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The emergence and scaling of division of labor in insect societies

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Division of labor, whereby different group members perform different functions, is a fundamental attribute of sociality. It appears across social systems, from simple cooperative groups to complex eusocial colonies. A core challenge in sociobiology is to explain how patterns of

Division of labor, whereby different group members perform different functions, is a fundamental attribute of sociality. It appears across social systems, from simple cooperative groups to complex eusocial colonies. A core challenge in sociobiology is to explain how patterns of collective organization are generated. Theoretical models propose that division of labor self-organizes, or emerges, from interactions among group members and the environment; division of labor is also predicted to scale positively with group size. I empirically investigated the emergence and scaling of division of labor in evolutionarily incipient groups of sweat bees and in eusocial colonies of harvester ants. To test whether division of labor is an emergent property of group living during early social evolution, I created de novo communal groups of the normally solitary sweat bee Lasioglossum (Ctenonomia) NDA-1. A division of labor repeatedly arose between nest excavation and guarding tasks; results were consistent with hypothesized effects of spatial organization and intrinsic behavioral variability. Moreover, an experimental increase in group size spontaneously promoted higher task specialization and division of labor. Next, I examined the influence of colony size on division of labor in larger, more integrated colonies of the harvester ant Pogonomyrmex californicus. Division of labor scaled positively with colony size in two contexts: during early colony ontogeny, as colonies grew from tens to hundreds of workers, and among same-aged colonies that varied naturally in size. However, manipulation of colony size did not elicit a short-term response, suggesting that the scaling of division of labor in P. californicus colonies is a product of functional integration and underlying developmental processes, rather than a purely emergent epiphenomenon. This research provides novel insights into the organization of work in insect societies, and raises broader questions about the role of size in sociobiology.

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2011

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Global bioethics: a descriptive analysis of the function of bioethics in health and medicine on a global scale

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This thesis explores concept of "global bioethics" in both its development as well as its current state in an effort to understand exactly where it fits into the larger field of bioethics. Further, the analysis poses specific questions regarding what

This thesis explores concept of "global bioethics" in both its development as well as its current state in an effort to understand exactly where it fits into the larger field of bioethics. Further, the analysis poses specific questions regarding what it may contribute to this field and related fields, and the possibility and scope associated with the continued development of global bioethics as its own discipline. To achieve this, the piece addresses questions regarding current opinions on the subject, the authorities and their associated publications related to global bioethics, and what the aims of the subject should be given its current state. "Global Bioethics" is a term that, while seen frequently in bioethics literature, is difficult to define succinctly. While many opinions are provided on the concept, little consensus exists regarding its application and possible contributions and, in some cases, even its very possibility. Applying ethical principles of health and medicine globally is undoubtedly complicated by the cultural, social, and geographical considerations associated with understanding health and medicine in different populations, leading to a dichotomy between two schools of thought in relation to global bioethics. These two sides consist of those who think that universality of bioethics is possible whereas the opposing viewpoint holds that relativism is the key to applying ethics on a global scale. Despite the aforementioned dichotomy in addressing applications of global bioethics, this analysis shows that the goals of the subject should be more focused on contributing to ethical frameworks and valuable types of thinking related to the ethics health and medicine on a global scale. This is achieved through an exploration of bioethics in general, health as a function of society and culture, the history and development of global bioethics itself, and an exploration of pertinent global health topics. While primarily descriptive in nature, this analysis critiques some of the current discussions and purported goals surrounding global bioethics, recommending that the field focus on fostering valuable discussion and framing of issues rather than the pursuit of concrete judgments on moral issues in global health and medicine.

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2011

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Comparison of soil and vegetation properties using salt extractor and conventional soil amendments from irrigation with coal bed natural gas product water

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Coal bed natural gas (CBNG) production has become a significant contribution to the nation's energy supply. Large volumes of water are generated as a byproduct of CBNG extraction, of which this "product water" is relatively high in sodium. High sodicity

Coal bed natural gas (CBNG) production has become a significant contribution to the nation's energy supply. Large volumes of water are generated as a byproduct of CBNG extraction, of which this "product water" is relatively high in sodium. High sodicity reduces water quality and limits environmentally compliant disposal options for producers. Crop irrigation with CBNG product water complies with state and federal laws and is a disposal method that also provides a beneficial use to private landowners. However, this disposal method typically requires gypsum and sulfur soil amendments due to the high levels of sodium in the water, which can reduce soil infiltration and hydraulic conductivity. In this study, I tested a new product called Salt Extractor that was marketed to CBNG producers to ameliorate the negative effects of high sodicity. The experiment was conducted in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming. I used a random block design to compare the soil and vegetation properties of plots following application with CBNG product water and treatments of either Salt Extractor, gypsum and sulfur (conventional), or no treatment (control). Data was analyzed by comparing the amount of change between treatments after watering. Results demonstrated the known ability of gypsum and sulfur to lower the relative sodicity of the soil. Plots treated with Salt Extractor, however, did not improve relative levels of sodicity and exhibited no favorable benefits to vegetation.

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2011

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Molecular chaperones of the endoplasmic reticulum promote hepatitis C virus E2 protein production in plants

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Infections caused by the Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) are very common worldwide, affecting up to 3% of the population. Chronic infection of HCV may develop into liver cirrhosis and liver cancer which is among the top five of the most

Infections caused by the Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) are very common worldwide, affecting up to 3% of the population. Chronic infection of HCV may develop into liver cirrhosis and liver cancer which is among the top five of the most common cancers. Therefore, vaccines against HCV are under intense study in order to prevent HCV from harming people's health. The envelope protein 2 (E2) of HCV is thought to be a promising vaccine candidate because it can directly bind to a human cell receptor and plays a role in viral entry. However, the E2 protein production in cells is inefficient due to its complicated matured structure. Folding of E2 in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is often error-prone, resulting in production of aggregates and misfolded proteins. These incorrect forms of E2 are not functional because they are not able to bind to human cells and stimulate antibody response to inhibit this binding. This study is aimed to overcome the difficulties of HCV E2 production in plant system. Protein folding in the ER requires great assistance from molecular chaperones. Thus, in this study, two molecular chaperones in the ER, calreticulin and calnexin, were transiently overexpressed in plant leaves in order to facilitate E2 folding and production. Both of them showed benefits in increasing the yield of E2 and improving the quality of E2. In addition, poorly folded E2 accumulated in the ER may cause stress in the ER and trigger transcriptional activation of ER molecular chaperones. Therefore, a transcription factor involved in this pathway, named bZIP60, was also overexpressed in plant leaves, aiming at up-regulating a major family of molecular chaperones called BiP to assist protein folding. However, our results showed that BiP mRNA levels were not up-regulated by bZIP60, but they increased in response to E2 expression. The Western blot analysis also showed that overexpression of bZIP60 had a small effect on promoting E2 folding. Overall, this study suggested that increasing the level of specific ER molecular chaperones was an effective way to promote HCV E2 protein production and maturation.

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2011

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Bursera microphylla in South Mountain Municipal Park: evaluating its habitat characteristics

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ABSTRACT The elephant tree, Bursera microphylla, is at the northern limit of its range in central Arizona. This species is sensitive to frost damage thus limiting its occurrence in more northern areas of the southwest. Marginal populations of B. microphylla

ABSTRACT The elephant tree, Bursera microphylla, is at the northern limit of its range in central Arizona. This species is sensitive to frost damage thus limiting its occurrence in more northern areas of the southwest. Marginal populations of B. microphylla are found in mountain ranges of Central Arizona and are known to occur in the rugged mountain range system of the South Mountain Municipal Park (SMMP). Little is known of the distribution of this species within the park and details relevant to the health of both individual plants and the population such as diameter and number of trunks, height, and presence of damage have not been examined. This study was designed, in part, to test the hypothesis that favorable microhabitats at SMMP are created by particular combinations of abiotic features including aspect, slope, elevation and solar radiation. Data on abiotic factors, as well as specific individual plant locations and characteristics were obtained for 100 individuals. Temperature data was collected in vertical transects at different altitudinal levels. Some of these data were used in spatial analyses to generate a habitat suitability model using GIS software. Furthermore, collected data was analyzed using Matlab© software to identify potential trends in the variation of morphological traits. In addition, for comparative purposes similar information at one hundred computer-generated randomly chosen points throughout SMMP was obtained. The GIS spatial analyses indicated that aspect, slope, elevation, and relative solar radiance are strongly associated as major climatic components of the microhabitat of B. microphylla. Temperature data demonstrated that there are significant differences in ambient temperature among different altitudinal gradients with middle elevations being more favorable. Furthermore, analyses performed using Matlab© to explore trends of elevation as a factor indicated that multiple trunk plants are more commonly found at higher elevations than single trunk plants, there is a positive correlation of trunk diameter with elevation, and that canopy volume has a negative correlation with respect to elevation. It was concluded that microhabitats where B. microphylla occurs at the northern limit of its range require a particular combination of abiotic features that can be easily altered by climatic changes.

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2011

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The effects of artificial water sources on small mammal communities

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Modified and artificial water sources can be used as a management tool for game and non-game wildlife species. State, federal, and private agencies allocate significant resources to install and maintain artificial water sources (AWS) annually. Capture mark recapture methods were

Modified and artificial water sources can be used as a management tool for game and non-game wildlife species. State, federal, and private agencies allocate significant resources to install and maintain artificial water sources (AWS) annually. Capture mark recapture methods were used to sample small mammal communities in the vicinity of five AWS and five paired control sites (treatments) in the surrounding Sonoran desert from October 2011 to May 2012. I measured plant species richness, density, and percent cover in the spring of 2012. A Multi-response Permutation Procedure was used to identify differences in small mammal community abundance, biomass, and species richness by season and treatment. I used Principle Component Analysis to reduce 11 habitat characteristics to five habitat factors. I related rodent occurrence to habitat characteristics using multiple and logistic regression. A total of 370 individual mammals representing three genera and eight species of rodents were captured across 4800 trap nights. Desert pocket mouse (Chaetodipus penicillatus) was the most common species in both seasons and treatments. Whereas rodent community abundance, biomass, and richness were similar between seasons, community variables of AWS were greater than CS. Rodent diversity was similar between treatments. Desert pocket mouse abundance and biomass were twice as high at AWS when compared to controls. Biomass of white-throated woodrat (Neotoma albigula) was five times greater at AWS. Habitat characteristics were similar between treatments. Neither presence of water nor distance to water explained substantial habitat variation. Occurrence of rodent species was associated with habitat characteristics. Desert rodent communities are adapted for arid environments (i.e. Heteromyids) and are not dependent on "free water". Higher abundances of desert pocket mouse at AWS were most likely related to increased disturbance and debris and not the presence of water. The results of this study and previous studies suggest that more investigation is needed and that short term studies may not be able to detect interactions (if any) between AWS and desert small mammal communities.

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2013

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Conveying controversial science: Sam Harris's "The Moral Landscape" and popular science communication

Description

The academic literature on science communication widely acknowledges a problem: science communication between experts and lay audiences is important, but it is not done well. General audience popular science books, however, carry a reputation for clear science communication and are

The academic literature on science communication widely acknowledges a problem: science communication between experts and lay audiences is important, but it is not done well. General audience popular science books, however, carry a reputation for clear science communication and are understudied in the academic literature. For this doctoral dissertation, I utilize Sam Harris's The Moral Landscape, a general audience science book on the particularly thorny topic of neuroscientific approaches to morality, as a case-study to explore the possibility of using general audience science books as models for science communication more broadly. I conduct a literary analysis of the text that delimits the scope of its project, its intended audience, and the domains of science to be communicated. I also identify seven literary aspects of the text: three positive aspects that facilitate clarity and four negative aspects that interfere with lay public engagement. I conclude that The Moral Landscape relies on an assumed knowledge base and intuitions of its audience that cannot reasonably be expected of lay audiences; therefore, it cannot properly be construed as popular science communication. It nevertheless contains normative lessons for the broader science project, both in literary aspects to be salvaged and literary aspects and concepts to consciously be avoided and combated. I note that The Moral Landscape's failings can also be taken as an indication that typical descriptions of science communication offer under-detailed taxonomies of both audiences for science communication and the varieties of science communication aimed at those audiences. Future directions of study include rethinking appropriate target audiences for science literacy projects and developing a more discriminating taxonomy of both science communication and lay publics.

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2013

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Examination of the state-dependency and consequences of foraging in a low-energy system, the Gila monster, Heloderma suspectum

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Foraging has complex effects on whole-organism homeostasis, and there is considerable evidence that foraging behavior is influenced by both environmental factors (e.g., food availability, predation risk) and the physiological condition of an organism. The optimization of foraging behavior to balance

Foraging has complex effects on whole-organism homeostasis, and there is considerable evidence that foraging behavior is influenced by both environmental factors (e.g., food availability, predation risk) and the physiological condition of an organism. The optimization of foraging behavior to balance costs and benefits is termed state-dependent foraging (SDF) while behavior that seeks to protect assets of fitness is termed the asset protection principle (APP). A majority of studies examining SDF have focused on the role that energy balance has on the foraging of organisms with high metabolism and high energy demands ("high-energy systems" such as endotherms). In contrast, limited work has examined whether species with low energy use ("low-energy systems" such as vertebrate ectotherms) use an SDF strategy. Additionally, there is a paucity of evidence demonstrating how physiological and environmental factors other than energy balance influence foraging behavior (e.g. hydration state and free-standing water availability). Given these gaps in our understanding of SDF behavior and the APP, I examined the state-dependency and consequences of foraging in a low-energy system occupying a resource-limited environment - the Gila monster (Heloderma suspectum, Cope 1869). In contrast to what has been observed in a wide variety of taxa, I found that Gila monsters do not use a SDF strategy to manage their energy reserves and that Gila monsters do not defend their energetic assets. However, hydration state and free-standing water availability do affect foraging behavior of Gila monsters. Additionally, as Gila monsters become increasingly dehydrated, they reduce activity to defend hydration state. The SDF behavior of Gila monsters appears to be largely driven by the fact that Gila monsters must separately satisfy energy and water demands with food and free-standing water, respectively, in conjunction with the timescale within which Gila monsters balance their energy and water budgets (supra-annually versus annually, respectively). Given these findings, the impact of anticipated changes in temperature and rainfall patterns in the Sonoran Desert are most likely going to pose their greatest risks to Gila monsters through the direct and indirect effects on water balance.

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2014

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Ambient light environment and the evolution of brightness, chroma, and perceived chromaticity in the warning signals of butterflies

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ABSTRACT 1. Aposematic signals advertise prey distastefulness or metabolic unprofitability to potential predators and have evolved independently in many prey groups over the course of evolutionary history as a means of protection from predation. Most aposematic signals investigated to date

ABSTRACT 1. Aposematic signals advertise prey distastefulness or metabolic unprofitability to potential predators and have evolved independently in many prey groups over the course of evolutionary history as a means of protection from predation. Most aposematic signals investigated to date exhibit highly chromatic patterning; however, relatives in these toxic groups with patterns of very low chroma have been largely overlooked. 2. We propose that bright displays with low chroma arose in toxic prey species because they were more effective at deterring predation than were their chromatic counterparts, especially when viewed in relatively low light environments such as forest understories. 3. We analyzed the reflectance and radiance of color patches on the wings of 90 tropical butterfly species that belong to groups with documented toxicity that vary in their habitat preferences to test this prediction: Warning signal chroma and perceived chromaticity are expected to be higher and brightness lower in species that fly in open environments when compared to those that fly in forested environments. 4. Analyses of the reflectance and radiance of warning color patches and predator visual modeling support this prediction. Moreover, phylogenetic tests, which correct for statistical non-independence due to phylogenetic relatedness of test species, also support the hypothesis of an evolutionary correlation between perceived chromaticity of aposematic signals and the flight habits of the butterflies that exhibit these signals.

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2013

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Hybridization and speciation in common and black-tufted marmosets (Callithrix jacchus and C. penicillata)

Description

As an evolutionary force, hybridization outcomes include introgression, admixture, speciation, and reproductive isolation. While hybridization has been studied in several primates, the marmoset genus Callithrix is an important, but little studied example of Neotropical hybridization. Varying degrees of reproductive isolation

As an evolutionary force, hybridization outcomes include introgression, admixture, speciation, and reproductive isolation. While hybridization has been studied in several primates, the marmoset genus Callithrix is an important, but little studied example of Neotropical hybridization. Varying degrees of reproductive isolation exist between Callithrix species, and hybridization occurs at species borders or regions containing introduced and native species. Interbreeding between Callithrix species carries important implications for biodiversity and genetic integrity within the genus. However, species origins and levels of genetic admixture in marmoset hybrid zones are generally unknown, and few population genetic studies of individual Callithrix species exist. Using the mitochondrial control region and 44 microsatellite markers, this work explored the genetic diversity and species origins of two C. penicillata and C. jacchus hybrid zones, as well as genetic diversity and divergence in the parental species. Both marker types showed that C. penicillata is more genetically diverse than C. jacchus. Based on mtDNA, C. jacchus seems to have experienced a past population expansion and C. penicillata evolved under constant population size. The data revealed the existence of a previously undocumented natural hybrid zone along the São Francisco River in NE Brazil and confirmed species origins of an anthropogenic zone in Rio de Janeiro state. The data also showed much lower levels of admixture and genetic diversity within the natural hybrid zone than in the anthropogenic zone. Further, the data suggested that the São Francisco River is an important geographic barrier to gene flow in the natural hybrid zone. On the other hand, admixture patterns within the anthropogenic hybrid zone suggested collapse of reproductive barriers, and the formation of a hybrid marmoset swarm. Thus, this work suggested different evolutionary dynamics in anthropogenic vs. natural animal hybrid zones. Restriction Associated DNA sequencing (RADseq) identified a large number of single nucleotide polymorphisms within C. jacchus and C. penicillata genomes. These preliminary data were used to measure intraspecific genomic diversity and interspecific divergence. In the future, RADseq will be used to study genus-wide diversity of Callithrix species, examine past and present marmoset demographic history, and applied to the evolutionary study of marmoset hybridization.

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2013