Graduate Theses & Dissertations


Effects of flooding on nutrient budgets and ecosystem services
Increases in flooding due to anthropogenic influences such as climate change and reservoir creation will undoubtedly impact aquatic ecosystems, affecting physical, chemical, and biological processes. We used two approaches to study these impacts: a whole-ecosystem reservoir flooding experiment and a systematic literature review. In the whole-ecosystem experiment, we analyzed the impact of flooding on nutrient release from stored organic matter in an upland forest. We found that flooded organic matter produced N (nitrogen) and P (phosphorus), but that more N was released relative to P, increasing the N:P ratio over time. In the systematic literature review, we linked small (<10 year recurrence interval) and extreme (>100 year recurrence interval) floods to changes in 10 aquatic ecosystem services. Generally, extreme floods negatively impacted aquatic ecosystem service provisioning, while small floods contributed positively. Overall, we found that flood impacts vary depending on ecosystem properties (organic matter content) and flood characteristics (magnitude). Author Keywords: ecosystem services, flooding, nutrients, reservoirs, rivers
Interactome Study of Giardia Intestinalis Cytochromes B5
Giardia intestinalis is an anaerobic protozoan that lacks common eukaryotic heme-dependent respiratory complexes and does not encode any proteins involved in heme biosynthesis. Nevertheless, the parasite encodes several hemeproteins, including three members of the Type II cytochrome b5 sub-group of electron transport proteins found in anaerobic protist and amitochondriate organisms. Unlike the more well-characterized cytochrome b5s of animals, no function has been ascribed to any of the Type II proteins. To explore the functions of these Giardia cytochromes (gCYTB5s), I used bioinformatics, immunofluorescence microscopy (IFM) and co-immunoprecipitation assays. The protein-protein interaction in silico prediction tool, STRING, failed to identify relevant interacting partners for any of the Type II cytochromes b5 from Giardia or other organisms. Differential cellular localization of the gCYTB5s was detected by IFM: gCYTB5-I in the perinuclear space; gCYTB5-II in the cytoplasm with a staining pattern similar to peripheral vacuole-associated protein; and gCYTB5-III in the nucleus. Co-immunoprecipitation with the gCYTB5s as bait identified potential interacting proteins for each isotype. The most promising candidate is the uncharacterized protein GL50803_9861, which was identified in the immunoprecipitate of both gCYTB5-I and II, and which co-localizes with both. Structural analysis of GL50803_9861 using Swiss Model, Phyre2, I-TASSER and RaptorX predicts the presence of a nucleotide-binding domain, which is consistent with a potential redox role involving nicotinamide or flavin-containing cofactors. Finally, the protein GL50803_7204 which contains a RNA/DNA binding domain was identified a potential partner of gCYTB5-III. These findings represent the first steps in the discovery of the roles played by these proteins in Giardia. Author Keywords: Cytochrome b5, Giardia intestinalis, Heme, Interactome, Protein structure prediction
Reproductive Fitness of Smallmouth Bass (Micropterus dolomieu) Under Heterogeneous Environmental Conditions
Identifying the biotic and abiotic factors that influence individual reproductive fitness under natural conditions is essential for understanding important aspects of a species’ evolutionary biology and ecology, population dynamics, and life-history evolution. Using next generation sequencing technology, I developed five microsatellite multiplex reactions suitable for conducting large scale parentage analysis of smallmouth bass, Micropterus dolomieu, and used molecular pedigree reconstruction techniques to characterize the genetic mating system and mate selection in adult smallmouth bass nesting in Lake Opeongo, Ontario, Canada. I used multivariate spatial autocorrelation analysis to indirectly infer the occurrence and extent of natal philopatry among spawning adults, to assess the strength and direction of sex-bias in natal dispersal patterns, and to evaluate the degree of nest site fidelity and breeding dispersal of spawning adults. I also evaluated how differences in littoral zone water temperature caused by wind-induced seiche events influence the relative reproductive success of spawning adults. Lastly, I provide a synopsis of potential future research aimed at further exploring factors that influence the reproductive fitness of smallmouth bass in Lake Opeongo. This information will contribute to our understanding of the factors regulating smallmouth bass populations, and provide insight into the factors controlling the variance in individual reproductive success and thus recruitment dynamics in this species. Author Keywords: Dispersal, Fitness, Mate selection, Mating systems, Philopatry
Agro-Ecological Zoning (AEZ) of Southern Ontario and the Projected Shifts Caused by Climate Change in the Long-term Future
This thesis proposes an agro-ecological zoning (AEZ) methodology of southern Ontario for the characterization and mapping of agro-ecological zones during the historical term (1981-2010), and their shifts into the long-term (2041-2070) projected climate period. Agro-ecological zones are homogenous areas with a unique combination of climate, soil, and landscape features that are important for crop growth. Future climate variables were derived from Earth System Models (EMSs) using a high emission climate forcing scenario from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 5th Assessment Report. The spatiotemporal shifts in agro-ecological zones with projected climate change are analyzed using the changes to the length of growing period (LGP) and crop heat units (CHU), and their manifestation in agro-climatic zones (ACZ). There are significant increases to the LGP and CHU into the long-term future. Two historical ACZs exist in the long-term future, and have decreased in area and shifted northward from their historical locations. Author Keywords: Agro-climatic Zones, Agro-ecological Zones, Agro-ecological Zoning, Climate Change, Crop Heat Units, Length of Growing Period
Influence of nitrogen deposition on the vegetation community of Irish oak woodlands
In this study, the influence of N deposition on the vegetation community of semi-natural oak woodlands in Ireland was assessed through national and regional scale analysis of forest plot data. At both scales, Canonical Correspondence Analysis suggested that N deposition was a predictor of community composition, although site-specific soil characteristics were the strongest predictors of the species dataset. Threshold Indicator Taxon Analysis suggested that the vegetation community demonstrated the most change at 13.2 kg N ha-1 yr-1. While this change point falls within the current recommended critical load range for nutrient nitrogen for acidophilous oak dominated woodlands (10 to 15 kg N ha-1 yr-1), it is notable that 23% of species recorded had individual change points below this range, and could potentially be lost from this habitat if deposition increases. The results from this study suggest that, for acidophilous oak woodlands, habitat conservation policies should be unified with N emission reduction policies. Author Keywords: community composition, critical load, nitrogen depositioin, oak woodland, species richness, Taxon Indicator Threshold Analysis
Childhood diet and feeding practices at Apollonia
This study analyses deciduous dental pathology and stable carbon and nitrogen isotopes to investigate the relationship between dietary composition, feeding practices, and oral health in a subadult skeletal sample from the Greek colonial site of Apollonia Pontica, Bulgaria (5th to 3rd century BC). Stable isotope analysis of 74 bone collagen samples indicates that weaning began between the ages of 6 months and 1 year, and was complete by the age of 4. The stable isotope data are consistent with a diet of primarily terrestrial C3 resources. The deciduous dentitions of 85 individuals aged between 8.5 months and 10.5 years were examined for evidence of a number of pathological conditions. The presence of dental caries, calculus, occlusal tooth wear and an abscess indicate that foods introduced early in life affected the oral health of these individuals. Overall, the deciduous dental data correlate well with the stable isotope data and ancient textual sources regarding infant and childhood dietary composition and feeding practices. Author Keywords: breastfeeding, deciduous dentition, dental pathology, stable carbon and nitrogen isotopes, weaning
Ontario's Aboriginal Education Strategy
Since 2007, Aboriginal education initiatives in Ontario have been supported by the Aboriginal Education Strategy (Strategy) under provincial Liberal governments. Using a comparative analysis, this thesis seeks to identify how the Strategy supports and/or does not support components of critical pedagogy to promote transformational learning for all students in Ontario's publicly funded schools. A brief historical timeline of Aboriginal education in Canada and the current situation of educational attainment for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples provides context for the thesis. Through an examination of policy documents and resources related to the Strategy, I identify both strengths and areas for improvement in the Strategy to meet expectations of critical pedagogy. Finally, I suggest recommendations to improve the Strategy in order to achieve its potential for the benefit of all students in Ontario's public schools. Author Keywords: Aboriginal students, Critical pedagogy, Education, Ontario, Policy
Selection on functional genes across a flying squirrel (genus Glaucomys) hybrid zone
While hybridization between distinct taxa can have undesirable implications, it can also result in increased genetic variability and potentially, the exchange of adaptive genes or traits. Adaptive variation acquired through introgressive hybridization may be particularly advantageous for species facing rapid environmental change. I investigated a novel, climate change-induced hybrid zone between two flying squirrel species: the southern (Glaucomys volans) and northern (G. sabrinus) flying squirrel. I was interested in the occurrence of hybridization and introgression, the type of selective pressures maintaining the hybrid zone and the potential for adaptive introgression. I found relatively low hybridization and introgression frequencies (1.7% and 2.9% of the population, respectively) and no evidence of selection on hybrids or backcrosses in particular environments. I conclude that the data are more consistent with a hybrid zone maintained by endogenous (environment-independent) selection. I tested for adaptive introgression using two functional genes: IGF-1 and CLOCK. I documented intermediate functional allele frequencies in backcrosses compared to parental populations, suggesting the alleles do not confer fitness advantages in backcrosses. Despite lack of evidence for current adaptive introgression, genetic admixture between G. volans and G. sabrinus may provide adaptive potential should these species face more rapid or drastic environmental change in the future. Author Keywords: adaptive introgression, flying squirrel, Glaucomys sabrinus, Glaucomys volans, hybridization, introgression
Time to adapt
To better understand species’ resilience to climate change and implement solutions, we must conserve environments that maintain standing adaptive genetic variation and the potential generation of new beneficial alleles. Coding trinucleotide repeats (cTNRs) providing high-pace adaptive capabilities via high rates of mutation are ideal targets for mitigating the decline of species at risk by characterizing adaptively significant populations. Ultimately, adaptive genetic information will inform the protection of biological diversity below the species level (i.e., “Evolutionarily Significant Units” or “ESUs”). This dissertation investigates cTNRs within candidate genes to determine their prevalence and influence under selection in North American mammals. First, I evaluated the potential for somatic mosaicism in Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis), and found that tissue-specific mosaicism does not confound cTNR genotyping success in lynx. Second, I assessed a selection of clock gene cTNRs across characterized mammals and found that these repeats are abundant and highly variable in length and purity. I also identified preliminary signatures of selection in 3 clock gene cTNRs in 3 pairs of congeneric North American mammal species, highlighting the importance of cTNRs for understanding the evolution and adaptation of wild populations. I further evaluated the influence of selection on the NR1D1 cTNR within Canada lynx sampled across Canada using environmental correlation, where I estimated the variation in NR1D1 cTNR alleles explained by environmental and spatial variables after removing the effects of neutral population structure. Although most variation was explained by neutral structure, environment and spatial patterns in eastern lynx populations significantly explained some of the variation in NR1D1 alleles. To examine the role of island populations in the generation and distribution of adaptive genetic variation, I used 14 neutral microsatellites and a dinucleotide repeat within a gene linked to mammalian body size, IGF-1, and found that both genetic drift and natural selection influence the observed genetic diversity of insular lynx. Finally, I estimated the divergence dates of peripheral lynx populations and made recommendations towards the conservation of Canada lynx; high levels of genetic differentiation coupled with post-glacial colonization histories and patterns of divergence at cTNR loci suggest at least 4 ESUs for Canada lynx across their range. Author Keywords: adaptation, Canada lynx, candidate genes, coding trinucleotide repeats, evolution, natural selection
Holocene Resource Exploitation
This study uses the zooarchaeological record to examine the range of activities represented in Late Archaic period samples excavated from Jacob's Island -1B, in the Trent-Severn Waterway region in Ontario. Radiocarbon dates from sixteen features were used to establish a chronology of site use and occupation. The faunal remains analyzed in this study were recovered from seven dated mortuary features associated with human remains. The results of the faunal analysis suggest that Canis lupus familiaris was the primary species interred at Jacob's Island-1B. Small rodents, specifically Tamias striatus were also found in high abundance and are possibly the result of natural burrowing disturbances. Red ochre staining and low levels of burning were identified. Comparisons with other contemporaneous sites in the region indicate some variation in species composition. It is suggested that Canis lupus familiaris was associated with ritual and mortuary activities at Jacob's Island-1B. Author Keywords: Canis lupus familiaris, Late Archaic Period, Ontario, Ritualsim, Zooarchaeology
Exploring Indigenous Contributions to (Indigenization of) the City of Saskatoon's 2012-2022 Strategic Plan
The self-determining autonomy of urban Aboriginal communities in Canada's Prairie Provinces can be strengthened at the local scale through decolonized municipal governance frameworks. The City of Saskatoon's Strategic Plan 2012-2022 is highlighted to explore two interrelated questions: do Saskatoon's Aboriginal engagement strategies represent a co-produced or indigenized mainstream planning and policy-making process? Does the potential indigenization of municipal planning and policy-making represent a promising pathway to facilitate local decolonization through collaborative municipal-Aboriginal governance in Saskatoon? Results from qualitative interviews reveal that the City of Saskatoon's distinctive Aboriginal engagement strategies were not entirely meaningful for participants, though the planning process included elements that, if expanded upon, could deepen co-production. Indigenization through co-production necessitates a thorough integration of Aboriginal community input at every stage of a planning and policy-making process, shared control and decision-making mechanisms between municipal governments and Aboriginal communities, and ancillary considerations for increased Aboriginal representation and participation in the administrative and political functions of City Hall. Author Keywords: aboriginal governance, decolonization, indigenization, policy co-production, self-determination, strategic municipal planning
Sexual Dimporphism and Population Dynamics of Sub-Arctic Breding Dunlin (Calidris alpina hudsonia) near Churchill, Manitoba, Canada
Around the world, many populations of migratory shorebirds appear to be declining. Conservation strategies to reverse declining trends rely on, among other information, a firm understanding of breeding ground population dynamics. From 2010 to 2014, I studied a breeding population of Dunlin (Calidris alpina hudsonia) near Churchill, Manitoba using mark-recapture methods. I found that females were significantly larger than males. I subsequently developed an equation based on morphological features that successfully classified 87.1% of females and 92.6% of males, sexed using molecular techniques. Using program MARK, I quantified the annual apparent survival of adults (± SE) within the breeding population (0.82 ± 0.063 for males, 0.73 ± 0.12 for females). Transient adults made up a significant percentage of the female population (32%, P = 0.011), but non-significant in the male population (12%, P > 0.05). Re-sight rate was high for both sexes, and ranged from 0.86-0.90 per year. Sex, year, and nest initiation date were the factors that had the greatest influence on annual returns. There was no significant difference in mean inter-annual nest site distance between sexes (male: 82.01 ± 13.42 m, female: 208.38 ± 55.88 m, P > 0.05). The high survival estimates obtained in this study suggest that the breeding population is stable and may not be contributing to suspected population declines within the subspecies. Author Keywords: demography, discriminant function analysis, mark-recapture, sexual size dimorphism, survival


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