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Immunological Responses to the White-Nose Syndrome Pathogen and their Potential Use as Control

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White-nose syndrome (WNS) is a fungal infection devastating bat populations throughout eastern North America. WNS is caused by a fungus, Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd), that invades the skin of hibernating bats. While there are a number of treatments being researched, there

White-nose syndrome (WNS) is a fungal infection devastating bat populations throughout eastern North America. WNS is caused by a fungus, Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd), that invades the skin of hibernating bats. While there are a number of treatments being researched, there is currently no effective treatment for WNS that is deployed in the field, except a few being tested on a limited scale. Bats have lowered immune function and response during hibernation, which may increase susceptibility to infection during the winter months. Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) are a crucial component of the innate immune system and serve as barriers against infection. AMPs are constitutively expressed on skin and facilitate wound healing, stimulate other immune responses, and may also stay active on bat skin during hibernation. AMPs are expressed by all tissues, have direct killing abilities against microbes, and are a potential treatment for bats infected with Pd. In this investigation, the fungicidal activity of several readily available commercial AMPs were compared, and killing assay protocols previously investigated by Frasier and Lake were replicated to establish a control trial for use in future killing assays. Another aim of this investigation was to synthesize a bat-derived AMP for use in the killing assay. Sequences of bat-derived AMPs have been identified in bat skin samples obtained from a large geographic sampling of susceptible and resistant species. Contact was made with GenScript Inc., the company from which commercially available AMPs were purchased, to determine the characteristics of peptide sequences needed to synthesize an AMP for lab use. Based on recommendations from GenScript Inc., peptide sequences need to have a hydrophobicity of less than 50% and a sequence length of less than 50 amino acids. These criteria serve as a potential barrier because none of the known bat-derived sequences analyzed satisfy both of these requirements. The final aim of this study was to generate a conceptual model of the immune response molecules activated when bats are exposed to a fungal pathogen such as Pd. Overall, this work investigated sources of variability between trials of the killing assay, analyzed known bat-derived peptide sequences, and generated a conceptual model that will serve as a guideline for identification of immune response molecules on the skin of bats in future proteomics work.

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2019-05

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The Impacts of Conservation Practices on Indigenous Populations

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Conservation is a complicated entity consisting of a multitude of professional fields including social issues, cultural issues, and physical science. This thesis evaluates the positive and negative aspects of two broad types of conservation: top down fortress conservation and bottom

Conservation is a complicated entity consisting of a multitude of professional fields including social issues, cultural issues, and physical science. This thesis evaluates the positive and negative aspects of two broad types of conservation: top down fortress conservation and bottom up community-based conservation. Fortress conservation has many negative aspects, such as displacing human communities and preventing utilization of resources. However, it also has positive aspects, such as preventing the destruction of delicate ecosystems and slowing down extinctions. Community-based conservation is more inclusive and focuses on including the indigenous populations located within the proposed conservation site in the decision-making process. Its negatives include having an anthropocentric goal instead of valuing nature's intrinsic values. Understanding the differences inherent in these two methods is necessary in order to implement a conservation network with the highest chance for success.

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2014-05

The Tale of the Tigers: A Children’s Book About Ecology and Conservation Using Tigers as an Example

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The Tale of the Tigers is a children’s picture book in which a tiger named Guava is transported from his world of Serenia to our world. In an attempt to find someone to help him with this situation, Guava meets

The Tale of the Tigers is a children’s picture book in which a tiger named Guava is transported from his world of Serenia to our world. In an attempt to find someone to help him with this situation, Guava meets another tiger named Papaya. After having his prey scared away by Guava, Papaya begins to explain the different hardships and dangers that tigers face in their natural habitat. Papaya also teaches Guava about the different programs and activities that humans have been doing to help increase and restore tiger populations. At the end of the story, Guava returns to his world and spreads awareness to those that live in Serenia about how tigers are threatened in other places and what’s being done to help them. Papaya uses basic ecological concepts to explain the importance of tigers in their ecosystem. These concepts include habitat loss, trophic levels, landscape fragmentation, and poaching. The story also incorporates different conservation methods, including captive breeding and the use of camera traps.

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2020-05

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Volunteer Tourism with Primates in Costa Rica

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There is little research on volunteer tourism to primate sanctuaries. The purpose of this study was to help fill this knowledge gap and gain insights into how animal sanctuaries with volunteers in Costa Rica can be improved operationally to strengthen

There is little research on volunteer tourism to primate sanctuaries. The purpose of this study was to help fill this knowledge gap and gain insights into how animal sanctuaries with volunteers in Costa Rica can be improved operationally to strengthen their conservation efforts. My research questions were: 1. How does volunteer tourism with primates in Costa Rica affect volunteers? 2. How does this volunteer tourism affect Costa Rica’s environment? The methodology used was an exploratory qualitative design that included a literature review of previous research and case studies and a visit with interviews at a primate sanctuary in Costa Rica. The findings did not generate sufficient data to answer the first research question. I did find that altruism was a key factor in recruiting effective volunteers. The study also found that conservation in Costa Rica relies on volunteer tourism to fill a human resource gap. This research will allow sanctuaries in Costa Rica to respond better to protect biodiversity.

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2020-05