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

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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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2018-05

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Food Waste Fertilizer Efficacy

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As the world’s population exponentially grows, more food production is required. This increasing food production currently has led to the un-sustainable production of chemical fertilizers and resultant overuse. A more sustainable option to enhance food production could be the use

As the world’s population exponentially grows, more food production is required. This increasing food production currently has led to the un-sustainable production of chemical fertilizers and resultant overuse. A more sustainable option to enhance food production could be the use of fertilizer derived from food waste. To address this, we investigated the possibility of utilizing a fertilizer derived from food waste to grow hydroponic vegetables. Arugula (Eruca sativa) ‘Slow Bolt’ and lettuce (Lactuca sativa) ‘Cherokee’ and ‘Rex’ were cultivated using indoor deep-flow hydroponic systems at 23 ºC under a photosynthetic photon flux density of 170 µmol∙m−2∙s−1 with an 18-hour photoperiod. Plant nutrient solutions were provided by food waste fertilizer or commercial 15:5:20 NPK fertilizer at the identical electrical conductivity (EC) of 2.3 mS·cm–1. At the EC of 2.3 mS·cm–1, chemical fertilizer contained 150 ppm N, 50 ppm P, and 200 ppm K, while food waste fertilizer had 60 ppm N, 26 ppm P, and 119 ppm K. Four weeks after the nutrient treatments were implemented, compared to plants grown with chemical fertilizer, lettuce ‘Rex’ grown with food waste fertilizer had four less leaves, 27.1% shorter leaves, 68.2% and 23.1% less shoot and root fresh weight, respectively. Lettuce ‘Cherokee’ and arugula grown with food waste fertilizer followed a similar trend with fresh shoot weights that were 80.1% and 95.6% less compared to the chemical fertilizer, respectively. In general, the magnitude of reduction in the plant growth was greatest in arugula. These results suggest that both fertilizers were able to successfully grow lettuce and arugula, although the reduced plant growth with the food waste fertilizer in our study is likely from a lower concentration of nutrients when we considered EC as an indicator of nutrient concentration equivalency of the two fertilizer types.

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2021-05

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The Origins of America’s Longest War: Drug Use, Racism, Propaganda, and Prohibition Before the War on Drugs

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The United States’ War on Drugs declared in 1971 by President Richard Nixon and revamped by President Reagan in the 1980s has been an objectively failed initiative with origins based in racism and oppression. After exploring the repercussions of this

The United States’ War on Drugs declared in 1971 by President Richard Nixon and revamped by President Reagan in the 1980s has been an objectively failed initiative with origins based in racism and oppression. After exploring the repercussions of this endeavor for societies and individuals around the world, global researchers and policymakers have declared that the policies and institutions created to fight the battle have left devastation in their wake. Despite high economic and social costs, missed opportunities in public health and criminal justice sectors, and increasing limits on our personal freedoms, all the measures taken to eradicate drug abuse and trafficking have been unsuccessful. Not only that, but militarized police tactics, mass incarceration, and harsh penalties that stifle opportunities for rehabilitation, growth, and change disproportionately harm poor and minority communities. <br/>Because reform in U.S. drug policy is badly needed, the goals of America’s longest war need to be reevaluated, implications of the initiative reexamined, and alternative strategies reconsidered. Solutions must be propagated from a diverse spectrum of contributors and holistic understanding through scientific research, empirical evidence, innovation, public health, social wellbeing, and measurable outcomes. But before we can know where we should be headed, we need to appreciate how we got to where we are. This preliminary expository investigation will explore and outline the history of drug use and prohibition in the United States before the War on Drugs was officially declared. Through an examination of the different patterns of substance use, evolving civil tolerance of users, racially-charged anti-drug misinformation/propaganda campaigns, and increasingly restrictive drug control policies, a foundation for developing solutions and strengths-based strategies for drug reform will emerge.

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2021-05

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

Warrior Cats and Ecology

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My thesis/creative project is a series of videos, supplemented by a paper documenting all the research. The project focuses on domestic and feral cats through the viewpoint of the “warrior cats” book series. The use of a particular fandom as

My thesis/creative project is a series of videos, supplemented by a paper documenting all the research. The project focuses on domestic and feral cats through the viewpoint of the “warrior cats” book series. The use of a particular fandom as a vehicle for science communication is a unique platform for use as a thesis/creative project. The narrated videos are made with the intention of being presented on YouTube or a similar viewing platform to an audience that is already familiar with the book series. The videos would fit on the site as a form of educational film known as video essays. The videos cover a range of topics to relate this book series to real situations with domestic animals, particularly cats, and wildlife. Each video is around ten to twenty minutes long and presented as episodes in a series.
The objective of my thesis project is to help bridge the gap between entertainment and science. I grew up reading the warrior cats, and I assume I was similar to many other children and young teens who did not understand domestic cats or ecology enough to question anything in the books. I know that much of these books are fictional, but that does not mean that it can’t be analyzed and used as a tool for teaching. The goal is to reach common ground with those people who have an interest in the warrior cats series, and help them understand it in a new light, as well as the world around them. I aim for the takeaway of this series to encourage people to explore the concepts I discuss and consider expanding upon the ideas within the Warriors universe or with their own cats.

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2020-05