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  Partner: UNT Libraries
 Degree Discipline: Environmental Science
 Degree Level: Doctoral
 Collection: UNT Theses and Dissertations
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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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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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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Modeling the Effects of Chronic Toxicity of Pharmaceutical Chemicals on the Life History Strategies of Ceriodaphnia Dubia:  a Multigenerational Study

Modeling the Effects of Chronic Toxicity of Pharmaceutical Chemicals on the Life History Strategies of Ceriodaphnia Dubia: a Multigenerational Study

Date: December 2013
Creator: Lamichhane, Kiran
Description: Trace quantities of pharmaceuticals (including carbamazepine and sertraline) are continuously discharged into the environment, which causes concern among scientists and regulators regarding their potential long-term impacts on aquatic ecosystems. These compounds and their metabolites are continuously interacting with the orgranisms in various life stages, and may differentially influence development of embryo, larvae, juvenile, and adult stages. To fully understand the potential ecological risks of two candidate pharmaceutical chemicals (carbamazepine (CBZ) and sertraline (SERT)) exposure on survival, growth and reproduction of Ceriodaphnia dubia in three sucessive generations under static renewal toxicity test, a multigenerational approach was taken. Results indicate that SERT exposure showed higher sensitivity to chronic exposure to C. dubia growth and reproduction than CBZ exposure. The lowest concentration to affect fecundity and growth was at 50 µg L-1 SERT in the first two generations. These parameters become more sensitive during the third generation where the LOEC was 4.8 µg L-1. The effective concentrations (EC50) for the number of offspring per female, offspring body size, and dry weight were 17.2, 21.2, and 26.2 µg SERT L-1, respectively. Endpoints measured in this study demonstrate that chronic exposure of C. dubia to SERT leads to effects that occur at concentrations an order ...
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Quantifying Forest Vertical Structure to Determine Bird Habitat Quality in the Greenbelt Corridor, Denton, Tx

Quantifying Forest Vertical Structure to Determine Bird Habitat Quality in the Greenbelt Corridor, Denton, Tx

Date: August 2013
Creator: Matsubayashi, Shiho
Description: This study presents the integration of light detection and range (LiDAR) and hyperspectral remote sensing to create a three-dimensional bird habitat map in the Greenbelt Corridor of the Elm Fork of the Trinity River. This map permits to examine the relationship between forest stand structure, landscape heterogeneity, and bird community composition. A biannual bird census was conducted at this site during the breeding seasons of 2009 and 2010. Census data combined with the three-dimensional map suggest that local breeding bird abundance, community structure, and spatial distribution patterns are highly influenced by vertical heterogeneity of vegetation surface. For local breeding birds, vertical heterogeneity of canopy surface within stands, connectivity to adjacent forest patches, largest forest patch index, and habitat (vegetation) types proved to be the most influential factors to determine bird community assemblages. Results also highlight the critical role of secondary forests to increase functional connectivity of forest patches. Overall, three-dimensional habitat descriptions derived from integrated LiDAR and hyperspectral data serve as a powerful bird conservation tool that shows how the distribution of bird species relates to forest composition and structure at various scales.
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Comparison of Risk Assessment-Predicted Ecologically Safe Concentrations of Azinphos-Methyl and Fenvalerate to Observed Effects on Estuarine Organisms in a South Carolina Tidal Stream Receiving Agricultural Runoff

Comparison of Risk Assessment-Predicted Ecologically Safe Concentrations of Azinphos-Methyl and Fenvalerate to Observed Effects on Estuarine Organisms in a South Carolina Tidal Stream Receiving Agricultural Runoff

Date: August 1997
Creator: Morton, Michael Gerard, 1957-
Description: A prospective ecological risk assessment method was developed evaluating the cumulative probabilistic impact of chemical stressors to aquatic organisms. This method was developed in response to the need to evaluate the magnitude, duration and episodic nature of chemical stressors on aquatic communities under environmental exposure scenarios. The method generates a probabilistic expression of the percent of an ecosystem's species at risk from a designated chemical exposure scenario.
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Optimizing Scientific and Social Attributes of Pharmaceutical Take Back Programs to Improve Public and Environmental Health

Optimizing Scientific and Social Attributes of Pharmaceutical Take Back Programs to Improve Public and Environmental Health

Date: August 2012
Creator: Stoddard, Kati Ireland
Description: Research continues to show that pharmaceutical environmental contamination has caused adverse environmental effects, with one of the most studied effects being feminization of fish exposed to pharmaceutical endocrine disruptors. Additionally, there are also public health risks associated with pharmaceuticals because in-home reserves of medications provide opportunities for accidental poisoning and intentional medication abuse. Pharmaceutical take back programs have been seen as a remedy to these concerns; however a thorough review of peer-reviewed literature and publicly available information on these programs indicates limited research has been conducted to validate these programs as a purported solution. Furthermore, there are significant data gaps on key factors relating to take back program participants. The purpose of this dissertation was therefore to address these gaps in knowledge and ultimately determine if take back programs could actually improve public and environmental health. This was accomplished by conducting social and scientific research on a take back program called Denton Drug Disposal Day (D4). Socioeconomic, demographic, and geographic characteristics of D4 participants were investigated using surveys and geographic analysis. Impacts on public health were determined by comparing medications collected at D4 events with medications reported to the North Texas Poison Center as causing adverse drug exposures in Denton ...
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A Comparison of Mercury Localization, Speciation, and Histology in Multiple Fish Species From Caddo Lake, a Fresh Water Wetland

A Comparison of Mercury Localization, Speciation, and Histology in Multiple Fish Species From Caddo Lake, a Fresh Water Wetland

Date: May 2012
Creator: Smith, James Durward
Description: This work explores the metabolism of mercury in liver and spleen tissue of fish from a methylmercury contaminated wetland. Wild-caught bass, catfish, bowfin and gar were collected. Macrophage centers, which are both reactive and primary germinal centers in various fish tissues, were hypothesized to be the cause of demethylation of methylmercury in fish tissue. Macrophage centers are differentially expressed in fish tissue based on phylogenetic lineage, and are found primarily in the livers of preteleostean fish and in the spleen of teleostean fish. Histology of liver and spleen was examined in both control and wild-caught fish for pathology, size and number of macrophage centers, and for localization of mercury. Total mercury was estimated in the muscle tissue of all fish by direct mercury analysis. Selenium and mercury concentrations were examined in the livers of wild-caught fish by liquid introduction inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS). Total mercury was localized in histologic sections by laser ablation ICP-MS (LA-ICP-MS). Mercury speciation was determined for inorganic and methylmercury in liver and spleen of fish by bas chromatography-cold vapor atomic fluorescence spectroscopy (GC-CVAFS). Macrophage center tissue distribution was found to be consistent with the literature, with a predominance of centers in preteleostean liver and ...
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