University of the Azores
  • Ponta Delgada, Regiao Autonoma dos Acores, Portugal
Recent publications
Evidence suggests that teenage motherhood undermines human capital development such as the education of young girls in developing economies. Teenage motherhood is associated with school dropout due to stigmatization and inadequacy of finance to support their studies and the need to care for their child. While teenage pregnancy is topical among research areas in Ghana, there is a dearth of literature on the issue in the Kpando Municipality of Ghana’s Volta region. This study examined the predisposing factors to teenage motherhood as well as the consequences of teenage motherhood on the education of adolescent mothers in the Kpando Municipality. The descriptive case study design, with a mixed-method approach, was adopted. Data were obtained with the aid of structured interview guides from 85 teenage mothers through purposive and snowball sampling techniques. The study revealed that poverty is the principal predisposing factor to teenage pregnancy and teenage motherhood in the municipality. The study further revealed that 79% of the teen mothers have dropped out of school, thereby placing them in a dreadful position as far as their education and human capital development are concerned. In cognizance of the life-changing impact of education on the lives of teenage mothers, the authors recommend that barriers to school re-entry such as stigmatization should be addressed through public sensitization. Moreover, livelihoods should be improved through agricultural and informal sector development policies to revamp the economic activities of the people, since poverty was found as a major predisposing factor to teenage pregnancy in the municipality.
This paper analyses the impact of matching frictions in the Portuguese labour market on individual unemployment hazard rates and unemployment durations. The coexistence of permanent contracts and temporary contracts in the Portuguese (dual) labour-market is akin to a matching friction, with a contract-type mismatch between jobseekers who prefer permanent contracts, whereas firms, in turn, prefer to offer temporary contracts. The paper uses a rich micro dataset which allows to compute a time and space varying contract-type mismatch index, over 86 local labour markets (job-centers of the Portuguese Public Employment System) and five years. Employing discrete time hazard models and a stock-flow matching mechanism, we find that local labour markets with higher contract-type mismatch rates are characterized by lower hazard rates and longer unemployment duration. Improving the desirability of temporary contracts and information about local contract-type mismatch rates may reduce matching frictions and average unemployment duration.
The phenomenon of child recruitment is an alarming issue all over the world in general and in Yemeni society in particular. As a result, this research article attempts to investigate the most effective factors that stand behind the armed recruitment of Yemeni children in the current war across the country. The research design is quantitative in nature and it is based on a questionnaire which has been designed and used as the main tool of data collection. The sample consists of 55 respondents who are intellectuals, activists and politicians as a convenient sampling. The SPSS (Statistical Package for Social Sciences) has been adopted to analyze the collected data via Google forms and e-mail. The overall results and findings have shown that the educational-oriented factors represent the most effective factors among the other factors that have a significant influence on children recruitment in Yemen war with a mean of (3.64) and S.D.D (0.41). Also, the second most important factor is the economy-oriented problems that have affected the whole country with a mean of (3.57) and S.D.D (0.43). However, the least effective factor among the others was the social factor with a mean of (3.30) and S.D. SD (0.49). The findings of this study imply that the absence and care of education has to a large extent paved the way to engage and recruit children in wars. Nonetheless, the economic and financial situation of people has undoubtedly helped in engaging young children in wars to get their living. Urgent solutions and remedies are highly needed and strongly recommended in education and economy fields to avoid and reduce the armed recruitment of children in the ongoing war in Yemen.
The Ribeira Grande geothermal field is located on the northern flank of Fogo Volcano (S. Miguel Island, Azores) and it is characterised by the presence of several active hydrothermal manifestations. An analysis of the RG5 geothermal well has been carried out by the recognition of neoformation minerals with depth and the estimation of equilibrium temperatures. The formation of hydrothermal minerals depends not only on temperature but also on subsurface geology. The mineral assemblage consisting of chlorite + quartz + haematite ± calcite ± anatase ± titanite + albite ± adularia (± dolomite) shows temperature above 235 °C, and the main alteration is divided into a smectite zone followed by a chlorite zone at depth. The adularia appearance evidences a boiling zone at the top of the reservoir and illite and chlorite also suggest fluid level fluctuations in the past. The H2/Ar gas geothermometry applied to the gases emitted by fumaroles points to a temperature of 256 °C for the reservoir feeding a fumarolic field located close to the RG5, which sustains the mineralogical research.
Grazing may represent a major threat to biodiversity in arid grasslands. The increasing use of grasslands for solar parks may represent a new important threat. No study has investigated the effects of solar parks on soil insects. Tenebrionids are a major component of the arthropod fauna of grasslands of central Asia. These ecosystems are threatened by grazing and increasing land use for solar parks. Aim of this work was to investigate the effects of grazing and solar panels on tenebrionids in arid grasslands (desert steppe) in China by comparing their community structure in ungrazed, heavily grazed, and solar park sites. Beetles were sampled by pitfall traps, and sites were compared for abundance and diversity (Hill numbers). All sites were characterized by simple, strongly dominated tenebrionid communities. Species proportions varied among sites. Grazing negatively influenced overall abundance, but did not alter species proportions; by contrast, solar panels had no effect on the average abundance, but reduced the proportion of the most abundant species. Compared with the other two sites, the solar park was characterized by a higher plant biomass and lower temperatures. A major availability of resources and less harsh conditions in the solar park might have a role in reducing the dominance of the most abundant species, allowing other species to attain higher abundances. This led to a more balanced community structure, with higher values of diversity. Although neither grazing nor solar panel installation modified radically tenebrionid species-abundance distribution or diversity, grazing and solar panel installation had different effects in species abundances and their impact might amplify the effect of other disturbance factors such as the ongoing climate change.
Species distribution models are valuable tools for conservation management. However, there remain challenges in developing and interpreting these models in the marine environment, such as the nature of the species used for the modelling process. When working with mobile species in dynamic environments, lack of observation is usually interpreted as an observation of absence, which can result in the introduction of biases by methodological (false) absences. Here, we explore the role of absences when modelling marine megafauna distributions. To better understand how the use of absences (or equivalent) affects the niche modelling algorithms, we used a set of 20 virtual species with different relations to the habitat (generalist static, specialist static, generalist dynamic and specialist dynamic) with different encounter rates. We tested six different modelling techniques divided into three distinct groups: presence-only, presence-background and presence-absence. We compared the outputs of the models using traditional validation metrics and overlap metrics in the geographical and environmental spaces. Algorithms characterized the ecological niche for the simulated species differently. Approaches using background data generally outperformed the other methods, suggesting that the non-observation of a species in a given location and time should not be considered as an absence. A very intense (practically unrealistic) sampling schema would be required to obtain a genuine unbiased absence when working with these species and habitats. For highly mobile species, a precautionary approach would be to consider the non-observation of a species as part of the background (a sample of the conditions available in the study area) rather than an absence. A good starting point would be to use presence-background models, complemented with presence-absence and/or presence-only models, comparing outputs from the different algorithms tested in the geographic and environmental space. Improving model performance for highly mobile marine species should lead to better-informed decision making for conservation.
Phymatolithon Foslie is one of the most studied and ecologically important genera of crustose coralline algae (CCA) due to their dominant abundance in various marine ecosystems worldwide. The taxonomy of the genus is complex and has been revised and updated many times based on morphological and molecular analyses. We report on a crustose coralline algal species collected in June 2011 via snorkeling in the subtidal zone along the beach Abu Qir on the Mediterranean coast of Egypt, as part of a larger macroalgal diversity survey in the region. The species shows significant sequence divergences (3.5%–14.8% in rbc L; 2.9%–11% in psb A) from other closely related Phymatolithon taxa. Morpho-anatomically, this species possesses the characters considered collectively diagnostic of the genus Phymatolithon , namely, thalli non-geniculate epithelial cells and non-photosynthetic and domed-shaped meristematic cells, usually as short with progressive elongation of their perithallial derivatives. Based on molecular and morphological analyses, we determined that these specimens encompass a new, distinct species that we herein name Phymatolithon abuqirensis. Including this new species, the total number of described Phymatolithon species found in the Mediterranean Sea is now six.
In most volcanic areas, the population considers the use of bottled waters as a healthier and safer option. This study aimed to (i) assess the fluoride concentrations in tap and bottled water consumed on São Miguel Island, (ii) confirm the accuracy of the labeling of fluoride levels on bottled water, and (iii) assess the fluoride daily intake and risk exposure and discuss the possible health effects in adults and children. Fluoride concentrations were measured in tap water (49 samples) and bottled water (23 samples) with a fluoride ion-selective electrode. The fluoride concentration was above the recommended limit in tap water from Sete Cidades (1.71 mg/L), in bottled waters nº 5 and 7 from category C (2.05 ± 0.04 mg/L and 2.36 ± 0.14 mg/L, respectively), and in bottled water nº 5 from category D (1.92 ± 0.03 mg/L). Fluoride daily intake in children reached a maximum value in gasified water nº 7 (0.059 mg F/day/kg). The risk assessment evidenced that all the brands with over 1.2 mgF/L might be a concern for potential non-cancer health effects, especially in adults. The most recognized brands of gasified and gasified flavored waters represent a higher risk of exceeding fluoride daily intake when compared to tap and mineral bottled waters.
External Thermal Insulation Composite Systems (ETICS) are multilayer solutions which provide an enhanced thermal performance to the building envelope. However, significant anomalies can be detected on ETICS facades, in some cases shortly after the application of these systems. This study intends to evaluate and compare the durability of six commercially available ETICS after two years of outdoor exposure at both urban and maritime conditions in Portugal. The systems were characterized by means of non-destructive testing (i.e., visual and microscopic assessment, water transport properties, thermal conductivity, surface roughness), thus allowing to evaluate the performance loss throughout natural aging. The bio-susceptibility and aesthetic properties (color and gloss) were also investigated. Results showed that the performance and durability of the complete system is significantly affected by the rendering system formulation. The lime-based specimens obtained the highest rate of mold development after one year of aging in a maritime environment, becoming considerably darker and with lower surface gloss. Fungal analysis of this darkish stained area indicated the presence of mold species of the genera Alternaria, Didymella, Cladosporium and Epicoccum, and yeasts of the genera Vishniacozyma and Cystobasidium. An increase of both capillary water absorption and water vapor permeability was also registered for the aged lime-based specimens. Acrylic-based systems obtained lower capillary water absorption after aging and greater dirt deposition on their surfaces, especially in urban conditions. These systems had also higher color variation and surface gloss decrease and slightly higher mold growth, when compared with those aged in a maritime environment. Finally, no mold growth was detected on the silicate-based specimens after two years of aging. However, these specimens obtained higher capillary water absorption and lower vapor permeability after aging, possibly leading to moisture accumulation within the system. Results contribute towards the development of ETICS with enhanced performance and durability.
Transition to school may be experienced as a critical event for both children and their families. Within an ecological framework of transition, the scope of the concept of school readiness in recent years has decentered from the child to the environment, including the readiness of (pre)school education to develop core skills in children. This study aims to understand the extent to which preschool teachers' completion of training in the Incredible Years®-Teacher Classroom Management program (IY-TCM) during children’s last preschool year has an impact when children transition to primary school, and how this contributes to reducing differences between children with and without economic disadvantage. Forty-four teachers from classes with a high percentage of students in economic disadvantage completed questionnaires about 192 five/six-year-old children. Results from cross-sectional analyses showed that children whose preschool teachers attended the IY-TCM program, when compared to children whose teachers did not, were significantly higher in social skills, adaptation to school and school achievement at the end of the first term, and had parents more involved in education but with a lower bonding with the teachers (medium to large effect sizes). Although not statistically significant (p = .08, Hedge’s g = .29), results of longitudinal analyses are trending in the expected direction, suggesting that the IY- TCM could help to reduce socio-economic disparity. Results are discussed bearing in mind the importance of a preschool education that addresses the development of self-regulation and social skills in children, and the value of both initial and continuous training for preschool teachers.
Air pollutants (either of natural or anthropogenic origin) represent a considerable environmental risk to human health by affecting the respiratory system and causing respiratory disorders. In this study, we investigate the effects of chronic exposure to hydrothermal emissions on the nasal cavity of mice since it is the first and the most exposed region of the respiratory system. This study, carried in S. Miguel Island, Azores—Portugal, used Mus musculus as a bioindicator species. Mice were captured in an area with non-eruptive active volcanism (Furnas Village) and another area without volcanism (Rabo de Peixe, reference site). The hydrothermal emissions present at Furnas Village are characterized by the continuous release of several gases (CO2, H2S, ²²²Rn) along with metals (e.g. Hg, Cd, Zn, Al) and particulate matter into the environment. We test the hypothesis whether chronic exposure to this specific type of pollution causes epithelial morphometric, mucosecretory and neuronal alterations on the nasal cavity. Thickness measurements were taken in the squamous, respiratory and olfactory epithelia. The relative density of cell types (basal, support and neurons) was also assessed in the olfactory epithelium and the mucosecretory activity was determined in the lateral nasal glands, Bowman’s gland and goblet cells. Mice chronically exposed to hydrothermal emissions presented thinner olfactory epithelia and lesser mucous production, which could result in loss of olfactory capabilities as well as a decrease in the protective function provided by the mucous to the lower respiratory tract. For the first time, it is demonstrated that, in mice, this specific type of non-eruptive active volcanism causes epithelial and mucosecretory alterations, leading to the loss of olfactory capabilities.
We estimated the potential impact of Global Warming on the species richness of Iberian butterflies. First, we determined the grid size that maximized the balance between geographic resolution, area coverage and environmental representativeness. Contemporary richness was modelled in several alternative ways that differed in how sampling effort was controlled for, and in whether the non-climatic variables (physiography, lithology, position) were incorporated. The results were extrapolated to four WorldClim scenarios. Richness loss is to be expected for at least 70% of the area, with forecasts from the combined models being only slightly more optimistic than those from the purely climatic ones. Overall, the most intense losses are predicted for areas of highest contemporary species richness, while the potential slightly positive or nearly neutral changes would most often concentrate in cells of low to moderate present richness. The environmental determinants of richness might not be uniform across the geographical range of sampling effort, suggesting the need of additional data from the least intensively surveyed areas. Implications for insect conservation Re-assessing richness and its environmental determinants in the area proves necessary for more detailed forecasts of the climate-driven changes in butterfly species richness. The expected future conditions imply widespread losses of regional richness, even under the less severe scenarios. Since the negative impact of warming is expected to be extensive, long term conservation plans should concentrate in the present protected areas of highest richness as these are most likely to represent the last refuges for mountain species.
This qualitative study describes how the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic impacted on Machado-Joseph disease (MJD) patients and their care, in the island of São Miguel (the Azores, Portugal). In-person semi-structured interviews were conducted with 11 participants, including patients, family members, healthcare professionals, and care providers. Main findings highlighted the key role played by the local association in psychosocial and healthcare for MJD patients and families, and the adverse effects on their care following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, hindered access to the day-care centre increased isolation and had a negative impact on mental health and disease progression. For persons with a progressive and severe neurological disease, there is no “back to normal.” Future restrictive measures ensuing need to be accompanied by a careful definition of daily care routines for patients.
2022): Factor structure and measurement invariance of the BRIEF2 Parent Form across gender in a Portuguese sample, Child Neuropsychology, ABSTRACT This study aimed to investigate the factor structure and the measurement invariance across gender of the BRIEF2 Parent Form in Portuguese typically developing children. Participants were 700 typically developing children (n = 352 girls and n = 348 boys) aged 6-16 years. Confirmatory factor analysis was used to test five competing factor models. Consistent with the BRIEF2 original dimensional structure, the three-factor model demonstrated the most adequate fit to the data. The measurement invariance of the three-factor model across gender was supported (configural, metric, and partial scalar invariance). Overall, the BRIEF2 Parent Form showed adequate psychometric properties, suggesting that it is a useful instrument to assess everyday executive functioning based on reports of behaviors observed by parents in healthy Portuguese children. ARTICLE HISTORY
We describe Loimia davidi sp. nov. (Annelida, Terebellidae) from São Miguel Island (Azores). It resembles Loimia gigantea (Montagu, 1819) (English Channel) in having very large adults, the ventral shield shape and the types of capillary notochaetae (three), while differing in shape and colour of the lateral lappets, branchiae length, the arrangement of segments, ventral shields, uncini and pygidial papillae. Large (> 30 cm long) and small (≈ 5 cm long) specimens of L. davidi sp. nov. show typically interspecific morphological differences while clustering in a single entity after species delimitation analyses of a cytochrome c oxidase I fragment. Therefore, we consider them to belong to a single species and discuss the taxonomic implications of size-dependent morphological differences. Within Loimia, we (1) suggest that large specimens may have been scarcely reported due to their rarity and collecting difficulty, while small specimens may have been reported either as ‘sp.’ or as the ‘cosmopolitan’ Loimia medusa (Savigny, 1822), (2) evaluate the size-related morphological disparity in all described species using a hypervolume analysis, (3) identify possible similar size-dependency in previously described species, (4) summarise the morphological information of all known species of Loimia; and (5) discuss on the four species reported in Europe.
Globally, elasmobranchs have suffered severe population declines and are, therefore, under an urgent necessity of protection, particularly along the Northeastern Atlantic realm. However, a lack of ecological (e.g., abundance) knowledge across this realm limits the implementation of adequate conservation and management actions. Here, we collected 4,873 fish visual census count data (sightings at 403 sites, from 37 published studies) of sharks, rays, and skates, from coastal areas (< 40 m depth) throughout the Northeastern Atlantic, covering a latitudinal extent of ca. 60° and 9 ecoregions. We recorded a total of 14 elasmobranch species, from a total of 341 sightings, and only 4% of the counts reported any sighting. There is a severe lack of ecological data (e.g. abundance) from most ecoregions, particularly those in the nearshore continental northern Atlantic and tropical ecoregions. Nevertheless, our results showed that species richness and total abundance of elasmobranchs was higher in the eastern Atlantic oceanic archipelagos, such as Azores, Webbnesia (Madeira, Selvagens, and the Canary Islands) and Cabo Verde, compared to the other ecoregions. Our study calls for prioritising conservation efforts in these areas, a stronghold for these vulnerable taxa, in addition to the establishment of systematic monitoring programs. Refining Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), including declaration of local 'Sharks Sanctuaries', along a marine corridor encompassing these archipelagos, seem pertinent in this sense. This proposal is backed by the evident diversity and abundance patterns in nearshore waters, strong social and economic support, and political willingness to align science and marine policy, under international (EU) governance schemes.
Traditional cheeses produced from raw milk exhibit a complex microbiota, characterized by a sequence of different microorganisms from milk coagulation and throughout maturation. Lactic acid bacteria (LAB) play an essential role in traditional cheese making, either as starter cultures that cause the rapid acidification of milk or as secondary microbiota that play an important role during cheese ripening. The enzymes produced by such dynamic LAB communities in raw milk are crucial, since they support proteolysis and lipolysis as chief drivers of flavor and texture of cheese. Recently, several LAB species have been characterized and used as probiotics that successfully promote human health. This review highlights the latest trends encompassing LAB acting in traditional raw milk cheeses (from cow, sheep, and goat milk), and their potential as probiotics and producers of bioactive compounds with health-promoting effects.
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Carlos Pinto
  • Faculdade de Ciências Agrárias e do Ambiente
Ana Isabel Neto
  • Departamento de Biologia
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University of the Azores, 9700, Ponta Delgada, Regiao Autonoma dos Acores, Portugal
Head of institution
João Luis Gaspar
Website
http://www.uac.pt
Phone
(+351) 296 650 000