Matching Items (35)

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Effects of urbanization on the nutritional physiology and gut microbiome of house sparrows (Passer domesticus)

Description

The natural habitat as well as the food abundance and food sources of avian species is changing due to urbanization, and such anthropocentric actions could lead to devastating impacts on bird populations. As changes in distribution and nutrition are thought

The natural habitat as well as the food abundance and food sources of avian species is changing due to urbanization, and such anthropocentric actions could lead to devastating impacts on bird populations. As changes in distribution and nutrition are thought to be related to the gut microbiome, the goal of this study was to determine the relationship between nutritional markers, including body mass, gizzard mass, triglycerides, free glycerol and glycogen, and the gut microbiome in urban and rural house sparrows (Passer domesticus), to understand physiological differences between urban and rural house sparrows. We hypothesized that increased access to human refuse, through urbanization, may significantly alter the gut microbiome and thus, the nutritional physiology-the effects of foods on metabolism-of urban birds. Fecal samples were collected from rural (n=13) and urban (n=7) birds to characterize the gut microbiome and plasma samples were collected to measure nutritional markers using commercially available kits. Following euthanasia, liver samples were collected to measure triglycerides, free glycerol and glycogen. While there were no significant differences in circulating triglycerides or free glycerol between populations, urban birds had significantly greater blood glucose (p=0.046) compared to rural birds, when normalized to body mass. Additionally, rural birds had significantly more plasma uric acid (p=0.016) and liver free glycerol (p=0.044). Higher blood glucose suggests greater accessibility to carbohydrates in an urban setting or higher rates of gluconeogenesis. Uric acid is a byproduct of purine catabolism and a potent antioxidant. Thus, higher uric acid suggests that rural birds may utilize more protein for energy. Finally, higher liver free glycerol in rural birds suggests they metabolize more fat but could also indicate that urban birds have greater glycerol gluconeogenesis, which may consume free glycerol resulting in higher glucose concentrations. However, the current study does not provide evidence for this as there were no significant differences in the gluconeogenic enzyme PEPCK-C levels between urban and rural house sparrows (p= 0.165). While triglyceride, glucose, and uric acid levels differed between urban and rural birds, there were additionally no significant differences in the gut microbiome, indicating that although nutritional physiology can be affected by distribution and varying food availability and sources, differences in the gut microbiome are evident at the phyla level.

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2018-05

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Seed Beetle Abundance and Diversity in Urban and Rural Sites

Description

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

Simulating Interdependent Infrastructure Vulnerability to Extreme Weather Events

Description

The objective of the research was to simulate interdependencies between municipal water-power distribution systems in a theoretical section of the Phoenix urban environment that had variable population density and highest ambient temperature. Real-time simulations were run using the Resilient Infrastructure

The objective of the research was to simulate interdependencies between municipal water-power distribution systems in a theoretical section of the Phoenix urban environment that had variable population density and highest ambient temperature. Real-time simulations were run using the Resilient Infrastructure Simulation Environment (RISE) software developed by Laboratory for Energy and Power Solutions (LEAPS) at ASU. The simulations were run at estimated population density to simulate urbanism, and temperature conditions to simulate increased urban heat island effect of Phoenix at 2020, 2040, 2060, and 2080 using the IEEE 13 bus test case were developed. The water model was simulated by extrapolated projections of increased population from the city of Phoenix census data. The goal of the simulations was that they could be used to observe the critical combination of system factors that lead to cascading failures and overloads across the interconnected system. Furthermore, a Resilient Infrastructure Simulation Environment (RISE) user manual was developed and contains an introduction to RISE and how it works, 2 chapters detailing the components of power and water systems, respectively, and a final section describing the RISE GUI as a user. The user manual allows prospective users, such as utility operators or other stakeholders, to familiarize themselves with both systems and explore consequences of altering system properties in RISE by themselves. Parts of the RISE User Manual were used in the online "help" guide on the RISE webpage.

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2018-12

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Handling the Heat: Plasticity of an Arthropod Pest in Response to the Urban Heat Island

Description

In recent years, ecologists have begun to study the effects of urbanization on species diversity. While urban areas generally suffer decreased biodiversity, some species, termed “urban exploiters”, not only live in the city but depend on urban resources to thrive.

In recent years, ecologists have begun to study the effects of urbanization on species diversity. While urban areas generally suffer decreased biodiversity, some species, termed “urban exploiters”, not only live in the city but depend on urban resources to thrive. It is hypothesized that urban exploiters may succeed in part due to phenotypic plasticity, in which organisms rapidly adjust their physiology or behavior to adapt to novel environmental contexts. In the city, it may be adaptive to display thermal plasticity, as the urban heat island effect caused by concrete and asphalt infrastructure prevents cooling at night. In this study, we observed the decorated cricket Gryllodes sigillatus, an invasive urban exploiter found in metropolitan Phoenix, in two separate experiments. We hypothesized that heat tolerance and activity are both plastic traits in this species. In Experiment 1, we predicted that knock-down time, a measure of heat tolerance, would be negatively affected by acclimation to a laboratory environment. Our results suggest that heat tolerance is affected by recent thermal regimes and that laboratory acclimation decreases knock-down time. In Experiment 2, we predicted that activity would increase with temperature until a point of extreme heat, at which point activity would decline. Statistical analysis for the second experiment reveals that activity decreases at 33°C, a natural urban extreme. This suggests either that 33°C is a thermal limit to physiology or that G. sigillatus is able to alter its behavior to exploit local thermal heterogeneity.

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2015-05

Urbanization alters herbivore rodent composition but not abundance

Description

Desert ecosystems are one of the fastest urbanizing areas on the planet. This rapid shift has the potential to alter the abundances and species richness of herbivore and plant communities. Herbivores, for example, are expected to be more abundant in

Desert ecosystems are one of the fastest urbanizing areas on the planet. This rapid shift has the potential to alter the abundances and species richness of herbivore and plant communities. Herbivores, for example, are expected to be more abundant in urban desert remnant parks located within cities due to anthropogenic activities that concentrate food resources and reduce native predator populations. Despite this assumption, previous research conducted around Phoenix has shown that top-down herbivory led to equally reduced plant biomass. It is unclear if this insignificant difference in herbivory at rural and urban sites is due to unaltered desert herbivore populations or altered activity levels that counteract abundance differences. Vertebrate herbivore populations were surveyed at four sites inside and four sites outside of the core of Phoenix during fall 2014 and spring 2015 in order to determine whether abundances and richness differ significantly between urban and rural sites. In order to survey species composition and abundance at these sites, 100 Sherman traps and 8 larger wire traps that are designed to attract and capture small vertebrates such as mice, rats, and squirrels, were set at each site for two consecutive trap nights. Results suggest that the commonly assumed effect of urbanization on herbivore abundances does not apply to small rodent herbivore populations in a desert city, as overall small rodent abundances were statistically similar regardless of location. Though a significant difference was not found for species richness, a significant difference between small rodent genera richness at these sites was observed.

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2016-05

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The Effects of Urban Edge Proximity on Mesopredator Populations Adjacent to Gold Canyon, Az

Description

Urbanization is a landscape-level alteration of habitat that can lead to habitat fragmentation, degradation, and the introduction of nonnative species. Due to their life history characteristics, mammalian predators are particularly vulnerable to these effects. The categorization of many species as

Urbanization is a landscape-level alteration of habitat that can lead to habitat fragmentation, degradation, and the introduction of nonnative species. Due to their life history characteristics, mammalian predators are particularly vulnerable to these effects. The categorization of many species as synanthropic, benefiting from human development, has been difficult as species have a gradient of responses to urbanization. Although coyotes, gray foxes and bobcats have all been shown to benefit from light to moderate levels of urbanization, often due to the increase in food resources, they typically require access to natural areas as escape cover. Camera traps at varying distances were used to document mesopredator response to the urban edge of Gold Canyon, Arizona from November 2015 through March 2016. Coyote, gray fox and bobcat relative abundance did not vary with distance to urban edge during this time period. Although, negative trends suggest that a larger scale study may reveal a negative relationship between distance to urban edge and mesopredator abundance for all 3 of these species. The efficacy of different baits at increasing mesopredator detections was also tested, with insignificant results. However, coyotes seemed to be more likely to interact with Carman's Raccoon Lure No. 2 than coyote urine. Understanding the responses of mesopredators to urbanization will allow us to better coexist with these vulnerable species as land continues to be developed at high rates across the globe.

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2016-05

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Developing Anthropogenic Heating Profiles for Urban Areas across the United States

Description

Urban areas produce an urban heat island (UHI), which is manifest as warmer temperatures compared to the surrounding and less developed areas. While it is understood that UHI's are warmer than their surrounding areas, attributing the amount of heat added

Urban areas produce an urban heat island (UHI), which is manifest as warmer temperatures compared to the surrounding and less developed areas. While it is understood that UHI's are warmer than their surrounding areas, attributing the amount of heat added by the urban area is not easily determined. Current generation modeling systems require diurnal anthropogenic heating profiles. Development of diurnal cycle profiles of anthropogenic heating will help the modeling community as there is currently no database for anthropogenic heating profiles for cities across the United States. With more accurate anthropogenic heating profiles, climate models will be better able to show how humans directly impact the urban climate. This research attempts to create anthropogenic heating profiles for 61 cities in the United States. The method used climate, electricity, natural gas, and transportation data to develop anthropogenic heating profiles for each state. To develop anthropogenic heating profiles, profiles are developed for buildings, transportation, and human metabolism using the most recently available data. Since utilities are reluctant to release data, the building energy profile is developed using statewide electricity by creating a linear regression between the climate and electricity usage. A similar method is used to determine the contribution of natural gas consumption. These profiles are developed for each month of the year, so annual changes in anthropogenic heating can be seen. These profiles can then be put into climate models to enable more accurate urban climate modeling.

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2014-05

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The effects of urbanization and human disturbance on problem solving in juvenile house finches (Haemorhous mexicanus)

Description

Urbanization exposes wildlife to many unfamiliar environmental conditions, including the presence of novel structures and food sources. Adapting to or thriving within such anthropogenic modifications may involve cognitive skills, whereby animals come to solve novel problems while navigating, foraging, etc.

Urbanization exposes wildlife to many unfamiliar environmental conditions, including the presence of novel structures and food sources. Adapting to or thriving within such anthropogenic modifications may involve cognitive skills, whereby animals come to solve novel problems while navigating, foraging, etc. The increased presence of humans in urban areas is an additional environmental challenge that may potentially impact cognitive performance in wildlife. To date, there has been little experimental investigation into how human disturbance affects problem solving in animals from urban and rural areas. Urban animals may show superior cognitive performance in the face of human disturbance, due to familiarity with benign human presence, or rural animals may show greater cognitive performance in response to the heightened stress of unfamiliar human presence. Here, I studied the relationship between human disturbance, urbanization, and the ability to solve a novel foraging problem in wild-caught juvenile house finches (Haemorhous mexicanus). This songbird is a successful urban dweller and native to the deserts of the southwestern United States. In captivity, finches captured from both urban and rural populations were presented with a novel foraging task (sliding a lid covering their typical food dish) and then exposed to regular periods of high or low human disturbance over several weeks before they were again presented with the task. I found that rural birds exposed to frequent human disturbance showed reduced task performance compared to human-disturbed urban finches. This result is consistent with the hypothesis that acclimation to human presence protects urban birds from reduced cognition, unlike rural birds. Some behaviors related to solving the problem (e.g. pecking at and eying the dish) also differed between urban and rural finches, possibly indicating that urban birds were less neophobic and more exploratory than rural ones. However, these results were unclear. Overall, these findings suggest that urbanization and acclimation to human presence can strongly predict avian response to novelty and cognitive challenges.

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2015-05

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Examining sex and urban-rural differences in preen oil composition in the house finch (Haemorhous mexicanus)

Description

Self-maintenance behaviors, like preening in birds, can have important effects on fitness in many animals. Birds produce preen oil, which is a mixture of volatile and non-volatile compounds, that is spread through their feathers during grooming and influences feather integrity,

Self-maintenance behaviors, like preening in birds, can have important effects on fitness in many animals. Birds produce preen oil, which is a mixture of volatile and non-volatile compounds, that is spread through their feathers during grooming and influences feather integrity, waterproofing, and coloration. As urban areas grow and present conditions that may demand increased feather self-maintenance (e.g. due to soiling, pollution, elevated UV exposure due to natural habitat alterations), it is important to examine how preening and preen oil may be affected by this process. I assessed variation in preen oil composition in house finches (Haemorhous mexicanus) as a function of sex, urbanization, and plumage hue, a sexually selected indicator of male quality. Preen oil samples from birds captured at urban and rural sites were analyzed using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. We detected 18 major peaks, which we tentatively identified as esters, and found that, although there were no sex or urban-rural differences in preen oil constituents, there was a significant interactive effect of sex and urbanization, with rural females and urban males having higher amounts of some components. This suggests that factors that vary with sex or urbanization, such as the timing of seasonal cycles, are affecting preen oil composition. There were no significant relationships between coloration and preen oil composition, suggesting that preen oil composition does not vary with male quality.

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2015-05

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Numerical study of the effect of urbanization on the climate

Description

This study uses the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model to simulate and predict the changes in local climate attributed to the urbanization for five desert cities. The simulations are performed in the fashion of climate downscaling, constrained by the

This study uses the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model to simulate and predict the changes in local climate attributed to the urbanization for five desert cities. The simulations are performed in the fashion of climate downscaling, constrained by the surface boundary conditions generated from high resolution land-use maps. For each city, the land-use maps of 1985 and 2010 from Landsat satellite observation, and a projected land-use map for 2030, are used to represent the past, present, and future. An additional set of simulations for Las Vegas, the largest of the five cities, uses the NLCD 1992 and 2006 land-use maps and an idealized historical land-use map with no urban coverage for 1900.

The study finds that urbanization in Las Vegas produces a classic urban heat island (UHI) at night but a minor cooling during the day. A further analysis of the surface energy balance shows that the decrease in surface Albedo and increase effective emissivity play an important role in shaping the local climate change over urban areas. The emerging urban structures slow down the diurnal wind circulation over the city due to an increased effective surface roughness. This leads to a secondary modification of temperature due to the interaction between the mechanical and thermodynamic effects of urbanization.

The simulations for the five desert cities for 1985 and 2010 further confirm a common pattern of the climatic effect of urbanization with significant nighttime warming and moderate daytime cooling. This effect is confined to the urban area and is not sensitive to the size of the city or the detail of land cover in the surrounding areas. The pattern of nighttime warming and daytime cooling remains robust in the simulations for the future climate of the five cities using the projected 2030 land-use maps. Inter-city differences among the five urban areas are discussed.

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2015