Graduate Theses & Dissertations


Fall Migratory Behaviour and Cross-seasonal Interactions in Semipalmated Plovers (Charadrius semipalmatus) Breeding in the Hudson Bay Lowlands, Canada
I used the Motus Wildlife Tracking System to monitor the fall migration behaviour and assess the underlying drivers of migration strategy in a small shorebird, the Semipalmated Plover (Charadrius semipalmatus), breeding at two subarctic sites: Churchill, Manitoba and Burntpoint Creek, Ontario, Canada. Semipalmated Plovers from both sites departed breeding areas between mid-July and early August, with females preceding males and failed breeders preceding successful breeders. Migrants showed between and within-population variation in migration behaviour, though birds from both sites tended to follow interior or coastal routes and congregated in three major stopover regions along the mid-Atlantic coast of North America. I found that later-departing birds had initial flight tracks oriented more toward the south, faster overall ground speeds, were less likely to stopover in North America, and stopped at lower latitudes, suggesting that later-departing individuals use aspects of a time-minimizing strategy on fall migration. My findings emphasize the importance of the mid-Atlantic coast for Semipalmated Plovers and establish connectivity between sites used during breeding and migration. Author Keywords: Breeding, Migration, Motus, Semipalmated Plover, Shorebird, Stopover
Landscape and its Discontents - Art and Ruins, a Critical Topography in Word and Image
From Altdorfer and Poussin to Cézanne, Monet and to the Group of Seven, landscape has been a focal point of artistic inspiration for most of what we think of as modern art history. In contemporary times the concept and representation of landscape has shifted from visions of an idealized and exalted place to notions of the landscape as a ruins and site of ecological disaster. Because of this seismic inversion, artists are no longer solely making visual the beauty and serenity of nature but are rather finding novel ways of problematizing it and incorporating themes of its eventual disappearance, its inescapable transformation into ruins. The following dissertation puts forward a critical topographical study of three sites and three different artists who deal with this new found relationship to landscape. The three landscapes are located in different parts of the world and from different artistic contexts yet showing that they retain an aesthetic and conceptual character that links them together is part of the work of the dissertation. The first site is El Sol del Membrillo, a film by Víctor Erice in which the filmmaker chronicles painter Antonio Lopez García’s attempts to paint the ephemeral, he attempts to paint that which is in the act of disappearing. The second site is The Mill St Cemetery in Cambridge, England where artist Gordon Young has contributed a work of public art titled Bird Stones that blurs the line between landscape, sculpture, monument and artwork. The third and final site is Tommy Thompson Park in Toronto, Canada that presents itself as an ecology park of retrieval, recovery and as a public art space. My investigation of this last regional research site is offered both as a chapter and as a videography about wilderness as wasteland. Author Keywords: Aesthetics, Anthropocene, Art, Cinema, El Sol del Membrillo, Toronto: The Leslie Spit
Behavioural ecology and population dynamics of freshwater turtles in a semi-urban landscape at their northern range limit
Species are faced with a variety of challenges in the environment, including natural challenges, such as variability in ambient temperature, and anthropogenic threats, such as habitat transformation associated with urbanisation. Understanding how animals respond to these kinds of challenges can advance the field of behavioural ecology and guide management decisions for wild species. Yet, we still have limited understanding of the extent of natural and human-caused impacts on animal behaviour and population dynamics, and lack robust assessment of behaviour in free-ranging animals. Using novel miniaturised biologging technologies, I characterised and validated behaviour in two freshwater turtle species: Blanding’s turtles (Emydoidea blandingii) and Painted turtles (Chrysemys picta). Further, I investigated how these two ectothermic species navigate a thermally heterogeneous landscape near their northern range limit, by comparing selected and available ambient temperatures. I showed that turtles preferred locations that were, on average, warmer and less variable in temperature than the available environment, and that this thermal sensitivity was greatest early in the year, and at fine spatial scales that likely matched the species' perception of the environment. Lastly, I assessed whether urban development was compatible with long-term viability of a Blanding’s turtle population, by monitoring habitat change and turtle survival over one decade of ongoing residential and road development. I found that Blanding’s turtle habitat quantity and connectivity declined in the area, which coincided with high road mortality and severe declines in turtle survival and population size, especially in adult females. I concluded that urban development and current road mortality rates are incompatible with the long-term viability of this at-risk turtle population. Overall, my findings demonstrate the importance of variation in the thermal environment and anthropogenic impacts on habitat in shaping the behaviour and population dynamics of this species-at-risk. Author Keywords: animal behaviour, biologging, ectotherms, habitat selection, temperature, urbanisation
Interactome study of the Giardia intestinalis nuclear localized cytochrome b5
Giardia intestinalis is a waterborne enteric parasite that lacks mitochondria and the capacity for heme biosynthesis. Despite this, Giardia encodes several heme proteins, including four cytochrome b5 isotypes (gCYTB5-I – IV) of unknown function. The aim of this thesis is to gain insight into the function of the Giardia cytochrome b5 isotype III (gCYTB5-III) that is found in the nucleus, as first reported by our laboratory using immunofluorescence microscopy experiments with an isotype-III specific antibody. Nuclear localization of isotype-III is supported by two of my experiments: i) immunoblot analysis of crude cytoplasmic and nuclear enriched fractions of Giardia trophozoites; ii) association of gCYTB5-III with the insoluble fraction of Giardia lysates crosslinked with formaldehyde is reversed by DNase I treatment. To gain an understanding of the possible roles of gCYTB5-III, I performed immunoprecipitation (IP) experiments on lysates from Giardia trophozoites to identify its protein partners. Mass spectroscopy analysis of the immunoprecipitate identified proteins localized to the nucleus (RNA polymerase, DNA topoisomerase, histones, and histone modifying enzymes). Intriguingly, over 40% of the known mitosomal proteome, which functions in iron-sulfur (Fe-S) cluster assembly was also associated with gCYTB5-III. One of these proteins, the flavoenzyme GiOR-1, has been shown to mediate electron transfer from NADPH to recombinant gCYTB5-III. These IP results provide evidence that GiOR-1 and gCYTB5-III interact in vivo, and furthermore, suggest that some proteins in the mitosome could interact with those in the nucleus. I also found that DNA stress, caused by low concentrations of formaldehyde (0.1 – 0.2%) resulted in the increased expression of gCYTB5-III. Collectively these findings suggest a role of gCYTB5-III in Giardia's response to DNA stress and perhaps the formation of Fe/S clusters. Author Keywords: cluster, cytochrome, heme, iron, mitosome, nuclear
Story is Medicine
This is a story within a story that spans over a hundred years and four generations. It takes the reader from war-torn Russia during a famine to the urban streets of Toronto and then to the Canadian North. The story is a memoirette, or a ‘not quite long enough, but almost a memoir’ of a mother’s journey navigating life after her son discloses his addiction to Fentanyl. The mother finds little if any support from family, friends or conventional support programs and instead turns to her oma’s harrowing stories of survival as a source of knowledge, strength and medicine. The analysis explores storytelling as a legitimate method of learning, pedagogy and research. It explores the concept of story as medicine through Etuaptmumk. A Two-Eyed Seeing framework created by Mi’kmaq elders in 2004 (Sylliboy, Latimer, Marshall & McLeod, 2009). The power of the narrative is discussed through ‘Western’ and ‘Indigenous’ lenses. Author Keywords: addiction, Etuaptmumk, Fentanyl, story as medicine, story as pedagogy, Two-Eyed Seeing
Racism in Argentina and the Blackness Problem. The Change in Perception of Afro-Descendants in Buenos Aires and the New Dimensions of Blackness in Argentina (1880-1930)
This thesis examines racism in Argentina between 1880 and 1930. The governing elite's efforts to whiten the Argentine population at the end of the nineteenth century led to the erasure and discrimination of anyone who did not have Caucasian features: Afro-descendants, mulattos, mestizos, and creoles. However, in the 1930s, whitening policies proved to have limited success. On the one hand, Afro-descendants were praised by the middle and lower classes of Buenos Aires; on the other hand, the Great Depression's effects made it clear that the Argentine population was made up of an ethnic mixture that had much darker skin tones than the whitening elite preferred. This work will show how the impact of the 1930s global crisis, as well as the enthusiasm for Afro-descendants, reinforced the racism that still existed, and will demonstrate that blackness became more than a racial but also a class connotation. Author Keywords: Afro-descendants press, Blackness in Argentina, Buenos Aires Press, Cultural Constructions, Popular Blackness, Racial Identity
Retrograde Amnesia of Fear Memories Following Pentylenetetrazol Kindling
Memories pertaining to fearful events are some of the most salient and long-lasting memories, as they are critical to the survival of an organism. Seizures induce aberrant changes within temporal lobe and limbic brain structures that are critical for supporting fear memories. Seizures can occur at any time; therefore, it is imperative that research address how seizures impact previously learned information. The present series of experiments demonstrate that pentylenetetrazol-kindling induces retention deficits of previously acquired context fear memories in male rats. Kindling induced subsequent fear learning deficits but did not impact spatial learning. Additionally, following kindling, volumetric increase was observed within the hippocampal subfield CA3, as well as increased neural activation within the hippocampal subfield CA1. The results of this work suggests that chronic seizures can alter the function of neural networks important for supporting and retrieving previously acquired memories. Author Keywords: amygdala, anterograde amnesia, context fear conditioning, hippocampus, retrograde amnesia, seizures
Determinants of Deviance
Background: Researchers have provided evidence that attachment may be independently linked to early adversity and criminal behaviour. In this study, I examined the combined associations among these variables in a student and community sample. Method: The first study consisted of undergraduate students (n = 590) who completed surveys to assess early adversity (Felitti, et al., 1988), attachment (Scharfe, 2016), and criminal behaviours. Participants were grouped based on their reports of adverse experiences and engagement in criminal behaviour. The second study was a replication of the first using a community sample (n = 294). Results: My hypotheses were partially supported, and my findings were consistent across Study 1 and Study 2. As I expected, there was a significant main effect for adversity when examining the mean scores of the attachment representations for attachment to mothers (Study 1 F (16, 1763.402) = 3.61, p < .001; Study 2 (F (16, 849.942) = 2.377, p = .002) and attachment to fathers (Study 1 F (16, 1763.402) = 4. 349, p < .001; Study 2 (F (16, 840.776) = 3.067 p < .001)). From examining the means, I concluded that participants who reported greater adversity reported higher insecure-avoidant and lower secure attachment to mothers and fathers. There were no significant main effects for criminal behaviour or significant interaction effects. Impact: To date, no study has explored all three variables explicitly. My findings are able to highlight the critical importance of secure attachment relationships and add further comprehension to exploring factors associated to criminal behaviour. Author Keywords: Attachment, Criminal Behaviour, Early Adversity
Using Fluorescent Carbon Dots for Biosensing Applications of Amino Acids
Amino acids make up proteins, which are the building blocks of life. A balance of amino acids is needed to maintain a healthy state. Tyrosine (Tyr) is synthesized from the metabolism of phenylalanine, which is an essential amino acid, meaning it can only be obtained from the diet. It is related to many metabolic and neurodegenerative diseases. Tyr can undergo post-translational modifications such as phosphorylation and nitration, which are implicated in cancer and nitrative stress, respectively. Although there are many methods to detect Tyr and its analogues, phosphotyrosine (pTyr) and nitrotyrosine (nTyr), these methods are time-consuming, involve expensive instruments and involve tedious process. This research proposes a new type of nanomaterials, carbon dots (CDs), to detect these amnio acids. Data indicate that CDs can be used to detect nTyr with a limit of detection of 34 μM in the linear range of 20 - 105 μM. The amenability of CD-nTyr assay was also tested in various biological matrices and biological molecules and was shown to be sensitive to nTyr. Nitration of Tyr was carried out in the presence of sodium nitrite and hydrogen peroxide catalyzed by either Cu(II) or Fe(III) to mimic biological reactions and CDs were tested as both inhibitors and indicators of Tyr nitration. Although CDs did not inhibit the nitration reaction of Tyr, they did not serve as indicators of Tyr nitration due to the quenching of CDs by the nitrating agents. This shows the importance of using CDs to detect nTyr and further use it for biological applications to detect diseased states. Author Keywords: amino acids, carbon dots, nanomaterials, sensor, spectroscopy, tyrosine
How Did We Get Here? Exploring Socio-Political Influences in Canadian Penitentiaries
This thesis examines how political and social issues have molded and alteredCanada’s penal system since the nineteenth-century. From early Anglo-Canadian society to Joseph Archambault’s 1938 Report of the Royal Commission to Investigate the Penal System of Canada, the Canadian penal system waxed and waned against social and political tides. As rehabilitative justice took hold throughout the developed world in the early twentieth century, Canada attempted to shift its justice ideologies only to find that punitive justice had created strong footings. This made reform challenging to implement. Author Keywords: Archambault Report, Canadian penal system, Canadian prisons, prison press, prison systems, prison writing
Assessing factors associated with wealth and health of Ontario workers after permanent work injury
I drew on Bourdieu’s theory of capital and theorized that different forms of economic, cultural and social capital which injured workers possessed and/or acquire over their disability trajectory may affect certain outcomes of permanent impairments. Using data from a cross-sectional survey of 494 Ontario workers with permanent impairments, I measured workers’ different indicators of capital in temporal order. Hierarchical regression analyses were used to test the unique association of workers’ individual characteristics, pre-injury capital, post-injury capital, and the outcomes of permanent impairments. The results show that factors related to individual characteristics, pre-injury and post-injury capital were associated with workers’ perceived health change, whereas pre-injury and post-injury capital were most relevant factors in explaining workers’ post-injury employment status and income recovery. When looking at the significance of individual predictors, post-injury variables were most relevant in understanding the outcomes of permanent impairment. The findings suggest that many workers faced economic and health disadvantages after permanent work injury. Author Keywords: Bourdieu, hierarchical regression, theory of capital, work-related disability, workers with permanent impairments
Cartoons Ain't Human
Why show things that aren’t people acting like people? In the field of animation, it’s a surprisingly big “why?”, because it’s a “why?” that doesn’t lead to any sort of doctrine of ontology, of inevitability, of manifest destiny, or of anything like that. But it does lead to another “why?”—“why did anthropomorphic depictions of animals and non-human entities come to define an entire era of American short-form animation?” When we think about ‘classic era’ cartoon shorts, the first names that come to mind are likely to be those of anthropomorphic animal characters—Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny, and a list of others so numerous that any machine Wile E. Coyote tried to build to count them all would probably explode. This can make us lose sight of the fact that human characters had their place as well in these films: Bugs and Daffy regularly tangled with Elmer Fudd; the studio that made cartoon stars of Betty Boop and Popeye produced no famous animal characters at all in its heyday. And yet, it’s the animals that steal the show in the animated shorts produced by major studios in America from the 1920s through the 1960s. Part of their appeal lies in the fact that they were useful and recognizable substitutes for humans. Without making things too ‘personal’ for the audience, they could be used to examine and deconstruct social practices in the full-speed-ahead period that took America from World War I to the war in Vietnam. Animals weren’t the only ones to get a full-on anthropomorphic treatment in these shorts. Machines and other artefacts came to life and became sites of interrogation for contemporary anxieties about the twentieth century’s ever-expanding technological infrastructure; parts of the natural world, from plant life to the weather, acted with minds of their own in ways that harken back to the earliest animistic folk beliefs. No matter when or how it’s being used, anthropomorphism in animation is a device for answering, not one big “why?”, but a lot of little “why?”s. What you’re about to read is an exploration of a few of those little “why?”s. Author Keywords: America, Animation, Anthropomorphism, Cartoons, Deconstruction, Popular Culture


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