A combination of drought, heat and insects is responsible for the death of more than 12 million trees in California, according to a new study from UC Santa Barbara’s National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS). Members of the NCEAS working group studying environmental factors contributing to tree mortality expect this number to increase with climate change.
The western U.S. has been a hotspot for forest die-offs such as this one in Colorado.
Credit: Courtesy of William M. Ciesla, Forest Health Management
The study is the first of its kind to examine the wide spectrum of interactions between drought and insects. Lead author William Anderegg, a postdoctoral researcher at the Princeton Environmental Institute, and his coauthors first devised a framework to look at the effects that each stressor can have on tree mortality and then examined interactions among them. The researchers’ findings appear in New Phytologist.
“We wanted to be able to get a sense of how these die-off patterns will shift with climate change,” explained study coauthor Naomi Tague, an associate professor at UCSB’s Bren School of Environmental Science & Management. “Are there huge forests that will be at higher risk of dying sooner?”
The western U.S. has been a hotspot for forest die-offs. Local economies in states like California and Colorado are highly dependent on the nature-based tourism and recreation provided by forests, which offer a scenic backdrop to the skiing, fishing and backpacking opportunities that draw so many people to live and play in the West. But lingering drought, rising temperatures and outbreaks of tree-killing pests such as bark beetles have spurred an increase in widespread tree mortality — especially within the past decade.
“Very often both drought and insects together are responsible for tree mortality,” explained Anderegg, “but there are several good examples of trees dying because of one impact and not the other. We’ve worked to detail the spectrum of interactions between drought and insects and examine how they go hand in hand to affect tree die-offs.”
Forest mortality has also been shown to impact everything from real estate to clean water. Property values in Colorado plummeted after swaths of coniferous forests were damaged by pine beetle infestations. Water purification services provided by forests continue to be disrupted when hectares of forests are lost to pests and drought. What’s more, forest die-off events are projected to increase in frequency and severity in the coming decades.
“If we want to account for forest die-off events at local and global scales, we need some way of estimating how often they are likely to occur,” Tague said. “We’re putting together the pieces of how climate conditions can affect that mortality and how to identify the specific stressors that cause it.”
The study’s framework is a first step toward developing the tools that resource managers need to better predict the impacts of climate change on forests. Scientists and forest specialists are now tasked not only with determining what conditions prompt tree mortality but also how they will shape forested landscapes in the years to come. Being able to predict forest mortality in a changing climate is key to conservation and land use planning.
“Ultimately, forests are a critical part of western U.S. landscapes and state economies,” Anderegg said. “They are also a canary in the coal mine for climate change. These massive forest die-offs that we are starting to see are a sign that climate change is already having major impacts in our backyard.”
Source:- University of California – Santa Barbara.
Published on 15th June 2015
If there’s one thing advertisers think they know, it is that sex and violence sell.
A new analysis, however, provides some of the best evidence to date that this widely accepted adage just isn’t true.
Researchers analyzed the results of 53 different experiments (a so-called meta-analysis) involving nearly 8,500 people, done over 44 years. All of these experiments examined some facet of the question of whether sexual or violent media content could help sell advertised products.
When all the results are considered together, the overall conclusion, with some caveats, is that programs featuring violence and sex aren’t the ideal context for effective advertising, said Brad Bushman, co-author of the study and professor of communication and psychology at The Ohio State University.
It’s not that people don’t pay attention to sex and violence in the media, Bushman said. In fact, an evolutionary perspective would say it is just the opposite.
“People are so focused on the sex and violence they see in the media that they pay less attention to the advertising messages that appear along with it,” Bushman said.
“Advertisers shouldn’t be so sure that sex and violence can help them sell their products.”
Bushman conducted the study with Robert Lull, who just earned his Ph.D. in communication at Ohio State. The results were published online yesterday in the journal Psychological Bulletin and will be featured in a future print edition.
Their analysis included studies involving a variety of types of media, including print, TV, movies and even a few video games. They examined studies in which the ads themselves contained sex or violence and studies in which only the media surrounding the ads contained such content.
In all cases, the researchers had studied whether sex and violence affected brand memory, brand attitudes and people’s intention to buy the products advertised.
They found that memory for brands and ads was significantly impaired in programs containing sex, violence, or both sex and violence.
Overall, people had less favorable attitudes toward brands that advertised in violent media compared to neutral media. Only one study examined attitudes toward brands in sexual media and that pointed toward less favorable attitudes as well.
And people reported less intention to buy brands that were advertised in media containing violence, sex or both, compared to the same brands in media containing no sex or violence.
But what about ads that themselves featured sex and violence? Here, the findings were not as clear-cut. Overall, memory for brands that featured sex and violence was not impaired.
But attitudes toward brands that featured sexual ads were significantly lower than those same brands in neutral ads. Only one study examined attitudes toward brands in violent ads and those results also trended toward less favorable attitudes.
Overall, buying intentions did not depend on whether the ad contained sex or violence.
While these overall conclusions were clear, Lull and Bushman found several nuances in the studies they examined.
Memory for ads and buying intentions were both improved when the ad content and the media content were matching in terms of sex and violence. For example, violent ads worked best when they were paired with violent programs, Lull said.
“If a TV program prompts violent or sexual thoughts, an ad that prompts similar thoughts will be better remembered,” Lull said.
Sexual ads didn’t hurt brand attitudes and buying intentions overall. But the higher the levels of sexual content in the ads, the more negative the attitude people had toward the brand and the less likely they were to say they would buy the product.
Older people in the studies were less likely to say they would buy products featured in violent or sexual ads, compared to younger people.
Men’s brand memory was more impaired than women’s when watching media content or ads featuring sexual or violent imagery.
“This fits in with evolutionary theory that suggests males pay more attention to violence and sex than women do,” Lull said. “Because they’re paying more attention to this content, they are less likely to remember the ads.”
Another interesting finding was that memory impairments and negative attitudes toward brands featured in violent or sexual ads have actually decreased over the past decades.
This study can’t say for sure, but one explanation is that people have started to become desensitized to sex and violence in ads, Bushman said
“Viewers are so accustomed to seeing violent and sexual media content that they don’t respond as much today to the attention-grabbing impact as they did in previous decades,” he said.
Bushman said he is continuing work in his laboratory to examine the effects of violent ads on memory.
Source: University of Illinois at Chicago
Published on 24th July 2015
A biomarker found in the blood of alcohol users is significantly higher in binge drinkers than in those who consume alcohol moderately, according to a study by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The biomarker, called phosphatidylethanol (PEth), could be used to screen young adults for harmful or heavy drinking such as binge drinking.
Having performed extensive research on alcohol and its effects on health throughout her career, Mariann Piano, professor and head of the department of biobehavioral health science in the UIC College of Nursing, knew PEth is a biomarker associated with alcohol consumption, but it had never been measured in young adults.
“Binge drinking is pervasive on college campuses and among young adults,” Piano said. “More alarming, though, is the regularity of binge drinking episodes: one in five students report three or more binge drinking episodes in the prior two weeks.”
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration to 0.08 or above. This typically occurs when men consume five or more drinks in about two hours. For women, it’s consuming four or more drinks in the same time period.
Piano and co-investigator Shane Phillips, associate professor of physical therapy, measured PEth in blood samples from student participants at two large Midwestern university campuses. Participants were part of a larger ongoing study examining the cardiovascular effects of binge drinking.
Participants completed a 10-question self-assessment survey to determine their drinking patterns. After the questionnaires were reviewed, the subjects were divided into three groups: abstainers, moderate drinkers and binge drinkers.
Abstainers had not had more than one drink per month in the past two to three years. For men, moderate drinking was defined as consuming three drinks or less per sitting one to two times per week in the past five years. For women, the number of drinks was two. Binge drinkers must have had at least two episodes of heavy drinking in one sitting in the last month.
The majority of participants were Caucasian females. The majority of moderate and binge drinkers were Caucasian, while abstainers were predominantly Asian.
Following the self-assessment, blood was drawn from each participant to measure blood alcohol levels and PEth. Five blood spots were placed on cards to be dried and measured against the whole blood samples in an off-site drug testing laboratory.
“We discovered a significant correlation between PEth levels in both the whole blood and dried blood samples and the number of times subjects consumed four to five drinks in one sitting within the last 30 days,” Piano said.
The PEth levels in the blood also positively correlated with the self-assessment survey scores, Piano said. “Using a biomarker of heavy alcohol consumption such as PEth along with self-reporting could provide an objective measure for use in research, screening and treatment of hazardous alcohol use among young adults,” she said.
Piano and Phillips were assisted by Stephanie Tiwari, department of biobehavioral health science, and Lauren Nevoral in the department of physical therapy, both of UIC. The research, published in the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism, was funded through an Ignite Proposal Development Grant from UIC’s Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research.
Source: University of Illinois at Chicago
Published on 24th July 2015