Recent Submissions

  • Oral Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Prevalence and Abundance in the UK Young Adult Population

    Marsh, Elizabeth; Knight, Gillian; Whitton, Aimee (University of DerbySchool of Biomedical & Forensic Science, 2021)
    BACKGROUND: The incidence rates of HPV positive oropharyngeal cancers (OPSCCs) are on the rise, yet oral HPV prevalence rates in clinically healthy populations are poorly understood. To determine the risk of healthy adults developing OPSCCs, first we must establish oral HPV prevalence, viral load, persistence, and clearance rates in healthy populations to understand the link between oral HPV and OPSCCs. This is even more pertinent within the young adult population as the HPV vaccination programme has been shown to reduce cervical cancer incidence but not OPSCC incidence. Therefore, other factors that could affect oral HPV contraction and OPSCC development need investigation such as population demographics, lifestyle risk behaviours, HPV screening methods and vaccination status. OBJECTIVES: The aims of this study were centred on establishing reproducible and sensitive HPV screening methods for the detection of oral HPV in clinically healthy young adults, for determining prevalence and abundance, and establishing if oral HPV was influenced by vaccination status, demographics, and lifestyle risk behaviours. METHODS: The study established a novel and sensitive real-time PCR HPV consensus screening method for the detection of multiple HPV subtypes in the oral cavity of 408 clinically healthy UK-based young adults (92.01%; 18-25 years old in 2016-17). HPV positive or undetermined samples were then screened using qPCR for HPV subtypes, HPV-6, HPV-11, HPV-16, HPV-18. All results were analysed alongside vaccination status, demographics and lifestyle risk behaviour data collected via questionnaire. RESULTS: An oral HPV prevalence rate of 22.79% was found, with HPV-16 being the most prevalent and abundant subtype at 19.12%; 1.08x105 copies/million cells, followed by HPV-18 at 1.72%; 1.89x104 copies/million cells, HPV-6 at 0.49%; 4.50x102 copies/million cells and HPV-11 at 0.25%; 1.06x102 copies/million cells. Unknown HPV subtypes were detected in 2.21% of the cohort. Oral HPV was found to be significantly associated with open-mouth kissing (p <.001), oral sex (p = .049), masturbation in males (p = .020), sexual intercourse (p = .026), sexual activity diversity (p = .043), frequent smoking (p = .024), wine drinking (p = .045) and drinking ≥2 types of alcohol per sitting (p = .015), especially in males (p = .023). HPV-16 was significantly associated with masturbation (p = .004), whilst there was a reduction in viral load in vaccinated individuals, but this was not statistically significant. CONCLUSIONS: Oral HPV is prevalent in the young adult UK population, especially HR-HPV subtype HPV-16, questioning the efficacy of the HPV vaccination on reducing oral prevalence. However, HPV vaccination may instead influence oral HPV viral load, but further research is required, demonstrating the importance of measuring both presence and abundance. Oral HPV prevalence did appear to be influenced by sexual practice, including open-mouth kissing and oral sex, but less so by smoking and alcohol consumption, reaffirming the link between oral HPV and OPSCCs.
  • The influence of caffeine expectancies on simulated soccer performance and perceptual states

    Hooton, Andy; Sheffield, David; Higgins, Matthew; Shabir, Akbar (University of DerbyThe University of Derby, School of Human Sciences, 2020-10)
    Caffeine (CAF) is the most widely consumed ergogenic substance in sport and has been reported to improve various attributes associated with successful soccer performance including, endurance capacity, gross motor skill performance and cognitions. These benefits are typically ascribed to pharmacological mechanisms (i.e. central nervous and peripheral tissue stimulation). However, the psychological and perceptual permutations that are associated with CAF expectancies are largely unaddressed in most experimental designs but could be as important as CAF pharmacology in understanding if/how CAF elicits an ergogenic response on sport performance. As the consumption of pharmacologically active CAF may not be necessary in observing a CAF associated ergogenic response, this body of work may prove beneficial to individuals suffering from pre-existing health concerns (e.g. hypertension, genetic polymorphisms, depression, insomnia etc.), CAF habituation, and those participating in late evening sports competitions whereby CAF consumption may impair sleep quality/duration. The main aim of this thesis is to evaluate and explore the psychobiological effects of expectancies associated with oral CAF consumption on various facets of simulated soccer performance and perceptual states. This was achieved via completion of the following objectives: (1) conducting a systematic review and meta-analyses pertaining to literature exploring the potential psychobiological effects of CAF on sport and exercise (A) and cognitive performance (B) (2) exploration of the potential psychobiological effects of CAF on high-intensity intermittent endurance capacity, reaction time and soccer skill proficiency (3) exploration of the potential psychobiological effects of CAF on perceptual fatigue and mood states (4) exploration of the potential psychobiological effects of CAF on subjective perceptions using the double-dissociation design but in particular the mixed methods approach (Brooks et al., 2015). There remains a severe under representation of the mixed methods design in the literature pertaining to the phenomenon of CAF expectancies on sport, exercise, and cognitive performance. The mixed methods design and associated triangulation of quantitative and qualitative data is fundamental to validly compare CAF’s psychological versus pharmacological impetus. Prior to this thesis, only two other studies (Beedie et al., 2006; Duncan et al., 2009) implemented the mixed methods design, with neither providing a rigorous account of methodological decisions, researcher reflexivity, and/or evidence of applying an epistemological framework. These factors were incorporated within the current thesis and improved the quality of data collection, analysis, and reflection. The results of our, novel, meta-analyses demonstrated that all studies exploring the psychobiological effects of CAF on sport and exercise performance displayed a beneficial effect (p=0.01) with an overall moderate effect size (Cohen’s d (ES): 0.40) observed. In contrast, no significant effect was observed for studies exploring the psychobiological effects of CAF on cognitive performance (p=0.142) with a small effect size (ES=0.1) observed. Though, due to significant methodological heterogeneity associated with studies exploring the psychobiological effects of CAF on cognitive performance, any associated implications here should be taken with caution. Experimental study 1 explored the influence of CAF expectancies on facets of simulated soccer performance (e.g. exercise capacity, reaction time and passing ability (LSPT)) and perceptual states via utilisation of a mixed-methods approach and double-dissociation design. Exercise capacity was greater (p<0.05) for CAF psychology (given placebo (PLA)/told CAF) (623 ± 117 s) versus pharmacology (given CAF/told PLA) (578 ± 99 s) with all participants running longer during psychology. This benefit appeared to be driven by CAF expectancies and reductions in perceptual effort. Interestingly, positive perceptions for told CAF conditions appeared to impair BATAK performance via potential CAF over reliance. In contrast, negative perceptions possibly facilitated BATAK performance via augmented conscious effort. A similar trend to BATAK was observed for LSPT performance. Following the completion of experimental study 1 it became apparent that the techniques used to modulate expectancies across experimental conditions (i.e. told PLA/CAF groups) here or any other study with a primary aim of exploring the influence of CAF expectancies on sport, exercise and/or cognitive performance, require validation. This was the premise of experimental study 2. No meaningful findings were observed from baseline to post-intervention across any outcome measure during experimental study 2. This lack of effect may be related to environmental factors, whereby individuals completed trials in classrooms and/or a home cinema, prior to lectures/seminars and/or social interactions, respectively. In contrast, participants in experimental study 1 were administered the appropriate expectancy modulating techniques after they had perceived to consume PLA or CAF within an environment that necessitated an immediate importance for CAF (e.g. prior to exercise performance). In summary, the novelty and original contribution of the current body of research entails: completion of a systematic review and meta-analyses pertaining to the influence of CAF expectancies on sport, exercise and cognitive performance; assessment of the influence CAF expectancies may have on simulated soccer performance; the implementation of a mixed methods approach and double dissociation design; an in depth rationale, description and set of instructions for the utilisation of the mixed methods approach in any future research, including the use of an epistemological framework; a summary of ecological factors that are fundamental in understanding the phenomenon of CAF expectancies across sport and exercise performance. With respect of the main findings from the experimental data contained in this thesis: the benefits associated with CAF expectancies may better suit tasks that entail lesser cognitive/skill specific attributes but greater gross motor function (e.g. cycling, weightlifting, running etc.) and this is likely due to reduced perceptual effort. Moreover, future studies aiming to validate expectancy modulating techniques or generally assessing expectancies should provide a greater immediate importance for CAF and this may be achieved by replicating environmental and/or psychosocial conditions associated with sport performance (e.g. the utilisation of a performance measure) and the perception for CAF consumption.
  • Behavioural and metabolic responses of the freshwater mussels Anodonta anatina and Unio pictorum to environmental stimuli with a focus on food and light availability

    Ramsey, Andrew; Huck, Maren; Mehra, Aradhana; Zapitis, Charitos (University of Derby, 2020-07-05)
    Benthic invertebrates play a crucial role in sediment mixing, nutrient cycling, and oxygen fluxes in benthic ecosystems. Despite the broad global distribution and high abundance of unionid mussels in both lentic and lotic ecosystems, the role of their locomotion behaviour and metabolic activity on the aforementioned processes remain understudied. In this thesis, Anodonta anatina and Unio pictorum were exposed to a range of Chlorella vulgaris concentrations between 0.5 and 20.0 mg Ash Free Dry Mass (AFDM) l-1 at 11.0, 15.0 and 19.0 ± 1.0 °C in laboratory experiments. Unionid behaviours were recorded by time-lapse photography. Mussel locomotion probability and duration, opening behaviour, posterior tip movement and the position in relation to the light source were extracted image and video analysis. The diel rhythm was assessed as well as the responses to the light intensity at ~230, 450 and 1200 lux on a horizontal light gradient. The oxygen consumption (OC) during digestion was quantified at 0.05, 6.0 and 12.0 mg of AFDM of Chlorella vulgaris l-1 at 19.0 ± 1.0 °C. The locomotion probability was significantly higher for A. anatina, compared to U. pictorum, increased with increasing temperature (lower for 11.0 ± 1.0 °C), and decreased with increasing algal concentrations. Locomotion duration decreased with the increasing algal concentration in both species, with U. pictorum showing a shorter locomotion duration than A. anatina. Valve opening peaked at algal concentrations of 3.0 mg l-1. A contrasting locomotion pattern was recorded between the two species with A. anatina crawling on the sediment and U. pictorum breaking through the sediment with is umbo covered. Both species showed a significantly higher probability of locomotion in the absence of light and a decreasing locomotion path distance with the increasing light intensity. The specimens which moved towards the light source covered a longer distance than those which moved away. Additionally, A. anatina showed a net movement towards the light source while all activities were recorded in the absence of light. Digestion significantly contributed to unionid metabolism in both species. In addition, the mean OC rate per dry soft-tissue mass (DM) increased with the algal concentration, with A. anatina showing a significantly higher rate. In A. anatina OC DM-1 decreased with the increasing DM. The findings are discussed in the context of eutrophication, unionid bioremediation potential, and the development of species-specific remediation models. A conceptual model developed demonstrates the ecological interactions between unionids and their environment in lentic systems.
  • The cryptic and transboundary nature of ghost gear in the Maldivian Archipelago

    Sweet, Michael; Huck, Maren; Beaumont, Nel; Stelfox, Martin (University of Derby, 2019-06-11)
    Abandoned, lost or discarded fishing gear (ALDFG), more commonly referred to as ghost gear, is a global issue that impacts many marine organisms worldwide. In the Maldivian archipelago a large number of olive ridley sea turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea) are found entangled in these nets (more commonly referred to as ghost nets) each year. However, the origin of these nets or turtles are unknown considering fishing with the use of nets is restricted to the bait fisheries within the exclusive economic zone of the Maldives. Therefore, ghost gear has a transboundary and cryptic nature, making it difficult to assess the environmental impact and origin of the gear. This thesis aimed to develop new tools and techniques which could be utilised to examine these unknowns. I revealed in a literature review (Chapter 1) that research in ghost gear entanglements amongst marine megafauna are predominantly focussed in the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean. However, Indian, Arctic and southern Oceans are far less studied. Additionally, the majority of strategies to tackle ghost gear were centred around curative measures, such as ghost gear retrieval. I advise that future solutions, best practices and research should favour preventative rather than curative methods in ghost gear management and research. Statistical classifies (Chapter 2) were built in R to predict the probability of a net entangling a turtle. It was highlighted that nets with larger mesh sizes and the absence of floats were major gear characteristics that increased the likelihood of turtle entanglement. In addition, the time of year was an important variable with a higher chance of turtle entanglements in nets found during the northeast monsoon (November – April). Unfortunately, grouping of the nets by fisheries was not possible, beyond a broad classification. This was likely a result of the wide variety of nets used in the region. However, gill and trawl nets were recognised as high-risk fisheries. Regardless of the difficulties of assigning an origin of the nets, I was able to estimate the scale of the problem. Between 3,400 and 12,200 turtles could have become entangled in ghost nets over the 51-month study period, meaning this region has the highest turtle entanglement rate in ghost nets worldwide (0.17). Nesting and sightings of free-swimming individuals are rare and therefore the majority of entangled turtles do not originate from the Maldives. To discover the source population of these entangled olive ridleys we utilised a mixed stock analyses of mtDNA from samples of turtles entangled in nets in the Maldives (n = 38) and compared them to nesting stocks from published literature (Sri Lanka, east India and northern Australia). We were able to fill in data gaps in phylogenetics by including samples from previously undescribed nesting populations, such as those in Oman and improved resolution by including longer sequences from east India in our analyses (Chapter 3). Results suggest that the majority of entangled olive ridleys originate from east Indian (73%) and Sri Lankan (23%) genetic stocks when no population estimates were included in model design. This meant we could estimate the impact of ghost nets on these populations. Recorded ghost net entanglements may impact yearly recruitment of east Indian populations by 0.48% however a staggering 41% of the Sri Lankan population are thought to be negatively affected by the drifting nets. I then attempted to age ghost gear found drifting in the Maldives, and provided additional evidence to locate possible sites of origin. Percentage cover of biofouling communities and capitulum length of the goose barnacle (Lepas anatifera) provided the most robust metrics to estimate minimum drift times (Chapter 4). Lagrangian simulations (forced by Ocean Surface Current Analyses Realtime OSCAR) could then be utilised to backtrack drifting ghost gear to a putative origin. This analysis highlighted that the origin of these nets overlapped with purse seine (predominantly from Spain and France) and gill net fisheries operating in the area. Moreover, the models show that some of the nets originate close to the Indian and Sri Lanka shorelines, suggesting that small scale artisanal fisheries may provide additional high risk, contributing to ghost nets drifting into the Maldives and entangling turtles. In summary it is hoped that this thesis advances our knowledge on ghost gear significantly. Moreover, this thesis provides the information and tools necessary for the Olive Ridley Project (a British registered charity, tackling this issue face on), along with other stakeholders (government and non-government) in order to better manage resources and combat the ghost gear issue within the Indian Ocean.

    Kay, Tony; Blazevich, Tony; Giakas, Giannis; Hooton, Andy; Akehurst, Sally; Mina, Minas A. (University of DerbyCollege of Science and Engineering, 2020-09-08)
    Warm-up routines are typically designed to precondition the neuromuscular system for enhanced performance and reduced injury risk during subsequent high-intensity physical activities, including during strength training. As such, identifying an effective warm-up routine to augment muscular performance is of clear importance to strength (and other) coaches and athletes. Incorporating variable resistance (VR) via the use of chains or elastic bands during strength training alters the loading characteristics during exercises to impose a greater mechanical stimulus, however the impact of VR on subsequent free-weight exercise performance is unknown. Therefore, the aims of this thesis were to examine the acute effects of conditioning VR exercise compared to free-weight resistance (FWR) exercise on subsequent one-repetition maximum (1-RM) back squat and countermovement vertical jump (CMJ) height performance after the performance of a comprehensive, test-specific warm-up, and to examine possible alterations to mechanics and neuromuscular activity underpinning any changes. Techniques including 3D motion analysis, electromyography (EMG) and ground reaction force measurement were used in three studies on recreationally active volunteers experienced in squatting and jumping. In Study 1, significantly greater 1-RM squat-lift load (6.2 ± 5.0%; p < 0.01) and mean eccentric-phase knee extensor EMG amplitude (32.2 ± 6.7%; p < 0.01) were found after the chain-loaded resistance (CLR) warm-up, where an increasing load is applied as the subject raises their body with the load, compared to the FWR condition. However, no statistical differences (p > 0.05) were detected in concentric phase EMG, knee angular velocity or peak knee flexion angle. Thus, performing a CLR warm-up enhanced subsequent free-weight 1-RM performance without kinematic changes; these data were considered to indicate a real 1-RM increase as the mechanics of the lift were not influenced. Study 2 followed an identical methodological design, however elastic bands were used to provide an inexpensive, portable, easily-implemented, and therefore more practical method of altering the load-time characteristics of the squat lift through VR. Significantly greater 1-RM squat load (7.7 ± 6.2%; p < 0.01) with lower peak and mean eccentric (16–19%; p < 0.05) and concentric (12–21%; p < 0.05) knee angular velocities were found after the elastic band (EB) warm-up compared to the FWR condition. As EB resistance evoked greater mean improvements in squat performance than the CLR used in Study 1, the influence of FWR and EB squat exercises following a comprehensive warm-up were compared using a more functional, CMJ, task at different post-exercise time points (i.e. 30 s, 4 min, 8 min, and 12 min) (Study 3). No changes in any variable were found after the FWR warm-up (p > 0.05). However, statistical (p < 0.05) and practically-meaningful increases were detected in CMJ height (5.3-6.5%), net impulse (2.7-3.3%), take-off velocity (2.7-3.8%), peak power (4.4-5.9%), kinetic (7.1-7.2%) and potential (5.4-6.7%) energy, peak normalised rate of force development (12.9-19.1%), peak concentric knee angular velocities (3.1-4.1%) and mean concentric vastus lateralis (VL) EMG activity (27.5-33.4%) at all time points after the EB warm-up condition. Thus, when a complete CMJ-specific warm-up was provided, FWR squat had no additional effect on CMJ performance however the alteration of the squat lift force-time characteristics using EB led to a substantial CMJ enhancement. The findings from the present series of studies have important implications for research study design as the warm-up imposed and the resistive modality selected appear to influence subsequent movement performances, i.e. 1-RM back squat or CMJ performances. In previous studies, standardised (or no) warm-up protocols imposed before the baseline testing have been associated with subsequent enhancements in squat lift and CMJ performances following conditioning contractions, although it is unclear whether this is a consequence of acute neuromuscular alteration relating to the conditioning contractions or to the warm-up itself. Collectively, the present findings, show that physical performance can be enhanced in at least some conditions by application of conditioning contractions even after completion of a comprehensive, test-specific warm-up, which have important practical implications in the formulation of pre-performance warm-up routines where maximal force production is an important goal.
  • Alternative methods for assessing habitat quality in freshwater systems

    Sweet, Michael; Ramsey, Andrew; Brys, Rein; Mauvisseau, Quentin (University of DerbyAquatic Research Facility, Environmental Sustainability Research Centre, University of Derby, 2020-06-03)
    “Water, water, everywhere…”. 71% of the earth’s surface is covered by water, freshwater representing 2.5% of it, and only 1% being accessible. Due, largely to a number of anthropogenic activities (pollution, habitats modification) coupled with the impacts of climate change, a dramatic decline in biodiversity is occurring across all earth’s ecosystems. Surprisingly, freshwater ecosystems receive considerably less attention than many other habitats and therefore, effective biodiversity monitoring programs are urgently needed to assess the health and state of the endangered and threatened species in these aquatic systems. Further, current techniques utilised to survey freshwater ecosystems are often considered ineffective, invasive, time consuming and biased. As a result, the implementation of molecular-based detection tools are attractive options as they are often shown to be more sensitive and cost effective. The use of environmental DNA (eDNA) detection is one such molecular tool which is showing promising results, due to its high reliability, sensitivity and non-invasiveness characters. However, recent studies have highlighted potential limitations associated with eDNA-based detection. Such limitations may lead to a decrease in the confidence of this method. The aim of this thesis was to investigate the use of eDNA-based detection across a number of species and a number of systems, all as a proxy of habitat quality. Stringent laboratory practices and validation guidelines were adhered to, allowing for reliable quality assessments of newly designed eDNA assays outlined in this thesis. Moreover, distinct controlled mesocosm experiments allowed the investigation of critical factors, part of the sampling method or analysis processes leading to an optimisation of eDNA collection and decreasing the rates of false negative results. Several comparison between traditional monitoring techniques and the novel assays were also performed aiding in the confidence of these new methods. Interestingly, the results obtained in this thesis shows a similar efficiency between traditional and eDNA-based methods for monitoring invasive species, but a higher efficiency of eDNA detection when detecting rare or low abundant organisms (i.e. those that are endangered or threatened). Furthermore, this thesis reports an extreme example where a species was found at a number of locations within a stretch of a river, yet undetected with the eDNA assay. In this chapter eDNA detection was only possible when I utilised ddPCR rather than qPCR (the more standard technique for assessing eDNA in any given system). Overall, eDNA detection was found to be an effective tool for assessing the presence of invasive and/or endangered species, increasing theknowledge on their distribution and the impact of future management plans. In this thesis, chapters 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 are organised as case studies, aiming to highlight benefits and limitations of species-specific detection using eDNA.
  • Developing protocols and methods to predictably induce ex situ broadcast coral spawning and increase post settlement survivorship.

    Sweet, Michael; Bulling, Mark; Guest, James; Craggs, Jamie (University of Derby, 2020-04-22)
    The production of broadcast spawning gamete material ex situ has great potential in developing areas for coral research and/or to support initiatives aimed at rebuilding damaged reefs utilising sexually produced spat. Current effectiveness of such restoration practises are limited due to the high mortality rates post settlement and therefore methods aimed at increasing survival, and therefore productivity, are required and vital in order to further support upscaling of such practices. Therefore, this thesis focuses on developing methodology to predictably induce broadcast reef building corals to spawn ex situ and investigate ways to maximise post settlement survivorship. Acquisition of broodstock for any ex situ breeding project is essential. Chapter two describes the methodology designed and implemented in order for me to carry out long distance transportation (a journey time of ~34 hrs) of large (16-37 cm) gravid Acropora hyacinthus (Dana, 1846) colonies from fringing reefs south of Singapore to the Horniman Museum and Gardens, London. Collection was purposefully timed to occur just before the predicted annual mass spawning event and on the day of transportation 12 of the 14 genotypes contained large visible oocytes, which spawned ex situ within the same lunar month as those in the wild. A closed system mesocosm aquarium was designed at the same time, as described in chapter 3 that utilises microprocessor technology to accurately replicate environmental conditions associated with stimulating broadcast spawning events (photoperiod, seasonal solar irradiance, lunar cycles and seasonal temperature) from two synchronous spawning locations, Singapore and the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Coupled with appropriate coral husbandry, four species (A. hyacinthus, Acropora millepora (Ehrenberg 1834), Acropora tenuis (Dana 1846) and Acropora microclados (Ehrenberg 1834)) completed full gametogenic cycles and spawned in a fully closed artificial ex situ environment (in synchrony with the wild). The effects of spawning broadcast corals ex situ is currently unknown, therefore following gamete release embryological development stages of three acroporids (A. millepora, A. tenuis and Acropora anthocercis (Brook 1893)) was assessed utilising scanning electron microscopy and confocal laser scanning microscopy techniques (Chapter 4). No abnormal developmental effects (as result of the ex situ environment) were observed, but the study built on previous works to provide increased detail of fertilisation and early cell stages. Reef building corals typically undergo a type III survival curve in their early life stages, with high mortality rates during early ontogeny. Increased post settlement survival can occur due to size mediated multi-genotype settlement aggregations and species hybridisation. These two factors were empirically tested (Chapter 5) in pure and interspecific hybrid crosses of A. millepora and Acropora anthocercis. Increased survival, and to a lesser extent growth, were observed in post settlement entities with >2 genotypes compared with single genotype primary polyps and in interspecific hybrid crosses compared to pure species crosses, highlighting the role of hybridisation vigour. Reef herbivory may enhance coral settlement and recruitment success however the influence of herbivory size classes on survival benefits are not ubiquitous. In order to assess the positive role that microherbivory may contribute to maximising coral survival and growth ex situ two species, the Tuxedo sea urchin, Mespilia globulus (Linnaeus, 1758) and the reef building coral, A. millepora, were co-cultured at varying densities. Increasing density of microherbivory significantly enhanced coral survival and growth, highlighting this as a potentially beneficial practise in improving productivity of coral produced via sexual reproduction. Finally closing the life cycle of a target organism marks an important milestone in any ex situ breeding programme or aquaculture method. Chapter 7 describes the production of the first F2 generation of A. millepora in a fully closed aquarium environment. In summary, it is therefore hoped this thesis will, in part, make a contribution to coral sexual reproductive research and the important work of reef restoration, particularly in light of the global decline in coral reef ecosystems.
  • Transforming a Research Concept into Commercial Practice: Addressing the ‘Hurdles’ of Single-Species eDNA-based Detection

    Sweet, Michael; Robinson, Louise; Burian, Alfred; Troth, Christopher (University of Derby, 2020-01-15)
    The use of environmental DNA (eDNA) for measuring and monitoring biodiversity has been identified as a novel molecular based method to complement more commonly utilised traditional ecological sampling techniques. It is a time and cost-efficient technique, which is rapidly advancing due to the capabilities of low eDNA detection levels. As the efficiency of the technique has increased, commercial organisations and end-users have gained a greater interest in its application. Despite this, the technique is currently only commercially available from a select few service providers. In the UK, the main target species for commercial scale eDNA-based detection is the great crested newt (Triturus cristatus). Interest has now been sparked for the development of eDNA assays to detect various other species, both for use as a regulated informative tool and a conservation aid. However, many recent studies have highlighted various limitations associated with the use of eDNA-based detection and this appears to be hampering commercialisation of this tool. eDNA-based detection methods remain relatively underdeveloped and un-validated for use as reliable and accurate widespread monitoring programs and other such applications. Here, the so called ‘hurdles’ associated with the development and validation of eDNA-based methods and its use as a fully available commercial service are reviewed and addressed, in order to develop and validate a commercially applicable eDNA assay for the endangered white-clawed crayfish, Austropotamobius pallipes, as a target organism. When designing novel species-specific assays, detailed validation steps need to be undertaken, ensuring they perform under various conditions, habitats, and which sampling methods should be utilised. Currently, more traditional methods used to asses populations of white-clawed crayfish (such as trapping and hand searching) are becoming increasingly more difficult to undertake as the species become rarer and populations more fragmented. Such techniques are therefore expensive (with regard to time spent surveying) and often result in low probability of detection. A new species-specific qPCR assay to detect white-clawed crayfish was developed and tested under various conditions both ex-situ (laboratory and mesocosms) and in-situ (ponds and rivers) to explore the optimum sampling strategy giving the most reliable results. Experiments were also conducted on a wider scale to determine the impact of DNA degradation and seasonal influence on eDNA persistence. Interestingly, this thesis illustrates that sample collection choice is not simple, and the ‘best’ methodology was shown to vary between habitat type. This indicates that great care should be taken when designing any such assays and implementing them in the field. Furthermore, this study highlights that a ‘standard operating procedure’ for eDNA-based detection in the commercial sector may not be possible and this will have to be explored on an assay by assay basis. Alongside case studies from real-world application of the technique, recommendations are made on how this novel eDNA assay can be used for the commercial practice of white-clawed crayfish assessment.
  • Epistemology, theory and Jung: Towards an analytical sport psychology

    Sheffield, David; Cowen, Andrew; University of Derby (University of Derby, 2019-07-22)
    Sport psychology has historically adopted a positivist and post-positivist conceptualization of science at the expense of systematic engagement with epistemology itself (Whaley & Krane, 2011). In this thesis it will be argued that positivist orthodoxy does not hold a monopoly over the idea of science, and that future theoretical developments within sport psychology will require more systematic engagement with epistemology. In order to explore this proposition, the thesis examines the epistemology developed in C. G. Jung’s analytical psychology, an approach which has been generally overlooked within the sport psychology literature. In addition, more recent epistemological developments within psychology are considered with respect to current and future theorising within sport psychology. The thesis is a “desktop study” comprising of 8 chapters. The introduction (chapter 1) outlines how the current crisis within psychological science is epistemological, not methodological, in nature. Chapter 2 identifies key foundational challenges to sport psychology based on positivism; and introduces C. G. Jung’s analytical psychology which developed out of the rejection of a positivist conceptualization of science. Chapter 3 introduces aspects of a new epistemological framework (i.e., unconsciousness~consciousness; the psyche as a process) based on the work of Jung and identifies points of convergence between these contributions and more recent theorising. Chapter 4 considers the implications of analytical psychology with respect to momentum in sports. An original theoretical account of psychological momentum is outlined, based on libido theory (Jung, 1960), and the implications are considered with respect to current literature within sport psychology. Chapter 5 considers more recent developments in psychology (i.e., cybernetic systems paradigm, idiographic science) which have important parallels with analytical psychology, and which have important implications for the future of sport psychology as a science. Chapter 6 outlines an original theoretical perspective with respect to our understanding of performance variation in sport (Cowen, Nesti, & Cheetham, 2014), based on epistemological and theoretical developments outlined in the preceding chapters. Chapter 7 considers the implications of the epistemology outlined in the thesis with respect to current and future theorising in sport psychology. The central theme of this chapter is temporality, which, it is argued is necessarily an axiomatic component of future theoretical work, in order to overcome the foundational problems associated with a positivist conceptualisation of science. In the final concluding chapter (Chapter 8) it is proposed that the provisional epistemological criteria outlined in the thesis (i.e., subject~object, conceptual integration, being~becoming, teleology, temporality) offers a basis on which an analytical sport psychology could be developed. With respect to sport psychology, these criteria suggest that future developments should focus more on understanding performance variation itself rather than prioritising the study of psychological constructs, or objectivist representations, associated with performance. It is concluded that the “personal equation” – the creativity, judgement, intuition and/or insight of the researcher - represents an important component of the process of knowledge construction; which in turn necessitates collaboration as a necessary counterpoint to individual subjectivity. Taken together, this thesis suggests that analytical psychology, despite historically sitting outside of psychological science, can make an important contribution to the future of sport psychology as a scientific discipline.
  • The effects of weaponry and mating experience on the level and outcome of agonistic interactions in male field crickets, gryllus bimaculatus (orthoptera: gryllidae)

    Gee, David; University of Derby (2019-02-15)
    Abstract A wide variety of factors are predicted to influence the intensity and outcome of agonistic interactions in animals, including the resource holding potential of the opponents and the nature and value of the resource over which the individuals are competing. Field crickets (Orthoptera: Gryllidae) have been used extensively as model organisms with which to study animal contests, but relatively few studies have examined the effect of mandible size or structure, or the level of contact with females on the intensity and outcome of agonistic interactions. To do so was the aim of the present thesis, using Gryllus bimaculatus as the study species. The first finding of this study was that there is a significant degree of sexual dimorphism for anterior components of the anatomy in G. bimaculatus. The mandibles, head and pronotum of male crickets were all relatively larger than those of females. This indicates that these traits may be acted upon by intrasexual selection. In many animal species that show sexual dimorphism, a trade-off in development sees enhanced weapon growth at the expense of testes size, but no such relationship was seen in this species. A comparison of the mandible structure of males that either won or lost at flaring and or wrestling showed that a relatively wider mandible span was a significant predictor of success during mandible displays. It was also found that specific components of tooth structure, namely the length of the incisor and length to distal tip, were significantly associated with victory at the jaw flaring stage. This is the first time that mandible shape has been shown to affect fight outcome in the Gryllidae, and also the first confirmed identification of a visual cue component of fighting behaviour. Despite the effectiveness of their weapons in fighting, body mass is a primary predictor of victory in combat between G. bimaculatus males, with the greater the degree of asymmetry in weight the more likely the heavier fighter will win. However, a study of fighting behaviour between asymmetrically matched opponents found that even males who were out-weighed by 40% were still likely to escalate the fight to grappling. Furthermore, males who were able to fend off their larger opponent in their first clash were significantly more likely to win their overall encounter. This hyper-aggressive response may therefore represent an adaptive mechanism to extreme odds and is worthy of further study. Female contact is known to be a significant promoter of male aggression and fighting enthusiasm, and mate guarding aggression is well documented in G. bimaculatus. A recreation of two contradictory studies, including one which concluded that mating makes males lose fights, highlighted that female contact after spermatophore transfer can overcome the loser effect and cause a male to re-engage with a previously dominant opponent. Fighting behaviour in this species is therefore highly flexible and factors affecting the outcome of contests are complex. There is much scope for further studies on this topic.
  • The effect of cognitive and emotion-based processes on the Iowa Gambling Task

    Simonovic, Boban; University of Derby (2018)
    Real life decision-making depends on a complex interplay between cognitive and emotion-based processes. Damasio (1994) developed the Somatic Marker Hypothesis (SMH) arguing that emotion-based processes guide decision-making by directing individuals towards alternatives that have been previously ‘marked’ as positive or guide them away from the negative options. The primarily used test-bed of the emotion-based learning is Iowa Gambling Task (IGT, Bechara, Damasio, Damasio, & Anderson, 1994). The SMH makes three assumptions about the IGT behaviour: (a) somatic markers have a negative connotation and bias decision-making covertly in the absence of explicit knowledge, (b) there is a limited role for cognitive procesesing during IGT performance, especially during the initial stages of the task, and (c) anticipatory somatic markers guide decision-choices away from the bad options as participants are able to anticipate the good and the bad options. This thesis tested the SMH using a combination of psychophysiological methods (Eye-tracking, Pupillometry, Heart Rate and Blood Pressure measurements), behavioural measurements and psychometric measures of individual differences in combination with the IGT. The systematic review, meta-analyses and the experiments described in this Thesis explored the validity of these assumptions and found that they are not accurately manifested in behaviour during IGT performance. A novel methodology not previously employed was used to capture somatic markers through pupillary responses. Explicit learning was also assessed by the eye-tracking methodology in testing IGT performance in normal conditions and under stress. The results from the first two experiments indicated that explicit processing and knowledge about the task are more critical factors during the early stages of the game than previously suggested. Although there were some indicators of the existence of somatic markers, it was found that cognitive reflection, conscious awareness and increased cognitive processing occurred early in the game and guided behaviour on IGT. The results from the final experiment revealed that IGT performance in healthy individuals is not always optimal; stress levels impaired performance whereby a lack of, or insufficient cognitive processing early in the game may create a somatic signal that interferes with IGT performance. Furthermore, attentional processing, cognitive reflection and conscious awareness can be disrupted by stress resulting in non-optimal decision-making strategies that consequently interfere with performance on the IGT. Taken together, these results challenge the basic premises of the SMH and could be best explained within the dual-process framework (e.g., Brevers, Bechara, Cleeremans, & Noel, 2013). If somatic markers do not play a significant role in learning IGT than the task needs to be re-evaluated and caution is warranted when the IGT is used as a diagnostic tool to measure decision-making deficits in clinical populations.
  • Problematic painkiller use in the general population: a multi-national comparison exploring the role of accessibility of painkillers and psychological factors

    Said, Omimah; University of Derby (2018)
    Problematic painkiller use is a large and increasing problem worldwide, leading to serious physical, psychological and social consequences. Existing research indicates that accessibility of painkillers and psychological factors could have a role in problematic painkiller use. To clarify, accessibility refers to ease of obtaining painkillers, whilst psychological factors refer to individual-level processes and meanings that influence mental states (Upton, 2013). However, there have been few studies conducted, and these studies have focused mainly on either clinical samples or women with childbirth pain. Hence, the role among the general population is less clear. The aim of the present thesis was therefore to focus on the role of accessibility and psychological factors in problematic painkiller use among the general population. Three studies were conducted: one study compared the general population of the UK (N = 295) and Egypt (N = 420) regarding the role of accessibility of painkillers and psychological factors, including attitudes and beliefs towards pain, painkillers, self-medication and alternative methods of pain relief; another study was a multi-national comparison of these variables among the general population of more countries including Germany (N = 217), USA (N = 146), Australia (N = 93) and China (N = 76); another study focused on the role of psychological factors over time among the UK general population (N = 529), specifically attitudes and beliefs towards painkillers, as well as pain catastrophising, pain acceptance, pain self-efficacy and alexithymia. In these studies, the role of accessibility and psychological factors was investigated using online surveys, with participants aged 18 years or over, who experienced pain in the last month, used over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription painkillers in the last month, and were residents of the countries concerned. An additional study was conducted to develop 14-item versions of the Survey of Pain Attitudes-Brief (SOPA-B-14) and the Pain Medication Attitudes Questionnaire (PMAQ-14), which also tested the validity of these scales. Results Accessibility of painkillers and psychological factors predicted problematic painkiller use. However, there were several differences between the countries regarding the particular role of these factors. In the longitudinal study of the UK general population, changes in psychological factors were found over time, but attitudes and beliefs about withdrawal from painkillers was the only psychological factor that predicted problematic painkiller use over time. In addition, testing the validity of the SOPA-B-14 and PMAQ-14 showed that these scales were valid. The present research provided understanding regarding the role of accessibility and psychological factors in problematic painkiller use among the general population, and the role of psychological factors over time. Based on this understanding, interventions focusing on accessibility and psychological factors should be developed to reduce problematic painkiller use, but tailored to the particular factors that were predictors for each country. The present research also developed a valid SOPA-B-14 and PMAQ-14, therefore these scales can be used rather than the full versions to make assessment easier.
  • A comparison of methods of quantifying and assessing the behaviour and welfare of Bornean Orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus):

    Bentley, Ruth H; University of Derby (2018)
    The maintenance of both the psychological and physiological health of captive animals is a key priority of modern zoos. Recognising that characteristics of the captive environment have the potential to decrease animal welfare, methods for quantifying and assessing welfare have been developed as part of the process for improving animal welfare. Traditionally, observations of animal behaviour and quantifying time budgets in relation to those of the animals’ wild counterparts have been utilised to assess animal welfare. Hormonal assays have also been implemented to quantify the physiological stress response of animals in captivity and identify the extent of stress being experienced. Each of these methods focuses on a different indicator of animal welfare, is quantified in different ways and provides a different perspective on the welfare of the animals. Given the limited time and financial budgets available to zoos and animal carers, identifying the most appropriate method of welfare assessment would be advantageous in helping to secure the best possible health of captive animals and to maximise their value in captivity. This thesis implemented both behavioural observations and hormonal assays to identify the strengths and weaknesses of each methodology, and make recommendations for future research. The study involved a group of four Bornean orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus) housed at Twycross Zoo. Behavioural observations involved continuous group sampling and the development of an ethogram to record a comprehensive account of orangutan activity over the course of a 12 week enrichment programme. Simultaneous to these observations, faecal samples were collected from each orangutan and processed via Enzyme Immunoassay (EIA) to quantify levels of faecal glucocorticoid metabolites (fGCM) in each sample. While recognising the recent developments in ecological analytical methods, the capacity for extending network analysis beyond the application to social networks, and its use as a welfare assessment tool were explored. Behavioural and space-use networks were developed using data from a second study of the orangutans housed at Twycross Zoo. The flexibility of network analysis in visually representing different data types allowed for the intuitive representation of complex behavioural data. Further research investigated the use of network metrics in providing deeper insights into animal behaviour and space use patterns. In addition, bipartite networks were assessed for their potential to detect and show patterns in the relationships between two sets of behavioural data. Each of the methods used had a number of strengths and weaknesses, but importantly each contributed a different perspective in the assessment of behaviour patterns and welfare, suggesting that an integrated approach to behaviour studies utilising several methods would be ideal. Cost and logistic constraints make this unlikely in most cases. However, the thesis ends with a look to the future and the recognition that the current rapid development of technology for use in animal behaviour studies, coupled with equally rapid development of analytical techniques, may help to dramatically increase the amount of information gained from the average animal behaviour study in the future. Such improvements have never been more urgent, with the requirement for understanding animal behaviour in light of current extinction rates within the context of habitat destruction and climate change. It is hoped that this thesis will make a contribution to improving future animal behaviour and welfare studies by providing an assessment of both traditional methods of study as well as demonstrating the use and potential of new ways of applying network analysis within such studies.
  • Pain responses in athletes:

    Thornton, Claire; University of Derby (2018-09-04)
  • Risk-taking and expenditure in digital roulette: Examining the impact of tailored dynamic information and warnings on gambling attitudes and behaviours.

    McGivern, Paul R.; University of Derby (2018-07-20)
    Digital gambling is the fastest growing form of gambling in the world (Reilly & Smith, 2013a). Technological advancements continually increase access to gambling, which has led to increased social acceptance and uptake (Dragicevic & Tsogas, 2014) with Roulette being among the most popular games played both online and on Electronic Gaming Machines. In response, gambling stakeholders have drawn on the structural characteristics of gambling platforms to develop and improve Responsible Gambling (RG) devices for casual gamblers. Many RG data-tracking systems employ intuitive ‘traffic-light’ metaphors that enable gamblers to monitor their gambling (e.g. Wood & Griffiths, 2008), though uptake of voluntary RG devices is low (Schellinck & Schrans, 2011), leading to calls for mandatory RG systems. Another area that has received considerable RG research focus involves the use of pop-up messages (Auer & Griffiths, 2014). Studies have examined various message content, such as correcting erroneous beliefs, encouraging self-appraisal, gambling cessation, and the provision of personalised feedback. To date, findings have been inconsistent but promising. A shift towards the use of personalised information has become the preferred RG strategy, though message content and timing/frequency requires improvement (Griffiths, 2014). Moreover, warning messages are unable to provide continuous feedback to gamblers. In response to this, and calls for a ‘risk meter’ to improve monitoring of gambling behaviours (Wiebe & Philander, 2013), this thesis tested the impact of a risk meter alongside improved pop-up warning messages as RG devices for within-session roulette gambling. The thesis aimed to establish the optimal application of these devices for facilitating safer gambling behaviours. In support of the aims of RG research to evaluate the impact of devices on gambling attitudes and behaviours, the Elaboration Likelihood Model was identified as a suitable framework to test the proposed RG devices (Petty & Cacioppo, 1986). Both the interactive risk meter and pop-up messages were developed based on existing methods and recommendations in the RG literature, and examined via a series of laboratory-based roulette simulation experiments. Overall, results found the risk meter to be most effective when used as an interactive probability meter. Self-appraisal/Informative pop-up warnings were examined alongside expenditure-specific and hyrbid warnings. Findings showed that hybrid messages containing both types of information to be most effective, with optimal display points at 75%, 50%, 25% and 10% of remaining gambling credit. The final study tested both optimised devices (probability meter and hybrid messages). Results showed that using both RG devices in combination was most effective in facilitating reduced gambling risk and early within-session gambling cessation. Findings support the use of personalised, interactive RG devices using accurate context-specific information for the facilitation of safer gambling. The ELM was shown to be an effective model for testing RG devices, though findings suggested only temporary shifts in attitude change and a lack of impact on future gambling intentions. Overall, support for the implementation of RG devices that facilitate positive, temporary behaviour change that do not negatively impact on broader gambling attitudes or gambling enjoyment. Implications for theory, implementation, and RG frameworks are discussed, alongside recommendations for future research.
  • How men experience, understand, and describe masculinity: A phenomenological psychological analysis and photovoice exploration.

    Earnshaw, Deborah; University of Derby (University of Derby, 2018-04-17)
    This thesis is an examination of how men describe and experience masculinity. Psychological and sociological research has suggested that masculinity is malleable (Smiler, 2006), there are different versions or pluralities of masculinity (Connell 1995) and can be context-dependent (Gilbert & Gilbert, 2017). Often however hegemonic masculinity is considered the only type of masculinity, and is not flexible, especially when discussed on a social level (Cuthbert, 2015). Based on the researcher’s cultural, social and historical knowledge and understanding, masculinity is very different for people and so is understood, demonstrated and experienced in various ways. This research employed an unstructured interview design, incorporating photovoice, with five participants overall where each participant, except one, was interviewed twice. The first interview was researcher-led, with images provided by the researcher to be the focus for the participant. The second interview was participant-led, with the images provided by the participant to represent what they considered to be masculine or represented masculinity in their everyday life. The data collected was analysed using a combination of phenomenological methods; Descriptive Phenomenological Psychology (Giorgi, 2009) and Hermeneutic Phenomenology (van Manen, 2016). The thesis is presented in two halves. The first is researcher-led and draws on hermeneutic psychology and presents three themes were found from the first interviews: Hegemonic Masculinity with Traditional Masculinity, Characteristics and Non-Conformity; Societal Influence with Culture, Image and Media; and Feminism and Women. The second part of the thesis is participant-led, and draws out the descriptive phenomenological aspects by presenting each individual’s interaction with their chosen images and their ensuing descriptions of masculinity illustrated by them. Themes in this context are individually related rather than demonstrated through a cross-case analysis. Findings demonstrated masculinity as an individual identity, with a social expectation of how men should behave and portray themselves. The way it is perceived, understood, experienced and described is different for each person, as was demonstrated here with the participants’ second interviews. Future research should consider expanding research to include more on everyday factors, such as the use and influence of social media, the projection of masculinity throughout a man’s life, and how men and women both aid in the creation and maintenance of masculinity.
  • Late quaternary fluvial system response to climatic change over the past 200ka on Mallorca, Illes Balears.

    Thompson, Warren; University of Derby (University of Derby, 2017-11-02)
    Outcrops of late Quaternary deposits along the north–east coast of Mallorca were examined, and a high resolution chronological framework established using optically stimulated luminescence of quartz and feldspar grains. Coastal sections at Es Barrancar and Cala Mata record a complex succession of alluvial fan deposition with a minor aeolian component, mainly deposited during the last two glacial cycles. For the last ~200ka different orbital configurations appear to have produced a series of subtly different climatic scenarios that resulted in great variations in the regional availability of moisture. In turn, each of these climatic scenarios set in motion a distinct set of sedimentary processes, which imprinted themselves upon the character of fluvial system response recorded in the alluvial archives on Mallorca. Within the resulting complex of sediments were units of fluvially reworked aeolianite which, although truncated in places, were traceable laterally along wide sections of the sea front outcrops of both fan systems. These archives yielded 47 new OSL and pIRIR290 ages which suggest a number of previously unrecognised periods of enhanced fluvial activity. Luminescence ages identify significant ephemeral fluvial activity taking place during MIS 6, MIS 5 sub-stages d/c, b/a, and across the MIS 5/4 boundary. Another major phase of reworking corresponds with the middle part of MIS 3, and continued sporadically into the Last Glacial Maximum. These fluvial reworking events have been interpreted as having taken place during cold arid climatic intervals, when vegetation was at a minimum, precipitation was low and displayed a much higher degree of seasonality, enhancing the effects of runoff.
  • The cognitive and personality differences of supernatural belief.

    Schofield, Malcolm B.; University of Derby (2017-12-20)
    This thesis set out to meet the following aim and objectives: Aim: Examine cognition and personality of people who hold different types of supernatural belief. Objective 1: Create and validate a new scale to measure supernatural belief. Objective 2: Create and test a new model of supernatural belief based on cognition and personality. This would potentially test two hypotheses: the Cognitive Deficits Hypothesis and the Psychodynamics Functions Hypothesis. This was accomplished by conducting four studies. Studies one and two created and validated the new Belief in the Supernatural Scale (BitSS), a 44 item scale with the following five factors: ‘mental and psychic phenomena’, ‘religious belief’, ‘psychokinesis’, ‘supernatural entities’, and ‘common paranormal perceptions’. Cognition and personality would be looked at within the context of four different types of believer: ‘believers’, ‘paranormal believers’, ‘sceptics’ and ‘religious believers’. Study three revealed two profiles relating to cognition: ‘reflective thinkers’ and ‘intuitive believers’. The reflective profile was more likely to contain ‘sceptics’ and ‘believers’, and least likely to contain ‘paranormal believers’. The intuitive group was more likely to contain ‘religious believers’ and ‘believers’. The final study looked at personality alongside cognition and revealed ‘sensitive and abstract thinkers’ and ‘reflective metacognitive dogmatists’ profiles. The ‘sensitive and abstract thinkers’ were least likely to contain ‘sceptics’ and ‘religious believers’ and most likely to contain ‘believers’ and ‘paranormal believers’. The ‘reflective metacognitive dogmatists’ were most likely to contain ‘religious believers’ and ‘believers’ and least likely to contain ‘paranormal believers’. Following this analysis, Structural Equation Modelling was used to test seven different models of personality, cognition and belief. Studies one and two indicated a clear separation of religious and paranormal belief within the new scale, and that spiritual belief overlaps between the two. The scale developed was reliable and valid, and accurately reflected the concept of supernatural belief and enabled the measurement of religious and paranormal belief, where the overlaps were acknowledged whilst still being separate beliefs. Studies three and four found the ‘sceptics’ and ‘religious believers’ have remarkably similar profiles, indicating that the religious beliefs themselves may have been cognitively ring-fenced off in some way. The ‘paranormal believers’ however were not reflective thinkers and were not metacognitively active, indicating that they were not aware that they were not thinking critically or analytically. The Structural Equation Model showed that schizotypy was the main predictor of belief. The relationship between belief and cognition was more complex; it was dependent on what type of belief was active. Paranormal belief required a more intuitive thinking style to be present, whereas religious belief could withstand a reflective mind set. This thesis develops a new scale that measures supernatural belief provides a unique contribution to knowledge by establishing a model of cognition, personality and belief.

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