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A Legendary Photographer Visits an Isolated Christian Community in Ethiopia

Smithsonian Magazine
High in the mountains of eastern Africa, an ancient way of life continues apace

Silver Spring Stories: A Conversation about Community and Immigration

Smithsonian Institution
Description: On Tuesday, November 8, 2011, Americans All: The Immigration/Migration Initiative at the Smithsonian Institution hosted an evening of conversation about the history of immigration and the creation of new communities in Silver Spring and Montgomery County, Maryland. The event was organized in collaboration with the Gandhi Brigade, Asian American Lead, the Muslim Community Center, the Silver Spring Historical Society, IMPACT Silver Spring, Centronía, Montgomery County Preservation, Inc., the African Immigrant Refugee Foundation, and the Silver Spring Regional Center. Moderated by UMD professor Phil Tajitsu Nash. Americans All is supported with Smithsonian Institution funds from the Consortium for Understanding the American Experience.

Preparing for Our America: Portraying Community in a Contested Field

Smithsonian American Art Museum
ThumbnailCurator E. Carmen Ramos and curatorial assistant Florencia Bazzano-Nelson discuss Sophie Rivera's untitled photographic portraits that will be included in our upcoming exhibition Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art, opening October 25, 2013.

Land Cover and Rainfall Interact to Shape Waterbird Community Composition

Smithsonian Libraries
Human land cover can degrade estuaries directly through habitat loss and fragmentation or indirectly through nutrient inputs that reduce water quality. Strong precipitation events are occurring more frequently, causing greater hydrological connectivity between watersheds and estuaries. Nutrient enrichment and dissolved oxygen depletion that occur following these events are known to limit populations of benthic macroinvertebrates and commercially harvested species, but the consequences for top consumers such as birds remain largely unknown. We used non-metric multidimensional scaling (MDS) and structural equation modeling (SEM) to understand how land cover and annual variation in rainfall interact to shape waterbird community composition in Chesapeake Bay, USA. The MDS ordination indicated that urban subestuaries shifted from a mixed generalist-specialist community in 2002, a year of severe drought, to generalist-dominated community in 2003, of year of high rainfall. The SEM revealed that this change was concurrent with a sixfold increase in nitrate-N concentration in subestuaries. In the drought year of 2002, waterbird community composition depended only on the direct effect of urban development in watersheds. In the wet year of 2003, community composition depended both on this direct effect and on indirect effects associated with high nitrate-N inputs to northern parts of the Bay, particularly in urban subestuaries. Our findings suggest that increased runoff during periods of high rainfall can depress water quality enough to alter the composition of estuarine waterbird communities, and that this effect is compounded in subestuaries dominated by urban development. Estuarine restoration programs often chart progress by monitoring stressors and indicators, but rarely assess multivariate relationships among them. Estuarine management planning could be improved by tracking the structure of relationships among land cover, water quality, and waterbirds. Unraveling these complex relationships may help managers identify and mitigate ecological thresholds that occur with increasing human land cover.

Holger Cahill speaking at the Harlem Community Art Center

Archives of American Art
1 photographic print : b&w ; 21 x 25 cm.

Metropolitan Los Angeles: One Community book cover design

Archives of American Art
1 book jacket : ill. ; 28 x 24 cm.

Book cover designed by Alvin Lustig

Rapid decay of tree-community composition in Amazonian forest fragments

Smithsonian Libraries
Forest fragmentation is considered a greater threat to vertebrates than to tree communities because individual trees are typically long-lived and require only small areas for survival. Here we show that forest fragmentation provokes surprisingly rapid and profound alterations in Amazonian tree-community composition. Results were derived from a 22-year study of exceptionally diverse tree communities in 40 1-ha plots in fragmented and intact forests, which were sampled repeatedly before and after fragment isolation. Within these plots, trajectories of change in abundance were assessed for 267 genera and 1,162 tree species. Abrupt shifts in floristic composition were driven by sharply accelerated tree mortality and recruitment within100mof fragment margins, causing rapid species turnover and population declines or local extinctions of many large-seeded, slow-growing, and old-growth taxa; a striking increase in a smaller set of disturbance-adapted and abiotically dispersed species; and ignificant shifts in tree size distributions. Even among old-growth trees, species composition in fragments is being restructured substantially, with subcanopy species that rely on animal seed-dispersers and have obligate outbreeding being the most strongly disadvantaged. These diverse changes in tree communities are likely to have wide-ranging impacts on forest architecture, canopy-gap dynamics, plant–animal interactions, and forest carbon storage.

Exploring a Community’s Past through Its Post Office Mural

National Postal Museum
By Patricia Raynor, Loan CoordinatorE.R. Norling “Logging,” 1938; image courtesy of the Kitsap County Historical Society & Museum.

Women Now Outnumber Adolescent Boys in the Gamer Community

Smithsonian Magazine

Boys under the age of 18 have just been displaced as the number-one gamer demographic in the U.S. According to a new survey published by the Entertainment Software Association, adult women now represent 36 percent of the total gaming population and easily outnumber young men, who comprise just 17 percent of the community.

In 2010, 40 percent of women played games on both phones and consoles, compared to 48 percent today. The authors think that jump in numbers is tied to the widespread adoption of smartphones over the past few years, PBS reports. According to the survey, women are now more likely than men to play games on their mobile devices.

As PBS reports, experts historically thought that female gamers largely joined in "primarily as a means of connecting with their loved ones." According to the survey, however, that no longer seems to be true. Women often play solo games like brain teaser quizzes and cards on their devices, PBS continues. Women also spent more money and more time with those games than men did. 

For game makers and advertisers, PBS concludes, the take home is simple: targeting adult female users will likely reap the biggest rewards. "The uptick of female gamers could be a signal of changes to come," PBS writes. 

Going Home 10: Native Community and Agency Perspectives - Roberta Conner

National Museum of the American Indian
The 1989 National Museum of the American Indian Act (NMAIA) opened a new era in relations between Native Americans and museums by giving legal weight to the spiritual and ethical concerns of tribes. To commemorate 25 years of repatriation, the National Museum of the American Indian has convened this symposium to discuss the history of the NMAIA, current repatriation practices at the Smithsonian Institution, and the future of repatriation beyond political and geographical boundaries. In this segment, panel moderator Roberta Conner, Director of the Tamástslikt Cultural Institute, introduces the panel topic, "Putting the NMAIA in a Broader Context: Native Community and Agency Perspectives." Roberta “Bobbie” Conner (Sísaawipam) has been the director of Tamástslikt (Tah-mahst-slickt) Cultural Institute since before its opening in 1998. The 45,000-square-foot museum is the only tribally-owned interpretive center on the entire National Historic Oregon Trail. The Institute, a certified Lewis & Clark Interpretive Site, serves three purposes: accurately present the Cayuse, Umatilla, and Walla Walla Tribal histories; perpetuate Tribal knowledge and culture; and contribute to the Tribal economy. Conner currently serves on the Eastern Oregon Leadership Council for the Oregon Community Foundation. She is the immediate past chair of the Board of Trustees for the National Museum of the American Indian and served on the Board of Directors of the American Alliance of Museums for the past six years. Conner is Cayuse, Umatilla, and Nez Perce and a member of the Confederated Tribes of Umatilla. The symposium, "Going Home: 25 Years of Repatriation Under the NMAI Act," was webcast and recorded at the Rasmuson Theater of the National Museum of the American Indian on November 19, 2014.

Developing a community-based genetic nomenclature for anole lizards

Smithsonian Libraries
Background: Comparative studies of amniotes have been hindered by a dearth of reptilian molecular sequences. With the genomic assembly of the green anole, Anolis carolinensis available, non-avian reptilian genes can now be compared to mammalian, avian, and amphibian homologs. Furthermore, with more than 350 extant species in the genus Anolis, anoles are an unparalleled example of tetrapod genetic diversity and divergence. As an important ecological, genetic and now genomic reference, it is imperative to develop a standardized Anolis gene nomenclature alongside associated vocabularies and other useful metrics. Results: Here we report the formation of the Anolis Gene Nomenclature Committee (AGNC) and propose a standardized evolutionary characterization code that will help researchers to define gene orthology and paralogy with tetrapod homologs, provide a system for naming novel genes in Anolis and other reptiles, furnish abbreviations to facilitate comparative studies among the Anolis species and related iguanid squamates, and classify the geographical origins of Anolis subpopulations. Conclusions: This report has been generated in close consultation with members of the Anolis and genomic research communities, and using public database resources including NCBI and Ensembl. Updates will continue to be regularly posted to new research community websites such as lizardbase. We anticipate that this standardized gene nomenclature will facilitate the accessibility of reptilian sequences for comparative studies among tetrapods and will further serve as a template for other communities in their sequencing and annotation initiatives.
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