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  1. Abstract Purpose of Review

    Preparing for pandemics requires a degree of interdisciplinary work that is challenging under the current paradigm. This review summarizes the challenges faced by the field of pandemic science and proposes how to address them.

    Recent Findings

    The structure of current siloed systems of research organizations hinders effective interdisciplinary pandemic research. Moreover, effective pandemic preparedness requires stakeholders in public policy and health to interact and integrate new findings rapidly, relying on a robust, responsive, and productive research domain. Neither of these requirements are well supported under the current system.


    We propose a new paradigm for pandemic preparedness wherein interdisciplinary research and close collaboration with public policy and health practitioners can improve our ability to prevent, detect, and treat pandemics through tighter integration among domains, rapid and accurate integration, and translation of science to public policy, outreach and education, and improved venues and incentives for sustainable and robust interdisciplinary work.

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  2. Cooke, Steven (Ed.)
    Abstract Physiological metrics are becoming popular tools for assessing individual condition and population health to inform wildlife management and conservation decisions. Corticosterone assays can provide information on how animals cope with individual and habitat-level stressors, and the recent development of feather assays is an exciting innovation that could yield important insights for conservation of wild birds. Due to the widespread enthusiasm for feather corticosterone as a potential bioindicator, studies are needed to assess the ability of this technique to detect meaningful differences in physiological stress across a variety of stressor types and intensities. We examined feather corticosterone from 144 individuals among the 13 known breeding populations of Hawaiian gallinule (Gallinula galeata sandvicensis), an endangered waterbird, on the island of O‘ahu. These ecologically independent subpopulations are known to have low genetic connectivity and movement rates and differ largely across a number of important conditions, including level of predator management, human disturbance, proximity to urban development and conspecific population density. This system is well suited for assessing the performance of feather corticosterone as a bioindicator of different known habitat-level threats common to this and many other conservation-reliant species. We found no statistically significant relationship between feather corticosterone and level of predator control, level of human disturbance, gallinule population density, percent urban cover or body condition across all sites despite the substantial difference in stressor magnitude in our dataset. We did find that gallinules in habitats with larger population densities were in worse body condition. These findings suggest that feather corticosterone is not a consistent indicator of anthropogenic impacts on populations. Furthermore, they suggest that feather corticosterone may be a poor bioindicator of known habitat-level threats for Hawaiian gallinules and that it should be used with caution in other avian taxa of conservation concern. 
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  3. Despite decades of research, we still lack a complete understanding of what factors influence the transition of the necessary and adaptive acute stress response to what has become known as chronic stress. This gap in knowledge has illuminated the necessity for studies that examine the thresholds between these two sides of the stress response. Here, we determine how repeated exposure to acute stressors influences physiological and behavioral responses. In this repeated measures study, house sparrows ( Passer domesticus ) were exposed to a chronic stress protocol. We took physiological and behavioral measurements before, during, and after the protocol. Blood samples were used to assess four aspects of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis function: baseline corticosterone, stress-induced corticosterone, negative feedback, and the maximal capacity to secrete corticosterone. We also assessed bacterial killing capacity and changes in uric acid concentration. Neophobia trials were used to assess behavioral changes throughout the protocol. We found no significant changes in HPA axis regulation in any of the four aspects we tested. However, we found that uric acid concentrations and neophobia significantly decreased after only four days of the chronic stress protocol, while bacterial killing capacity did not decrease until after eight days of exposure. These results indicate that different components of the stress response can be impacted by chronic stress on different timescales. Our results further indicate the importance of assessing multiple aspects of both physiology and behavior in order to understand how exposure to chronic stress may influence ability to cope with future challenges. 
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  4. Abstract

    Photography with small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) offers opportunities for researchers to better understand habitat selection in wildlife, especially for species that select habitat from an aerial perspective (e.g., many bird species). The growing number of commercialsUASbeing flown by recreational users represents a potentially valuable source of data for documenting and studying wildlife habitat. We used a commercially available quadcoptersUASwith a visible spectrum camera to classify habitat for American Kestrels (Falco sparverius; Aves), as well as to evaluate aspects of image processing and postprocessing relevant to a simple habitat analysis using citizen science photography. We investigated inter–observer repeatability of habitat classification, effectiveness of cross‐image classification and Gaussian filtering, and sensitivity to classification resolution. We photographed vegetation around nests from both 25 m and 50 m above takeoff elevation, and analyzed images via maximum likelihood supervised classification. Our results indicate that commercial off‐the‐shelfsUASphotography can distinguish between grass, herbaceous, woody, bare ground, and human‐modified cover classes with good (kappa > 0.6) or strong (kappa > 0.8) accuracy using a 0.25 m2minimum patch size for aggregation. There was inter‐subject variability in designating training samples, but high repeatability of supervised classification accuracy. Gaussian filtering reduced classification accuracy, while coarser classification resolution out‐performed finer resolution due to “speckling noise.” Image self‐classification significantly outperformed cross‐image classification. Mean classification accuracy metrics (kappa values) across different photo heights differed little, but, importantly, the rank order of images differed noticeably.

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  5. Abstract

    Water security is essential for human well‐being and is among the biggest challenges in environmental governance. Governments and nonprofit organizations alike are gaining increased appreciation for the contributions of intact ecosystems to water security, whereas conservation scientists call for decisive action to address the dire condition of earth's freshwater ecosystems and biodiversity. Stakeholder‐based, Habermasian decision‐making frameworks such as integrated water resources management (IWRM) are widely used to equitably manage complex water systems, and ecologists have developed increasingly sophisticated frameworks (e.g., environmental flows) to quantify and anticipate the ecological outcomes of water management decisions. IWRM implementation is criticized for being excessively top‐down whereas ecological frameworks in water decision‐making can fail to account for the cultural and societal values of ecosystems, and it remains unclear how best to connect the desired bottom‐up implementation of IWRM with the expert‐based, top‐down structure of hydro‐ecological research. We revisit and elaborate upon the ecological stakeholder analog (ESA) concept, which treats ecological phenomena (e.g., species and processes) as stakeholders and ecological information as interests and positions with respect to water management. We then illustrate how ESAs can address the many calls to improve environmental flows and IWRM strategies by improving their integration, and how established conceptual frameworks from stakeholder theory applies readily to ecological stakeholders.

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  6. Abstract

    Anthropogenic alterations to landscape structure and composition can have significant impacts on biodiversity, potentially leading to species extinctions. Population‐level impacts of landscape change are mediated by animal behaviors, in particular dispersal behavior. Little is known about the dispersal habits of rails (Rallidae) due to their cryptic behavior and tendency to occupy densely vegetated habitats. The effects of landscape structure on the movement behavior of waterbirds in general are poorly studied due to their reputation for having high dispersal abilities. We used a landscape genetic approach to test hypotheses of landscape effects on dispersal behavior of the Hawaiian gallinule (Gallinula galeata sandvicensis), an endangered subspecies endemic to the Hawaiian Islands. We created a suite of alternative resistance surfaces representing biologically plausible a priori hypotheses of how gallinules might navigate the landscape matrix and ranked these surfaces by their ability to explain observed patterns in genetic distance among 12 populations on the island of O`ahu. We modeled effective distance among wetland locations on all surfaces using both cumulative least‐cost‐path and resistance‐distance approaches and evaluated relative model performance using Mantel tests, a causal modeling approach, and the mixed‐model maximum‐likelihood population‐effects framework. Across all genetic markers, simulation methods, and model comparison metrics, surfaces that treated linear water features like streams, ditches, and canals as corridors for gallinule movement outperformed all other models. This is the first landscape genetic study on the movement behavior of any waterbird species to our knowledge. Our results indicate that lotic water features, including drainage infrastructure previously thought to be of minimal habitat value, contribute to habitat connectivity in this listed subspecies.

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