Graduate Theses & Dissertations

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multi-faceted approach to evaluating the detection probability of an elusive snake (Sistrurus catenatus)
Many rare and elusive species have low detection probabilities, thereby imposing unique challenges to monitoring and conservation. Here, we assess the detection probability of the Eastern Massasauga (Sistrurus catenatus) in contrast to a more common and conspicuous species, the Eastern Gartersnake (Thamnophis sirtalis). We found that patterns of detection probability differed between species, wherein S. catenatus was detected less often and under a more specific set of sampling conditions. Correspondingly, detection trials with S. catenatus found a high non-detection rate, while detection trials with artificial models suggest that regional differences in detection probability are driven by variation in population density and habitat use. Our results suggest that current monitoring efforts are not sufficient, and that S. catenatus is frequently undetected. Accordingly, we highlight the importance of species-specific monitoring protocols when monitoring rare and elusive species, and recommend a multi-faceted approach that estimates detection probability and identifies species-specific challenges to monitoring. Author Keywords: detection probability, elusive species, monitoring programs, non-detection, S. catenatus, snakes
History of Canada's UFO Investigation, 1950-1995
From 1950-1995, the Canadian government investigated the phenomenon of unidentified flying objects (UFOs), amassing over 15,000 pages of documentation about, among other matters, nearly 4,500 unique sightings. This investigation was largely passive and disconnected, spread across a number of federal departments and agencies that infrequently communicated about the subject. Two official investigations, Project Magnet and Project Second Storey, were initiated in the early 1950s to study the topic. The government concluded that the UFO phenomenon did not “lend itself to a scientific method of investigation,” and terminated the projects. After this point, the investigation entered a state of purgatory, with no central communication, and every government department eager to pass the responsibility onto someone else. As such, Canadian citizens writing to the government for straight answers to the UFO enigma were often on the receiving end of what they called “doublespeak.” Citizens were seeing things in the sky and wanted the government to simply tell them what they were. The government was unable and unwilling to do this, and over time frustration grew on both sides. What began for the government, in its own words, as an irritating intrusion into more important matters, became the catalyst for a dynamic of mutually-reinforced mistrust between state and citizen during the postwar period. This dissertation offers a chronological history of the efforts that the Canadian government and citizens made to investigate UFOs, and when and why these efforts came into conflict. The main argument is that the Canadian state attempted to use UFOs as a site to assert its modernity during a time of uncertainty and anxiety over its legitimacy, by drawing on the cultural authority of the scientific community. The project was one of ridding the public of ignorance and creating instead a more rational citizen. This attempt ran up against beliefs and attitudes that some citizens shared, that tapped into a spirit of anti-authoritarianism present during the 1960s and even earlier. These citizens considered themselves to be iconoclasts, unmoved by claims of expertise, and accused the government of conspiracy theory. These approaches fed into one another, contributing to further misunderstanding and conflict. The history of Canada’s UFO investigation is thus more broadly a history of changing attitudes toward authority and expertise in the postwar era. Author Keywords: Canada, citizenship, history of science, scientific object, state, UFO
Pervert’s New Statesman
Justice Weekly was a tabloid published in Toronto from 1946 to 1972. The popular narrative is that it was an unremarkable, obscure, and pornographic paper which was co-opted by gay and homophile voices in the 1950s. But why did a magazine best remembered, as Mordecai Richler put it, as “the pervert’s new statesman” publish this material? This thesis argues that Justice Weekly really was primarily about Justice, rather than titillation. The paper explored justice through topics such as juvenile delinquency and spanking, which allowed sexualized material to appear, as well as conversations surrounding gay men, race, criminality, and punishment. While the paper outed gay men and often argued for harsher prison conditions, it also published material from Canada’s earliest gay activists and prisoner presses. Justice Weekly’s focus on equitable justice allowed both sex and advocacy to emerge from its content. Author Keywords: Delinquency, Homosexuality, Jim Egan, Pornography, Pulp, Tabloid
That '70s Strike Support
This thesis examines three Ontario strikes during the 1970s: the Dare Foods, Ltd. strike in Kitchener, Ontario, 1972-1973; the Puretex Knitting Company strike in Toronto, 1978-1979; and the Inco strike in Sudbury, 1978-1979. These strikes highlight gender issues in the Canadian food production, textile, and mining industries in the 1970s, industries that were all markedly different in size and purpose, yet equally oppressive towards working women for different reasons, largely based on the regional character of each city the strikes took place in. In Kitchener, the women’s movement worked closely with the Dare union local and the left to mobilize against the company and grappled with the difficulties of framing women’s inequality within the labour movement. At Puretex, immigrant women workers were subject to electronic surveillance as a form of worker control, and a left-wing nationalist union needed to look outside of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) for allies in strike action. At Inco, an autonomous women’s group formed separate from the United Steelworkers of America (USWA) but struggled to overcome a negative perception of women’s labour activism in Sudbury. Ultimately, these strikes garnered a wide variety of support from working women and feminist groups, who often built or had pre-existing relationships with Canadian and American trade unions as well as the left-wing milieu of the 1970s. This thesis uses these strikes as case studies to argue that despite the complicated and at times uneven relationship between feminism, labour, and the left in the 1970s, feminist and left-wing strike support was crucial in sustaining rank-and-file militancy throughout the decade and stimulating activist careers for women in the feminist movement, in unions, and on the left. Author Keywords: 1970s, feminism, labour, left-wing, militancy, working-class
Effects of Local, Landscape, and Temporal Variables on Bobolink Nest Survival in Southern Ontario
Populations of grassland birds, including the Bobolink (Dolichonyx oryzivorus), are experiencing steep declines due to losses of breeding habitat, land use changes, and agricultural practices. Understanding the variables affecting reproductive success can aid conservation of grassland species. I investigated 1) whether artificial nest experiments accurately estimate the impacts of cattle on the daily survival rate of Bobolink nests and 2) which local, landscape, and temporal variables affect daily survival rate of Bobolink nests in Southern Ontario. I replicated an artificial nest experiment performed in 2012 and 2015 to compare the daily survival rate of artificial and natural nests at multiple stocking rates (number of cattle × days × ha-1). I also monitored Bobolink nests and modeled daily survival rate using local variables (e.g., stocking rate, field use, patch area), landscape variables (e.g., percent forest within 2, 5, and 10 km), and temporal variables (e.g., year, date of season). Results indicate that artificial nest experiments using clay shooting targets overestimated the impacts of stocking rate on the daily survival rate of Bobolink nests. With natural nests, region (confounded by year and field use), stocking rate, and date of season were the strongest predictors of daily survival rate; with stocking rate and date of season both having a negative effect. Management should focus on conserving pastures with low stocking rates (< 40 cattle × days × ha-1), late-cut hayfields, fallow fields, and other grasslands to protect breeding grounds for the Bobolink and other declining grassland bird species. Author Keywords: Bobolink, Daily survival rate, landscape variables, local variables, Nest survival, temporal variables
Indirect Effects of Hyperabundant Geese on Sympatric-Nesting Shorebirds
Rising populations of Lesser Snow and Ross’ geese (hereafter collectively referred to as light geese) breeding in the North American Arctic have caused significant environmental change that may be affecting some populations of nesting shorebirds, which in contrast to geese, have declined dramatically. In this thesis I examine the indirect effects of light geese on sympatric-nesting shorebirds. I first conduct a literature review of the effects of light geese on northern wildlife and outline multiple mechanisms in which geese may affect shorebirds in particular. Using bird survey data collected in plots situated across the Canadian Arctic from 1999 to 2016, I then identify spatial effects of light goose colonies on shorebird, passerine, and generalist predator densities. The densities of cover- nesting shorebirds and passerines were depressed near goose colonies while the densities of open-nesting shorebirds were less so. Next, using habitat data collected at random sites and shorebird nest sites situated at increasing distances from a goose colony on Southampton Island, Nunavut, I outline the effects of geese on shorebird nest site selection. I found that the availability of sedge meadow and amount of lateral concealment increased as a function of distance from goose colony; cover-nesting shorebirds selecting nest sites with less concealment and sedge meadow near the colony. Then, to characterize spatial effects of light geese on predators and risk of predation I used time-lapse cameras and artificial shorebird nests placed at increasing distances from the goose colony. Activity indices of gulls, jaegers, and foxes were all negatively correlated with distance from the goose colony while the reverse was true for artificial nest survival probability. Finally, I relate changes in ground cover to goose use and link these changes to variation in invertebrate communities. I then use DNA metabarcoding to characterize the diet of six shorebird species across study sites and identify inter-site variation in the biomass of dominant shorebird prey items. Prey item biomass was elevated at the two study sites near the goose colony potentially indicating an enhancing effect of goose fecal deposition. Overall, I show that light geese interact with shorebirds in multiple ways and negatively affect their habitat availability, nest site selection, and risk of predation, effects that likely outweigh the positive effects of enhanced prey availability. Author Keywords:
Representation Learning with Restorative Autoencoders for Transfer Learning
Deep Neural Networks (DNNs) have reached human-level performance in numerous tasks in the domain of computer vision. DNNs are efficient for both classification and the more complex task of image segmentation. These networks are typically trained on thousands of images, which are often hand-labelled by domain experts. This bottleneck creates a promising research area: training accurate segmentation networks with fewer labelled samples. This thesis explores effective methods for learning deep representations from unlabelled images. We train a Restorative Autoencoder Network (RAN) to denoise synthetically corrupted images. The weights of the RAN are then fine-tuned on a labelled dataset from the same domain for image segmentation. We use three different segmentation datasets to evaluate our methods. In our experiments, we demonstrate that through our methods, only a fraction of data is required to achieve the same accuracy as a network trained with a large labelled dataset. Author Keywords: deep learning, image segmentation, representation learning, transfer learning
Neolithic Resource Use and Adaptation in the Eastern Gobi Desert
Stone axes and adzes first appeared in the eastern Gobi Desert at 8.0 cal BP and were incorporated into the technological package. At the same time, changes in local ecological conditions reflect a transition from continuous grass/shrub-steppe across the Mongolian Plateau to the development of dispersed patches of dune-field wetland oases and high-elevation forests. This thesis focuses on exploring the adoption and function of axes and adzes in the eastern Gobi Desert and their relationship to the development of these new forested ecologies. Using an experimental and use-wear approach, I analyze 29 axes and adzes from four sites in the eastern Gobi Desert of Mongolia and Inner Mongolia. Results indicate that axes and adzes were primarily used for woodworking but include other activities. Furthermore, the adoption and manufacture of axes and adzes represent an increasing investment in producing formal technologies as resources within these new diverse ecological patches were intensively utilized. Author Keywords: Adaptation, Axes and Adzes, Eastern Gobi Desert, Neolithic, Technological Intensification, Use-Wear
Fingerprinting of dissolved organic matter and copper ligands in the Canadian Arctic and North Pacific Ocean
Dissolved organic matter (DOM) in oceans provides nutrients and ultraviolet radiation protection to microbes. Some DOM compounds can chelate with metals, including copper, controlling their transport and bioavailability in marine systems. As copper functions as both a nutrient and toxicant, studies into the chemical structures of Cu-ligands is important, however currently limited. In this thesis, the chemical composition of total and Cu-binding DOM is investigated using Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry (FT-ICR MS) in the Canadian Arctic and North Pacific. Chapter 2 reveals chemical differences in DOM composition between the southern and northern Canada Basin, revealing the influence of terrestrial and biological sources. Chapter 3 shows the uniqueness of Cu-binding ligands found in the Canadian Arctic and North Pacific Ocean. Studying the composition of DOM gives insight into the chemical diversity of marine DOM, helping to predict the effects of a changing climate on marine ecosystems. Author Keywords: biological, dissolved organic matter, fluorescence, immobilized metal-ion affinity chromatography, mass spectrometry, terrestrial
Indigenous Knowledge in Contemporary Public Education
This study provides important perspectives and guidance for educators in Ontario to assist in integrating Indigenous content into public education programs – both in schools and other community educational settings. It explores how Indigenous worldviews provide unique insights for holistic education and learning how to live sustainably in place. The study also focuses on approaches to education, comparing Eurocentric and Indigenous philosophies and pedagogies, as indicators of differing value systems. Through a combination of literature review and personal interviews with eleven influential Indigenous and non-Indigenous educators in the Peterborough area, the study explores the potential for Indigenous perspectives to enhance the wellbeing and personal learning journey of all students, regardless of their backgrounds. The research concludes with recommendations for educators on how to begin integrating Indigenous Knowledge throughout programming in appropriate, respectful ways that celebrate diversity, develop positive relationships and build healthier, more sustainable communities. Author Keywords: Education, Environment, Indigenous Knowledge, Pedagogy, Reconciliation, Worldviews
Expression optimization and NMR spectroscopy of Giardia intestinalis cytochrome b5 isotype III
The parasitic protist Giardia intestinalis does not synthesize heme and lacks many common eukaryotic heme proteins, yet it expresses four cytochrome b5 (gCYTB5) isotypes of unknown function. These have low reduction potentials and distinct subcellular locations that are consistent with structural features and biological functions that differ from their mammalian counterparts. Isotype III (gCYTB5-III) is particularly fascinating for its unusual location in the nuclei of Giardia. This thesis reports the optimization of recombinant gCYTB5-III overexpression for structural studies by NMR spectroscopy. Vital optimization factors for isotope labelling were first identified, finding that auto-induction promotes the optimization of many other conditions, such as colony selection, starter cultures, media components, temperature, pH and aeration. Optimized conditions were then applied to the expression and NMR spectroscopy of isotope-labelled gCYTB5-III and bovine cytochrome b5 as a control. These results can be extended to other heme proteins and will expand our biochemical knowledge of Giardia. Author Keywords: Auto-induction, Cytochrome b5, Giardia intestinalis, Isotope Labelling, Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy, Recombinant Protein
“It's like getting a new car without the manual”
This study explored teacher infusion of Indigenous curriculum content through interviews with ten non-Indigenous teachers of social studies and history. The interviews centered on teacher perceptions of preparedness to implement Ontario’s recent TRC curriculum revisions, which include more about the contributions, histories, cultures, and perspectives of Indigenous peoples. A brief analysis of Ontario’s First Nation, Métis, and Inuit Education Policy Framework is included, alongside critiques of the Eurocentrism at the heart of education systems. The interviews revealed that many of the teachers were committed to Indigenous education and learning more, but they felt unprepared and lacked resources to teach Indigenous curriculum content with confidence. This study highlighted the critical role of settler teachers in Indigenous education and the importance of teachers undertaking settler unsettling in order to be effective and appropriate in Indigenous curriculum delivery. Individual changes must occur alongside educational system decolonization with a particular focus on teacher preparation. Author Keywords: cognitive imperialism, Indigenous Education, Ontario, settler educator, settler unsettling, TRC curriculum

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