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 Degree Discipline: Environmental Science
Photo-induced Toxicity of Deepwater Horizon Spill Oil to Four Native Gulf of Mexico Species

Photo-induced Toxicity of Deepwater Horizon Spill Oil to Four Native Gulf of Mexico Species

Date: December 2015
Creator: Alloy, Matthew M.
Description: The 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill resulted in the accidental release of millions of barrels of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico (GoM). Photo-induced toxicity following co-exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation is one mechanism by which polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) from oil spills may exert toxicity. Blue crab (Callinectes sapidus) are an important commercial and ecological resource in the Gulf of Mexico and their largely transparent larvae may make them sensitive to PAH photo-induced toxicity. Mahi-mahi (Coryphaena hippurus), an important fishery resource, have positively buoyant, transparent eggs. These characteristics may result in mahi-mahi embryos being at particular risk from photo-induced toxicity. Red drum (Sciaenops ocellatus) and speckled seatrout (Cynoscion nebulosus) are both important fishery resources in the GoM. They spawn near-shore and produce positively buoyant embryos that hatch into larvae in about 24 h. The goal of this body of work was to determine whether exposure to UV as natural sunlight enhances the toxicity of crude oil to early lifestage GoM species. Larval and embryonic organisms were exposed to several dilutions of water accommodated fractions (WAF) from several different oils collected in the field under chain of custody during the 2010 spill and two to three gradations of natural ...
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Spatially Explicit Modeling of West Nile Virus Risk Using Environmental Data

Spatially Explicit Modeling of West Nile Virus Risk Using Environmental Data

Date: December 2015
Creator: Kala, Abhishek K.
Description: West Nile virus (WNV) is an emerging infectious disease that has widespread implications for public health practitioners across the world. Within a few years of its arrival in the United States the virus had spread across the North American continent. This research focuses on the development of a spatially explicit GIS-based predictive epidemiological model based on suitable environmental factors. We examined eleven commonly mapped environmental factors using both ordinary least squares regression (OLS) and geographically weighted regression (GWR). The GWR model was utilized to ascertain the impact of environmental factors on WNV risk patterns without the confounding effects of spatial non-stationarity that exist between place and health. It identifies the important underlying environmental factors related to suitable mosquito habitat conditions to make meaningful and spatially explicit predictions. Our model represents a multi-criteria decision analysis approach to create disease risk maps under data sparse situations. The best fitting model with an adjusted R2 of 0.71 revealed a strong association between WNV infection risk and a subset of environmental risk factors including road density, stream density, and land surface temperature. This research also postulates that understanding the underlying place characteristics and population composition for the occurrence of WNV infection is important for ...
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Dynamics of Stream Fish Metacommunities in Response to Drought and Reconnectivity

Dynamics of Stream Fish Metacommunities in Response to Drought and Reconnectivity

Date: August 2015
Creator: Driver, Lucas J.
Description: This dissertation investigates the spatio-temporal dynamics of intermittent stream fish metacommunities in response drought-induced fragmentation and re-connectivity using both field and experimental approaches. A detailed field study was conducted in two streams and included pre-drought, drought, and post-drought hydrological periods. Fish assemblages and metacommunity structure responded strongly to changes in hydrological conditions with dramatic declines in species richness and abundance during prolonged drought. Return of stream flows resulted in a trend toward recovery but ultimately assemblages failed to fully recover. Differential mortality, dispersal, recruitment among species indicates species specific responses to hydrologic fragmentation, connectivity, and habitat refugia. Two manipulative experiments tested the effects of drought conditions on realistic fish assemblages. Fishes responded strongly to drought conditions in which deeper pools acted as refugia, harboring greater numbers of fish. Variability in assemblage structure and movement patterns among stream pools indicated species specific habitat preferences in response predation, resource competition, and desiccation. Connecting stream flows mediated the impacts of drought conditions and metacommunity dynamics in both experiments. Results from field and experimental studies indicate that stream fish metacommunities are influenced by changes in hydrological conditions and that the timing, duration, and magnitude of drought-induced fragmentation and reconnecting stream flows have important consequences ...
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Effects of Macrophyte Functional Diversity on Taxonomic and Functional Diversity and Stability of Tropical Floodplain Fish Assemblages

Effects of Macrophyte Functional Diversity on Taxonomic and Functional Diversity and Stability of Tropical Floodplain Fish Assemblages

Date: August 2015
Creator: Treviño, Jessica Marie
Description: Multiple dimensions of biodiversity within and across producer and consumer guilds in the food web affect an ecosystem’s functionality and stability. Tropical and subtropical aquatic ecosystems, which are extremely diverse, have received much less attention than terrestrial ecosystems in regards to the effects of biodiversity on ecosystem functioning. We conducted a field experiment that tested for effects of macrophyte functional diversity on diversity and stability of associated fish assemblages in floodplain lakes of the Upper Paraná River floodplain, Brazil. Three levels of macrophyte functional diversity were maintained through time in five floodplain lakes and response variables included various components of fish taxonomic and functional diversity and stability. Components of functional diversity of fish assemblages were quantified using a suite of ecomorphological traits that relate to foraging and habitat use. Response variables primarily distinguished macrophyte treatments from the control. Macrophyte treatments had, on average, double the number of species and total abundance than the control treatment, but only limited effects on stability. The high diversity treatment was essentially nested within the low diversity for assemblage structure and had similar or even slightly lower levels of species richness and abundance in most cases. Gymnotiformes and young-of-year were diverse and relatively abundant in ...
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Developing a Forest Gap Model to Be Applied to a Watershed-scaled Landscape in the Cross Timbers Ecoregion Using a Topographic Wetness Index

Developing a Forest Gap Model to Be Applied to a Watershed-scaled Landscape in the Cross Timbers Ecoregion Using a Topographic Wetness Index

Date: August 2014
Creator: Goetz, Heinrich
Description: A method was developed for extending a fine-scaled forest gap model to a watershed-scaled landscape, using the Eastern Cross Timbers ecoregion as a case study for the method. A topographic wetness index calculated from digital elevation data was used as a measure of hydrologic across the modeled landscape, and the gap model modified to have with a topographically-based hydrologic input parameter. The model was parameterized by terrain type units that were defined using combinations of USDA soil series and classes of the topographic wetness index. A number of issues regarding the sources, grid resolutions, and processing methods of the digital elevation data are addressed in this application of the topographic wetness index. Three different grid sizes, 5, 10, and 29 meter, from both LiDAR-derived and contour-derived elevation grids were used, and the grids were processed using both single-directional flow algorithm and bi-directional flow algorithm. The result of these different grids were compared and analyzed in context of their application in defining terrain types for the forest gap model. Refinements were made in the timescale of gap model’s weather model, converting it into a daily weather generator, in order to incorporate the effects of the new topographic/hydrologic input parameter. The precipitation ...
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Estimated Extent and Fate of Chlorinated Solvent Contamination in the Soil of the Naval Air Station, Dallas, Texas

Estimated Extent and Fate of Chlorinated Solvent Contamination in the Soil of the Naval Air Station, Dallas, Texas

Date: August 1998
Creator: Trescott, Jill V. (Jill Virginia)
Description: This thesis estimates the spatial extent of chlorinated solvent contamination of the soil at the Naval Air Station, Dallas, then estimates the fate and transport of these contaminants, over time, using the Soil Transport and Fate database and the Vadose-Zone Interactive Processes (VIP) modeling software. Geostatistical analysis identifies two areas with serious chlorinated solvent contamination. Fate and transport modeling estimates that this contamination will degrade and disperse from the soil phase to below regulatory limits within one year, although there is a risk of groundwater contamination. Contaminants are estimated to persist in the water and air phases of the soil. Further sampling is recommended to confirm the results of this study.
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The Role of Rainfed Farm Ponds in Sustaining Agriculture and Soil Conservation in the Dry High Valley Region of Cochabamba, Bolivia: Design Considerations and Post Impoundment Analysis

The Role of Rainfed Farm Ponds in Sustaining Agriculture and Soil Conservation in the Dry High Valley Region of Cochabamba, Bolivia: Design Considerations and Post Impoundment Analysis

Date: August 1999
Creator: Kuiper, John R.
Description: Lack of sufficient water for irrigation is a major problem in and around the valleys surrounding the town of Aiquile, Cochabamba Bolivia. In addition, much of the region is undergoing desertification compounded by drought, deforestation, bad traditional agricultural practices, over grazing and a "torrential" rainfall pattern leading to severe soil erosion and low agricultural production. Between 1992 and 1994, the author constructed a network of 24 small, mostly rainfed farm ponds to increase agricultural production and alleviate soil erosion and land-use problems by improving cover conditions. A 5-year post-impoundment analysis was carried out in 1998. The analysis examined current pond conditions, design criteria, irrigation water / crop production increases and the alleviation of land-use problems. Current pond conditions fell into four distinct categories with only 25 percent of the ponds being deemed as "functioning well." The project increased irrigation in the region and improved cover conditions in 66 percent of the pond sites.
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Tissue-specific Bioconcentration Factor of the Synthetic Steroid Hormone Medroxyprogesterone Acetate (Mpa) in the Common Carp, Cyprinus Carpia

Tissue-specific Bioconcentration Factor of the Synthetic Steroid Hormone Medroxyprogesterone Acetate (Mpa) in the Common Carp, Cyprinus Carpia

Date: August 2013
Creator: Steele IV, William B.
Description: Due to the wide spread occurrence of medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA), a pharmaceutical compound, in wastewater effluent and surface waters, the objectives of this work were to determine the tissue specific uptake and bioconcentration factor (BCF) for MPA in common carp. BCFs were experimentally determined for MPA in fish using a 14-day laboratory test whereby carp where exposed to 100 μg/L of MPA for a 7-day period followed by a depuration phase in which fish were maintained in dechlorinated tap water for an additional 7 days. MPA concentrations in muscle, brain, liver and plasma were determined by liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry (LC/MS). The results from the experiment indicate that MPA can accumulate in fish, however, MPA is not considered to be bioaccumulative based on regulatory standards (BCF ≥ 1000). Although MPA has a low BCF value in common carp, this compound may cause reproductive effects in fish at environmentally relevant concentrations.
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Macroinvertebrate Colonization and Assemblages Associated with Aquatic Macrophytes in a Newly Created Urban Floodway Ecosystem, Dallas, Tx

Macroinvertebrate Colonization and Assemblages Associated with Aquatic Macrophytes in a Newly Created Urban Floodway Ecosystem, Dallas, Tx

Date: August 2013
Creator: Schad, Aaron Neale
Description: A study of macroinvertebrate colonization and assemblages, including secondary productivity of the familiar bluet damselfly or Enallagma civile Hagen (Odonata: Coenagrionidae), associated with the aquatic macrophytes Heteranthera dubia (Jacq.) MacMill. (water stargrass) and Potamogeton nodosus Poir. (American pondweed) was conducted at the Dallas Floodway Extension Trinity River Project (DFE) Lower Chain of Wetlands (LCOW), Dallas, TX, from September 2010 through November 2011. Macroinvertebrate abundance, taxa richness, Simpson's index of diversity, and Simpson's evenness from the two macrophytes and from three different wetland cells of varying construction completion dates, water sources, and native aquatic vegetation establishment were analyzed along with basic water quality metrics (temperature °C, pH, dissolved oxygen mg/L, and conductivity µs/cm). E. civile nymphs were separated into five developmental classes for secondary productivity estimations between macrophytes and wetland cell types. Mean annual secondary productivity in the DFE LCOW among two macrophytes of E. civile was 1392.90 ash-free dry weight mg/m²/yr, standing stock biomass was 136.77 AFDW mg/m2/yr, cohort production / biomass (P/B) ratio was calculated to be 4.30 / yr and the annual production / biomass (P/B) ratio was 10.18 /yr.
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Population Dynamics of Zebra Mussels (Dreissena Polymorpha) in a North Texas Reservoir: Implications for Invasions in the Southern United States

Population Dynamics of Zebra Mussels (Dreissena Polymorpha) in a North Texas Reservoir: Implications for Invasions in the Southern United States

Date: December 2013
Creator: Churchill, Christopher J.
Description: This dissertation has two main objectives: first, quantify the effects of environmental conditions on spatio-temporal spawning and larval dynamics of zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha [Pallas 1771]) in Lake Texoma, and second, quantify the effects of environmental conditions on survival, growth, and reproduction of young of the year (YOY) juvenile zebra mussels. These biological responses directly influence population establishment success and invasive spread dynamics. Reproductive output of the zebra mussel population in Lake Texoma was significantly related to water temperature and lake elevation. Annual maximum larval (veliger) density decreased significantly indicating a population crash, which was likely caused by thermal stress and variability of lake elevation. In 2011, temperatures peaked at 34.3°C and lake elevation decreased to the lowest level recorded during the previous 18 years, which desiccated a substantial number of settled mussels in littoral zones. Estimated mean date of first spawn in Lake Texoma was observed approximately 1.5 months earlier than in Lake Erie, and peak veliger densities were observed two months earlier. Veligers were observed in the deepest oxygenated water after lake stratification. During a 69-day in situ experiment during summer in Lake Texoma, age-specific mortality of zebra mussels was generally high until temperatures decreased to approximately 28°C, ...
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