rss_2.0General Interest FeedSciendo RSS Feed for General Interest Interest Feed Diversity and Structure of Latvian Populations<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>Changing climatic conditions are transforming the ecological and silvicultural roles of broadleaf tree species in northern Europe. Small-leaved lime (Tilia cordata Mill.) is distributed throughout most of Europe, and is a common broadleaf species in Latvia. This species can tolerate a broad range of environmental and ecological conditions, including temperature, water availability, and soil types. The aim of this study was to assess the genetic diversity and differentiation of Latvian T. cordata populations using nuclear microsatellite markers developed for Tilia platyphyllos. After testing of 15 microsatellite markers, Latvian T. cordata samples were genotyped at 14 micro-satellite loci. Latvian T. cordata populations had high genetic diversity, and were not overly isolated from each other, with moderate gene flow between populations. No highly differentiated populations were identified. Vegetative reproduction was identified in most analysed populations, and almost one-third of analysed individuals are of clonal origin. T. cordata has high timber production potential under the current climatic and growth conditions in Latvia, and therefore this species has potential for use in forestry, as well as playing a significant role in maintaining biodiversity and other ecosystem services.</p> </abstract>ARTICLE2021-09-13T00:00:00.000+00:00Relevance of Broad-Leaved Forest Stands for Maintaining Epiphytic Bryophyte Species and Functional Trait Diversity in Forest Landscape in Latvia<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>Broad-leaved trees play an important role in supporting epiphyte richness in deciduous forests. In this study we tested which broad-leaved forest stands in terms of tree composition best predicted biodiversity in regard to bryophyte species number and their functional traits. The bryoflora was surveyed in 70 stands differing in dominant broad-leaved tree species. One circular plot with diameter 30 meters was established in each stand situated in different parts of Latvia. Fifty-three of the plots were located in stands identified as protected habitats of the European Union. In total, 82 bryophyte species were recorded. At plot level the total number of species ranged between 6 and 38 species. Using principal component analysis (PCA), the ordination axes explained 41% of the variation in composition of bryophytes. The PCA axes were related to tree species composition. The presence of broad-leaved trees, especially ash, lime, and oak, was connected with higher species richness. Generalised linear models confirmed that epiphyte richness, both at the total and indicator species levels, was higher in ash stands. From the functional traits, all expected life-strategy and life-form categories were recorded. The most represented life-forms were smooth mats, tall turfs, and rough mats, while the dominant life-strategy was perennial stayers, followed by competitive perennials and long-lived shuttles. Functional trait richness was highest in Fraxinus excelsior, Tilia cordata, and Quercus robur forest stands.</p> </abstract>ARTICLE2021-09-13T00:00:00.000+00:00Succession of Xeric Calcareous Grassland Toward Thermophilous Oak Forest: The Case of Abava Valley, West Latvia<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>The succession of semi-natural xeric calcareous grassland plant communities toward deciduous forest communities is poorly studied in Latvia. There is insufficient knowledge on the natural transformation of dry calcareous grasslands of Festuco-Brometea into thermophilous quasi-climax oak forest communities of Quercetea pubescentis that are very rare in Latvia. In this paper, a geobotanical study is presented that included studies of soils, tree age, spatial pattern of trees, vegetation composition of different succession stages, and analysis of environmental factors. The study was conducted in the Abava Valley, West Latvia, an area that is unique with species-rich xeric calcareous Festuco-Brometea grasslands, thermophilous oak forests dominated by Quercus robur, and intermediate secondary succession stages with young to medium-aged Juniperus communis and Pinus sylvestris formations.</p> </abstract>ARTICLE2021-09-13T00:00:00.000+00:00Stem Quality of European Beech in Latvia and Its Effect on Tree and Stand Monetary Value<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>Beech is expected to expand its range into the territory of Latvia due to climate change, but we lack information on its stem and wood quality as a measure of its economic importance. We studied external stem quality traits in beech stands with age of 69 to 131 years. Nine trees were cut and sampled to determine internal wood quality and the proportion of peelable cylinder. Tree value was calculated according to buckling by dimensions and buckling accounting for stem and wood defects. Trees of the second generation (69 years) had a significantly lower incidence of frost cracks (22.0% vs. 36.2%), epicormic branches (50.5 % vs. 65.8%), and forks (15.8% vs. 23.5%) as compared to trees from the first generation (115–131 years). All sampled trees had discolouration in the height of the first log. The proportion of the peelable cylinder was positively linked to tree height and ranged from 12% at the stump level to 33.4% at the tree height of 30 m. All analysed phenotypic traits decreased stand monetary value: frost cracks by 6% to 8%, all external traits by 16% to 20%, all external and internal traits by 29% to 33%.</p> </abstract>ARTICLE2021-09-13T00:00:00.000+00:00Sweet Cherry ( L. Syn. Moench.): A Study of its Distribution in Latvia and Superior Clone Selection for Cherry Plantations for Wood in Local Climatic Conditions<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>The distribution of sweet cherry (Prunus avium L. syn. Cerasus avium Moench.) in natural woodlands of Latvia was studied. The growth, vitality and stem quality of the first-generation plantations established in Latvia in different agricultural soils using the planting stock of local origin was assessed. In woodlands, sweet cherry is found in 11 Forest Resource Monitoring plots in the administrative regions of Madona, Kuldīga, Alsunga, Saldus, Cīrava, and Kazdanga. In the last decade, interest in sweet cherry as a wood producer has increased and plantations with a total area of 21.92 ha were established in 22 localities (Priekule, Kazdanga, Durbe, Talsi, Ventspils, Kuldīga, Tukums, Saldus, Dobele, Bauska, Cēsis, Pārgauja, and Krāslava). Survey was made of sweet cherry plantations established between 1997 and 2019, using both local and foreign origin clonal stock (Danish clone Truust and Swedish clones nos. 9 and 10) in different agricultural soils (typic sod-calcareous soil; sod-podzolic soil; stagnogley sod-podzolic soil) in the districts of Priekule, Kuldīga, Dobele, Bauska, Ķegums, and Smiltene. In plantation forests with optimal growing conditions (typical sod-calcareous soil; pH 6 to 7), 22-year-old sweet cherries of local origin had height (H) of 15.1 m, the diameter at breast hight (DBH) — 16.4 cm and stem volume 157.7 dm<sup>3</sup> on average. The maximum H and DBH observed for the largest trees reached 17.6 m and 25.3 cm, respectively. The Danish clone Truust and the Swedish clones nos. 9 and 10 of sweet cherries were promising for growing in Latvian climatic conditions. Selection of perspective clones for establishment of second-generation plantations was made for sweet cherries of local origin.</p> </abstract>ARTICLE2021-09-13T00:00:00.000+00:00Deciduous Broad-Leaved Species ( and ) Forest Stand Productivity in Latvia<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>Climate forecasts indicate that in the future the climate will become more and more suitable for growth of broad-leaved tree species in Latvia. It is therefore very important to recognise and understand the growth potential of these broad-leaved stands in Latvia and the factors affecting the increment of growing stock. The results of the study showed high volume yield, as already 60- to 80-year-old stand stock could reach 500–600 m<sup>3</sup>·ha<sup>-1</sup>, and in later years even 700–1000 m<sup>3</sup>·ha<sup>-1</sup>. Similarly, the results of our study showed that the increment of the stock and growth potential of individual forest elements varied significantly between the various broad-leaved species. Significant factors were the age of the forest stand or forest element (a set of trees of the same species, in one layer and belonging to one generation), the indicators of competition (basal area and/or relative density) and the indicators of the social status of the forest element, namely, the ratio of the mean diameter of the forest element and the mean diameter of the dominant species of the upper layer of the stand and the sum of the basal area of the larger forest elements). No significant differences were found in growing stock and growth potential between monospecies and mixed stands and between simple and complex stands, neither at the level of the stands, nor at the level of the individual forest element.</p> </abstract>ARTICLE2021-09-13T00:00:00.000+00:00Assessment of the Structure and Diversity of Latvian Populations Using Cross-Species Nuclear Microsatellite Markers<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>Acer platanoides L. (Norway maple) is the most widespread native maple species in Europe, with a distribution from south and central Europe to northern Europe and Scandinavia. Acer platanoides is widespread throughout the territory of Latvia, and is mainly found in mixed broadleaf and conifer stands. The genetic diversity and differentiation of Latvian A. platanoides populations was analysed. Sampled populations were located throughout the territory of Latvia, and were selected to represent a range of ecological conditions, with differing levels of anthropogenic impact. A total of 496 individuals from 21 populations were analysed with eight microsatellite markers, which were developed from related Acer species. The obtained molecular data revealed a moderate level of polymorphism, and the analysed Latvian A. platanoides populations were moderately differentiated. This study provides an initial assessment of the genetic diversity and differentiation of Latvian A. platanoides populations, and is also one of the first reports of the analysis of A. platanoides populations using microsatellite markers. The results can be utilised to define A. platanoides genetic resource stands to ensure conservation of a wide range of germplasm.</p> </abstract>ARTICLE2021-09-13T00:00:00.000+00:00Analysis of Latvian and Belarusian Oak ( L.) Population Provenance and Genetic Structure Using Chloroplast Markers<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>In this study, oak specific chloroplast simple sequence repeat (SSR) markers were used to analyse Latvian and Belarusian oak (Quercus robur L.) population provenance and genetic structure. Chloroplast haplotypes were compared between Latvian and Belarusian pedunculate oak, and several common haplotypes were identified. The SSR haplotypes were compared to previously reported PCR-RFLP haplotypes, and haplotypes from the A (eastern European) and C (central European) lineages were identified. C lineage haplotypes were only found in the western region of Latvia. Haplotypes shared between Latvia and Belarus were all from the A lineage. Despite the much smaller population size of oak in Latvia in comparison to Belarus, the level of genetic diversity identified using the chloroplast SSR markers is similar. Provenance trials will need to be established in order to determine the suitability of Belarusian oak reproductive material for deployment in Latvia. Based on the results from this comparison of chloroplast haplotypes, as well as climatic similarities, it is probable that Belarusian oak material will be better suited to the eastern regions of Latvia compared to the western regions of Latvia.</p> </abstract>ARTICLE2021-09-13T00:00:00.000+00:00Nemoralisation of and Forest Stands in the Hemi-Boreal Zone: A Case Study from Latvia<abstract> <title style='display:none'>Abstract</title> <p>At the beginning of the 21<sup>st</sup> century, in extensively managed mature and over-mature conifer stands (Pinus sylvestris and Picea abies) in Latvia, establishment of native deciduous broad-leaved (Acer platanoides, Tilia cordata, Quercus robur and Ulmus laevis), as well as alien broad-leaved species (Acer pseudoplatanus and Tilia platyphyllos) has been observed. The establishment of deciduous broad-leaved species in coniferous stands is a process known as nemoralisation of coniferous stands, which is characterised by a large number of seedlings of broad-leaved species, young trees and the formation of a subcanopy layer in stands. Based on the age measurements of individuals of broad-leaved species trees, the establishment of some individuals into the studied coniferous stands occurred 40–50 years ago — in the 1970s–1980s. However, the predominant age of alien broad-leaved tree species in the study plots was 15–25 years, i.e. the introduction of large numbers of seedlings of these species in the coniferous stands occurred at the end of the 20<sup>th</sup> century. In this manner, in the final phase of the conifer replacement process, stable, mostly shade tolerant, mixed stands consisting of 3–4 species have formed, in which spruce is often found together with broad-leaved species.</p> </abstract>ARTICLE2021-09-13T00:00:00.000+00:00Engineering Studies in Poland: Gender Pattern<abstract><title style='display:none'>Abstract</title><p>Modern economy requires knowledge and skills, which are acquired by future employees mostly in the fields of education including science and engineering. The increase in the number of graduates in this type of studies can be achieved in different ways, one of which is to create conditions and increase the propensity of women to obtain this type of education. The aim of the research presented in the article is to analyse long-term trends in the number of students and graduates in Poland, with particular emphasis on engineering faculties and the participation of women. Authors using dispersion and structural similarity measures and dynamic models showed that the total number of students and graduates and the number of students in engineering studies are characterised by different patterns. At the same time, in both cases a different structure of total students and engineers by gender was observed, as well as a growing share of women.</p></abstract>ARTICLE2020-05-04T00:00:00.000+00:00Virtual Engagement: A Nexus Between Internationalisation and Decolonisation of the Curriculum in the PEESA III Project?<abstract><title style='display:none'>Abstract</title><p>Internationalisation and decolonisation are both prominent issues currently being discussed in South African Higher Education institutions. There is a strong impetus for decolonisation of curriculum design, development and delivery. Experience with the implementation of Collaborative Online International Learning at Durban University of Technology (DUT) has demonstrated that this approach to has immense potential for transformation of learning and teaching. The broader concepts of e-internationalisation and Virtual Engagement allow for even greater flexibility in fostering international collaboration, and opportunities for decolonisation of the curriculum. This paper briefly discusses internationalisation and decolonisation in general and at DUT specifically, and explores the opportunities that VE offers to address these imperatives in the implementation of the Personalised Engineering Education (PEESA) III Project.</p></abstract>ARTICLE2020-05-04T00:00:00.000+00:00New Curriculum Development in Operations Management<abstract><title style='display:none'>Abstract</title><p>Operations management is growing in importance as an advanced studies discipline in Business and Management Schools and Departments. The structured masters program has particular appeal to working professionals with a business or engineering background. Structured masters programs in different areas of Management will serve as vital training for a young South African population preparing to engage in the 4<sup>th</sup> industrial revolution. Communication advances, particularly in information technology, have escalated the use of online and blended approaches to curriculum delivery. This research focuses on the design and implementation plan of a structured operations management program at the Masters level. It draws on an analysis of existing taught Masters programs at Tshwane University of Technology as well as an examination of best practices on an international level. This study also considers how the 4<sup>th</sup> industrial revolution should be addressed through curriculum content and delivery. Alternatives are presented regarding the best approach, considering time and resource restrictions.</p></abstract>ARTICLE2020-05-04T00:00:00.000+00:00An Innovative Game-Based Approach for Teaching Urban Sustainability<abstract><title style='display:none'>Abstract</title><p>This paper is based on SUSTAIN, an ERASMUS+ project with an innovative perspective on urban transportation, and its target is to promote the importance of sustainability on the everyday problem of urban transportation among the students of higher education (and not only), who are the policy makers of tomorrow. In order to achieve its goals, the research team is currently developing a course that will be based on an interactive serious board game with an analytical style of education. SUSTAIN’s purpose is to create a game that will allow students to learn about transportation sustainability and societal metabolism through playing. The project partners develop small and illustrative simulation models, which will make the definitions more concrete and allow students to experiment largely in a consequence-free environment. The simulation models can be used to identify scenario exemplars on how we can achieve sustainable urban transportation and consequently a balanced societal metabolism, while on the same time taking into account formal decision making processes. In this paper, we are going to explain a Stocks ---amp--- Flows Diagram for the above mentioned model, with a system dynamics approach.</p></abstract>ARTICLE2020-05-04T00:00:00.000+00:00Development and Implementation of Master Programme in Smart Transport and Logistics for Cities<abstract><title style='display:none'>Abstract</title><p>The existing Master programs in Ukraine are based on separate branches of transport systems. The general approach used was to isolate and hence to study the single elements and to neglect the relationships between them within the whole analysis systems. Therefore, the developed educational modules, based on smart technology and environment (which exploit these neglected relationships) have not yet presented in the current curricula of Ukrainian Master programmes in transport systems. In this context, the paper presents the upgrading process of Master curriculum, designed and implemented in O.M. Beketov National University within the E+-KA2-CHBE Programme. In particular, how the local conditions and needs as well as the results of the international reviews on which the curricula were built are described. Finally, some indications for process transferability are provided.</p></abstract>ARTICLE2020-05-04T00:00:00.000+00:00Simulation-Based Learning, an Essential Tool for Control Process in Food Engineering Education<abstract><title style='display:none'>Abstract</title><p>Simulation-based learning has become an essential tool for food engineers in education and industry. The students from food engineering higher education usually have difficulties to understand abstract concepts of the process control, to make links among microbiology, biochemistry and automation of the technological process from food industry. The present paper describes a methodology for teaching the process control by developing a control level process using simulation-based learning. The used of this metode highlighted that the students developed competence toward “thinking like a scientist”, developed argumentation and critical decision-making skills and reinforced research-planning and experimental design skills.</p></abstract>ARTICLE2020-05-04T00:00:00.000+00:00Collaborative Service-Learning Partnerships between Government, Community and University for Implementing Social Change<abstract><title style='display:none'>Abstract</title><p>Community Engagement, the third pillar of Higher Education, requires South African universities to engage in projects that benefit society. Service-Learning, a form of community engagement, is a powerful pedagogical tool that lends itself to the enrichment of diversity and conceptualisation of innovative curriculum activities towards the positive transformation of students, academic staff and the broader society. Meaningful government and community partnerships are assets for universities who strive for relevant engagement with communities. In Service-Learning triad partnerships, the government, university and community stakeholders collaboratively conceptualise Service-Learning projects. These partnerships are composed of representatives from diverse institutional cultures and individual backgrounds. Through Participatory Action Research (PAR), the systems approach is applied to understand and critically examine the interconnectedness between the aims and objectives of government, community and the university. Service-Learning partnerships can be viewed as a powerful tool for actualizing community development strategies; moving these from policy to implementation in communities. This paper encourages universities to build meaningful partnerships with external stakeholders through service-learning projects. By engaging actively with their partners, universities could strengthen their Service-Learning initiatives and partnerships.</p></abstract>ARTICLE2020-05-04T00:00:00.000+00:00Neural Networks in the Educational Sector: Challenges and Opportunities<abstract><title style='display:none'>Abstract</title><p>Given their increasing diffusion, deep learning networks have long been considered an important subject on which teaching efforts should be concentrated, to support a fast and effective training. In addition to that role, the availability of rich data coming from several sources underlines the potential of neural networks used as an analysis tool to identify critical aspects, plan upgrades and adjustments, and ultimately improve learning experience. Analysis and forecasting methods have been widely used in this context, allowing policy makers, managers and educators to make informed decisions. The capabilities of recurring neural networks—in particular Long Short-Term Memory networks—in the analysis of natural language have led to their use in measuring the similarity of educational materials. Massive Online Open Courses provide a rich variety of data about the learning behaviors of online learners. The analysis of learning paths provides insights related to the optimization of learning processes, as well as the prediction of outcomes and performance. Another active area of research concerns the recommendation of suitable personalized, adaptive, learning paths, based on varying sources, including even the tracing of eye-path movements. In this way, the transition from passive learning to active learning can be achieved. Challenges and opportunities in the application of neural networks in the educational sector are presented.</p></abstract>ARTICLE2020-05-04T00:00:00.000+00:00Conducting a Graduate Tracer Study at a University of Technology: a Quest to Enhance the Learning Experience<abstract><title style='display:none'>Abstract</title><p>The university is a complex open system with a range of stakeholders each with a variety of (different) expectations. It is important for universities to be aware of these expectations and to ensure that they are achievable (Ulewicz 2017:93). Universities are key role players in improving employability and to enhance economic growth. They are preparing students with the knowledge and skills required for the contemporary labour market (Tran 2016, 58-59) and should respond to governments’ neoliberal pressures in finding ways to address the requirements of the labour market and to apply mechanisms to safeguard their graduates from unemployment. Vaal University of Technology (VUT) in South Africa, conducted a Tracer Study to gather information on graduate’s experience and to evaluate their abilities and skills as employees. This is important as knowledge of the outcomes of the educational experience forms the basis for quality enhancement.</p><p>This presentation focuses on tracer studies as mechanisms to enhance programme quality and will reflect on the methodology that VUT followed, how the results inform the development of institutional remedial action plans and lessons learnt. This study may contribute to the dearth of research available on tracer studies in the sector.</p></abstract>ARTICLE2020-05-04T00:00:00.000+00:00The Emerging Role of New Technologies in Vocational Education<abstract><title style='display:none'>Abstract</title><p>The paper presents some essential tools in the field of 3D modelling for vocational education. The purpose of vocational training is to adequately prepare students for the needs of the industry. Over the last decade, the appearance of low-cost virtual reality (VR) technology has enabled it to be deployed across a broad range of educational institutions. VR as a system allows intuitive human-computer interaction and offers great benefits in many application areas important for educational process. In this paper, two VR studies in educational field were compared.</p></abstract>ARTICLE2020-05-04T00:00:00.000+00:00Cross-Sectional Competences For 4.0-Mindsets In VET<abstract><title style='display:none'>Abstract</title><p>The present world of work and the private life world are constantly changing. This digital transformation is due to Megatrends, to manure in buzzwords like Industry 4.0, computerization or digitization. Although this developements are slowly becoming apparent, it seems to be clear that future work environments are also becoming more complex. In order to be able to act and shape competently, it is necessary to strengthen the cross-sectional competences of current and future workers and VET-students. This article is a plea for the didactic design and implementation of such cross-sectional competences in the educational practice: Netcompetence can be a sustainable construct for the holistic strengthening of VET students, skilled workers and the human being in a 4.0-world.</p></abstract>ARTICLE2020-05-04T00:00:00.000+00:00en-us-1