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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 18, 2024
  2. White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) hunting is an important economic activity associated with the management of forests and rangelands in the USA, with over $12.9 billion dollars of related annual expenditures. Reducing tree cover through thinning and prescribed fire both have the potential to increase the quantity and quality of deer forage. We evaluated the long-term impacts of eight different combinations of fire return intervals and tree harvest on forage productivity and protein content of the forage. Based on management regime, study units ranged from savanna to closed-canopy forest. Aboveground net primary production (ANPP) of six functional groups (grass, panicum, forb, legume, woody, sedge) of understory vegetation was measured in October 2019 and 2020 using destructive sampling. Samples for foliar crude protein (CP) concentration were collected in spring, summer, and fall of 2020. Total understory ANPP ranged from 2.9 to 466.3 g m− 2 and was up to 566% greater in savanna systems maintained by frequent fire (return interval of three years or less) than in non-burned forest treatments. Annual burning resulted in ANPP dominated by herbaceous plants composed mostly of firetolerant grasses (e.g., Andropogon gerardii, Schizachyrium scoparium). Longer fire return intervals or no fire resulted in roughly equal ANPP from understory woody and herbaceous species. Crude protein concentrations were up to 45.7% greater in the woodland and forest units than in the savanna units for seven of the eleven species sampled. The greater CP in the forests was most noticeable in the summer when deer needs for quality forage are substantial. Increased protein concentrations of understory species in the forests, but greater ANPP in the savannas indicate that managing for a mix of savanna and woodland could be ideal for balancing forage quantity with increased forage protein. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 1, 2024
  3. Well-ordered nanoparticle arrays are attractive platforms for a variety of analytical applications, but the fabrication of such arrays is generally challenging. Here, it is demonstrated that scanning electrochemical cell microscopy (SECCM) can be used as a powerful, instantly reconfigurable tool for the fabrication of ordered nanoparticle arrays. Using SECCM, Ag nanoparticle arrays were straightforwardly fabricated via electrodeposition at the interface between a substrate electrode and an electrolyte-filled pipet. By dynamically monitoring the currents flowing in an SECCM cell, individual nucleation and growth events could be detected and controlled to yield individual nanoparticles of controlled size. Characterization of the resulting arrays demonstrate that this SECCM-based approach enables spatial control of nanoparticle location comparable with the terminal diameter of the pipet employed and straightforward control over the volume of material deposited at each site within an array. These results provide further evidence for the utility of probe-based electrochemical techniques such as SECCM as tools for surface modification in addition to analysis. 
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  4. ABSTRACT

    We present a sample of well-localized fast radio bursts (FRBs) discovered by the MeerTRAP project at the MeerKAT telescope in South Africa. We discovered the three FRBs in single coherent tied-array beams and localized them to an area of ∼1 arcmin2. We investigate their burst properties, scattering, repetition rates, and localizations in a multiwavelength context. FRB 20201211A shows hints of scatter broadening but is otherwise consistent with instrumental dispersion smearing. For FRB 20210202D, we discovered a faint post-cursor burst separated by ∼200 ms, suggesting a distinct burst component or a repeat pulse. We attempt to associate the FRBs with host galaxy candidates. For FRB 20210408H, we tentatively (0.35–0.53 probability) identify a compatible host at a redshift ∼0.5. Additionally, we analyse the MeerTRAP survey properties, such as the survey coverage, fluence completeness, and their implications for the FRB population. Based on the entire sample of 11 MeerTRAP FRBs discovered by the end of 2021, we estimate the FRB all-sky rates and their scaling with the fluence threshold. The inferred FRB all-sky rates at 1.28 GHz are $8.2_{-4.6}^{+8.0}$ and $2.1_{-1.1}^{+1.8} \times 10^3 \: \text{sky}^{-1} \: \text{d}^{-1}$ above 0.66 and 3.44 Jy ms for the coherent and incoherent surveys, respectively. The scaling between the MeerTRAP rates is flatter than at higher fluences at the 1.4σ level. There seems to be a deficit of low-fluence FRBs, suggesting a break or turn-over in the rate versus fluence relation below 2 Jy ms. We speculate on cosmological or progenitor-intrinsic origins. The cumulative source counts within our surveys appear consistent with the Euclidean scaling.

     
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  5. Background Despite more than 60 years of research, the etiology of bacterial vaginosis (BV) remains controversial. In this pilot study, we used shotgun metagenomic sequencing to characterize vaginal microbial community changes before the development of incident BV (iBV). Methods A cohort of African American women with a baseline healthy vaginal microbiome (no Amsel criteria, Nugent score 0–3 with no Gardnerella vaginalis morphotypes) were followed for 90 days with daily self-collected vaginal specimens for iBV (≥2 consecutive days of a Nugent score of 7–10). Shotgun metagenomic sequencing was performed on select vaginal specimens from 4 women, every other day for 12 days before iBV diagnosis. Sequencing data were analyzed through Kraken2 and bioBakery 3 workflows, and specimens were classified into community state types. Quantitative polymerase chain reaction was performed to compare the correlation of read counts with bacterial abundance. Results Common BV-associated bacteria such as G. vaginalis , Prevotella bivia , and Fannyhessea vaginae were increasingly identified in the participants before iBV. Linear modeling indicated significant increases in G. vaginalis and F . vaginae relative abundance before iBV, whereas the relative abundance of Lactobacillus species declined over time. The Lactobacillus species decline correlated with the presence of Lactobacillus phages. We observed enrichment in bacterial adhesion factor genes on days before iBV. There were also significant correlations between bacterial read counts and abundances measured by quantitative polymerase chain reaction. Conclusions This pilot study characterizes vaginal community dynamics before iBV and identifies key bacterial taxa and mechanisms potentially involved in the pathogenesis of iBV. 
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  6. Abstract

    Quorum sensing, a bacterial signaling system that coordinates group behaviors as a function of cell density, plays an important role in regulating viral (phage) defense mechanisms in bacteria. The opportunistic pathogenPseudomonas aeruginosais a model system for the study of quorum sensing.P. aeruginosais also frequently infected by Pf prophages that integrate into the host chromosome. Upon induction, Pf phages suppress host quorum sensing systems; however, the physiological relevance and mechanism of suppression are unknown. Here, we identify the Pf phage protein PfsE as an inhibitor ofPseudomonasQuinolone Signal (PQS) quorum sensing. PfsE binds to the host protein PqsA, which is essential for the biosynthesis of the PQS signaling molecule. Inhibition of PqsA increases the replication efficiency of Pf virions when infecting a new host and when the Pf prophage switches from lysogenic replication to active virion replication. In addition to inhibiting PQS signaling, our prior work demonstrates that PfsE also binds to PilC and inhibits type IV pili extension, protectingP. aeruginosafrom infection by type IV pili‐dependent phages. Overall, this work suggests that the simultaneous inhibition of PQS signaling and type IV pili by PfsE may be a viral strategy to suppress host defenses to promote Pf replication while at the same time protecting the susceptible host from competing phages.

     
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  7. Background and aims – Tracheophyte leaf morphology is well studied but it is unclear if the findings generalize to poikilohydric plants. We tested combinations of hypotheses to determine if microhabitat characteristics, including light exposure, moisture availability, and substrate slope, controlled for morphological differences between upright and prostrate growth forms, affect phyllid surface area and costa length of mosses.Material and methods – We quantified mean phyllid surface-area and costa lengths for four replicates of 38 moss species from Alabama. Phylogenetic comparative methods that model adaptation were used to evaluate the relative evidence for each hypothesis using information criteria. To further explore mechanistic explanations involving substrate slope, we tested whether mosses on vertical substrates differed from those on horizontal substrates in the average amount of water-retaining, nutrient-rich litter they accumulated.Key results – Substrate slope and growth form combined were the best predictors of phyllid surface area. Mosses growing on vertical substrates exhibited smaller phyllid surface area for both growth forms. Although growth form and phyllid length best explained costa length variation, a more complex model including substrate slope performed nearly as well. Within the prostrate growth forms, species growing on vertical substrates exhibit longer relative costa than those on horizontal substrates. We also estimated rapid rates of adaptation for both traits.Conclusion – The smaller phyllid surface area of both upright and prostrate growth forms is possibly an adaptive response to reduced habitat moisture-retention or nutrient quality that vertical substrates offer. The longer costa lengths of prostrate mosses growing on vertical surfaces relative to prostrate mosses on horizontal surfaces, possibly make up for the decreased ability of smaller phyllids to rapidly reabsorb water when it is available. Further work is required to determine if it is truly substrate slope itself that matters or other variables associated with the differences in slope, and to determine how general this phenomenon is. 
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  8. Abstract Transition metal dichalcogenide (TMD) heterostructures are promising for a variety of applications in photovoltaics and photosensing. Successfully exploiting these heterostructures will require an understanding of their layer-dependent electronic structures. However, there is no experimental data demonstrating the layer-number dependence of photovoltaic effects (PVEs) in vertical TMD heterojunctions. Here, by combining scanning electrochemical cell microscopy (SECCM) with optical probes, we report the first layer-dependence of photocurrents in WSe 2 /WS 2 vertical heterostructures as well as in pristine WS 2 and WSe 2 layers. For WS 2 , we find that photocurrents increase with increasing layer thickness, whereas for WSe 2 the layer dependence is more complex and depends on both the layer number and applied bias ( V b ). We further find that photocurrents in the WSe 2 /WS 2 heterostructures exhibit anomalous layer and material-type dependent behaviors. Our results advance the understanding of photoresponse in atomically thin WSe 2 /WS 2 heterostructures and pave the way to novel nanoelectronic and optoelectronic devices. 
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  9. Schroeder et al . (Reports, 26 February 2021, p. 941) reported a size gap among predatory dinosaur species. We argue that the supporting dataset is skewed toward Late Cretaceous North America and that the gap was likely absent during other intervals in most geographic regions. We urge broader consideration of this hypothesis, with quantitative evaluation of preservational and dataset biases. 
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