIS-overlay of different habitat data. Additionally, historical maps for north-west Germany were analysed to find crucial historical landscape elements. The history of a site apparently influences the present status of hazel dormice. Forest cover of younger woodlands is still of importance but less determinant. Habitat tradition and continuity are important for habitat suitability for the hazel dormouse and identifying historical hedgerow systems and historical woodlands can help to find places with hitherto unknown presence of hazel dormouse. Apparently, for the hazel dormouse the lack of forest habitats in north-western Europe was successfully compensated by the creation of a hedgerow network. Hedgerows function as a habitat by themselves, not just as a connecting structure. A density of 50 m continuous high quality and well-connected hedgerows per hectare seems to be a minimum for the survival of hazel dormice in northwest European landscapes. The preservation of ancient habitats and the restoration of new habitats as core habitats and connections is a key strategy to facilitate the long-term survival and re-colonisation of species.

Open access
Late Pleistocene Birds from Binagada (Azerbaijan) in Collection of the National Museum of Natural History (Kyiv, Ukraine)

Abstract

Bird fossils from the Late Pleistocene locality Binagada, deposited kept in the National Museum of Natural History in Kyiv (Ukraine), are described in this paper. Twenty six bird species are identified, including five (Little Stint, Great snipe, Jack snipe, White-winged lark and Rosy Starling) which have not been previously known from this locality. The validity of extinct species Calidris binagadensis (Serebrovsky, 1940) is confirmed and the invalidity of subspecies Anas platyrhynchos paleoboschas Serebrovsky, 1940 is shown. The finding of Rosy Starling fossils in Transcaucasian region confirms the range reduction of this species at the end of Pleistocene.

Open access
Water temperature in investigations of Polish lakes

Abstract

Scientists became professionally interested in Polish lakes in the early 1850s. They focused predominantly upon the measurements of depth, observations of water stages, optical properties, and water temperature. The first systematic observations of surface water temperature were carried out in 1956. At present these measurements are conducted in 29 lakes. Investigations of the vertical distribution of water temperature were initiated in the interwar period and they contributed to a better recognition of the processes and factors conditioning dynamics of water masses. In general, measurements of water temperature have constituted fundamental observations with respect to the studies of yearly and daily courses of the temperature of surface water and the entire water mass, the influence of basin morphometry upon water thermal conditions, heat balance and heat resources, thermal conditions of bottom deposits and thermal classification of the lakes. The introduction of automatic gradient probes gave a new impulse to the investigations of water temperature in the lakes. The foundation of the Polish Limnological Society in 2001 and 18 national and international limnological conferences stimulated integration of the circle of limnologists. Specialist journals (Limnological Review, Studia Limnologica et Telmatologica) have presented around 40 publications with the leading theme of water temperature.

Open access
Population surveys of Nile crocodiles (Crocodylus niloticus) in the Murchison Falls National Park, Victoria Nile, Uganda

Abstract

1. A 12-month-long survey (April 2013 to March 2014) for Nile crocodiles (Crocodylus niloticus) was conducted along a section of the Victoria Nile/Ramsar site of Murchison Falls National Park, in order to update the historic information on crocodile populations in the area, locating nesting areas, determining seasonality patterns and habitat use, and assess the current abundance and the population size trends since the 1960s. The methods employed included visual encounter surveys, transect counts and opportunistic methods, by using boats. 2. In general, there were diurnal and seasonal fluctuations in the number of crocodile sightings. The crocodile sightings peaked between the months of June and August, with the highest mean number of sightings encountered on any single day being 67 (in July 2013), and the second peak was between January and March with the highest mean of 118 recorded in January 2014. The second peak also coincided with the crocodile breeding season. This clearly shows that the distribution of the sub-population sampled followed a climatic regime. 3. Crocodiles were observed most frequently in water (37%). Grassy banks, islands, river mouths and sandy banks constituted about 47% of the habitats utilised by the crocodile population. Although basking was the most frequent type of activity performed by crocodiles (50%) over the entire survey period, their key activities varied significantly from month to month. Nesting was very visible during the last quarter of the year and the first quarter of the New Year. 4. There was a clear decline of the abundance of crocodiles in this population between 1960s and nowadays. This declining trend was obvious also taking into account the various survey methodologies employed over the decades.

Open access