Graduate Theses & Dissertations


Dimensions of socio-cultural sustainability
Social and cultural sustainability is increasingly discussed in a variety of disciplines and in the growing body of sustainability literature. However there is a lack of clarity in how the concept is defined and poor understanding as to how it relates to other aspects of sustainability. To address this issue, this research explored current definitions and representations of socio-cultural sustainability in the literature and community perspectives on this topic through a case study in Hopedale, Nunatsiavut, Labrador. This research identifies gaps in current understandings of this concept, as well as differences between community and academic perspectives. Case study results emphasized the importance of strong social relationships, cultural identity, and connection to place as central elements of socio-cultural sustainability in a northern, Indigenous context. These findings are valuable for policy and decision makers, regarding approaches to community planning and supporting the social and cultural aspects of sustainability. Author Keywords: cultural sustainability, Hopedale, Inuit, Nunatsiavut, social sustainability, socio-cultural sustainability
Ice age fish in a warming world
In the face of climate change, the persistence of cold-adapted species and populations will depend on their capacity for evolutionary adaptation of physiological traits. As a cold-adapted Ice Age relict species, lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) are ideal for studying potential effects of climate change on coldwater fishes. I studied the thermal acclimation capacity and aerobic metabolism of age 2+ lake trout from four populations across four acclimation temperatures (8ºC, 11ºC, 15ºC, and 19ºC). One population had marginally significant higher active metabolic rate (AMR) and metabolic scope across all temperatures. There was no interpopulation variation for critical thermal maximum (CTM), standard metabolic rate (SMR), or thermal acclimation capacity. Acclimation resulted in a 3ºC increase in thermal tolerance and 3-fold increase in SMR for all populations. At 19ºC, SMR increased and AMR declined, resulting in sharply reduced metabolic scope for all populations. The limited intraspecific variation in thermal physiology suggests that climate change may threaten lake trout at the species rather than population level. Author Keywords: Climate Change, Lake Trout, Metabolic Rate, Salvelinus namaycush, Temperature, Thermal Acclimation
Speciation of Aluminum and Zinc in Three Streams of a Forested Catchment of the Boreal Zone
This study presents a detailed assessment of the chemical speciation of aluminum and zinc in three streams of a small, acid-sensitive forested catchment on the southern edge of the Precambrian Shield. Speciation analysis was achieved using an in-situ analytical technique known as Diffusive Gradient in Thin film (DGT) which measures labile metals, and a predictive computer algorithm (WHAM VI) which calculates metal species concentrations. Three types of DGT with different metal scavenging capabilities were used and a total of 11 deployments performed across four seasons. WHAM VI predictions showed that the organic fraction of aluminum was the main contributor to the dissolved concentrations in the main inflow stream (PC1) (~ 80 %) and the lake's outflow (PCO) (~ 75%); in the upland stream (PC1-08) the inorganic fraction contributed ~ 75%. For zinc the free ion was the single most important contributor to the dissolved concentration (< 90%) in all three streams. A comparative study of the DGT and WHAM methods showed an agreement between their inorganic concentrations during the spring season. Both methods indicate the greatest environmental impact for Al takes place during snow melt period in PCO and PC1-08 and in the summer for PC1. The greatest environmental impact for Zn predicted with WHAM VI, occurs during the spring in all three streams. Author Keywords: Aluminum, DGT, Metal speciation, WHAM, Zinc
Cytokinin Oxidase/Dehydrogenase (CKX) Gene Family in Soybeans (Glycine max)
Glycine max (soybean) is an economically important plant species that registers a relatively low yield/seed weight compared to other food and oil seed crops due to higher rates of flower and pod abortion. Alleviation of this abortion rate can be achieved by altering the sink strength of the reproductive organs of soybeans. Cytokinin (CK) plays a fundamental role in promoting growth of sink organ (flowers and seeds) by increasing the assimilate demand. Cytokinin oxidase/dehydrogenase (CKX) is an enzyme that catalyses the irreversible breakdown of active CKs and hence reduce the cytokinin content. The current thesis uncovers the members of CKX gene family in soybeans and the natural variations among CKX genes within soybean varieties with different yield characteristics. The identification of null variants of OsCKX2 that resulted in large yield increases by Ashikari et al. (2005) provided a rationale for current thesis. The soybean CKX genes along with the ones from Arabidopsis, Rice and Maize were used to construct a phylogenetic tree. Using comparative phylogeny, protein properties and bioinformatic programs, the potential effect of the identified natural variations on soybean yield was predicted. Five genes among the seventeen soybean CKXs identified, showed polymorphisms. One of the natural variations, A159G, in the gene GmCKX16 occurred close to the active site of the protein and was predicted to affect the activity of enzyme leading to higher accumulation of CKs and hence increased seed weight. Use of such natural variations in marker assisted breeding could lead to the development of higher yielding soybean varieties. Author Keywords: CKX, Cytokinins, Seed weight, Seed Yield, SNPs, Soybeans
Molecular Dynamics Simulations of Aqueous and Confined Systems Relevant to the Supercritical Water Cooled Nuclear Reactor
Supercritical water (SCW) is the intended heat transfer fluid and potential neutron moderator in the proposed GEN-IV Supercritical Water Cooled Reactor (SCWR). The oxidative environment poses challenges in choosing appropriate design materials, and the behaviour of SCW within crevices of the passivation layer is needed for developing a corrosion control strategy to minimize corrosion. Molecular Dynamics simulations have been employed to obtain diffusion coefficients, coordination number and surface density characteristics, of water and chloride in nanometer-spaced iron hydroxide surfaces. Diffusion models for hydrazine are evaluated along with hydration data. Results demonstrate that water is more likely to accumulate on the surface at low density conditions. The effect of confinement on the water structure diminishes as the gap size increases. The diffusion coefficient of chloride decreases with larger surface spacing. Clustering of water at the surface implies that the SCWR will be most susceptible to pitting corrosion and stress corrosion cracking. Author Keywords: Confinement, Diffusion, Hydration, MD Simulations, Supercritcal Water
Unexpected Journeys
The last two decades have seen thousands of Canadian university graduates go to teach English in places such as China, South Korea, and Japan. In this thesis, drawing on Clandinin and Connelly's concept of narrative inquiry, I situate the stories I heard about the experiences of 15 teachers who taught English as a Second Language in South Korea between 2003 and 2012. While my interviewees expressed intrinsically personal reasons for taking on such temporary professional employment, they also acknowledged that they felt somewhat forced to do so by an increasingly bleak job market at home. I position their decisions in the neoliberal employment context in Canada over the past two decades, highlighting the personal and socioeconomic factors that influenced them to take up such opportunities. Additionally, I examine how these experiences shifted their views of Canada and what it meant to be Canadian, both while they were away and upon their return home by revealing the contradictions between expectation and the lived realities of young Canadians. These contradictions unmask the deceptive nature of dominant narratives in Canadian society. Author Keywords: Canadian Identity, Canadian Job Market, Narrative, Neoliberalism, Teaching Abroad
The objective of this thesis was to assess the influence of anthropogenic sulphur (S) and nitrogen (N) deposition, and harvesting on soil acidity and calcium (Ca2+), magnesium (Mg2+), potassium (K+) and N soil pools in plantation forest soils in Ireland. The response to reductions in anthropogenic S deposition was assessed using temporal trends in soil solution chemistry at two long-term monitoring plots--one on a blanket peat, the other on a peaty podzol. At the peat site, there was little evidence of a response to reductions in throughfall non marine sulphate (nmSO42-) and acidity; soil water acidity was determined by organic acids. In addition, temporal variation in soil water did not respond to that in throughfall. In the podzol, reductions in anthropogenic S and H+ deposition led to a significant improvement in soil water chemistry at 75 cm; pH increased and total aluminum (Altot) concentrations declined. The impact of harvest scenarios on exchangeable Ca2+, Mg2+ and K+ pools was assessed using input-output budgets at 40 sites (30 spruce, 10 pine). Harvest scenarios were stem-only harvest (SOH), stem plus branch harvest (SBH) and stem, branch and needle harvest (whole-tree harvesting; WTH). Average K+ and Mg2+ budgets were positive under these scenarios. However, exchangeable K+ pools were small and due to uncertainty in K+ budgets, could be depleted within one rotation. Average Ca2+ budgets for spruce were balanced under SOH, but negative under SBH and WTH. Nitrogen deposition was high, between 5 and 19 kg N ha-1 yr-1, but was balanced by N removal in SOH. However, N budgets were under SBH and WTH, indicating that these harvesting methods would lead to depletion of soil N over the long-term. Finally, monitoring of N cycling at a spruce plot indicated that N deposition was contributing to large NO3- leaching, and as such the site was N saturated. However, N cycling did not fit the criteria of the N saturation hypothesis; instead leaching was directly related to N deposition and supported the model of kinetic N saturation. Author Keywords: acidic deposition, base cations, input-output budgets, Ireland, nitrogen, whole-tree harvesting
Evaluating the Effects of Habitat Loss and Fragmentation on Canada Lynx
Current major issues in conservation biology include habitat loss, fragmentation and population over-exploitation. Animals can respond to landscape change through behavioural flexibility, allowing individuals to persist in disturbed landscapes. Individual behaviour has only recently been explicitly included in population models. Carnivores may be sensitive to changing landscapes due to their wide-ranging behaviour, low densities and reproductive rates. Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis) is a primary predator of snowshoe hares (Lepus americanus). Both species range throughout the boreal forests of North America, however lynx are declining in the southern range periphery. In this dissertation, I developed new insights into the effects of habitat loss and fragmentation on lynx. In Chapter 2, I created a habitat suitability model for lynx in Ontario and examined occurrence patterns across 2 regions to determine if habitat selection is flexible when different amounts of habitat are available. Although lynx avoided areas with <30% suitable habitat where suitable land cover is abundant, I found that they have flexible habitat selection patterns where suitable land cover is rare and occurred in low habitat areas. In Chapter 3, I investigated the effects of dispersal plasticity on occupancy patterns using a spatially explicit individual-based model. I showed that flexible dispersers, capable of crossing inhospitable matrix, had higher densities and a lower risk of patch extinction. In contrast, inflexible dispersers (unable to cross inhospitable matrix), were most limited by landscape connectivity, resulting in a high extinction risk in isolated patches. I developed three predictions to be explored with empirical data; (1) dispersal plasticity affects estimates of functional connectivity; (2) variation in dispersal behaviour increases the resilience of patchy populations; and (3) dispersal behaviour promotes non-random distribution of phenotypes. Finally, in Chapter 4, I examined the consequences of anthropogenic harvest on naturally cycling populations. I found that harvest mortality can exacerbate the effects of habitat fragmentation, especially when lynx densities are low. Dynamic harvest regimes maintained lynx densities and cycle dynamics while reducing the risk of population extinction. These results suggest that lynx display some flexibility to changing landscapes and that the metapopulation structure is more resilient to increasing habitat loss and fragmentation than previously understood. Future studies should focus on determining a threshold of connectivity necessary for population persistence and examining the effects of habitat loss on the fecundity of lynx. Author Keywords: Fluctuating Populations, Habitat Fragmentation, Landscape Ecology, Occupancy Dynamics, Population Ecology, Spatially Explicit Population Models
Return to "The Child"
Despite - or perhaps because of - her popularity as a best-selling poet, the work of Mary Oliver has been minimized and marginalized within the academy. Nevertheless, Oliver's readership is an expansive and devout one made up of a wired yet insular North American public in search of reconnecting with the natural world. I propose that through Oliver's poetry readers access the affective, sensory responses to nature first encountered during childhood. This return to "the child" is deliberately used by various publics to share communal goals. Drawing from such frameworks as ecocritical and trauma theory, I explore environmental memory, ecstatic places, and the sensuousness of nature and language to consider ways in which diverse publics claim and use Oliver's work. I provide a close reading of selections of Oliver's poems to argue that her work's appeal speaks to a revived perception of the necessity of nature to the human spirit Author Keywords: Attentiveness, Childhood, Language, Mary Oliver, Nature Poetry, Senses
This project is a Heideggerian critique of the subject/object metaphysic presupposed in the Representationalist claim that the world is made intelligible solely in virtue of internal states that bear representations. It is comprised of two sections. The first is a critique of the ontological primacy of representational-intentionality/action in which I argue that where Brentano, Husserl, and Searle have erred is not in their model of intentionality/action, but in assigning a priori status to a derivative mode of being. The second is a critique of representation-driven artificial intelligence whereby I argue that belief-fixation and action selection that is context-dependent produces an insurmountable problem that prevents the parsing of context-specifying relevance; the corollary being that the world is not disclosed despite that system having a structurally isomorphic internal constitution to that which is purported by the Representationalist to obtain in human beings. With the issue thus framed, I conclude by arguing that this problem is dissolved within a Heideggerian phenomenological framework. Author Keywords: Artificial Intelligence, Heidegger, Phenomenology, Representationalism, Skillful Coping, The Frame Problem
Not In Their Classrooms
This dissertation examines the rise of teachers' union militancy in Ontario through a case study of the Federation of Women Teachers' Associations of Ontario (FWTAO) and the Ontario Public School Teachers' Federation (OPSTF) between 1970 and their amalgamation into the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO) in 1998. It uses the archival records of the two unions, relevant legislation, media records, personal collections, and interviews to explore how these two professional organizations became politicized, militant labour unions able to engage with the state and the trustees of boards of education. The Introduction situates the public education project within nation building in a capitalist-democracy and outlines the theoretical influences informing the dissertation. Chapter 1 follows the two unions during the 1970s as they developed into labour unions. The 18 December 1973 one-day, province-wide, political strike achieved the right to strike and established a unique labour regime for teachers. Chapter 2 examines the advance of the unions during the 1980s as they developed labour militancy. At the same time, neo-liberalism was ascending and the post-war social accord was coming to an end resulting in attacks on unions and cuts to social programs. How gender affected the elementary teachers' unions between 1970 and 1990 is developed in Chapter 3. The FWTAO campaigned for women's equality on a platform of liberal feminism while the OPSTF followed a unionist path in an effort to convince women teachers to join them. Chapter 4 scrutinizes the effect of neo-liberal ideology on education during the 1990-1995 Bob Rae NDP government and the impact the Social Contract had on teachers. The development of teacher resistance to the neo-liberal state is explored in Chapter 5. Alliances with other labour organizations during the Days of Action campaign culminated in a two-week, province-wide strike in the fall of 1997 against the Mike Harris Conservative government. The Conclusion brings together the findings of the dissertation and suggests future research exploring teacher union strength in the Canadian context. Author Keywords: Federation of Women Teachers' Associations of Ontario; FWTAO, neoliberalism, Ontario Public School Teachers' Federation; OPSTF, teachers' strikes, teachers' unions, women's union
(un)Natural Provocation
My thesis examines anthropomorphism and many avenues in which humans represent nonhumans to evaluate their own lives. Using Isabella Rossellini's Green Porno webseries, a collection of two-minute films starring Rossellini as a multitude of nonhumans with costumes transforming her into nonhuman, I posit that a new form of anthropomorphism -- one that values the nonhuman in all his or her nonhumanity -- is emerging in contemporary media. Rossellini describes the mating, seduction, and maternal instincts of these nonhumans, regularly drawing parallels between nonhuman and human behavior and uncovering crucial intersections in femininity, masculinity, queer theory, and abjection. In more recent films, I see Rossellini performing certain nonhumans to critique particular characteristics of Western human society and incredulously addressing the human viewer as a member of a species that might not be as high in the caste system of living beings as he or she is led to believe. In turning this sense of grotesque Otherness onto the human, I identify Rossellini as engaging in counterabjection, or the reversal of extreme degradation often projected upon nonhuman bodies by humans. Author Keywords: abjection, animal studies, nonhuman, queer studies


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