Graduate Theses & Dissertations

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SPATIAL AND TEMPORAL GENETIC STRUCTURE OF WOLVERINE POPULATIONS
Habitat loss and fragmentation can disrupt population connectivity, resulting in small, isolated populations and low genetic variability. Understanding connectivity patterns in space and time is critical in conservation and management planning, especially for wide-ranging species in northern latitudes where habitats are becoming increasingly fragmented. Wolverines (Gulo gulo) share similar life history traits observed in large-sized carnivores, and their low resiliency to disturbances limits wolverine persistence in modified or fragmented landscapes - making them a good indicator species for habitat connectivity. In this thesis, I used neutral microsatellite and mitochondrial DNA markers to investigate genetic connectivity patterns of wolverines for different temporal and spatial scales. Population genetic analyses of individuals from North America suggested wolverines west of James Bay in Canada are structured into two contemporary genetic clusters: an extant cluster at the eastern periphery of Manitoba and Ontario, and a northwestern core cluster. Haplotypic composition, however, suggested longstanding differences between the extant eastern periphery and northwestern core clusters. Phylogeographic analyses across the wolverine's Holarctic distribution supported a postglacial expansion from a glacial refugium near Beringia. Although Approximate Bayesian computations suggested a west-to-east stepping-stone divergence pattern across North America, a mismatch distribution indicated a historic bottleneck event approximately 400 generations ago likely influenced present-day patterns of haplotype distribution. I also used an individual-based genetic distance measure to identify landscape features potentially influencing pairwise genetic distances of wolverines in Manitoba and Ontario. Road density and mean spring snow cover were positively associated with genetic distances. Road density was associated with female genetic distance, while spring snow cover variance was associated with male genetic distance. My findings suggest that northward expanding anthropogenic disturbances have the potential to affect genetic connectivity. Overall, my findings suggest that (1) peripheral populations can harbour genetic variants not observed in core populations - increasing species genetic diversity; (2) historic bottlenecks can alter the genetic signature of glacial refugia, resulting in a disjunct distribution of unique genetic variants among contemporary populations; (3) increased temporal resolution of the individual-based genetic distance measure can help identify landscape features associated with genetic connectivity within a population, which may disrupt landscape connectivity. Author Keywords: conservation genetics, Holarctic species, landscape genetics, peripheral population, phylogeography, wolverine
Ecological and morphological traits that affect the fitness and dispersal potential of Iberian pumpkinseed (Lepomis gibbosus)
The Pumpkinseed (Lepomis gibbosus) is a sunfish that is endemic to eastern portions of Canada and the United States. During the late 19th century, the species was introduced into Europe, and it is now present in over 28 countries. Previous attempts to determine the characteristics that can predict the spread of non-indigenous species have been largely unsuccessful, but new evidence suggests that phenotypic plasticity may help to explain the dispersal and range expansion of some organisms. Experimental comparisons on lower-order taxa have revealed that populations from areas outside of their native range are capable of exhibiting stronger levels of phenotypic plasticity than counterparts from their source of origin. Using Pumpkinseed, I conducted the first native/non- native comparison of phenotypic plasticity in a vertebrate. Progeny from adult Pumpkinseed collected in Ontario, Canada and the Iberian Peninsula (Spain) were reared under variable water velocities, habitat type and competitive pressures, three ecological factors that may affect the dispersal potential of fishes introduced into novel aquatic systems. Differences in phenotypic plasticity, assessed from a morphological perspective, were compared among populations using a traditional distance-based approach. All populations exhibited divergent morphological traits that appeared to be inherited over successive generations. In each experiment, all populations responded to environmental change by developing internal and external morphological forms that, in related taxa, enhance and facilitate foraging and navigation; however, non-native populations always exhibited an overall lower level of phenotypic plasticity. Pumpkinseed from non-native areas may have exhibited a reduction in phenotypic plasticity because of population-based differences. Nevertheless, all Pumpkinseed populations studied were capable of exhibiting phenotypic plasticity to novel environmental conditions, and develop morphological characteristics that may enhance fitness and dispersal in perturbed areas. Author Keywords: Invasive species, Morphology, Phenotypic plasticity, Pumpkinseed sunfish, Reaction norm
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
New Interpretations from Old Data
Range contractions and expansions are important ecological concepts for species management decisions. These decisions relate not only to rare and endangered species but to common and invasive species as well. The development of the broad spatiotemporal extent models that are helpful in examining range fluctuations can be challenging given the lack of data expansive enough to cover the time periods and geographic extents needed to fit the models. Archival records such as museum databases and harvest data can provide the spatiotemporal extent needed but present statistical challenges given they represent presence-only location information. In this thesis, I used maximum entropy and Bayesian hierarchical occupancy algorithms fitted with archival presence-only records to develop spatiotemporal models covering broad spatial and temporal extents for snowshoe hare and Canada lynx. These two algorithm types are well suited for presence-only data records and can be adapted to include biological and physical processes, thus improving the ecological realism of the models. Using these modelling methods, I found the extent of occurrence (EOO) and area of occupancy (AOO) varied greatly over time and space for both snowshoe hare and Canada lynx, suggesting that management decisions for these species should include consideration of these variations. While the presence-only data were appropriate for model development and understanding changing values in EOO and AOO, it sometimes lacked the locational accuracy and precision needed to create fine scale ecological analyses, thus resulting in somewhat coarse but potentially relevant conclusions. Author Keywords: Area of occupancy, Bayesian hierarchical models, Canada lynx, Extent of occurrence, Presence-only data, Snowshoe hare
Equilibria and distribution models of ionizing organic chemical contaminants in environmental systems
Ionizing organic chemicals are recognized as constituting a large fraction of the organic chemicals of commerce. Many governments internationally are engaged in the time-consuming and expensive task of chemical risk assessment for the protection of human and environmental health. There are standard models that are consistently used to supplement experimental and monitoring data in such assessments of non-ionizing organics by both government regulators and industry stakeholders. No such standard models exist for ionizing organics. Equilibrium distribution models, the foundational equations within multimedia environmental fate models for non-ionizing organics, were developed for the standard series of biphasic systems: air-water, particle-water, air-particle and organic-aqueous phases within living tissue. Multiple chemical species due to the ionization reaction were considered for each system. It was confirmed that, under select conditions, the properties of the neutral parent are sufficient to predict the overall distribution of the organic chemical. Complications due to biotransformation and paucity of identifiable equilibrium distribution data for ionizing organics limited the development of the model for living tissues. However, the equilibrium distributions of ionizing organics within this biotic system were shown to correlate with the abiotic sediment-water system. This suggests that the model developed for particle-water systems should be adaptable to the biotic system as model input and test data become available. Observational data for soil- and sediment- water systems, i.e., particle-water systems, allowed the development of a primarily non-empirical distribution equation for mono-protic acids; this model was almost entirely theoretically derived. The theoretical approach to model development allowed a quantitative assessment of the role of the neutral ion pair, resulting from the complexation of the organic anion with metal cations. To demonstrate the model's potential usefulness in governmental screening risk assessments, it was applied to a broad range of mono-protic organics including drugs and pesticides using standard property estimation software and generic inputs. The order-of-magnitude agreement between prediction and observation typical of the existing models of non-ionizing organics was generally achieved for the chemicals tested. The model was sensitive to the octanol-water partition coefficient of the most populous species. No calibration set was used in the development of any of the models presented. Author Keywords: bioconcentration, chemical equilibrium, environmental modelling, ionizing organic, sorption
Nutrient Metabolism of an Aquatic Invertebrate and its Importance to Ecology
Aquatic consumers frequently face nutritional limitation, caused in part, by imbalances between the nutrients supplied by primary producers and the metabolic demands of the consumers. These nutritional imbalances alter many ecological processes including consumer life-history traits, population dynamics, and food web properties. Given the important ecological role of organismal nutrition, there is a need to have precise and specific indicators of nutritional stress in animals. Despite this need, current methods used to study nutrition are unable to distinguish between different types of nutritional limitation. Here I studied nutritional metabolism in the freshwater zooplankter, Daphnia. A greater understanding of nutritional metabolism would allow for the development of dietary bio-indicators that could improve the study of the nutritional ecology of animal consumers. Specifically, I addressed the question: What affects the biochemical composition of a generalist aquatic consumer? My overall hypothesis was that the quantity and quality of the diet affects the biochemical composition in a nutrient specific manner. To test this hypothesis, I examined various response variables involved in nutrient metabolism such as alkaline phosphatase activity, whole metabolome, and free amino acid composition. For each response variable, I grew Daphnia under various nutritional stressors and determined if responses are nutrient specific or are a general stress response. I found the current method of measuring alkaline phosphatase was not a phosphorus specific indicator, as activity increased in all nutrient stressed treatments. Analyzing the whole metabolome resulted in nutritional stressors being separated in multivariate space, with many identified metabolites being significantly different from nutrient rich Daphnia. Upon further examination the daphnids free amino acids profiles are caused by differences between the supply of amino acids from the algae and the demand within the Daphnia. These differences in supply and demand resulted in the ability to classify the nutritional status of Daphnia with the use of discriminant analysis, a classification multivariate model. In addition to a deeper understanding and advanced knowledge of the physiological changes caused by nutrient limitation, this research has provided strong evidence for the application of nutritional biomarkers/profiles to identified the nutritional status of Daphnia. Author Keywords: Bio-indictor, Ecological stoichiometry, Metabolism, Nutritional limitation, Nutritional status
Re-Living the Residential School Experience
The residential school legacy is one of the darkest chapters in Canadian history. From the mid-1850s to 1996, thousands of Aboriginal children were taken from their homelands and placed in residential schools. Taken against their will, many dreaded attending these schools. Some attended for as long as ten to fifteen years, only to be strangers in their own communities upon their return. In the past thirty years, survivors began disclosing the loneliness, confusion, fear, punishment and humiliation they suffered within these institutions, and also reported traumatic incidents of sexual, physical or emotional abuse. These childhood traumas still haunt them today. This dissertation examines the four compensation processes (Litigation, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Independent Assessment Process and the Common Experience Process) used by survivors to determine whether the compensation payments made to them assisted in reconciliation of their residential school experience. To complete an analysis of the processes, twenty-four residential school survivors from Ontario, Manitoba and British Columbia were interviewed about their experiences with one or more of the compensation processes. The study begins with a historical overview of the residential school legacy and continues with the residential school healing movement that initiated and finalized a negotiated settlement agreement for all living survivors. This dissertation provides a unique perspective to the residential school legacy by using a cultural framework, Anishinabe teachings and concepts to share the voices of residential school survivors. The pivotal Anishinabe teaching within this study comes from The Seventh Fire Prophecy. This prophecy states that: “If the New People will remain strong in their quest, the Waterdrum of the Midewiwin Lodge will again sound its voice.” In this dissertation the residential school survivors are the New People. As the dissertation unfolds the author utilizes various Anishinabe concepts to illustrate how the compensation processes failed to assist the New People to reconcile with their residential school experience. This study presents a medicine wheel understanding of reconciliation and the Residential School Legacy. It concludes with an important message to the second and third generation survivors to continue the reconciliatory efforts that the New People introduced. It is crucial that the children and grandchildren of the New People begin the reconciliation process not only for themselves but for the next seven generations. Author Keywords: Anishinabe, compensation, Indian residential schools, reconciliation, survivors
Pursuing Different Policy Paths in Long-Term Care
Because federal funding for long-term care was not included as part of Canada's publicly-funded universal health care system, provincial governments have been free to determine how much, or how little, they will rely on the for-profit sector to meet the long-term care needs of their senior populations. The proportion of beds in the for-profit sector differs in each province, demonstrating that policy approaches to this type of care have developed according to distinct provincial political contexts. In this dissertation I explain why governments in two provinces, Manitoba and Ontario, have come to rely on the proprietary sector to markedly different degrees. While in the federation Manitoba stands out for its restrained reliance on this form of care, Ontario stands out for its exceptional dependence on commercial provision. In the chapters that follow I employ an historical institutionalist framework of analysis to explain why these neighbouring provinces initially pursued different policy paths in long-term care and how these paths have been sustained over time. Following an introductory chapter in which I explain the reasons for the marginalization of long-term care within national health policy making, I provide in-depth analysis of these case studies in policy divergence. I argue that contemporary policy differences between these neighbouring provinces cannot be understood in isolation from long-term historical processes. Focusing largely on the period from the 1960s to the 1990s, I emphasize that present differences in ownership are a reflection of the different constellation of actors, events, ideas and institutions that came together at critical junctures in time, and the lasting legacies that these early windows of opportunity for reform have had on subsequent rounds of long-term care policy-making. In each province, diverging ideas about the appropriate role of the for-profit sector in meeting the long-term care needs of an aging population rose to prominence on the political agenda. Over time, rigidities developed in each system, making it difficult for actors advocating for new directions in ownership to realize their ambitions. In both provinces policies put in place at earlier times greatly influenced future political dynamics, altered the guiding principles of government departments and policy makers, provided incentives for different interest group formations, and led to contrasting public expectations about the proper balance of the for-profit and non-profit sectors in long-term care provision. I conclude this dissertation by arguing that its findings can contribute in important ways to present discussions about long-term care reform in Canada generally and about the future role of for-profit providers specifically. Author Keywords: Comparative Politics, Health Policy, Historical Institutionalism, Long-Term Care, Path Dependency, Provincial Politics
Gaagnig Pane Chiyaayong: Forever, We Will Remain, Reflections and Memories
ABSTRACT Gaagnig Pane Chiyaayong: Forever, We Will Remain Reflections and Memories: `Resiliency' Concerning the Walpole Island Residential School Survivors Group Theresa Turmel From 1830 to 1996, Canada pursued a policy of removing Indigenous children from their families and educating them in residential schools. In coming to terms with the harsh and abusive treatment they endured, many survivors from residential schools have formed organizations to support each other and to make their experiences known. This project is a result of a participatory, community-based partnership with one such group in southwestern Ontario, the Walpole Island Residential School Survivors Group (WIRSSG), many of whom attended Shingwauk Indian Residential School. Like most of the survivors of the WIRSSG, I am Anishinaabe but did not attend residential school. The survivors invited me to deeply listen to their life experiences in order to learn about their resiliency. Guided by traditional Anishinaabe teachings and using an Anishinaabe methodology, I interviewed thirteen survivors and considered their life stories within the context of the traditional Anishinaabe life cycle. In their descriptions of resiliency, what became clear to me was that they were describing life force energy. This life force energy is innate and holistic, and can be found within each of us. It manifests within all of our relations: land, animals, plants, ancestors and other people. The life force energy cannot be extinguished but can be severely dampened as was evident in the attempt to assimilate residential school students. From their accounts, we learn that students found ways to nurture their life force energy through relationships and acts of resistance. As they have continued on their life path, they have reclaimed their spirit and today, they are telling their stories and keeping this history alive for the benefit of future generations. Key words: Anishinaabe; Anishinaabe Mino-bimaadiziwin; Residential Schools; Aboriginal Residential School survivors; Indian Residential Schools; Indian Residential School survivors; life force energy; resilience; resiliency; resiliency theory; Walpole Island Residential School Survivors Group; Shingwauk; Shingwauk Indian Residential School Author Keywords: life force energy, residential school survivors, resiliency
Alien Imaginaries
This dissertation offers a cultural analysis of UFOs and extraterrestrials in the United States. In it I look at what I call real aliens — extraterrestrials believed to be real and interacting with humans on Earth. Beliefs in real aliens are often denigrated and dismissed in official discourse, yet they continue to not only persist, but thrive, in American society. Hence, this dissertation asks: Why do so many people believe that extraterrestrials are visiting our planet? Part One begins by tracing the invasion of real aliens in the United States using Orson Welles’s 1938 radio broadcast “The War of the Worlds” as a starting point. Here, I look at how and why the broadcast registered with listeners’ anxieties and created a fantastic and uncanny effect that made it possible for some to conceive of aliens invading the United States. In Part Two, I trace the rise of ufology, which involves the study of extraterrestrials currently interacting with humans on Earth, and I consider how the social and political climate of the Cold War, as well as the cultural environment of postmodernity, provided the necessary conditions for stories about aliens to be made believable. Part Three explores the case study of the Roswell Incident, a conspiracy theory about the origins of an alleged flying saucer crash and government cover-up. I look at the reasons for why many individuals have come to believe in this conspiracy theory and I reflect on the tensions between “official” and “unofficial” discourses surrounding this case. I also consider how and why Roswell has become such an important site for ufology, and I examine the performances given by ufologists at the annual Roswell International UFO Festival to appreciate how ufologists offers seductive explanations of why things are the way they are; for many, their stories offer a better version of events than the purely rational and positivist explanations offered by official sources, especially since they tap into the disillusionment and mistrust that many Americans feel about contemporary politics. Author Keywords: aliens/extraterrestrials, America, conspiracy, official and unofficial, storytelling, ufology
Conservation Genetics of Woodland Caribou in the Central Boreal Forest of Canada
Maintaining functional connectivity among wildlife populations is important to ensure genetic diversity and evolutionary potential of declining populations, particularly when managing species at risk. The Boreal Designatable Unit (DU) of woodland caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou) in Ontario, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan has declined in southern portions of the range because of increased human activities and has been identified as 'threatened' by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). In this dissertation, I used ten microsatellite DNA markers primarily from winter-collected fecal samples to delineate genetic structure of boreal caribou in declining portions of the range and increase understanding of the potential influence of the non-threatened Eastern Migratory DU of woodland caribou on genetic differentiation. Eastern migratory caribou are characterized by large home ranges compared to boreal caribou and migrate seasonally into portions of the Boreal DU range. A regional- and local-scale analysis using the spatial Bayesian clustering algorithm in program TESS delineated four regional clusters and 11 local clusters, with the majority of local clusters occurring along the southern periphery of the range. One of those clusters in Ontario corresponded spatially with the seasonal overlap of boreal and eastern migratory caribou and was characterized by substantial admixture, suggesting that the two DUs could be interbreeding. Next, I decoupled the impacts of historical and contemporary processes on genetic structure and found that historical processes were an important factor contributing to genetic differentiation, which may be a result of historical patterns of isolation by distance or different ancestry. Moreover, I found evidence of introgression from a currently unsampled population in northern Ontario, presumably barren-ground caribou (R. t. groenlandicus). Finally, because our analysis suggested recent processes were also responsible for genetic structure, I used a landscape genetics analysis to identify factors affecting contemporary genetic structure. Water bodies, anthropogenic disturbance, and mobility differences between the two DUs were important factors describing caribou genetic differentiation. This study provides insights on where conservation and management of caribou herds should be prioritized in threatened portions of the boreal caribou range and may have implications for future delineation of evolutionarily significant units. Author Keywords: boreal forest, genetic structure, landscape genetics, microsatellite DNA, Rangifer tarandus, woodland caribou
Reconnecting the Heart and Spirit
This research explores key themes emerging from the question of the meaning Anishinaabe individuals attach to utilizing traditional practices and ceremonies to address their own trauma. The contributors share their stories, which are deeply rooted in relationships. The methodology of this research is also rooted within an Indigenous paradigm; storytelling is a core feature of relationships and knowledge transmission through its ability to weave together and across generations. Indigenous cultures have had a long history of both verbal and visual storytelling, in the forms of pictographs and petroglyphs, wampum belts, bead and quill work, and so on. While stories are often entertaining, they are at their core, the most human of activities. Anishinaabe approaches to ceremony, spirit and the sacred are woven into the language, attitudes and practices that people still engage in, despite the depredations of colonization. The findings of this research explore how identity, found through love, caring, self-awareness, and the (re)claiming of wellness and wholeness, permeates the stories of healing and is rooted in ceremonies. This is relationship with self and self-in-relation to all things: niwiikaniginaa. Land-as-home, culture, family, and love ground people in their sense of self and wellness. Language and thought emerge from the land, the source of well-being or mino bimaadsiwin in the most profound ways. It is through home – land, family, culture, spiritual connection – that healing occurs in ways that cannot be found in clinical systems. Author Keywords: Colonization, First Nations, Healing, Identity, Storytelling, Trauma

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Format: 2021/05/09