Graduate Theses & Dissertations


We investigated whether hand-proximity effects arise from the recruitment of visual-tactile bimodal cells. In Experiment 1, we executed right-hand open-loop reaching movements to targets, presented either near or far from the resting left-hand, and after applying repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) to suppress neuronal activity in the PMd and AIP, in Experiment 2. Results from Experiment 1, indicated that near-hand targets improved accuracy and reduced variability. In Experiment 2, suppressing PMd showed similar near-hand effects as above. In contrast, applying rTMS to AIP disrupted the representation of target location, indicating less accuracy and greater error. Near-hand proximity effects possibly arise from the recruitment of visual-tactile bimodal cells within the human AIP. Author Keywords: anterior intraparietal sulcus, peripersonal space, repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), , rTMS, anterior intraparietal sulcus, AIP., visual-tactile bimodal neurons
Interactome study of the Giardia intestinalis nuclear localized cytochrome b5
Giardia intestinalis is a waterborne enteric parasite that lacks mitochondria and the capacity for heme biosynthesis. Despite this, Giardia encodes several heme proteins, including four cytochrome b5 isotypes (gCYTB5-I – IV) of unknown function. The aim of this thesis is to gain insight into the function of the Giardia cytochrome b5 isotype III (gCYTB5-III) that is found in the nucleus, as first reported by our laboratory using immunofluorescence microscopy experiments with an isotype-III specific antibody. Nuclear localization of isotype-III is supported by two of my experiments: i) immunoblot analysis of crude cytoplasmic and nuclear enriched fractions of Giardia trophozoites; ii) association of gCYTB5-III with the insoluble fraction of Giardia lysates crosslinked with formaldehyde is reversed by DNase I treatment. To gain an understanding of the possible roles of gCYTB5-III, I performed immunoprecipitation (IP) experiments on lysates from Giardia trophozoites to identify its protein partners. Mass spectroscopy analysis of the immunoprecipitate identified proteins localized to the nucleus (RNA polymerase, DNA topoisomerase, histones, and histone modifying enzymes). Intriguingly, over 40% of the known mitosomal proteome, which functions in iron-sulfur (Fe-S) cluster assembly was also associated with gCYTB5-III. One of these proteins, the flavoenzyme GiOR-1, has been shown to mediate electron transfer from NADPH to recombinant gCYTB5-III. These IP results provide evidence that GiOR-1 and gCYTB5-III interact in vivo, and furthermore, suggest that some proteins in the mitosome could interact with those in the nucleus. I also found that DNA stress, caused by low concentrations of formaldehyde (0.1 – 0.2%) resulted in the increased expression of gCYTB5-III. Collectively these findings suggest a role of gCYTB5-III in Giardia's response to DNA stress and perhaps the formation of Fe/S clusters. Author Keywords: cluster, cytochrome, heme, iron, mitosome, nuclear
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
Factors Controlling Peat Chemistry and Vegetation Composition in Sudbury Peatlands after 30 Years of Emission Reductions
Peatlands are prevalent in the Sudbury, Ontario region. Compared with the well documented devastation to the terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems in this region, relatively little work has been conducted on the peatlands. The objective of this research was to assess factors controlling peat and plant chemistry, and vegetation composition in 18 peatlands in Sudbury after over 30 years of emission reductions. Peatland chemistry and the degree of humification varies considerably, but sites closer to the main smelter had more humified peat and the surface horizons were enriched in copper (Cu) and nickel (Ni). Copper and Ni concentrations in peat were significantly correlated with Cu and Ni in the plant tissue of leatherleaf, although the increased foliar metal content did not obviously impact secondary chemistry stress indicators. The pH and mineral content of peat were the strongest determining factors for species richness, diversity and community composition. The bryophyte communities appear to be acid and metal tolerant, although Sphagnum mosses are showing limited recovery. Author Keywords: anthropogenic emissions, bryophytes, community comspoition, heavy metals, peatlands, wetland vegetation
Assessing Connectivity of Protected Area Networks and the Role of Private Lands in the United States
Forestalling biodiversity loss through the establishment of protected areas is a universally accepted conservation strategy, yet despite established guidelines for protected area coverage and placement, much of the world is currently failing to meet its commitments to conservation planning and landscape protection. Calls for the United States to protect more land usually focus on the need for strategic selection of land parcels to bolster protected area coverage and network functionality, but to date there lacks focused research on either the role of private protected areas in conservation planning or the factors affecting individual protected area selection and importance. We determined gaps in conservation planning in the contiguous United States by analyzing the connectivity of protected area networks by state, and assessing the importance of private protected areas in improving linkages in protected area connectivity. We found that all states had low coverage from protected areas (average <8.4% of total land mass), and especially private protected areas (average <1.1% of total land mass), and that the overall contribution of such areas to protected area network connectivity also was low. Terrain ruggedness was identified as the main factor affecting the current location of protected areas, and that protected area spatial layout is a primary influence on landscape connectivity. We conclude that establishment of private protected areas could offer a viable conservation tool for increasing protected area coverage and connectivity, but that current efforts are inadequate to either adequately link existing protected areas or to meet established land protection guidelines. Author Keywords: Aichi Target 11, conservation planning, graph theory, network theory, private conservation, protected areas
Variation in the δ15N and δ13C composition of POM in the Lake Simcoe watershed
The purpose of this study was to quantify the variation of baseline carbon and nitrogen stable isotope signatures in the Lake Simcoe watershed and relate that variation to various physicochemical parameters. Particulate organic matter samples from 2009 and 2011 were used as representatives of baseline isotopic values. Temporal data from two offshore lake stations revealed that δ15N of POM was lowest mid-summer and highest after the fall turnover. POM δ13C was variable throughout the summer before declining after fall turnover. Spatial data from the lake and the tributaries revealed that POM stable isotope signatures were highly variable. Various physicochemical parameters indicative of phytoplankton biomass were significantly positively correlated with POM δ15N and significantly negatively correlated with POM δ13C. The correlations were mostly significant in the tributaries, not the lake. Moreover, many of the correlations involving δ15N of POM were driven by extreme values in Cook's Bay and its tributaries. In general, it's likely that different processes or combination of processes were affecting the δ15N and δ13C POM in the Lake Simcoe watershed as physicochemical parameters alone could not explain the variability. Measuring the δ15N of ammonium and nitrate, as well as the δ13C of DIC would help discern the dominant nitrogen and inorganic carbon cycling processes occurring in the Lake Simcoe watershed. Author Keywords: δ13C, δ15N, isotopic baseline, particulate organic matter, spatial variation, stable isotopes
Disability-Mitigating Effects of Education on Post-Injury Employment Dynamics
Using data drawn from the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board’s (WSIB) Survey of Workers with Permanent Impairments, this thesis explores if and how the human capital associated with education mitigates the realized work-disabling effects of permanent physical injury. Using Cater’s (2000) model of post-injury adaptive behaviour and employment dynamics as the structural, theoretical, and interpretative framework, this thesis jointly studies, by injury type, the effects of education on both the post-injury probability of transitioning from non-employment into employment and the post-injury probability of remaining in employment once employed. The results generally show that, for a given injury type, other things being equal, higher levels of education are associated with higher probabilities of both obtaining and sustaining employment. Author Keywords: permanent impairment, permanent injury, post-injury employment
Effects of biodiversity and lake environment on the decomposition rates of aquatic macrophytes in the Kawartha Lakes, Ontario
Decomposition of aquatic macrophytes has an important role in defining lake carbon (C) storage and nutrient dynamics. To test how diversity impacts decomposition dynamics and site-quality effects, I first examined whether the decomposition rate of aquatic macrophytes varies with species richness. Generally, I found neutral effects of mixing, with initial stoichiometry of component species driving decomposition rates. Additionally, external lake conditions can also influence decomposition dynamics. Therefore, I assessed how the decomposition rate of a submersed macrophyte varies across a nutrient gradient in nine lakes. I found decomposition rates varied among lakes. Across all lakes, I found Myriophyllum decomposition rates and changes in stoichiometry to be related to both nutrients and water chemistry. During the incubation changes in detrital stoichiometry were related to lake P and decomposition rates. Aquatic plant community composition and stoichiometry could alter decomposition dynamics in moderately nutrient enriched lakes. Author Keywords: Aquatic Plants, Decomposition, Diversity, Littoral, Macrophytes, Nutrients
effects of environmental variables and dissolved organic matter characteristics on the diffusion coefficient of dissolved organic matter using diffusive gradients in thin films
The efficacy of the diffusive gradients in thin films (DGT) passive samplers to provide accurate measurements of free metal ions and those complexed with dissolved organic matter (DOM) was investigated. DOM controls the diffusive properties of DOM-complexed metal species in natural systems. Knowing the diffusion coeiffiecent (D) for DOM of different molecular weights (MW) and the major environmental variables influencing D is critical in developing the use of DGT passive samplers and understanding labile species. D and MW were determined for natural and standard DOM. No noticeable changes in DOM MW were observed during the diffusion process, suggesting that DOM remains intact following diffusion across the diffusive gel. Data analysis revealed that MW had the greatest influence on D, with a negative relationship between D and MW, except in tidal areas where ionic strength influence on D was significant. This study provides further characterization of the variables influencing D using the DGT technique. Author Keywords: Diffusion coefficient, Diffusive gradients in thin films, Dissolved organic matter, Flow field-flow fractionation, Principal Component Analysis, UV-Vis Spectroscopy
Phosphorus forms and response to changes in pH in acid-sensitive soils on the Precambrian Shield
Catchment soil acidification has been suggested as a possible mechanism for reducing phosphorus (P) loading to surface waters in North America and northern Europe, but much of the research that has been conducted regarding P immobilization in pH manipulated soils has been performed at high P concentrations (> 130 μM). This study investigated how soil acidity was related to P fractionation and P sorption at environmentally relevant P concentrations to evaluate the potential influence of long term changes in soil pH on P release to surface waters. Total phosphorus (TP) concentrations declined between 1980 and 2000 in many lakes and streams in central Ontario; over the same time period forest soils in this region became more acidic. Soils were collected from 18 soil pits at three forested catchments with similar bedrock geology but varying TP export loads. The soil pH at the 18 study soil pits spanned the historic soil pH range, allowing for `space for time' comparison of soil P factions. Soils were analysed by horizon for P fractions via Hedley P fractionation. Batch P sorption experiments were performed on selected B-horizon soils at varied solution pH. Soil P fractions varied by horizon but were comparable among the three catchments, with only apatite (PHCl) differing significantly across catchments. Contrary to expectation, both soluble and labile P showed negative relationships with pH in some horizons. Mineral soils were able to sorb almost all (> 90 %) of the P in solution at environmentally relevant P concentrations (4.5 - 45.2 μM). Phosphorus sorption at environmentally relevant P concentrations was unrelated to solution pH but at high P concentration there was a positive relationship between P sorption and solution pH, suggesting a P concentration dependant P sorption mechanism. Phosphorus budgets indicate that P is accumulating within catchments, suggesting that P is being immobilized in the terrestrial environment. An alternative hypothesis, which attempts to explain both the decline in stream TP export and terrestrial P accumulation, is discussed. The results from this study suggest that acidification induced P sorption in upland soils are not a contributing factor to decreases in stream TP concentration in the study catchments. Author Keywords: central Ontario, Hedley fractionation, phosphorus, podzols, soil acidification, sorption
First Time…A Second Time
The purpose of the current study was to explore virginity loss experiences in lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals (LGB), specifically those who have had both a sexual experience with a member of a different sex and a member of the same sex. This phenomenon is what the current study is defining as second virginity loss. Participants consisted of 645 LGB self-identified individuals, the sample was approximately half women (53%) and ages ranged from 18-65. Further, six semi-structured interviews were conducted to gain a clearer understanding of LGB individuals virginity loss experiences. Of the sample, approximately 60% of each sexual orientation reported having two sexual experiences they equated with virginity loss, one with a member of a different sex, and one with a member of the same sex. Analyses of both the qualitative and quantitative data were conducted in an attempt to gain an understanding in three main areas: (1) definitions of virginity loss, (2) virginity beliefs, and (3) motivations. It was found that LGB individuals continue to hold heteronormative definitions of virginity loss, i.e. penile-vaginal intercourse, though these definitions were found to be transitional in nature. LGB individuals also seem to hold more gift related beliefs toward their same-sex experience and more stigma related beliefs toward their different sex experience, however, as shown by previous research (Carpenter, 2001, 2002), most LGB individuals highly endorsed process beliefs. Finally, motivations for virginity loss were found to be consistent with two main themes: validation and drive. Overall, this research suggests that the LGB community has a fairly complicated relationship with virginity but certainly do not feel exempt from the concept or the pressures attached. The current study is the first to explore the phenomenon of second virginity loss in LGB individuals and should be used as a foundation for future research in both first sexual experience and LGB fields to build upon. Author Keywords: first sexual experience, LGB, mixed-methods, second virginity loss, virginity
Stability Properties of Disease Models under Economic Expectations
Comprehending the dynamics of infectious diseases is very important in formulating public health policies to tackling their prevalence. Mathematical epidemiology (ME) has played a very vital role in achieving the above. Nevertheless, classical mathematical epidemiological models do not explicitly model the behavioural responses of individuals in the presence of prevalence of these diseases. Economic epidemiology (EE) as a field has stepped in to fill this gap by integrating economic and mathematical concepts within one framework. This thesis investigated two issues in this area. The methods employed are the standard linear analysis of stability of dynamical systems and numerical simulation. Below are the investigations and the findings of this thesis: Firstly, an investigation into the stability properties of the equilibria of EE models is carried out. We investigated the stability properties of modified EE systems studied by Aadland et al. [6] by introducing a parametric quadratic utility function into the model, thus making it possible to model the maximum number of contacts made by rational individuals to be determined by a parameter. This parameter in particular influences the level of utility of rational individuals. We have shown that if rational individuals have a range of possible contacts to choose from, with the maximum of the number of contacts allowable for these individuals being dependent on a parameter, the variation in this parameter tends to affect the stability properties of the system. We also showed that under the assumption of permanent recovery for disease coupled with individuals observing or not observing their immunity, death and birth rates can affect the stability of the system. These parameters also have effect on the dynamics of the EE SIS system. Secondly, an EE model of syphilis infectivity among &ldquo men who have sex with men &rdquo (MSM) in detention centres is developed in an attempt at looking at the effect of behavioural responses on the disease dynamics among MSM. This was done by explicitly incorporating the interplay of the biology of the disease and the behaviour of the inmates. We investigated the stability properties of the system under rational expectations where we showed that: (1) Behavioural responses to the prevalence of the disease affect the stability of the system. Therefore, public health policies have the tendency of putting the system on indeterminate paths if rational MSM have complete knowledge of the laws governing the motion of the disease states as well as a complete understanding on how others behave in the system when faced with risk-benefit trade-offs. (2) The prevalence of the disease in the long run is influenced by incentives that drive the utility of the MSM inmates. (3) The interplay between the dynamics of the biology of the disease and the behavioural responses of rational MSM tends to put the system at equilibrium quickly as compared to its counterpart (that is when the system is solely dependent on the biology of the disease) when subjected to small perturbation. Author Keywords: economic and mathematical epidemiology models, explosive path, indeterminate-path stability, numerical solution, health gap, saddle-path stability, syphilis,


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