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Farmland ponds represent habitats with a high conservation value that make a significant contribution to regional biodiversity. Understanding the influence of plant species composition and environmental variables in driving variations in animal species composition in ponds is an important issue in the fields of ecological research and conservation biology. Using variance partitioning techniques to quantify independent effects, we examined how plant species composition, local-landscape configuration and physicochemical variables interact in influencing aquatic insect and amphibian community composition. The ponds investigated in this study were located in the Site of Community Importance — Special Protected Area (Natura 2000 Network) “Monte Labbro — Alta Valle dell’Albegna” (Tuscany, central Italy). Our results showed that: (i) plant community composition (such as Carex hirta, Glicerya fluitans, Potamogeton natans, Typha latifolia) is a good predictor for amphibian but not for aquatic insect species composition; (ii) aquatic insect species composition was more strongly affected by the landscape context, whereas for amphibians the local characteristics of the ponds were determining; (iii) the physicochemical context is a poor predictor for these animal taxa; (iv) lastly, and notably, the explanatory variables explained a high proportion of the total variation in amphibian and aquatic insect species composition. Our results have important implications with respect to the creation of new ponds, which should preferentially take place close to semi-natural grasslands and other wetlands, in order to maintain greater connectivity, and away from urban areas. Moreover, larger ponds are preferable for the preservation of pond biodiversity. The management and conservation of ponds is necessary to ensure the protection of habitats, the survival of individual species and overall pond biodiversity.

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Within the framework of the Protection of the Environment programme of the JRC-Ispra of the European Community, research on trace metal exposure and health effects is concerned primarily with the toxicological assessment of present levels of trace metals in the tissues of exposed and unexposed populations. Main activities are: (1) microdetermination of trace elements in human tissues in order to generate an accurate and reliable data base on the levels and biochemical forms of trace metals in differently exposed humans; (2) metabolism and biochemical mechanisms involving trace metals to assess the toxicological significance of the current levels of the elements in the human body. Few selected applications related to the different steps of the biochemical toxicology research are shown. They concern the long-term behaviour of trace metals at the target tissues of laboratory animals, the biological monitoring of vanadium in workers during maintenance operations at an oil fired power plant for energy production, and the biochemical mechanism of methylation of arsenic in vivo.

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In order to estimate gut absorption by determining tracer concentration in plasma, a technique based on the administration of two stable isotopes of the same element was combined with proton activation analysis. The optimization for the determination of Zr isotopes in biological samples is presented together with the results of a preliminary study on Zr biokinetics in animals. (p,n) reactions on90Zr and96Zr resulted the most convenient. The obtained minimum detectable quantities are 3 and 2 ng/ml plasma, respectively, for90Zr and96Zr. Zr plasma clearance and Zr response to a simple oral test were studied separately in different subjects by using the natural Zr solution. The data analysis was performed measuring the concentration of90Zr to obtain indication on the time behavior and fractional level of Zr appearance in plasma depending on the administration routes. Two rabbits were intravenously injected 50 g90Zr and a third rabbit was orally given 2.5 mg of90Zr. Concentration in plasma samples of intravenously and orally given Zr isotopes are reported, as a function of time after administration. The injected tracer concentration relative to the first two rabbits were fitted simultaneously to obtain clearance parameters. Zr intestinal absorption is evaluated to be less than 0.2%. The work confirms that proton activation is a powerful tool for biokinetic studies with stable isotopes.

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Automated behavioural observations are routinely used in many fields of biology, including ethology, behavioural ecology and physiology. When preferences for certain resources are investigated, the focus is often on simple response variables, such as duration and frequency of visits to choice chambers. Here we present an automated motion detector system that use passive infrared sensors to eliminate many drawbacks of currently existing methods. Signals from the sensors are processed by a custom-built interface, and after unnecessary data is filtered by a computer software, the total time and frequency of the subject’s visits to each of the choice chambers are calculated. We validate the detector system by monitoring (using the system) and in the same time video recording mating preferences of zebra finches in a four-way choice apparatus. Manual scoring of the video recordings showed very high consistency with data from the detector system both for time and for frequency of visits. Furthermore, the validation revealed that if we used micro-switches or light barriers, the most commonly applied automatic detection techniques, this would have resulted in approximately 22% less information compared to our lossless system. The system provides a low-cost alternative for monitoring animal movements, and we discuss its further applicability.

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Element concentrations in biological tissues of Dmdmdx/J and C57BL/6 J mice strains were determined using the neutron activation analysis technique. Samples of whole blood, bones and organs (heart and muscle) of these strains were irradiated in the IEA–R1 nuclear reactor at IPEN-CNEN/SP (Brazil). To perform this investigation biological samples of two-month-old adult females (n = 10) and males (n = 9) for Dmdmdx/J (dystrophic mice), and males (n = 12) for C57BL/6 J (control group), originally obtained from the Jackson Laboratory (Maine, USA) and further inbred at IPEN–CNEN/SP (São Paulo, Brazil), were used. A significant change was observed in the analysis of the heart of dystrophic mice suggesting that this dysfunction affects severely the heart muscle. These data may, in the future, contribute to the healthcare area, in veterinary medicine and in the pharmaceutical industry allowing the evaluation of the best procedures in diagnosis, treatment and investigations of neuromuscular diseases (muscular dystrophy) of patients through the use of animal models.

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állatmaradványok Segesdről (Medieval and Turkish Period animal bones from Segesd, Southwestern Hungary). SMK 12 (1996) 183–222. Bartosiewicz L. Középés török kori állatmaradványok Segesdről

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Fujiwara, K. and Horiuchi, S. (1990): Chicken. In: Fujiwara, K. and Horiuchi, S. (eds) Experimental Animals for Toxicity Tests. Chijin Syokan, Tokyo. pp. 101-110. Chicken 101

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Domahidi, I., Egyed-Zsigmond, I., Kolozsvári, É., Peti, A.: The acute effect and histopathological changes produced by methol in experimental animals, (in Romanian), Revista Românâ de Medicina Muncii 48 (3-4), 10015-10019 (1998

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– . Kesmen , Z. , Sahin , F. & Yetim , H. ( 2007 ): PCR assay for the identification of animal species in cooked sausages . Meat Sci. , 77 , 649 – 653

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, corresponding to the first stage of decomposition is the most important value for the characterization of vegetable or animal fats thermal stability, since based on the starting temperature of thermal decomposition, different types of oil stability and the

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