Graduate Theses & Dissertations

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Dynamics and Mechanisms of Community Assembly in a Mined Carolinian Peatland
Theoretical work on community recovery, development, stability, and resistance to species invasions has outpaced experimental field research. There is also a need for better integration between ecological theory and the practice of ecological restoration. This thesis investigates the dynamics of community assembly following peat mining and subsequent restoration efforts at Canada's most southerly raised bog. It examines mechanisms underlying plant community changes and tests predictions arising from the Dynamic Environmental Filter Model (DEFM) and the Fluctuating Resource Hypothesis (FRH). Abiotic, biotic and dispersal filters were modified to test a conceptual model of assembly for Wainfleet Bog. Hydrology was manipulated at the plot scale across multiple nutrient gradients, and at the whole bog scale using peat dams. Trends in time series of hydrological variables were related to restoration actions and uncontrolled variables including precipitation, evapotranspiration and arrival of beaver. Impacts of a changing hydrology on the developing plant community were compared with those from cutting the invasive Betula pendula. Transplanting experiments were used to examine species interactions within primary and secondary successional communities. Seedlings of B. pendula and the native Betula papyrifera were planted together across a peat volumetric water content (VWC) gradient. Impacts of beaver dams were greater than those of peat dams and their relative importance was greatest during periods of drought. Cutting of B.pendula had little effect on the secondary successional plant community developing parallel to blocked drains. Phosphorus was the main limiting nutrient with optimum levels varying substantially between species. Primary colonisers formed a highly stable, novel plant community. Stability was due to direct and indirect facilitative interactions between all species. Reduction in frost heaving was the major mechanism behind this facilitation. Interactions within the secondary successional community were mostly competitive, driven by light and space availability. However, restricted dispersal rather than competition limited further species recruitment. Predictions based on the DEFM were partially correct. A splitting of this model's biotic filter into competition and facilitation components is proposed. There was little support for the FRH based on nutrient levels and VWC. B. pendula had higher germination and growth rates, tolerance to a wider range of peat VWCs and a greater resistance to deer browsing than native birch. Peat mining, combined with restoration actions and the arrival of beaver has moved much of the bog back to an earlier successional stage circa 350+ years BP. Evidence points to B. pendula being a "back-seat driver" in the ecosystem recovery process. Indirect facilitation of a native by an exotic congener, mediated through herbivory, has not been described previously. Shifts in relative contributions of facilitation, competition and dispersal limitations to community assembly may be useful process-oriented measures for gauging progress in restoration. Author Keywords: Betula pendula, community assembly, competition, facilitation, peatland, restoration
Why do landowners restore wetlands? A case study from east central Ontario
Wetlands were once widespread in southern Ontario, but many have been drained through land use changes. Using a case study of twelve landowners in the Kawartha region, I explored motivations for restoring wetlands. Psychological research suggests that people who are more connected to nature and attached to place are more likely to behave sustainably. Results showed that having land available and receiving funding were necessary preconditions. Connectedness to nature and place attachment were motivations, as were personal benefits and having a supportive social community. Challenges included: the Permit to Take Water, paperwork and bureaucracy, delays and timing, and economic restrictions. Positive outcomes were: increased property value and crop productivity; personal enjoyment of wetlands; and improved wildlife habitat and water quality. Negative outcomes were: `nuisance' wildlife, trespassing, and a lack or excess of water. This is a novel study exploring nature connectedness, place attachment and wetland restoration qualitatively in southern Ontario. Author Keywords: agriculture, connection to nature, motivation, southern Ontario, stewardship, wetland restoration
sustainability of Community-based Water supply Organizations (CWOs)
The world has met the target of halving the number of people without access to improved-drinking water . However, the focus in rural areas (where 83% of the people without access to improved-drinking water live) has been on the construction of infrastructure, rather than on the strengthening of existing local institutions to create a long-term sustainable solution. This research aims to understand what are the necessary characteristics that CWOs, the main rural water supplier institutions around the world, must have to offer safe water continuously and in the long term. The results indicate that to offer such conditions, internal and external characteristic need to coexist. Those characteristics will emerge from case studies analysis in rural and peri-urban areas in Colombia, through interviews, surveys, document reviews, observation exercises, and a comparison with the literature. Internal characteristics include proper infrastructure conditions, user satisfaction, best management practices, social capital, be a development catalyzer, and environmental awareness. External characteristics include easy access to subsidies, efficient communication channels with authorities, continuous training, and environmental legislation/education. This study concludes that enforcing these characteristics will strengthen the existing institutions and can provide a sustainable solution for rural water supply issues. Author Keywords: community-based water supply organizations, costs, management, financial sustainability, rural Colombia, state subsidies, water tariffs
Sustainable Development
While there is an emerging body of literature on the role and effectiveness of community-based research (CBR) in addressing the needs of local communities, few studies have explored its promise in areas lacking established collaborative models. The purpose of this paper is to examine the potential of CBR to meet the sustainable community development needs of the primarily urban Durham Region in Southern Ontario. Semi-structured interviews with twenty sustainability-focused community members from the academic, municipal, private and non-profit sectors were conducted using Glaser and Strauss' grounded theory to develop a working hypothesis that was analyzed with the aid of the qualitative data software program ATLAS.ti. The results reveal that while the region's academic and community groups have little time to initiate formal community-campus collaborations, the additional manpower and expertise that a well-structured CBR model provides could significantly assist local organizations complete unfinished projects and undertake new initiatives. Author Keywords: Community-based research, Community-campus collaboration, Cooperative education, Durham Region, Experiential education, Sustainable development
Art of the Sustainable Street
ABSTRACT The Art of the Sustainable Street Miriam L. R. Mutton The street influences our sense of community every day. It is argued that getting the street right communicates a collective vision for action leading to sustainable community. This investigation continues conversations for community repair and resilient change, especially for small town Ontario. The researcher is informed by ways of seeing inspired by Walter Benjamin’s literary montage, The Arcades Project. By method of collecting and connecting information from literature sources spanning several decades and recent interviews, this thesis demonstrates in narrative form the value to community of everyday street details of human scale. Recurrent themes are adopted as technique in validation. Findings are presented from various perspectives including those of the design professional and the politician. The sustainable street enables communication. Research outcomes indicate knowledge transferred through the art of storytelling supports place-making and connection to community. Fragments of information connect into themes defining safe streets which foster trust among strangers, and facilitate citizenship and good governance. Key words: sustainable community, citizenship, safe streets, Benjamin, governance Author Keywords: Benjamin, citizenship, governance, safe streets, sustainable community
An Analysis of Zoning By-laws and Urban Agriculture in the City of Peterborough, Ontario
Urban agriculture (UA) is becoming increasingly prevalent in Canadian cities. Despite this municipal zoning by-laws often do not address UA explicitly. Using eleven interviews of urban agricultural participants a case study of the City of Peterborough’s zoning by-laws and the barriers they might present to UA was conducted. Research suggests that UA can provide many benefits to urban areas. The analysis found that the City of Peterborough’s zoning by-laws do not directly address UA. In order to enable the development of UA in the City of Peterborough its zoning by-laws will need to be redesigned to address and regulate UA directly. Author Keywords: By-laws, food systems, land use, municipal planning, urban agriculture, zoning
Spirituality, Community and Compassion Matter! Exploring Motivators to Providing Holistic Social and Health Services in Peterborough, Ontario
My research explores potential motivators for social and health service providers to be more holistic and compassionate with those they serve. From previous research focused on spirituality, I identified seven additional concepts: faith, religion, community, culture, compassion, wellness, and wholeness. Using elements of Appreciative Inquiry, data was collected through a focus group and an in-depth, online survey. The participants work with Indigenous, religious, other spiritually motivated, or non-spiritual social or health service organizations in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada. Prototype concept analysis allowed participants to personally define each concept, and then indicate how much each motivated them. Results indicate, regardless of individual demographics, the definitions and motivations are very personal. The concepts with the most to least motivational impact were community, compassion, spirituality, wellness, wholeness, culture, faith and religion. Participants' voices speak directly through this research. I use their suggestions to make recommendations for improving the systems within which they provide service. Author Keywords: community, compassion, health services, indigenous knowledge, social services, spirituality
Factors Influencing the Prioritization of Sites for Conservation on Private Land in Southern Ontario
Conservation organizations use strategic prioritization methods to order complex environments, evaluate landscapes, and distribute efficiently resources for conservation. This study explores how strategic prioritization decisions are made, drawing on a case study of the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC). This thesis identifies the factors affecting prioritization and their influence on the public perception of the NCC. The case study revealed that the NCC utilizes comprehensive science-based methods when prioritizing for conservation but its methods are also influenced by the 'opportunity function' (funding, threats, public/political support). How these factors are communicated depends on the audience (e.g. NCC Conservation Blueprints stress the scientific value of the environment; the NCC uses its media sources to emphasize the human-environment connection). These differences indicate the multi-dimensional nature of planning for conservation, its links to values emerging from science, politics, and society, and the need for collaborative conservation efforts and earning and maintaining public trust. Author Keywords: biodiversity conservation priorities, collaboration, Nature Conservancy of Canada, opportunity function, private conservation organizations, science-based conservation
Understanding Dimensions of Environmental Sustainability in a Northern Indigenous Context
Although the concept of environmental sustainability has become increasingly popular, the literature offers little practical guidance to direct priorities or actions to support environmental sustainability in northern Indigenous communities. A case study in Hopedale, Nunatsiavut, and a systematic literature review was undertaken to understand: 1) what aspects of the local environment are of value to a northern Indigenous community; and 2) what does existing literature identify as key elements of a community-based approach to monitor valued aspects of the environment in a northern Indigenous context. Hopedale residents spoke to the importance of going off on the land and identified a number of categories of places in their local environment of importance to them, including: 1) valued areas for human-use, 2) areas to protect, 3) areas of environmental concern, and 4) areas to monitor. The systematic literature review highlighted trends on community-based monitoring (CBM) publications, and identified key 13 elements of CBM approaches that are pertinent to northern Indigenous communities. Insights from this study will inform environmental planning and management in the case community of Hopedale, as well as offer guidance to enhance current and future CBM activities in the North and elsewhere. Author Keywords: community-based monitoring, environmental sustainability, Inuit, Labrador, participatory mapping, systematic literature review
Biology and Management of Stratiotes Aloides in the Trent River, Ontario
Invasive aquatic plants can create negative ecological, economic and social impacts when they displace local vegetation, interfere with shipping and navigation and inhibit water-based recreational activities. In 2008, the first North American occurrence of the invasive plant Stratiotes aloides (Water soldier) was identified in the Trent River, Ontario. This research measured offset photosynthesis and turion germination to determine the light compensation point (5.2-5.4m) and maximum depth of colonization (4-6m) for S. aloides propagules using in situ incubations and controlled growth experiments. The effects of spring and fall chemical (Diquat) and physical (hand raking) treatments on S. aloides biomass, local macrophyte recovery and community dynamics in the Trent River were also measured. The target of a 75% minimum reduction in S. aloides biomass was not attained using any of the treatment methods and no perceivable recovery of the local plant community was observed. Significant S. aloides regrowth was recorded for both treatment methods regardless of application timing. Author Keywords: herbicide, invasive species, macrophyte, photosynthesis, propagule
Cultivating Change
The global food system has been criticized for being environmentally, economically and socially unsustainable. As part of a local food movement, farmers’ markets (FM) are undergoing a revival in response to the escalating food system globalization of the past century. Despite the prevalence of FMs as formalized organizations, there remains a significant range in their operational strategies. Through 41 questionnaires and 17 interviews with market administrators across Ontario, in collaboration with the Haliburton County Farmers’ Market Association, I explored these strategies and analyzed the influence of community characteristics on FM operations. Factors that appear to have a significant impact on FM governance and management are market size and age, willingness to adapt to change, and relationships with external organizations. My findings suggest that democratic vendor engagement and documentation of procedural systems can help optimize market administration. In terms of vendor relationships, primary concerns include regulation of resellers, diplomatic vendor pool design, and creation of a collaborative atmosphere. As well, I conclude that customers are best viewed as socially invested stakeholders with a strong interest in learning about local food production. Author Keywords: farmers’ markets, global food system, local food systems, Ontario farmers’ markets, sustainability
Linking Inuit and Scientific Knowledge and Observations to Better Understand Arctic Char (Salvelinus alpinus (L.)) Community Monitoring
Arctic Char (Salvelinus alpinus (L.)) have been, and remain, an important subsistence resource for the Inuvialuit, the Inuit of the western Canadian Arctic. The effects of climate variability and change (CVC) in this region have been noticeably increasing over the past three decades. There are concerns as to how CVC will affect Arctic Char and the Inuvialuit who rely on this resource as they will have to adapt to changes in the fishery. Community-based monitoring, is an important tool for managing Arctic Char. Therefore, my dissertation focused on the central question of: Which community-based monitoring factors and parameters would provide the information needed by local resources users and decision-makers to make informed choices for managing Arctic Char populations in light of CVC? This question is investigated through an exploratory research approach and a mixed method research design, using both scientific and social science methods, and quantitative (scientific ecological knowledge and observation) and qualitative (Inuvialuit knowledge and observation) information. It is formatted as three journal manuscripts, an introduction, and an integrative discussion. The first manuscript examines potential habitat parameters for monitoring landlocked Arctic Char condition in three lakes on Banks Island in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region. The second manuscript examines potential local environmental parameters for monitoring landlocked Arctic Char growth in the same three lakes. The third manuscript investigates aspects of Arctic Char community-based monitoring programs (CBMP) in the Canadian North that have led to the sustained collection of useful data for management of the resource. This dissertation makes contributions to the field of research by demonstrating the utility of a mixed methods approach. The results demonstrate similarities and differences in char growth and condition within and among Capron, Kuptan and Middle lakes on Banks Island. This supports both lake-specific and regional climate-driven changes, meaning both lake habitat and local environmental monitoring parameters should be used in char CBMP. The investigation of char CBMP across northern Canada demonstrates that an adaptive monitoring approach is important for subsistence fisheries, as changing lifestyles and environmental changes impacting a fishery can have direct effects on the successful operation of char CBMP. Author Keywords: Arctic Char, community-based monitoring, environment, Inuit Knowledge, mixed methods, Traditional Knowledge

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