Graduate Theses & Dissertations

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Mixed methods approaches in marine mammal science
This thesis explored the contribution of mixed methods approaches to marine mammal science through the use of concurrent and sequential designs to study distribution and feeding ecology of bowhead whales (Balaena mysticetus) in the Arctic region of Nunavik, Quebec, Canada. The study combines Inuit knowledge (IK), collected through semi-directed interviews with Inuit harvesters, and analyses of stable isotopes and trace elements (SI/TE) in baleen plates. A systematic literature review found that mixed methods are increasingly used in marine mammal ecology studies in remote locations, yet are still relatively rare and face a number of challenges. Both IK and SI/TE, indicated that bowhead whales have a seasonal pattern in their distribution and feeding ecology. They are most commonly present in productive nearshore areas in summertime, feeding in areas of great prey diversity, and moving to offshore areas in winter to fast. Mixed methods approaches used in this case study enabled the collection of complementary knowledge about bowhead whale ecology important for local management in a changing climate. This study also shows the value of mixed methods approaches for future marine mammal studies in Nunavik and elsewhere. Author Keywords: Arctic, bowhead whale, distribution, feeding ecology, mixed methods, traditional ecological knowledge
Modelling Submerged Coastal Environments
Built upon remote sensing and GIS littoral zone characterization methodologies of the past decade, a series of loosely coupled models aimed to test, compare and synthesize multi-beam SONAR (MBES), Airborne LiDAR Bathymetry (ALB), and satellite based optical data sets in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Canada, eco-region. Bathymetry and relative intensity metrics for the MBES and ALB data sets were run through a quantitative and qualitative comparison, which included outputs from the Benthic Terrain Modeller (BTM) tool. Substrate classification based on relative intensities of respective data sets and textural indices generated using grey level co-occurrence matrices (GLCM) were investigated. A spatial modelling framework built in ArcGISTM for the derivation of bathymetric data sets from optical satellite imagery was also tested for proof of concept and validation. Where possible, efficiencies and semi-automation for repeatable testing was achieved using ArcGISTM ModelBuilder. The findings from this study could assist future decision makers in the field of coastal management and hydrographic studies. Keywords: Seafloor terrain characterization, Benthic Terrain Modeller (BTM), Multi-beam SONAR, Airborne LiDAR Bathymetry, Satellite Derived Bathymetry, ArcGISTM ModelBuilder, Textural analysis, Substrate classification Author Keywords:
SPAF-network with Saturating Pretraining Neurons
In this work, various aspects of neural networks, pre-trained with denoising autoencoders (DAE) are explored. To saturate neurons more quickly for feature learning in DAE, an activation function that offers higher gradients is introduced. Moreover, the introduction of sparsity functions applied to the hidden layer representations is studied. More importantly, a technique that swaps the activation functions of fully trained DAE to logistic functions is studied, networks trained using this technique are reffered to as SPAF-networks. For evaluation, the popular MNIST dataset as well as all \(3\) sub-datasets of the Chars74k dataset are used for classification purposes. The SPAF-network is also analyzed for the features it learns with a logistic, ReLU and a custom activation function. Lastly future roadmap is proposed for enhancements to the SPAF-network. Author Keywords: Artificial Neural Network, AutoEncoder, Machine Learning, Neural Networks, SPAF network, Unsupervised Learning
Identifying Indigenous Determinants of Health
The primary research question of this study was to explore the key factors influencing Indigenous health through an investigation of Inuit health in Nunavik. This research used an exploratory sequential mixed-methods design. The qualitative phase of this project employed interviews with Inuit health experts in Nunavik. The quantitative phase involved an analysis of the regional Inuit health dataset to identify predictors of Inuit self-rated health. Qualitative results identified a number of key social, cultural, environmental, and individual determinants of health in the region. Analysis of the quantitative data identified significant associations between variables such as age, physical activity, and peacefulness of the community and self-rated health. Considered in combination, the qualitative and quantitative results of this study indicate the potential value of determinants such as food security, education, and connection to land as important to Indigenous health. The analysis demonstrates that our understanding of health in an Indigenous context has to expand to include determinants beyond physical health. Author Keywords: determinants of health, Indigenous, Inuit, Nunavik, self-rated health
Test for Pluralism
This study intervenes into the debate regarding the definition of pluralism in ecological economics and how that definition affects various characterizations of ecological economics. The methodological pluralist camp argue for the inclusion of neoclassical economics into the ecological economics fold, while the critical pluralist camp argue against the inclusion of neoclassical economics. This study provides a critical exposition of the preanalytical visions of neoclassical and ecological economics that includes their respective ontological and epistemological foundations. Those foundations are critically scrutinized for coherence, realism and relevance, and their respective ability to analyze complex systems. It is argued that combining neoclassical and ecological economics renders ecological economics incoherent, and that neoclassical economics fails the test of realism, and its conceptual apparatus is only capable of analyzing simple systems. It is also argued that ecological economics is coherent, passes the test of realism because it is ontologically, socio-historically, and descriptively realistic, and the conceptual apparatus of institutionalist ecological economics incorporates complex systems. It is concluded that practitioners of ecological economics ought to reject and jettison neoclassical economics from their fold and to develop closer connections to and alliances with practitioners of heterodox economics. Keywords: Ecological Economics, Ontology, Coherence, Realism, Systems Thinking. Author Keywords: Coherence, Ecological Economics, Ontology, Systems Thinking
Engaging the Unwritten Text
This study is an attempt to look at how orality plays a role in modern society to move people to action in a social engineering process. By examining the theories for the formation of publics as outlined by Jurgen Habermas and Michael Warner, I argue for the existence of an oral public and further show that it can be engineered with some of the tools provided. This theoretical foundation provides a pathway for a thorough examination of orality as a tool for social engineering and shows how the practices moved the people in the past. In this study, I posit that the oral traditions are still alive and well in modern times and still function as a tool for moving people to social action. To achieve this, orality makes use of popular culture. This study examines elements of popular culture with a view to unearthing the presence of oral modes and how they are still carrying on the same function of social engineering in a modern society. This study concludes by positioning orality as a relevant tool for social engineering in modern Nigerian society and affirms that it is still relevant in the areas of politics, literature and cultural productions with possibilities yet untapped in the area of digital technology. Author Keywords: Nigeria, Orality, Popular culture, Publics, Public Sphere, Social Engineering
Novel Silica Sol-Gel Passive Sampler for Mercury Monitoring in Aqueous Systems
A novel passive sampler for mercury monitoring was prepared using organosilica sol-gel materials. It comprises a binding layer with thiol groups for mercury complexation and a porous diffusive layer through which mercury can diffuse and arrive at the binding layer. Our study demonstrated that this new sampler follows the principle of passive sampling. The mass of mercury accumulated in the binding layer depends linearly on the mercury concentration in solution, the sampling rate and the exposure time. A typical sol-gel sampler is characterized by a diffusive layer of 1.2 &mum, in which mercury ions diffuse with a coefficient of D = 0.09~10-6 cm2/s. The capacity for mercury uptake is approximately 0.64 &mug/cm2. Mercury diffusion and binding in the passive sampler are independent of the type of mercury-chloride complex. Its sampling rate increases with increasing water turbulence and decreases with increasing DOM amount. The field trial of sol-gel sampler in Miller Creek shows the concentration gained from the sol-gel passive sampler is slightly lower than that from the spot sampling. Author Keywords:
Scarring, sex assignment, and sex-specific sociality of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins (Sousa chinensis) in the Pearl River Estuary and eastern Taiwan Strait
The Pearl River Estuary (PRE) and eastern Taiwan Strait (ETS) populations of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins (Sousa chinensis) contain ~600 and 100 catalogued individuals, respectively. Population demography is important for conservation actions but few animals have been sexed by conventional methods. Longitudinal analysis of tooth-rake scars on dorsal fins showed scars disappear within 7 months; sexing adults by scarring is likely not impacted by juvenile scarring. Using dorsal fin photographs, sex assigned for 87% of catalogued PRE adults (n=300) and for 93% of ETS adults (n=60), using scars hypothesized from male-male competition, was in concordance with sex assigned by DNA, calf association, and ventral photographs. Scarring was higher in presumed males than females and in PRE females than ETS females. Female:male sex ratios were 3:2 (PRE) and 2:1 (ETS), though this likely results from biases in photo-identification methods. Social analysis with presumed sexes showed strong female-female associations in both populations but stronger female-male and male-male associations in PRE. These results support sex differentiation by scarring, which was a non-invasive approach, and sex assignment for many PRE and ETS individuals. Author Keywords: Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins, photo-identification, scarring, sex differentiation, sexes, social structure
Influence of nitrogen deposition on the vegetation community of Irish oak woodlands
In this study, the influence of N deposition on the vegetation community of semi-natural oak woodlands in Ireland was assessed through national and regional scale analysis of forest plot data. At both scales, Canonical Correspondence Analysis suggested that N deposition was a predictor of community composition, although site-specific soil characteristics were the strongest predictors of the species dataset. Threshold Indicator Taxon Analysis suggested that the vegetation community demonstrated the most change at 13.2 kg N ha-1 yr-1. While this change point falls within the current recommended critical load range for nutrient nitrogen for acidophilous oak dominated woodlands (10 to 15 kg N ha-1 yr-1), it is notable that 23% of species recorded had individual change points below this range, and could potentially be lost from this habitat if deposition increases. The results from this study suggest that, for acidophilous oak woodlands, habitat conservation policies should be unified with N emission reduction policies. Author Keywords: community composition, critical load, nitrogen depositioin, oak woodland, species richness, Taxon Indicator Threshold Analysis
Ontario's Aboriginal Education Strategy
Since 2007, Aboriginal education initiatives in Ontario have been supported by the Aboriginal Education Strategy (Strategy) under provincial Liberal governments. Using a comparative analysis, this thesis seeks to identify how the Strategy supports and/or does not support components of critical pedagogy to promote transformational learning for all students in Ontario's publicly funded schools. A brief historical timeline of Aboriginal education in Canada and the current situation of educational attainment for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples provides context for the thesis. Through an examination of policy documents and resources related to the Strategy, I identify both strengths and areas for improvement in the Strategy to meet expectations of critical pedagogy. Finally, I suggest recommendations to improve the Strategy in order to achieve its potential for the benefit of all students in Ontario's public schools. Author Keywords: Aboriginal students, Critical pedagogy, Education, Ontario, Policy
Heavy Rydberg Photo-dissociation Cross-section Calculations and Experimental Progress Towards Cold Collisions in Lithium
This thesis is divided into two parts, each of which supports constructing and using a lithium magneto-optical trap for cold collision studies: Part I One outgoing channel of interest from cold collisions is the production of ion pairs. We describe an effective method for calculating bound-to-continuum cross-sections for charged binary systems by examining transitions to states above the binding energy that become bound when the system is placed within an infinite spherical well. This approach is verified for ionization of a hydrogen atom, and is then applied to the heavy Rydberg system Li+...I-. Part II A wavemeter previously built in the lab is redesigned for increased reliability and ease of use by replacing the optical hardware with a rocker system, which can be aligned in mere minutes rather than half a day as was previously the case. The new wavemeter has been tested through saturated absorption spectroscopy of lithium. Author Keywords: cross-section, dissociation, lithium, magneto-optical trap, Michelson, wavemeter
HABITAT SELECTION AND LIFE-HISTORY TRAITS OF BREEDING BIRDS IN THE BOREAL-TUNDRA ECOTONE, WITH SPECIAL ATTENTION TO THE AMERICAN ROBIN (TURDUS MIGRATORIUS)
I investigated biodiversity of birds and vegetation associations along the boreal-tundra ecotone in Ivvavik National Park, Yukon Territory, and breeding adaptations used by American Robins (Turdus migratorius) at high latitudes. Twenty bird species were detected over three years using point-count surveys. Densities of American Robin, Dark-eyed Juncos (Junco hyemalis), and Yellow-rumped Warbler (Dendroica coronata) had positive relationships with tree and shrub density, whereas density of White-crowned Sparrows (Zonotrichia leucophrys) was negatively related to tree density. American Robins at this latitude raised only one brood, but females laid slightly larger clutches, the young fledged earlier, and pairs experienced higher nest-success than American Robins at more southerly latitudes. American Robins selected nest sites with high vegetation volume, at both the nest-site, and the nest-patch. This study is important for the first description of the bird community at this high latitude location, and describing how a species at the northern limit of the boreal forest has adapted to living with short-breeding seasons. Author Keywords: American Robin, Ivvavik National Park, Life History, Nest-stie selection, Northern limit

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Format: 2024/05/18