Abstract: The acceptance and application of citizen science has risen over the last 10 years, with this rise likely attributed to an increase in public awareness surrounding anthropogenic impacts affecting urban ecosystems. Citizen science projects have the potential to expand upon data collected by specialist researchers as they are able to gain access to previously unattainable information, consequently increasing the likelihood of an effective management program. The primary objective of this research was to develop guidelines for a successful regional-scale citizen science project following a critical analysis of 12 existing citizen science case studies. Secondly, the effectiveness of these guidelines was measured through the implementation of a citizen science project, Koala Quest, for the purpose of estimating the presence of koalas in a fragmented landscape. Consequently, this research aimed to determine whether citizen-collected data can augment traditional science research methods, by comparing and contrasting the abundance of koala sightings gathered by citizen scientists and professional researchers. Based upon the guidelines developed, Koala Quest methodologies were designed, the study conducted, and the efficacy of the project assessed. To combat the high variability of estimated koala populations due to differences in counting techniques, a national monitoring and evaluation program is required, in addition to a standardised method for conducting koala population estimates. Citizen science is a useful method for monitoring animals such as the koala, which are sparsely distributed throughout a vast geographical area, as the large numbers of volunteers recruited by a citizen science project are capable of monitoring a similarly broad spatial range.
Abstract: The aim of the study was to determine phytoestrogen content in fresh-cut legume forage. This issue has been much discussed in recent years in connection with the health and safety of feedstuffs and thus livestock health. The experiments were carried out on two experimental plots at Troubsko and Vatín, Czech Republic during June and July in 2015. Samples were collected of the four forage legume species perennial red clover (variety “Amos”), alfalfa (variety “Holyně”), and annuals Persian clover and Alexandrian clover. Forage was sampled twice at regular three to four day intervals leading up to harvest and a third time on the day of harvest. Fresh and wilted material was analyzed using liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry (LC-MS). Higher levels ( p < 0.05) of isoflavones biochanin A (3.697 mg·g −1 of dry weight) and formononetin (4.315 mg·g −1 of dry weight) were found in red clover than in other species. The highest isoflavone content was detected in red clover, reaching 1.001% of dry matter ( p < 0.05), representing a risk for occurrence of reproduction problems and inhibited secretion of animal estrogen. The phytoestrogen content was particularly increased in wilted forage. Significant isoflavone reduction was observed over three to four day intervals leading up to harvest.
Abstract: The objectives of this study were to determine the effect of the dry cow management system (pasture or confined) on: (1) lying behaviour and activity; (2) feeding and heat stress behaviours; (3) intramammary infections, postpartum. Non-lactating Holstein cows were assigned to either deep-bedded, sand freestalls ( n = 14) or pasture ( n = 14) using rolling enrollment. At dry-off, cows were equipped with an accelerometer to determine daily lying time (h/d), lying bouts (bouts/d), steps (steps/d) and divided into periods: far-off (60 to 15 d prepartum), close-up (14 to 1 d prepartum), calving (calving date) and postpartum (1 to 14 d postpartum). Respiration rates were recorded once weekly from dry off to calving from 1300 to 1500 h. Feeding displacements were defined as one cow successfully displacing another from the feed bunk and were recorded once per week during the 2 h period, immediately after feeding at 800 h. Pastured cows were fed a commercial dry cow pellet during far-off and total mixed ration during close-up, with free access to hay and grazing. Freestall housed cows were fed a total mixed ration at far-off and close-up. Cows housed in freestalls were moved to a maternity pen with a mattress at commencement of labour. Pastured cows calved in pasture. After calving, all cows were commingled in a pen identical to the freestall housing treatment. Cows housed in freestalls laid down for longer during far-off and close-up periods, had fewer lying bouts during the calving period and took fewer steps throughout the study period when compared to pastured cows. Freestall housed cows experienced more displacements after feeding than did pastured cows. Respiration rates increased with an increasing temperature humidity index, more in pastured cows than in freestall housed cows. Pastured cows altered their lying behaviour and activity, suggesting a shift in time budget priorities between pastured and confined dry cows. Pastured cows also experienced less aggression around feeding but may be more susceptible to heat stress.
Abstract: Most people in the world now live in cities. Urbanisation simultaneously isolates people from nature and contributes to biodiversity decline. As cities expand, suburban development and the road infrastructure to support them widens their impact on wildlife. Even so, urban communities, especially those on the peri-urban fringe, endeavour to support biodiversity through wildlife friendly gardens, green spaces and corridors, and conservation estates. On one hand, many who live on city fringes do so because they enjoy proximity to nature, however, the ever increasing intrusion of roads leads to conflict with wildlife. Trauma (usually fatal) to wildlife and (usually emotional and financial) to people ensues. Exposure to this trauma, therefore, should inform attitudes towards wildlife vehicle collisions (WVC) and be linked to willingness to reduce risk of further WVC. While there is good anecdotal evidence for this response, competing priorities and better understanding of the likelihood of human injury or fatalities, as opposed to wildlife fatalities, may confound this trend. In this paper we sought to explore this relationship with a quantitative study of driver behaviour and attitudes to WVC from a cohort of residents and visitors who drive through a peri-urban reserve (Royal National Park) on the outskirts of Sydney, Australia. We distributed a self-reporting questionnaire and received responses from 105 local residents and 51 visitors to small townships accessed by roads through the national park. We sought the respondents’ exposure to WVC, their evasive actions in an impending WVC, their attitudes to wildlife fatalities, their strategies to reduce the risk of WVC, and their willingness to adopt new ameliorative measures. The results were partitioned by driver demographics and residency. Residents were generally well informed about mitigation strategies but exposure led to a decrease in viewing WVC as very serious. In addition, despite most respondents stating they routinely drive slower when collision risk is high (at dusk and dawn), our assessment of driving trends via traffic speeds suggested this sentiment was not generally adhered to. Thus we unveil some of the complexities in tackling driver’s willingness to act on reducing risk of WVC, particularly when risk of human trauma is low.
Abstract: Moles are considered pests in Britain, but this issue has been little studied. Lower welfare standards have been tolerated for moles than for most other managed wild mammal species, as use of both the controversial poison, strychnine, and unregulated traps have been permitted. Strychnine was withdrawn in 2006 and there were fears that mole populations would increase as a result. In 2007, we conducted a comprehensive, nationwide survey of land manager perceptions, opinions and behaviour regarding moles and mole control on farms, amenities and domestic gardens in Britain. We surveyed 2150 land managers (achieving a 59% response rate) and ground-truthed 29 responses. Moles were reported to be present on most farms and amenities, and 13% of gardens, and were more common in lighter soils. Where present, moles were usually considered pests, this being more likely in Wales, Scotland and northern England, on livestock and mixed farms, and on large, high-value amenities, e.g., racecourses and golf courses. Mole control followed similar patterns to mole presence. More control may occur than is economically, and therefore potentially ethically, justified. Control should be more carefully considered and, where necessary, more effectively targeted. Kill-trapping was the favoured recent and future method on farms and amenities, even if strychnine was to be reintroduced; however, because mole traps are currently unregulated, some might not meet current welfare standards if tested. We found no evidence for an increase in moles since a farm questionnaire survey conducted in 1992; this could have wider implications for future wildlife management policy changes.
Abstract: The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of dietary lecithin on skeletal muscle gene expression of collagen precursors and enzymes involved in collagen synthesis and degradation. Finisher gilts with an average start weight of 55.9 ± 2.22 kg were fed diets containing either 0, 4, 20 or 80 g/kg soybean lecithin prior to harvest for six weeks and the rectus abdominis muscle gene expression profile was analyzed by quantitative real-time PCR. Lecithin treatment down-regulated Type I (α1) procollagen (COL1A1) and Type III (α1) procollagen (COL3A1) mRNA expression ( p < 0.05, respectively), indicating a decrease in the precursors for collagen synthesis. The α-subunit of prolyl 4-hydroxylase (P4H) mRNA expression also tended to be down-regulated ( p = 0.056), indicating a decrease in collagen synthesis. Decreased matrix metalloproteinase-1 (MMP-1) mRNA expression may reflect a positive regulatory response to the reduced collagen synthesis in muscle from the pigs fed lecithin ( p = 0.035). Lecithin had no effect on tissue inhibitor metalloproteinase-1 (TIMP-1), matrix metalloproteinase-13 (MMP-13) and lysyl oxidase mRNA expression. In conclusion, lecithin down-regulated COL1A1 and COL3A1 as well as tended to down-regulate α-subunit P4H expression. However, determination of muscle collagen content and solubility are required to support the gene functions.