Graduate Theses & Dissertations


Tests of the Invasional Meltdown Hypothesis in invasive herbaceous plant species in southern Ontario
According to the Invasional Meltdown Hypothesis (IMH), invasive species may interact in their introduced range and facilitate future invasions. This study investigated the possibility that Alliaria petiolata, an invasive allelopathic herbaceous plant in Ontario, is facilitating invasions by additional alien species. Two allelopathic focal species were chosen for this study: the native Solidago canadensis and the invasive A. petiolata. Field surveys in southern Ontario that quantified plant biodiversity in plots that included one or both focal species revealed no support for the IMH, although fewer species co-existed with A. petiolata than with S. canadensis. A year-long recruitment experiment in Peterborough, Ontario, also produced results inconsistent with the IMH, although did provide some evidence that A. petiolata limited recruitment of other species. These results collectively show negative impacts on regional biodiversity by A. petiolata, even in the absence of an invasional meltdown. Author Keywords: allelopathy, Alliaria petiolata, co-occurrence surveys, invasional meltdown hypothesis, invasive species, Solidago canadensis
Using a real-world chopping task to study motor learning and memory
Typically task interference is studied using reaching adaptation tasks (visuomotor rotation and/or force-field learning). Participants in these experiments are already experts at the base task (point-to-point, planar reaching) and their ability to adapt reaching to the imposed perturbation is studied. The pattern of data induced by the perturbation is used to make inferences about the nature and neural correlates of our learning and memory for reaching perturbations, specifically, and motor performance in general. We wanted to see if it is possible to demonstrate this same interference pattern using a novel vegetable-chopping task, where we can easily recreate natural performance settings using a task for which we can easily identify non-experts. Participants performed a chopping task in which they are asked to chop a sweet potato into 5 mm-wide slices, matching the beat of a metronome (120 bpm). Following this initial learning, participants were exposed to an interference condition. Participants then performed trials of the original task again. Interference was inferred if the second performance of the original task was impaired, compared to initial performance. Experiment 1 involved novice choppers, and either the force or frequency of chops was manipulated. Only the altered frequency task produced interference effects. In Experiment 2, competent and expert choppers had to manage either a faster or slower frequency. We found evidence for interference in competents, but not experts. These results support the idea that the vulnerability to interference of motor memory changes with practice, and so any inferences made about memory structure must take into account not only expert performance, but every level of skill. Author Keywords: expertise, interference, motor learning, reaching adaptation
Towards a Critical Pedagogy of Globality
In this thesis, I use “Trump’s Wall” between Mexico and the US to resist Eurocentrism and the challenges Eurocentric pedagogy poses to the research-practitioner. In my method, I reimagine C. Alejandra Elenes’ borderlands theory as a zone of empowerment within a multicultural Canadian classroom, and braid it in a hybrid assemblage with the rhizome. The “rhizo-borderlands” assemblage uses selected field notes gleaned from my teaching practice to develop themes of a critical pedagogy of globality in personal, local and international dimensions. These are further braided with a “day-in-the-life” narrative of a fictionalized student (Ellie) who navigates her way towards a world literature classroom where the focus is The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. This assemblage affirms my belief that teaching and learning provides a context where students become “border crossers” and navigate points of intersection between their local and global selves, in order to develop intercultural competencies. Author Keywords: Action Narrative, Critical Pedagogy, Rhizomes
Socio-Ecology and the Sacred
Within the complex socio-ecological systems of South and Southeast Asia, ancient sacred natural sites were created by, and imbued with, cultural and ideological values. These landscapes are liminal spaces or threshold environments between cultivated areas and wilder spaces; the practice of creating and maintaining them persists from ancient to modern times. This thesis examines sacred natural sites in three early state formations from 800 – 1400 CE: the Khmer (Cambodia), the Sinhalese (Sri Lanka) and the Chola (South India), why they persisted over time, and what significance they held. Several ancient sacred natural sites are active parts of societies today, and the ones chosen for this study span several categories: mountains, rivers, forests/groves, and caves. Using the paradigm of entanglement theory in a comparative context, this thesis analyzes sacred natural sites acting as key socio-ecological nodes enmeshed in complex dependent relationships within the landscapes of the South and Southeast Asia. Author Keywords: Comparative study, Entanglement theory, Sacred natural sites, Socio-ecological systems, South Asia, Tropical Societies
Effects of Geographic Factors on the Wild Harvest of Large Mammals across North America
While the harvest of mammals is monitored in each jurisdiction across Canada and the USA, there has been no analysis of this wild harvest at a continental scale across North America. The recreational wild harvest of large mammals varies geographically across North America, and I hypothesized that this variation is influenced by both anthropogenic and other environmental factors on the landscape. I tested this hypothesis using annual harvest tallies collected by Conservation Visions Inc. for mammals for each state, provincial, and territorial jurisdiction in Canada and the USA. I built multiple additive models of the harvest, in one harvest year, 2015 – 2016, to test for landscape gradients that explain the variation in harvest levels for seven large mammal species: white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), black bear (Ursus americanus), bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis), elk (Cervus canadensis), mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus), pronghorn (Antilocapra americana), and moose (Alces alces). I built these models from a suite of nine putative predictor variables that comprised landcover, human footprint, and evapotranspiration. For all large mammal species except for pronghorn, anthropogenic influence had a positive effect on the wild harvest density, consistent with the idea that the proximity of human populations and roads are important for fostering wild harvest activity by providing hunters access to hunting areas. The harvest of white-tailed deer, elk, and pronghorn were negatively affected by vegetation structure, urbanization, and primary productivity, respectively. Understanding the recreational wild harvest at a broad-spatial scale provides a unique perspective of the North American model of wildlife conservation and spurs future comparative analyses of the wild harvest across spatial scales. Author Keywords: Anthropogenic Influence, Hunting, Large Mammals, Primary Productivity, Vegetation Structure, Wild Harvest
Experience of Being Jewish in a Small Jewish Community
This thesis explores the experience of Jewish individuals living in a small Jewish community in an urban centre of less than 100,000 in Ontario, Canada. The central question I explore is the ways in which Jewish individuals in a small community enact and perform their identity. What are some of the challenges and obstacles faced by Jews in a small community and what kinds of compromises must be made to accommodate members of the community? Do the benefits of living in a small Jewish community outweigh the shortcomings? This thesis examines how Jewish identity is constructed, maintained and challenged within a smaller urban centre. I begin with a brief historical background of the Jewish presence in Canada. I will look through the lens of Jewish identity within the framework of Canadian multiculturalism, and reasonable accommodation. Jewish identity will then be explored through an intersectional framework. Using qualitative interviews conducted with Jewish individuals, an analysis of common themes and issues pertaining to Jewish identity and maintenance is explored. These themes include Religious observance, cultural identity, Jewish customs and traditions, social action and advocacy. These themes were divided between those of a more individual nature and those of a more communal nature. For participants in this research, managing and maintaining their Jewish identity consisted of balancing their religious and cultural life with their social, work, and other obligations outside the sphere of Jewish identity. The relationship between White identity and Jewish identity is a focal point of study. The synagogue/community centre acts as the primary place in which to express, share, and connect with other Jews. Author Keywords: Assimilation, Community, Intersectionality, Jewish Identity, Multiculturalism, Reasonable Accommodation
Assessing the Clinical Usefulness of Three Tablet-Based Visuomotor Tasks to Evaluate Closed Head Injury
Evidence suggests that visuomotor system behaviour may be more sensitive to the prolonged effects of mild brain injuries than neuropsychological tests. We evaluated whether participants with a mild closed head injury (CHI) would show lingering visuomotor deficits, but not cognitive deficits, up to three years post-injury compared to participants with an orthopaedic injury and healthy controls. All three groups completed a tablet-based visuomotor assessment tool and a brief neuropsychological test battery. The CHI participants scored comparable to the control groups on the neuropsychological tests, but when assessed for visuomotor function requiring adjustment to a changing stimulus, CHI participants showed poorer performance than the control groups. Combined, these findings add to the evidence that CHI can lead to persistent visuomotor deficits that extend beyond those of neuropsychological tests. Therefore, visuomotor assessment should be included in brain injury and recovery evaluation, and this can be accomplished easily using tablet-based tasks. Author Keywords: closed head injury, neuropsychological assessment, recovery, tablet, traumatic brain injury, visuomotor
Politics of Feasting
The goal of this thesis is to explore the role that civic (i.e. state-sponsored) feasting and drinking played in early polis (pl. poleis), or city-state formation on Crete in the Early Iron Age to Archaic transition, ca. 700-500 BCE. Using the two recently excavated civic feasting structures at the site of Azoria as a model for both “inclusive” and “exclusive” forms of civic feasting, this project compares and contrasts the role that it played at a number of other sites in central and east Crete. In order to categorize the structures as either inclusive or exclusive, all forms of published evidence were examined including the buildings’ architecture and the socially valued goods and ceramics found within the structures. Ultimately, this project demonstrates that in the 8th century BCE, inclusive feasting rituals and association with the past were used as means of creating and maintaining a strong group identity, which paved the way for the use of more exclusive practices in the 7th century BCE, where sub-group identities and alliances were formed amongst members of the larger group. However, at the sites where there was evidence for multiple civic feasting venues it appears that by the 7th century BCE, the interplay of both inclusive and exclusive forms of feasting was crucial to the process of identity formation for the citizens of these proto-poleis. Author Keywords: Archaic Crete, Commensality, Feasting, Identity Formation, Polis formation
Context Fear Memory
Distributing contextual fear episodes makes the memory become HPC-independent, meaning increasingly reliant on non-HPC memory structures. It is unclear, however, whether distribution of the conditioning episodes alone is sufficient or whether a combination of distribution and high conditioning saliency is necessary to make the memory become HPC-independent. To resolve this issue, rats were trained using a distributed contextual fear conditioning protocol in which foot-shocks were manipulated to create a low (0.4mA), intermediate (0.7 mA) and high (1.0 mA) saliency condition. This thesis also aimed to determine brain structures supporting the HPC-independent memory by assessing retention-induced c-fos expression in the basolateral- amygdala, perirhinal and anterior cingulate cortices. The results suggest that HPC lesion rats in the high saliency condition displayed similar level of freezing as control rats, indicating “strongly salient” and distributed episodes creates a HPC independent memory. c-fos expression suggests together, an increased context representation in the perirhinal and anterior cingulate cortices and a strengthened fear representation in the basolateral-amygdala supports the HPC-independent memory. Author Keywords: context fear memory, distributed reinstatements, hippocampus, IEG, rat, saliency
Supercritical Water Chemistry
Supercritical water (SCW) exhibits unique properties that differentiates it from its low temperature behaviour. Hydrogen bonding is dramatically reduced, there is no phase boundary between liquid and gaseous states, heat capacity increases, and there is a drastic reduction of the dielectric constant. Efforts are underway for researchers to harness these properties in the applications of power generation and hazardous waste destruction. However, the extreme environment created by the high temperatures, pressures and oxidizing capabilities pose unique challenges in terms of corrosion not present in subcritical water systems. Molecular Dynamics (MD) simulations have been used to obtain mass transport, hydration numbers and the influence on water structure of molecular oxygen, chloride, ammonia and iron (II) cations in corrosion crevices in an iron (II) hydroxide passivation layer. Solvation regimes marking the transitions of solvation based versus charge meditated processes were explored by locating the percolation thresholds of both physically and hydrogen bonded water clusters. A SCW flow through reactor was used to study hydrogen evolution rates over metal oxide surfaces, metal release rates and the kinetics for the oxidation of hydrogen gas by oxygen in SCW. Insights into corrosion phenomena are provided from the MD results as well as the experimental determination of flow reactor water and hydrogen chemistry. Author Keywords: Flow Studies, Molecular Dynamics, Supercritical Water
Altered Hippocampal Regulation of Immediate Early Genes after Pentylenetetrazol-Induced Seizures
Seizures induce long-term changes in gene expression in the hippocampus. Experimental evidence has demonstrated a significant effect of epileptic activity on the activity of neurons that participate in complex cognitive and behavioural processes. The present series of experiments involving kindling with subconvulsive doses of PTZ demonstrates a link between seizures and altered immediate early gene expression within the hippocampus and dentate gyrus. In addition, newborn hippocampal neurons were shown to have decreased induction of plasticity-related genes, suggesting deficits in activity-dependent recruitment. These findings may shed light on the mechanisms underlying epileptogenesis and epilepsy-related hippocampal dysfunction in human patients. Author Keywords: hippocampus, IEGs, kindling, neurogenesis, seizures
Assessing Molecular and Ecological Differentiation in Wild Carnivores
Wild populations are notoriously difficult to study due to confounding stochastic variables. This thesis tackles two components of investigating wild populations. The first examines the use of niche modeling to quantify macro-scale predator-prey relationships in canid populations across eastern North America, while the second examines range-wide molecular structure in Canada lynx. The goal of the first chapter is to quantify niche characteristics in a Canis hybrid zone of C. lupus, C. lycaon, and C. latrans to better understand the ecological differentiation of these species, and to assess the impacts of incorporating biotic interactions into species distribution models. The goal of the second chapter is to determine if DNA methylation, an epigenetic marker that modifies the structure of DNA, can be used to differentiate populations, and might be a signature of local adaptation. Our results indicated that canids across the hybrid zone in eastern North America exhibit low levels of genetic and ecological differentiation, and that the importance of biotic interactions are largely lost at large spatial scales. We also identified cryptic structure in methylation patterns in Canada lynx populations, which suggest signatures of local adaptation, and indicate the utility of DNA methylation as a marker for investigating adaptive divergence. Author Keywords: Ecological Epigenetics, Ecological Genetics, SDM


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