Graduate Theses & Dissertations


Influence of geodemographic factors on electricity consumption and forecasting models
The residential sector is a major consumer of electricity, and its demand will rise by 65 percent by the end of 2050. The electricity consumption of a household is determined by various factors, e.g. house size, socio-economic status of the family, size of the family, etc. Previous studies have only identified a limited number of socio-economic and dwelling factors. In this thesis, we study the significance of 826 geodemographic factors on electricity consumption for 4917 homes in the City of London. Geodemographic factors cover a wide array of categories e.g. social, economic, dwelling, family structure, health, education, finance, occupation, and transport. Using Spearman correlation, we have identified 354 factors that are strongly correlated with electricity consumption. We also examine the impact of using geodemographic factors in designing forecasting models. In particular, we develop an encoder-decoder LSTM model which shows improved accuracy with geodemographic factors. We believe that our study will help energy companies design better energy management strategies. Author Keywords: Electricity forecasting, Encoder-decoder model, Geodemographic factors, Socio-economic factors
Assessing the Potential of Permaculture as an Adaptation Strategy Towards Climate Change in Central Ontario
This thesis uses three approaches to assess the potential of permaculture in Central Ontario. This was done using a vegetable field trial and modelling programs to determine the effectiveness of permaculture to decrease negative impacts of climate change based on projected climate values derived from regional circulation models. The first approach showed no statistical difference (P<0.05) of applying varied volumes and combinations of organic amendments on crop yields. The second approach indicated permaculture may be a sustainable production system with respect to soil erosion when compared to traditional agricultural practices. The third approach was inconclusive due to the lack of quantitative literature on permaculture management impacts on biomass yields, soil carbon or nutrient retention, which were missing from basic and scientific literature searches. The models used within this thesis include USLE, RUSLE2, AgriSuite, RothC and Holos. Author Keywords: Agriculture, Climate Change, Computer Modelling, Permaculture, Soil Erosion and Assessment
Composition and Transformation of Dissolved Organic Matter in Hudson Bay, Canada
The Hudson Bay region is a sensitive environment, where anthropogenic (e.g., dams, diversions, and/or reservoirs) impacts have increased in recent decades, potentially influencing the functioning of the ecosystem. Dissolved organic matter (DOM) entering Hudson Bay comes from both terrestrial (allochthonous) and aquatic (autochthonous) sources. The chemical composition of DOM is important, as it controls carbon biogeochemistry, nutrient cycling, and heat exchange. In rivers, estuaries, and oceans, photochemical processes and microbial degradation play a significant role in the chemical composition of DOM. Yet, our knowledge is scarce into how photochemical and microbial processes effect DOM composition specifically in Arctic aquatic systems making it difficult to predict how the carbon cycle will respond to a changing environment. This Ph.D. thesis addresses: (1) the composition of photochemically altered autochthonous and allochthonous DOM; (2) the photochemical transformations of DOM in surface waters of Hudson Bay; and (3) the microbial transformations of DOM in Hudson Bay surface waters. Using multiple analytical techniques, this work demonstrated that photochemical and microbial effects were different for light absorbing DOM compounds and ionisable DOM analyzed by Fourier transform-ion cyclotron-resonance-mass spectrometry (FT-ICR-MS). Based on FT-ICR-MS analysis, microbial processes had a greater impact on the molecular composition of allochthonous DOM originating from riverine sources and estuary whereas photochemical processes were the dominant mechanism for degradation of autochthonous DOM in Hudson Bay. Photochemical processes significantly decreased colored dissolved organic matter (CDOM) and fluorescence dissolved organic matter (FDOM) loss whereas microbial degradation was minimal in Hudson Bay river, estuary, and coastal waters. The results of this thesis highlight the importance of photochemical and microbial alteration of DOM in Arctic regions, two processes that are expected to be enhanced under climate change conditions. Author Keywords: Carbon cycle, Field flow fractionation, Microbial transformation, Optical properties, Photochemical degradation
Why fish when you could farm? A stable isotope analysis of changing diet and ritual killing in the Virú Valley, Peru
Stable carbon and nitrogen isotope analyses were performed on individuals from the Virú Valley, Peru to better understand the people and society in this region of early-state development. This analysis also sheds light on the lives of individuals from a ritual killing event at Huaca Santa Clara. Bone collagen stable isotope analysis revealed that all individuals had diets predominantly based on terrestrial resources, while incremental hair segments, skin, tendon, and nails revealed that marine resources made small, non-seasonal contributions to the diet. The prioritization of farming over fishing in the Virú Valley may be indicative of the economic specialization of agricultural and marine subsistence practices by distinct communities and the tendency of state-level societies to monopolize agricultural resources. The isotopic compositions of the individuals from the Huaca Santa Clara ritual killing event showed no evidence of a controlled diet before their death and identified a likely migrant to Virú. Author Keywords: Diet, Early Intermediate Period, Early-State Development, North Coast Peru, Ritual Killing Event, Stable Isotope Analysis
Comparison of Nature Activities
Research shows spending time in nature can result in many positive effects, including improving mood, connection to nature, and environmental concern. Certain activities may increase these positive effects of nature exposure. Citizen science (non-scientists collecting data to contribute to science) and environmental education (receiving information about the environment) are two potential ways to boost the positive effects of nature exposure. But little research has been done comparing citizen science with environmental education. To address this gap in knowledge, undergraduate participants were randomly assigned to spend five minutes outside daily, for two weeks, either simply observing nature, looking for birds, or looking for and recording bird sightings. Over time, all groups experienced improvements in mood, connection to nature, and environmental concern. However, connection to nature increased the most in people who simply observed nature. Unexpectedly, simply spending time in nature was the most effective intervention. Limitations and future directions are discussed. Author Keywords: Citizen Science, Emotional Well-Being, Environmental Concern, Environmental Education, Nature Exposure, Nature Relatedness
Untitled (dissertation 4.2)
Untitled (dissertation 4.2) offers a performative take on the political implications of digital archives. I argue that technological developments and their increasing ubiquity has not resulted in more reliable archives; it has facilitated the exacerbation of what Jacques Derrida calls mal d’archive—or archive fever—which refers to the institutionally supported passion to preserve that is perpetually threatened by the inevitably of loss. A performative perspective, specifically derived from the work of contemporary performance theorists and artists, affords a contemporary archival practice that not only accepts, but is informed by mal d’archive because it shifts the focus from what is preserved to how it has become and continues to be preservable through archival acts. This is important in our contemporary moment because the ubiquity of digital technologies has exacerbated the symptoms of mal d’archive: a rapid increase in both the formal and informal production of preservable content, and consequently, as Derrida reminds us, archival violence. Untitled (dissertation 4.2) also includes a performative engagement with mal d’archive through two interludes. The first interlude features what I am calling “glitch-utterances,” which refers to the visual representations of technological mishaps. The documents in the second interlude—an iteration of the exhibition catalogue that resulted from my 2020 artist residency at the Art Gallery of Peterborough—engage with the productive function of the archive because they performatively constitute the exhibition as having happened regardless of whether or not it actually occurred, which, significantly, it did not. I conclude Untitled (dissertation 4.2) with a look at the ecological impact of digital archives—perhaps an “ecological fever.” It is not my intention to offer a solution for this “ecological fever,” nor address its full impact. My aim is to conclude this dissertation with a supplement of sorts: a look at the ecological impact of digital archives because I feel it is irresponsible not to given their increasing ubiquity. With this in mind, the glitch-utterances featured in both interludes can perform an important role in calling attention to the technological materialities and computational processes that are rendered invisible by Big Tech companies via metaphors—the ethereal Cloud metaphor, for example. These glitch-utterances point to the very material substrates that support the virtual, and can thus act as an important reminder of the ecological consequences of digital archives, which, like archival practices, are tied to institutional agendas. Author Keywords: Archive , Curation , Digital Archive, Documentation, Multimedia performance, Performativity
Characterizing the demographic history and prion protein gene variation to infer susceptibility to chronic wasting disease in a naïve population of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus)
Assessments of the adaptive potential of natural populations are essential for understanding and predicting responses to environmental stressors like climate change and infectious disease. The range of stressors species face in a human-dominated landscape, often have contrasting effects. White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus, deer) are expanding in the northern part of their range following decreasing winter severity and increasing forage availability, caused by climate change. Chronic wasting disease (CWD), a prion disease affecting cervids, is likewise expanding and represents a major threat to deer and other cervids We obtained tissue samples from free-ranging deer across their native range in Ontario, Canada which has yet to detect CWD in wild populations of cervids. High throughput sequencing was used to assess neutral genomic variation and variation in the gene responsible for the protein that misfolds into prions when deer contract CWD, known as the PRNP gene. Neutral variation revealed a high number of rare alleles and no population structure, consistent with an expanding population of deer. Functional genetic variation revealed that the frequencies of variants associated to CWD susceptibility and disease progression were evenly distributed across the landscape and the frequencies were consistent with deer populations not infected with CWD. These findings suggest that an observable shift in PRNP allele frequencies likely coincides with the start of a novel CWD epidemic. Sustained surveillance of genomic and genetic variation can be a useful tool for CWD-free regions where deer are managed for ecological and economic benefits. Author Keywords: Canadian wildlife, population genetics, prion, PRNP, RADseq, ungulate
Rendering New Insights
The Upper Paleolithic sequence at Vale Boi, Portugal, represents an early example of resource intensification, for which evidence of both diet diversification and intensified utilization of faunal remains has been published. The current research project tests the hypothesis that bone grease rendering was occurring throughout the Upper Paleolithic sequence at Vale Boi. As there are various issues of equifinality which makes the identification of bone grease rendering challenging, data from experimental bone grease rendering studies were utilized. The resulting analysis demonstrated limited evidence in support of a sustained use of bone grease rendering during the Upper Paleolithic sequence. However, evidence suggested that alternate bone processing activities and discard behaviours may have been occurring at the site. This suggests that the dietary behaviours of the foragers at Vale Boi were more varied than previously hypothesized. Author Keywords: Archaeozoology, Bone Grease Rendering, Faunal Analysis, Iberia, Resource Intensification, Upper Paleolithic
Pathways to Innovation
Research and development activities conducted at universities and firms fuel economic growth and play a key role in the process of innovation. Specifically, prior research has investigated the widespread university-to-firm research development path and concluded that universities are better suited for early stage of research while firms are better positioned for later stages. This thesis aims to present a novel explanation for the pervasive university-to-firm research development path. The model developed uses game theory to visualize and analyze interactions between a firm and university under different strategies. The results reveal that as academic research signals knowledge it helps attract tuition paying students. Generating these tuition revenues is facilitated by university research discoveries, which, once published, a firm can build upon to make new innovative products. In an environment of weak intellectual property rights, moreover, the university-to-firm research development path enables firms to bypass the hefty costs that are involved in basic research activities. The model also provides a range of solution scenarios where a university and firm may find it viable to initiate a research line. Author Keywords: Game theory, Intellectual property rights, Nash equilibrium, Research and development, University to-firm research path
Biosynthesis and impact of cytokinins on growth of the oyster mushroom, Pleurotus ostreatus
The oyster mushroom, Pleurotus ostreatus, is one of the most widely cultivated edible basidiomycetes. It has gained increased attention for its economic, environmental, and medicinal properties. While a lot is known about cytokinins (CKs) and their actions at the molecular and cellular levels in plants, much less is known about the function of CKs in other kingdoms. Cytokinins, which have been detected in several fungal species, play a role in pathogenic attack against plants or during plant growth promotion by plant beneficial microbes; however, the role of CKs in fungal physiology, separate from plant associations remains largely unknown. This thesis focuses on the occurrence of fungal-derived CKs in P. ostreatus when grown in vitro as submerged or aerial mycelium. Cytokinin profiling by UHPLC-HRMS/MS revealed that P. ostreatus produces CKs and that the tRNA degradation pathway is the main source of these molecules. CK dynamics within fungal growth supported previous evidence, which suggested that tRNA degradation products have a role in the physiological development of fungi for which CKs act as fungal growth regulators. A second component of the thesis demonstrated that P. ostreatus responds to exogenous applications of aromatic and isoprenoid CKs and their effects were dependent on the dose and CK type. N6-Benzyladenine (BAP), Kinetin (KIN), N6-isopentenyladenine (iP), and trans-zeatin (tZ) bioassays revealed hormone-type responses (hormesis: biphasic response). At low doses, mycelium growth could be stimulated, whereas, at high doses only inhibitory effects were observed. This stimulation/inhibition was observed whether the measured response was an increase/decrease of aerial mycelium colony diameter, biomass accumulation or a change in mycelium morphology as compared to the controls. Results indicated there is potential to alter mycelium growth and development of P. ostreatus; thus, CKs may play the role of a “mycohormone” and may be specifically helpful for medicinal fungi by increasing growth and efficiency to produce many biologically active substances with valuable medical and environmental applications. Author Keywords: cytokinins, fungal-derived CKs, hormesis, mycelium, mycohormone, Pleurotus ostreatus
“Has anybody got my back?”
Drawing on pedagogies of care, queer pedagogy and Foucault’s concept of biopower, this critical narrative study of six women teachers at an Ontario school uses interview data to explore how teaching affects women’s bodies. Findings include the dominance of men in schools; the high rate of violence against teachers committed by students; participants’ unwillingness to show bodily discomfort to students; and the profound effect of motherhood on teaching practice. I call on educators and school administrators to embed care of students’ and teachers’ bodies into the practices of schooling. I also propose that instead of erasing teacher corporeality from classrooms, we allow students to care for teachers’ bodies as part of a healthy, reciprocal caring relationship, developing students’ and sustaining teachers’ capacity to care. Given the underrepresentation of women’s voices speaking about violence against teachers, this thesis is also a repository for women’s narrated stories of assault in Ontario schools. Author Keywords: biopedagogies, body, care, narrative inquiry, pedagogy, teacher
Trace Metal Geochemistry in Peatlands
Peatlands can be found widely across all latitudes and play a significant role in global cycles within the earth’s biosphere. The anoxic conditions in peatlands promotes the accumulation of organic matter through decreased rates of decomposition and the storage of certain elements, which have received contaminant loading over the course of human existence, with significant increases occurring during the period of industrialization. We assessed global patterns of metal enrichment in peatlands in 439 cores distributed across 5 continents and 21 countries and measured 35 elements by depth increments and by peatland type. Global patterns in enrichment factors (EF’s) were determined for all metals with the majority of metals being found to have a median EF < 2 indicating relatively minor enrichment. Principal component analysis indicated EF’s of 6 metals (Cd, Co, Cu, Ni, Pb, and Zn), 2 metalloids (As and Sb) and Se in the upper peat horizon had similar spatial patterns among peatlands and these elements had generally the highest EF’s with many cores exceeding EF >10 and some having EF values >100. Significant differences in EF’s were found for these 9 “pollution” elements by peatland type and to a greater extent by geographic region, with higher EF values typically occurring in Europe and North America. Enrichment factors for most elements exhibited weak but significant positive correlations with modelled [1850 – present] S deposition. Estimated pools for the “pollution metals” within the 0 - 40 cm depth varied considerably, with median global pools in peat ranging from 12.9 mg m-2 (Sb) to 439 mg m-2 (Zn) for these 9 metals. Climate changes presents a significant risk to global peatland geochemistry due to expected changes in hydrologic regimes, resulting in potentially increased metal mobility though drought-induced peatland acidification, with historic areas previously impacted by industrial activities presenting the greatest risk of metal release to downstream receiving environments. Using a case study, we examined the impact of simulated 30-day drought on pore water chemistry at six sites in a peatland complex in Elliot Lake Ontario that were historically impacted by uranium (U) mining activities. All sites responded similarly to simulated drought with pore water pH significantly declining. The decline in pore water pH was likely due to increasing sulphate (SO42-) concentrations, which accompanied large increases in Al, Ni, Cu, Pb, Zn, and U. Dissolved organic carbon (DOC) increased, which may further enhance Al, Cu, and U mobility as these metals are strongly complexed by organic acids. Metal partitioning (Kd) values could be significantly predicted by pH and DOC although the strength of the relationship varied considerably among sites. Multiple linear regression and the inclusion of SO4-2 improved predictions, indicating that declines in pH as a result of SO4-2 and H+ production primarily governs metals and U partitioning in peatland soils. The results from both studies show that metal enrichment in global peatlands is highly variable, with northern peatlands in industrialized areas presenting the greatest risk of metal release to downstream surface waters based on expected hydrologic impacts from climate change due to historical and on-going metal and S deposition. Author Keywords: Acidification, Climate Change, Drought, Enrichment Factors, Global, Peatlands


Search Our Digital Collections


Enabled Filters

  • (-) ≠ History

Filter Results


1973 - 2033
Specify date range: Show
Format: 2023/10/02