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Posts Tagged ‘study’

Photo: ThePhotoImpression at Etsy.
Bighorn sheep.

Earle sent a cool article about capturing bighorn sheep by helicopter and suggested that it might be something for the blog. It comes from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW).

“Wildlife biologist Paige Prentice grew up surrounded by trees in Nevada City, California, and knew she had selected the right college when she saw all the redwoods on the campus of UC Santa Cruz. But it was a seasonal job after college in Death Valley National Park that spawned her love of the desert, and today she is a Desert Bighorn Sheep Biologist with CDFW, based in Inyo County. …

“CDFW: Do you remember when you first became so interested in science you realized it might become your career?

“When I was a little kid, I used to tell people that I wanted to study elephants and gorillas. After college I had the opportunity to spend six months studying orangutans on the Island of Borneo in Indonesia. And while that was an awesome once-in-a-lifetime experience, I learned that I wanted to focus on species a little closer to home. Growing up, my folks were the type of people that would drive through deserts and say, ‘It’s just hot and dry and there’s nothing here.’ I believed them, until I was 24 and I got a job in Death Valley as an AmeriCorps intern with the Park Service. It was then that fell in love with the desert. I was mesmerized by the expansive landscapes and amazed by how much life the desert supported. …

“Why does CDFW dedicate staff to Desert Bighorn Sheep specifically?

“Well, first, you have to understand that in California we have three separately managed bighorn populations. Two populations are endangered and managed under their own recovery programs — the Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep and the peninsular bighorn sheep (San Diego, Riverside and Imperial counties). Then, there is the broad grouping of desert bighorn sheep which are not endangered — these are the ones I focus on. Because … we’re interested in questions at both the population and metapopulation level, it makes sense to have a desert bighorn sheep specific program.

“As a bighorn sheep biologist, what are you studying? What are you looking at when trying to manage that population?

“Great question. There is a lot to study, given that we are looking at over 50 distinct populations across a large geographic area that is fragmented by major interstates. On a broad scale, we’re looking at which mountain ranges have bighorn in them, how many animals are in each population and how the populations are connected to one another. We conduct ground, camera, and helicopter surveys to document age and sex ratios and recruitment (lambs surviving to adulthood). We capture and collar animals to track movements, monitor survival and to test for disease. We are interested in what type of diseases are present and what the short- and long-term impacts are. We also have artificial and natural water sources in the desert, and we work with NGOs, like the Society for the Conservation of Bighorn Sheep, to makes sure these sources are maintained and stay full of water. …

“Aren’t there times we capture sheep as well, shooting nets on them from helicopters?

“Yes, we generally capture bighorn using a helicopter with a netgun. Thankfully, we’re not the ones that are flying for captures– we hire professionals for that. We conduct captures in the fall and this past November we captured and collared 100 animals across eight populations. It is a team effort and certainly a lot of work. I think some folks hear about the captures and think, ‘Why capture wild animals?’ But in fact, the work we do with captures provides the majority of the data we have to help protect these magnificent creatures.

“What is it you like about bighorn sheep?

“They completely captivate me. I am aware of very few species that are experts of such extreme environments. Within California, there are desert bighorn that live above 14,000 feet and navigate snow in the wintertime. A hundred miles to the south, there are animals in Death Valley that are living below sea level and are experiencing temperatures of over 125 degrees in the summer. When you track these animals and spend time in the landscapes in which they flourish, you can’t help but respect them. They are also one of the most graceful animals I have ever seen — watching them move with ease, at top speed up mountain sides is stunningly impressive.”

More here.

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Photo: CNN
A man walking through a Vancouver tent city in March. According to CNN, “Researchers in a new study found that homeless people who received direct cash transfers were able to find stable housing faster.”

Some years ago I asked a woman who headed an excellent Rhode Island nonprofit for housing whether she gave money to panhandlers. She said she did not, and I thought I shouldn’t either. But Mother Teresa had said to smile at people in need. I found I could manage that.

The belief that giving money leads panhandlers to buy drugs has long been the common wisdom. But a new study from Canada suggests it’s wrong.

Francesca Giuliani-Hoffman reports at CNN, “You’ve heard this refrain before — giving money to homeless people is not the best way to help them because it might be squandered, or spent on harmful habits.

“But a new Canadian study makes a powerful case to the contrary. The study, dubbed ‘The New Leaf Project,’ is an initiative of Foundations for Social Change, a charitable organization based in Vancouver, in partnership with the University of British Columbia.

“Researchers gave 50 recently homeless people a lump sum of 7,500 Canadian dollars (nearly $5,700). They followed the cash recipients’ life over 12-18 months and compared their outcomes to that of a control group who didn’t receive the payment. The preliminary findings, which will be peer-reviewed next year, show that those who received cash were able to find stable housing faster, on average. By comparison, those who didn’t receive cash lagged about 12 months behind in securing more permanent housing.

“People who received cash were able to access the food they needed to live faster. Nearly 70% [maintained] greater food security throughout the year.

The recipients spent more on food, clothing and rent, while there was a 39% decrease in spending on goods like alcohol, cigarettes or drugs. …

“Said Claire Williams, the CEO and co-founder of Foundations for Social Change, ‘We really think it’s important to start testing meaningful risk-taking in the name of social change.’ …

“The 115 participants in the randomized controlled trial were between the ages of 19 and 64, and they had been homeless for an average of 6 months. Participants were screened for a low risk of mental health challenges and substance abuse. Funding for the initiative came from a grant from the Canadian federal government, and from donors and foundations in the country.

” ‘One of the things that was most striking is that most people who received the cash knew immediately what they wanted to do with that money, and that just flies in the face of stereotypes,’ Williams told CNN.

“For example, she explained some cash recipients knew they wanted to use the money to move into housing, or invest in transportation — getting a bike, or taking their cars to the repair shop to be able to keep their jobs. Others wanted to purchase computers. A number of them wanted to start their own small businesses. …

“Direct cash transfers are not ‘a silver bullet for homelessness in general,’ and the program focused on ‘a higher functioning subset of the homeless population,’ Williams said, but she believes the research shows that providing meaningful support to folks who have recently become homeless decreases the likelihood they will become entrenched. …

“The study shows there are advantages for the taxpayer, too. According to the research, reducing the number of nights spent in shelters by the 50 study participants who received cash saved approximately 8,100 Canadian dollars per person per year, or about 405,000 Canadian dollars over one year for all 50 participants.”

More details at CNN, here.

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The blogger at A Musical Life on Planet Earth — who has been healing from an injury suffered when he nearly tripped on an eager toddler in a music class — doesn’t need to be told that music is healing.

But for the rest of us, a new study from Greece on music and heart health might be enlightening. Tom Jacobs writes at Pacific Standard, “There are many ways of reducing your risk of a heart attack. A healthy diet. Regular exercise. And don’t forget your daily dose of Dylan or Debussy.

“A newly published, small-scale study from Greece finds listening to either classical or rock music positively impacts two important predictors of cardiovascular risk. The effects are particularly pronounced for classical music fans, who, in the study, had a more robust physiological response to music of either genre.

“ ‘These findings may have important implications, extending the spectrum of lifestyle modifications that can ameliorate arterial function,’ a research team led by cardiologist Charalambos Vlachopoulos of Athens Medical School writes in the journal Atherosclerosis. ‘Listening to music should be encouraged in everyday activities.’

“The pulse waves of one’s circulatory system and the rigidity of one’s arteries are related but independent predictors of morbidity and mortality. Essentially, the stiffer one’s blood vessel walls become, the greater the pulse pressure, and the harder the heart has to work to pump blood into the arteries. This can lead to higher blood pressure and an increased strain on the heart. …

“The participants, described as ’20 healthy individuals,’ visited the lab three times. On each occasion, baseline measurements of aortic stiffness and pulse wave reflections were taken following a half-hour rest period.

“They then either listened to a half-hour of classical music (primarily excerpts from J.S. Bach’s Orchestral Suites); a half-hour of rock (including tracks by Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, and Green Day); or a similar period of silence. …

“The key result: both indicators were lower after participants listened to either genre of music. … More at Pacific Standard here.

And you can listen to to Will McMillan’s healing singing at A Musical Life on Planet Earth, here.

Will McMillan

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYou never know what you’ll find at Andrew Sullivan’s blog.

Today he notes research on the memory of toddlers. A new study has demonstrated that three-year-olds have memories of  seeing someone once, back when they were one.

Danish researcher Osman “Kingo and his team first renewed contact with parents and their children who’d taken part in an earlier study when the children were age one. That earlier research involved the infant children interacting with one of two researchers for 45 minutes – either a Scandinavian-Caucasian man or a Scandinavian-African man.

“Now two years on, 50 of these parents and children – the latter now aged three – were invited back to the exact same lab (hopefully cueing their earlier memories). Here the children were shown two simultaneous 45-second videos side by side. One video was a recording of the researcher – either the Scandinavian-Caucasian or Scandinavian-African man – interacting with them two years earlier; the other video showed the other researcher (the one they hadn’t met) interacting with a different child in the exact same way. …

“The children spent significantly more time looking at the video that featured the researcher they’d never met. … This result provides strong evidence that the children had some recognition of the researcher they’d met, and were drawn more strongly to look at the unfamiliar researcher.”

More at Andrew Sullivan, here, and at Research Digest at the British Psychological Society, here.

I am especially delighted that there’s a bit of proof for what I have long insisted was true. (No one ever believes that I remember taking my first steps.)

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A woman in my tai chi chuan class yesterday mentioned that she was taking her son to an “Instrument PettingZoo” this weekend to see if he could find an instrument he’d like to study.

What a great name for the event! With a title like that, no one needs to explain that the idea is to help children learn about different instruments — and have fun at the same time.

This weekend’s Instrument PettingZoo is at Powers Music School.

The school’s website provides some history:

“Powers Music School is a regional, not-for-profit institution established in 1964 to provide superior music instruction and performance opportunities to all interested students. Each year the School also provides musical outreach opportunities in the community through programs such as Belmont Open Sings, the Stein Chamber Music Festival, the Peter Elvins Vocal Competition, and the Mildred P. Freiberg Piano Festival.

“The founding principles, that all students are entitled to high quality musical instruction and that music is an essential part of our lives and belongs in the community, continue to guide the School today. During 2010-2011, the School worked with over 1,000 students who traveled from 50 surrounding communities. In addition, Powers gave over 70 student recitals/community performances.”

I love the school’s dual-meaning slogan, “A great place to play.”

Makes me realize my off-and-on-music education may have left out the playful side of “play.”

Photograph: PowersMusic.org

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John sent me this heavenly video from a Public Broadcasting show called “The Human Spark.” Do watch it. It isn’t long.

It highlights research with both chimps and toddlers, showing what is apparently an innate impulse to help others. Interestingly, whereas the chimp will pass you something you are reaching for and stop at that, a toddler will go above and beyond — and seem to enjoy it.

All of which suggests to me that if you want to be around people who are truly human, hang out with the ones who like to help others.

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