Matching Items (7)

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Seed Beetle Abundance and Diversity in Urban and Rural Sites

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The spread of urbanization leads to habitat fragmentation and deterioration and changes the composition of ecosystems for species all over the world. Different groups of organisms are impacted differently, and insects have experienced loss in diversity and abundance due to

The spread of urbanization leads to habitat fragmentation and deterioration and changes the composition of ecosystems for species all over the world. Different groups of organisms are impacted differently, and insects have experienced loss in diversity and abundance due to changing environmental factors. Here, I collected seed beetles across 12 urban and rural sites in Phoenix, Arizona, to analyze the effects of urbanization and habitat variation on beetle diversity and abundance. I found that urbanization, host tree origin, and environmental factors such as tree diversity and density had no impact on overall beetle diversity and abundance. Beetles were found to have higher density on hosts with a higher density of pods. In assessing individual beetle species, some beetles exhibited higher density in rural sites with native trees, and some were found more commonly on nonnative tree species. The observed differences in beetle density demonstrate the range of effects urbanization and environmental features can have on insect species. By studying ecosystem interactions alongside changing environments, we can better predict the role urbanization and human development can have on different organisms.

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2018-05

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Characterization of a Lipid Coating on the Surface of Silk Produced by the Embiid Antipaluria urichi

Description

Insects of the order Embiidina spin sheets of very thin silk fibers from their forelimbs to build silken shelters on bark and in leaf litter in tropical climates. Their shelters are very stiff and hydrophobic to keep out predators and

Insects of the order Embiidina spin sheets of very thin silk fibers from their forelimbs to build silken shelters on bark and in leaf litter in tropical climates. Their shelters are very stiff and hydrophobic to keep out predators and rain. In this study, the existence of an outer lipid coating on silk produced by the embiid Antipaluria urichi is shown using scanning and transmission electron microscopy, FT-IR, and water drop contact angle analysis. Subsequently, the composition of the lipid layer is then characterized by 1H NMR and GC-MS.

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2014-05

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Determining whether generalist herbivores regulate lipid intake

Description

All organisms perform best at a balanced point of intake where nutrients are ingested in specific amounts to confer optimal performance. However, when faced with limited nutrient availability, organisms are forced to make decisions which prioritize intake of certain macronutrients.

All organisms perform best at a balanced point of intake where nutrients are ingested in specific amounts to confer optimal performance. However, when faced with limited nutrient availability, organisms are forced to make decisions which prioritize intake of certain macronutrients. While intake regulation has been more thoroughly studied in omnivores and carnivores, no research exists regarding lipid regulation in generalist herbivores. Traditionally, proteins and carbohydrates were thought to be the most important macronutrient for herbivore intake; however the large differences in lipid nutritional content between different plant species offers lots of potential for regulation of an important macronutrient. We studied whether generalist herbivores can regulate lipid intake, using the migratory locust (Locusta migratoria). Though herbivore protein and carbohydrate intake is well studied, less research studies regulation of lipid intake. We tested this by offering choice diets of varying carbohydrate and lipid content makeup and measuring consumption of each diet choice to determine overall carbohydrate and lipid intake. Four different lipid sources were used in order to control for taste or texture related confounds; canola oil, sunflower oil, grapeseed oil, and a lab designed synthetic oil based on the four most abundant fatty acids in common plant oils. On three out of four diet sources, groups evidences strong regulation of narrow intake target, with little disparity in overall intake of carbohydrate and lipid content between various choice diet treatments. Groups feeding on canola oil and sunflower oil based diets displayed the best regulation based on their having small disparities in intake between treatments, while those feeding on grapeseed oil based diets displayed wide variation in feeding behavior between treatments. Groups feeding on the synthetic oil based diet choice unexpectedly consumed much more carbohydrates than lipids when compared to all other groups. In conclusion, generalist herbivores are capable of regulating lipid intake.

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2021-05

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The Effect of Migration Disturbances on the Reverse Tandem Runs of Temnothorax rugatulus

Description

Temnothorax rugatulus ants are known to recruit via the use of tandem running, a typically two ant interaction in which a leader ant guides a follower ant to a particular location with the intent of teaching the follower ant the

Temnothorax rugatulus ants are known to recruit via the use of tandem running, a typically two ant interaction in which a leader ant guides a follower ant to a particular location with the intent of teaching the follower ant the knowledge required to navigate to said location independently. In general, the purposes of tandem runs are fairly clear. There are tandem runs towards food in order to recruit gatherers, and there are tandem runs towards potential new nest sites to allow the colony to assess site quality. However, a group of tandem runs known as “reverse tandem runs” are a subject of mystery at this time. Reverse tandem runs are a type of tandem run found mainly during specific spans of Temnothorax colony migration. They typically arise during the period of migration when brood are being transported into a new nest site. The carriers of the brood, when returning to the old nest site to gather more brood, occasionally start tandem runs running backwards towards the old nest. In this study, the effect of navigational and physical obstacles encountered during migrations on the number of reverse tandem runs was tested. The hypothesis being that such a disturbance would cause an increase in reverse tandem runs as a method of overcoming the obstacle. This study was completed over the course of two experiments. This first experiment showed no indication of the ants having any trouble with the applied disturbance, and a second experiment with a larger challenge for the migrating ants was performed. The results of this second experiment showed that a migration obstacle will lead to an increase in migration time as well as an increase in the number of failed reverse tandem runs (reverse tandem runs that started but never reached the old nest). However, it was shown that the number of complete reverse tandem runs (reverse tandem runs that reached the old nest) remained the same whether the obstacle was introduced or not.

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2019-05

The genetics of speciation in the parasitoid wasp, Nasonia

Description

Speciation is the fundamental process that has generated the vast diversity of life on earth. The hallmark of speciation is the evolution of barriers to gene flow. These barriers may reduce gene flow either by keeping incipient species from hybridizing

Speciation is the fundamental process that has generated the vast diversity of life on earth. The hallmark of speciation is the evolution of barriers to gene flow. These barriers may reduce gene flow either by keeping incipient species from hybridizing at all (pre-zygotic), or by reducing the fitness of hybrids (post-zygotic). To understand the genetic architecture of these barriers and how they evolve, I studied a genus of wasps that exhibits barriers to gene flow that act both pre- and post-zygotically. Nasonia is a genus of four species of parasitoid wasps that can be hybridized in the laboratory. When two of these species, N. vitripennis and N. giraulti are mated, their offspring suffer, depending on the generation and cross examined, up to 80% mortality during larval development due to incompatible genic interactions between their nuclear and mitochondrial genomes. These species also exhibit pre-zygotic isolation, meaning they are more likely to mate with their own species when given the choice. I examined these two species and their hybrids to determine the genetic and physiological bases of both speciation mechanisms and to understand the evolutionary forces leading to them. I present results that indicate that the oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) pathway, an essential pathway that is responsible for mitochondrial energy generation, is impaired in hybrids of these two species. These results indicate that this impairment is due to the unique evolutionary dynamics of the combined nuclear and mitochondrial origin of this pathway. I also present results showing that, as larvae, these hybrids experience retarded growth linked to the previously observed mortality and I explore possible physiological mechanisms for this. Finally, I show that the pre-mating isolation is due to a change in a single pheromone component in N. vitripennis males, that this change is under simple genetic control, and that it evolved neutrally before being co-opted as a species recognition signal. These results are an important addition to our overall understanding of the mechanisms of speciation and showcase Nasonia as an emerging model for the study of the genetics of speciation.

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Date Created
2013

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Breathe Big Beetle: Despite Hypermetry, Scarab Spiracle Scaling Requires Switch from Diffusive to Convective Gas Exchange

Description

One hypothesis for why insects are smaller than vertebrates is that the blind-ended tracheal respiratory system challenges oxygen delivery for larger insects. Supporting this hypothesis, several studies have documented that larger insect species have larger gas transport structures than expected

One hypothesis for why insects are smaller than vertebrates is that the blind-ended tracheal respiratory system challenges oxygen delivery for larger insects. Supporting this hypothesis, several studies have documented that larger insect species have larger gas transport structures than expected by isometric scaling. To further test this hypothesis, we performed the first inter-specific study of the scaling of spiracle size, using ten scarab beetle species, including some of the most massive insects. Using micro-CT, we measured the cross sectional area and depth of all eight spiracles. Areas of large spiracles in the anterior portion of the animal showed hypermetric scaling, varying approximately with mass^0.8. However, because diffusive capacities scaled with lower slopes than metabolic rates, larger beetles had a 10-fold higher required PO2 gradient across the spiracles to sustain oxygen consumption by diffusion. Despite this trend, calculations suggest that large beetles can exchange oxygen by diffusion across the spiracles at rest, but likely no beetles can do so during flight. Advective capacities through the spiracles scale with mass^1.8, suggestive of a switch toward greater use of convection and/or reduced required pressures in larger beetles.

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2017-05

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Mathematics of climate change and mosquito-borne disease dynamics

Description

The role of climate change, as measured in terms of changes in the climatology of geophysical variables (such as temperature and rainfall), on the global distribution and burden of vector-borne diseases (VBDs) remains a subject of considerable debate. This dissertation

The role of climate change, as measured in terms of changes in the climatology of geophysical variables (such as temperature and rainfall), on the global distribution and burden of vector-borne diseases (VBDs) remains a subject of considerable debate. This dissertation attempts to contribute to this debate via the use of mathematical (compartmental) modeling and statistical data analysis. In particular, the objective is to find suitable values and/or ranges of the climate variables considered (typically temperature and rainfall) for maximum vector abundance and consequently, maximum transmission intensity of the disease(s) they cause.

Motivated by the fact that understanding the dynamics of disease vector is crucial to understanding the transmission and control of the VBDs they cause, a novel weather-driven deterministic model for the population biology of the mosquito is formulated and rigorously analyzed. Numerical simulations, using relevant weather and entomological data for Anopheles mosquito (the vector for malaria), show that maximum mosquito abundance occurs when temperature and rainfall values lie in the range [20-25]C and [105-115] mm, respectively.

The Anopheles mosquito ecology model is extended to incorporate human dynamics. The resulting weather-driven malaria transmission model, which includes many of the key aspects of malaria (such as disease transmission by asymptomatically-infectious humans, and enhanced malaria immunity due to repeated exposure), was rigorously analyzed. The model which also incorporates the effect of diurnal temperature range (DTR) on malaria transmission dynamics shows that increasing DTR shifts the peak temperature value for malaria transmission from 29C (when DTR is 0C) to about 25C (when DTR is 15C).

Finally, the malaria model is adapted and used to study the transmission dynamics of chikungunya, dengue and Zika, three diseases co-circulating in the Americas caused by the same vector (Aedes aegypti). The resulting model, which is fitted using data from Mexico, is used to assess a few hypotheses (such as those associated with the possible impact the newly-released dengue vaccine will have on Zika) and the impact of variability in climate variables on the dynamics of the three diseases. Suitable temperature and rainfall ranges for the maximum transmission intensity of the three diseases are obtained.

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Date Created
2018