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  • Author or Editor: C. L. Frank x
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Breeding bird assemblages and species present in two ‘archipelagos” of wood fragments, included in fragmented landscape of Central Italy, were studied in springs 2002 and 2003 with line transect method (1: Cornicolan hills study area: 20 fragments; 2: Anzio-Nettuno study area: 13 fragments). An area effect was shown in diversity/dominance analyses carried out by species rank/frequency diagrams obtained for the wood fragment assemblages of two ‘archipelagos’. Smaller fragments showed a lower species richness, a higher relative frequencies of first dominant species and a higher value of angular coefficient of assemblage lines. When fragment area decreases, the assemblage tendency lines in diversity/dominance diagrams show a higher slope (i.e., higher angular coefficient). Simpson dominance index was inversely correlated to fragment area: smaller fragments concentrate dominance in less species compared to larger ones. This approach suggests that the reduction in area of wood fragments could be comparable to a stress on breeding bird assemblages induced by anthropogenic habitat conversion and fragmentation, here considered as a disturbance at landscape level.

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The significance of autonomic nerves reaching the pineal organ was already investigated in connection to the innervation of pinealocytes and mediating light information from the retina for periodic melatonin secretion. In earlier works we found that some autonomic nerve fibers are not secretomotor but terminate on arteriolar smooth muscle cells in the pineal organ of the mink (Mustela vison). Studying in serial sections the pineal organ of the mink and 15 other mammalian species in the present work, we investigated whether similar axons of vasomotor-type are generally present in the wall of pineal vessels, further, whether they reach the organ via the conarian nerves or via periarterial plexuses. In all species investigated, axons of perivasal nerve bundles were found to form terminal enlargements on the smooth muscle layer of pineal arterioles. The neuromuscular endings contain several synaptic and some granular vesicles. Axon terminals are also present around pineal veins. In serial sections, we found that the so-called conarian autonomic nerves reach the pineal organ alongside pineal veins draining into the great internal cerebral vein. Similar nerves present near arteries of the arachnoid enter the pineal meningeal capsule and septa by arterioles, both perivenous and periarterial nerves form terminals of vasomotor-type. The arteriomotor and venomotor regulation of the tone of the vessels of the pineal organ may serve the vascular support for circadian and circannual periodic changes in metabolic activity of the pineal tissue.

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In earlier works we have found that in the mammalian pineal organ, a part of autonomic nerves - generally thought to mediate light information from the retina - form vasomotor endings on smooth muscle cells of vessels. We supposed that they serve the vascular support for circadian and circannual periodic changes in the metabolic activity of the pineal tissue. In the present work, we investigated whether peripheral nerves present in the photoreceptive pineal organs of submammalians form similar terminals on microvessels. In the cyclostome, fish, amphibian, reptile and bird species investigated, autonomic nerves accompany vessels entering the arachnoidal capsule and interfollicular meningeal septa of the pineal organ. The autonomic nerves do not enter the pineal tissue proper but remain in the perivasal meningeal septa isolated by basal lamina. They are composed of unmyelinated and myelinated fibers and form terminals around arterioles, veins and capillaries. The terminals contain synaptic and granular vesicles. Comparing various vertebrates, more perivasal terminals were found in reptiles and birds than in the cyclostome, fish and amphibian pineal organs. Earlier, autonomic nerves of the pineal organs were predominantly investigated in connection with the innervation of pineal tissue. The perivasal terminals found in various submammalians show that a part of the pineal autonomic fibers are vasomotoric in nature, but the vasosensor function of some fibers cannot be excluded. We suppose that the vasomotor regulation of the pineal microvessels in the photosensory submamalian pineal - like in mammals - may serve the vascular support for circadian and circannual periodic changes in the metabolic activity of the pineal tissue. The higher number of perivasal terminals in reptiles and birds may correspond to the higher metabolic activity of the tissues in more differentiated species.

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Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF)-contacting neurons are sensory-type cells sending ciliated dendritic process into the CSF. Some of the prosencephalic CSF-contacting neurons of higher vertebrates were postulated to be chemoreceptors detecting the chemical composition of the CSF, other cells may percieve light as „deep encephalic photoreceptors". In our earlier works, CSF-contacting neurons of the mechanoreceptor-type were described around the central canal of the hagfish spinal cord. It was supposed that perceieving the flow of the CSF they are involved in vasoregulatory mechanisms of the nervous tissue. In the present work, we examined the brain ventricular system of the Atlantic hagfish with special reference to the presence and fine structure of CSF-contacting neurons. Myxinoids have an ontogenetically reduced brain ventricular system. In the adult hagfish (Myxine glutinosa) the lumen of the lateral ventricle is closed, the third ventricle has a preoptic-, infundibular and subhabenular part that are not connected to each other. The choroid plexus is absent. The infundibular part of the third ventricle has a medial hypophyseal recess and, more caudally, a paired lateral recess. We found CSF-contacting neurons in the lower part of the third ventricle, in the preoptic and infundibular recess as well as in the lateral infundibular recesses. No CSF-contacting neurons were found in the cerebral aqueduct connecting the subhabenular recess to the fourth ventricle. There is a pineal recess and a well-developed subcommissural organ at the rostral end of the aqueduct. Extending from the caudal part of the fourth ventricle in the medulla to the caudal end of the spinal cord, the central canal has a dorsal and ventral part. Dendrites of CSF-contacting neurons are protruding into the ventral lumen. Corroborating the supposed choroid plexus-like function of the wall of the dorsal central canal, segmental vessels reach a thin area on both sides of the ependymal lining. The perikarya of the CSF-contacting neurons found in the brain ventricles are mainly bipolar and contain granular vesicles of various size. The bulb-like terminal of their ventricular dendrites bears several stereocilia and contains basal bodies as well as mitochondria. Basal bodies emit cilia of the 9+0-type. Cilia may arise from the basal body and acessory basal body as well. The axons run ependymofugally and enter - partially cross - the periventricular synaptic zones. No neurohemal terminals similar to those formed by spinal CSF-contacting neurons of higher vertebrates have been found in the hagfish. We suppose that CSF-contacting neurons transform CSF-mediated non-synaptic information taken up by their ventricular dendrites to synaptic one. A light-sensitive role for some (preoptic) groups of CSF-contacting neurons cannot be excluded.

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