Graduate Theses & Dissertations

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Automated Separation and Preconcentration of Ultra-Trace Levels of Radionuclides in Complex Matrices by Online Ion Exchange Chromatography Coupled with Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS)
Radionuclides occur in the environment both naturally and artificially. Along with weapons testing and nuclear reactor operations, activities such as mining, fuel fabrication and fuel reprocessing are also major contributors to nuclear waste in the environment. In terms of nuclear safety, the concentration of radionuclides in nuclear waste must be monitored and reported before storage and/or discharge. Similarly, radionuclide waste from mining activities also contains radionuclides that need to be monitored. In addition, a knowledge of ongoing radionuclide concentrations is often required under certain ‘special’ conditions, for example in the area surrounding nuclear and mining operations, or when nuclear and other accidents occur. Thus, there is a huge demand for new methods that are suitable for continuously monitoring and rapidly analyzing radionuclide levels, especially in emergency situations. In this study, new automated analytical methods were successfully developed to measure ultra trace levels of single or multiple radionuclides in various environmental samples with the goal of faster analysis times and less analyst involvement while achieving detection limits suitable for typical environmental concentrations. Author Keywords: automation, ICP-MS, ion exchange, radionuclide
effects of heat dissipation capacity on avian physiology and behaviour
In endotherms, physiological functioning is optimized within a narrow range of tissue temperatures, meaning that the capacity to dissipate body heat is an important parameter for thermoregulation and organismal performance. Yet, experimental research has found mixed support for the importance of heat dissipation capacity as a constraint on reproductive performance. To investigate the effects of heat dissipation capacity on organismal performance, I experimentally manipulated heat dissipation capacity in free-living tree swallows, Tachycineta bicolor, by trimming feathers overlying the brood patch, and monitored parental provisioning performance, body temperature, and offspring growth. I found that individuals with an enhanced capacity to dissipate body heat (i.e., trimmed treatment) provisioned their offspring more frequently, and reared larger offspring that fledged more consistently. Although control birds typically reduced their nestling provisioning rate at the highest ambient temperatures to avoid overheating, at times they became hyperthermic. Additionally, I examined inter-individual variation in body temperature within each treatment, and discovered that body temperature is variable among all individuals. This variability is also consistent over time (i.e., is repeatable), irrespective of treatment. Further, I found that individuals consistently differed in how they adjusted their body temperature across ambient temperature, demonstrating that body temperature is a flexible and repeatable physiological trait. Finally, I used a bacterial endotoxin (lipopolysaccharide) to examine the regulation of body temperature of captive zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) during an immune challenge. Exposure to lipopolysaccharide induces sickness behaviours, and results in a fever, hypothermia, or a combination of the two, depending on species and dosage. I asked what the relative role of different regions of the body (bill, eye region, and leg) is in heat dissipation/retention during the sickness-induced body temperature response. I found that immune-challenged individuals modulated their subcutaneous temperature primarily through alterations in peripheral blood flow, particularly in the legs and feet, detectable as a drop in surface temperature. These results demonstrate that the importance of regional differences in regulating body temperature in different contexts. Taken together, my thesis demonstrates that heat dissipation capacity can affect performance and reproductive success in birds. Author Keywords: body temperature, heat dissipation, tree swallow, zebra finch
Surface temperature regulation during stress exposure
The influence of stress exposure on the body temperature of vertebrates has been known for nearly two-thousand years. While the proximate mechanisms supporting this phenomenon are well described, the ultimate mechanisms remain enigmatic. In this thesis, I propose a novel hypothesis which states that changes in body surface temperature (henceforth "surface temperature") following stress exposure occur to reduce energetic expenditure toward thermoregulation, thus freeing energy for use in the stress response (hereafter, the "Thermoprotective Hypothesis"). Using a paired experimental design, I first show that black-capped chickadees (Poecile atricapillus, Linnaeus, 1766) exposed to repeated stressors decrease their surface temperatures at low ambient temperatures, and increase their surface temperatures at high ambient temperatures relative to unstressed controls. These changes in surface temperature contribute to a relative reduction in heat loss in the cold, and a relative increase in heat dissipation in the warmth among stress-exposed individuals, thus reducing their energetic demands toward more costly thermoregulatory strategies. Next, I show that stress-induced changes in surface temperature are most pronounced in chickadees that experience naturally-occurring resource-restrictions, suggesting that this response occurs to balance allocation of energy among the stress response and thermoregulation (i.e. a true energetic trade-off ). Third, I show that the magnitudes of chronic, stress-induced changes in surface temperature are highly variable among, and highly consistent within, chickadees, therefore suggesting that this response could hold adaptive significance if such variation among individuals is heritable. Finally, using domestic pigeons (Columba livia domestica, Gmelin, 1789) as a model species, I show that stress-induced changes in surface temperature are highly pronounced at bare tissues with a critical role in thermoregulation for some avian species (the bill), when compared with responses at surrounding bare tissues (the eye region). Together, these findings strongly support the Thermoprotective Hypothesis and suggest that endotherms may trade energetic investment toward thermoregulation with that toward the stress response in resource-limiting environments. Author Keywords: heat transfer, infrared thermography, stress physiology, surface temperature, thermoregulation, trade-off
Ecosystem Response to Above Canopy Nitrogen Addition in a Jack Pine (Pinus banksiana) Forest in the Athabasca Bituminous Sands Region of Northeastern Alberta, Canada
In this study we seek to better understand the potential effects of short-term (5-year) N fertilization on jack pine forest biogeochemistry, vascular plant community composition and to project a temporal endpoint of nitrogen leaching below the major rooting zone. Aqueous ammonium nitrate (NH4NO3) was applied above the forest canopy across five treatment plots (20 x 80 m) four times annually. The experimental deposition gradient followed those known for localized areas around the major open pit operations at 0, 5, 10, 15, 20 and 25 kg N ha-1 yr-1 over a five-year period (2011 – 2015). Nitrate recovery in throughfall was significantly higher than NH4+ (p < 0.05), indicating canopy NH4+ immobilization. There was a strong treatment effect (p < 0.05) of N on the epiphytic lichen thalli concentrations of Hypogymnia physodes and Evernia mesomorpha after five years. The canopy appeared to approach saturation at the highest deposition load (25 kg N ha-1 yr-1) during the fifth year of N additions as most N added above the canopy was accounted for in throughfall and stemflow. The non-vascular (lichen and moss) vegetation pool above the forest floor was the largest receptor of N as cryptogam foliar and thalli N concentrations showed a significant treatment effect (p < 0.05). Nitrogen in decomposing litter (25 kg N ha-1 yr-1) remained immobilized after five years, while treatments ≤ 20 kg N ha-1 yr-1 started to mobilize. Understory vascular plant cover expansion was muted when deposition was ≥ 10 kg N ha-1 yr-1. Finally, modeling suggests the forest may not leach N below the rooting zone until around 50 years after chronic addition begin (25 kg N ha-1 yr-1). The modeling results are consistent with empirical data from a high exposure (~20 - 25 kg N ha-1 yr-1) jack pine site approximately 12 km west of the experimental site that has not yet experienced N leaching. Author Keywords: Biogeochemistry, Canopy, Deposition, Jack Pine, Nitrogen, Understory
Biogeography of Carabidae (Coleoptera) in the Boreal forest
Basic biogeographic information is lacking for many species, such as where species are found, and how they dispersed there. Using ground beetles collected during 2008-2015 from across northern Ontario and Akimiski Island, Nunavut, I present new information on ground beetle distribution in this eastern Nearctic boreal forest, including 2 first Canadian records, 9 first provincial and 48 first territorial records, as well as 74 new records that extend the known range of many large and common ground beetles several hundred kilometres. I used these distributions to redress the knowledge gap that includes fundamental distribution data, i.e. the Wallacean shortfall, and to inform later chapters in my thesis.In Chapter 3, I examine the range expansion pattern of Carabus granulatus, a non-native species, as it spread across northeastern North America and I provide a new range record. Northern Ontario is already under threat from non-native species entering the region and it is important to conduct studies in the region before more disturbance associated with development occurs. In Chapter 4, I examine the hypothesis that northern Ontario effectively acts as a climate plateau for poikilotherms, using the predictions from Bergmann's rule as my metric. The body length of ground beetles does not appear to change over the small temperature gradient that exists across northern Ontario latitudes, supporting the climate plateau hypothesis. In Chapter 5, I test hypotheses about dispersal mechanisms that contributed to post glacial re-establishment of ground beetles using predictions of geographic distribution patterns as metrics. I found that ground beetles were likely carried downstream by rivers which aided their dispersal northward from southern refugia. I infer from the current geographic distributions that flightless ground beetle species are still expanding their range in this boreal region. Finally, I argue that there is an urgent need for more basic research on species distributions while it is still possible in regions like northern Ontario, before increased industrial and agricultural development, and expanding resource extraction projects obliterate evidence of historic ecological processes. Author Keywords: Boreal forest, Carabidae, Coleoptera, Passive dispersal, Post-glacial distribution, Range extension
collaborative ecotoxicological risk assessment of in-place pollutants in Owen Sound Bay, Lake Huron within the Saugeen Ojibway Nation Territory
Owen Sound Bay, which is located within the traditional territory of the Saugeen Ojibway Nation (SON), is contaminated as a result of historical industrial and shipping activity. Gross contamination of the sediments in the inner part of the Bay (i.e., Owen Sound Harbour) includes high concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and other organic compounds, as well as metals that may pose a risk to the SON fishery for lake whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformis). However, evaluating the environmental risks posed by contaminated sediments is a challenge, as these risks are dependent upon several factors and require multiple lines of evidence. Including Indigenous communities in environmental risk assessment and the management of those risks is vital for sustaining ecosystem integrity, as well as respecting Treaty Rights. In this study, a risk assessment framework was developed that included several risk assessment tools used in Western science and also encompassed the concerns and values of the SON, including the application of SON-ecological knowledge. Methods for risk evaluation included gathering lines of evidence though community workshops, as well as field sampling in the Bay to determine the concentrations of PAHs and other organic contaminants in sediments and in the water column. Laboratory studies of toxicity to early life stages of lake whitefish and Japanese medaka (Oryzias latipes) and sediment disturbance simulations to evaluate biological responses in juvenile lake whitefish were also completed as lines of evidence. The results indicate that leaving the harbour “as is” without a thorough analysis of remediation options fails to address the concerns of the people within the SON communities. Overall, this research demonstrated a successful process for developing a collaborative risk assessment framework that recognizes the sovereignty of Indigenous peoples and promotes Nation-to-Nation decision making. Author Keywords: biomarkers, Coregonus clupeaformis, Indigenous knowledge, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, risk assessment, source tracking
Population Dynamics of Eastern Coyotes in Southeastern Ontario
The ability of animal populations to compensate for harvest mortality provides the basis for sustainable harvesting. Coyote populations are resilient to exploitation, but the underlying mechanisms of compensation and how they inter-relate are not fully understood. Moreover, deficiencies in the quality and quantity of information about eastern coyotes preclude effective management. I combined field work, laboratory work, and genetic profiling to investigate the population dynamics of eastern coyotes in southeastern Ontario. Specifically, I conducted research on coyotes during 2010–2013 in Prince Edward County where coyote hunting and trapping seasons were open all year. First, I investigated their social status dynamics and space-use patterns. Transients exhibited extensive space-use relative to residents, potentially encountering vacant territories and/or breeding positions, and some transients became residents, potentially filling vacant territories and/or breeding positions. Accordingly, the study population demonstrated the potential to compensate for harvest mortality via source-sink dynamics and/or buffering reproductive capacity. Second, I investigated their survival and cause-specific mortality. Residents exhibited greater survival than transients, probably partly because of the benefits of holding a territory, and transients seemingly exhibited greater vulnerability to harvest than residents, probably partly because their movements exposed them to greater cumulative mortality risks over time. Accordingly, harvest mortality disproportionately impacted the non-reproductive segment of the study population and thus may have failed to substantially limit reproduction, and thus recruitment. Third, I investigated their reproduction and breeding histories. Females in the study population exhibited age-specific reproductive rates and litter sizes generally typical of those in exploited coyote populations. Accordingly, increased reproductive rates and increased litter sizes may have offset losses due to harvest mortality. There was at least some breeder turnover in the study population due to harvest mortality, but many breeders survived to reproduce for multiple years and those that died were quickly replaced. My findings have important management implications for eastern coyotes and contribute significantly to better understanding of their resilience to harvest. Indiscriminate killing of coyotes through liberal harvest is unlikely to be effective in reducing their abundance. Management strategies should consider non-lethal alternatives and/or targeted lethal control for dealing with problem coyotes. Author Keywords: Canis latrans var., eastern coyotes, population dynamics, Prince Edward County, southeastern Ontario
Assessing Measured and Perceived Risks to Drinking Water Sources
Microcontaminants originating from wastewater effluent and run-off from agricultural lands may be present in the sources of drinking water for rural and Indigenous communities in mixed-use watersheds. In this study, a convergent parallel mixed-methods design was applied to assess measured and perceived risks of contamination in the sources of drinking water for two communities; the Six Nations of the Grand River community in Ontario and the community of Soufriere in St. Lucia, West Indies. The overall goal of the project was to assess how measured and perceived risks of exposure to chemical and biological contaminants in drinking water sources could inform water management strategies for the communities. Quantitative data obtained from the analysis of water samples collected indicated that the highest levels and occurrence of fecal bacteria were found in the Soufriere watershed while the highest concentrations and occurrence of pesticides were found in the Grand River watershed. In the Grand River watershed, conventional treatment of water followed by activated carbon filtration and UV disinfection removed fecal bacteria and also removed many chemical microcontaminants with efficiencies as high as 98%. Data from both watersheds indicated that there was a strong positive correlation between the levels of caffeine and sucralose (i.e. indicators of wastewater contamination) in water samples and the levels of either Total Coliforms or fecal bacteria of human origin. Human health risk assessments of individual pesticides and pesticide mixtures performed by applying a hazard quotient (HQ) and hazard index (HI) model, respectively indicated that there were no apparent risks to human health from those microcontaminants. Qualitative data obtained from face-to-face interviews with water managers and health professionals working in the two communities, which were collected and analysed concurrently but independently, illustrated that there were cross-cultural similarities and differences in factors influencing the perceptions of risks associated with the sources of drinking water. These perceptions of risks were mainly influenced by factors such as heuristics or informal and informal reasoning, cognitive-affective factors, social-political institutions and cultural factors. These factors may have also influenced water managers and health professionals, as they often recommended more “soft” strategies for managing water resources in the communities. Key words: pesticides, fecal bacteria, microcontaminants, POCIS, measured risks, perceived risks, water management, First Nations, Grand River, Soufriere, St. Lucia Author Keywords: fecal bacteria, measured risks, microcontaminants, perceived risks, POCIS, water management
Icelandic Dust Entrainment, Emission & Deposition
Extremely active dust sources within selected areas of Iceland that are comprised of particles supplied from both glacio-fluvial outwash systems and volcanic eruptions (Bullard et al., 2016; Gassó et al., 2018). The supply of sediments, sparsity of vegetation, high frequency of surface winds, and lack of adequate gravel pavement to reduce sand drifting are believed to influence the duration, frequency, and magnitude of these dust events in Iceland. Apart from recent collaborative efforts to measure and model dust entrainment, emission and deposition (Prospero et al., 2012; Zwaaftink et al., 2017), several underlying physical mechanisms that are unique to cold, humid climates and the geology of Iceland are not well understood. This study specifically aims to assess and understand the physics of Icelandic dust entrainment and deposition with an emphasis on the influence of climate and the physical characteristics of the particles. A series of laboratory experiments of different configurations were carried out on several sediments collected from some of the most emissive sources in Iceland in order to understand these dust processes. The results from this study show that the increasing particle sphericity is associated with progressively smaller particle size; and an abundance of amorphous glass increases the surface area and roughness of the particles, which contributes to high porosity that alters the particle skeletal density. The particle features and climate are interlinked with the entrainment and deposition rates. For instance, coarse sediments emit higher PM concentrations than sediments containing more clay. The strong wind shear at the bed surface acts to disperse many of the tiny particle aggregates and coated liquid droplets contained within a splash structure created by the impact of a single water droplet. The deposition of suspended dust particulates is dependent on the particle characteristics and relative humidity. The retreat of glaciers and ice-cap masses in Iceland are expected to expose new dust particulate sources as the global mean temperature continues to rise (Cannone et al., 2008; Radic and Hock, 2011). Therefore, the influence of the particle characteristics and climate on the dust entrainment, emission and de- position must be accounted for in the parameterization of dust dispersion models related to suspended volcaniclastic particles. Author Keywords: High latitude cold climate environments, Icelandic dust particle characteristics, Laser Doppler anemometer, Rain droplet impact, Settling velocity, Wind tunnel
Novel Aliphatic Amides from Vegetable Oils as Bio-Based Phase Change Materials
Energy storage efficiency and sustainability require advanced technologies and novel materials. Recently, bio-based phase change materials (PCMs) have received significant attention for thermal energy storage (TES) uses. Vegetable oils are versatile renewable feedstocks that are well suited for the development of sustainable, functional PCMs. PCMs derived from vegetable oil, which compares favorably with paraffin waxes, the industry standard, are currently available. However, their melting points are typically below 80 °C preventing their wider integration in TES applications, particularly those requiring higher temperatures. The present work manipulated the structural building blocks of fatty acids to advantageously affect the intermolecular forces and increase the properties relevant to TES. The polar amide functional group was incorporated into fatty moieties to take advantage of the strong hydrogen bonds that it forms to increase intermolecular attractions and hence increase the phase change temperature and enthalpy as well as to improve thermal stability and thermal conductivity. A series of carefully designed lipid-derived monoamides and four series of lipid-derived diamides were synthesized via benign and simple amidation reactions. The purity of the amides and the intermolecular hydrogen bond strength were assessed using 1H NMR and FTIR. The properties relevant to TES such as thermal transition, crystal structure and polymorphism, thermal stability and thermal conductivity were measured using DSC, XRD, TGA and a thermal conductivity analyzer, respectively. The complex roles of the PCM’s constituting molecular building blocks in the phase behavior were elucidated and correlations between structure, processing conditions and macroscopic physicochemical properties, never before elucidated, were assembled in predictive relationships, drawing a unified picture of the rules that generally govern the phase behavior of lipid-derived PCMs. Practically, the prepared amides demonstrated desirable TES properties with substantial performance improvement over current bio-based PCMs. They presented increased phase change temperatures (79 - 159 °C), enthalpies of fusion (155 - 220 J/g) and thermal stability (234 - 353 °C). More importantly, the predictive structure-function relationships established in this work will allow the straightforward engineering of lipid-derived amide PCM architectures with judicious selection of molecular building blocks to extend the range of organic PCMs and deliver thermal properties desirable for TES applications. Author Keywords: LATENT HEAT THERMAL ENERGY STORAGE, LIPID-DERIVED AMIDES, PHASE CHANGE MATERIALS, RENEWABLE, SOLID LIQUID AMIDE PCMS, THERMAL PROPERTIES
White-Tailed Fear
The primary method used to maintain white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) populations at densities that are ecologically, economically, socially, and culturally sustainable is hunter harvest. This method considers only the removal of animals from the population (the direct effect) and does not conventionally consider the costs imposed on deer as they adopt hunter avoidance strategies (the risk effect). The impact of risk effects on prey can exceed that of direct effects and there is interest in applying this concept to wildlife management. Deer are potential candidates as they have demonstrated behavioural responses to hunters. I explored the potential of such a management practice by quantifying how human decisions around hunting create a landscape of fear for deer and how deer alter their space use and behaviour in response. I used a social survey to explore the attitudes of rural landowners in southern and eastern Ontario towards deer and deer hunting to understand why landowners limited hunting on their property. I used GPS tracking devices to quantify habitat selection by hunters and hunting dogs (Canis familiaris) to better understand the distribution of hunting effort across the landscape. I used GPS collars to quantify the habitat selection of deer as they responded to this hunting pressure. I used trail cameras to quantify a fine-scale behavioural response, vigilance, by deer in areas with and without hunting. Human actions created a highly heterogeneous landscape of fear for deer. Landowner decisions excluded hunters from over half of the rural and exurban landscape in southern and eastern Ontario, a pattern predicted by landowner hunting participation and not landcover composition. Hunter decisions on whether to hunt with or without dogs resulted in dramatically different distributions of hunting effort across the landscape. Deer showed a high degree of behavioural plasticity and, rather than adopting uniform hunter avoidance strategies, tailored their response to the local conditions. The incorporation of risk effects into white-tailed deer management is feasible and could be done by capitalizing on a better understanding of deer behaviour to improve current management practices or by designing targeted hunting practices to elicit a landscape of fear with specific management objectives. Author Keywords: Brownian bridge movement models, hunting, landscape of fear, resource utilization functions, risk effects, white-tailed deer
Range dynamics of two closely related felids
Species ranges are changing and the rate at which the climate is warming is faster than anything previously seen in the past, consequently species will need to adapt quickly, track the climate or perish. Cold adapted terrestrial species are the most vulnerable, because they are limited by the availability of land at the cold edge of their range. This means that many alpine, boreal and polar species essentially have nowhere to go as the climate warms. Habitat generalists are widely distributed across the globe and are highly adaptable to anthropogenic change. Our future biodiversity may only consist of several habitat generalists. The Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis) is a boreal species that has limited range expansion potential at the cold end of its range and its range has already contracted by 40%. The lynx has nowhere to go as climate warming progresses in this current century. Therefore, understanding the causes of its range contraction could enlighten us on conservation and management strategies that we might undertake as climate warms. My analyses indicated that the Canada lynx seems to have tracked the habitat that it is adapted to in more northern homogenous boreal forests and the bobcat (Lynx rufus), a habitat generalist, has simply replaced it in the south. Author Keywords: Anthropogenic Change, Competition, Connectivity, Lynx canadensis, Lynx rufus, Range change

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