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

Description

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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Struggle for Existence: Mexican Gray Wolves in the American Southwest

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The Mexican gray wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) is a genetically distinct subspecies of the gray wolf (Canis lupus) that was driven to the brink of extinction as a result of human persecution. The wolf is listed as Endangered under the

The Mexican gray wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) is a genetically distinct subspecies of the gray wolf (Canis lupus) that was driven to the brink of extinction as a result of human persecution. The wolf is listed as Endangered under the Endangered Species Act, and a recovery program is underway in Arizona and New Mexico to restore its population. However, the wolf is struggling to recover due to high mortality, which is a result of continued human hostility toward it. This thesis examines historical and current human attitudes toward the wolf and the implications that they have had on the extermination and recovery of the subspecies. An overview is given of wolf biology, the history of wolf extermination and recovery, and recent events relating to the recovery of the wolf. Negative impacts on ranching, hunting, and human safety are the main reasons for opposition toward wolves and wolf recovery; these concerns are analyzed, and solutions to them are proposed, with the goal of addressing them while fostering non-lethal coexistence with the wolf. In addition, opposition to wolves and wolf recovery is tied in with larger socio-political issues and is influenced by the representation of the wolf in culture; these issues in the context of wolves are also analyzed.

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2017-05

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The Effect of Park Educational Programs on Public Values, Knowledge of, and Attitudes toward Noncharismatic Species

Description

Current conservation practices are substantially biased towards large, charismatic animals and are influenced by public perceptions of different animals. Therefore, it is important to understand how these perceptions are formed and what factors influence them in order to promote equitable

Current conservation practices are substantially biased towards large, charismatic animals and are influenced by public perceptions of different animals. Therefore, it is important to understand how these perceptions are formed and what factors influence them in order to promote equitable conservation for all species. This study examines the effect of attending a park education program on public values, knowledge of, and attitudes towards a noncharismatic species. Data was collected from May through October 2016 at the Usery Mountain Regional Park "All About Scorpions" program. A four page, onsite, self-administered pre- and post-program survey was given to program attendees. An identical survey was given to hiking park visitors who had never attended the program as the control sample. Survey statements addressed participant's demographics, value of bugs, knowledge about scorpions, and attitudes toward scorpions. Data analysis was completed using paired t-tests to analyze any statistically significant changes in values, knowledge, and attitudes between pre- and post-participants. Independent sample t-tests were used to analyze the same between the control and pre-participants. The results showed no difference in the value of bugs for any of the survey participants. However, the program attendees had more positive attitudes and greater knowledge of scorpions than general park visitors, and attending the program further increased positive attitudes and knowledge. Contributions of the study are twofold: First, the results provide Usery with information regarding the influence of their public programs, along with how these programs can be improved to make a greater impact. Second, findings serve to extend the literature on what alters public perceptions and how educational programs can be used to change the current conservation mindset.

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2016-12

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Ghost Lands

Description

Southern Arizona was once described as a "sea of grass" extending across the four major valleys, the Sulphur Spring Valley, the San Pedro Valley, the San Simon Valley and the San Bernardino Valley. But today the majority of that land

Southern Arizona was once described as a "sea of grass" extending across the four major valleys, the Sulphur Spring Valley, the San Pedro Valley, the San Simon Valley and the San Bernardino Valley. But today the majority of that land is covered with desert shrubs like mesquite, leaving little to none of the natural grasses that once dominated these valleys. By the late 1800s Americans were flocking to southern Arizona to take advantage of some of the lushest grasslands the United States had to offer. Yet today we can find very little of these grasslands remaining, and so the image of this once productive land has been long forgotten. This thesis/creative project takes an in-depth look at what the land in Cochise County, Arizona once was, what it has become, and what happened to cause these drastic changes. It looks at the four major theories as to what caused these changes. The first of which is the overgrazing of cattle through the cattle boom of the late 1800s. The second is the effect of climactic events like drought and an increase in aridity over time. The third is the encroachment of what was thought to be non-native mesquite, which choked out the natural grasses. And the fourth and final theory is that the overarching suppression of fire by settlers allowed desert shrubs to expand their ranges into the grasslands. Through historical records like newspaper articles, photo archives, land surveys, military travel journals, census data, weather records as well as prior research works and interviews with researchers, conservationists and ranchers, a history of these lands is presented to show the major turning points in the lands' use and determine what led to their deterioration.

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2015-12

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Sharks and Society: Changing the Reputation of a Keystone Predator

Description

Globally, many species of shark are facing rapid population decline. This is due to increasing fishing pressures, primarily from the booming demand in China for shark fins for soup. In recent years there has also been an increase in international

Globally, many species of shark are facing rapid population decline. This is due to increasing fishing pressures, primarily from the booming demand in China for shark fins for soup. In recent years there has also been an increase in international shark conservation efforts, but there is still a long way to go in gathering support for those efforts. Public perception of sharks in America has been greatly influenced by negative media representations of them, Jaws being one of the most influential. Many of these representations are based on inaccurate information that has been disproven by science, but still lingers in popular culture. Symbolic Interactionism Theory proved to be a useful framework for unpacking the connections between public perception, mainstream culture and media, and conservation regarding sharks. A social psychological theory, Symbolic Interactionism describes the ways that people construct meaning about a topic through direct and indirect interactions, and how this meaning can change on individual, social, and cultural levels. By changing the way sharks are perceived and represented to the public, these important and incredible animals may gather the support they need to continue living in the world's oceans.

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2014-05

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We Can Make A Difference: The Story of the Black-footed Ferret

Description

The purpose of my thesis is to illustrate the story of the black-footed ferret's conservation, and to provide my own suggestions for how to eventually get the species removed from the Endangered Species List, marking a successful rebound in population

The purpose of my thesis is to illustrate the story of the black-footed ferret's conservation, and to provide my own suggestions for how to eventually get the species removed from the Endangered Species List, marking a successful rebound in population numbers. I highlight my personal experience working at the Phoenix Zoo's black-footed ferret breeding center. In the first chapter, I present the species by describing its morphology, diet, reproduction, behaviors, range, and habitat. In the second chapter, I recount the chronological history of the conservation of the species, starting with its rediscovery following its putative "extinction", and ending with its present status. In the third chapter, I discuss the threats that have led to the species' overall decline and continue to affect its persistence today. In the fourth and final chapter, I conclude by making recommendations regarding what needs to occur in order to eventually get the species delisted.

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2014-05

Educational Workshops to Bring Awareness of Animal Related Careers in the Framework of Animal Welfare and Conservation

Description

American youth are not well exposed to animal- and nature-related careers. This is especially important to consider due to the recent push to be more environmentally conscious. In addition, youth are spending less time outside and more time in front

American youth are not well exposed to animal- and nature-related careers. This is especially important to consider due to the recent push to be more environmentally conscious. In addition, youth are spending less time outside and more time in front of screens. This is driving down biophilia strength. The combination of a weaker connection with nature and more screen time has been connected to a new condition named Nature-Deficit Disorder. In order to expose youth to animal- and nature-related careers while attempting to combat the growing presence of Nature-Deficit Disorder, a three day teaching program named Wild Careers was created. This program was presented to teens in December 2015 through a partnership with the education department of Arizona Animal Welfare League. The curriculum was centered on highlighting relevant careers and background information. Topics such as animal welfare and conservation were taught as cornerstones during the program due to their encompassing importance to the career fields in question. It was felt to be important to inform participants about the context of these fields through specially planned activities and guest speakers. Participants were challenged to conduct online research, think critically, and get hands-on during this program. Wild Careers also exposed the participants to animals and the relevant species management stories. The surveys given before and after the presentation of the created curriculum provided evidence that supported an increased understanding of careers and enjoyment of participants. I propose that other non-formal teaching environments should be created that target exposing youth to animals, nature, and related careers.

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Date Created
2016-05

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The Impacts of Conservation Practices on Indigenous Populations

Description

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

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A Comparative Study of the Institutional Priorities of the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and the Phoenix Zoo

Description

Today, some modern zoos, aquariums, and similar animal-exhibiting institutions continue to shift their priorities toward a focus on the conservation of wildlife. Conservation challenges span a broad subject area. The focus that any institution chooses can vary greatly in terms

Today, some modern zoos, aquariums, and similar animal-exhibiting institutions continue to shift their priorities toward a focus on the conservation of wildlife. Conservation challenges span a broad subject area. The focus that any institution chooses can vary greatly in terms of magnitude and measures of significance. Many modern zoos often choose to make global conservation a central institutional priority: conservation of biodiversity, habitat protection, species extinction, and more. Some institutions, however, set conservation priorities on a smaller scale, focusing on contributions that have a more indirect effect on wild species and habitats, such as the welfare of populations in captivity, raising public awareness of conservation missions, and conservation education. By comparing the institutional priorities of two organizations within the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and the Phoenix Zoo, I explore how each institution manages its living collections and works toward its respective conservation mission. I interviewed members of each institution and analyzed the similarities and differences between the organizations based on their management of living collections, and how different mission statements might shape their work. This included investigating the focus each institution has on animal welfare, in situ and ex situ conservation, and maintaining public interest. This also required defining what conservation and welfare mean to each institution and how that affects the management of their living collections. From a literature review and interviews with representatives from each institution, I was able to determine that despite any differences in style or in the language of respective mission statements, each institution prioritizes connecting the public and conservation of biodiversity. While they employ different approaches - one institution takes a regional interest in the Sonoran Desert ecosystem and landscape; the other takes a more global approach to its experiences, exhibits, and collections - the core values and ultimately the vision remain the same. Conservation may serve as the primary motivator for both the Museum and the Zoo, but my thesis is that this rationale could not be realized by itself for these institutions. Rather, conservation as a core value relies upon the support of other critical institutional priorities working together. In this way animal welfare, public engagement, and conservation relate to one another as institutional values and create the impact that the zoo and museum have on their local communities, as well as on conservation as a whole.

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2021-05

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

Description

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