Sub-decadal- to decadal-scale climate cyclicity during the Holsteinian interglacial (MIS 11) evidenced in annually laminated sediments
Ulrich C. Müller
- To unravel the short-term climate variability during Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 11, which represents a close analogue to the Holocene with regard to orbital boundary conditions, we performed microfacies and time series analyses on a ~3200-yr-long record of annually laminated Holsteinian lake sediments from Dethlingen, northern Germany. These biogenic varves comprise two sub-layers: a light sub-layer, which is controlled by spring/summer diatom blooms, and a dark sub-layer consisting mainly of amorphous organic matter and fragmented diatom frustules deposited during autumn/winter. Time series analyses were performed on the thickness of the light and dark sub-layers. Signals exceeding the 95% and 99% confidence levels occur at periods that are near-identical to those known from modern instrumental data and Holocene palaeoclimatic records. Spectral peaks at periods of 90, 25, and 10.5 yr are likely associated with the 88-, 22- and 11-yr solar cycles, respectively. This variability is mainly expressed in the light sub-layer spectra, suggesting solar influence on the palaeoproductivity of the lake. Significant signals at periods between 3 and 5 yr and at ∼6 yr are strongest expressed in the dark sub-layer spectra and may reflect an influence of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) during autumn/winter. Our results suggest that solar forcing and ENSO/NAO-like variability influenced central European climate during MIS 11 similarly to the present interglacial, thus demonstrating the comparability of the two interglacial periods at sub-decadal to decadal timescales.
The Holsteinian interglacial (MIS 11c) as a palaeoclimatic analogue to the Holocene : comparison of climate and ecosystem variability
- Owing to long-term similarities with regard to orbital climate forcing (i.e., low eccentricity and a dampened influence of precession), Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 11 represents one of the closest astronomical analogues for present and future climate. Hence, insights into the climate variability of MIS 11 can contribute to a better understanding of the climatic evolution of the present (Holocene) interglacial as it would occur without human interference. In order to elucidate the natural climate variability during MIS 11, this study examines predominantly annually laminated lake sediments of Holsteinian age from Dethlingen, northern Germany. The Holsteinian interglacial is widely accepted to be the terrestrial equivalent of MIS 11c in central Europe and can be biostratigraphically correlated with the Hoxnian, Mazovian and Praclaux interglacials on the British Isles, in Poland and in France, respectively. These correlations yield the potential to cross-check the results from individual sites on a regional scale. This study is based on a multi-proxy approach including palynological, micropaleontological, sedimentological, geochemical and time series analyses within a wellconstrained chronological framework that has been established through varve counting and regional bio-stratigraphic correlations with other annually laminated archives of Holsteinian age. In particular, the here-presented study aims at (i) fingerprinting the long-term (centennial- to millennial-scale) and short-term (sub-decadal- to decadal-scale) climate variability during the Holsteinian interglacial, (ii) deciphering the nature, tempo and trigger mechanisms of abrupt climate change under interglacial boundary conditions, and (iii) assessing its impact on terrestrial ecosystems. With regard to long-term climate variability, the vegetation succession at Dethlingen as inferred from pollen data provides insights into the mesocratic to telocratic forest phases of a glacial-interglacial cycle spanning ~11500 (± 1000) years of the 15-16-ka-long Holsteinian interglacial. The development of temperate mixed forests suggests a general prevalence of mild climatic conditions during the Holsteinian. The older parts of the interglacial are characterised by the strong presence of boreal tree taxa (e.g., Picea), whereas the younger parts of the interglacial are marked by the expansion of sub-Atlantic to Atlantic forest elements (e.g., Abies, Buxus, Ilex, Quercus) and the decline of boreal tree taxa. This vegetation succession suggests a general warming trend and decreasing seasonality over the course of the Holsteinian interglacial. Based on the maximum pollen abundances of indicator tree taxa (e.g., Buxus and Quercus), peak warmth was reached during the later stages of the interglacial; it was accompanied by high humidity. The forest succession of the Holsteinian interglacial was punctuated by abrupt and gradual changes in the abundances of temperate plant taxa. These vegetation changes indicate considerable intra-interglacial climate variability. In particular, two marked declines of temperate taxa leading to the transient development of boreal and sub-boreal forests were triggered by centennial-scale climate oscillations, here termed Older and Younger Holsteinian Oscillations (OHO and YHO). These oscillations occurred ~6000 and ~9000 years after the onset of the interglacial pioneer forestation in central Europe, respectively. To assess the impact of abrupt climate change on terrestrial ecosystems during the Holsteinian and to investigate the underlying driving mechanisms, the intervals spanning the OHO and the YHO at Dethlingen were subjected to decadal-scale palynological and sedimentological analyses. Based on these data, the OHO comprises a 90-year-long decline of temperate taxa associated with expansion of Pinus and non-arboreal pollen, and a subsequent 130-year-long recovery of temperate taxa marked by the pioneer expansion of Betula and Alnus. Owing to its highly characteristic imprint on vegetation dynamics, the OHO can be identified in pollen records from the central European lowlands north of 50º latitude, from the British Isles to Poland. A close inspection of individual pollen records from that region reveals the prevalence of colder winters during the OHO, with a gradient of decreasing temperature and moisture availability, and increased continentality towards eastern Europe. This climate pattern points to a weakened influence of the westerlies and/or stronger influence of the Siberian High connected to the OHO. The vegetation dynamics during the YHO are characterised by a decline of temperate taxa (particularly of Carpinus) and the expansion of pioneer trees (mainly Betula). In contrast to the OHO, frost-sensitive taxa (e.g., Ilex, Buxus and Hedera) continued to thrive. This suggests that mean winter temperatures remained relatively high (>0 ºC) during the YHO pointing to a decrease of summer warmth related to the climatic deterioration. The YHO, which has a duration on the order of 300 years, is centered within a long-term (~1500-year) decline and subsequent, millennial-scale recovery of temperate taxa. Because the impact of the OHO and the YHO on the vegetation at Dethlingen was markedly different, both short-term climate oscillations may have been caused by different trigger mechanisms. For the OHO, the inferred regional-scale winter cooling over central Europe lasting for several decades points to a decrease in ocean heat transport, most likely related to a transient slowdown in North Atlantic Deep Water formation. This view is supported by the strong resemblance of the OHO to the 8.2 ka event of the Holocene with regard to the duration, imprint on terrestrial ecosystems, spatial pattern of the climatic impact, timing within the respective interglacial, and prevailing interglacial boundary conditions. In contrast, the presence of frost-sensitive taxa during the YHO appears to exclude a reduction in oceanic heat transport as postulated for the OHO. Instead, the long-lasting, gradual changes in the abundances of temperate taxa suggest a connection to orbital forcing, with the triggering mechanism causing the centennial-scale vegetation setback itself remaining unclear. The characteristics of short-term climate variability were investigated based on microfacies and time series analyses of a ~3200-year-long, annually laminated window of the Dethlingen record. The annual laminations at Dethlingen comprise biogenic varves consisting of two discrete sub-layers. The light layers, which are controlled by the intensity of diatoms blooms during spring/summer, reflect changes in the productivity of the Dethlingen palaeolake. In contrast, the dark layers, which consist predominantly of amorphous organic matter and fragmented diatom frustules, represent sediment deposition during autumn/winter. Spectral analyses of the thicknesses of the light and dark layers have revealed several peaks exceeding the 95% and 99% confidence levels that are near-identical to those known from modern instrumental data and Holocene records. Decadal-scale signals at periods of 90, 25, and 10.5 years are likely associated with the 88-, 22- and 11-year solar cycles; hence, solar activity appears to have been a forcing agent in productivity changes of the Dethlingen palaeolake. Sub-decadal-scale signals at periods between 3 and 5 years and ~6 years may reflect an influence of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) on varve formation during winter.
Förderung von selbstreguliertem Lernen im schulischen Kontext
- Die vorliegende Arbeit beschäftigt sich in drei Studien mit verschiedenen Möglichkeiten, selbstreguliertes Lernen im schulischen Kontext zu fördern. Dabei werden einerseits Interventionen (Schüler-, Lehrer- und Elterntrainings) zur Selbstregulationsförderung in ihrer Wirksamkeit untersucht, andererseits wird die Förderung des selbstregulierten Lernens im regulären Unterricht in den Blick genommen. Den Studien liegen sozial-kognitive Modelle des selbstregulierten Lernens (Boekaerts, 1999; Otto, 2007) zugrunde, die das Zusammenspiel von kognitiven, metakognitiven und motivational-emotionalen Aspekten sowie die Rolle der Lernumwelt für die Selbstregulation betonen.
In der ersten Studie wird ein Trainingsprogramm zur Förderung des selbstregulierten Lernens hinsichtlich seiner Wirkung auf die Schülermotivation evaluiert. Hierbei interessierte unter anderem die differenzielle Wirksamkeit von direkten (Schülertraining) und indirekten (Lehrer-/Elterntrainings) Interventionen. Es konnte gezeigt werden, dass sich das Trainingsprogramm positiv auf motivationale Variablen der Schüler auswirkt. Diese Effekte waren teilweise auch langfristig nachweisbar. Die Befunde deuten auf eine Überlegenheit des direkten Trainings gegenüber den indirekten Trainings in Bezug auf einige motivationale Variablen hin.
Die zweite Studie beschäftigt sich im Rahmen von Videoanalysen mit der Frage, wie Lehrer die Förderung von selbstreguliertem Lernen im alltäglichen Unterricht gestalten. Zudem wurden Auswirkungen von unterschiedlichen Arten der Förderung auf die Schülerleistung untersucht. Basierend auf systematischen Beobachtungen konnten Aussagen über die Unterrichtspraxis der untersuchten Lehrer bezüglich der Förderung des selbstregulierten Lernens gemacht werden. Ein zentrales Ergebnis betrifft die Effekte von expliziter Strategievermittlung, für die im Gegensatz zur impliziten Strategievermittlung Zusammenhänge mit der Leistungsentwicklung der Schüler nachgewiesen werden konnten.
In der dritten Studie sollten mögliche Einflussfaktoren auf die Strategievermittlung im Unterricht identifiziert werden. Dafür wurden wieder Unterrichtsbeobachtungen herangezogen und Zusammenhänge mit Merkmalen des Unterrichtskontexts und mit Lehrerüberzeugungen hergestellt. Die Ergebnisse deuten darauf hin, dass die Strategievermittlung der Lehrer über verschiedene Unterrichtskontexte hinweg eine hohe Stabilität aufweist. Außerdem lassen die Befunde darauf schließen, dass Lehrerüberzeugungen eine wichtige Rolle für die Strategievermittlung im Unterricht spielen.
Zusammenfassend lässt sich festhalten, dass sich sowohl Selbstregulationstrainings als auch in den Unterricht integrierte Selbstregulationsförderung erfolgreich einsetzen lassen. Möglichkeiten zur Optimierung der Förderung des selbstregulierten Lernens in der schulischen Praxis werden vor dem Hintergrund der Befunde diskutiert.
Antidepressive Eigenschaften flavonoidhaltiger Pflanzenextrakte
- Zwei flavonoidhaltige Pflanzenextrakte, der neuartige Extrakt WS1261, sowie der standardisierte Ginkgo biloba L.-Extrakt EGb761 wurden auf antidepressive Wirkungsmechanismen untersucht, zusätzlich als chemisch definierte Einzelsubstanz das in beiden enthaltene Flavonoid Isorhamnetin. Methodisch wurden hierzu Effekte auf Transporter und Enzyme des Monoaminstoffwechsels, depressionsrelevante Stresshormone neurotrophe Eigenschaften untersucht.
WS1261 hemmte in höheren Konzentrationen in vitro die (Wieder-) Aufnahmetransportmechanismen von NA und 5-HT. Ex vivo war ein Effekt auf die Aufnahme von NA und 5-HT weder nach 1 h, noch 4 h nach Akutbehandlungen zu sehen, sondern erst nach (14-taegiger) subchronischer Behandlung, und dann auch nur Ufer 5-HT zu messen. Nach subchronischer Behandlung konnte eine ebenfalls in vitro festgestellte Hemmung der MAO-A durch WS1261 ebenfalls ex vivo gezeigt werden.
EGb761 hemmte in vitro die Wiederaufnahme von NA, 5-HT und DA. Ex vivo war dieser Effekt weder 1 h, noch 4 h nach einer Akutgabe, allerdings nach 14-taegiger Dauerbehandlung im Bezug auf eine Hemmung der NA-Aufnahme messbar, ohne dass MAO-A oder MAO-B-Aktivitaet beeinflusst wurden.
WS1261 erhoehte nach 14-taegiger Behandlung konzentrationsabhaengig die Plasma-Corticosteronspiegel. WS1261 war in der Lage, die Ausdifferenzierung von PC12-Zellen konzentrationsabhaengig zu fördern, wodurch auf eine Wirkung ähnlich dem neurotrophen Wachstumsfaktor NGF geschlossen werden kann. Die Konzentration des Wachstumsfaktor BDNF wurde in zwei relevanten Hirnregionen durch WS1261 nicht, in einer jedoch durch Isorhamnetin allein erhoeht.
Zusammengefasst ergaben sich Hinweise darauf, dass eine mögliche antidepressive Wirkung von WS1261 durch eine Wirkung auf eine Beeinflussung des Monoaminstoffwechsels, oder die Erhöhung depressionsrelevanter Stresshormonlevel erklärbar sein koennte, insbesondere nach subchronischer Behandlung. Es ergaben sich ausserdem Hinweise auf wachstumsfaktoraehnliche Wirkungsweisen. Eine Wirkung ueber eine Erhšhung zentraler BDNF-Konzentrationen konnte durch die vorliegende Untersuchung im Beobachtungszeitrum nicht festgestellt werden.
Die literaturbekannte kognitionsverbessernde Wirkung des Ginkgo biloba-Extraktes EGb761 koennte erklärbar sein durch eine nach subchronischer Behandlung feststellbare Hemmung des Noradrenalintransporters NET, da im frontalen Cortex vor allem ueber diesen die synaptische Elimination des hier mit Aufmerksamkeit und Lernprozessen im Zusammenhang stehenden Neurotransmitters Dopamin erfolgt.
Das in beiden Extrakten enthaltene Flavonoid Isorhamnetin kann hšchstens mit einem Teil dieser festgestellten Effekte in Verbindung stehen, da die Extrakte sich in ihrer Wirkungsweise unterschieden, und Isorhamnetin alleine teilweise andere Effekte zeigte, als die isorhamnetinhaltigen Extrakte WS1261 und EGb761. Dies koennte jedoch auch durch die unterschiedlichen in den Extrakten enthaltenen Mengen erklärbar sein.
Comparative evaluation of left ventricular mass regression after aortic valve replacement: a prospective randomized analysis
Jeffrey P. Wood
Arndt Holger Kiessling
- Background: We assessed the hemodynamic performance of various prostheses and the clinical outcomes after aortic valve replacement, in different age groups.
Methods: One-hundred-and-twenty patients with isolated aortic valve stenosis were included in this prospective randomized randomised trial and allocated in three age-groups to receive either pulmonary autograft (PA, n = 20) or mechanical prosthesis (MP, Edwards Mira n = 20) in group 1 (age < 55 years), either stentless bioprosthesis (CE Prima Plus n = 20) or MP (Edwards Mira n = 20) in group 2 (age 55-75 years) and either stentless (CE Prima Plus n = 20) or stented bioprosthesis (CE Perimount n = 20) in group 3 (age > 75). Clinical outcomes and hemodynamic performance were evaluated at discharge, six months and one year.
Results: In group 1, patients with PA had significantly lower mean gradients than the MP (2.6 vs. 10.9 mmHg, p = 0.0005) with comparable left ventricular mass regression (LVMR). Morbidity included 1 stroke in the PA population and 1 gastrointestinal bleeding in the MP subgroup. In group 2, mean gradients did not differ significantly between both populations (7.0 vs. 8.9 mmHg, p = 0.81). The rate of LVMR and EF were comparable at 12 months; each group with one mortality. Morbidity included 1 stroke and 1 gastrointestinal bleeding in the stentless and 3 bleeding complications in the MP group. In group 3, mean gradients did not differ significantly (7.8 vs 6.5 mmHg, p = 0.06). Postoperative EF and LVMR were comparable. There were 3 deaths in the stented group and no mortality in the stentless group. Morbidity included 1 endocarditis and 1 stroke in the stentless compared to 1 endocarditis, 1 stroke and one pulmonary embolism in the stented group.
Conclusions: Clinical outcomes justify valve replacement with either valve substitute in the respective age groups. The PA hemodynamically outperformed the MPs. Stentless valves however, did not demonstrate significantly superior hemodynamics or outcomes in comparison to stented bioprosthesis or MPs.
EGFL7 ligates α_1tnvβ_1tn3 [alpha v beta 3] integrin to enhance blood vessel formation
- Blood vessel formation is a well orchestrated process where multiple components including different cells types, growth factors as well as extracellular matrix proteins act in synergistic and highly regulated manner to support the growth of new blood vessels. During embryonic development this process is marked as vasculogenesis and entails the differentiation of mesodermal cells into angioblasts and their subsequent fusion into a primitive vascular plexus. Angiogenesis, in contrast, describes the formation of new vessels from the pre-existing vasculature and it occurs in the embryo during remodeling of the primitive plexus into a mature vascular network. Furthermore, in the adult, angiogenic processes play a role in various physiological and pathological conditions. Angiogenesis is governed by a set of factors and molecular mechanisms whose identification has been a major focus of cardiovascular research for the past several decades. Most recently, Epidermal growth factor-like domain 7 (EGFL7) has been described as a novel molecular player in this context. This secreted protein is produced by endothelial cells and has been implicated in vessel development. Studies performed in zebrafish revealed an important role for EGFL7 in lumen formation during vasculogenesis although the underlying molecular mechanism has not been elucidated yet. In contrast, the investigation of EGFL7’s functions during angiogenic sprouting has faced several challenges and the role of EGFL7 in angiogenesis remained elusive. The purpose of this thesis was to identify the functions of EGFL7 during angiogenic mode of vessel formation in a systematic fashion using numerous in vitro as well as in vivo approaches.
Previously it has been suggested that EGFL7 might associate with the extracellular matrix from where it could exert its effects. Indeed, we could show that EGFL7 accumulates on the outer surface of endothelial cells in vivo by demonstrating its co-localization with collagen IV, a major constituent of the basal lamina. Furthermore, after its secretion to the extracellular matrix (ECM), EGFL7 seemed to interact with some components of the extracellular matrix including fibronectin and vitronectin, but not collagens and laminin.
A major group of receptors that mediate the interaction between the cells and the ECM are integrin receptors. Our co-immunoprecipitation studies revealed that EGFL7 associated with integrin αvβ3 which is highly expressed in endothelial cells and known to be important for vessel growth. Importantly, this EGFL7-αvβ3 integrin interaction was dependent on Arg-Gly-Asp (RGD) motif present within the second EGF-like domain of EGFL7 protein. Adhesion assays performed with human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC) revealed that EGFL7 promoted endothelial cell adhesion compared to BSA used as a negative control, however, adhesion seemed to be less efficient as compared to bona fide ECM proteins such as fibronectin and vitronectin. In addition, cultivation of endothelial cells on EGFL7 was characterized by the absence of mature focal adhesions and stress fibers, but was paralleled by increased phosphorylation of kinases typical for integrin activation signaling cascade such as FAK, Src and Akt. This led us to the hypothesis that EGFL7 creates an environment that supports a motile phenotype of endothelial cells by serving as a modulator of existing interactions between the cells and the surrounding matrix. Indeed, EGFL7 increased random migration of HUVEC on fibronectin in an αvβ3 integrin dependent manner as shown using a live cell imaging platform. Most importantly, this was paralleled by a decrease in endothelial cell adhesion to fibronectin which is consistent with previous reports on secreted proteins that support a medium strength of adhesion and such promote cellular migration. To assess the overall effect of EGFL7 on the process of blood formation several in vitro and in vivo approaches were employed. First, the addition of EGFL7 to Matrigel injected subcutaneously into mice significantly increased the invasion of endothelial cells into the plugs. Second, a spheroid-based sprouting assay in three-dimensional collagen matrix clearly demonstrated the ability of EGFL7 to support angiogenic sprouting in an integrin dependent manner. This is consistent with the observed effects of EGFL7 on endothelial cell migration. Third, using in vivo assays such as the chick chorioallantoic membrane (CAM) assay as well as a zebrafish model system we were able to validate the importance of the EGFL7-integrin interaction for the process of angiogenesis in vivo. Taken together, I identified some of the major cellular functions EGFL7 modulates during angiogenesis. In addition, with integrin αvβ3 I unraveled a novel interaction partner of EGFL7 that delivers a mechanistical explanation for EGFL7’s effects on blood vessel formation. Most importantly, data presented in this PhD thesis contribute substantially to the existing literature on EGFL7 unambiguously assigning a role for this protein in the process of angiogenesis.
Mechanisms of nanofractal structure formation and post-growth evolution
Veronika V. Dick
- Nanotechnology is a rapidly developing branch of science, which is focused on the study of phenomena at the nanometer scale, in particular related to the possibilities of matter manipulation. One of the main goals of nanotechnology is the development of controlled, reproducible, and industrially transposable nanostructured materials.
The conventional technique of thin-film growth by deposition of atoms, small atomic clusters and molecules on surfaces is the general method, which is often used in nanotechnology for production of new materials. Recent experiments show, that patterns with different morphology can be formed in the course of nanoparticles deposition process on a surface. In this context, predicting of the final architecture of the growing materials is a fundamental problem worth studying.
Another factor, which plays an important role in industrial applications of new materials, is the question of post-growth stability of deposited structures. The understanding of the post-growth relaxation processes would give a possibility to estimate the lifetime of the deposited material depending on the conditions at which the material was fabricated. Controllable post-growth manipulations with the architecture of deposited structures opens new path for engineering of nanostructured materials.
The task of this thesis is to advance understanding mechanisms of formation and post-growth evolution of nanostructured materials fabricated by atomic clusters deposition on a surface. In order to achieve this goal the following main problems were addressed:
1. The properties of isolated clusters can significantly differ from those of analogous clusters occurring on a solid surface. The difference is caused by the interaction between the cluster and the solid. Therefore, the understanding of structural and dynamical properties of an atomic cluster on a surface is a topic of intense interest from the scientific and technological point of view. In the thesis, stability, energy, and geometry of an atomic cluster on a solid surface were studied using a liquid drop approach which takes into account the cluster-solid interaction. Geometries of the deposited clusters are compared with those of isolated clusters and the differences are discussed.
2. The formation scenarios of patterns on a surface in the course of the process of cluster deposition depend strongly on the dynamics of deposited clusters. Therefore, an important step towards predicting pattern morphology is to study dynamics of a single cluster on a surface. The process of cluster diffusion on a surface was modeled with the use of classical molecular dynamics technique, and the diffusion coefficients for the silver nanoclusters were obtained from the analysis of trajectories of the clusters. The dependence of the diffusion coefficient on the system’s temperature and cluster-surface interaction was established. The results of the calculations are compared with the available experimental results for the diffusion coefficient of silver clusters on graphite surface.
3. The methods of classical molecular dynamics cannot be used for modeling the self-assembly processes of atomic clusters on a surface, because these processes occur on the minutes timescale, what would require an unachievable computer resource for the simulation. Based on the results of molecular dynamics simulations for a single cluster on a surface a Monte-Carlo based approach has been developed to describe the dynamics of the self-assembly of nanoparticles on a surface. This method accounts for the free particle diffusion on a surface, aggregation into islands and detachment from these islands. The developed method is allowed to study pattern formation of structures up to thousands nm, as well as the stability of these structures. Developed method was implemented in MBN Explorer computer package.
4. The process of the pattern formation on a surface was modeled for several different scenarios. Based on the analysis of results of simulations was suggested a criterion, which can be used to distinguish between different patterns formed on a surface, for example: between fractals or compact islands.This criteria can be used to predict the final morphology of a growing structure.
5. The post-growth evolution of patterns on a surface was also analyzed. In particular, attention in the thesis is payed to a systematical theoretical analysis of the post-growth processes occurring in nanofractals on a surface. The time evolution of fractal morphology in the course of the post-growth relaxation was analyzed, the results of these calculations were compared with experimental data available for the post-growth relaxation of silver cluster fractals on graphite substrate.
All the aforementioned problems are discussed in details in the thesis.
Guanxi Capitalism in China: the role of private enterprises and networks for economic development
- This dissertation sets out to analyze the socio-economic structures behind a variety of capitalism that relies heavily on traditional (and insofar out-dated) institutions, especially networks, for its success. The specifics and advantages of business networks for small firms are well established in the literature but it rarely refers to China. It is argued that although similarities exist, Chinese networks are different to their European counterparts and therefore play a more prominent role for the Chinese economic system than networks elsewhere do. Here, personal relations are not separated into a private and a business sphere or exchanged by contractual, and in Western thinking more rational, means of doing business. Personal relations expose comparative efficiency as they are chosen as the most capable instrument for the private sector in China which makes the system as successful as we can observe today.
Therefore, this dissertation will scrutinize the specific socio-economic environment of private firms and their networks in China, thereby dissecting a new form of Capitalism that extrapolates traditional institutions for its economic success and survival instead of supplanting and overwriting traditional socio-economic structures. This challenges Weber’s distinction between rational and traditional behavior and redefines the boundaries of economy, society and culture in a new way.
Impact of land-use on savanna vegetation and populations of non-timber forest product-providing tree species in West Africa
- Savannas are the most important timber and non-timber forest products (NTFPs) providing ecosystems in West Africa. They have been shaped by traditional human land-use (i.e. agriculture, grazing, and harvesting) for thousands of years. In the last decades, land-use has drastically changed due to the rapid population growth and the growing production of cash-crop in West Africa and this process is still continuing. The percentage of land intensively used for agriculture has increased, while the length of fallow periods has decreased. Such changes have enormous ecological, economic, and social consequences. In the context of land-use changes, there is an urgent need to better understand and evaluate the impact of land-use on savannas. Such an understanding provides insights on appropriate management activities that ensure the maintenance of savannas and guarantee the availability of savanna products for subsistence and commercial use of rural West African people.
The major objective of the present thesis was to study the impact of land-use on savanna vegetation and diversity as well as on populations of two important NTFP-providing tree species in a semi-arid area in West Africa. The study area was located in the south-eastern part of Burkina Faso and comprised the protected W National Park and its adjacent communal area.
In the first study (chapter 2), I investigated in cooperation with a colleague from Burkina Faso (Blandine Nacoulma) the impact of land-use on the savanna vegetation. We analyzed which environmental factors determine the occurrence of the vegetation types and investigated the effect of land-use on vegetation structure and the occurrence of life forms and highly valued tree species. Furthermore, we tested whether land-use has an impact on plant diversity pattern and if this impact differed between the vegetation types and layers (woody and herb layer). Vegetation relevés were performed and the vegetation and plant diversity of the protected W National Park were compared with those of its surrounding communal area. Our results reveal five vegetation types occurring in both areas. Elevation and physical soil characteristics and thus soil water availability for plants played the most important role for the occurrence of the vegetation types. The influence of land-use on plant diversity differed between the five vegetation types and the two layers. The impact was highest on the vegetation types with the most favorable soil conditions for cultivation and lowest on rocky habitats with poor soils. While the diversity of the woody layer was increased under human land-use, the diversity of the herb layer was diminished. Overall, as land-use effects were not only negative, our findings suggest that land-use does not automatically lead to a loss of plant species and to a degradation of savanna habitats. We conclude that both protected and communal areas are of great importance for the conservation of savanna vegetation and diversity. Our study highlights furthermore the importance of different management strategies for each vegetation type.
In the following two studies (chapter 3 and 4), the impact of land-use - and in particular of harvesting - on populations of Adansonia digitata L., the baobab tree, and Anogeissus leiocarpa (DC.) Guill. & Perr. was examined. These two tree species were chosen as they provide several NTFPs for the local population and as they show different levels of human protection and opposed life histories. Thus, they may react differently to land-use. Stands of the protected W National Park were compared with those of its surrounding communal area (in fallows, croplands, and villages). I applied dendrometric methods to study the population structures and combined it with rates and patterns of NTFP-harvesting (debarking and chopping/pruning). Furthermore, the impact of land-use and harvesting on the fruit production of A. digitata and on the sprouting ability of A. leiocarpa were studied. The inverse J-shaped size class distribution curve indicates that the stands of A. digitata were in a healthy state in the park, while the low number of smaller size classes in fallows, croplands, and villages may give evidence of an ageing population. However, a high number of seedlings were recorded in villages. The stands of A. leiocarpa were also in healthy states in the park and likewise in fallows. In contrast, the absence of saplings gives evidence of a declining population in croplands. Both species were strongly harvested by local people and harvesting was tree size-specific. Pruning in interaction with tree-size had a significant impact on fruit production of A. digitata. While smaller trees were more vulnerable to pruning, bigger trees benefited from slight-pruning. A. leiocarpa had a great ability to respond to chopping by sprouting. The sprouting ability increased even with higher chopping intensity. Results suggest that despite the intense harvesting and the land-use impact, populations of both species are still well preserved. While A. digitata can withstand the harvesting and land-use pressure by its longevity, extremely low adult mortality rates, and particularly due to positive human influences, A. leiocarpa is able to withstand the use pressure by its fast growing, high recruitment, and high sprouting ability. I conclude that a none protected tree species (A. leiocarpa) might not necessarily be at higher risk to the harvesting and land-use impact than a protected tree species (A. digitata) as the adverse impact of harvesting and land-use can be compensated by its specific life history.
Important additional information to such ecological findings can be provided by local people. Learning from traditional knowledge and management systems of local people will help to produce culturally and ecologically reasonable conservation and management strategies. Thus, I investigated local uses and management strategies of A. digitata and A. leiocarpa in the last two studies (chapter 5 and 6). Quantitative ethnobotanical surveys among the Gulimanceba people were conducted in the communal area in order to document uses of the different plant parts, harvesting modes, perceptions about the population status, and conservation status of both species. Hereby, differences in knowledge between gender, generations, and people from different villages were tested. Interviews reveal that both species are harvested for multipurpose and emphasize the high importance of both species for local people. Especially the leaves and fruits of A. digitata add valuable minerals and vitamins to the otherwise micronutrient-“poor” staple crops of the Gulimanceba people. In comparison with other studies in West Africa, it has turned out that people in this area could benefit even more from A. leiocarpa, e.g. for dyeing of clothes, for treatment of malaria and skin problems. Local knowledge did not differ between genders and generations, while it slightly differed between people from different villages. The lack of age differences suggests that the traditional knowledge about these two species is passed on from one generation to another. Differences between people from different villages might be explained by influences from the neighboring countries Niger and Benin. Current local harvesting modes and management strategies of both species resulted in sustainable use. However, ongoing land-use intensifications require adapted harvesting and management techniques to guarantee the persistence of these economically important species. These results provide, in combination with the ecological findings (chapter 3 and 4), appropriate management recommendations for A. digitata and A. leiocarpa that are reliable under currently practiced management strategies.
Rezension zu: J. Fejfer, Roman portraits in context, Image & context 2 (Berlin 2008)