Month: February 2020

From language shift to language revitalization and sustainability. Albert Bastardas-Boada.

This book aims to contribute to the overall, integrated understanding of the processes of language contact and their evolution, be they the result of political or economic (dis)integrations or migrations or for technological reasons. Via an interdisciplinary, holistic approach, it also aims to support the theoretical grounding of a unified, common sociolinguistic paradigm, based on an ecological and complexity perspective. This approach built on the fact that linguistic structures do not live in isolation from their social functions and must be situated in relation to the sub-and supra-systems that determine their existence if we are to understand their fortunes. It is a useful contribution to understanding and promoting the processes of linguistic revitalization in the world, combining at the same time the maintenance and development of diversity while ensuring the intercommunication of human species.


Evolution in the Debian GNU/Linux software network: analogies and differences with gene regulatory networks

Pablo Villegas, Miguel A. Muñoz and Juan A. Bonachela

Journal of The Royal Society Interface Volume 17 Issue 163


Biological networks exhibit intricate architectures deemed to be crucial for their functionality. In particular, gene regulatory networks, which play a key role in information processing in the cell, display non-trivial architectural features such as scale-free degree distributions, high modularity and low average distance between connected genes. Such networks result from complex evolutionary and adaptive processes difficult to track down empirically. On the other hand, there exists detailed information on the developmental (or evolutionary) stages of open-software networks that result from self-organized growth across versions. Here, we study the evolution of the Debian GNU/Linux software network, focusing on the changes of key structural and statistical features over time. Our results show that evolution has led to a network structure in which the out-degree distribution is scale-free and the in-degree distribution is a stretched exponential. In addition, while modularity, directionality of information flow, and average distance between elements grew, vulnerability decreased over time. These features resemble closely those currently shown by gene regulatory networks, suggesting the existence of common adaptive pathways for the architectural design of information-processing networks. Differences in other hierarchical aspects point to system-specific solutions to similar evolutionary challenges.


The effect of travel restrictions on the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak

Matteo Chinazzi, Jessica T. Davis, Marco Ajelli, Corrado Gioannini, Maria Litvinova, Stefano Merler, View ORCID ProfileAna Pastore y Piontti, Luca Rossi, Kaiyuan Sun, Cécile Viboud, Xinyue Xiong, Hongjie Yu, M. Elizabeth Halloran, Ira M. Longini Jr., Alessandro Vespignani


Motivated by the rapid spread of a novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in Mainland China, we use a global metapopulation disease transmission model to project the impact of both domestic and international travel limitations on the national and international spread of the epidemic. The model is calibrated on the evidence of internationally imported cases before the implementation of the travel quarantine of Wuhan. By assuming a generation time of 7.5 days, the reproduction number is estimated to be 2.4 [90% CI 2.2-2.6]. The median estimate for number of cases before the travel ban implementation on January 23, 2020 is 58,956 [90% CI 40,759 – 87,471] in Wuhan and 3,491 [90% CI 1,924 – 7,360] in other locations in Mainland China. The model shows that as of January 23, most Chinese cities had already received a considerable number of infected cases, and the travel quarantine delays the overall epidemic progression by only 3 to 5 days. The travel quarantine has a more marked effect at the international scale, where we estimate the number of case importations to be reduced by 80% until the end of February. Modeling results also indicate that sustained 90% travel restrictions to and from Mainland China only modestly affect the epidemic trajectory unless combined with a 50% or higher reduction of transmission in the community.


Global ecosystem thresholds driven by aridity

Aridity, which is increasing worldwide because of climate change, affects the structure and functioning of dryland ecosystems. Whether aridification leads to gradual (versus abrupt) and systemic (versus specific) ecosystem changes is largely unknown. We investigated how 20 structural and functional ecosystem attributes respond to aridity in global drylands. Aridification led to systemic and abrupt changes in multiple ecosystem attributes. These changes occurred sequentially in three phases characterized by abrupt decays in plant productivity, soil fertility, and plant cover and richness at aridity values of 0.54, 0.7, and 0.8, respectively. More than 20% of the terrestrial surface will cross one or several of these thresholds by 2100, which calls for immediate actions to minimize the negative impacts of aridification on essential ecosystem services for the more than 2 billion people living in drylands.