Graduate Theses & Dissertations

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Assessing effects and fate of environmental contaminants in invasive, native, and endangered macrophytes
Macrophytes play an important role in aquatic ecosystems, and thus are integral to ecological risk assessments of environmental contaminants. In this dissertation, I address gaps in the assessments of contaminant fate and effects in macrophytes, with focus on glyphosate herbicide use for invasive plant control. First, I evaluated the suitability of Typha as future standard test species to represent emergent macrophytes in risk assessments. I concluded that Typha is ecologically relevant, straight-forward to grow, and its sensitivity can be assessed with various morphological and physiological endpoints. Second, I assessed effects from glyphosate (Roundup WeatherMAX® formulation) spray drift exposure on emergent non-target macrophytes. I performed toxicity tests with five taxa, Phragmites australis, Typha × glauca, Typha latifolia, Ammannia robusta, and Sida hermaphrodita, which in Canada collectively represent invasive, native, and endangered species. I found significant differences in glyphosate sensitivity among genera, and all species’ growth was adversely affected at concentrations as low as 0.1% (0.54 g/L), much below the currently used rate (5%, 27 g/L). Third, I assessed the potential for glyphosate accumulation in and release from treated plant tissues. I found that P. australis and T. × glauca accumulate glyphosate following spray treatment, and that accumulated glyphosate can leach out of treated plant tissues upon their submergence in water. Finally, I assessed effects of released glyphosate on non-target macrophytes. I found that P. australis and T. × glauca leachate containing glyphosate residues can stimulate the germination and seedling growth of T. latifolia, but can exert an inhibiting effect on A. robusta, although leachate without glyphosate caused similar responses in both plants. Additionally, I found no negative effects in A. robusta when exposed to glyphosate residues in surface water, or when grown with rhizosphere contact to an invasive plant that was wicked (touched) with glyphosate. My results show that non-target macrophytes can be at risk from glyphosate spray for invasive plant control, but risks can be mitigated through informed ecosystem management activities, such as targeted wick-applications or removing plant litter. Integrating contaminant fate and effect assessments with emergent macrophytes into ecological risk assessments can support the protection of diverse macrophyte communities. Author Keywords: Ecosystem management, Ecotoxicology, Glyphosate, Herbicide, Invasive plant, Species at risk
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
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
Combining Line Transect Sampling and Photographic-Identification Surveys to Investigate the Abundance and Distribution of Cetaceans
Line transect sampling and photographic-identification (photo-ID) are common survey techniques for estimating the abundance and distribution of cetaceans. Combining these approaches in the field (‘combined LTPI’ surveys) and using data from both components has the potential for generating comprehensive ecological knowledge that can be far more valuable than when these techniques and their data are used independently. In this thesis, I evaluated the results and conclusions from these two methods, used singly and in tandem, by investigating the population dynamics of two humpback dolphin (Sousa chinensis spp.) populations: the large and widely distributed Chinese white dolphin (S. c. chinensis) of the Pearl River estuary (PRE), and the small and geographically isolated subspecies of Taiwanese white dolphin (S. c. taiwanensis) in the eastern Taiwan Strait. Data from combined LTPI surveys in Hong Kong waters, at the eastern edge of the PRE, revealed a shift in space use with individuals spending less time in these waters than at the start of surveys. Data from combined LTPI surveys in Taiwan provided further support for a subspecies restricted to the central western waters, and identified a commonly used area at the northern part of their limited range. These two case studies demonstrated an overall efficacy of combined LTPI surveys in ecological studies of cetaceans. However, a multi-criteria analysis revealed that combined LTPI surveys with a line transect focus (e.g., Hong Kong) performed better than a LTPI survey with a photo-ID focus (e.g., Taiwan) when considering ecological aspects of the study populations, labour and data requirements, and ecological output. Even so, the photo-ID focus of Taiwan’s monitoring program led to better assessments of individual space use patterns, likely helped by the Taiwanese white dolphin population’s smaller size and intensive photographic effort. In both cases, the ecological output of combined LTPI surveys could be improved by expanding the study area or extending the field season or frequency of surveys. Overall, I showed that by following a set of general guidelines, different iterations of the combined LTPI approach (i.e., photo-ID focus or LT focus) can serve as powerful tools for uncovering multi-dimensional ecological information on cetaceans. Author Keywords: abundance, cetacean, distribution, line transect sampling, multi-criteria analysis, Photo-ID
Frequency-time and polarization considerations in spectral-focusing-based CARS microscopy
Spectral-focusing-based coherent anti-Stokes Raman scattering (SF-CARS) microscopy is a powerful imaging technique that involves temporally and spectrally stretching ultrashort laser pulses and controlling their frequency-time characteristics. However, a broader and more detailed understanding of the frequency-time characteristics of the laser pulses and signals involved, how they are related, and how they influence important aspects such as the spectral resolution is needed to understand the full potential of SF-CARS systems. In this work, I elucidate these relationships and discuss how they can be exploited to optimize SF-CARS microscopy setups. I present a theoretical analysis of the relationships between the spectral resolution, the degree of chirp-matching, and pulse bandwidth in SF-CARS. I find that, despite allowing better ultimate spectral resolution when chirp-matching is attained, the use of the broadest bandwidth pulses can significantly worsen the spectral resolution if the pulses are not chirp-matched. I demonstrate that the bandwidth of the detected anti-Stokes signal is minimized when the pump is twice as chirped as the Stokes, meaning that (perhaps counter-intuitively) a narrow anti-Stokes bandwidth does not imply good spectral resolution. I present approximate expressions that relate the bandwidths of the pump, Stokes, and anti-Stokes pulses to the degree of chirp-matching and outline how these could be used to estimate the amount of glass needed to attain chirp-matching. I develop a spectral-focusing-based polarization-resolved (SFP-CARS) setup, by modifying our existing system, to explore the merits of integrating polarization-dependent detection as an add-on to existing SF-CARS setups. By using the system to study polarization-dependent features in the CARS spectrum of benzonitrile, I assess its capabilities and demonstrate its ability to accurately determine Raman depolarization ratios. Ultimately, the detected anti-Stokes signals are more elliptically polarized than desired, hindering a complete suppression of the non-resonant background. Nevertheless, I find that the SFP-CARS setup is a useful tool for studying polarization-dependent features in the CARS spectra of various samples and is worthy of further investigation. This work clarifies several technical aspects of SF-CARS microscopy and provides researchers with valuable information to consider when working with SF-CARS microscopy systems. Author Keywords: coherent anti-Stokes Raman scattering, nonlinear microscopy, polarization, spectral focusing, spectroscopy
Experiencing buhts’an qu’inal from sHachel jwohc’ a’tel through sna'el ya'beyel stuc te bin ay ma'yuc
This thesis shows and emphasizes the importance of Indigenous Knowledge (IK) in informing collaborative efforts that promote sustainable economic development in Indigenous communities. It tells the story of a participative research study undertaken with six Tseltal communities located in the Region Selva of Chiapas, Mexico, in the context of the Covid19 pandemic of 2020 and early 2021. In this study, the research participants reflect on their endeavours pursuing projects focused on the economic self-sufficiency of their communities. Their initiatives, which are deeply grounded in Tseltal practices while accompanied by the local non-profit organization IXIM AC, focus on developing economically self-sustaining enterprises in self-organized groups led by local Indigenous women. The findings offer a deep immersion into two aspects that emerge from Tseltal knowledge: The Nucleus of Tseltal community wellbeing and the Four Elements of Buhts’an qu’inal (Tseltal community wellbeing). The study’s results show that these two IK grounded aspects guide the participants’ endeavours in developing sHachel jwohc’ a’tel (Tseltal initiatives of entrepreneurship) while also enabling opportunities for gender transformative collaborative work and sustained engagement in local initiatives of sna'el ya'beyel stuc te bin ay ma'yuc (Tseltal economic development oriented to community wellbeing). Author Keywords: Community Wellbeing, Indigenous Entrepreneurship, Indigenous Knowledges, Indigenous Women, Participative Action Research, Sustainable Development
Automated Separation and Preconcentration of Ultra-Trace Levels of Radionuclides in Complex Matrices by Online Ion Exchange Chromatography Coupled with Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS)
Radionuclides occur in the environment both naturally and artificially. Along with weapons testing and nuclear reactor operations, activities such as mining, fuel fabrication and fuel reprocessing are also major contributors to nuclear waste in the environment. In terms of nuclear safety, the concentration of radionuclides in nuclear waste must be monitored and reported before storage and/or discharge. Similarly, radionuclide waste from mining activities also contains radionuclides that need to be monitored. In addition, a knowledge of ongoing radionuclide concentrations is often required under certain ‘special’ conditions, for example in the area surrounding nuclear and mining operations, or when nuclear and other accidents occur. Thus, there is a huge demand for new methods that are suitable for continuously monitoring and rapidly analyzing radionuclide levels, especially in emergency situations. In this study, new automated analytical methods were successfully developed to measure ultra trace levels of single or multiple radionuclides in various environmental samples with the goal of faster analysis times and less analyst involvement while achieving detection limits suitable for typical environmental concentrations. Author Keywords: automation, ICP-MS, ion exchange, radionuclide
WOMEN IN HORROR
The objective of this dissertation is to measure the influence of the contemporary influx of women’s involvement in the horror genre in three dimensional capacities: female representation in horror films, female representation as active, participatory spectators and female representation in the industrial production of horror. Through the combined approach of theoretical and empirical analysis, this dissertation examines the social conditions that facilitated women’s infiltration of the horror genre. Beginning with psychoanalytic theories of spectatorship, it is demonstrated that female filmmakers have challenged horror’s traditional images of victimized women through the development new forms of feminine representation in contemporary horror films. Using data collected from a sample of 52 self-identified female horror fans, it is revealed that the purported invisibility of female horror spectators is a consequence of their alternative modes of consumption. Through interviews conducted with four female producers and an examination of their cultural productions, I illustrate that women have reconstituted the horror genre as a space for inclusivity, political activism and feminist empowerment. Cohesively, these findings reveal the contemporary feminist reclamation of horror to be a form of resistance intended to challenge the patriarchal structures that facilitated women’s historical exclusion from the horror genre. Author Keywords: Abjection, Feminism, Film, Gender, Horror, Psychoanalysis
History and Legacy of the “Orillia Asylum for Idiots
The “Orillia Asylum for Idiots” (1861 - 2009), Canada’s oldest and largest facility for the care and protection of children and adults with disabilities, was once praised as a beacon of humanitarian progress and described as a “community within a community.” Yet, survivors who lived in the facility during the post Second World War period, a time described as the “golden age of children’s rights,” tell harrowing stories of abuse and neglect. Despite the nation’s promise to “put children first” and protect the universal rights of “Canada’s children,” children incarcerated within the Orillia Asylum were subjected to systemic neglect and cultural discrimination, daily humiliation and dehumanization, and physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. Far from being a place for child protection and care, this dissertation finds that the Orillia Asylum was a site of a multi-faceted and all-encompassing violence, a reality that stands in complete contrast to the grand narrative through which the facility has historically been understood. This dissertation considers how such violence against children could occur for so long in a facility maintained by the state, a state invested in protecting children. It finds that children who were admitted to the Orillia Asylum were not considered to be “Canada’s children” at all by virtue of being labelled as “mentally deficient,” “feeble-minded,” “not-quite-human,” and “not-quite-children.” Author Keywords: childhood, disability, Huronia Regional Centre, institutional child abuse, institutional violence, institutionalization
effects of heat dissipation capacity on avian physiology and behaviour
In endotherms, physiological functioning is optimized within a narrow range of tissue temperatures, meaning that the capacity to dissipate body heat is an important parameter for thermoregulation and organismal performance. Yet, experimental research has found mixed support for the importance of heat dissipation capacity as a constraint on reproductive performance. To investigate the effects of heat dissipation capacity on organismal performance, I experimentally manipulated heat dissipation capacity in free-living tree swallows, Tachycineta bicolor, by trimming feathers overlying the brood patch, and monitored parental provisioning performance, body temperature, and offspring growth. I found that individuals with an enhanced capacity to dissipate body heat (i.e., trimmed treatment) provisioned their offspring more frequently, and reared larger offspring that fledged more consistently. Although control birds typically reduced their nestling provisioning rate at the highest ambient temperatures to avoid overheating, at times they became hyperthermic. Additionally, I examined inter-individual variation in body temperature within each treatment, and discovered that body temperature is variable among all individuals. This variability is also consistent over time (i.e., is repeatable), irrespective of treatment. Further, I found that individuals consistently differed in how they adjusted their body temperature across ambient temperature, demonstrating that body temperature is a flexible and repeatable physiological trait. Finally, I used a bacterial endotoxin (lipopolysaccharide) to examine the regulation of body temperature of captive zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) during an immune challenge. Exposure to lipopolysaccharide induces sickness behaviours, and results in a fever, hypothermia, or a combination of the two, depending on species and dosage. I asked what the relative role of different regions of the body (bill, eye region, and leg) is in heat dissipation/retention during the sickness-induced body temperature response. I found that immune-challenged individuals modulated their subcutaneous temperature primarily through alterations in peripheral blood flow, particularly in the legs and feet, detectable as a drop in surface temperature. These results demonstrate that the importance of regional differences in regulating body temperature in different contexts. Taken together, my thesis demonstrates that heat dissipation capacity can affect performance and reproductive success in birds. Author Keywords: body temperature, heat dissipation, tree swallow, zebra finch
Extraction and Characterization of Hyaluronic Acid and Collagen from Eggshell Membrane Waste
Connecting academia to industry is one important way to advance towards meeting the United Nations (UN) Sustainability Goals (SDGs).1 Sustainability can be applied to all industrial sectors with the SDGs being implemented by 2030.2 This research contributes to the SDGs by investigating a way to remediate an industrial waste stream in the egg-breaking industry. If adopted, this would reduce the amount of eggshell membrane (ESM) waste placed in landfill where it does not decompose properly. The work described in this thesis specifically targets extraction of collagen and hyaluronic acid (HA), two components of the ESM that are of commercial value in the cosmetic, pharmaceutical, and biomedical industries3,4 . Deliverables from this research include economically viable extraction methods, developed based on green chemistry approaches, that can be transferred from lab bench to industrial scale. The extraction development process was guided by the 12 Principles of Green Chemistry5,6,7 and the 12 Principles of Green Engineering.8 HA was most successfully extracted using a sodium acetate solution on ground ESM. Filtrate was collected, exhaustively dialyzed and lyophilized. High molecular weight HA was recovered. Fourier transform infrared attenuated total reflectance (FTIR-ATR) spectroscopy and proton nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy compared extracted material to reference HA identifying successful extraction. Collagen was extracted using acetic acid or pepsin enzyme digestion. Hydrophilic interaction liquid chromatography (HILIC) coupled with mass spectrometry (MS) compared amino acid composition of extracted materials to reference collagen material. FTIR-ATR spectra also supported successful extraction of collagen. This work identifies that HA and collagen can be conveniently extracted from ESM using an economical approach that can be implemented into egg-breaking facilities. This work highlights the benefits of connecting academia to industry to advance green chemical approaches while implementing sustainable practices into existing industry. Author Keywords: collagen, eggshell membrane waste, extraction, green chemistry, hyaluronic acid, sustainability
UV-Curable hybrid sol-gel materials
This thesis describes the synthesis, application and evaluation of a UV crosslinked 3-methacryloxypropyltrimethoxysilane-derived coating formulation. This is a two-component sol-gel system with 3-methacryloxypropyltrimethoxysilane (MaPTMS) and tetraethoxysilane (TEOS). Herein we show that if we change the co-solvent required for solubilizing MaPTMS from the more common methanol and ethanol to isopropanol we change the rate of hydrolysis from days or weeks to minutes. With the assistance of 2D 29Si-NMR we demonstrate that the system undergoes extensive condensation in twenty minutes. Using standard UV irradiation, the material can be extensively UV crosslinked with 70% of the methacryloxy functionality being consumed in 5 minutes upon irradiation in the presence of a photo-initiator. When this material is used to coat low carbon steel and immersed in an accelerated corrosion solution (dilute Harrison’s solution); this material affords low carbon steel 25 hours of protection when crosslinked and 17 hours of protection when uncrosslinked. The material was then used to encapsulate polyaniline (PANI), an intrinsic conductive polymer used in the corrosion protection of metal substrates. PANI has been encapsulated previously in sol-gel material, but due to the pH dependence of the solubility of PANI, it can not be encapsulated in more commonly chemically crosslinked sol-gel. As our system is UV crosslinked rather than chemically crosslinked, we were able to successfully demonstrate the inclusion of PANI into our coating system. Finally, this thesis includes a thorough computational investigation into the structure and band gap of PANI. Through the analysis of the band gap it was shown that the structure of the polymer commonly displayed in literature is not the correct structure of the polymer. Our results suggest that when PANI is made electrochemically, the oligomer contains two quinoid units next to one another instead of the more usually represented regularly alternating benzoid and quinoid units. The results also suggest that when PANI is made using the oxidant ammonium persulfate, the polymer most likely contains a Michael adduct structure somewhere in the polymer chain which dominates PANI’s electronic properties. Author Keywords: 3-Methacryloxypropyltrimethoxysilane, Computational Chemistry , Corrosion , Polyaniline, Tetraethoxysilane

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Format: 2022/06/30