Insights from MDPI Top 5 Picks—April

Last month, we introduced our new feature of the MDPI Blog, in which, using Google Analytics, we will be selecting our top 5 papers from the most read MDPI articles each month to get our readers up to speed  on hot topics in the academic field right now. We will also be getting in touch with some of the authors to get their take on what their papers bring to their field of research.

1. Simulation and Spatio-Temporal Variation Characteristics of LULC in the Context of Urbanization Construction and Ecological Restoration in the Yellow River Basin in Sustainability

“In this study, we used the coupled Markov-FLUS model by combining natural and social driver factors to predict and simulate the LULC [land use/land cover] of the YRB [Yellow River Basin] in 2030, and then the LULC transfer matrix was used to analyze the characteristics of LULC change in the YRB from 1990 to 2030.” 

“From 1990 to 2000, the area of cropland transferred in significantly and the area of grassland transferred out significantly; from 2000 to 2015, the area of construction land transferred in significantly and the area of cultivated land transferred out significantly; from 2015 to 2030, the amount of cropland transferred out will be large, and the conversion of each other LULC type will be not significant compared with the previous periods, and the conversion structure of LULC will tend to be stable.”

“This research will contribute to knowing the LULC spatial distribution by 2030 for policy makers and providing a relevant scientific reference about LULC change characteristics for researchers and supporting […] the high-quality development of the Yellow River Basin.”

– Extracts taken from study

2. Analysis of the Potential Impact of Climate Change on Climatic Droughts, Snow Dynamics, and the Correlation between Them in Water

“Climate change is expected to increase the occurrence of droughts, with the hydrology in alpine systems being largely determined by snow dynamics. In this paper, we propose a methodology to assess the impact of climate change on both meteorological and hydrological droughts, taking into account the dynamics of the snow cover area (SCA). We also analyze the correlation between these types of droughts.”

“Despite relevant uncertainty, our results showed that climate change scenarios lead to a generalized increase in both meteorological and hydrological drought statistics, with a considerable effect on duration (174 versus 12 months for meteorological droughts and 326 vs. 11 months for hydrological drought) and magnitude (−250 vs. −7 for meteorological drought and −1353 vs. −9 for hydrological drought) in the long-term drought study in relation to the reference period.”

“The correlation between meteorological and hydrological droughts provides a better understanding of drought propagation procedures and can provide [an] early warning to identify potential adaptation strategies.”

– Extracts taken from study

3. Sex of Walker Influences Scent-marking Behavior of Shelter Dogs in Animals

“Non-human animals, whether free-living or captive, typically respond to the presence of humans with vigilance and avoidance, and display behaviors indicative of stress. In contrast, human presence often reduces stress and its associated behaviors in domestic dogs, although there is some evidence that dogs respond differently to men and women. For example, dogs typically display vigilant behaviors longer when in the vicinity of, and spend less time near, an unfamiliar man than an unfamiliar woman.

To further explore the responses of dogs to unfamiliar men and women, we monitored scent-marking behaviors of mature shelter dogs during leash walks. Our protocol was to assign at least one unfamiliar man and woman to separately walk each dog while recording the dog’s behavior. We found that male dogs urinated at higher rates when walked by unfamiliar women than by unfamiliar men. Female dogs, however, urinated at similar rates when walked by either unfamiliar men or unfamiliar women. Male dogs more frequently regressed to the juvenile urinary posture when walked by unfamiliar men; urinary postures of female dogs were unaffected by the sex of the walker. Both male and female dogs were less likely to defecate when walked by unfamiliar men.

Our findings, together with those of other studies, highlight the sensitivity of dogs to characteristics of humans with whom they interact. Given this sensitivity, we suggest that the sex of researchers and handlers be recorded and analyzed in studies of canine behavior, and that the sex of shelter staff conducting behavioral evaluations be recorded because results of these evaluations can influence whether a dog is made available for adoption.”

– Statement from Dr. Betty McGuire

4. CO2 Emission Calculation Method during Construction Process for Developing BIM-Based Performance Evaluation System in Applied Sciences

“Construction is a big contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. The greenhouse gas emissions in the construction stage are mainly from […] construction materials and […] construction activities. The purpose of this paper is to quantitatively calculate the carbon dioxide emissions in the construction process, and provide a method of controlling the CO2 emissions effectively by converting [them] into cost. In this study, the authors selected […] tunnel construction as the research object, and chose the primary greenhouse gas CO2 to estimate emissions.”

“The method proposed in this paper can effectively evaluate the CO2 emissions in the construction process; it has […] good reference significance for the selection of low-carbon emission materials in the design process, and it provides a case reference and direction for research of low-carbon equipment. By using the EU emissions trading system, the economic conversion of CO2 emissions will provide an economic evaluation index for the CO2 emissions of tunnel construction activities. Meanwhile, based on the method of this study, a BIM-based automated performance evaluation system could be developed.”

– Extracts taken from study

5. Effects of High Intensity Exercise on Oxidative Stress and Antioxidant Status in Untrained Humans: A Systematic Review in Biology

“The aim of this systematic review was to investigate the influence of HIE [high-intensity exercise] on oxidative stress and antioxidant status in untrained humans. Web of Science, PubMed, MEDLINE, and Scopus were searched until March 2021. A methodological quality assessment valuation/estimation was additionally carried out in the final sample of studies.”

“The exercise modality during HIE is not related to oxidative stress, but the intensity and duration of HIE are closely related to increases in oxidative stress. It is generally believed that the greater the intensity and the longer the duration of HIE, the more intense the oxidative stress would be. At the same time, the degree of oxidative stress is also related to the individual’s exercise habits, and individual fitness levels and age. Gender also appears to be associated with resting levels of antioxidant capacity, with greater values recorded in males. Individuals who are physically active appear to have greater antioxidant capacities. From the findings of this review, we can conclude that HIE can be an alternative for untrained humans to improve antioxidant capacity and promote health.”

– Extracts taken from study

MDPI advocates for the dissemination of all kinds of research to all kinds of people worldwide through its open access framework. This is reflected by the broad assortment of topics within this month’s top papers, ranging from climate change to exercise to animal behaviour.