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See detailThe Added-value of Using Participatory Approaches to Assess the Acceptability of Surveillance Systems: The Case of Bovine Tuberculosis in Belgium
Calba, C; Goutard, FL; Vanholme, L et al

in PLoS ONE (in press)

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See detailBenchmarking for Bayesian Reinforcement Learning
Castronovo, Michaël ULg; Ernst, Damien ULg; Couëtoux, Adrien ULg et al

in PLoS ONE (2016)

In the Bayesian Reinforcement Learning (BRL) setting, agents try to maximise the col- lected rewards while interacting with their environment while using some prior knowledge that is accessed beforehand ... [more ▼]

In the Bayesian Reinforcement Learning (BRL) setting, agents try to maximise the col- lected rewards while interacting with their environment while using some prior knowledge that is accessed beforehand. Many BRL algorithms have already been proposed, but even though a few toy examples exist in the literature, there are still no extensive or rigorous benchmarks to compare them. The paper addresses this problem, and provides a new BRL comparison methodology along with the corresponding open source library. In this methodology, a comparison criterion that measures the performance of algorithms on large sets of Markov Decision Processes (MDPs) drawn from some probability distributions is defined. In order to enable the comparison of non-anytime algorithms, our methodology also includes a detailed analysis of the computation time requirement of each algorithm. Our library is released with all source code and documentation: it includes three test prob- lems, each of which has two different prior distributions, and seven state-of-the-art RL algorithms. Finally, our library is illustrated by comparing all the available algorithms and the results are discussed. [less ▲]

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See detailHow Bees Deter Elephants: Beehive Trials with Forest Elephants (Loxodonta africana cyclotis) in Gabon
Ngama, Steeve ULg; Korte, Lisa; Bindelle, Jérôme ULg et al

in PLoS ONE (2016), 11(5), 12

In Gabon, like elsewhere in Africa, crops are often sources of conflict between humans and wildlife. Wildlife damage to crops can drastically reduce income, amplifying poverty and creating a negative ... [more ▼]

In Gabon, like elsewhere in Africa, crops are often sources of conflict between humans and wildlife. Wildlife damage to crops can drastically reduce income, amplifying poverty and creating a negative perception of wild animal conservation among rural people. In this context, crop-raiding animals like elephants quickly become “problem animals”. To deter elephants from raiding crops beehives have been successfully employed in East Africa; however, this method has not yet been tested in Central Africa. We experimentally examined whether the presence of Apis mellifera adansonii, the African honey bee species present in Central Africa, deters forest elephants (Loxodonta Africana cyclotis) from feeding on fruit trees. We show for the first time that the effectiveness of beehives as deterrents of elephants is related to bee activity. Empty hives and those housing colonies of low bee activity do not deter elephants all the time; but beehives with high bee activity do. Although elephant disturbance of hives does not impede honey production, there is a tradeoff between deterrence and the quantity of honey produced. To best achieve the dual goals of deterring elephants and producing honey colonies must maintain an optimum activity level of 40 to 60 bee movements per minute. Thus, beehives colonized by Apis mellifera adansonii bees can be effective elephant deterrents, but people must actively manage hives to maintain bee colonies at the optimum activity level. [less ▲]

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See detailEmbargo on Lion Hunting Trophies from West Africa: An Effective Measure or a Threat to Lion Conservation ?
Bouché, Philippe; Crosmary, William; Kafando, Pierre et al

in PLoS ONE (2016), 11(5), 0155763

The W-Arly-Pendjari (WAP) ecosystem, shared among Benin, Burkina Faso and Niger, represents the last lion stronghold of West Africa. To assess the impact of trophy hunting on lion populations in hunting ... [more ▼]

The W-Arly-Pendjari (WAP) ecosystem, shared among Benin, Burkina Faso and Niger, represents the last lion stronghold of West Africa. To assess the impact of trophy hunting on lion populations in hunting areas of the WAP, we analyzed trends in harvest rates from 1999 to 2014. We also investigated whether the hunting areas with higher initial hunting intensity experienced steeper declines in lion harvest between 1999 and 2014, and whether lion densities in hunting areas were lower than in national parks. Lion harvest rate remained overall constant in the WAP. At initial hunting intensities below 1.5 lions/1000km2, most hunting areas experienced an increase in lion harvest rate, although that increase was of lower magnitude for hunting areas with higher initial hunting intensity. The proportion of hunting areas that experienced a decline in lion harvest rate increased at initial hunting intensities above 1.5 lions/1000km2. In 2014, the lion population of the WAP was estimated with a spoor count at 418 (230–648) adults and sub-adult individuals, comparable to the 311 (123–498) individuals estimated in the previous 2012 spoor survey. We found no significant lion spoor density differences between national parks and hunting areas. Hunting areas with higher mean harvest rates did not have lower lion densities. The ratio of large adult males, females and sub-adults was similar between the national parks and the hunting areas. These results suggested that the lion population was not significantly affected by hunting in the WAP. We concluded that a quota of 1 lion/1000km2 would be sustainable for the WAP. Based on our results, an import embargo on lion trophies from the WAP would not be justified. It could ruin the incentive of local actors to conserve lions in hunting areas, and lead to a drastic reduction of lion range in West Africa. [less ▲]

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See detailMaking sense of residues on flaked stone artefacts: learning from blind tests
Rots, Veerle ULg; Hayes, Elspeth; Cnuts, Dries ULg et al

in PLoS ONE (2016)

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See detailBenevolent Ideology and Women’s Economic Decision-Making: When Sexism Is Hurting Men’s Wallet
Silvestre, Aude ULg; Sarlet, Marie; Huart, Johanne ULg et al

in PLoS ONE (2016), 11(2),

Can ideology, as a widespread “expectation creator,” impact economic decisions? In two studies we investigated the influence of the Benevolent Sexism (BS) ideology (which dictates that men should provide ... [more ▼]

Can ideology, as a widespread “expectation creator,” impact economic decisions? In two studies we investigated the influence of the Benevolent Sexism (BS) ideology (which dictates that men should provide for passive and nurtured women) on women’s economic decision- making. In Study 1, using a Dictator Game in which women decided how to share amounts of money with men, results of a Generalized Linear Mixed Model analysis show that higher endorsement of BS and contextual expectations of benevolence were associated with more very unequal offers. Similarly, in an Ultimatum Game in which women received monetary offers from men, Study 2’s Generalized Linear Mixed Model’s results revealed that BS led women to reject more very unequal offers. If women’s endorsement of BS ideology and expectations of benevolence prove contrary to reality, they may strike back at men. These findings show that BS ideology creates expectations that shape malefemale relationships in a way that could be prejudicial to men. [less ▲]

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See detailTradeoffs between Maize Silage Yield and Nitrate Leaching in a Mediterranean Nitrate- Vulnerable Zone under Current and Projected Climate Scenarios
Basso, Bruno; Giola, Pietro; Dumont, Benjamin ULg et al

in PLoS ONE (2016), 11(1): e0146360

Future climatic changes may have profound impacts on cropping systems and affect the agronomic and environmental sustainability of current N management practices. The objectives of this work were to i ... [more ▼]

Future climatic changes may have profound impacts on cropping systems and affect the agronomic and environmental sustainability of current N management practices. The objectives of this work were to i) evaluate the ability of the SALUS crop model to reproduce experimental crop yield and soil nitrate dynamics results under different N fertilizer treatments in a farmer’s field, ii) use the SALUS model to estimate the impacts of different N fertilizer treatments on NO3- leaching under future climate scenarios generated by twenty nine different global circulation models, and iii) identify the management system that best minimizes NO3- leaching and maximizes yield under projected future climate conditions. A field experiment (maize-triticale rotation) was conducted in a nitrate vulnerable zone on the west coast of Sardinia, Italy to evaluate N management strategies that include urea fertilization (NMIN), conventional fertilization with dairy slurry and urea (CONV), and no fertilization (N0). An ensemble of 29 global circulation models (GCM) was used to simulate different climate scenarios for two Representative Circulation Pathways (RCP6.0 and RCP8.5) and evaluate potential nitrate leaching and biomass production in this region over the next 50 years. Data collected from two growing seasons showed that the SALUS model adequately simulated both nitrate leaching and crop yield, with a relative error that ranged between 0.4% and 13%. Nitrate losses under RCP8.5 were lower than under RCP6.0 only for NMIN. Accordingly, levels of plant N uptake, N use efficiency and biomass production were higher under RCP8.5 than RCP6.0. Simulations under both RCP scenarios indicated that the NMIN treatment demonstrated both the highest biomass production and NO3- losses. The newly proposed best management practice (BMP), developed from crop N uptake data, was identified as the optimal N fertilizer management practice since it minimized NO3- leaching and maximized biomass production over the long term. [less ▲]

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See detailHomologous Transcription Factors DUX4 and DUX4c Associate with Cytoplasmic Proteins during Muscle Differentiation.
Ansseau, Eugénie; Eidahl, JO; Lancelot, Céline et al

in PLoS ONE (2016)

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See detailIntestinal Sucrase as a Novel Target Contributing to the Regulation of Glycemia by Prebiotics.
Neyrinck, Audrey M.; Pachikian, Barbara; Taminiau, Bernard ULg et al

in PLoS ONE (2016), 11(8),

Inulin-type fructans (ITF) are known for their capacity to modulate gut microbiota, energy metabolism and to improve glycemia in several animal models of obesity, and in humans. The potential contribution ... [more ▼]

Inulin-type fructans (ITF) are known for their capacity to modulate gut microbiota, energy metabolism and to improve glycemia in several animal models of obesity, and in humans. The potential contribution of ITF as modulators of sugar digestion by host enzymes has not been evaluated yet. A sucrose challenge has been performed on naive mice fed a standard diet supplemented with or without native chicory inulin (Fibruline 5%) for 3 weeks. The area under the curve of glycemia as well as sucrase activity in the small intestine were lowered after inulin treatment. Pyrosequencing of the 16S rRNA gene confirmed important changes in gut microbiota (mostly in favor of Blautia genus) due to inulin extract supplementation. Interestingly, the suppressive effect of inulin extract on postprandial glycemia also occurred when inulin was directly added to the sucrose solution, suggesting that the effect on sucrose digestion did not require chronic inulin administration. In vitro tests confirmed a direct inhibition of sucrase enzyme by the inulin extract, thereby suggesting that native chicory inulin, in addition to its well-known prebiotic effect, is also able to decrease the digestibility of carbohydrates, a phenomenon that can contribute in the control of post prandial glycemia. We may not exclude that the sucrose escaping the digestion could also contribute to the changes in the gut microbiota after a chronic treatment with inulin. [less ▲]

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See detailSeasonal Variation of Harbor Seal's Diet from the Wadden Sea in Relation to Prey Availability
de la Vega, Camille; Lebreton, Benoit; Siebert, Ursula et al

in PLoS ONE (2016)

The Wadden Sea has an important role for marine mammals in terms of resting, nursing and foraging. Harbor seal is the most abundant marine mammal species in this area. The use of the food resources of the ... [more ▼]

The Wadden Sea has an important role for marine mammals in terms of resting, nursing and foraging. Harbor seal is the most abundant marine mammal species in this area. The use of the food resources of the Wadden Sea by seals is not clear, and previous studies showed that this species can travel kilometers away from their haul-outs to forage in the North Sea. In this study, we analyzed the stable isotopes of vibrissae from 23 dead harbor seals found on the island of Sylt to investigate their diet. The predator´s carbon and nitrogen isotope compositions were compared to the compositions of different potential prey items from the Sylt-Rømø Bight and from the North Sea in order to study seasonal pattern in the diet and in the foraging location. In parallel, seasonal variation of abundance and biomass of the potential prey items from the Sylt-Rømø Bight were studied and compare to their contribution to the seal´s diet. The results revealed a change in the seal´s diet from pelagic sources in spring to a benthic based diet in summer, and an increasing use of the North Sea resources in fall and winter in accordance with the seasonal variation of the availability of prey in the Sylt-Rømø Bight. [less ▲]

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See detailDoes Embryo Culture Medium Influence the Health and Development of Children Born after In Vitro Fertilization?
Bouillon, Céline; Léandri, Roger; Desch, Laurent et al

in PLoS ONE (2016)

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See detailEvolution of the Northern Rockweed, Fucus distichus, in a Regime of Glacial Cycling: Implications for Benthic Algal Phylogenetics
Laughinghouse, Haywood, Dail; Müller, Kirsten; Adey, Walter et al

in PLoS ONE (2015), 10(12), 0143795

Northern hemisphere rockweeds (Fucus) are thought to have evolved in the North Pacific and then spread to the North Atlantic following the opening of the Bering Strait. They have dispersed and widely ... [more ▼]

Northern hemisphere rockweeds (Fucus) are thought to have evolved in the North Pacific and then spread to the North Atlantic following the opening of the Bering Strait. They have dispersed and widely speciated in the North Atlantic and its tributary seas. Fucus distichus is likely near the ancestral member of this genus, and studies have shown that there are several species/subspecies in this complex (i.e. F. evanescens and F. gardneri). We used phylogenetic and haplotype analyses to test the phylogenetic relationships and biogeogra- phy of F. distichus. Our data and subsequent analyses demonstrate that, unlike previous studies that lacked samples from an extensive geographical area of the Arctic and Subarc- tic, there is a distinct Arctic haplotype that is the source of subspecies in both the North Pacific and North Atlantic. Fucus distichus occupies a low tide zone habitat, and in Arctic/ Subarctic regions it is adapted to the severe stress of sea ice coverage and disturbance dur- ing many months per year. We hypothesize that the very large geographic area of Arctic and Subarctic rocky shores available to this species during interglacials, supported by large Arctic/Subarctic fringe areas as well as unglaciated refugia during glacial cycles, provided a robust population and gene pool (described by the Thermogeographic Model). This gene pool dilutes that of the more fragmented and area-limited Temperate/Boreal area popula- tions when they are brought together during glacial cycles. We suggest that similar subspe- cies complexes for a variety of Arctic/Subarctic shore biota should be examined further in this context, rather than arbitrarily being split up into numerous species. [less ▲]

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See detailDiscrimination of deciduous tree species from time series of unmanned aerial system imagery
Lisein, Jonathan ULg; Michez, Adrien ULg; Claessens, Hugues ULg et al

in PLoS ONE (2015), 10(11),

Technology advances can revolutionize Precision Forestry by providing accurate and fine forest information at tree level. This paper addresses the question of how and particularly when Unmanned Aerial ... [more ▼]

Technology advances can revolutionize Precision Forestry by providing accurate and fine forest information at tree level. This paper addresses the question of how and particularly when Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) should be used in order to efficiently discriminate deciduous tree species. A time series of high resolution UAS imagery was collected to cover the growing season from leaf flush to leaf fall. Full benefit was taken of the temporal resolution of UAS acquisition, one of the most promising features of small drones. The disparity in forest tree phenology is at the maximum during early spring and late autumn. But the phenology state that optimized the classification result is the one that minimizes the spectral variation within tree species groups and, at the same time, maximizes the phenologic differences between species. Sunlit tree crowns (5 deciduous species groups) were classified using a Random Forest approach for monotemporal, two-date and three-date combinations. The end of leaf flushing was the most efficient single-date time window. Multitemporal datasets definitely improve the overall classification accuracy. But single-date high resolution orthophotomosaics, acquired on optimal time-windows, result in a very good classification accuracy (overall out of bag error of 16%). [less ▲]

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See detailWood Specific Gravity Variations and Biomass of Central African Tree Species: The Simple Choice of the Outer Wood
Bastin, Jean-François ULg; Fayolle, Adeline ULg; Tarelkin, Yegor et al

in PLoS ONE (2015)

Context: Wood specific gravity is a key element in tropical forest ecology. It integrates many aspects of tree mechanical properties and functioning and is an important predictor of tree biomass. Wood ... [more ▼]

Context: Wood specific gravity is a key element in tropical forest ecology. It integrates many aspects of tree mechanical properties and functioning and is an important predictor of tree biomass. Wood specific gravity varies widely among and within species and also within individual trees. Notably, contrasted patterns of radial variation of wood specific gravity have been demonstrated and related to regeneration guilds (light demanding vs. shade-bearing). However, although being repeatedly invoked as a potential source of error when estimating the biomass of trees, both intraspecific and radial variations remain little studied. In this study we characterized detailed pith-to-bark wood specific gravity profiles among contrasted species prominently contributing to the biomass of the forest, i.e., the dominant species, and we quantified the consequences of such variations on the biomass. Methods: Radial profiles of wood density at 8% moisture content were compiled for 14 dominant species in the Democratic Republic of Congo, adapting a unique 3D X-ray scanning technique at very high spatial resolution on core samples. Mean wood density estimates were validated by water displacement measurements. Wood density profiles were converted to wood specific gravity and linear mixed models were used to decompose the radial variance. Potential errors in biomass estimation were assessed by comparing the biomass estimated from the wood specific gravity measured from pith-to-bark profiles, from global repositories, and from partial information (outer wood or inner wood). Results: Wood specific gravity profiles from pith-to-bark presented positive, neutral and negative trends. Positive trends mainly characterized light-demanding species, increasing up to 1.8 g.cm-3 per meter for Piptadeniastrum africanum, and negative trends characterized shade-bearing species, decreasing up to 1 g.cm-3 per meter for Strombosia pustulata. The linear mixed model showed the greater part of wood specific gravity variance was explained by species only (45%) followed by a redundant part between species and regeneration guilds (36%). Despite substantial variation in wood specific gravity profiles among species and regeneration guilds, we found that values from the outer wood were strongly correlated to values from the whole profile, without any significant bias. In addition, we found that wood specific gravity from the DRYAD global repository may strongly differ depending on the species (up to 40% for Dialium pachyphyllum). Main conclusion: Therefore, when estimating forest biomass in specific sites, we recommend the systematic collection of outer wood samples on dominant species. This should prevent the main errors in biomass estimations resulting from wood specific gravity and allow for the collection of new information to explore the intraspecific variation of mechanical properties of trees. [less ▲]

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See detailEctopic Expression of Retrotransposon-Derived PEG11/RTL1 Contributes to the Callipyge Muscular Hypertrophy.
Xu, Xuewen; Ectors, Fabien ULg; Davis, Erica E. et al

in PloS one (2015), 10(10), 0140594

The callipyge phenotype is an ovine muscular hypertrophy characterized by polar overdominance: only heterozygous +Mat/CLPGPat animals receiving the CLPG mutation from their father express the phenotype ... [more ▼]

The callipyge phenotype is an ovine muscular hypertrophy characterized by polar overdominance: only heterozygous +Mat/CLPGPat animals receiving the CLPG mutation from their father express the phenotype. +Mat/CLPGPat animals are characterized by postnatal, ectopic expression of Delta-like 1 homologue (DLK1) and Paternally expressed gene 11/Retrotransposon-like 1 (PEG11/RTL1) proteins in skeletal muscle. We showed previously in transgenic mice that ectopic expression of DLK1 alone induces a muscular hypertrophy, hence demonstrating a role for DLK1 in determining the callipyge hypertrophy. We herein describe newly generated transgenic mice that ectopically express PEG11 in skeletal muscle, and show that they also exhibit a muscular hypertrophy phenotype. Our data suggest that both DLK1 and PEG11 act together in causing the muscular hypertrophy of callipyge sheep. [less ▲]

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See detailA lysine cluster in domain II of Bacillus subtilis PBP4a plays a role in the membrane attachment of this C1-PBP
Vanden Broeck, Arnaud; Van Der Heiden, Edwige ULg; Sauvage, Eric ULg et al

in PLoS ONE (2015)

In PBP4a, a Bacillus subtilis class-C1 penicillin-binding protein (PBP), four clustered lysine (K) residues, K86, K114, K119, and K265, protrude from domain II. Replacement of these amino acids with ... [more ▼]

In PBP4a, a Bacillus subtilis class-C1 penicillin-binding protein (PBP), four clustered lysine (K) residues, K86, K114, K119, and K265, protrude from domain II. Replacement of these amino acids with glutamine (Q) residues by site-directed mutagenesis yielded Mut4KQ PBP4a. When produced in Escherichia coli without its predicted Sec-signal peptide, wildtype (WT) PBP4a was found mainly associated with the host cytoplasmic membrane, whereas Mut4KQ PBP4a remained largely unbound. After purification, the capacities of the two proteins to bind to B. subtilis membranes were compared. The results were similar to those obtained in E. coli: in vitro, a much higher percentage of WT PBP4a than of Mut4KQ PBP4a was found to interact with B. subtilis membranes. Immunodetection of PBP4a in B. subtilis membrane extracts revealed that a processed form of this PBP (as indicated by its size) associates with the B. subtilis cytoplasmic membrane. In the absence of any amphiphilic peptide in PBP4a, the crown of positive charges on the surface of domain II is likely responsible for the cellular localization of this PBP and its attachment to the cytoplasmic membrane. [less ▲]

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See detailTemporal and spatial comparisons of underwater sound signatures of different reef habitats in Moorea Island, French Polynesia
Bertucci, Frédéric; Parmentier, Eric ULg; Berten, Laetitia et al

in PLoS ONE (2015)

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