Graduate Theses & Dissertations


Money for Nothing
The strong relationship between poverty and poor health has been well-established for millennia; however, the mechanisms through which this relationship manifests are only recently becoming understood. Perceptions of relative wealth and status, chronic stress, and immunodeficiencies are implicated in recent research studying the social determinants of health. The purpose of the current study is to access the detailed and contextualized perceptions of these relationships and contribute evidence-based policy suggestions to improve the health of the Canadian population. A qualitative approach was employed to provide a unique perspective in addressing the concerns identified within the literature, and fifteen semi-structured interviews with relevant experts were conducted and evaluated using a Content Analysis. The results of the current study suggested a consensus among the participants with regards to the income-related social factors which determine poor health outcomes. A basic income was also perceived to moderate these mechanisms to a certain degree, but was not considered the most effective policy solution. Emulating the progressive tax policies of more economically equal countries was the preferred approach to addressing the issues of poverty and poor health in Canada (though a basic income was not excluded as a potential subsection of these policies). A lack of political will was perceived to be one of the primary obstacles preventing such policies from coming into practice, and it was the conclusion of this paper that virtuous and knowledgeable political leaders are a necessity in the successful pursuit of improving the health of the Canadian people. Author Keywords:
Habitat Characteristics, Density Patterns and Environmental Niches of Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphins (Sousa chinensis) of the Pearl River Estuary and Eastern Taiwan Strait
The purpose of this thesis is to quantify the habitat characteristics, density patterns and environmental niches of two groups of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins: Chinese white dolphins (CWD) of the Pearl River estuary (PRE), and Taiwanese white dolphins (TWD, =Taiwanese humpback dolphin, THD) found in the eastern Taiwan Strait (ETS). Much work has already been done on the habitat use of CWDs in parts of the PRE, so the purpose of my first two chapters was to advance knowledge of the TWD to a comparable level. Chapter 2 contains the first published description of the relatively shallow, inshore, estuarine habitat of the TWD. General environmental characteristics and observed group sizes were consistent with other populations of humpback dolphins, and group sizes were not correlated with the environmental variables measured during surveys. Chapter 3 investigated density patterns of TWDs, finding spatiotemporal heterogeneity across the study area. Humpback dolphin densities fluctuated from year to year, but some parts of the study area were consistently used more than others. Environmental characteristics again did not influence dolphin densities, though more dolphins than expected were sighted in waters adjacent to major land reclamations, which may be related to the location of these areas close to major rivers. In Chapter 4, niches of the TWD and CWDs found in the PRE were compared using species distribution models, which indicated significant niche overlap. This may be due to niche conservatism maintaining similar fundamental niches between the two groups since their historical split >10,000 years ago, or a result of the intrinsic biotic factors that influence occurrence data affecting the hypervolume dimensions of each realized niche in similar ways. Geographic predictions indicate that most of the TWD’s range has likely been surveyed, and that there may be connectivity between PRE humpback dolphins and at least one neighbouring putative population due to continuous predicted suitable habitat in waters that remain poorly surveyed. Overall, my thesis demonstrates that density patterns may vary over time, but on a broad temporal scale, these two allopatric groups of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins have similar habitat requirements in geographically isolated, but environmentally similar locations. Author Keywords: density, habitat, Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin, niche overlap, Sousa chinensis, species distribution model
Community and conservation
Faced with the intersecting environmental crises of the 21st century, conservation organizations are searching for practices that produce better, more sustainable outcomes. However, they have often relied on forms of conservation which shore up rather than disrupt settler relationships to land in the form of fortress conservation and assumptions about the human-nature dualism. In this thesis, I examine a local land trust that intends to include community[-based] conservation into its conservation practices. In particular, I explore how the organization’s volunteers understand and construct the relationship between community and conservation, and the ways this might impact operations. Using a community-based research approach, interviews (n=17) were conducted. The findings indicate that the volunteers are demographically homogenous, leading to a homogenous, Western-science informed understanding of community[-based] conservation. This perspective views involvement of community as a direct trade-off with optimal ecological goals. As the volunteers wield uncommon power in organizational governance, difference in opinions toward missions or operations could lead to constraints on the organization. This study contributes to larger academic discourses on environmental volunteers, land trusts, and frames of conservation, and provides tangible recommendations to an organization attempting to include community[-based] conservation in its practices. Author Keywords: community-based conservation, environmental governance, environmental volunteers, frames of conservation, land trusts, power
Predicting the Pursuit of Post-Secondary Education
Trait Emotional Intelligence (EI) includes competencies and dispositions related to identifying, understanding, using and managing emotions. Higher trait EI has been implicated in post-secondary success, and better career-related decision-making. However, there is no evidence for whether it predicts the pursuit of post-secondary education (PSE) in emerging adulthood. This study investigated the role of trait EI in PSE pursuit using a large, nationally-representative sample of Canadian young adults who participated in the National Longitudinal Survey for Children and Youth (NLSCY). Participants in this dataset reported on their PSE status at three biennial waves (age 20-21, 22-23, and 24-25), and completed a four-factor self-report scale for trait EI (Emotional Quotient Inventory: Mini) at ages 20-21 and 24-25. Higher trait EI subscale scores were significantly associated with greater likelihood of PSE participation both concurrently, and at 2- and 4-year follow-ups. Overall, these associations were larger for men than women. Trait EI scores also showed moderate levels of temporal stability over four years, including full configural and at least partial metric invariance between time points. This suggests that the measure stays conceptually consistent over the four years of emerging adulthood, and that trait EI is a relatively malleable attribute, susceptible to change with interventions during this age period. Author Keywords: Emerging Adulthood, Longitudinal, Post-Secondary Pursuit, Trait Emotional Intelligence
An Ecological Analysis of Late Woodland Settlement Patterns in the Rouge River Watershed, Southern Ontario
This thesis seeks to understand the influences of environmental variables on site location selection during the Late Woodland period (ca. A.D. 1000-1650) in south-central Ontario, specifically variables considered to be favourable to maize agriculture. Four analyses were undertaken: a geographic information system (GIS) comparative analysis of Late Woodland sites compared to random points; population estimates of four sites for which settlement pattern data was available; maize consumption estimates for these same sites, and; a maize resources catchment analysis of these sites. The analysis conducted did not produce conclusive results to answer questions related to maize-driven site selection, however it did show that requirements for maize resources at these sites could have been met in catchment areas of a 500 m radius, in one case in 250m. The results led to an important question for future research: if agricultural needs were not driving settlement location selection in this area, what was? Author Keywords: Environmental Modeling, GIS, Late Woodland, Maize Agriculture, Movement of Communities, Ontario Archaeology
In 1915 U.S. Marines invaded Haiti. Driven first by the epidemiological dangers in Haiti, health and medicine was made a central tenet in administering the occupation. Useful for protecting the American Marines from disease, the Service d'Hygiene (the occupation-era Public Health Service) also served a hegemonic purpose. By bringing American biomedicine to sick Haitians, the Service d'Hygiene built support for the occupation and helped foster long-term connections between Haiti and the United States. This hegemonic drive was made possible by the incorporation of non-state actors into the colonial project. To achieve this, the American authorities forged a development strategy for Haiti that was premised upon a relationship between the state and private institutions such as the Rockefeller Foundation. This strategy also encouraged Haiti to look to the United States for support, a goal successfully realized when Haitian politicians continued to do so even after the Marines left Haiti in 1934. Author Keywords: Haiti, Hegemony, Imperialism, Public Health, Rockefeller Foundation, Service d'Hygiene
Interactome Study of Giardia Intestinalis Cytochromes B5
Giardia intestinalis is an anaerobic protozoan that lacks common eukaryotic heme-dependent respiratory complexes and does not encode any proteins involved in heme biosynthesis. Nevertheless, the parasite encodes several hemeproteins, including three members of the Type II cytochrome b5 sub-group of electron transport proteins found in anaerobic protist and amitochondriate organisms. Unlike the more well-characterized cytochrome b5s of animals, no function has been ascribed to any of the Type II proteins. To explore the functions of these Giardia cytochromes (gCYTB5s), I used bioinformatics, immunofluorescence microscopy (IFM) and co-immunoprecipitation assays. The protein-protein interaction in silico prediction tool, STRING, failed to identify relevant interacting partners for any of the Type II cytochromes b5 from Giardia or other organisms. Differential cellular localization of the gCYTB5s was detected by IFM: gCYTB5-I in the perinuclear space; gCYTB5-II in the cytoplasm with a staining pattern similar to peripheral vacuole-associated protein; and gCYTB5-III in the nucleus. Co-immunoprecipitation with the gCYTB5s as bait identified potential interacting proteins for each isotype. The most promising candidate is the uncharacterized protein GL50803_9861, which was identified in the immunoprecipitate of both gCYTB5-I and II, and which co-localizes with both. Structural analysis of GL50803_9861 using Swiss Model, Phyre2, I-TASSER and RaptorX predicts the presence of a nucleotide-binding domain, which is consistent with a potential redox role involving nicotinamide or flavin-containing cofactors. Finally, the protein GL50803_7204 which contains a RNA/DNA binding domain was identified a potential partner of gCYTB5-III. These findings represent the first steps in the discovery of the roles played by these proteins in Giardia. Author Keywords: Cytochrome b5, Giardia intestinalis, Heme, Interactome, Protein structure prediction
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
Aquatic Invertebrate Studies from Two Perspectives
Leaf litter decomposition represents a major pathway for nutrient cycling and carbon flow in aquatic ecosystems, and macroinvertebrates play an important role in the processing of this material. To assess the causes of variable leaf breakdown and nutrient fluxes, I measured decomposition rates and the nutrient release ratios of decomposing leaf material across a broad latitudinal gradient in Ontario boreal lakes which varied in nutrients, temperature, and pH. I examined the effects of macroinvertebrates using inclusion and exclusion bags. Generally, leaves decomposed faster in nutrient-rich, warmer lakes. Macroinvertebrates increased decomposition rates but their effects were relatively small compared to regional effects of nutrients and temperature. In addition, we found differential effects of nutrients and temperature on nutrient release ratios, which were partially determined by the release and retention of N and P. These results indicate that changes in these important environmental lake variables could alter decomposition dynamics in Ontario lakes, with implications for nutrient cycling and the storage of this important external carbon source. I studied the biogeography of predaceous diving beetles (Coleoptera: Dytiscidae) in two remote and understudied regions: the Far North of Ontario, and Akimiski Island, Nunavut. I identified 35 species from northern Ontario, including three first provincial records for Ontario, Acilius athabascae Larson (1975), Hygrotus unguicularis (Crotch 1874), and Nebrioporus depressus (Fabricius 1775). I also documented three significant range extensions and six gap-infills for this region. I collected and identified 16 species from Akimiski Island, Nunavut, which include several first time reports for these species for the Nunavut territory. My collections also extend the known ranges of five species into the Hudson Plains Ecozone. This work provides important baseline information on the distribution of diving beetles for these regions. Author Keywords: biodiversity, Boreal Shield, decomposition, Dytiscidae, ecological stoichiometry, macroinvertebrates
Marginalization and Alternative Education in Ontario
In Ontario, mainstream education often does not meet the individual learning needs of high school students who experience marginalization. Alternative school programs may offer these students greater support and flexibility in completing their high school diploma. While previous research on alternative education in Ontario is thorough, it is limited to the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). To address the lack of research within smaller communities, this project uses the experiences of alternative education students in the City of Peterborough to explore how alternative programs meet student needs. Using a narrative methodology, the project relies on interviews with six students who offer their stories of attending alternative education programs. Research findings suggest that alternative education programs offer a meaningful and effective way for students to complete high school. Participants emphasize the importance of positive relationships with teachers and staff, student-driven curriculum, paid co-operative credits, and material benefits. Author Keywords: Alternative Education, Critical Pedagogy, Marginalization, Narrative Inquiry, Ontario, Student Experiences
Demographic history and conservation genomics of caribou (Rangifer tarandus) in Québec
Genetic variation is the raw material and basis for evolutionary changes in nature. The loss of genetic diversity is a challenge many species are facing, with genomics being a potential tool to inform and prioritize decision making. Whole genome analysis can be an asset to conservation biology and the management of species through the generation of more precise and novel metrics. This thesis uses whole genome re-sequencing to characterize the demographic history and quantify genomic metrics relevant to conservation of caribou (Rangifer tarandus) in Québec, Canada. We calculated the ancestral and contemporary patterns of genomic diversity of five representative caribou populations and applied a comparative population genomics framework to assess the interplay between demographic events and genomic diversity. When compared to the census size, NC, the endangered Gaspésie Mountain caribou population had the highest ancestral Ne:NC ratio which is consistent with recent work suggesting high ancestral Ne:NC is of conservation concern. These ratios were highly correlated with genomic signatures (i.e. Tajima’s D) of recent population declines and explicit demographic model parameters. Values of contemporary Ne, estimated from linkage-disequilibrium showed Gaspêsie having among the highest contemporary Ne:NC ratio. Importantly, classic conservation genetics theory would predict this population to be of less concern based off this metric alone. Inbreeding measures suggested nuanced patterns of inbreeding and correlated to the demographic models. This study suggests that while the Québec populations are all under decline, they harbour enough ancestral genetic variation to replenish any lost diversity, if conservation decisions are made in favour of these populations, specifically supporting NC. Author Keywords:


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