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A Comparison and Contrast of Animal Psychology in the Wild vs. the Human Dominated World

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Animal psychology is the study of how animals interact with one another, their environment, and with humans. This can be done in two different settings, the wild and captivity, and through two different approaches, academic research and practice. Academic research

Animal psychology is the study of how animals interact with one another, their environment, and with humans. This can be done in two different settings, the wild and captivity, and through two different approaches, academic research and practice. Academic research relies primarily on behavioral observation for data collection. Practice uses behavioral observation as well, but allows for a more hands on experience and lets the practitioner make improvements in the quality of life. I interviewed two people, one who practices in captivity, and one who does research in the wild. Dr. David Bunn has done research on wild animals in Kruger National Park in South Africa for over twenty years, studying human-animal interactions. Hilda Tresz has worked in zoos nearly forty years and specializes in chimps. Working within the same field, but utilizing a different setting and approach makes a big difference in the feel of the job. Though I found many differences between the two by doing my own research and from conducting interviews, there are many similarities to note as well. The general field of animal psychology is very rewarding, requires a lot of patience, and leads to a better understanding of animal behavior and how to care for specific species of animals. Working with captive animals allows for the opportunity to make a big difference in animal's lives through behavioral enrichment and general care. Working in the wild allows us to understand the innate animal behaviors displayed. Through practice, people get more hands on experience; while through research, you get to observe animals in their native habitats. Each setting and approach has it's own benefits depending on what each person's goals are for their job.

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2018-05

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THE INFLUENCE OF SURFACE ROCK COVER ON WATER AND NUTRIENT AVAILABILITY FOR WINTER ANNUAL PLANTS IN THE SONORAN DESERT

Description

Water is the main driver of net primary productivity (NPP) in arid ecosystems, followed by nitrogen and phosphorous. Precipitation is the primary factor in determining water availability to plants, but other factors such as surface rocks could also have an

Water is the main driver of net primary productivity (NPP) in arid ecosystems, followed by nitrogen and phosphorous. Precipitation is the primary factor in determining water availability to plants, but other factors such as surface rocks could also have an impact. Surface rocks may positively affect water availability by preventing evaporation from soil, but at higher densities, surface rocks may also have a negative impact on water availability by limiting water infiltration or light availability. However, the direct relationship between rock cover and aboveground net primary productivity (ANPP), a proxy for NPP, is not well understood. In this research we explore the relationship between rock cover, ANPP, and soil nutrient availability. We conducted a rock cover survey on long-term fertilized plots at fifteen sites in the Sonoran Desert and used 4 years of data from annual plant biomass surveys to determine the relationship between peak plant biomass and surface rock cover. We performed factorial ANCOVA to assess the relationship among annual plant biomass, surface rocks, precipitation, and fertilization treatment. Overall we found that precipitation, nutrients, and rock cover influence growth of Sonoran Desert annual plants. Rock cover had an overall negative relationship with annual plant biomass, but did not show a consistent pattern of significance over four years of study and with varying average winter precipitation.

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2015-05

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A Study of yard-scale climate effects in Phoenix, Arizona

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In this project, I investigated the ecosystem services, or lack thereof, that landscape designs created in terms of microclimate modification at 11 residential homes throughout the Phoenix Metro Area. I also created an article for the homeowners who participated, explaining

In this project, I investigated the ecosystem services, or lack thereof, that landscape designs created in terms of microclimate modification at 11 residential homes throughout the Phoenix Metro Area. I also created an article for the homeowners who participated, explaining what I did and how they could apply my research. My research question was how a person can achieve a comfortable outdoor climate in their yard without over-using scarce water resources. I hypothesized that there would be a negative correlation between the maximum air temperature and the percent shade in each yard, regardless of the percent grass. I analyzed the data I collected using the program, R, and discovered that my hypothesis was supported for the month of July. These results are in line with previous studies on the subject and can help homeowners make informed decisions about the effects their landscaping choices might have.

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2014-05

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Seasonal Dynamics and the Islands of Fertility in Arid Landscapes: An Evaluation of Extraction Techniques

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Microarthropods play important roles in the decomposition process of the detrital food web, where they break down organic matter and return nutrients to the soil. However, only a small percentage of the belowground microarthropod population has been studied or even

Microarthropods play important roles in the decomposition process of the detrital food web, where they break down organic matter and return nutrients to the soil. However, only a small percentage of the belowground microarthropod population has been studied or even discovered, leading to a decrease in the knowledge of all of the processes carried out by these organisms and their importance to the soil. This is because microarthropod extraction methods are not 100% effective at collecting specimens. This study aimed to find an ideal quantitative procedure to better record the number of microarthropods existing in the soil and to determine if a seasonal variation exists that effects the success of extraction. Two extraction methods, including dynamic extraction and heptane flotation extraction, were compared across two seasons, a dry season (June) and a wet season (September). Average biomasses and average richness were calculated for four different functional groups, including Prostigmata, Mesostigmata, Cryptostigmata, and Collembola, across the two seasons, and statistical analysis was performed to determine if any differences that existed were statistically significant. Results indicate that the dynamic extraction method was significantly more effective for the collection of microarthropods during the wet season, and the heptane extraction method was significantly more effective during the dry season. In addition, the heptane procedure recovered samples of higher average richness than the dynamic method during both seasons. The heptane procedure works best for extraction during the dry season because it is able to collect organisms that entered into an ametabolic anhydrobiotic state to escape desiccation. These organisms form a protective lipid layer around their exoskeletons to retain water, and the non-polar exoskeletons display a chemical affinity to the heptane fluid, allowing for collection out of the soil and into the heptane layer. Despite these results, no one method is entirely superior to the other, and the most efficacious procedure depends on the researcher's aim of study.

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2014-12

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Nutrient dynamics of photodegradation for Ambrosia deltoidea litter in an arid, urban ecosystem

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The nutrient dynamics of degradation have been studied almost exclusively in mesic (not arid or semi-arid) ecosystems. In arid ecosystems, we do know that photodegradation can cause significant mass loss and that lignin plays a dual role in the processes

The nutrient dynamics of degradation have been studied almost exclusively in mesic (not arid or semi-arid) ecosystems. In arid ecosystems, we do know that photodegradation can cause significant mass loss and that lignin plays a dual role in the processes of degradation: it slows biodegradation due to its rigid chemical structure but can speed up photodegradation via the carbon mineralization process. This experiment attempts to assess the nutrient dynamics of nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) that occur while overall mass is being lost via photodegradation. We took Ambrosia deltoidea litter from 5 sites within the Phoenix city core and 5 sites downwind of the city of Phoenix. Half of this litter was N and P enriched from a previous experiment and half was control. We split the litter into UV opaque and UV transparent litter bags that had holes punched in them to allow microbial interaction. These bags were picked up at sampling periods of 10, 20, 30, and 40 weeks. All samples were then tested for mass loss, lignin content, carbon (C) content, N content, and P content. We found that downwind samples lost more mass than the core. There was little effect over time on N content and little disparity in P trends between the samples. P behaved as expected with an initial rise due to microbial interaction and then a decline as the microbes released P. Lignin concentration rose in a similar fashion at both core and downwind sites confirming that lignin remains in litter through the process of photodegradation. One interesting result was an logarithmic-like decrease in C:N ratio and C:P ratio for the downwind samples but a fairly constant ratio in the core samples. It is clear that these decreasing ratios result not from increased N or P, but instead from rapidly decreasing C. Overall, we conclude that neither N nor P is affected significantly by photodegradation at either site. N deposition appears to slow mass loss, but speed up N release, at least in the early stages of decomposition.

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Date Created
2013-12

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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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Date Created
2011

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Soot black carbon dynamics in arid/urban ecosystem

Description

Black carbon (BC) is the product of incomplete combustion of biomass and fossil fuels. It is found ubiquitously in nature and is relevant to studies in atmospheric science, soil science, oceanography, and anthropology. Black carbon is best described using a

Black carbon (BC) is the product of incomplete combustion of biomass and fossil fuels. It is found ubiquitously in nature and is relevant to studies in atmospheric science, soil science, oceanography, and anthropology. Black carbon is best described using a combustion continuum that sub-classifies BC into slightly charred biomass, char, charcoal and soot. These sub-classifications range in particle size, formation temperature, and relative reactivity. Interest in BC has increased because of its role in the long-term storage of organic matter and the biogeochemistry of urban areas. The global BC budget is unbalanced. Production of BC greatly outweighs decomposition of BC. This suggests that there are unknown or underestimated BC removal processes, and it is likely that some of these processes are occurring in soils. However, little is known about BC reactivity in soil and especially in desert soil. This work focuses on soot BC, which is formed at higher temperatures and has a lower relative reactivity than other forms of BC. Here, I assess the contribution of soot BC to central AZ soils and use the isotopic composition of soot BC to identify sources of soot BC. Soot BC is a significant (31%) fraction of the soil organic matter in central AZ and this work suggests that desert and urban soils may be a storage reservoir for soot BC. I further identify previously unknown removal processes of soot BC found naturally in soil and demonstrate that soil soot BC undergoes abiotic (photo-oxidation) and biotic reactions. Not only is soot BC degraded by these processes, but its chemical composition is altered, suggesting that soot BC contains some chemical moieties that are more reactive than others. Because soot BC demonstrates both refractory and reactive character, it is likely that the structure of soot BC; therefore, its interactions in the environment are complex and it is not simply a recalcitrant material.

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Date Created
2013

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De Jure Versus de Facto Institutions: Trust, Information, and Collective Efforts to Manage the Invasive Mile-A-Minute Weed (Mikania Micrantha)

Description

Differences in governance relationships and community efforts to remove an exotic, rapidly spreading invasive plant, the-mile-a-minute weed (Mikania micrantha), are explored in five case study community forests in the subtropical region of Chitwan, Nepal. An institutional analysis informs an examination

Differences in governance relationships and community efforts to remove an exotic, rapidly spreading invasive plant, the-mile-a-minute weed (Mikania micrantha), are explored in five case study community forests in the subtropical region of Chitwan, Nepal. An institutional analysis informs an examination of the de jure (formal) versus de facto (on the ground) institutions and actor relationships relevant to Mikania removal efforts. Contrary to the expectations set by the de jure situation, we find heterogeneous governance relationships and norms related to Mikania management across community forests. Content analysis of interview data illuminates reoccurring themes and their implications for social and ecological outcomes in the communities. Complex governance relationships and regular discussion of distrust of government and non-government officials help explain collective action efforts and management decisions. The content analysis suggests that Mikania is impacting people’s daily lives but the degree of severity and the response to the disruption varies substantially and is heavily affected by other problems experienced by community forest members. Our results indicate that understanding how the de facto, or on the ground situation, differs from the de jure institutions may be vital in structuring successful efforts to manage invasive species and understanding collective action problems related to other social-ecological threats. We present data-informed propositions about common pool resource management and invasive species. This study contributes to a better scientific understanding of how institutions mediate social-ecological challenges influencing common pool resources more broadly.

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Date Created
2017-03-06

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The effects of interannual precipitation variability on the functioning of grasslands

Description

Climate change will result not only in changes in the mean state of climate but also on changes in variability. However, most studies of the impact of climate change on ecosystems have focused on the effect of changes in the

Climate change will result not only in changes in the mean state of climate but also on changes in variability. However, most studies of the impact of climate change on ecosystems have focused on the effect of changes in the central tendency. The broadest objective of this thesis was to assess the effects of increased interannual precipitation variation on ecosystem functioning in grasslands. In order to address this objective, I used a combination of field experimentation and data synthesis. Precipitation manipulations on the field experiments were carried out using an automated rainfall manipulation system developed as part of this dissertation. Aboveground net primary production responses were monitored during five years. Increased precipitation coefficient of variation decreased primary production regardless of the effect of precipitation amount. Perennial-grass productivity significantly decreased while shrub productivity increased as a result of enhanced precipitation variance. Most interesting is that the effect of precipitation variability increased through time highlighting the existence of temporal lags in ecosystem response.

Further, I investigated the effect of precipitation variation on functional diversity on the same experiment and found a positive response of diversity to increased interannual precipitation variance. Functional evenness showed a similar response resulting from large changes in plant-functional type relative abundance including decreased grass and increased shrub cover while functional richness showed non-significant response. Increased functional diversity ameliorated the direct negative effects of precipitation variation on ecosystem ANPP but did not control ecosystem stability where indirect effects through the dominant plant-functional type determined ecosystem stability.

Analyses of 80 long-term data sets, where I aggregated annual productivity and precipitation data into five-year temporal windows, showed that precipitation variance had a significant effect on aboveground net primary production that is modulated by mean precipitation. Productivity increased with precipitation variation at sites where mean annual precipitation is less than 339 mm but decreased at sites where precipitation is higher than 339 mm. Mechanisms proposed to explain patterns include: differential ANPP response to precipitation among sites, contrasting legacy effects and soil water distribution.

Finally, increased precipitation variance may impact global grasslands affecting plant-functional types in different ways that may lead to state changes, increased erosion and decreased stability that can in turn limit the services provided by these valuable ecosystems.

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Date Created
2014

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Plant ecology of arid-land wetlands: a watershed moment for ciénega conservation

Description

It’s no secret that wetlands have dramatically declined in the arid and semiarid American West, yet the small number of wetlands that persist provide vital ecosystem services. Ciénega is a term that refers to a freshwater arid-land wetland. Today, even

It’s no secret that wetlands have dramatically declined in the arid and semiarid American West, yet the small number of wetlands that persist provide vital ecosystem services. Ciénega is a term that refers to a freshwater arid-land wetland. Today, even in areas where ciénegas are prominent they occupy less than 0.1% of the landscape. This investigation assesses the distribution of vascular plant species within and among ciénegas and address linkages between environmental factors and wetland plant communities. Specifically, I ask: 1) What is the range of variability among ciénegas, with respect to wetland area, soil organic matter, plant species richness, and species composition? 2) How is plant species richness influenced locally by soil moisture, soil salinity, and canopy cover, and regionally by elevation, flow gradient (percent slope), and temporally by season? And 3) Within ciénegas, how do soil moisture, soil salinity, and canopy cover influence plant species community composition? To answer these questions I measured environmental variables and quantified vegetation at six cienegas within the Santa Cruz Watershed in southern Arizona over one spring and two post-monsoon periods. Ciénegas are highly variable with respect to wetland area, soil organic matter, plant species richness, and species composition. Therefore, it is important to conserve the ciénega landscape as opposed to conserving a single ciénega. Plant species richness is influenced negatively by soil moisture, positively by soil salinity, elevation, and flow gradient (percent slope), and is greater during the post-monsoon season. Despite concerns about woody plant encroachment reducing biodiversity, my investigation suggests canopy cover has no significant influence on ciénega species richness. Plant species community composition is structured by water availability at all ciénegas, which is consistent with the key role water availability plays in arid and semiarid regions. Effects of canopy and salinity structuring community composition are site specific. My investigation has laid the groundwork for ciénega conservation by providing baseline information of the ecology of these unique and threatened systems. The high variability of ciénega wetlands and the rare species they harbor combined with the numerous threats against them and their isolated occurrences makes these vanishing communities high priority for conservation.

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Date Created
2016