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Sharon Sinéad Gaughan
Lives in Fairfax, Virginia
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Sharon Sinéad Gaughan

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Sharon & Lisa --

On Sunday, Americans woke up to a nightmare: Another act of terrorism in a place no one expected it, a man with a gun in his hands and hate in his heart, apparently consumed by rage against LGBT Americans — and, by extension, against the openness and diversity that define our way of life.

No matter how many times we endure attacks like this, the horror never fades. The murder of innocent people always breaks our hearts, tears at our sense of security, and makes us furious.

So many of us are praying for everyone who was killed, for the wounded and those still missing, and for all the loved ones grieving today. As a mother, I can’t imagine what those families are going through.

But we owe their memories and their families more than prayer. We must also take decisive action to strengthen our international alliances and combat acts of terror, to keep weapons of war off our streets, and to affirm the rights of LGBT Americans — and all Americans — to feel welcome and safe in our country.

Here’s what we absolutely cannot do: We cannot demonize Muslim people.

Inflammatory anti-Muslim rhetoric hurts the vast majority of Muslims who love freedom and hate terror. It’s no coincidence that hate crimes against American Muslims and mosques tripled after Paris and San Bernardino. Islamophobia goes against everything we stand for as a nation founded on freedom of religion, and it plays right into the terrorists’ hands.

We’re a big-hearted, fair-minded country. We teach our children that this is one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all — not just for people who look a certain way, or love a certain way, or worship a certain way.

I want to say this to all the LGBT people grieving today in Florida and across our country: You have millions of allies who will always have your back. I am one of them. From Stonewall to Laramie and now Orlando, we’ve seen too many examples of how the struggle to live freely, openly, and without fear has been marked by violence. We have to stand together. Be proud together. There is no better rebuke to the terrorists and all those who hate.

This fundamentally American idea — that we’re stronger together — is why I’m so confident that we can overcome the threats we face, solve our challenges at home, and build a future where no one’s left out or left behind. We can do it, if we do it together.

Thank you for standing together in love, kindness, and the best of what it means to be American.


Source: This text is taken verbatim from a mass mailing by Hilary Clinton on Monday, June 13,2016.
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Penguin Populations Are Changing Dramatically
Rapid warming on the Antarctic Peninsula is killing some species but helping others
by Niina Heikkinen, Scientific American ClimateWire (25 April 2016)

Sharon: This article points out that the penguins on the Antarctic Peninsula are the "canaries in the coal mine of Antarctic climate change". The study of many different species around the world have provided us with similar warnings that something is definitely up.

The earth is warming at an accelerating rate that appears to exceed normal variations. Quite apart from the specific causes, we need to get busy. However, the infestation of anti-science bigots in our U.S. Federal and state legislatures has placed us all in peril.

Niina Heikkinen: Animal species around the world are beginning to feel the effects of warming temperatures, but few are seeing their habitats change as quickly as the Adélie, chinstrap and gentoo penguins on the Antarctic Peninsula.

Jutting out into the Scotia Sea toward the southernmost tips of Chile and Argentina, the 800-mile-long peninsula is warming at five times the rate of the planet. Since the mid-20th century, temperatures have risen on average by 6 to 7 degrees Celsius. The warmer weather has had a significant impact on the amount of sea ice, with the ice-forming period in the winter months now about 90 days shorter than it used to be.

“This is important because the advance and retreat of sea ice acts as a sort of engine that drives more Antarctic marine ecosystem processes, not the least of which are the aspects of ecology of the three penguin species,” said Bill Fraser, a penguin expert and ecologist who has been studying the seabirds from Antarctica’s Palmer Station’s Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) area since 1974.

“It’s fair to say these species are the canaries in the coal mine of Antarctic climate change, super-sensitive to even subtle changes in the system because their life histories play out in a finely tuned balance between the availability of sea ice and open water,” he said.

Click the link below to read the complete article.

#science #biology #penguins #research #species #Antarctic #AntarcticPeninsula #ecology #PalmerStation #LTER #AdéliePenguin #ChinstrapPenguin #GentooPenguin #ClimateChange #GlobalWarming #ScotiaSea
Rapid warming on the Antarctic Peninsula is killing some species but helping others
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Can you give me your whatsapp number so that we can chat more there
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"Wolf Species Have Howling Dialects"
by University of Cambridge Research (08 Feb 2016)

Sharon: Do humans howl? After all, we at times resort to terse communications to accomplish our tasks. For instance: "Dinner", "Come home," "Come home right now", and "Bed time". The emphases we place on the words/phrases can convey casualness, urgency, exasperation, or other expected behaviors.

UCR: [The] largest quantitative study of howling, and first to use machine learning, defines different howl types and finds that wolves use these types more or less depending on their species, resembling a howling dialect. Researchers say findings could help conservation efforts and shed light on the earliest evolution of our own use of language.

The largest ever study of howling in the canid family of species – which includes wolves, jackals and domestic dogs – has shown that the various species and subspecies have distinguishing repertoires of howling, or vocal fingerprints: different types of howls are used with varying regularity depending on the canid species.

Researchers used computer algorithms for the first time to analyse howling, distilling over 2,000 different howls into 21 howl types based on pitch and fluctuation, and then matching up patterns of howling.

They found that the frequency with which types of howls are used – from flat to highly modulated – corresponded to the species of canid, whether dog or coyote, as well as to the subspecies of wolf.

For example, the howling repertoire of the timber wolf is heavy with low, flat howls but doesn’t feature the high, looping vocal that is the most frequently used in the range of howls deployed by critically-endangered red wolves.

Lead researcher Dr Arik Kershenbaum from the University of Cambridge describes these distinctive howl repertoires as resembling vocal dialects, with each species having its own identifiable use of the various howl types. He says the findings could be used to track and manage wild wolf populations better, and help mitigate conflict with farmers.

The origins of language development in humans are mysterious, as the vocalisations of our closest existing biological relatives such as chimpanzees are relatively simple. Kershenbaum and colleagues believe that studying the sounds of other intelligent species that use vocal communication for cooperative behaviour – such as wolves and dolphins – may provide clues to the earliest evolution of our own use of language.

“Wolves may not be close to us taxonomically, but ecologically their behaviour in a social structure is remarkably close to that of humans. That’s why we domesticated dogs – they are very similar to us,” said Kershenbaum, from Cambridge’s Department of Zoology.

“Understanding the communication of existing social species is essential to uncovering the evolutionary trajectories that led to more complex communication in the past, eventually leading to our own linguistic ability” he said.

The research was conducted by a team of scientists from the UK, US, Spain and India, and is published in the journal Behavioural Processes.

The researchers made use of howls recorded from both captive and wild animals, from Australia and India, to Europe and the United States, creating a database of 6,000 howls that was whittled down to 2,000 for the study. This included combing YouTube for domestic dog howls. These were then fed into machine learning algorithms to classify the howls into discrete types.

Studies on howling in the past have had to rely on subjective human comparisons by looking at soundwave patterns, but the new algorithms allowed the howl types to be compared objectively, revealing that the various species have characteristically different repertoires of howl type usage.

While the howling repertoires of most of the 13 species analysed were very distinct, some bore close similarities to each other that may influence interbreeding and, in at least one case, threaten the survival of a species.

Red wolves, hunted to the brink of extinction in the mid-20th century, were the focus of a reintroduction programme instigated by the US government, which has recently been halted due to a lack of success.

Part of the problem was red wolves breeding with coyotes, and the resultant hybridisation diluted attempts to maintain this rare wolf species. The researchers found significant overlap between the howling vocabulary of the red wolf and the coyote – with both favouring highly modulated, whining howls such as the one classed by researchers as ‘type three’.

“The survival of red wolves in the wild is threatened by interbreeding with coyotes, and we found that the howling behaviour of the two species is very similar. This may be one reason why they are so likely to mate with each other, and perhaps we can take advantage of the subtle differences in howling behaviour we have now discovered to keep the populations apart,” said Kershenbaum.

Other conservation uses for the new findings may involve refining the use of playbacks to recreate more accurate howling behaviours that imitate territorial markings, thereby encouraging wolf packs to steer clear of farms and livestock.

However, we know very little about the meaning of different howl types and what they are actually communicating, says Kershenbaum, because – as with dolphins, that other highly vocal, smart and social species which he studies – wolves are extremely difficult to study in the wild.

“You don’t observe natural wolf behaviour in zoos, only in the wild, and you need to know where the animals are when howling before you can really begin to try and discern meanings. But, as with dolphin pods, physically following a wild wolf pack is virtually impossible,” explained Kershenbaum.

“We are currently working on research in Yellowstone National Park in the US using multiple recording devices and triangulation technology to try and pick up howl sounds and location. In this way we might be able to tell whether certain calls relate to distance communication or pack warnings, for example,” he said.

For Kershenbaum, wolves and dolphins show remarkable parallels with each other in social behaviour, intelligence and vocal communication – all comparisons that extend to humans.

“As well as being intelligent and cooperative species, wolves and dolphins have remarkably similar vocal characteristics. If you slow a dolphin whistle down about 30 times it sounds just like a wolf howl, something I often do in my lectures,” he said.

“The presence of complex referential communication in species that must communicate to survive was probably a crucial step in the evolution of language. I think we can shed a lot of light on early evolution of our own use of language by studying the vocalisation of animals that are socially and behaviourally similar to us, if not necessarily taxonomically closely related.”

License. The text in this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. For image use please see separate credits [in the article].

Research Citation. Arik Kershenbaum, Holly Root-Gutteridge, Bilal Habib, Janice Koler-Matznick, Brian Mitchell, Vicente Palacios, Sara Waller. "Disentangling canid howls across multiple species and subspecies: Structure in a complex communication channel." Behavioural Processes, Volume 124, March 2016, Pages 149-157

#science #biology #evolution #canid #wolf #coyote #dog howling #research #communication #redwolf #dolphins #behavior #vocalization

Click the link below to obtain to read the complete article.
Largest quantitative study of howling, and first to use machine learning, defines different howl types and finds that wolves use these types more or less depending on their species, resembling a howling dialect. Researchers say findings could help conservation efforts and shed light on the earliest evolution of our own use of language.
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Sharon Sinéad Gaughan

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Photo by Junko Wei. She has pages on Facebook, Instagram, and other venues. #art #photography #JunkoWei #Xiapu #nature #travel #China #Taiwan #Singapore
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The ancient Old Gaelic would come out loosely as Seárón Sinéad O'Gaibhtheachain, but Sharon will do.
Immersed in family, science, history, & the arts
Fairfax, VA USA. Here I indulge my interests in science, technology, hearth, home, and much more. Search for #sharongaughan to see examples of my posts.

You may know me from past professional associations, my current Science/IT work, or various writing and editorial efforts. 

Currently, I am caught in a (self-employed / semi-retired) maelstrom while looking after my life partner, house, dog, and other domestic necessities.
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