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IUCN Red List Assessment of Muraenidae

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The International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species is the most comprehensive and objective global approach to evaluate the conservation status of species by categorizing species based on relative extinction risk. For the Global Muranidae IUCN

The International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species is the most comprehensive and objective global approach to evaluate the conservation status of species by categorizing species based on relative extinction risk. For the Global Muranidae IUCN Red List assessment, all known, taxonomically valid species of Muraenidae were assessed for their extinction risk using the IUCN Red List Global Categories and Criteria. Of all 208 Muraenidae species, it was concluded that 86% of species qualified for Least Concern, 13% of species are Data Deficient, and 1% of species qualified for a threatened category. Channomuraena bauchotae is listed as threatened under VU D2 and Gymnothorax parini qualified for VU B2ab(iii). This study will have brought the International Union for the Conservation of Nature one step closer to their goal of conducting Red List assessments of all the world's species(not including microorganisms). Future implications of this study may include future monitoring of key habitat areas and species or conducting further research to gain a more in depth understanding of the life history and threats to Muraenidae.

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2018-05

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Inspiring Young Learners in Arizona Through Sustainability and Reptile Conservation Education

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This 15-week long course is designed to introduce students, specifically in Arizona, to basic sustainability and conservation principles in the context of local reptile wildlife. Throughout the course, the students work on identifying the problem, creating visions for the desired

This 15-week long course is designed to introduce students, specifically in Arizona, to basic sustainability and conservation principles in the context of local reptile wildlife. Throughout the course, the students work on identifying the problem, creating visions for the desired future, and finally developing a strategy to help with reptile species survival in the valley. Research shows that animals in the classroom have led to improved academic success for students. Thus, through creating this course I was able to combine conservation and sustainability curriculum with real-life animals whose survival is directly being affected in the valley. My hope is that this course will help students identify a newfound passion and call to action to protect native wildlife. The more awareness and actionable knowledge which can be brought to students in Arizona about challenges to species survival the more likely we are to see a change in the future and a stronger sense of urgency for protecting wildlife. In order to accomplish these goals, the curriculum was developed to begin with basic concepts of species needs such as food and shelter and basic principles of sustainability. As the course progresses the students analyze current challenges reptile wildlife faces, like urban sprawl, and explore options to address these challenges. The course concludes with a pilot pitch where students present their solution projects to the school.

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2021-05

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A Comprehensive Petrochemical Vulnerability Index for Marine Fishes in the Gulf of Mexico

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The Gulf of Mexico (or “Gulf”) is of critical significance to the oil and gas industries’ offshore production, but the potential for accidental petrochemical influx into the Gulf due to such processes is high; two of the largest marine oil

The Gulf of Mexico (or “Gulf”) is of critical significance to the oil and gas industries’ offshore production, but the potential for accidental petrochemical influx into the Gulf due to such processes is high; two of the largest marine oil spills in history, Pemex's Ixtoc I spill (1979) and British Petroleum's (BP) Deepwater Horizon (2010), have occurred in the region. However, the Gulf is also of critical significance to thousands of unique species, many of which may be irreparably harmed by accidental petrochemical exposure. To better manage the conservation and recovery of marine species in the Gulf ecosystem, a Petrochemical Vulnerability Index was developed to determine the potential impact of a petrochemical influx on Gulf marine fishes, therein providing an objective framework with which to determine the best immediate and long term management strategies for resource managers and decision-makers. The resulting Petrochemical Vulnerability Index (PVI) was developed and applied to all bony fishes and shark/ray species in the Gulf of Mexico (1,670 spp), based on a theoretical petrochemical vulnerability framework developed by peer review. The PVI for fishes embodies three key facets of species vulnerability: likelihood of exposure, individual sensitivity, and population resilience, and comprised of 11 total metrics (Distribution, Longevity, Mobility, Habitat, Pre-Adult Stage Length, Pre-Adult Exposure; Increased Adult Sensitivity Due to UV Light, Increased Pre-Adult Sensitivity Due to UV Light; and Abundance, Reproductive Turnover Rate, Diet/Habitat Specialization). The resulting PVI can be used to guide attention to the species potentially most in need of immediate attention in the event of an oil spill or other petrochemical influx, as well as those species that may require intensive long-term recovery. The scored relative vulnerability rankings can also provide information on species that ought to be the focus of future toxicological research, by indicating which species lack toxicological data, and may potentially experience significant impacts.

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2020

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Role of Microplastics as Anthropogenic Pollutants of Global Ecosystems

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Plastic pollution has become a global threat to ecosystems worldwide, with microplastics now representing contaminants reported to occur in ambient air, fresh water, seawater, soils, fauna and people. Over time, larger macro-plastics are subject to weathering and fragmentation, resulting in

Plastic pollution has become a global threat to ecosystems worldwide, with microplastics now representing contaminants reported to occur in ambient air, fresh water, seawater, soils, fauna and people. Over time, larger macro-plastics are subject to weathering and fragmentation, resulting in smaller particles, termed ‘microplastics’ (measuring < 5 mm in diameter), which have been found to pollute virtually every marine and terrestrial ecosystem on the planet. This thesis explored the transfer of plastic pollutants from consumer products into the built water environment and ultimately into global aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems.

A literature review demonstrated that municipal sewage sludge produced by wastewater treatment plants around the world contains detectable quantities of microplastics. Application of sewage sludge on land was shown to represent a mechanism for transfer of microplastics from wastewater into terrestrial environments, with some countries reporting as high as 113 ± 57 microplastic particles per gram of dry sludge.

To address the notable shortcoming of inconsistent reporting practices for microplastic pollution, this thesis introduced a novel, online calculator that converts the number of plastic particles into the unambiguous metric of mass, thereby making global studies on microplastic pollution directly comparable.

This thesis concludes with an investigation of a previously unexplored and more personal source of plastic pollution, namely the disposal of single-use contact lenses and an assessment of the magnitude of this emerging source of environmental pollution. Using an online survey aimed at quantifying trends with the disposal of lenses in the US, it was discovered that 20 ± 0.8% of contact lens wearers flushed their used lenses down the drain, amounting to 44,000 ± 1,700 kg y-1 of lens dry mass discharged into US wastewater.

From the results it is concluded that conventional and medical microplastics represent a significant global source of pollution and a long-term threat to ecosystems around the world. Recommendations are provided on how to limit the entry of medical microplastics into the built water environment to limit damage to ecosystems worldwide.

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2020