University of the Azores
  • Ponta Delgada, Regiao Autonoma dos Acores, Portugal
Recent publications
Purpose Due to the pandemic of the Covid-19 disease, it became common to wear masks on some public spaces. By covering mouth and nose, visual-related speech cues are greatly reduced, while the auditory signal is both distorted and attenuated. The present study aimed to analyze the multisensory effects of mask wearing on speech intelligibility and the differences in these effects between participants who spoke 1, 2 and 3 languages. Methods The study consisted of the presentation of sentences from the SPIN test to 40 participants. Participants were asked to report the perceived sentences. There were four conditions: auditory with mask; audiovisual with mask; auditory without mask; audiovisual without mask. Two sessions were conducted, one week apart, each with the same stimuli but with a different signal-to-noise ratio. Results Results demonstrated that the use of the mask decreased speech intelligibility, both due to a decrease in the quality of auditory stimuli and due to the loss of visual information. Signal-to-noise ratio largely affects speech intelligibility and higher ratios are needed in mask-wearing conditions to obtain any degree of intelligibility. Those who speak more than one language are less affected by mask wearing, as are younger listeners. Conclusion Wearing a facial mask reduces speech intelligibility, both due to visual and auditory factors. Older people and people who only speak one language are affected the most. Keywords: Speech Perception; Stimuli; Vision; Audition; Pandemic; Covid
Geological remote sensing has been an invaluable means to obtain data to perform geological mapping objectively and with high accuracy. However, there is a significant gap in geological cartography information at 1:50 000 scale throughout the territory in mainland Portugal. The lack of geological mapping is reflected in the geological resources and land management information. This investigation's main objective was to assess the viability of using remote sensing, machine learning and geochemical techniques as proof of concept for the Portuguese context using the Beiras Group (mainland Portugal) as a case study area of 341 km2. Multispectral analysis was carried out in two Landsat-8 images of 2015, one in the winter and the other in the summer. Hyperspectral data were obtained using a 400-1000 nm spectroradiometer applied to 23 rock samples collected in two field campaigns-the first in January and the second in April 2019. Spectral differences were found distinguishing the two main lithological units, where the granites (Granito de Coentral and Granito de Vila Nova) had an increasing wavelength spectra shape throughout the whole VNIR measurements. Geochemical data was carried out using X-ray Fluorescence, where the average quantity of major elements such as Na2O [2.15 %] and CaO [0.41 %] was higher in granites than metasediments: 0.38 % and 0.11 %, respectively. The J48 machine learning algorithm was performed using as input Landsat-8 reflectance data which showed a high success rate in both confusion matrixes (83,72 % and 94,08 %).
Multi-Agent Systems has existed for decades and has focused on principles such as loose coupling, distribution, reactivity, and local state. Despite substantial tool and programming language research and development, industry adoption of these systems has been restricted, particularly in the healthcare arena. Artificial intelligence, on the other hand, entails developing computer systems that can execute tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as decision-making, problem-solving, and learning. The goal of this article is to develop and implement an architecture that includes multi-agent systems with microservices, leveraging the capabilities of both methodologies in order to harness the power of Artificial Intelligence in the healthcare industry. It assesses the proposed architecture’s merits and downsides, as well as its relevance to various healthcare use cases and the influence on system scalability, adaptability, and maintainability. Indeed, the proposed architecture is capable of meeting the objectives while maintaining scalability, flexibility, and adaptability.
The paper proposes an analysis of the symbolic importance of adornments in insular traditional costumes. Garments, being contextualised on a specific time and space, constitute a relevant cultural element for the definition of individual and collective identity. Our study draws on this premise for a reflection on the traditional female costumes of the regions of the Azores, Madeira and Corsica. We intend to consider these costumes in relation to the adornments (or the lack of them) and to create new visual objects aligned with the identitarian legacy of these archipelagos, as well as with their environmental and endogenous resources. For this purpose, we start by exploring the nexus between culture, traditional costume, and contemporary jewellery. The jewels were conceived with the aim of revitalising the traditional costumes as well as to disseminate and promote the cultural legacy to which they belong. The adornments will connect the garments, the peoples and the regions here considered, besides expanding the knowledge of their identity abroad, which will increase their reputation and relevance.
Context Rice, India’s most widely grown crop, suffers substantial and increasing yield loss to insect pests. Insectivorous bats are known suppressors of insect pests, providing significant economic value to agricultural systems worldwide, yet their ecology in Indian agricultural landscapes is poorly understood. Objectives We assess the influence of key biotic and abiotic factors on the activity of insectivorous bats over the growing season and within a night in a rice cultivation landscape. Methods Passive acoustic recorders were used to track bat activity in a rice field in the Sonitpur district of Assam, India. We used generalised linear mixed models to analyse the effect of temperature, insect activity, and moonlight intensity on the activity of six bat sonotypes. We also used a multimodal analysis to describe the within-night activity patterns of these sonotypes. Results Minimum nightly temperature and moonlight intensity had a positive and negative influence, respectively, on the activity of six bat sonotypes, while the activity of four bat sonotypes increased with insect activity. Within-night activity showed one of two patterns: three sonotypes displayed a dusk peak in activity, while the three other sonotypes were active through the night. Conclusion The potential to maximise natural pest control in agricultural landscapes can only be realised through understanding the ecology of natural enemies in these landscapes. Our findings suggest that bats in rice fields are tracking insects over a season and within a night, pointing to a valuable ecosystem service in Indian agriculture that is yet to be quantified.
Traditional carpentry joints can be found worldwide in many timber truss structures connecting rafter and tie beam. One failure mode of this connection result from shear in the tie beam beyond the notch either due to bad design or deterioration. In this article, the reduction in shear strength of Single Step Joints (SSJ) resulting from biological attack by anobiids was analysed. For this purpose, tests were carried out in non-degraded scots pine ( Pinus sylvestris L.) specimens (reference) and compared to artificially degraded specimens with three different levels of degradation. The reduction of shear resistance was analysed in relation to the density of holes drilled during the degradation simulation, the loss of mass, and the reduction of the shear-resistant area. At lower degradation levels, no significant reduction in shear strength was observed. On the other hand, the linear regression shows a trend of resistance reduction with increasing degradation. Despite the relatively low coefficient of determination (r ² = 0.25), the parameter that best correlated with the residual strength was the reduction in the shear-resistant area.
We assessed the Caraboidea communities of Gorongosa National Park (GNP) in Mozambique. Influence of tropical rainfall, after a long period of drought, was evaluated on alpha and beta diversity of tiger- and ground-beetles in the main habitat types of the park: miombo forests, mixed forests, transitional forests, and grasslands (open savannas). Tiger- and ground-beetle communities were sampled by pitfall traps set up in 25 sites of each habitat type along three sampling periods, comprising the transition of dry season to the wet season. After the first rainfall, an increase in alpha diversity was observed across GNP habitats, particularly in grasslands. Higher values of beta diversity were observed between the dry and wet sampling periods, particularly in grasslands. In contrast, community dissimilarities between sampling periods were not significant in the transitional forests. Community body size in grasslands increased after the rainfall, partly due to the occurrence of caraboid species that were exclusive of forest habitats during drought. Transitional forests, as ecotone habitat areas, appeared to support grassland species during drought, serving also as a source of forest species that may colonize the open areas in the wet season. Forest species will probably be more threatened by climate aridification and future landscape changes due to climate change.
Context Insectivorous bats have been shown to control a number of agricultural insect pests. As bats exhibit species-specific responses to the surrounding landscape, tied closely to their morphology and foraging mode, the activity and distribution patterns of bats, and consequently the ecosystem services they provide, are influenced by the landscape characteristics. Objectives This study aims to determine which features in the landscape surrounding rice fields influence the activity levels of insectivorous bats, and at what scales they are most influential. Methods We collected acoustic recordings to determine activity levels of seven bat sonotypes in rice fields surrounded by a variety of land-cover types in the Nagaon district of Assam, India. Using this, we determined the most important set of features in the surrounding landscape, and the scales at which had the strongest impact, for each sonotype. Results Our results suggest that tree cover variables are the most important predictors of bat activity in rice fields. Distance to nearest forest, area of forest within 1 km, distance to nearest forest edge, and landscape heterogeneity influenced all five of the analysed bat sonotypes. Also important were the amount of urban land within 1 km, which exerted a negative effect on the activity of one sonotype, and moonlight activity, which negatively influenced the activity levels of one sonotype. Conclusion Our results demonstrate that when flying over rice fields, bat activity is most influenced by presence and proximity of trees. Therefore, increasing tree cover in agricultural landscapes will increase bat activity and likely the level of pest control.
Spiders are among the most diverse and yet threatened groups of arthropods in Macaronesia. Found in most habitat types, they occupy the vertical gradient of native forests from ground to canopy level. We hypothesize that their vertical distribution is influenced by the colonization origin. As introduced species should arrive using shipping containers and similar means, they should mostly occupy the lower levels in the gradient, with potential negative effects on the indigenous epigean fauna. Spiders were sampled from epigean to arboreal microhabitats (maximum height varying between 2 and 4 m) on 45 sites across five islands belonging to three archipelagos. The mean and range of vertical stratification were obtained for each captured species. These values were then compared between different colonization origins at Macaronesian and archipelagic levels. Native non‐endemic species were found at significantly higher vertical strata than both endemic and introduced species. Likewise, native non‐endemics had a larger vertical range. These patterns were largely replicated across archipelagos, although there were exceptions. Overall, introduced species do not seem to occur mostly at lower strata in the native forests of Macaronesia (at least in the studied vertical range) but seem to be vertically restricted in most settings with the exception of Madeira.
Drosophila suzukii is one of the main pests that attack soft-skinned fruits and cause significant economic damage worldwide. Madeira Island (Portugal) is already affected by this pest. The present work aimed to investigate the potential distribution of D. suzukii on Madeira Island to better understand the limits of its geographical distribution on the island using the Maximum Entropy modeling (MaxEnt). The resultant model provided by MaxEnt was rated as regular discrimination with the area under the curve (AUC, 0.7–0.8). Upon scrutinizing the environmental variables with the greatest impact on the distribution of D. suzukii, altitude emerged as the dominant contributor, with the highest percentage (71.2%). Additionally, elevations ranging from 0 to 500 m were identified as appropriate for the species distribution. With the results of the model, it becomes possible to understand/predict which locations will be most suitable for the establishment of the analyzed pest and could be further applied not only for D. suzukii but also for other species that hold the potential for substantial economic losses in this insular region.
Play is a common behaviour in wild cetaceans that includes the manipulation of natural, as well as artificial objects such as marine debris. Yet, very little is known about these interactions despite the potential impacts on cetacean health. We combined a detailed review of the scientific literature and social media with 12 years of observations to examine cetacean interactions with plastic litter. A total of 11 odontocete species (Tursiops truncatus, Stenella longirostris, Delphinus delphis, Grampus griseus, Steno bredanensis, Stenella frontalis, Sotalia guianensis, Pseudorca crassidens, Orcinus orca, Globicephala melas and Physeter macrocephalus) were documented in 59 events carrying or throwing plastic litter with their head and/or flippers suggesting a form of play. Interactions occurred in the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian Ocean, Mediterranean, and Red Sea, with single-use plastics composing the main typology registered. While these interactions appeared harmless to the observers, they can pose a significant risk through subsequent entanglement or ingestion.
Rescue programs aiming to mitigate light-induced mortality of seabird fledglings have reported that fewer birds are grounded (and rescued) during full moon nights. Two non-mutually exclusive hypotheses have been proposed as explanations: (1) reduction of strandings because birds are less attracted to and disorientated by light pollution during full moon nights; and (2) reduction of fledging activity, that is, chicks avoid departing the colony during nights with increased moonlight. We argue that evidence from rescue programs and other studies supports the first but not the second hypothesis. The evidence supports the conclusion that a higher proportion of fledglings make it safely to sea during full moon nights than during moonless nights. Thus, there is a decrease in the severity of light pollution on seabirds around the full moon. K E Y W O R D S
Quantifying entericCH4 from grazing systems is a challenge for all regions of the world, especially when cattle feed mostly on pasture throughout the year, as pasture quality varies with the seasons. In this study, we examine the influence of seasonality on enteric methane emissions in the Azores, considering the most recent IPCC updates, to minimise errors in estimating enteric methane emissions in this region. For this purpose, samples of corn and grass silage, different types of concentrate, and pasture were collected throughout the year, and their nutritional value and digestibility were determined according to standard conventional methods. The estimation of methane production was conducted using the 2006 IPCC Tier 2 methodology, refined in 2019. The results revealed significant differences (p < 0.05) between the chemical composition of winter and summer pastures. However, it was in the autumn that these pastures presented the best nutritional quality. We estimated that the total volume of enteric methane produced in the Azores was 20,341 t CH4, with peak enteric methane emissions (5837 t CH4) reached during the summer. Breeding bulls, beef cows, and heifers are the categories that produce the highest amount of methane per animal. However, if we consider the total number of animals existing in the region, pregnant dairy cows are the category of cattle with the highest emissions of CH4. Thus, considering the current system of cattle production in the region, we can infer that the pastures are better managed during the autumn, which translates into lower emissions of enteric methane into the atmosphere during this season.
This paper examines whether the influence of banking regulation on banks’ risk is channeled through the quality of political institutions. As banking regulatory factors, we consider capital stringency, activity restrictions and supervisory power. The overall effect of banking regulation on banks’ risk is conditional on the quality of political institutions. Activity restrictions and capital stringency have a statistically significant positive effect on banks’ risk. This effect is mitigated by better political institutions. In contrast, stringent supervisory power tends to reduce banks’ risk, and better political institutions reinforce this effect. The results are robust for alternative estimation methods and risk measures.
The status of the forest elephant Loxodonta cyclotis in Guinea-Bissau has been in doubt since the last assessment in 2006. In 2020-2022 we carried out field surveys to update the species’ status. We found elephant signs within an area of c. 1,000km^2. Microsatellite genotyping of faeces identified four males. Females could not be individually identified but their presence was confirmed by molecular sex determination. Camera trapping (2,075 camera-trap days) recorded 824 photos in 24 independent sequences, involving three males and two presumed females. The continued presence of elephants in Guinea-Bissau raises hope for the species in the region, but urgent efforts are needed to refine population range and size estimates, increase protected area coverage, and reduce ongoing and impending habitat loss. An emergency conservation action plan is a priority.
Geographical Islands experience harsh climate conditions resulting in diminished reliability of their grid. IANOS, a project funded by the European Commission, is developing technologies to overcome these challenges and allow for the secure decarbonisation of islands. The project will deploy and use storage technologies in two islands: Terceira, in Portugal, and Ameland, in the Netherlands. These include a 100kW/3kWh flywheel; thirty-five 2kW private fuel cells; sixteen 3kW/3kWh electrochemical batteries; two large-scale Battery Energy Storage System (BESS); a biobased saline battery of 120kWh; and twenty-four heat batteries of 3.5kWhth. These technologies, managed by an intelligent Virtual Power Plant (iVPP) also developed within the project, will be used for the maximisation of demand-side self-consumption, as well as for the provision of ancillary services, targeting the maximum economic and environmental benefit for the population and the island’s grid. In this paper, the specifications of each storage technology are described, as well as the impacts on the grid stability. The role of storage technologies in the decarbonisation of geographical islands will be emphasized.
The literature shows that impulsivity, prevalent in adolescence, is negatively linked with a variety of psychosocial factors (e.g., positive interpersonal relationships, emotion regulation); however, there is limited research examining the relative contribution of multiple factors for this trait nor exploring how these factors influence the associations between impulsivity and risk-related outcomes. Drawing on multiple components of the unified theory of development (i.e., psychological variables, peers subsystem, community subsystem, family processes subsystem), this cross-sectional study aims to identify explanatory psychosocial variables (i.e., early memories of warmth and safeness, rational decision-making style, resilience, emotion regulation, coping, parental attachment, social group attachment, satisfaction with school and family-related variables) that are negatively related with impulsivity, in younger (13-15) and older (16-19 years) adolescents, and explore their moderating role in the associations between this trait and some risk-related outcomes (i.e., verbal aggression, anger, self-harm, other high-risk behaviors). A representative sample of 6894 adolescents (52.9% female) living in the Azores (Portugal), with ages ranging from 13 to 19 (M = 15.4), was used. Two stepwise multiple regressions, one for each age group, revealed that only emotion regulation, parental attachment, and social group attachment had a negative effect on impulsivity in both age groups; additionally, satisfaction with teachers also had this effect in younger adolescents. The first three variables weakened the positive associations between impulsivity and the risk-related outcomes. These results suggest that the psychological system and all subsystems of the social context measured play a relevant role in explaining adolescent impulsivity and that it may be reduced by promoting emotion regulation, positive parenting practices, healthier relationships with peers, and healthier relationships with teachers.
Recreational spearfishing is a fishing method that occurs globally, yet receives considerably less attention in the scientific literature relative to other recreational fishing methods, such as angling. Lack of scientific information on spearfishing may negatively affect the development and management of marine recreational fisheries. We conducted a systematic review of 102 peer-reviewed papers published between 1967 and 2022 pertaining to marine recreational spearfishing. Based on this literature review, we provide an overview of key insights across social, economic, and ecological dimensions of marine recreational spearfishing. While spearfish-ers represent less than 5% of marine recreational fish-ers, the participants are younger and may differ from recreational anglers in their motivations, with suggestions of increased well-being generated from a close connection with the sea during underwater fishing. Recreational spearfishers mostly target species of moderate to high levels of vulnerability that are mid to high trophic level carnivores. Though spearfishers Supplementary Information The online version contains supplementary material available at https:// doi.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a progressive, chronic, autoimmune, inflammatory, and systemic condition that primarily affects the synovial joints and adjacent tissues, including bone, muscle, and tendons. The World Health Organization recognizes RA as one of the most prevalent chronic inflammatory diseases. In the last decade, there was an expansion on the available RA therapeutic options which aimed to improve patient's quality of life. Despite the extensive research and the emergence of new therapeutic approaches and drugs, there are still significant unwanted side effects associated to these drugs and still a vast number of patients that do not respond positively to the existing therapeutic strategies. Over the years, several references to the use of flavonoids in the quest for new treatments for RA have emerged. This review aimed to summarize the existing literature about the flavonoids' effects on the major pathogenic/molecular targets of RA and their potential use as lead compounds for the development of new effective molecules for RA treatment. It is demonstrated that flavonoids can modulate various players in synovial inflammation, regulate immune cell function, decrease synoviocytes proliferation and balance the apoptotic process, decrease angiogenesis, and stop/prevent bone and cartilage degradation, which are all dominant features of RA. Although further investigation is necessary to determine the effectiveness of flavonoids in humans, the available data from in vitro and in vivo models suggest their potential as new disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs. This review highlights the use of flavonoids as a promising avenue for future research in the treatment of RA.
The Gorongosa National Park (Mozambique) is one of the most emblematic protected areas in Africa, well known for its vertebrate biodiversity and restoration ecology efforts following the Mozambican civil war in 1992. The invertebrate biodiversity of Gorongosa National Park is still poorly studied, although the scarce information available indicates the existence of a rich number of species, namely in the case of tiger- and ground-beetles (Coleoptera, Caraboidea). Moreover, the study of arthropod assemblages is key for designing conservation practices since they are potentially accurate biodiversity and ecological indicators. Hence, the diversity assessment of Caraboidea beetles using standardised methodologies is likely to provide a new insight for future conservation planning and help to quantify the effects of climate change in areas identified as vulnerable to anthropogenic pressures, such as the Gorongosa National Park. We report the occurrence of five tiger beetles (Cicindelidae) and 93 ground-beetles (Carabidae) species/morphospecies in Gorongosa National Park from a field survey funded by the ECOASSESS project. Sampling was performed in the four main habitat types present in the Park (miombo tropical forest, mixed dry forest, transitional forest and grasslands) between 25 October and 25 November 2019. In this sampling window, the turnover of Caraboidea species from the dry season to the wet season was recorded for the first time. Twenty-eight species of ground-beetles are new records to Mozambique, including three new subgenera and three new genera. Additional information on species phenology and habitat preferences is also provided.
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1,235 members
Carlos Pinto
  • Faculdade de Ciências Agrárias e do Ambiente
Ana Isabel Neto
  • Departamento de Biologia
University of the Azores, 9700, Ponta Delgada, Regiao Autonoma dos Acores, Portugal
Head of institution
João Luis Gaspar
(+351) 296 650 000