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Small trees could form the basis of more drought-resistant rainforests 

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small trees could form the basis of more drought resistant rainforests

Smaller trees are more drought resistant and could therefore be the key to saving the Amazon rainforest, a new study shows. 

Severe and long-lasting droughts are becoming more common in the Amazon, often killing large trees that form the forest canopy.  

Drought in the Amazon affects larger trees more severely as they are more likely to die from hydraulic failure – a plant’s inability to move water from roots to leaves.

But the small plant species beneath the canopy have tactics to conserve their resources, thanks in part to their lack of light. 

UK scientists found that small trees in a water-deprived area of the rainforest showed increased capacity for photosynthesis and leaf respiration. 

The study suggests that smaller and more drought-resistant trees have the potential to regenerate resilient forests and grow into a new generation to help the rainforest survive. 

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Drought in the Amazon affects larger trees more severely as they are more likely to die from hydraulic failure. Small trees that grow up in drought conditions could form the basis of more drought-resistant rainforests

Drought in the Amazon affects larger trees more severely as they are more likely to die from hydraulic failure. Small trees that grow up in drought conditions could form the basis of more drought-resistant rainforests

‘Conditions in the Amazon are shifting due to climate change, and trees will have to adapt if they are to survive,’ said lead author David Bartholomew at the University of Exeter. 

‘Our findings show that small trees are more capable of changing their physiology in response to environmental changes than their larger neighbours.

‘Having grown in up in drought conditions, these trees might develop traits that will help them cope with future droughts, even once they are fully grown.

‘Ultimately, this may allow them to form the next generation of canopy trees, leading to greater overall resilience in the forest.’

Episodic and sustained droughts have been shown to kill large trees in the Amazon, resulting in gaps in the canopy.

These openings lead to changes in the understory – the underlying layer of vegetation that’s sheltered by the tall trees. 

The understory of an intact rainforest is usually a dark and humid environment and trees in these low-light conditions will typically reduce their photosynthetic capacity to conserve resources.

Under long-term drought conditions, the dense canopy becomes more open and more light reaches the lower layers of the forest

Under long-term drought conditions, the dense canopy becomes more open and more light reaches the lower layers of the forest

‘Small understory trees must therefore respond to concurrent reductions in soil moisture availability and increased light availability to survive, compete and grow under drought conditions,’ the researchers say in their paper, published in the journal Plant, Cell and Environment.

‘The ability of these small trees to adjust their physiology in response to multiple environmental shifts could be critical for predicting the future of tropical forests.’

The study examined trees in a 15-year Amazonian drought experiment, in which clear plastic panels caught 50 per cent of rainfall to simulate drought conditions.

Researchers sampled 66 small trees – defined as 0.3 to 4 inches in diameter at a height of 4.2 feet from the ground – and 61 large trees (more than 7.8 inches in diameter).

The trees covered the drought experiment area and a nearby control area with no rainfall exclusion. 

Apparatus used in the drought experiment to stop 50 per cent of water reaching the ground

Apparatus used in the drought experiment to stop 50 per cent of water reaching the ground

The scientists discovered small trees respond positively to the extra light they get when larger trees die, managing to increase their capacity for photosynthesis and their growth, despite the lack of water. 

Small trees in the drought area showed increased capacity for photosynthesis, 32 per cent more leaf respiration and 15 per cent more leaf mass per area compared to small trees in the control area. 

Small trees were also significantly more responsive than large canopy trees to the drought treatment, suggesting greater ‘phenotypic plasticity’ – the ability to change in response to environmental stimuli. 

It’s possible small trees may be able to avoid drought stress by reducing ‘non‐maintenance’ related metabolic activity, such as growth, in the dry season when drought conditions are most pronounced

They then maximise growth during the wet season when the soil moisture deficit is reduced, the team speculated in their paper. 

The responses of tree species in the study varied, with some showing a strong ability to adapt and some showing very little.

More research is needed to understand how this might change the makeup of the diverse rainforest in the future.  

‘This long-running experiment has shown that large trees are quite vulnerable to drought, and probably won’t survive if droughts continue to become more common and severe,” said Bartholomew.

‘However, relatively little is known about the response of small understorey trees which could be vital in determining the future of tropical forests. 

‘If droughts cause larger trees to die, these trees will have to adapt to both decreasing water availability and increased light.

‘Our study suggests they have a remarkable ability to do this.’       

Wildfires in the Amazon rainforest surge by almost a THIRD compared to a year ago

Fires in the Amazon rainforest increased 28 per cent in July from a year ago, a Brazilian state agency revealed at the start of August.

There were 6,803 fires in the Amazon last month, compared to 5,318 in the same month of 2019, the National Institute for Space Research (INPE) reported. 

As August traditionally marks the beginning of the fire season in the region, the rise is likely to continue, environmentalists warn. 

They fear Brazil could repeat the surge seen in fires in August a year ago, when 30,900 fires were recorded by INPE. 

Forest fires can be caused by naturally occurring events including lightning strikes, but tend to be deliberately started by farmers to clear land for livestock or crops. 

The sharp increase in fires comes amid domestic and international concern over President Jair Bolsonaro’s calls to clear land in Brazil’s Amazon to drive economic development.  

The Brazilian President has been accused of undermining efforts to protect the forest by encouraging logging and mining efforts as well as cutting the funding to the Ministry of the Environment. 

A climate change sceptic, he has also facilitated farming and mining projects on protected land and indigenous reserves. 

Fires are being set deliberately to make room for agriculture to feed growing demand for timber, leather and beef from places like the UK.  

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Average worker gets ‘career burnout’ at age 32 – and 59% say they do MORE hours working from home

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average worker gets career burnout at age 32 and 59 say they do more hours working from home

Long hours, extra work and the feeling of having to ‘always be on’ are making people experience career burnout by an early age of 32, a new survey reveals.

Approximately 59 percent of the respondents blamed it on working long of hours, noting the increase started when they transitioned to remote employment due to coronavirus lockdowns – some have worked an extra 59 hours in five months.

Other responses include not taking enough days off, pressure to complete more tasks and just under half of the participants dealing with burnout have quit their job because of the exhaustion.

However, the survey found that those who fall in Generation Z are already worn down because of the ‘always on’ work culture.

Long hours, extra work and the feeling of having to ‘always be on’ are making people experience career burnout by an early age of 32, a new survey reveals

Long hours, extra work and the feeling of having to ‘always be on’ are making people experience career burnout by an early age of 32, a new survey reveals

The study, commissioned by The Office Group, asked 2,000 people about their feelings towards work and what factors may play into their exhaustion.

The results show that a majority are burnout – and the average is the young age of 32.

Previous research has shown that the feeling typically starts around 35 and peaks when an individual is in their 50s – but this was before millions of Americans began working from home.

The coronavirus started making its way through the US earlier this year and by April many had transitioned from the office to their homes – and the new survey reveals it has taken a toll on some.

Approximately 58 percent of the respondents blamed it on working long of hours, noting the increase started when they transitioned to remote employment due to coronavirus lockdowns – some have worked an extra 59 hours in five months

Approximately 58 percent of the respondents blamed it on working long of hours, noting the increase started when they transitioned to remote employment due to coronavirus lockdowns – some have worked an extra 59 hours in five months

Approximately 59 percent of respondents said they are putting in more hours now than before the lockdown and one in three blamed their exhaustion on the stay-at-home protocol, StudyFinds reports.

When asked to give details about why this time has been difficult, 31 percent reported feeling obligated to burn the night oil since their office is now home.

There was also 27 percent who said they miss the socializing with colleagues.

Dr. Sarah Vohra said: ‘With almost a third of people saying lockdown has brought them closer to burnout, there is no question the pandemic has greatly impacted the nation’s collective mental health.’

‘Companies must put defenses in place and guard against elements which might cause stress and anxiety, and looking forward, they must make robust changes to ensure employees are protected, particularly during times of uncertainty.’

Along with working more hours, 39 percent of respondents blamed their exhaustion on not taking enough days off and 47 percent said the feeling stems from always having to be “on” while working.

What may come a surprise to some is that just under half of the participants said they have recently quit their job because they have been battling with burnout.

What are common signs of burnout and how can you treat it? 

Burnout is a feeling of complete exhaustion and can make you withdraw from other people and develop a cynical attitude – especially towards your work. 

Burnout can cause you to delay tasks that would have once been easy. In severe cases, burnout might make it hard for you to function at all. 

When you’ve reached the point of burnout, it’s probably going to take more than a few new holes to fix the issue. You may need to take significant steps to reduce the amount of stress you’re facing and also draw on support from other people, including health professionals. 

The Beyond Blue Support Service can help point you in the right direction. For other specific ways to cope with stresses at work, check out our Heads Up website.

You can find support services and advice for healthy ways to cope with stress here

Source: Beyond Blue 

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Orphaned chimpanzees are found to face lifelong setbacks, study reveals

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orphaned chimpanzees are found to face lifelong setbacks study reveals

A new report suggests that chimpanzees who lose their mother can face lifelong setbacks.

Scientists studying chimps in Ivory Coast’s Taї National Park found that male infants who lost their mothers, even as juveniles, had fewer offspring and were less competitive as adults.

Chimpanzees are raised almost exclusively by their mothers and stay with them until they are teenagers, a rarity in the animal world. 

The researchers believe that, even when offspring are old enough to take care of basic necessities themselves, their mothers are still teaching them advanced foraging techniques and social skills necessary to thrive.

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A new study suggests orphaned chimpanzees face lifelong setbacks, even if they were juveniles when they lost their mothers. Researchers believe chimps learn advanced foraging techniques and social skills well into their teen years

A new study suggests orphaned chimpanzees face lifelong setbacks, even if they were juveniles when they lost their mothers. Researchers believe chimps learn advanced foraging techniques and social skills well into their teen years

A new study suggests orphaned chimpanzees face lifelong setbacks, even if they were juveniles when they lost their mothers. Researchers believe chimps learn advanced foraging techniques and social skills well into their teen years

A team with the Taï Chimpanzee Project and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology kept full demographic records and collected fecal samples to determine paternity on members of three distinct communities for more than 30 years.

They found that male orphans still failed to thrive even if they lost their mother when they were juveniles.

The team, whose work was published in Science Advances, believe mother chimps teach their young valuable lessons into adolescence. 

They may know where to find the best food, said lead author Catherine Crockford, ‘and how to use tools to extract hidden and very nutritious foods, like insects, honey and nuts.’ 

Studying several communities of chimps in Ivory Coast's Taї National Park for more than 30 years, the scientists found that male orphans had fewer offspring and were less competitive as adults

Studying several communities of chimps in Ivory Coast's Taї National Park for more than 30 years, the scientists found that male orphans had fewer offspring and were less competitive as adults

Studying several communities of chimps in Ivory Coast’s Taї National Park for more than 30 years, the scientists found that male orphans had fewer offspring and were less competitive as adults

Access to more nutritious food may be why chimps and other great apes have relatively larger brains than other primates. 

WHO’S SMARTER, A CHILD OR A CHIMP? 

Most children surpass the intelligence levels of chimpanzees before they reach four years old.

A study conducted by Australian researchers in June 2017 tested children for foresight, which is said to distinguish humans from animals.

The experiment saw researchers drop a grape through the top of a vertical plastic Y-tube.

They then monitored the reactions of a child and chimpanzee in their efforts to grab the grape at the other end, before it hit the floor.

Because there were two possible ways the grape could exit the pipe, researchers looked at the strategies the children and chimpanzees used to predict where the grape would go.

The apes and the two-year-olds only covered a single hole with their hands when tested.

But by four years of age, the children had developed to a level where they knew how to forecast the outcome.

They covered the holes with both hands, catching whatever was dropped through every time.

 

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‘Offspring gradually learn these skills through their infant and juvenile years,’ Crockford said.

‘We can speculate that one reason offspring continue to travel and feed close to their mothers every day until they are teenagers, is that watching their mothers helps them to learn.’

Co-author Roman Wittig speculates mothers might be passing on social skills rather than survival tips.

‘Again a bit like humans, chimpanzees live in a complex social world of alliances and competition. It might be that they learn through watching their mothers when to build alliances and when to fight.’

There is good news for orphaned chimps, though.

In January another study from the Planck Institute found more than a dozen orphaned chimpanzees in the Tai Forest had been adopted by unrelated members of their community.

Both males and females devoted large amounts of time and resources to protecting the young, seemingly in a show of chimpanzee altruism.

‘Some adoptions of orphans by unrelated adults lasted for years and imply extensive care towards the orphans,’ Planck Institute researcher Christophe Boesch told Live Science

‘This includes being permanently associated with the orphan, waiting for it during travel, providing protection in conflicts and sharing food with the orphan.’

Boesch said he was particularly surprised to see males involved in rearing the adopted infants, since parenting is the purview of females.

‘Some of these adult males go really far in adopting a motherly role, carrying the baby on their back, sharing a nest, helping babies to climb trees, really caring a lot.’

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Coronavirus: Alarming video reveals virus-laden particles created by singing

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coronavirus alarming video reveals virus laden particles created by singing

Researchers in Australia believe singing, especially in a choir, could spread coronavirus via airborne droplets. 

The findings come from a slow-motion video with special LED lighting which shows how otherwise invisible particles shoot from the mouth of a singer. 

During an experiment, a person was asked to sing a popular scale and some sounds, such as ‘do’, ‘fa’ and ‘ti’, forced particles out at up to six metres a second (13 mph). 

More than half of droplets produced by coughing travel at this speed, or faster, while only 15 per cent of particles created by talking travel at this pace.   

Researchers suggest that extra precautions should be taken to mitigate against the extra dangers posed by group singing. 

This includes rehearsals with fewer people, wearing face coverings while singing and extreme social distancing.

During an experiment, a person was asked to sing a popular scale and some sounds, such as ‘do’, ‘fa’ and ‘ti’, forced particles out at up to six metres a second (13 mph)

During an experiment, a person was asked to sing a popular scale and some sounds, such as ‘do’, ‘fa’ and ‘ti’, forced particles out at up to six metres a second (13 mph)

During an experiment, a person was asked to sing a popular scale and some sounds, such as ‘do’, ‘fa’ and ‘ti’, forced particles out at up to six metres a second (13 mph) 

A recent piece of research found the amount of particles produced is the same, but did not account for speed. 

This finding led researchers to believe singing was just as risky as talking, but the new research indicates singing poses extra risks. 

For example, the quantity of particles produced when singing could saturate the air inside a room, making social distancing pointless. 

A study from the university of New South Wales, Sydney, found the majority of particles produced during singing travel at less than 0.5 m/s.

However, they are spewed in all directions and are likely to not settle and drift on air currents. 

In a room with air conditioning or a fan this would see the infectious particles stay airborne for long periods of time, travelling vast distances.  

For the study, the singer remained at a relatively subdued sound range of between 66 and 72 decibels.

Singing in a choir has been heavily linked to previous superspreader events. Outbreaks at choirs in Berlin, Amsterdam and Washington were so severe that 75.6 per cent, 78.5 per cent and 86.9 per cent of people in attendance tested positive for COVID-19, respectively (stock)

Singing in a choir has been heavily linked to previous superspreader events. Outbreaks at choirs in Berlin, Amsterdam and Washington were so severe that 75.6 per cent, 78.5 per cent and 86.9 per cent of people in attendance tested positive for COVID-19, respectively (stock)

Singing in a choir has been heavily linked to previous superspreader events. Outbreaks at choirs in Berlin, Amsterdam and Washington were so severe that 75.6 per cent, 78.5 per cent and 86.9 per cent of people in attendance tested positive for COVID-19, respectively (stock)

Researchers in Australia believe singing, especially in a choir, could spread coronavirus via airborne droplets. The findings come from a slow-motion video with LED lighting which shows how invisible particles shoot from the mouth of a singer (pictured, diagram of the set-up)

Researchers in Australia believe singing, especially in a choir, could spread coronavirus via airborne droplets. The findings come from a slow-motion video with LED lighting which shows how invisible particles shoot from the mouth of a singer (pictured, diagram of the set-up)

Researchers in Australia believe singing, especially in a choir, could spread coronavirus via airborne droplets. The findings come from a slow-motion video with LED lighting which shows how invisible particles shoot from the mouth of a singer (pictured, diagram of the set-up)

‘It is also worth noting that some degree of variability is expected in the number of droplets expelled between different individuals, and due to other parameters, such as loudness, notes, consonants, and duration of each note sung,’ the researchers say in the study, published today in Journal of Infectious Diseases. 

Singing in a choir has been heavily linked to previous superspreader events. 

Outbreaks at choirs in Berlin, Amsterdam and Washington were so severe that 75.6 per cent, 78.5 per cent and 86.9 per cent of people in attendance tested positive for COVID-19, respectively.  

‘The data presented combined with high infection rate among the choir members points towards the possibility of airborne spread of COVID-19 during singing events,’ the researchers write.  

The study is the latest in a string of scientific papers investigating the danger singing poses in regard to the transmission of Covid-19.

Researchers at Lund University, Sweden studied the amount of particles emitted when we sing and found loud and consonant-rich tunes, such as Happy Birthday, spread a lot droplets into the surrounding air.  

SAGE WARNED GOVERNMENT ABOUT SINGING DURING CRISIS 

The Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) earmarked live musical performances and choirs were one of the more risky events for Covid.

This was why music venues, indoor theatres and concerts were the very last amenities to reopen following lockdown.

In a report submitted sometime in June, SAGE said it had reviewed a number of international studies and found evidence to suggest that singing can produce more aerosols, or droplet nuclei, than normal talking or breathing.

Covid-19 is spread through respiratory secretions, which can take the form of large droplets or smaller aerosols.

These are either inhaled directly or transferred by the hands from surfaces where they have been deposited.

The document says that the smaller the particle, the further it can advance into the respiratory tract.

The authors said: ‘There exists some evidence to suggest that singing can produce more aerosols than normal talking or breathing; it may be more akin to a cough.

‘Singing for any appreciable amount of time therefore may present a risk for the creation of infectious aerosols and allow for infection transmission.’ 

The authors added: ”Therefore, at the present time the safest way for groups to sing together is to i) sing outside, ii) use the 2m rule to socially distance and iii) avoid face-to-face positioning.’

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