Graduate Theses & Dissertations


Politics of Muslim Intellectual Discourse in the West
The dissertation explores and defends the theory and practice of a Western-Islamic public sphere (which is secular but not secularist and which is Islamic but not Islamist), within which a critical Islamic intellectual universe can unfold, dealing hermeneutically with texts and politically with lived practices, and which, moreover, has to emerge from within the arc of two alternative, conflicting, yet equally dismissive suspicions defined by a view that critical Islam is the new imperial rhetoric of hegemonic orientalism and the opposite view that critical Islam is just fundamentalism camouflaged in liberal rhetoric. The Western-Islamic public sphere offers a third view, arising from ethical commitment to intellectual work, creativity, and imagination as a portal to the open horizons of history. Author Keywords: Critical Islam, critique, history, Islamic reformation, public sphere, secular
Landscape fitness
Variation in habitat quality and disturbance levels can strongly influence a species’ distribution, leading to spatial variation in population density and influencing population dynamics. It is therefore critical to understand how density can lead to variability in demographic responses for effective conservation and recovery of species. My dissertation illustrates how density and spatial familial networks can be integrated together to gain a better understanding of the influence of density on population dynamics of boreal caribou. First, I created an analytical framework to assess results from empirical studies to inform spatially-explicit capture-recapture sampling design, using both simulated and empirical data from noninvasive genetic sampling of several boreal caribou populations in Alberta, Canada, which varied in range size and estimated population density. Analysis of the empirical data indicated that reduced sampling intensity had a greater impact on density estimates in smaller ranges, and the best sampling designs did not differ with estimated population density but differed between large and small population ranges. Secondly, I used parent-offspring relationships to construct familial networks of boreal caribou in Saskatchewan, Canada to inform recovery efforts. Using network measures, I assessed the contribution of individual caribou to the population with several centrality measures and then determined which measures were best suited to inform on the population demographic structure. I found substantial differences in the centrality of individuals in different local areas, highlighting the importance of analyzing familial networks at different spatial scales. The network revealed that boreal caribou in Saskatchewan form a complex, interconnected familial network. These results identified individuals presenting different fitness levels, short- and long-distance dispersing ability across the range, and can be used in support of population monitoring and recovery efforts. Finally, I used a spatial capture-recapture analytical framework with covariates to estimate spatial density of boreal woodland caribou across the Saskatchewan Boreal Plains, and then reconstructed parent-offspring relationships to create a familial network of caribou and determined whether spatial density influenced sex-specific network centrality, dispersal distance, individual reproductive success, and the pregnancy status of females. I show that caribou densitygreatly varied across the landscape and was primarily affected by landscape composition and fragmentation, and density had sex-specific influences on dispersal distance, reproductive success, and network centrality. The high density areas reflected good-quality caribou habitat, and the decreased dispersal rates and female reproductive output suggest that these remnant patches of habitat may be influencing demographic responses of caribou. Author Keywords: boreal caribou, density, familial networks, population dynamics, rangifer tarandus caribou, spatial capture-recapture
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
successful invader in expansion
Researchers have shown increasing interest in biological invasions for the associated ecological and economic impacts as well as for the opportunities they offer to study the mechanisms that induce range expansion in novel environments. I investigated the strategies exhibited by invasive species that facilitate range expansion. Invasive populations exhibit shifts in life-history strategy that may enable appropriate responses to novel biotic and abiotic factors encountered during range expansion. The spatio-temporal scales at which these shifts occur are largely unexplored. Furthermore, it is not known whether the observed dynamic shifts represent a consistent biological response of a given species to range shifts, or whether the shifts are affected by the abiotic characteristics of the new systems. I examined the life-history responses of female round gobies Neogobius melanastomus across fine and coarser spatial scales behind the expansion front and investigated whether invasive populations encountering different environmental conditions (Ontario vs France) exhibited similar life-history shifts. In both study systems, I found an increase in reproductive investment at invasion fronts compared to longer established areas at coarse and fine scales. The results suggest a similar response to range shifts, or a common invasion strategy independent of environmental conditions experienced, and highlight the dynamic nature of an invasive population’s life history behind the invasion front. The second part of my research focused on the development of an appropriate eDNA method for detecting invasive species at early stages of invasion to enable early detection and rapid management response. I developed a simple, inexpensive device for collecting water samples at selected depths for eDNA analysis, including near the substrate where eDNA concentration of benthic species is likely elevated. I also developed a protocol to optimise DNA extraction from water samples that contain elevated concentration of inhibiters, in particular near-bottom samples. Paired testing of eDNA and conventional surveys was used to monitor round goby expansion along its invasion pathway. Round gobies were detected in more sites with eDNA, permitting earlier, more accurate, upstream detection of the expansion front. My study demonstrated the accuracy and the power of using eDNA survey method to locate invasion fronts. Author Keywords: Age-specific reproductive investment, DNA extraction, Energy allocation, Fecundity, Invasion front, Range expansion
“At least I can feel like I’ve done my job as a mom”
This study examines the household foodwork of low-income mothers in Peterborough, Ontario and considers how community food initiatives (CFIs) such as community gardens and good food box programs can support these women in their efforts to feed their families adequately. I draw on multiple data sources: interviews with representatives from Peterborough CFIs; interviews with and illustrations by 21 local low-income mothers; debrief sessions following participants’ tours of CFIs; and my ongoing involvement with two local food networks. The mothers’ extensive foodwork considerations, strategies, and struggles reflect an engagement with three main ideals that are placed further out of reach through poverty and food insecurity. Women experienced pressure through these ideals: the “good mother,” to take primary responsibility for their children’s well-being through food; the “good consumer,” to participate in society as individual consumers; and the “good food program participant,” to avoid indications of over-reliance on food programs. Each ideal reflects the neoliberal exaltation of self-sufficiency and its flipside, the vilification of dependence. The research results highlight the need for CFIs to focus on the broader, systemic discursive and material challenges that can hamper the foodwork of all low-income mothers, in addition to addressing the immediate needs of their own participants. Towards this goal, Peterborough CFIs employ principles of universality, social inclusion, democratic processes, and broadening of social imaginaries. In their efforts, CFIs must navigate between cultivating collectivity and interdependence on the one hand, and engaging with this familiar, individualizing neoliberal ethos on the other hand. This study provides insights about the subjectivities of low-income mothers that may be useful for CFI programming as well as more analytic examinations of the role and impact of CFIs. It also reveals the common feminization, devaluation, and under resourcing of the food-related work of both mothers and CFIs. In doing so, the study points to the urgent need for broad dialogue and political action regarding poverty, dependence, caring labour, and the roles of citizens and the state in ensuring that households can adequately feed themselves. Author Keywords: Community Food Initiatives, Community Food Programs, Domestic Labour, Food Insecurity, Gendering of Caring Labour, Household Food Work
Using genomic and phenotypic data to explore the evolution and ecology of the North American mountain goat
Evaluating the impact of climate change is arguably one of the main goals of conservation biology, which can be addressed in part by studying the demographic history of species in the region of interest. In North America, landscape and species composition during the most recent Pleistocene epoch was primarily influenced by glaciation cycles. Glacial advance and retreat caused species ranges to shift as well, leaving signatures of past population bottlenecks in the genetic code of most species. Genomic tools have shown to be important tools for understanding these demographic events to enhance conservation biology measures in several species. In my thesis I first reviewed the state of ungulate genomics, with a focus on how such data sets can be used in understand demography, adaptation, and inform conservation and management. Importantly, the review introduces key analyses like the pairwise sequentially Markovian coalescent and features like variation in antlers and horns and selection pressures that are used throughout subsequent chapters. Using the North American mountain goat as a model species, I then explored the genomic and phenotypic variation in this alpine specialist mammal. Starting with the generation of the first genome assembly for the mountain goat, I identified genes unique to the mountain goat and modeled demographic history going back millions of years using a pairwise sequentially Markovian coalescent approach. Species’ effective population size generally paralleled climatic trends over the past one hundred thousand years and severely declined to under a thousand individuals during the last glacial maximum. Given the biological importance of horns in mountain goats and the recent scientific interest in genetic basis of headgear, I analyzed over 23,000 horn records from goats harvested in British Columbia, Alaska and Northwest Territories from 1980 to 2017. Overall, variation in horn size over space and time was low; goats harvested further North had shorter horn lengths and smaller horn circumferences in one year old and 4 years and older age classes and 4 years and older age class, respectively. Proximity of roads, which was used as an indicator of artificial selection, had a small effect on horn size, with larger horns being harvested closer to major roads. Finally, I used two range-wide genomic data sets sequenced with a whole genome re-sequencing and reduced representation approaches to provide estimates of genetic diversity, contemporary effective population sizes and population structure. These insights can help inform management and will potentially make an impact in preserving the mountain goat. Author Keywords: genome assembly, horn size, Oreamnos americanus, population demography, reduced representation sequencing, whole genome resequencing
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
Pausing Encounters with Autism and Its Unruly Representation
This dissertation seeks to explore and understand how autism, asperger and the autistic spectrum is represented in Canadian culture. Acknowledging the role of films, television, literature and print media in the construction of autism in the consciousness of the Canadian public, this project seeks to critique representations of autism on the grounds that these representations have an ethical responsibility to autistic individuals and those who share their lives. This project raises questions about how autism is constructed in formal and popular texts; explores retrospective diagnosis and labelling in biography and fiction; questions the use of autism and Asperger's as metaphor for contemporary technology culture; examines autistic characterization in fiction; and argues that representations of autism need to be hospitable to autistic culture and difference. In carrying out this critique this project proposes and enacts a new interdisciplinary methodology for academic disability study that brings the academic researcher in contact with the perspectives of non-academic audiences working in the same subject area, and practices this approach through an unconventional focus group collaboration. Acknowledging the contribution of disability studies approaches to representation, this project will also challenge these methodologies on the grounds that the diverse voices of audiences are, at times, absent from discourse focused research. Chapter One offers an explanation of disability studies scholarship and the history of autism as a category of disability and difference. Chapter Two looks at how disability and specifically autistic representations have been understood academically and introduces the rationale and experiences of the focus group project. Chapter Three explores retrospective, biographical diagnosis, the role of autism as technological metaphor, and contemporary biography. Chapter Four looks at the construction of autistic characters in Canadian literature and film. Chapter Five interrogates documentary and news media responses to autism and the construction of autism as Canadian health crisis, and also explores how discourses that surround autism are implicated in interventions and therapeutic approaches to autistic individuals. Key Terms Autism; Autistic Spectrum; Asperger; Disability; Representation; Media; Interdisciplinary Research; Focus Group; Retrospective Diagnosis; Biography; Academic Method; Academic and Representational Responsibility; Literature; Film; Diagnosis; Disability Studies; Therapy Author Keywords: Academic Method, Autism Spectrum, Biography, Disability, Interdisciplinary Research, Representation
Hiya 'aa ma pichas 'ope ma hammako he ma pap'oyyisko (Let Us Understand Again our Grandmothers and our Grandfathers)
The Tamalko (Coast Miwok) North Central California Indigenous people have lived in their homelands since their beginnings. California Indigenous people have suffered violent and uncompromising colonial assaults since European contact began in the 16th century. However, many contemporary Indigenous Californians are thriving today as they reclaim their Native American sovereign rights, cultural renewal, and well-being. Culture Bearers are working diligently as advocates and teachers to re-cultivate Indigenous consciousness and knowledge systems. The Tamalko author offers Indigenous perspectives for hinak towis hennak (to make a good a life) through an ethno-autobiographical account based on narratives by Culture Bearers from four Indigenous North Central California Penutian-speaking communities and the author’s personal experiences. A Tamalko view of finding and speaking truth hinti wuskin ʼona (what the heart says) has been the foundational principle of the research method used to illuminate and illustrate Indigenous North Central California consciousness. Author Keywords: Consciousness, Culture Bearers, Indigenous, North Central California, Penutian, re-cultivation
Sinaakssin (writing/picture)
Assimilative policies limit and disrupt the inclusion of Aboriginal values in most Aboriginal services today. This art-based, qualitative research study approaches that issue, and using symbolism and story a sample scenario was created to demonstrate the impact of assimilative policy on Aboriginal service delivery in a storyboard format. The storyboard was then presented to four traditional thinkers who contemplated the issues therein, and as they deconstructed, considered, and conferred they resolved the matter and produced four distinct models. Imagery is relied on as a traditional means of communication to capture and convey the research issue as a painted story. This research tested the viability of using imagery as a storyboard methodology for solving social issues. By using this approach this dissertation sought to answer the question, does Indigenous knowledge have the power to change the systemic structures that surround our services. For the analysis, did the three Indigenous knowledge paradigms effectively assist in determining the nature of the Indigenous knowledge applied? Author Keywords: collective community subjectivity, Indigenous methodology, paradigms, story, symbolic communication, symbolic representation
Molecular Composition of Dissolved Organic Matter Controls Metal Speciation and Microbial Uptake
Aquatic contaminant mobility and biological availability is strongly governed by the complexation of organic and inorganic ligands. Dissolved organic matter (DOM) is a complex, heterogeneous mixture of organic acids, amino acids, lipids, carbohydrates and polyphenols that vary in composition and can complex to dissolved metals thereby altering their fate in aquatic systems. The research conducted in this doctoral dissertation addresses 1) how DOM composition differs between phytoplankton taxa and 2) how DOM composition affects metal speciation and its subsequent microbial bioavailability in laboratory and field conditions. To accomplish this, a series of analytical methods were developed and applied to quantify thiols, sulphur containing DOM moieties, and the molecular composition of DOM. The works presented in this thesis represents one of the first comprehensive and multipronged analyses of the impact of phytoplankton metabolite exudates on microbial metal bioavailability. This dissertation demonstrated the analytical versatility of high-resolution mass spectrometry as a tool for compound specific information, as well as having the capabilities to obtain speciation information of organometallic complexes. The work presented in this PhD strengthens the understanding compositional differences of both autochthonous and allochthonous DOM and their effects on metal biogeochemistry. Author Keywords: Dissolved Organic Matter, Mercury, Metal Accumulation, Phytoplankton, Spring Melts, Thiol
On Forests, Witness Trees, and Bears
This dissertation is about Forests, their loss and the grieving that arises from their loss. The loss of ancient and old-growth forests by way of clearcutting and or anthropogenically driven disturbances, including climate change, presents the quandary of loss of both biological and cultural diversity. Following Umeek’s/E. Richard Atleo’s term, I suggest that “dis-ease” in the dominant relationship to forests in parts of the Western world significantly rests within inherited cultural and political pasts at play in the present, carried in much of the language and lifeways of modern Anglophone societies today. I do so by a critical topographical exploration of thematic patterns that go back to the Epic of Gilgamesh, the oldest written account of deforestation in the history of Western civilization. I offer at the center of my inquiry a collection of witness trees as North American case studies. Each tree is a witness object, a station from which I confront and explore social-ecological grief as it has accumulated over time from English colonization, with one focusing on Indigenous cultural reclamation and place-based ecological co-management. Lastly, I turn to a multispecies exploration of social-ecological grief, using bears in North America as a face for reflection and consider who and what more is lost when old forests are degraded and gone. By asking the place question—“what place is this?”—of forests, or the Forest Question, my dissertation is thus an exploration of the connection and responsibilities to other place-based human and other-than-human communities in a rapidly changing climate. Author Keywords: critical topography, environmental grief, forests, multispecies, social-ecological relations, witness trees


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