Graduate Theses & Dissertations


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
Developing social skills
Guidelines regarding social skills interventions for children with ASD suggest incorporating a holistic approach. This includes increasing the family’s understanding of deficits associated with ASD, integrations of natural environments, and parents as active agents while supporting their well-being. The current availability of holistic parent-mediated interventions for children with ASD is limited, with no qualitative understanding of its potential benefits for either the parent or child. The current study examined qualitative parent reports on a parent-mediated social skills intervention for children with ASD (TalkAbilityTM) incorporating a longitudinal approach (i.e., 6-month follow-up). Following Braun and Clarke’s model of thematic analysis, data was coded into four themes: 1) communication difficulties, frustrations and progress, 2) social relationships and concerns, 3) communication strategies, and 4) thoughts and emotions surrounding TalkAbilityTM. Results highlight the importance of considering parent experiences regarding interventions for their child’s social communication skills through a qualitative viewpoint. Author Keywords: autism spectrum disorder, parent-mediated intervention, qualitative review
Analyzing agricultural decision making in the Late Roman Empire
In the Roman World, at least 80% and up to 95% of the population lived and worked in a rural environment, driving the agronomic economy of the empire. During the Late Roman Empire (AD 300-600), there were a number of widespread political, social, and economic changes faced by the people who made up the empire. Through all these changes, the empire maintained its tax collection and households maintained agricultural production. I will be examining settlement in the rural region of Isauria (Rough Cilicia) to understand the Late Roman agricultural production in a rural environment. This thesis focuses on the decision making that all economic levels of households would face when producing goods within this Late Roman Economy. Using an economic theory of the peasant economy, I develop a framework through which to view the agronomic production of the Late Roman Period which I use to understand the household as an agent. Author Keywords: Ancient Economy, Isauria, Late Roman, Peasant Economy, Roman Economy
Smile and a Neutral Attitude
This thesis examines the ways in which body image is discussed in online settings. There are three different communities discussed: body positivity, proED (pro-eating disorder), and body neutrality. Both body positivity and proED content are fairly popular online, and both have found significant support and followers on various social medias. In this thesis, I argue that both of these types of content cause significant harm to those who engage with them, primarily because both communities (though different in their approaches to body image) work to uphold the thin ideal. I then bring up the third type of content: body neutrality. Body neutrality has not been given the same academic attention as body positivity and proED content, likely due to its relative infancy. In this thesis, I propose body neutrality as a much healthier way to frame body image online because of its completely neutral stance on fat, thinness, and general body image. Though any work relating to social media is quickly out of date, I hope that this thesis provides an overview of body neutrality and how, in its current form, it provides a more balanced approach to online body image discussions. Author Keywords: body image, body neutrality, body positivity, eating disorders, social media
Intra-seasonal Variation in Black Tern Nest-site Selection and Survival
Resources and risk are in constant flux and an organism’s ability to manage change may improve their likelihood of persistence. I examined intra-seasonal variation in nest-site selection and survival of a declining wetland bird, the Black Tern (Chlidonias niger surinamensis). I modelled nest site occupancy and survival of early and late-nesting birds as a function of static and dynamic factors. Early-nesting birds selected nest sites based on the degree and direction of habitat change that occurred over the nesting cycle, while late-nesting birds selected sites based on static conditions near the time of nest-site selection. Nest age had the strongest influence on daily survival rate for both early and late-nesting birds, but the shape of this relationship showed intra-seasonal differences. Additionally, early-season survival improved slightly with increasing vegetation coverage and distance between conspecific nests, while late-season survival increased with clutch size. My results suggest that intra-seasonal variation in nest-site selection and survival is driven by changing habitat conditions and predator behavior. Author Keywords: Black Tern, Chlidonias niger surinamensis, daily survival rate, intra-seasonal variation, nest-site selection


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