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  1. Stevenson MA, McGowan S, Anderson NJ, Foy RH, Leavitt PR, McElarney YR, et al.
    Glob Chang Biol, 2016 Apr;22(4):1490-504.
    PMID: 26666434 DOI: 10.1111/gcb.13194
    Planted forests are increasing in many upland regions worldwide, but knowledge about their potential effects on algal communities of catchment lakes is relatively unknown. Here, the effects of afforestation were investigated using palaeolimnology at six upland lake sites in the north-west of Ireland subject to different extents of forest plantation cover (4-64% of catchment area). (210) Pb-dated sediment cores were analysed for carotenoid pigments from algae, stable isotopes of bulk carbon (δ(13) C) and nitrogen (δ(15) N), and C/N ratios. In lakes with >50% of their catchment area covered by plantations, there were two- to sixfold increases in pigments from cryptophytes (alloxanthin) and significant but lower increases (39-116%) in those from colonial cyanobacteria (canthaxanthin), but no response from biomarkers of total algal abundance (β-carotene). In contrast, lakes in catchments with <20% afforestation exhibited no consistent response to forestry practices, although all lakes exhibited fluctuations in pigments and geochemical variables due to peat cutting and upland grazing prior to forest plantation. Taken together, patterns suggest that increases in cyanobacteria and cryptophyte abundance reflect a combination of mineral and nutrient enrichment associated with forest fertilization and organic matter influx which may have facilitated growth of mixotrophic taxa. This study demonstrates that planted forests can alter the abundance and community structure of algae in upland humic lakes of Ireland and Northern Ireland, despite long histories of prior catchment disturbance.
  2. Zieritz A, Lopes-Lima M, Bogan AE, Sousa R, Walton S, Rahim KA, et al.
    Sci Total Environ, 2016 Nov 15;571:1069-78.
    PMID: 27473771 DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.07.098
    Freshwater mussels (Bivalvia, Unionida) fulfil important ecosystem functions and are one of the most threatened freshwater taxa globally. Knowledge of freshwater mussel diversity, distribution and ecology in Peninsular Malaysia is extremely poor, and the conservation status of half of the species presumed to occur in the region has yet to be assessed. We conducted the first comprehensive assessment of Peninsular Malaysia's freshwater mussels based on species presence/absence and environmental data collected from 155 sites spanning all major river catchments and diverse habitat types. Through an integrative morphological-molecular approach we recognised nine native and one widespread non-native species, i.e. Sinanodonta woodiana. Two species, i.e. Pilsbryoconcha compressa and Pseudodon cambodjensis, had not been previously recorded from Malaysia, which is likely a result of morphological misidentifications of historical records. Due to their restriction to single river catchments and declining distributions, Hyriopsis bialata, possibly endemic to Peninsular Malaysia, Ensidens ingallsianus, possibly already extinct in the peninsula, and Rectidens sumatrensis, particularly require conservation attention. Equally, the Pahang, the Perak and the north-western river catchments are of particular conservation value due to the presence of a globally unique freshwater mussel fauna. Statistical relationships of 15 water quality parameters and mussel presence/absence identified acidification and nutrient pollution (eutrophication) as the most important anthropogenic factors threatening freshwater mussel diversity in Peninsular Malaysia. These factors can be linked to atmospheric pollution, deforestation, oil-palm plantations and a lack of functioning waste water treatment, and could be mitigated by establishing riparian buffers and improving waste water treatment for rivers running through agricultural and residential land.
  3. Abdurakman E, Bencsik M, Cave GWV, Hoad CL, McGowan S, Fairhurst DJ, et al.
    Magn Reson Med, 2020 Mar;83(3):1096-1108.
    PMID: 31524306 DOI: 10.1002/mrm.27992
    PURPOSE: This work demonstrates specifically tailored microbubble-based preparations and their suitability as MRI contrast agents for ingestion and measuring temporal and spatial pressure variation in the human stomach.

    METHODS: Enhanced alginate spheres were prepared by incorporating gas-filled microbubbles into sodium alginate solution followed by the polymerization of the mixture in an aqueous calcium lactate solution. The microbubbles were prepared with a phospholipid shell and perfluorocarbon gas filling, using a mechanical cavitational agitation regime. The NMR signal changes to externally applied pressure and coming from the enhanced alginate spheres were acquired and compared with that of alginate spheres without microbubbles. In vivo investigations were also carried out on healthy volunteers to measure the pressure variation in the stomach.

    RESULTS: The MR signal changes in the contrast agent exhibits a linear sensitivity of approximately 40% per bar, as opposed to no measurable signal change seen in the control gas-free spheres. This novel contrast agent also demonstrates an excellent stability in simulated gastric conditions, including at body temperature. In vivo studies showed that the signal change exhibited in the meal within the antrum region is between 5% and 10%, but appears to come from both pressure changes and partial volume artifacts.

    CONCLUSION: This study demonstrates that alginate spheres with microbubbles can be used as an MRI contrast agent to measure pressure changes. The peristaltic movement within the stomach is seen to substantially alter the overall signal intensity of the contrast agent meal. Future work must focus on improving the contrast agent's sensitivity to pressure changes.

  4. Engels S, Fong LSRZ, Chen Q, Leng MJ, McGowan S, Idris M, et al.
    Environ Pollut, 2018 Apr;235:907-917.
    PMID: 29353806 DOI: 10.1016/j.envpol.2018.01.007
    Fossil fuel combustion leads to increased levels of air pollution, which negatively affects human health as well as the environment. Documented data for Southeast Asia (SEA) show a strong increase in fossil fuel consumption since 1980, but information on coal and oil combustion before 1980 is not widely available. Spheroidal carbonaceous particles (SCPs) and heavy metals, such as mercury (Hg), are emitted as by-products of fossil fuel combustion and may accumulate in sediments following atmospheric fallout. Here we use sediment SCP and Hg records from several freshwater lentic ecosystems in SEA (Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore) to reconstruct long-term, region-wide variations in levels of these two key atmospheric pollution indicators. The age-depth models of Philippine sediment cores do not reach back far enough to date first SCP presence, but single SCP occurrences are first observed between 1925 and 1950 for a Malaysian site. Increasing SCP flux is observed at our sites from 1960 onward, although individual sites show minor differences in trends. SCP fluxes show a general decline after 2000 at each of our study sites. While the records show broadly similar temporal trends across SEA, absolute SCP fluxes differ between sites, with a record from Malaysia showing SCP fluxes that are two orders of magnitude lower than records from the Philippines. Similar trends in records from China and Japan represent the emergence of atmospheric pollution as a broadly-based inter-region environmental problem during the 20th century. Hg fluxes were relatively stable from the second half of the 20th century onward. As catchment soils are also contaminated with atmospheric Hg, future soil erosion can be expected to lead to enhanced Hg flux into surface waters.
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