Matching Items (28)

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Flame retardant contamination in seafood and its significance for conservation

Description

Consumption of seafood poses a substantial threat to global biodiversity. Chemical contamination found in both wild-caught and farmed seafood also presents significant health risks to consumers. Flame retardants, used in upholstery, plastics, clothing, and other products to reduce fire danger,

Consumption of seafood poses a substantial threat to global biodiversity. Chemical contamination found in both wild-caught and farmed seafood also presents significant health risks to consumers. Flame retardants, used in upholstery, plastics, clothing, and other products to reduce fire danger, are of particular concern as they are commonly found in the marine environment and permeate the tissues of fish that are sold for consumption via multiple pathways. By summarizing various metrics of sustainability and the mercury content in consumed species of fish and shellfish, researchers have found that high levels of chemical contamination was linked with lesser fishery sustainability. I conducted a literature review of flame retardant content in seafood to further compare contamination and sustainability in addition to the initial analysis with mercury. My review suggests that the widespread issue of fishery collapse could be alleviated by demonstrating to stakeholders that many unsustainable fish stocks are mutually disadvantageous for both human consumers and the environment. Future research should address the need for the collection of data that better represent actual global contaminant concentrations in seafood.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
2014-05

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Urban Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services: A Comparative Study

Description

This project examines a complex issue in urban ecology: the impact of biodiversity on ecosystem services, and considers how this varies across cities. Data were gathered on multiple economic and ecological parameters for a selection of seven cities around the

This project examines a complex issue in urban ecology: the impact of biodiversity on ecosystem services, and considers how this varies across cities. Data were gathered on multiple economic and ecological parameters for a selection of seven cities around the world and analyzed via multiple linear regression in order to assess any relationships that may be at play. Significance values were then calculated to further define the relationships between the data. Analysis found that both biophysical and socioeconomic factors affected ecosystem services, although not all hypotheses regarding these relationships were met. Conclusions indicate that this model was fairly effective in describing physical drivers of ecosystem services, but were not as clear regarding social drivers. Further study regarding social parameters' effect on ecosystem services is recommended.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
2014-05

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Classication for Conservation: A Random Forest Model to Predict Threatened Marine Species

Description

As threats to Earth's biodiversity continue to evolve, an effective methodology to predict such threats is crucial to ensure the survival of living species. Organizations like the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) monitor the Earth's environmental networks to

As threats to Earth's biodiversity continue to evolve, an effective methodology to predict such threats is crucial to ensure the survival of living species. Organizations like the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) monitor the Earth's environmental networks to preserve the sanctity of terrestrial and marine life. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species informs the conservation activities of governments as a world standard of species' risks of extinction. However, the IUCN's current methodology is, in some ways, inefficient given the immense volume of Earth's species and the laboriousness of its species' risk classification process. IUCN assessors can take years to classify a species' extinction risk, even as that species continues to decline. Therefore, to supplement the IUCN's classification process and thus bolster conservationist efforts for threatened species, a Random Forest model was constructed, trained on a group of fish species previously classified by the IUCN Red List. This Random Forest model both validates the IUCN Red List's classification method and offers a highly efficient, supplemental classification method for species' extinction risk. In addition, this Random Forest model is applicable to species with deficient data, which the IUCN Red List is otherwise unable to classify, thus engendering conservationist efforts for previously obscure species. Although this Random Forest model is built specifically for the trained fish species (Sparidae), the methodology can and should be extended to additional species.

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Created

Date Created
2018-05

The Backyard Biodiversity Project: What is in Your Backyard?

Description

As urbanization continues, critical wildlife may be lost. Residential landscapes, that are friendly to wildlife, can help protect biodiversity and advance sustainability. Urbanites who landscapes their yards to attract wildlife, can also gain greater knowledge and appreciation of nature. This

As urbanization continues, critical wildlife may be lost. Residential landscapes, that are friendly to wildlife, can help protect biodiversity and advance sustainability. Urbanites who landscapes their yards to attract wildlife, can also gain greater knowledge and appreciation of nature. This project proposed an educational approach to encourage four households in the Victory Acres neighborhood in Tempe, Arizona to landscape their gardens with more than just aesthetics and food production as their goals. I developed a booklet on backyard biodiversity to provide the residents with information about the kinds of plants they could incorporate in their yards to attract pollinating species such as butterflies, bees, and birds. It was found that the process of using the guideline to change the landscaping of their yards, changed how the residents thought about gardening and biodiversity. All residents acquired a basic understanding of how important biodiversity is and the mutual dependence between humans and their ecosystem. The booklet also included information that enabled residents to use companion planting to increase yields, attract beneficial insects, control pests, and provide access to healthy, affordable, fresh, and chemical-free produce. These efforts contributed to the project’s goals of maximizing nature conservation efforts and reducing the disconnect between people and nature.

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Date Created
2018-04-27

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Socio-ecological drivers and consequences of land fragmentation under conditions of rapid urbanization

Description

Land transformation under conditions of rapid urbanization has significantly altered the structure and functioning of Earth's systems. Land fragmentation, a characteristic of land transformation, is recognized as a primary driving force in the loss of biological diversity worldwide. However, little

Land transformation under conditions of rapid urbanization has significantly altered the structure and functioning of Earth's systems. Land fragmentation, a characteristic of land transformation, is recognized as a primary driving force in the loss of biological diversity worldwide. However, little is known about its implications in complex urban settings where interaction with social dynamics is intense. This research asks: How do patterns of land cover and land fragmentation vary over time and space, and what are the socio-ecological drivers and consequences of land transformation in a rapidly growing city? Using Metropolitan Phoenix as a case study, the research links pattern and process relationships between land cover, land fragmentation, and socio-ecological systems in the region. It examines population growth, water provision and institutions as major drivers of land transformation, and the changes in bird biodiversity that result from land transformation. How to manage socio-ecological systems is one of the biggest challenges of moving towards sustainability. This research project provides a deeper understanding of how land transformation affects socio-ecological dynamics in an urban setting. It uses a series of indices to evaluate land cover and fragmentation patterns over the past twenty years, including land patch numbers, contagion, shapes, and diversities. It then generates empirical evidence on the linkages between land cover patterns and ecosystem properties by exploring the drivers and impacts of land cover change. An interdisciplinary approach that integrates social, ecological, and spatial analysis is applied in this research. Findings of the research provide a documented dataset that can help researchers study the relationship between human activities and biotic processes in an urban setting, and contribute to sustainable urban development.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
2013

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Coffee Agroecosystems: A Conservation Agreement-Based Approach to Protecting Biodiversity in San Martín, Peru

Description

In the Alto Mayo Protection Forest (AMPF) of San Martín, Peru, unsustainable farming practices in coffee agroecosystems are the main drivers of deforestation and habitat loss. Previous studies indicate that across Latin American coffee farms, using shade-grown coffee result in

In the Alto Mayo Protection Forest (AMPF) of San Martín, Peru, unsustainable farming practices in coffee agroecosystems are the main drivers of deforestation and habitat loss. Previous studies indicate that across Latin American coffee farms, using shade-grown coffee result in higher biodiversity on the farms with a larger abundance of floral and faunal species. In AMPF, conservation agreements have been implemented between cultivators and Conservation International to ameliorate the environmental damages incurred by poor farming practices, as well as to increase cultivator livelihoods. To measure the effectiveness of these agreements, we compared camera trap data to drone-captured shade cover data to find the correlation between higher shade cover and biodiversity among subscriber plots. While our results showed no interrelationship between shade cover and species abundance or richness, this study was a small subset of the larger study, representing only 15% of the total subscriber plots and 24% of the overall sectors. Therefore, we predict that the results of the larger study will be more conclusive and will better indicate the predicted positive relationship between biodiversity and agroecology in AMPF.

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Date Created
2019-05

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A Review of the Sargassum Seaweed Issue Plaguing the Gulf of Mexico

Description

Beginning in 2011, the Gulf of Mexico and all of the surrounding coastlines saw a rapid influx of pelagic Sargassum seaweed. The issue continues to worsen, and as larger amounts of Sargassum continue to wash ashore the affected regions are

Beginning in 2011, the Gulf of Mexico and all of the surrounding coastlines saw a rapid influx of pelagic Sargassum seaweed. The issue continues to worsen, and as larger amounts of Sargassum continue to wash ashore the affected regions are becoming threatened on multiple fronts. These previously unseen quantities of Sargassum seaweed are creating a host of serious environmental, economic, and health concerns. Affected areas are desperately searching for solutions to help remove the seaweed while wondering if these Sargassum covered beaches will become the new norm. While currently these concerns are centralized in coastal regions of the Gulf of Mexico, there is no evidence that the issue will not proliferate leading to wide-scale global problems. This paper investigates the various concerns created by the inundation of the Sargassum seaweed, researches the unique characteristics of the thriving species of Sargassum in hopes of identifying a solution, and explores the potential market value these solutions may have in an attempt to mitigate the large-scale impact of the Sargassum invasion.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
2019-05

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Advancing access to biodiversity data using the SALIX method and digital field guides

Description

The Arizona State University Herbarium began in 1896 when Professor Fredrick Irish collected the first recorded Arizona specimen for what was then called the Tempe Normal School - a Parkinsonia microphylla. Since then, the collection has grown to approximately 400,000

The Arizona State University Herbarium began in 1896 when Professor Fredrick Irish collected the first recorded Arizona specimen for what was then called the Tempe Normal School - a Parkinsonia microphylla. Since then, the collection has grown to approximately 400,000 specimens of vascular plants and lichens. The most recent project includes the digitization - both the imaging and databasing - of approximately 55,000 vascular plant specimens from Latin America. To accomplish this efficiently, possibilities in non-traditional methods, including both new and existing technologies, were explored. SALIX (semi-automatic label information extraction) was developed as the central tool to handle automatic parsing, along with BarcodeRenamer (BCR) to automate image file renaming by barcode. These two developments, combined with existing technologies, make up the SALIX Method. The SALIX Method provides a way to digitize herbarium specimens more efficiently than the traditional approach of entering data solely through keystroking. Using digital imaging, optical character recognition, and automatic parsing, I found that the SALIX Method processes data at an average rate that is 30% faster than typing. Data entry speed is dependent on user proficiency, label quality, and to a lesser degree, label length. This method is used to capture full specimen records, including close-up images where applicable. Access to biodiversity data is limited by the time and resources required to digitize, but I have found that it is possible to do so at a rate that is faster than typing. Finally, I experiment with the use of digital field guides in advancing access to biodiversity data, to stimulate public engagement in natural history collections.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
2012

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Spatial relationships among soil nutrients, plant biodiversity and aboveground biomass in the Inner Mongolia grassland, China

Description

The relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning (BEF) is a central issue in ecology, and a number of recent field experimental studies have greatly improved our understanding of this relationship. Spatial heterogeneity is a ubiquitous characterization of ecosystem processes,

The relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning (BEF) is a central issue in ecology, and a number of recent field experimental studies have greatly improved our understanding of this relationship. Spatial heterogeneity is a ubiquitous characterization of ecosystem processes, and has played a significant role in shaping BEF relationships. The first step towards understanding the effects of spatial heterogeneity on the BEF relationships is to quantify spatial heterogeneity characteristics of key variables of biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, and identify the spatial relationships among these variables. The goal of our research was to address the following research questions based on data collected in 2005 (corresponding to the year when the initial site background information was conducted) and in 2008 (corresponding to the year when removal treatments were conducted) from the Inner Mongolia Grassland Removal Experiment (IMGRE) located in northern China: 1) What are the spatial patterns of soil nutrients, plant biodiversity, and aboveground biomass in a natural grassland community of Inner Mongolia, China? How are they related spatially? and 2) How do removal treatments affect the spatial patterns of soil nutrients, plant biodiversity, and aboveground biomass? Is there any change for their spatial correlations after removal treatments? Our results showed that variables of biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in the natural grassland community would present different spatial patterns, and they would be spatially correlated to each other closely. Removal treatments had a significant effect on spatial structures and spatial correlations of variables, compared to those prior to the removal treatments. The differences in spatial pattern of plant and soil variables and their correlations before and after the biodiversity manipulation may not imply that the results from BEF experiments like IMGRE are invalid. However, they do suggest that the possible effects of spatial heterogeneity on the BEF relationships should be critically evaluated in future studies.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
2011

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The role of environmental education for biodiversity conservation: a case study in the protected areas of Nepal

Description

Balancing conservation goals and needs of local residents is always challenging. While some believe protected areas are a safe paradise for wildlife, others suggest that it is shortsighted to ignore the social and economic challenges faced by people who live

Balancing conservation goals and needs of local residents is always challenging. While some believe protected areas are a safe paradise for wildlife, others suggest that it is shortsighted to ignore the social and economic challenges faced by people who live adjacent to protected areas when addressing conservation objectives. This dissertation explores the link between biodiversity conservation and environmental education programs (EEPs) administered to residents of buffer zones adjacent to three protected areas in the Terai Arc Landscape, Nepal. Using surveys and interviews, this study examined 1) the influence of EEPs on attitudes of local people toward biodiversity conservation; 2) the influence of EEPs on conservation behavior; 3) the responses toward biodiversity conservation of local people residing in buffer zones who have received different levels of EEPs; and 4) the effect of EEPs on wildlife populations within adjacent protected areas. Local people who had participated in EEPs and attended school were more likely to express a positive attitude toward conservation goals than participants who had not participated in EEPs or had the opportunity to attend school. Participation in EEPs and level of education favored expressed behavior toward conservation goals, such as making contributions for conservation or supporting anti-poaching patrols. However, EEP participants and non-participants were equally likely to engage in activities that were at odds with positive conservation behavior, such as collecting fuel wood or killing wildlife to protect their farm or feed their families. A direct comparison of EEPs given by schools versus non-government organizations showed that EEPs were largely ineffective in promoting positive conservation attitudes and behaviors. Despite heavy poaching of charismatic species such as the greater one-horned rhinoceros or tiger over past decades, Nepal recently celebrated ‘zero poaching years’ in 2011 and 2013, largely due to increased anti-poaching enforcement. The relationship between EEPs and the decline in poaching is unclear, although local officials all claimed that EEPs played an important role. These results indicate that current administration of EEPs in Terai buffer zone communities is inadequate, while also providing evidence that properly administrated EEPs may become a valuable investment for these protected areas to achieve long-term success.

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Date Created
2015