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The emergence and scaling of division of labor in insect societies

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Division of labor, whereby different group members perform different functions, is a fundamental attribute of sociality. It appears across social systems, from simple cooperative groups to complex eusocial colonies. A core challenge in sociobiology is to explain how patterns of

Division of labor, whereby different group members perform different functions, is a fundamental attribute of sociality. It appears across social systems, from simple cooperative groups to complex eusocial colonies. A core challenge in sociobiology is to explain how patterns of collective organization are generated. Theoretical models propose that division of labor self-organizes, or emerges, from interactions among group members and the environment; division of labor is also predicted to scale positively with group size. I empirically investigated the emergence and scaling of division of labor in evolutionarily incipient groups of sweat bees and in eusocial colonies of harvester ants. To test whether division of labor is an emergent property of group living during early social evolution, I created de novo communal groups of the normally solitary sweat bee Lasioglossum (Ctenonomia) NDA-1. A division of labor repeatedly arose between nest excavation and guarding tasks; results were consistent with hypothesized effects of spatial organization and intrinsic behavioral variability. Moreover, an experimental increase in group size spontaneously promoted higher task specialization and division of labor. Next, I examined the influence of colony size on division of labor in larger, more integrated colonies of the harvester ant Pogonomyrmex californicus. Division of labor scaled positively with colony size in two contexts: during early colony ontogeny, as colonies grew from tens to hundreds of workers, and among same-aged colonies that varied naturally in size. However, manipulation of colony size did not elicit a short-term response, suggesting that the scaling of division of labor in P. californicus colonies is a product of functional integration and underlying developmental processes, rather than a purely emergent epiphenomenon. This research provides novel insights into the organization of work in insect societies, and raises broader questions about the role of size in sociobiology.

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2011

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Global bioethics: a descriptive analysis of the function of bioethics in health and medicine on a global scale

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This thesis explores concept of "global bioethics" in both its development as well as its current state in an effort to understand exactly where it fits into the larger field of bioethics. Further, the analysis poses specific questions regarding what

This thesis explores concept of "global bioethics" in both its development as well as its current state in an effort to understand exactly where it fits into the larger field of bioethics. Further, the analysis poses specific questions regarding what it may contribute to this field and related fields, and the possibility and scope associated with the continued development of global bioethics as its own discipline. To achieve this, the piece addresses questions regarding current opinions on the subject, the authorities and their associated publications related to global bioethics, and what the aims of the subject should be given its current state. "Global Bioethics" is a term that, while seen frequently in bioethics literature, is difficult to define succinctly. While many opinions are provided on the concept, little consensus exists regarding its application and possible contributions and, in some cases, even its very possibility. Applying ethical principles of health and medicine globally is undoubtedly complicated by the cultural, social, and geographical considerations associated with understanding health and medicine in different populations, leading to a dichotomy between two schools of thought in relation to global bioethics. These two sides consist of those who think that universality of bioethics is possible whereas the opposing viewpoint holds that relativism is the key to applying ethics on a global scale. Despite the aforementioned dichotomy in addressing applications of global bioethics, this analysis shows that the goals of the subject should be more focused on contributing to ethical frameworks and valuable types of thinking related to the ethics health and medicine on a global scale. This is achieved through an exploration of bioethics in general, health as a function of society and culture, the history and development of global bioethics itself, and an exploration of pertinent global health topics. While primarily descriptive in nature, this analysis critiques some of the current discussions and purported goals surrounding global bioethics, recommending that the field focus on fostering valuable discussion and framing of issues rather than the pursuit of concrete judgments on moral issues in global health and medicine.

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2011

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Novel biopolymer treatment for wind induced soil erosion

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It is estimated that wind induced soil transports more than 500 x 106 metric tons of fugitive dust annually. Soil erosion has negative effects on human health, the productivity of farms, and the quality of surface waters. A variety of

It is estimated that wind induced soil transports more than 500 x 106 metric tons of fugitive dust annually. Soil erosion has negative effects on human health, the productivity of farms, and the quality of surface waters. A variety of different polymer stabilizers are available on the market for fugitive dust control. Most of these polymer stabilizers are expensive synthetic polymer products. Their adverse effects and expense usually limits their use. Biopolymers provide a potential alternative to synthetic polymers. They can provide dust abatement by encapsulating soil particles and creating a binding network throughout the treated area. This research into the effectiveness of biopolymers for fugitive dust control involved three phases. Phase I included proof of concept tests. Phase II included carrying out the tests in a wind tunnel. Phase III consisted of conducting the experiments in the field. Proof of concept tests showed that biopolymers have the potential to reduce soil erosion and fugitive dust transport. Wind tunnel tests on two candidate biopolymers, xanthan and chitosan, showed that there is a proportional relationship between biopolymer application rates and threshold wind velocities. The wind tunnel tests also showed that xanthan gum is more successful in the field than chitosan. The field tests showed that xanthan gum was effective at controlling soil erosion. However, the chitosan field data was inconsistent with the xanthan data and field data on bare soil.

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2011

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Comparison of soil and vegetation properties using salt extractor and conventional soil amendments from irrigation with coal bed natural gas product water

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Coal bed natural gas (CBNG) production has become a significant contribution to the nation's energy supply. Large volumes of water are generated as a byproduct of CBNG extraction, of which this "product water" is relatively high in sodium. High sodicity

Coal bed natural gas (CBNG) production has become a significant contribution to the nation's energy supply. Large volumes of water are generated as a byproduct of CBNG extraction, of which this "product water" is relatively high in sodium. High sodicity reduces water quality and limits environmentally compliant disposal options for producers. Crop irrigation with CBNG product water complies with state and federal laws and is a disposal method that also provides a beneficial use to private landowners. However, this disposal method typically requires gypsum and sulfur soil amendments due to the high levels of sodium in the water, which can reduce soil infiltration and hydraulic conductivity. In this study, I tested a new product called Salt Extractor that was marketed to CBNG producers to ameliorate the negative effects of high sodicity. The experiment was conducted in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming. I used a random block design to compare the soil and vegetation properties of plots following application with CBNG product water and treatments of either Salt Extractor, gypsum and sulfur (conventional), or no treatment (control). Data was analyzed by comparing the amount of change between treatments after watering. Results demonstrated the known ability of gypsum and sulfur to lower the relative sodicity of the soil. Plots treated with Salt Extractor, however, did not improve relative levels of sodicity and exhibited no favorable benefits to vegetation.

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2011

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Molecular chaperones of the endoplasmic reticulum promote hepatitis C virus E2 protein production in plants

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Infections caused by the Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) are very common worldwide, affecting up to 3% of the population. Chronic infection of HCV may develop into liver cirrhosis and liver cancer which is among the top five of the most

Infections caused by the Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) are very common worldwide, affecting up to 3% of the population. Chronic infection of HCV may develop into liver cirrhosis and liver cancer which is among the top five of the most common cancers. Therefore, vaccines against HCV are under intense study in order to prevent HCV from harming people's health. The envelope protein 2 (E2) of HCV is thought to be a promising vaccine candidate because it can directly bind to a human cell receptor and plays a role in viral entry. However, the E2 protein production in cells is inefficient due to its complicated matured structure. Folding of E2 in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is often error-prone, resulting in production of aggregates and misfolded proteins. These incorrect forms of E2 are not functional because they are not able to bind to human cells and stimulate antibody response to inhibit this binding. This study is aimed to overcome the difficulties of HCV E2 production in plant system. Protein folding in the ER requires great assistance from molecular chaperones. Thus, in this study, two molecular chaperones in the ER, calreticulin and calnexin, were transiently overexpressed in plant leaves in order to facilitate E2 folding and production. Both of them showed benefits in increasing the yield of E2 and improving the quality of E2. In addition, poorly folded E2 accumulated in the ER may cause stress in the ER and trigger transcriptional activation of ER molecular chaperones. Therefore, a transcription factor involved in this pathway, named bZIP60, was also overexpressed in plant leaves, aiming at up-regulating a major family of molecular chaperones called BiP to assist protein folding. However, our results showed that BiP mRNA levels were not up-regulated by bZIP60, but they increased in response to E2 expression. The Western blot analysis also showed that overexpression of bZIP60 had a small effect on promoting E2 folding. Overall, this study suggested that increasing the level of specific ER molecular chaperones was an effective way to promote HCV E2 protein production and maturation.

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2011

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Fabrication and evaluation of hematite modified granular activated carbon (GAC) media for arsenic removal from groundwater

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The goal of the study was twofold: (i) to investigate the synthesis of hematite-impregnated granular activated carbon (Fe-GAC) by hydrolysis of Fe (III) and (ii) to assess the effectiveness of the fabricated media in removal of arsenic from water. Fe-GAC

The goal of the study was twofold: (i) to investigate the synthesis of hematite-impregnated granular activated carbon (Fe-GAC) by hydrolysis of Fe (III) and (ii) to assess the effectiveness of the fabricated media in removal of arsenic from water. Fe-GAC was synthesized by hydrolysis of Fe(III) salts under two Fe (III) initial dosages (0.5M and 2M) and two hydrolysis periods (24 hrs and 72 hrs). The iron content of the fabricated Fe-GAC media ranged from 0.9% to 4.4% Fe/g of the dry media. Pseudo-equilibrium batch test data at pH = 7.7±0.2 in 1mM NaHCO3 buffered ultrapure water and challenge groundwater representative of the Arizona Mexico border region were fitted to a Freundlich isotherm model. The findings suggested that the arsenic adsorption capacity of the metal (hydr)oxide modified GAC media is primarily controlled by the surface area of the media, while the metal content exhibited lesser effect. The adsorption capacity of the media in the model Mexican groundwater matrix was significantly lower for all adsorbent media. Continuous flow short bed adsorber tests (SBA) demonstrated that the adsorption capacity for arsenic in the challenge groundwater was reduced by a factor of 3 to 4 as a result of the mass transport effects. When compared on metal basis, the iron (hydr)oxide modified media performed comparably well as existing commercial media for treatment of arsenic. On dry mass basis, the fabricated media in this study removed less arsenic than their commercial counterparts because the metal content of the commercial media was significantly higher.

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2011

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Bursera microphylla in South Mountain Municipal Park: evaluating its habitat characteristics

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ABSTRACT The elephant tree, Bursera microphylla, is at the northern limit of its range in central Arizona. This species is sensitive to frost damage thus limiting its occurrence in more northern areas of the southwest. Marginal populations of B. microphylla

ABSTRACT The elephant tree, Bursera microphylla, is at the northern limit of its range in central Arizona. This species is sensitive to frost damage thus limiting its occurrence in more northern areas of the southwest. Marginal populations of B. microphylla are found in mountain ranges of Central Arizona and are known to occur in the rugged mountain range system of the South Mountain Municipal Park (SMMP). Little is known of the distribution of this species within the park and details relevant to the health of both individual plants and the population such as diameter and number of trunks, height, and presence of damage have not been examined. This study was designed, in part, to test the hypothesis that favorable microhabitats at SMMP are created by particular combinations of abiotic features including aspect, slope, elevation and solar radiation. Data on abiotic factors, as well as specific individual plant locations and characteristics were obtained for 100 individuals. Temperature data was collected in vertical transects at different altitudinal levels. Some of these data were used in spatial analyses to generate a habitat suitability model using GIS software. Furthermore, collected data was analyzed using Matlab© software to identify potential trends in the variation of morphological traits. In addition, for comparative purposes similar information at one hundred computer-generated randomly chosen points throughout SMMP was obtained. The GIS spatial analyses indicated that aspect, slope, elevation, and relative solar radiance are strongly associated as major climatic components of the microhabitat of B. microphylla. Temperature data demonstrated that there are significant differences in ambient temperature among different altitudinal gradients with middle elevations being more favorable. Furthermore, analyses performed using Matlab© to explore trends of elevation as a factor indicated that multiple trunk plants are more commonly found at higher elevations than single trunk plants, there is a positive correlation of trunk diameter with elevation, and that canopy volume has a negative correlation with respect to elevation. It was concluded that microhabitats where B. microphylla occurs at the northern limit of its range require a particular combination of abiotic features that can be easily altered by climatic changes.

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2011

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Contaminants of emerging concern in U.S. sewage sludges and forecasting of associated ecological and human health risks using sewage epidemiology approaches

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Many manmade chemicals used in consumer products are ultimately washed down the drain and are collected in municipal sewers. Efficient chemical monitoring at wastewater treatment (WWT) plants thus may provide up-to-date information on chemical usage rates for epidemiological assessments. The

Many manmade chemicals used in consumer products are ultimately washed down the drain and are collected in municipal sewers. Efficient chemical monitoring at wastewater treatment (WWT) plants thus may provide up-to-date information on chemical usage rates for epidemiological assessments. The objective of the present study was to extrapolate this concept, termed 'sewage epidemiology', to include municipal sewage sludge (MSS) in identifying and prioritizing contaminants of emerging concern (CECs). To test this the following specific aims were defined: i) to screen and identify CECs in nationally representative samples of MSS and to provide nationwide inventories of CECs in U.S. MSS; ii) to investigate the fate and persistence in MSS-amended soils, of sludge-borne hydrophobic CECs; and iii) to develop an analytical tool relying on contaminant levels in MSS as an indicator for identifying and prioritizing hydrophobic CECs. Chemicals that are primarily discharged to the sewage systems (alkylphenol surfactants) and widespread persistent organohalogen pollutants (perfluorochemicals and brominated flame retardants) were analyzed in nationally representative MSS samples. A meta-analysis showed that CECs contribute about 0.04-0.15% to the total dry mass of MSS, a mass equivalent of 2,700-7,900 metric tonnes of chemicals annually. An analysis of archived mesocoms from a sludge weathering study showed that 64 CECs persisted in MSS/soil mixtures over the course of the experiment, with half-lives ranging between 224 and >990 days; these results suggest an inherent persistence of CECs that accumulate in MSS. A comparison of the spectrum of chemicals (n=52) analyzed in nationally representative biological specimens from humans and MSS revealed 70% overlap. This observed co-occurrence of contaminants in both matrices suggests that MSS may serve as an indicator for ongoing human exposures and body burdens of pollutants in humans. In conclusion, I posit that this novel approach in sewage epidemiology may serve to pre-screen and prioritize the several thousands of known or suspected CECs to identify those that are most prone to pose a risk to human health and the environment.

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2013

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Single cell RT-qPCR based ocean environmental sensing device development

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This thesis research focuses on developing a single-cell gene expression analysis method for marine diatom Thalassiosira pseudonana and constructing a chip level tool to realize the single cell RT-qPCR analysis. This chip will serve as a conceptual foundation for future

This thesis research focuses on developing a single-cell gene expression analysis method for marine diatom Thalassiosira pseudonana and constructing a chip level tool to realize the single cell RT-qPCR analysis. This chip will serve as a conceptual foundation for future deployable ocean monitoring systems. T. pseudonana, which is a common surface water microorganism, was detected in the deep ocean as confirmed by phylogenetic and microbial community functional studies. Six-fold copy number differences between 23S rRNA and 23S rDNA were observed by RT-qPCR, demonstrating the moderate functional activity of detected photosynthetic microbes in the deep ocean including T. pseudonana. Because of the ubiquity of T. pseudonana, it is a good candidate for an early warning system for ocean environmental perturbation monitoring. This early warning system will depend on identifying outlier gene expression at the single-cell level. An early warning system based on single-cell analysis is expected to detect environmental perturbations earlier than population level analysis which can only be observed after a whole community has reacted. Preliminary work using tube-based, two-step RT-qPCR revealed for the first time, gene expression heterogeneity of T. pseudonana under different nutrient conditions. Heterogeneity was revealed by different gene expression activity for individual cells under the same conditions. This single cell analysis showed a skewed, lognormal distribution and helped to find outlier cells. The results indicate that the geometric average becomes more important and representative of the whole population than the arithmetic average. This is in contrast with population level analysis which is limited to arithmetic averages only and highlights the value of single cell analysis. In order to develop a deployable sensor in the ocean, a chip level device was constructed. The chip contains surface-adhering droplets, defined by hydrophilic patterning, that serve as real-time PCR reaction chambers when they are immersed in oil. The chip had demonstrated sensitivities at the single cell level for both DNA and RNA. The successful rate of these chip-based reactions was around 85%. The sensitivity of the chip was equivalent to published microfluidic devices with complicated designs and protocols, but the production process of the chip was simple and the materials were all easily accessible in conventional environmental and/or biology laboratories. On-chip tests provided heterogeneity information about the whole population and were validated by comparing with conventional tube based methods and by p-values analysis. The power of chip-based single-cell analyses were mainly between 65-90% which were acceptable and can be further increased by higher throughput devices. With this chip and single-cell analysis approaches, a new paradigm for robust early warning systems of ocean environmental perturbation is possible.

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2013

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The effects of artificial water sources on small mammal communities

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Modified and artificial water sources can be used as a management tool for game and non-game wildlife species. State, federal, and private agencies allocate significant resources to install and maintain artificial water sources (AWS) annually. Capture mark recapture methods were

Modified and artificial water sources can be used as a management tool for game and non-game wildlife species. State, federal, and private agencies allocate significant resources to install and maintain artificial water sources (AWS) annually. Capture mark recapture methods were used to sample small mammal communities in the vicinity of five AWS and five paired control sites (treatments) in the surrounding Sonoran desert from October 2011 to May 2012. I measured plant species richness, density, and percent cover in the spring of 2012. A Multi-response Permutation Procedure was used to identify differences in small mammal community abundance, biomass, and species richness by season and treatment. I used Principle Component Analysis to reduce 11 habitat characteristics to five habitat factors. I related rodent occurrence to habitat characteristics using multiple and logistic regression. A total of 370 individual mammals representing three genera and eight species of rodents were captured across 4800 trap nights. Desert pocket mouse (Chaetodipus penicillatus) was the most common species in both seasons and treatments. Whereas rodent community abundance, biomass, and richness were similar between seasons, community variables of AWS were greater than CS. Rodent diversity was similar between treatments. Desert pocket mouse abundance and biomass were twice as high at AWS when compared to controls. Biomass of white-throated woodrat (Neotoma albigula) was five times greater at AWS. Habitat characteristics were similar between treatments. Neither presence of water nor distance to water explained substantial habitat variation. Occurrence of rodent species was associated with habitat characteristics. Desert rodent communities are adapted for arid environments (i.e. Heteromyids) and are not dependent on "free water". Higher abundances of desert pocket mouse at AWS were most likely related to increased disturbance and debris and not the presence of water. The results of this study and previous studies suggest that more investigation is needed and that short term studies may not be able to detect interactions (if any) between AWS and desert small mammal communities.

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2013