Graduate Theses & Dissertations

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Acidification of lakes in northern Saskatchewan
The emission of acid precursors by large point sources in Western Canada (such as the Athabasca Oil Sands Region) has prompted studies into the possible impact to downwind aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. Sensitivity of catchments to acidic deposition was estimated for the total lake population of northern Saskatchewan (n=89,947) using regression kriging. Under the Steady State Water Chemistry model, a range of 12-15% of the total catchment population was predicted to be in exceedance of critical loads under 2006 deposition levels and 6% of catchments were estimated to be very sensitive (pH below 6 and acid neutralizing capacity, alkalinity, calcium below 50 eqL-1). Temporal changes in soil and water chemistry estimated for 18 Alberta and Saskatchewan catchments using the Very Simple Dynamic and PROFILE models showed that changes in soil base saturation and lake acid neutralizing capacity between 1850 and 2100 were slight, declining 0.8% and 0.9% by 2012, respectively. Author Keywords: acidification, critical loads, exceedance, PROFILE, regression kriging, VSD
Models of partitioning, uptake, and toxicity of neutral organic chemicals in fish
Models of partitioning, uptake, and toxicity of neutral organic chemicals in fish Alena Kathryn Davidson Celsie A novel dynamic fugacity model is developed that simulates the uptake of chemicals in fish by respiration as applies in aquatic toxicity tests. A physiologically based toxicokinetic model was developed which calculates the time-course of chemical distribution in four tissue compartments in fish, including metabolic biotransformation in the liver. Toxic endpoints are defined by fugacity reaching a 50% mortality value. The model is tested against empirical data for the uptake of pentachloroethane in rainbow trout and from naphthalene and trichlorobenzene in fathead minnows. The model was able to predict bioconcentration and toxicity within a factor of 2 of empirical data. The sensitivity to partition coefficients of computed whole-body concentration was also investigated. In addition to this model development three methods for predicting partition coefficients were evaluated: lipid-fraction, COSMOtherm estimation, and using Abraham parameters. The lipid fraction method produced accurate tissue-water partitioning values consistently for all tissues tested and is recommended for estimating these values. Results also suggest that quantum chemical methods hold promise for predicting the aquatic toxicity of chemicals based only on molecular structure. Author Keywords: COSMOtherm, fish model, fugacity, Partition coefficient, tissue-water, toxicokinetics
Using environmental DNA (eDNA) metabarcoding to assess aquatic plant communities
Environmental DNA (eDNA) metabarcoding targets sequences with interspecific variation that can be amplified using universal primers allowing simultaneous detection of multiple species from environmental samples. I developed novel primers for three barcodes commonly used to identify plant species, and compared amplification success for aquatic plant DNA against pre-existing primers. Control eDNA samples of 45 plant species showed that species-level identification was highest for novel matK and preexisting ITS2 primers (42% each); remaining primers each identified between 24% and 33% of species. Novel matK, rbcL, and pre-existing ITS2 primers combined identified 88% of aquatic species. The novel matK primers identified the largest number of species from eDNA collected from the Black River, Ontario; 21 aquatic plant species were identified using all primers. This study showed that eDNA metabarcoding allows for simultaneous detection of aquatic plants including invasive species and species-at-risk, thereby providing a biodiversity assessment tool with a variety of applications. Author Keywords: aquatic plants, biodiversity, bioinformatics, environmental DNA (eDNA), high-throughput sequencing, metabarcoding
Temperature effects on the routine metabolic rates of brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) eggs, alevin and fry
Early developmental stages of cold-adapted ectotherms such as brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) are at risk of mortality with increasing water temperatures because of their sensitivity to changes in their environment. I studied the mass and routine metabolic rate (RMR) of wild-origin brook trout eggs, alevin and young fry reared at normal (5°C) and elevated (9°C) temperatures for the duration of the study or at mismatched temperatures. This setup determined if preconditioning acclimation for one temperature benefits or hinders the organism later in life. Three levels of biological organization (ancestry, population, family) were studied using Akaike’s Information Criterion (AIC) to identify models that best accounted for variation in the data. Family, mass and temperature were most important in predicting body mass and mass-adjusted RMR, although population and ancestral-level differences were also detected at some life stages. Strong variation in body mass and mass-adjusted RMR among families may indicate adaptive potential within brook trout populations to respond to increases in water temperature with climate change. Author Keywords: Acclimation, AIC, Brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis), Environmental matching, Routine metabolic rate, Temperature
Assessing basin storage
Water storage is a fundamental component of drainage basins, controlling the synchronization between precipitation input and streamflow output. The ability of a drainage basin to store water and regulate streamflow may mediate sensitivity to climate and land cover change. There is currently no agreement on the best way to quantify basin storage. This study compares results of a combined hydrometric and isotopic approach for characterizing inter-basin differences in storage across the Oak Ridges Moraine (ORM) in southern Ontario. The ratio of the standard deviation of the stable isotope signature of streamflow relative to that of precipitation has been shown to be inversely proportional to mean water transit times, with smaller ratios indicating longer water transit times and implying greater storage. Stable isotope standard deviation ratios were inversely related to baseflow index values. Basins demonstrating longer transit times were associated with hydrological characteristics that promote infiltration and recharge of storage. Author Keywords: baseflow, basin storage, climate change, mean transit time, Oak Ridges Moraine, stable isotopes
Detecting anti-estrogens and anti-androgens in surface waters impacted by municipal wastewater discharges and agricultural runoff
This study focused on detecting 22 target anti-estrogenic and anti-androgenic compounds in surface waters influenced by both discharges of municipal wastewater and agricultural runoff in Canada and Argentina. Polar organic chemical integrative samplers (POCIS) were used to monitor the target compounds in surface waters. The removals of the target compounds in a municipal wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) in Canada were also evaluated. In both Canada and Argentina pesticides with potential anti-estrogenic and anti-androgenic activities were detected in the surface waters. The highest concentrations were found in Argentina (up to 1010 ng L-1) in areas impacted by heavy agricultural practices. Cyproterone acetate and bicalutamide were the only two anti-cancer drugs detected only at the Canadian study site, the Speed River, ON. In the Guelph WWTP, that discharges into the Speed River, these target compounds were not all efficiently removed (>70%) during treatment. Overall, this study provides insight to possible anti-estrogenic and anti-androgenic compounds that may be contributing to endocrine disrupting activities in surface waters. Author Keywords: Anti-androgens, Anti-estrogens, Cancer Therapy Drugs, Current use pesticides, Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products, Polar Organic Chemical Integrative Samplers
Moss Biomonitoring of Trace Element Deposition in Northwestern British Columbia, Canada
Atmospheric pollutant deposition poses a risk to ecosystem health; therefore, monitoring the spatial and temporal trends of deposition is integral to environmental sustainability. Although moss biomonitoring is a common method to monitor various pollutants in Europe, offering a cost-effective approach compared to traditional methods of monitoring, it is rarely used in Canada. The focus of this study was a spatial assessment of trace element deposition across a region with a known large-point source of emissions using the moss biomonitoring method. Moss tissues presented strong correlations with modelled deposition in the region, suggesting mosses are a valuable biomonitoring tool of trace element deposition, especially in regions dominated by large-point emission sources. Additionally, a moss species endemic to Canada was compared to commonly used moss species with results indicating this species (Isothecium stoloniferum) can be used reliably as a biomonitor. Moss biomonitoring is recommended as a compliment to fill in spatial gaps in current monitoring networks across the country. Author Keywords: biomonitoring, bryophytes, Hylocomium splendens, moss, Pleurozium schreberi, trace elements
Effects of road salt sodium on soil
While previous studies have focused on how road salt affects water quality and vegetation, limited research has characterized road salt distribution through soil and the resulting impacts. The potential for sodium (Na+) to be retained and impact soil physical and chemical properties is likely to vary depending on the soil’s parent material, and more specifically on the extent of base saturation on the cation exchange complex. This thesis contrasted Na+ retention, impacts, and mobility in roadside soils in two different parent materials within southern Ontario. Soils were sampled (pits and deep cores) during fall 2013 and spring 2014 from two sites along highways within base-poor, Precambrian Shield soil and base-rich soil, respectively. Batch experiments were subsequently performed to investigate the influence of parent material and the effect of co-applied Ca2+-enriched grit on the longevity of Na+ retention in soils. Less Na+ is adsorbed upon the co-application of Ca2+, suggesting grit has a protective effect on soil by increasing cation exchange competition. Positive correlations between Na+ and pH, and negative correlations between Na+ and soil organic matter, % clay and base cations within Shield soils suggest that they are more vulnerable to Na+ impacts than calcareous soils due to less cation exchange competition. However, Na+ is more readily released from calcareous roadside soils, suggesting there is greater potential for Na+ transfer to waterways in regions dominated by calcareous soils. Author Keywords: cation exchange, parent material, road salt, sodium retention, urban soil
Larval lake whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformis) recruitment dynamics in Lake Huron
Lake whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformis) recruitment has declined substantially in several regions of the Laurentian Great Lakes since the establishment of non-native dreissenid mussels in the early 1990’s. In Lake Huron, the reasons for the observed recruitment declines are currently unknown and there is limited knowledge about larval life stage. In our study, we determined whether larval hatching and growth rates have changed before and after dreissenid mussel invasion, and the role of several key environmental variables in influencing annual variation in larval densities. Larval fish were collected in the Fishing Islands spawning shoal during two time periods: a historical period (1976-1986) and a contemporary period (2017-2019). Larval densities and growth were lower in recent years, suggesting that recruitment is being limited at the larval life stage and that reduced food availability may be further limiting the growth during the larval stage. Annual variation of larval densities were influenced by spawning stock biomass, water levels, and dreissenid mussel presence, with higher water levels and the presence of dreissenid mussels being associated with higher larval densities. The direction of the effect of spawning stock biomass was either negative or positive depending on the model. We also found that larval density was a significant predictor of age 4 recruitment, indicating that year-class strength may be partly established at the larval life stage. Author Keywords: Coregonus clupeaformis, Great Lakes, Lake Huron, Lake whitefish, Larval, Recruitment
Hydrological and Flooding Effects on Stream Nutrient Levels
Stream solutes are strongly linked to hydrology, and as such, we sought to better understand how hydrology, particularly flooding, influences nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) levels. We used a long-term dataset of monthly water quality samples for many Ontario, Canada, catchments to assess the effects of landscape variables, such as land use and physiography, on the export of nutrients during floods, and to characterize overall concentration-discharge patterns. In general, we found that landscape variables could partially explain the export variation in flood waters, but that the importance of specific variables depended on flood characteristics. We also found that overall concentration-discharge relationships for N and P C were positive, but non-linear, with greater concentrations on the rising limb of the hydrograph depending on the nutrient. With these results, we have identified general patterns between nutrients and hydrology, which will be helpful for managing the ecological effects of flooding. Author Keywords: C-Q relationships, Discharge, Export, Flooding, Nutrients, Thresholds
Effects of Agricultural Land Use Change on Nitrogen and Phosphorus in North Shore Lake Ontario Tributaries
Row crop agriculture and associated land use practices including tile drainage and conservation tillage have been cited as a probable cause of re-emerging eutrophication in the lower Great Lakes. In this thesis, I sought to quantify and evaluate the effect of agricultural land cover and land use changes on total phosphorus (TP) and nitrate-nitrogen (NO3-N) concentrations and export in north shore Lake Ontario tributaries. This included (a) a long-term data analyses at 12 large watersheds (47 to 278 km²) using historical land cover and water quality data (1971-2010), and (b) a space-for-time study examining 12 small sub-catchments (< 8 km²) with majority (> 50%) row crop, pasture, or forest cover. Concentrations of TP were greatest in urbanized watersheds and declined particularly during the first decades of the study period, while NO3-N concentrations were greatest and steadily increased in agricultural catchments with increasing row crop cover. The space-for-time approach revealed that TP concentrations were similar across agricultural land uses and that export was most dependent on runoff. Meanwhile, NO3-N concentrations and export were greatest in row crop catchments and were positively related to row crop area. These results suggest that increases in row crop cover and associated agricultural practices including increased nutrient amendments and tile drainage may be responsible for increased NO3-N concentrations and export in northern Lake Ontario tributaries. Author Keywords: agriculture, Lake Ontario, nitrogen, phosphorus, streams, Water quality
Temporal Variability of Coloured Dissolved Organic Matter in the Canada Basin, Arctic Ocean (2007-2017)
This thesis investigated coloured and fluorescent dissolved organic matter in the Canada Basin, Arctic Ocean from 2007 to 2017. The first interannual time-series of its kind in the Canada Basin incorporated the use of EEM-PARAFAC to validate a seven-component model. Statistical temporal tests revealed (1) an increasing protein-like intensity in the upper polar mixed layer (UPML); (2) increasing intensities of humic-like components in the halocline due to increasing freshwater content; and (3) no change in DOM composition in deeper Atlantic waters (AW) congruent with the long residence time of the water mass (> 30 years). The significant decline in sea ice concentration was related to a decrease in humic-like FDOM due to enhanced photodegradation and an increase in protein-like FDOM, likely the results of increased biological activities in surface layers. This research provides evidence that the changes in physical and biological environment in the Arctic regions have already profound impacts on the composition and distribution of FDOM. Author Keywords: absorbance, Arctic Ocean, dissolved organic matter, fluorescence, parallel factor analysis, time-series

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