Commenced in January 2007
Frequency: Monthly
Edition: International
Paper Count: 91

Search results for: hominin niche

91 Hominin Niche in the Times of Climate Change

Authors: Emilia Hunt, Sally C. Reynolds, Fiona Coward, Fabio Parracho Silva, Philip Hopley


Ecological niche modeling is widely used in conservation studies, but application to the extinct hominin species is a relatively new approach. Being able to understand what ecological niches were occupied by respective hominin species provides a new perspective into influences on evolutionary processes. Niche separation or overlap can tell us more about specific requirements of the species within the given timeframe. Many of the ancestral species lived through enormous climate changes: glacial and interglacial periods, changes in rainfall, leading to desertification or flooding of regions and displayed impressive levels of adaptation necessary for their survival. This paper reviews niche modeling methodologies and their application to hominin studies. Traditional conservation methods might not be directly applicable to extinct species and are not comparable to hominins. Hominin niche also includes aspects of technologies, use of fire and extended communication, which are not traditionally used in building conservation models. Future perspectives on how to improve niche modeling for extinct hominin species will be discussed.

Keywords: hominin niche, climate change, evolution, adaptation, ecological niche modelling

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90 Computer Simulation and Mathematical Modeling of the Interactions Between Ecological Selection and Sexual Selection in Sympatric Speciation of a 2-Niche, 2-Sex-allele Ecoscape

Authors: John Lin, Natalie Wassall


Ecological niche specialization and the subsequent pre-mating reproductive isolation are the putative steps of sympatric speciation, even though the exact mechanism of how the former leads to the later remains unclear. An agent-based computer simulation was used to investigate the interactions between ecological selection and sexual selection and their necessary parameters to produce sympatric speciation in a panmictic two-niche ecoscape. A mathematical model was then developed to describe the results. It was found that the interactions between ecological selection and sexual selection in a panmictic, 2-niche, 2-sex-allele ecoscape are best described by a nonlinear dynamic system. In such a system, stabilized pre-mating reproductive isolation is impossible unless the carrying capacities in the two niches are limited, and it is more likely to happen when the number of offspring produced by each niche ecotype is large enough to fill the maximum carrying capacity of its niche — for instance, in fish species that can produce millions of offspring in each generation. When the above two conditions are met, then varying degrees of reproductive isolation and an assortment of pre-mating sexual traits can happen, depending on parametric values in the system. The behavior of such a nonlinear dynamic system was found to be governed by Saddle-node and Hopf bifurcation types, which can produce fixed points in the system that allow varying degrees of reproductive isolation and pre-mating traits assortment. Lastly, a computer application was created using numerical analysis techniques to plot all the trajectories, fixed points, and bifurcation points in a 2-niche, 2-sex-allele ecosystem that is normalized with respect to parameters such as hybrid viability, degree of pre-mating traits bias, cost of mating as determined by the number of mating rounds, offspring fecundity, and maximum niche carrying capacity, for a complete analysis.

Keywords: sympatric speciation, ecological speciation, sexual selection, assortative mating, pre-mating reproductive isolation

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89 Homogeneity among Diversity

Authors: Yu Guang


“Case studies are the preferred strategy when ‘how’ or ‘why’ questions are being posed.” Therefore, the study is based on two cases: strategy performed in JingNan War and by NIKE. The two samples are chosen as they are of comparability. Data are gathered and PEST and SWOT are used as analysis models to examine their strategic employment in order that the answer to brilliant strategies in variety is found. The niche strategy has been used in the past and present, in the battle fields and business. The homogeneity among diversity is the skill of performing strategies.

Keywords: challenger, homogeneity, managing diversity, niche strategy

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88 Exploring the Possibility of Islamic Banking as a Viable Alternative to the Conventional Banking Model

Authors: Lavan Vickneson


In today’s modern economy, the conventional banking model is the primary banking system used around the world. A significant problem faced by the conventional banking model is the recurring nature of banking crises. History’s record of the various banking crises, ranging from the Great Depression to the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis, is testament to the fact that banking crises continue to strike despite the preventive measures in place, such as bank’s minimum capital requirements and deposit guarantee schemes. If banking crises continue to occur despite these preventive measures, it necessarily follows that there are inherent flaws with the conventional banking model itself. In light of this, a possible alternative banking model to the conventional banking model is Islamic banking. To date, Islamic banking has been a niche market, predominantly serving Muslim investors. This paper seeks to explore the possibility of Islamic banking being more than just a niche market and playing a greater role in banking sectors around the world, by being a viable alternative to the conventional banking model.

Keywords: bank crises, conventional banking model, Islamic banking, niche market

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87 Precursor Muscle Cell’s Phenotype under Compression in a Biomimetic Mechanical Niche

Authors: Fatemeh Abbasi, Arne Hofemeier, Timo Betz


Muscle growth and regeneration critically depend on satellite cells (SCs) which are muscle stem cells located between the basal lamina and myofibres. Upon damage, SCs become activated, enter the cell cycle, and give rise to myoblasts that form new myofibres, while a sub-population self-renew and re-populate the muscle stem cell niche. In aged muscle as well as in certain muscle diseases such as muscular dystrophy, some of the SCs lose their regenerative ability. Although it is demonstrated that the chemical composition of SCs quiescent niche is different from the activated niche, the mechanism initially activated in the SCs remains unknown. While extensive research efforts focused on potential chemical activation, no such factor has been identified to the author’s best knowledge. However, it is substantiated that niche mechanics affects SCs behaviors, such as stemness and engraftment. We hypothesize that mechanical stress in the healthy niche (homeostasis) is different from the regenerative niche and that this difference could serve as an early signal activating SCs upon fiber damage. To investigate this hypothesis, we develop a biomimetic system to reconstitute both, the mechanical and the chemical environment of the SC niche. Cells will be confined between two elastic polyacrylamide (PAA) hydrogels with controlled elastic moduli and functionalized surface chemistry. By controlling the distance between the PAA hydrogel surfaces, we vary the compression forces exerted by the substrates on the cells, while the lateral displacement of the upper hydrogel will create controlled shear forces. To establish such a system, a simplified system is presented. We engineered a sandwich-like configuration of two elastic PAA layer with stiffnesses between 1 and 10 kPa and confined a precursor myoblast cell line (C2C12) in between these layers. Our initial observations in this sandwich model indicate that C2C12 cells show different behaviors under mechanical compression if compared to a control one-layer gel without compression. Interestingly, this behavior is stiffness-dependent. While the shape of C2C12 cells in the sandwich consisting of two stiff (10 kPa) layers was much more elongated, showing almost a neuronal phenotype, the cell shape in a sandwich situation consisting of one stiff and one soft (1 kPa) layer was more spherical. Surprisingly, even in proliferation medium and at very low cell density, the sandwich situation stimulated cell differentiation with increased striation and myofibre formation. Such behavior is commonly found for confluent cells in differentiation medium. These results suggest that mechanical changes in stiffness and applied pressure might be a relevant stimulation for changes in muscle cell behavior.

Keywords: C2C12 cells, compression, force, satellite cells, skeletal muscle

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86 A Long Tail Study of eWOM Communities

Authors: M. Olmedilla, M. R. Martinez-Torres, S. L. Toral


Electronic Word-Of-Mouth (eWOM) communities represent today an important source of information in which more and more customers base their purchasing decisions. They include thousands of reviews concerning very different products and services posted by many individuals geographically distributed all over the world. Due to their massive audience, eWOM communities can help users to find the product they are looking for even if they are less popular or rare. This is known as the long tail effect, which leads to a larger number of lower-selling niche products. This paper analyzes the long tail effect in a well-known eWOM community and defines a tool for finding niche products unavailable through conventional channels.

Keywords: eWOM, online user reviews, long tail theory, product categorization, social network analysis

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85 Differentiating Morphological Patterns of the Common Benthic Anglerfishes from the Indian Waters

Authors: M. P. Rajeeshkumar, K. V. Aneesh Kumar, J. L. Otero-Ferrer, A. Lombarte, M. Hashim, N. Saravanane, V. N.Sanjeevan, V. M. Tuset


The anglerfishes are widely distributed from shallow to deep-water habitats and are highly diverse in morphology, behaviour, and niche occupancy patterns. To understand this interspecific variability and degree of niche overlap, we performed a functional analysis of five species inhabiting Indian waters where diversity of deep-sea anglerfishes is very high. The sensory capacities (otolith shape and eye size) were also studied to improve the understanding of coexistence of species. The analyses of fish body and otolith shape clustered species in two morphotypes related to phylogenetic lineages: i) Malthopsis lutea, Lophiodes lugubri and Halieutea coccinea were characterized by a dorso-ventrally flattened body with high swimming ability and relative small otoliths, and ii) Chaunax spp. were distinguished by their higher body depth, lower swimming efficiency, and relative big otoliths. The sensory organs did not show a pattern linked to depth distribution of species. However, the larger eye size in M. lutea suggested a nocturnal feeding activity, whereas Chaunax spp. had a large mouth and deeper body in response to different ecological niches. Therefore, the present study supports the hypothesis of spatial and temporal segregation of anglerfishes in the Indian waters, which can be explained from a functional approach and understanding from sensory capabilities.

Keywords: functional traits, otoliths, niche overlap, fishes, Indian waters

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84 Comparative Analysis of Medical Tourism Industry among Key Nations in Southeast Asia

Authors: Nur A. Azmi, Suseela D. Chandran, Fadilah Puteh, Azizan Zainuddin


Medical tourism has been associated as a global phenomenon in developed and developing countries in the 21st century. Medical tourism is defined as an activity in which individuals who travel from one country to another country to seek or receive medical healthcare. Based on the global trend, the number of medical tourists is increasing annually, especially in the Southeast Asia (SEA) region. Since the establishment of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 1967, the SEA nations have worked towards regional integration in medical tourism. The medical tourism in the SEA has become the third-largest sector that contributes towards economic development. Previous research has demonstrated several factors that affect the development of medical tourism. However, despite the already published literature on SEA's medical tourism in the last ten years there continues to be a scarcity of research on niche areas each of the SEA countries. Hence, this paper is significant in enriching the literature in the field of medical tourism particularly in showcasing the niche market of medical tourism among the SEA best players namely Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. This paper also contributes in offering a comparative analysis between the said nations whether they are complementing or competing with each other in the medical tourism sector. This then, will increase the availability of information in SEA region on medical tourism. The data was collected through an in-depth interview with various stakeholders and private hospitals. The data was then analyzed using two approaches namely thematic analysis (interview data) and document analysis (secondary data). The paper concludes by arguing that the ASEAN countries have specific niche market to promote their medical tourism industry. This paper also concludes that these key nations complement each other in the industry. In addition, the medical tourism sector in SEA region offers greater prospects for market development and expansion that witnessed the emerging of new key players from other nations.

Keywords: healthcare services, medical tourism, medical tourists, SEA region, comparative analysis

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83 The Culex Pipiens Niche: Assessment with Climatic and Physiographic Variables via a Geographic Information System

Authors: Maria C. Proença, Maria T. Rebelo, Marília Antunes, Maria J. Alves, Hugo Osório, Sofia Cunha, João Casaca


Using a geographic information system (GIS), the relations between a georeferenced data set of Culex pipiens sl. mosquitoes collected in Portugal mainland during seven years (2006-2012) and meteorological and physiographic parameters such as: air relative humidity, air temperature (minima, maxima and mean daily temperatures), daily total rainfall, altitude, land use/land cover and proximity to water bodies are evaluated. Focus is on the mosquito females; the characterization of its habitat is the key for the planning of chirurgical non-aggressive prophylactic countermeasures to avoid ambient degradation. The GIS allow for the spatial determination of the zones were the mosquito mean captures has been above average; using the meteorological values at these coordinates, the limits of each parameter are identified/computed. The meteorological parameters measured at the net of weather stations all over the country are averaged by month and interpolated to produce raster maps that can be segmented according to the thresholds obtained for each parameter. The intersection of the maps obtained for each month show the evolution of the area favorable to the species through the mosquito season, which is from May to October at these latitudes. In parallel, mean and above average captures were related to the physiographic parameters. Three levels of risk could be identified for each parameter, using above average captures as an index. The results were applied to the suitability meteorological maps of each month. The Culex pipiens critical niche is delimited, reflecting the critical areas and the level of risk for transmission of the pathogens to which they are competent vectors (West Nile virus, iridoviruses, rheoviruses and parvoviruses).

Keywords: Culex pipiens, ecological niche, risk assessment, risk management

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82 Habitat-Specific Divergences in the Gene Repertoire among the Reference Prevotella Genomes of the Human Microbiome

Authors: Vinod Kumar Gupta, Narendrakumar M. Chaudhari, Suchismitha Iskepalli, Chitra Dutta


Background-The community composition of the human microbiome is known to vary at distinct anatomical niches. But little is known about the nature of variations if any, at the genome/sub-genome levels of a specific microbial community across different niches. The present report aims to explore, as a case study, the variations in gene repertoire of 28 Prevotella reference draft genomes derived from different body-sites of human, as reported earlier by the Human Microbiome Consortium. Results-The analysis reveals the exclusive presence of 11798, 3673, 3348 and 934 gene families and exclusive absence of 17, 221, 115 and 645 gene families in Prevotella genomes derived from the human oral cavity, gastro-intestinal tracts (GIT), urogenital tract (UGT) and skin, respectively. The pan-genome for Prevotella remains “open”. Distribution of various functional COG categories differs appreciably among the habitat-specific genes, within Prevotella pan-genome and between the GIT-derived Bacteroides and Prevotella. The skin and GIT isolates of Prevotella are enriched in singletons involved in Signal transduction mechanisms, while the UGT and oral isolates show higher representation of the Defense mechanisms category. No niche-specific variations could be observed in the distribution of KEGG pathways. Conclusion-Prevotella may have developed distinct genetic strategies for adaptation to different anatomical habitats through selective, niche-specific acquisition and elimination of suitable gene-families. In addition, individual microorganisms tend to develop their own distinctive adaptive stratagems through large repertoires of singletons. Such in situ, habitat-driven refurbishment of the genetic makeup can impart substantial intra-lineage genome diversity within the microbes without perturbing their general taxonomic heritage.

Keywords: body niche adaptation, human microbiome, pangenome, Prevotella

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81 Communication Strategies of Russian-English Asymmetric Bilinguals Given Insufficient Language Faculty

Authors: Varvara Tyurina


In the age of globalization Internet communication as a new format of interactions have become an integral part of our daily routine. Internet environment allows for new conditions and provides participants to a communication act with extra communication tools which can be used on Internet forums or in chat rooms. As a result communicants tend to alternate their behavior patterns in contrast to those practiced in live communication. It is not yet clear which communication strategies participants to Internet communication abide by and what determines their choices. Given the continually changing environment of a forum or a chat the behavior of a communicant can be interpreted in terms of autopoiesis theory which sees adaptation as the major tool for coexistence between the living system and its niche. Each communication act is seen as interaction between the communicant (i.e. the living system) and the overall environment of the forum (i.e. the niche) rather than one particular interlocutor. When communicating via the Internet participants are believed to aim at reaching a balance between themselves and the environment of a forum or a chat. The research focuses on unveiling the adaptation strategies employed by a communicant in particular cases and looks into the reasons they are employed. There is a correlation between language faculty of the communicants and the strategies they opt for when communicating on Internet forums and in chat rooms. The research included an experiment with a sample of Russian-English asymmetric bilinguals aged 16-25. Respondents were given two texts of equivalent contents, but of different language complexity. They had to respond to the texts as if they were making a reciprocal comment at a forum. It has been revealed that when communicants realize that their language faculty is not sufficient to understand the initial text they tend to amend their communication strategy in order to maintain the balance with the niche (remain involved in the communication). Most common strategies for responding to a difficult-to-understand text were self-presentation, veiling poor language faculty and response evasion. The research has so far focused on a very narrow aspect of correlation between language faculty and communication behavior, namely the syntactic and lexicological complexity of initial texts. It is essential to conduct a series of experiments that dwell on other characteristics of the texts to determine the range of cases when language faculty determines the choice of adaptation strategy.

Keywords: adaptation, communication strategies, internet communication, verbal interaction, autopoiesis theory

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80 Habitat Suitability, Genetic Diversity and Population Structure of Two Sympatric Fruit Bat Species Reveal the Need of an Urgent Conservation Action

Authors: Mohamed Thani Ibouroi, Ali Cheha, Claudine Montgelard, Veronique Arnal, Dawiyat Massoudi, Guillelme Astruc, Said Ali Ousseni Dhurham, Aurelien Besnard


The Livingstone's flying fox (Pteropus livingstonii) and the Comorian fruit bat (P.seychellensis comorensis) are two endemic fruit bat species among the mostly threatened animals of the Comoros archipelagos. Despite their role as important ecosystem service providers like all flying fox species as pollinators and seed dispersers, little is known about their ecologies, population genetics and structures making difficult the development of evidence-based conservation strategies. In this study, we assess spatial distribution and ecological niche of both species using Species Distribution Modeling (SDM) based on the recent Ensemble of Small Models (ESMs) approach using presence-only data. Population structure and genetic diversity of the two species were assessed using both mitochondrial and microsatellite markers based on non-invasive genetic samples. Our ESMs highlight a clear niche partitioning of the two sympatric species. Livingstone’s flying fox has a very limited distribution, restricted on steep slope of natural forests at high elevation. On the contrary, the Comorian fruit bat has a relatively large geographic range spread over low elevations in farmlands and villages. Our genetic analysis shows a low genetic diversity for both fruit bats species. They also show that the Livingstone’s flying fox population of the two islands were genetically isolated while no evidence of genetic differentiation was detected for the Comorian fruit bats between islands. Our results support the idea that natural habitat loss, especially the natural forest loss and fragmentation are the important factors impacting the distribution of the Livingstone’s flying fox by limiting its foraging area and reducing its potential roosting sites. On the contrary, the Comorian fruit bats seem to be favored by human activities probably because its diets are less specialized. By this study, we concluded that the Livingstone’s flying fox species and its habitat are of high priority in term of conservation at the Comoros archipelagos scale.

Keywords: Comoros islands, ecological niche, habitat loss, population genetics, fruit bats, conservation biology

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79 Epigenomic Analysis of Lgr5+ Stem Cells in Gastrointestinal Tract

Authors: Hyo-Min Kim, Seokjin Ham, Mi-Joung Yoo, Minseon Kim, Tae-Young Roh


The gastrointestinal (GI) tract of most animals, including murine, is highly compartmentalized epithelia which also provide distinct different functions of its own tissue. Nevertheless, these epithelia share certain characteristics that enhance immune responses to infections and maintain the barrier function of the intestine. GI tract epithelia also undergo regeneration not only in homeostatic conditions but also in a response to the damage. A full turnover of the murine gastrointestinal epithelium occurs every 4-5 day, a process that is regulated and maintained by a minor population of Lgr5+ adult stem cell that commonly conserved in the bottom of crypts through GI tract. Maintenance of the stem cell is somehow regulated by epigenetic factors according to recent studies. Chromatin vacancy, remodelers, histone variants and histone modifiers could affect adult stem cell fate. In this study, Lgr5-EGFP reporter mouse was used to take advantage of exploring the epigenetic dynamics among Lgr5 positive mutual stem cell in GI tract. Cells were isolated by fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS), gene expression levels, chromatin accessibility changes and histone modifications were analyzed. Some notable chromatin structural related epigenetic variants were detected. To identify the overall cell-cell interaction inside the stem cell niche, an extensive genome-wide analysis should be also followed. According to the results, nevertheless, we expected a broader understanding of cellular niche maintaining stem cells and epigenetic barriers through conserved stem cell in GI tract. We expect that our study could provide more evidence of adult stem cell plasticity and more chances to understand each stem cell that takes parts in certain organs.

Keywords: adult stem cell, epigenetics, LGR5 stem cell, gastrointestinal tract

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78 Efficient Corporate Image as a Strategy for Enhancing Profitability in Hotels

Authors: Lucila T. Magalong


The hotel industry has been using their corporate image and reputation to maintain service quality, customer satisfaction, and customer loyalty and to leverage themselves against competitors and facilitate their growth strategies. With the increasing pressure to perform, hotels have even created hybrid service strategy to fight in the niche markets across pricing and level-off service parameters.

Keywords: corporate image, hotel industry, service quality, customer expectations

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77 A Niche Sustainable Tourism Product: Stakeholder Perceptions on Sustainable Conference Tourism in Cyprus

Authors: Xenia I. Loizidou, Anthi Gavriel, Demetra Petsa


The tourism industry is a significant contributor to Cyprus's Gross Domestic Product. However, as the main tourism product is 'sun and sea', the industry is significantly unsustainable, with the majority of tourists (approx. 90%) concentrated in coastal areas over a short period of time, causing negative environmental, social, and economic impacts. The newly established Cypriot Deputy Ministry of Tourism aims to diversify the Cypriot tourism industry by focusing on the development of niche tourism products that will elongate the touristic season and divert visitors to inland mountainous and rural areas. In this respect, conference and event tourism is an ideal product for development. The current paper presents the results of fieldwork carried out between January and March 2020 in Cyprus, with key stakeholders within the conference and event tourism sector. The work consisted of a survey and semi-structured interviews to determine the current level of sustainability within the conference tourism sector, the main barriers to the sector's development, as well as key stakeholder insights and suggestions for measures to improve the sector's sustainability. The results suggest that there is a general lack of understanding of the negative economic, environmental and social impacts associated with the organization of conventional conferences and events, compared to the positive impacts of sustainable conferences/events. There also seems to be a lack of awareness of actions that can be taken to make the conference and event sector more sustainable. Incentives, marketing, branding, and training are identified as some of the effective means to improve the sustainability of the Cypriot conference and event sector, as is the development of country-wide sustainability policy and a review and enforcement of national waste management legislation. The research outputs will be utilized for the development of targeted toolkits, training, and awareness-raising activities that will drive Cyprus towards becoming an international sustainable tourism destination.

Keywords: conference, event, sustainability, tourism

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76 The Teacher’s Role in Generating and Maintaining the Motivation of Adult Learners of English: A Mixed Methods Study in Hungarian Corporate Contexts

Authors: Csaba Kalman


In spite of the existence of numerous second language (L2) motivation theories, the teacher’s role in motivating learners has remained an under-researched niche to this day. If we narrow down our focus on the teacher’s role on motivating adult learners of English in an English as a Foreign Language (EFL) context in corporate environments, empirical research is practically non-existent. This study fills the above research niche by exploring the most motivating aspects of the teacher’s personality, behaviour, and teaching practices that affect adult learners’ L2 motivation in corporate contexts in Hungary. The study was conducted in a wide range of industries in 18 organisations that employ over 250 people in Hungary. In order to triangulate the research, 21 human resources managers, 18 language teachers, and 466 adult learners of English were involved in the investigation by participating in interview studies, and quantitative questionnaire studies that measured ten scales related to the teacher’s role, as well as two criterion measure scales of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. The qualitative data were analysed using a template organising style, while descriptive, inferential statistics, as well as multivariate statistical techniques, such as correlation and regression analyses, were used for analysing the quantitative data. The results showed that certain aspects of the teacher’s personality (thoroughness, enthusiasm, credibility, and flexibility), as well as preparedness, incorporating English for Specific Purposes (ESP) in the syllabus, and focusing on the present, proved to be the most salient aspects of the teacher’s motivating influence. The regression analyses conducted with the criterion measure scales revealed that 22% of the variance in learners’ intrinsic motivation could be explained by the teacher’s preparedness and appearance, and 23% of the variance in learners’ extrinsic motivation could be attributed to the teacher’s personal branding and incorporating ESP in the syllabus. The findings confirm the pivotal role teachers play in motivating L2 learners independent of the context they teach in; and, at the same time, call for further research so that we can better conceptualise the motivating influence of L2 teachers.

Keywords: adult learners, corporate contexts, motivation, teacher’s role

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75 Engineering a Tumor Extracellular Matrix Towards an in vivo Mimicking 3D Tumor Microenvironment

Authors: Anna Cameron, Chunxia Zhao, Haofei Wang, Yun Liu, Guang Ze Yang


Since the first publication in 1775, cancer research has built a comprehensive understanding of how cellular components of the tumor niche promote disease development. However, only within the last decade has research begun to establish the impact of non-cellular components of the niche, particularly the extracellular matrix (ECM). The ECM, a three-dimensional scaffold that sustains the tumor microenvironment, plays a crucial role in disease progression. Cancer cells actively deregulate and remodel the ECM to establish a tumor-promoting environment. Recent work has highlighted the need to further our understanding of the complexity of this cancer-ECM relationship. In vitro models use hydrogels to mimic the ECM, as hydrogel matrices offer biological compatibility and stability needed for long term cell culture. However, natural hydrogels are being used in these models verbatim, without tuning their biophysical characteristics to achieve pathophysiological relevance, thus limiting their broad use within cancer research. The biophysical attributes of these gels dictate cancer cell proliferation, invasion, metastasis, and therapeutic response. Evaluating the three most widely used natural hydrogels, Matrigel, collagen, and agarose gel, the permeability, stiffness, and pore-size of each gel were measured and compared to the in vivo environment. The pore size of all three gels fell between 0.5-6 µm, which coincides with the 0.1-5 µm in vivo pore size found in the literature. However, the stiffness for hydrogels able to support cell culture ranged between 0.05 and 0.3 kPa, which falls outside the range of 0.3-20,000 kPa reported in the literature for an in vivo ECM. Permeability was ~100x greater than in vivo measurements, due in large part to the lack of cellular components which impede permeation. Though, these measurements prove important when assessing therapeutic particle delivery, as the ECM permeability decreased with increasing particle size, with 100 nm particles exhibiting a fifth of the permeability of 10 nm particles. This work explores ways of adjusting the biophysical characteristics of hydrogels by changing protein concentration and the trade-off, which occurs due to the interdependence of these factors. The global aim of this work is to produce a more pathophysiologically relevant model for each tumor type.

Keywords: cancer, extracellular matrix, hydrogel, microfluidic

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74 Modeling the Current and Future Distribution of Anthus Pratensis under Climate Change

Authors: Zahira Belkacemi


One of the most important tools in conservation biology is information on the geographic distribution of species and the variables determining those patterns. In this study, we used maximum-entropy niche modeling (Maxent) to predict the current and future distribution of Anthus pratensis using climatic variables. The results showed that the species would not be highly affected by the climate change in shifting its distribution; however, the results of this study should be improved by taking into account other predictors, and that the NATURA 2000 protected sites will be efficient at 42% in protecting the species.

Keywords: anthus pratensis, climate change, Europe, species distribution model

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73 Existential Affordances and Psychopathology: A Gibsonian Analysis of Dissociative Identity Disorder

Authors: S. Alina Wang


A Gibsonian approach is used to understand the existential dimensions of the human ecological niche. Then, this existential-Gibsonian framework is applied to rethinking Hacking’s historical analysis of multiple personality disorder. This research culminates in a generalized account of psychiatric illness from an enactivist lens. In conclusion, reflections on the implications of this account on approaches to psychiatric treatment are mentioned. J.J. Gibson’s theory of affordances centered on affordances of sensorimotor varieties, which guide basic behaviors relative to organisms’ vital needs and physiological capacities (1979). Later theorists, notably Neisser (1988) and Rietveld (2014), expanded on the theory of affordances to account for uniquely human activities relative to the emotional, intersubjective, cultural, and narrative aspects of the human ecological niche. This research shows that these affordances are structured by what Haugeland (1998) calls existential commitments, which draws on Heidegger’s notion of dasein (1927) and Merleau-Ponty’s account of existential freedom (1945). These commitments organize the existential affordances that fill an individual’s environment and guide their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. This system of a priori existential commitments and a posteriori affordances is called existential enactivism. For humans, affordances do not only elicit motor responses and appear as objects with instrumental significance. Affordances also, and possibly primarily, determine so-called affective and cognitive activities and structure the wide range of kinds (e.g., instrumental, aesthetic, ethical) of significances of objects found in the world. Then existential enactivism is applied to understanding the psychiatric phenomenon of multiple personality disorder (precursor of the current diagnosis of dissociative identity disorder). A reinterpretation of Hacking’s (1998) insights into the history of this particular disorder and his generalizations on the constructed nature of most psychiatric illness is taken on. Enactivist approaches sensitive to existential phenomenology can provide a deeper understanding of these matters. Conceptualizing psychiatric illness as strictly a disorder in the head (whether parsed as a disorder of brain chemicals or meaning-making capacities encoded in psychological modules) is incomplete. Rather, psychiatric illness must also be understood as a disorder in the world, or in the interconnected networks of existential affordances that regulate one’s emotional, intersubjective, and narrative capacities. All of this suggests that an adequate account of psychiatric illness must involve (1) the affordances that are the sources of existential hindrance, (2) the existential commitments structuring these affordances, and (3) the conditions of these existential commitments. Approaches to treatment of psychiatric illness would be more effective by centering on the interruption of normalized behaviors corresponding to affordances targeted as sources of hindrance, the development of new existential commitments, and the practice of new behaviors that erect affordances relative to these reformed commitments.

Keywords: affordance, enaction, phenomenology, psychiatry, psychopathology

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72 Economic Policy of Tourism and the Development Tendencies of Medical Wellness Resorts in Georgia

Authors: G. Erkomaishvili, E. Kharaishvili, M. Chavleishvili, N. Sagareishvili


This paper discusses the current condition of tourism and its economic policy in Georgia. It analyzes and studies wellness tourism, as one of the directions of tourism; the newest niche in the wellness industry – triggering wellness resorts with medical ideology. The paper discusses the development tendencies of medical wellness resorts in Georgia and its main economic preferences. The main finding of the research is that Georgia is a unique place in the world according to the variety of medical recourses. This makes the opportunity to create and successfully operate medical wellness resorts, as well as develop it as a brand for Georgia in the world. The research represents the development strategies of tourism and its medical wellness resorts in Georgia, and offers recommendations based on the relevant conclusions.

Keywords: tourism, economic policy of tourism, wellness industry, medical wellness resorts

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71 Social Media as a Distribution Channel for Thailand’s Rice Berry Product

Authors: Phutthiwat Waiyawuththanapoom, Wannapong Waiyawuththanapoom, Pimploi Tirastittam


Nowadays, it is a globalization era which social media plays an important role to the lifestyle as an information source, tools to connect people together and etc. This research is object to find out about the significant level of the social media as a distribution channel to the agriculture product of Thailand. In this research, the agriculture product is the Rice Berry which is the cross-bred unmilled rice producing dark violet grain, is a combination of Hom Nin Rice and Thai Jasmine/ Fragrant Rice 105. Rice Berry has a very high nutrition and nice aroma so the product is in the growth stage of the product cycle. The problem for the Rice Berry product in Thailand is the production and the distribution channel. This study is to confirm that the social media is another option as the distribution channel for the product which is not a mass production product. This will be the role model for the other niche market product to select the distribution channel.

Keywords: distribution, social media, rice berry, distribution channel

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70 Genetic Divergence of Life History Traits in Indian Populations of Drosophila bipectinata

Authors: Manvender Singh


Temperature is one of the most important climatic parameter for explaining the geographic distribution of ectothermic species. Empirical investigations on norms of the reaction according to developmental temperatures are helpful in analyzing the adapture capacity of a species which may be related to its ecological niche. In the present investigation, we have compared the effects of developmental temperatures on fecundity, hatchability, viability, and duration of development in five natural populations of Drosophila bipectinata along the latitudinal range. The clinal patterns for fecundity, as well as ovariole number, were observed which showed significant positive correlation (r=0.97). Similarly, hatchability and duration of development also revealed a positive correlation with latitude. Hence, suggesting the role of natural selection in maintaining the genetic divergence for life history traits along the north-south transect of the Indian Subcontinent.

Keywords: growth temperature, fecundity, hatchability, viability, duration of development, Drosophila

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69 Rheological Model for Describing Spunlace Nonwoven Behavior

Authors: Sana Ridene, Soumaya Sayeb, Houda Helali, Mohammed Ben Hassen


Nonwoven structures have a range of applications which include Medical, filtration, geotextile and recently this unconventional fabric is finding a niche in fashion apparel. In this paper, a modified form of Vangheluwe rheological model is used to describe the mechanical behavior of nonwovens fabrics in uniaxial tension. This model is an association in parallel of three Maxwell elements characterized by damping coefficients η1, η2 and η3 and E1, E2, E3 elastic modulus and a nonlinear spring C. The model is verified experimentally with two types of nonwovens (50% viscose /50% Polyester) and (40% viscose/60% Polyester) and a range of three square weights values. Comparative analysis of the theoretical model and the experimental results of tensile test proofs a high correlation between them. The proposed model can fairly well replicate the behavior of nonwoven fabrics during relaxation and sample traction. This allowed us to predict the mechanical behavior in tension and relaxation of fabrics starting only from their technical parameters (composition and weight).

Keywords: mechanical behavior, tensile strength, relaxation, rheological model

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68 Nano-Enabling Technical Carbon Fabrics to Achieve Improved Through Thickness Electrical Conductivity in Carbon Fiber Reinforced Composites

Authors: Angelos Evangelou, Katerina Loizou, Loukas Koutsokeras, Orestes Marangos, Giorgos Constantinides, Stylianos Yiatros, Katerina Sofocleous, Vasileios Drakonakis


Owing to their outstanding strength to weight properties, carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRPs) composites have attracted significant attention finding use in various fields (sports, automotive, transportation, etc.). The current momentum indicates that there is an increasing demand for their employment in high value bespoke applications such as avionics and electronic casings, damage sensing structures, EMI (electromagnetic interference) structures that dictate the use of materials with increased electrical conductivity both in-plane and through the thickness. Several efforts by research groups have focused on enhancing the through-thickness electrical conductivity of FRPs, in an attempt to combine the intrinsically high relative strengths exhibited with improved z-axis electrical response as well. However, only a limited number of studies deal with printing of nano-enhanced polymer inks to produce a pattern on dry fabric level that could be used to fabricate CFRPs with improved through thickness electrical conductivity. The present study investigates the employment of screen-printing process on technical dry fabrics using nano-reinforced polymer-based inks to achieve the required through thickness conductivity, opening new pathways for the application of fiber reinforced composites in niche products. Commercially available inks and in-house prepared inks reinforced with electrically conductive nanoparticles are employed, printed in different patterns. The aim of the present study is to investigate both the effect of the nanoparticle concentration as well as the droplet patterns (diameter, inter-droplet distance and coverage) to optimize printing for the desired level of conductivity enhancement in the lamina level. The electrical conductivity is measured initially at ink level to pinpoint the optimum concentrations to be employed using a “four-probe” configuration. Upon printing of the different patterns, the coverage of the dry fabric area is assessed along with the permeability of the resulting dry fabrics, in alignment with the fabrication of CFRPs that requires adequate wetting by the epoxy matrix. Results demonstrated increased electrical conductivities of the printed droplets, with increase of the conductivity from the benchmark value of 0.1 S/M to between 8 and 10 S/m. Printability of dense and dispersed patterns has exhibited promising results in terms of increasing the z-axis conductivity without inhibiting the penetration of the epoxy matrix at the processing stage of fiber reinforced composites. The high value and niche prospect of the resulting applications that can stem from CFRPs with increased through thickness electrical conductivities highlights the potential of the presented endeavor, signifying screen printing as the process to to nano-enable z-axis electrical conductivity in composite laminas. This work was co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund and the Republic of Cyprus through the Research and Innovation Foundation (Project: ENTERPRISES/0618/0013).

Keywords: CFRPs, conductivity, nano-reinforcement, screen-printing

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67 Awareness of Organic Products in Bangladesh: A Marketing Perspective

Authors: Sheikh Mohammed Rafiul Huque


Bangladesh since its inception has been an economy that is fuelled by agriculture and agriculture has significant contribution to the GDP of Bangladesh. The agriculture of Bangladesh predominantly and historically dependent on organic sources of raw material though the place has taken in decades by inorganic sources of raw materials due to the high demand of food for rapidly growing of population. Meanwhile, a new market segment, which is niche market, has been evolving in the urban area in favor of organic products, though 71.1% population living in rural areas is dependent mainly on conventional products. The new market segment is search of healthy and safer source of food and they could believe that organic products are the solution of that. In Bangladesh, food adulteration is very common practices among the shop-keepers to extend the shelf life of raw vegetables and fruits. The niche group of city dwellers is aware about the fact and gradually shifting their buying behavior to organic products. A recent survey on organic farming revealed that 16,200 hectares under organic farming in recent time, which was only 2,500 hectares in 2008. This study is focused on consumer awareness of organic products and tried to explore the factors affecting organic food consumption among high income group of people. The hypothesis is developed to explore the effect of gender (GENDER), ability to purchase (ABILITY) and health awareness (HEALTH) on purchase intention (INTENTION). A snowball sampling was administered among the high income group of people in Dhaka city among 150 respondents. In this sampling process the study could identify only those samples who has consume organic products. A Partial Least Square (PLS) method was used to analyze data using path analysis. It was revealed from the analysis that coefficient determination R2 is 0.829 for INTENTION endogenous latent variable. This means that three latent variables (GENDER, ABILITY, and HEALTH) significantly explain 82.9% of the variance in INTENTION of purchasing organic products. Moreover, GENDER solely explains 6.3% and 8.6% variability of ABILITY and HEALTH respectively. The inner model suggests that HEALTH has strongest negative effect on INTENTION (-0.647) followed by ABILITY (0.344) and GENDER (0.246). The hypothesized path relationship between ABILITY->INTENTION, HEALTH->INTENTION and GENDER->INTENTION are statistically significant. Furthermore, the hypothesized path relationship between GENDER->ABILITY (0.262) and GENDER->HEALTH (-0.292) also statistically significant. The purpose of the study is to demonstrate how an organic product producer can improve his participatory guarantee system (PGS) while marketing the products. The study focuses on understanding gender (GENDER), ability (ABILITY) and health (HEALTH) factors while positioning the products (INTENTION) in the mind of the consumer. In this study, the respondents are found to care about high price and ability to purchase variables with loading -0.920 and 0.898. They are good indicators of ability to purchase (ABILITY). The marketers should consider about price of organic comparing to conventional products while marketing, otherwise, that will create negative intention to buy with a loading of -0.939. Meanwhile, it is also revealed that believability of chemical free component in organic products and health awareness affects health (HEALTH) components with high loading -0.941 and 0.682. The study analyzes that low believability of chemical free component and high price of organic products affects intension to buy. The marketers should not overlook this point while targeting the consumers in Bangladesh.

Keywords: health awareness, organic products, purchase ability, purchase intention

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66 Crossing Boundaries: Emerging Identities from Folk Theatre

Authors: Sonia Wahengbam, Natasha Elangbam


Female impersonation has existed through the length of human civilization and the breadth of its cultures. Transvestism and drag queen cultures have created multi-sited spaces where in the shadow of art, one can cross the gender barrier and express one’s hidden identity. This paper will explore a dynamic cultural space that exists in Manipur, a state in the northeastern region of India, where the female impersonators (nupi shabis) of a folk theater (Shumang Leela) are using this traditional and popular art form to claim social acceptance of their homosexual identities through the medium of entertainment. It will highlight how by crossing the gender boundary, this third gender group has carved out a unique socio-economic niche where they have exploited their sexual identities to their advantage. The paper will trace the expanding cultural ‘’borderland’’ of Manipur where there is an increasing sense of ‘becoming’, belonging and sharing” of identities through the interweaving of old and new media. The research will be based on interviews with the nupi shabis, cultural critics and other experts.

Keywords: transvestism, Manipur, female impersonators (nupi shabis), Shumang Leela, gender

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65 The Spirit of Midwood: The Vitagraph Company of America and Its Special Relationship with the Borough of Brooklyn, 1897-1925

Authors: David Morton


This work discusses the relationship between the Vitagraph Company of America (VCA) and the neighborhood of Midwood, Brooklyn, where the company’s largest production studio was located. The relationship between VCA and the Borough of Brooklyn was unique from other production companies in that despite the nationwide popularity of Vitagraph’s films, the content of the films produced by Vitagraph were directly influenced by the cinematic preferences of one specific urban center. In contrast to the national aspirations of the leading production companies of the period such as Twentieth Century Fox, Paramount, and Universal, who set out to attract the broadest audience possible, VCA’s films were aimed to appeal to specific a niche group that embodied Brooklyn’s conservative principles. As a result of the VCA’s alliance with theater owners and movie spectators in Brooklyn, the Vitagraph studio in Midwood became one of the Borough’s most recognizable cultural institutions, and through the production of Vitagraph’s quality films Brooklynites had a significant means of sharing their unique cultural identity with the rest of the United States.

Keywords: Vitagraph Company of America, Midwood, Brooklyn, Vitagrapheville, New York Motion Picture History, silent era, J. Stuart Blackton, Albert Smith

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64 Immunomodulatory Effects of Multipotent Mesenchymal Stromal Cells on T-Cell Populations at Tissue-Related Oxygen Level

Authors: A. N. Gornostaeva, P. I. Bobyleva, E. R. Andreeva, L. B. Buravkova


Multipotent mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) possess immunomodulatory properties. The effect of MSCs on the crucial cellular immunity compartment – T-cells is of a special interest. It is known that MSC tissue niche and expected milieu of their interaction with T- cells are characterized by low oxygen concentration, whereas the in vitro experiments usually are carried out at a much higher ambient oxygen (20%). We firstly evaluated immunomodulatory effects of MSCs on T-cells at tissue-related oxygen (5%) after interaction implied cell-to-cell contacts and paracrine factors only. It turned out that MSCs under reduced oxygen can effectively suppress the activation and proliferation of PHA-stimulated T-cells and can provoke decrease in the production of proinflammatory and increase in anti-inflammatory cytokines. In hypoxia some effects were amplified (inhibition of proliferation, anti-inflammatory cytokine profile shift). This impact was more evident after direct cell-to-cell interaction; lack of intercellular contacts could revoke the potentiating effect of hypoxia.

Keywords: MSCs, T-cells, activation, low oxygen, cell-to-cell interaction, immunosuppression

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63 Evaluation of Scenedesmus obliquus Carotenoids as Food Colorants, and Antioxidant Activity in Functional Cakes

Authors: Hanaa H. Abd El Baky, Gamal S. El Baroty, Eman A. Ibrahem


Microalgae Scenedesmus obliquus, the carotenoides (astaxanine and β-caroteine) were identified as the major bioactive constituents. In this work we prepared functional pre-biotic cakes to increase general mental health. Functional cakes were formulated by adding algal caroteinods at 2 and 4 mg/100g to flower and the cakes were storage for 20 days. Oxidative stability of both function cakes products were examined during storage periods by DPPH and TBA assays, and the results revealed that both values in function food products were significantly much low than that in untreated food products. Data of sensory evaluation revealed that treated biscuit and cakes with algae or algae extracts were significantly acceptable as control for main sensory characteristics (colour, odour/aroma, flavour, texture, the global appreciation, and overall acceptability). Thus, it could be concluded that functional biscuits and cakes (very popular and well balanced nutritional food) had good sensory and nutritional profiles and can be developed as new niche food market.

Keywords: Scenedesmus obliquus, carotenoids, functional cakes antioxidant, nutritional profiles

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62 Hemocompatible Thin-Film Materials Recreating the Structure of the Cell Niches with High Potential for Endothelialization

Authors: Roman Major, Klaudia Trembecka- Wojciga, Juergen Markus Lackner, Boguslaw Major


The future and the development of science is therefore seen in interdisciplinary areas such as bio medical engineering. Self-assembled structures, similar to stem cell niches would inhibit fast division process and subsequently capture the stem cells from the blood flow. By means of surface topography and the stiffness as well as micro structure progenitor cells should be differentiated towards the formation of endothelial cells monolayer which effectively will inhibit activation of the coagulation cascade. The idea of the material surface development met the interest of the clinical institutions, which support the development of science in this area and are waiting for scientific solutions that could contribute to the development of heart assist systems. This would improve the efficiency of the treatment of patients with myocardial failure, supported with artificial heart assist systems. Innovative materials would enable the redesign, in the post project activity, construction of ventricular heart assist.

Keywords: bio-inspired materials, electron microscopy, haemocompatibility, niche-like structures, thin coatings

Procedia PDF Downloads 406