• High-precision radiocarbon dating of political collapse and dynastic origins at the Maya site of Ceibal, Guatemala

      Inomata, Takeshi; Triadan, Daniela; MacLellan, Jessica; Burham, Melissa; Aoyama, Kazuo; Palomo, Juan Manuel; Yonenobu, Hitoshi; Pinzón, Flory; Nasu, Hiroo; School of Anthropology, University of Arizona (NATL ACAD SCIENCES, 2017-02-07)
      The lowland Maya site of Ceibal, Guatemala, had a long history of occupation, spanning from the Middle Preclassic Period through the Terminal Classic (1000 BC to AD 950). The Ceibal-Petexbatun Archaeological Project has been conducting archaeological investigations at this site since 2005 and has obtained 154 radiocarbon dates, which represent the largest collection of radiocarbon assays from a single Maya site. The Bayesian analysis of these dates, combined with a detailed study of ceramics, allowed us to develop a high-precision chronology for Ceibal. Through this chronology, we traced the trajectories of the Preclassic collapse around AD 150–300 and the Classic collapse around AD 800–950, revealing similar patterns in the two cases. Social instability started with the intensification of warfare around 75 BC and AD 735, respectively, followed by the fall of multiple centers across the Maya lowlands around AD 150 and 810. The population of Ceibal persisted for some time in both cases, but the center eventually experienced major decline around AD 300 and 900. Despite these similarities in their diachronic trajectories, the outcomes of these collapses were different, with the former associated with the development of dynasties centered on divine rulership and the latter leading to their downfalls. The Ceibal dynasty emerged during the period of low population after the Preclassic collapse, suggesting that this dynasty was placed under the influence from, or by the direct intervention of, an external power.
    • Large 14C excursion in 5480 BC indicates an abnormal sun in the mid-Holocene

      Miyake, Fusa; Jull, A. J. Timothy; Panyushkina, Irina P.; Wacker, Lukas; Salzer, Matthew; Baisan, Christopher H.; Lange, Todd; Cruz, Richard; Masuda, Kimiaki; Nakamura, Toshio; et al. (NATL ACAD SCIENCES, 2017-01-31)
      Radiocarbon content in tree-rings can be an excellent proxy of the past incoming cosmic ray intensities to the Earth. Although such past cosmic ray variations have been studied by measurements of 14C contents in tree rings with ≧10 year time resolution for the Holocene (1), there are few annual 14C data. There is a little understanding about annual 14C variations in the past with the exception of a few periods including the AD774-775 annual 14C excursion (2). Here, we report the result of 14C measurements using the bristlecone pine tree rings for the period from 5490 BC to 5411 BC with 1-2 year resolution, and a finding of an extraordinarily large 14C increase (20‰) from 5481 BC to 5471 BC (the 5480 BC event). The 14C increase rate of this event is much larger than that of the normal Grand Solar Minima. We propose the possible causes of this event are a special phase of grand solar minimum, or a combination of successive solar proton events and a normal grand solar minimum.
    • Mesolimbic neuropeptide W coordinates stress responses under novel environments

      Motoike, Toshiyuki; Long, Jeffrey M.; Tanaka, Hirokazu; Sinton, Christopher M.; Skach, Amber; Williams, S. Clay; Hammer, Robert E.; Sakurai, Takeshi; Yanagisawa, Masashi; Univ Arizona, Dept Med, Arizona Resp Ctr (NATL ACAD SCIENCES, 2016-05-24)
      Neuropeptide B (NPB) and neuropeptide W(NPW) are endogenous neuropeptide ligands for the G protein-coupled receptors NPBWR1 and NPBWR2. Here we report that the majority of NPW neurons in the mesolimbic region possess tyrosine hydroxylase immunoreactivity, indicating that a small subset of dopaminergic neurons coexpress NPW. These NPW-containing neurons densely and exclusively innervate two limbic system nuclei in adult mouse brain: the lateral bed nucleus of the stria terminalis and the lateral part of the central amygdala nucleus (CeAL). In the CeAL of wild-type mice, restraint stress resulted in an inhibition of cellular activity, but this stress-induced inhibition was attenuated in the CeAL neurons of NPW-/- mice. Moreover, the response of NPW-/- mice to either formalin-induced pain stimuli or a live rat (i. e., a potential predator) was abnormal only when they were placed in a novel environment: The mice failed to show the normal species-specific self-protective and aversive reactions. In contrast, the behavior of NPW-/- mice in a habituated environment was indistinguishable from that of wildtype mice. These results indicate that the NPW/NPBWR1 system could play a critical role in the gating of stressful stimuli during exposure to novel environments.
    • Natural language indicators of differential gene regulation in the human immune system

      Mehl, Matthias R.; Raison, Charles L.; Pace, Thaddeus W. W.; Arevalo, Jesusa M. G.; Cole, Steve W.; Univ Arizona, Dept Psychol (NATL ACAD SCIENCES, 2017-11-21)
      Adverse social conditions have been linked to a conserved transcriptional response to adversity (CTRA) in circulating leukocytes that may contribute to social gradients in disease. However, the CNS mechanisms involved remain obscure, in part because CTRA gene-expression profiles often track external social-environmental variables more closely than they do self-reported internal affective states such as stress, depression, or anxiety. This study examined the possibility that variations in patterns of natural language use might provide more sensitive indicators of the automatic threat- detection and -response systems that proximally regulate autonomic induction of the CTRA. In 22,627 audio samples of natural speech sampled from the daily interactions of 143 healthy adults, both total language output and patterns of function-word use covaried with CTRA gene expression. These language features predicted CTRA gene expression substantially better than did conventional self-report measures of stress, depression, and anxiety and did so independently of demographic and behavioral factors (age, sex, race, smoking, body mass index) and leukocyte subset distributions. This predictive relationship held when language and gene expression were sampled more than a week apart, suggesting that associations reflect stable individual differences or chronic life circumstances. Given the observed relationship between personal expression and gene expression, patterns of natural language use may provide a useful behavioral indicator of nonconsciously evaluated well-being (implicit safety vs. threat) that is distinct from conscious affective experience and more closely tracks the neurobiological processes involved in peripheral gene regulation.
    • Socioecological transitions trigger fire regime shifts and modulate fire–climate interactions in the Sierra Nevada, USA, 1600–2015 CE

      Taylor, Alan H.; Trouet, Valerie; Skinner, Carl N.; Stephens, Scott; Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, University of Arizona (NATL ACAD SCIENCES, 2016-11-29)
      Large wildfires in California cause significant socioecological impacts, and half of the federal funds for fire suppression are spent each year in California. Future fire activity is projected to increase with climate change, but predictions are uncertain because humans can modulate or even override climatic effects on fire activity. Here we test the hypothesis that changes in socioecological systems from the Native American to the current period drove shifts in fire activity and modulated fire-climate relationships in the Sierra Nevada. We developed a 415-y record (1600-2015 CE) of fire activity by merging a treering-based record of Sierra Nevada fire history with a 20th-century record based on annual area burned. Large shifts in the fire record corresponded with socioecological change, and not climate change, and socioecological conditions amplified and buffered fire response to climate. Fire activity was highest and fire-climate relationships were strongest after Native American depopulation-following mission establishment (ca. 1775 CE)-reduced the self-limiting effect of Native American burns on fire spread. With the Gold Rush and EuroAmerican settlement (ca. 1865 CE), fire activity declined, and the strong multidecadal relationship between temperature and fire decayed and then disappeared after implementation of fire suppression (ca. 1904 CE). The amplification and buffering of fire-climate relationships by humans underscores the need for parameterizing thresholds of human-vs. climate-driven fire activity to improve the skill and value of fire-climate models for addressing the increasing fire risk in California.
    • Soilborne fungi have host affinity and host-specific effects on seed germination and survival in a lowland tropical forest

      Sarmiento, Carolina; Zalamea, Paul-Camilo; Dalling, James W.; Davis, Adam S.; Stump, Simon M.; U’Ren, Jana M.; Arnold, A. Elizabeth; Univ Arizona, Dept Ecol & Evolutionary Biol; Univ Arizona, Dept Agr & Biosyst Engn; Univ Arizona, Sch Plant Sci (NATL ACAD SCIENCES, 2017-10-24)
      The Janzen-Connell (JC) hypothesis provides a conceptual framework for explaining the maintenance of tree diversity in tropical forests. Its central tenet-that recruits experience high mortality near conspecifics and at high densities-assumes a degree of host specialization in interactions between plants and natural enemies. Studies confirming JC effects have focused primarily on spatial distributions of seedlings and saplings, leaving major knowledge gaps regarding the fate of seeds in soil and the specificity of the soilborne fungi that are their most important antagonists. Here we use a common garden experiment in a lowland tropical forest in Panama to show that communities of seed-infecting fungi are structured predominantly by plant species, with only minor influences of factors such as local soil type, forest characteristics, or time in soil (1-12 months). Inoculation experiments confirmed that fungi affected seed viability and germination in a host-specific manner and that effects on seed viability preceded seedling emergence. Seeds are critical components of reproduction for tropical trees, and the factors influencing their persistence, survival, and germination shape the populations of seedlings and saplings on which current perspectives regarding forest dynamics are based. Together these findings bring seed dynamics to light in the context of the JC hypothesis, implicating them directly in the processes that have emerged as critical for diversity maintenance in species-rich tropical forests.
    • Unraveling the evolution of uniquely human cognition

      MacLean, Evan L.; Univ Arizona, Sch Anthropol (NATL ACAD SCIENCES, 2016-06-07)
      A satisfactory account of human cognitive evolution will explain not only the psychological mechanisms that make our species unique, but also how, when, and why these traits evolved. To date, researchers have made substantial progress toward defining uniquely human aspects of cognition, but considerably less effort has been devoted to questions about the evolutionary processes through which these traits have arisen. In this article, I aim to link these complementary aims by synthesizing recent advances in our understanding of what makes human cognition unique, with theory and data regarding the processes of cognitive evolution. I review evidence that uniquely human cognition depends on synergism between both representational and motivational factors and is unlikely to be accounted for by changes to any singular cognitive system. I argue that, whereas no nonhuman animal possesses the full constellation of traits that define the human mind, homologies and analogies of critical aspects of human psychology can be found in diverse nonhuman taxa. I suggest that phylogenetic approaches to the study of animal cognition-which can address questions about the selective pressures and proximate mechanisms driving cognitive change-have the potential to yield important insights regarding the processes through which the human cognitive phenotype evolved.