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Assessment of the Efficacy of a Constructed Wetland to Reduce or Remove Wastewater Effluent Estrogenicity and Toxicity Using Biomarkers in Male Fathead Minnows (Pimephales Promelas Rafinesque, 1820)

Description: Vitellogenin in Pimephales promelas was used to assess estrogenicity of a local municipal effluent. Vitellogenin induction in male P. promelas increased in frequency and magnitude with increased exposure duration and was greater ("=0.05) than controls after 2 and 3 weeks of exposure. The level of vitellogenesis induced by effluent exposure was high compared to similar studies. A spring season evaluation followed. Biomarkers in P. promelas were used to assess the efficacy of a treatment wetland to remove toxicity and estrogenicity in final treated wastewater effluent. Comparisons were made with an effluent dominated stream and laboratory controls. Vitellogenin, GSIs (gonado-somatic indices), HSIs (hepato-somatic indices) and secondary sexual characteristics were biomarkers used in P. promelas models to assess aqueous estrogenicity. Biological indicators used to assess general fish health included hematocrit and condition factors. The estrogenic nature of the effluent was screened, concurrent with fish exposure, with GC/MS analysis for target estrogenic compounds including: 17-b estradiol, estrone, ethynylestradiol, Bisphenol A, nonylphenolic compounds, phthalates, and DDT. Plasma vitellogenin measured in P. promelas was significantly elevated (p < 0.0001) at the inflow site of the wetland and stream sites. GSIs for these exposures were less (a=0.001) at the wetland inflow site. At wetland sites closest to the inflow, secondary sexual charateristics, tubercle numbers and fat pad thickness, were less (a=0.0001). Hematocrit and condition factors were less (a=0.001) at sites closer to the wetland inflow. Seasonal variation was examined by repeating the effluent characterization in summer. Additionally, summer testing included exposure to an effluent dilution series. Fish condition heavily influenced interpretation of the results. Pre-acclimation exposure to spawning stresses may have altered many of the biological markers measured. Results are discussed relative to fish health and pre-exposure environment. Toxicity assessed with P. promelas biomarkers was compared with Ceriodaphnia dubia and Vibrio fischeri toxicty tests on this ...
Date: December 2000
Creator: Hemming, Jon M.

An Assessment of the Use of Seeding, Mowing, and Burning in the Restoration of an Oldfield to Tallgrass Prairie in Lewisville, Texas

Description: An examination of the effectiveness of seeding, burning, and mowing in the reestablishment of tallgrass prairie species on overgrazed and abandoned pastureland. The study site is a 20 acre tract on U.S. Corps of Engineers land below Lake Lewisville in Denton County, Texas. The site was partitioned into thirty-nine 40 by 40 meter plots with seeding (carried out in 1996) and management treatment (burning, mowing, and no maintenance carried out in 1998) randomly applied following a two level design. For each plot, nine stratified-random 0.1 m2 subplots were examined and shoot counts for each species recorded. The effects of the treatments on individual species and species richness were analyzed with a two-way ANOVA followed by a SNK multiple range test, both on ranked data. Community level analysis was conducted with both a MANOVA on ranked data and a Canonical Correspondence Analysis on raw data. Results indicate that seeding positively affected species richness, particularly when combined with either burning or mowing in the early spring. Mowing also significantly increased species richness in areas that were not seeded, while burning negatively affected species richness on unseeded plots. Treatments significantly affected community composition with treatments having the most clear effect on spring and summer forbs.
Date: August 1999
Creator: Windhager, Steven

Bioaccumulation of Triclocarban, Triclosan, and Methyl-triclosan in a North Texas Wastewater Treatment Plant Receiving Stream and Effects of Triclosan on Algal Lipid Synthesis.

Description: Triclosan (TCS) and triclocarban (TCC), widely used antimicrobial agents found in numerous consumer products, are incompletely removed by wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) processing. Methyl-triclosan (M-TCS) is a more lipophilic metabolite of its parent compound, TCS. The focus of this study was to quantify bioaccumulation factors (BAFs) for TCS, M-TCS, and TCC in Pecan creek, the receiving stream for the City of Denton, Texas WWTP by using field samples mostly composed of the alga Cladophora sp. and the caged snail Helisoma trivolvis as test species. Additionally, TCS effects on E. coli and Arabidopsis have been shown to reduce fatty acid biosynthesis and total lipid content by inhibiting the trans-2 enoyl- ACP reductase. The lipid synthesis pathway effects of TCS on field samples of Cladophora spp. were also investigated in this study by using [2-14C]acetate radiolabeling procedures. Preliminary results indicate high TCS concentrations are toxic to lipid biosynthesis and reduce [2-14C]acetate incorporation into total lipids. These results have led to the concern that chronic exposure of algae in receiving streams to environmentally relevant TCS concentrations might affect their nutrient value. If consumer growth is limited, trophic cascade strength may be affected and serve to limit population growth and reproduction of herbivores in these riparian systems.
Date: August 2007
Creator: Coogan, Melinda Ann

Characterization of Triclocarban, Methyl- Triclosan, and Triclosan in Water, Sediment, and Corbicula Fluminea (Müller, 1774) Using Laboratory, in Situ, and Field Assessments

Description: In the last decade emerging contaminants research has intensified in a bid to answer questions about fate, transport, and effects as these chemicals as they get released into the environment. The chemicals of interest were the antimicrobials; triclocarban (TCC) and triclosan (TCS), and a metabolite of triclosan, methyl triclosan (MTCS). This research was designed to answer the question: what is the fate of these chemicals once they are released from the waste water treatment plant into receiving streams. Three different assessment methods; field monitoring, in-situ experiments, and laboratory studies were used to answer the overall question. TCS, TCC, and MTCS levels were measured in surface water, sediment and the Asiatic clam Corbicula fluminea. Field studies were conducted using four sites at Pecan Creek, Denton TX. Levels of all three chemicals in clams were up to fives orders of magnitude the water concentrations but an order of magnitude lower than in sediment. Highest sediment levels of chemicals were measured in samples from the mouth of Pecan Creek (highest organic matter). TCC was the most and TCS was the least accumulated chemicals. In-situ and lab studies both indicated that uptake of these chemicals into the clams was very rapid and measurable within 24hours of exposure. The after clams were transferred into clean water most of the compounds were depurated within 14 days.
Date: May 2011
Creator: Edziyie, Regina E.

Characterizing Storm Water Runoff from Natural Gas Well Sites in Denton County, Texas

Description: In order to better understand runoff characteristics from natural gas well sites in north central Texas, the City of Denton, with assistance through an EPA funded 104b3 Water Quality Cooperative Agreement, monitored storm water runoff from local natural gas well sites. Storm water runoff was found to contain high concentrations of total suspended solids (TSS). Observed TSS concentrations resulted in sediment loading rates that are similar to those observed from typical construction activities. Petroleum hydrocarbons, in contrast, were rarely detected in runoff samples. Heavy metals were detected in concentrations similar to those observed in typical urban runoff. However, the concentrations observed at the gas well sites were higher than those measured at nearby reference sites. Storm water runoff data collected from these sites were used to evaluate the effectiveness of the water erosion prediction project (WEPP) model for predicting runoff and sediment from these sites. Runoff and sediment predictions were adequate; however, rainfall simulation experiments were used to further characterize the portion of the site where drilling and extraction operations are performed, referred to as the "pad site." These experiments were used to develop specific pad site erosion parameters for the WEPP model. Finally, version 2 of the revised universal soil loss equation (RUSLE 2.0) was used to evaluate the efficiency of best management practices (BMPs) for natural gas well sites. BMP efficiency ratings, which ranged from 52 to 93%, were also evaluated in the context of site management goals and implementation cost, demonstrating a practical approach for managing soil loss and understanding the importance of selecting appropriate site-specific BMPs.
Date: May 2008
Creator: Wachal, David J.

Comparison of Bare Root vs. Potted Plants, Species Selection, and Caging Types for Restoration of a Prairie Wetland, and Quantitative Analysis and Descriptive Survey of Plant Communities and Associations at Lewisville Lake Environmental Learning Area (LLELA), Lewisville, TX

Description: Lewisville Lake Environmental Learning Area (LLELA) is an 809-hectare property in Denton County, TX. A study of the vegetation community identified 466 species in 104 families, with 25% of the species from only two families, Asteraceae and Poaceae. The property demonstrates the characteristics of an early successional community, dominated by weedy species. Prairie communities are dominated by Johnson grass and ragweed, with climax tall grass prairie communities only in areas that have been planted with native grass seed. Forest communities are similarly in an early successional stage, dominated by the hackberry-elm-ash alliance, with small remnants of native Cross Timbers found in isolated patches. Species richness and diversity were highest in the forests and lowest in the wetlands; evenness, though not different across ecosystems, demonstrated a strong seasonal component. The species list was compared with previously reported lists for Denton County, and 256 species identified had not been previously reported for the county. A wetland restoration study was conducted to determine if there was a difference in survival and growth between potted transplants with intact root systems and bare-root transplants. Two different mesh sizes were used for protection, and the success of the different caging was evaluated. Of eight species, only four survived through the second growing season. There was no significant difference in the success of the propagule types for Sagittaria latifolia. The treatments planted with intact root systems showed significantly higher growth and reproduction than the bare-root treatments for Eleocharis quadrangulata, Heteranthera dubia, and Vallisneria americana. There was no survival recorded in the coarse mesh cages, likely due to the presence of crayfish that are able to get through the coarser mesh and feed on the transplants.
Date: May 2007
Creator: Buckallew, Robin R.

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

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 in spleens of teleostean fish. Little evidence histopathology was found in the livers or spleens of fish examined, but differences in morphology of macrophage centers and liver tissue across species are noted. the sole sign of liver pathology noted was increased hepatic hemosiderosis in fish with high proportions of liver inorganic mercury. Inorganic mercury was found to predominate in the livers of all fish but bass. Organic mercury was found to predominate in the spleens of all fish. Mercury was found to accumulate in macrophage centers, but concentrations of mercury in this compartment were found to vary less in relation ...
Date: May 2012
Creator: Smith, James Durward

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

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.
Date: August 1997
Creator: Morton, Michael Gerard, 1957-

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

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 model was converted to use a Markov model to initiate a sequence of wet and dry days for each month, and then daily precipitation amounts were determined using a gamma distribution. The output of the new precipitation model was analyzed and compared with a 100-year history of daily weather records at daily, monthly, and annual timescales. Model assumptions and requirements for biological parameters were thoroughly investigated and questioned. Often these biological parameters are based on little more than assumptions and intuition. An effort to base as many of the model’s biological parameters on measured data was made, including a new ...
Date: August 2014
Creator: Goetz, Heinrich

Dynamics of Stream Fish Metacommunities in Response to Drought and Reconnectivity

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 metacommunity dynamics.
Date: August 2015
Creator: Driver, Lucas J.

Ecotoxicological Investigations in Effluent-Dominated Stream Mesocosms

Description: The University of North Texas Stream Research Facility (UNTSRF) was designed to examine contaminant impacts on effluent-dominated stream ecosystems. Stream mesocosms, fed municipal effluent from the City of Denton, TX, Pecan Creek Water Reclamation Plant (PCWRP), were treated with 0, 15 or 140 µg/L cadmium for a 10-day study in August 2000. Laboratory toxicity test and stream macroinvertebrate responses indicated that cadmium bioavailability was reduced by constituents of effluent-dominated streams. The Biotic Ligand Model (BLM) for Cd was used to predict a 48 hour Cd EC50 for Ceriodaphnia dubia of 280 µg/L in these effluent-dominated streams. This value is higher that an EC50 of 38.3 µg/L Cd and a 7-day reproduction effect level of 3.3 µg/L Cd generated for C. dubia in reconstituted laboratory hard water. These results support use of a cadmium BLM for establishing site-specific acute water quality criteria in effluent-dominated streams. Although not affected by 15 µg/L treatments, organisms accumulated Cd in 15 µg/L treated streams. Hence, over longer exposure periods, Cd accumulation may increase and a no effect level may be lower than the observed 10-day no effect level of 15 µg/L. A toxicity identification evaluation procedure was utilized with in vitro and in vivo bioassays to identify estrogenic compounds in PCWRP effluent, previously identified to seasonally induce vitellogenin (VTG) in male fathead minnows. Steroids, nonylphenol ethoxylate metabolites, and other unidentified compounds were identified as causative effluent estrogens. These findings suggest that in vivo VTG bioassays should be used to confirm in vitro Yeast Estrogen Screening assay activity when effluents are fractionated or screened for estrogenicity. A subsequent 90-day cadmium study was initiated to assess long-term effluent and cadmium effects on fish endocrine function. Juvenile fathead minnows were placed in UNTSRF pool sections of replicate streams treated with 0, 5, 20 or 80 µg/L Cd. Male ...
Date: December 2002
Creator: Brooks, Bryan W.

Effect of Rancher’s Management Philosophy, Grazing Practices, and Personal Characteristics on Sustainability Indices for North Central Texas Rangeland

Description: To assess sustainability of privately owned rangeland, a questionnaire was used to gathered data from ranches in Cooke, Montague, Clay, Wise, Parker, and Jack counties in North Central Texas. Information evaluated included: management philosophy, economics, grazing practices, environmental condition, quality of life, and demographics. Sustainability indices were created based on economic and land health indicator variables meeting a minimum Cronbach‘s alpha coefficient (α = 0.7). Hierarchical regression analysis was used to create models explaining variance in respondents’ indices scores. Five predictors explained 36% of the variance in rangeland economic sustainability index when respondents: 1) recognized management inaction has opportunity costs affecting economic viability; 2) considered forbs a valuable source of forage for wildlife or livestock; 3) believed governmental assistance with brush control was beneficial; 4) were not absentee landowners and did not live in an urban area in Texas, and; 5) valued profit, productivity, tax issues, family issues, neighbor issues or weather issues above that of land health. Additionally, a model identified 5 predictors which explained 30% of the variance for respondents with index scores aligning with greater land health sustainability. Predictors indicated: 1) fencing cost was not an obstacle for increasing livestock distribution; 2) land rest was a component of grazing plans; 3) the Natural Resource Conservation Service was used for management information; 4) fewer acres were covered by dense brush or woodlands, and; 5) management decisions were not influenced by friends. Finally, attempts to create an index and regression analysis explaining social sustainability was abandoned, due to the likely-hood of type one errors. These findings provide a new line of evidence in assessing rangeland sustainability, supporting scientific literature concerning rangeland sustainability based on ranch level indicators. Compared to measuring parameters on small plots, the use of indices allows for studying replicated whole- ranch units using rancher insight. Use ...
Date: December 2011
Creator: Becker, Wayne

Effects on Survival, Reproduction and Growth of Ceriodaphnia dubia following Single Episodic Exposure to Copper or Cadmium

Description: Effects of episodic exposures have gained attention as the regulatory focus of the Clean Water Act has shifted away from continuous-flow effluents. Standardized laboratory toxicity tests require that exposure be held constant. However, this approach may not accurately predict organism responses in the field following episodic exposures such as those associated with rain-driven runoff events or accidental pollutant discharge. Using a modified version of the 7-day short-term chronic test recommended by the US Environmental Protection Agency, Ceriodaphnia dubia were exposed to copper or cadmium for durations ranging from 1 minute to 24 hours. In addition, adult reproductive recovery and effects on second generation individuals was assessed following select copper exposures. Finally, cadmium exposures were compared in reconstituted hard water (RHW) and municipal treated wastewater effluent (TWE). Following exposure, organisms were transferred to clean RHW or TWE and maintained for the remainder of the test. No- and lowest observed effect concentrations (NO- and LOECs) increased logarithmically with respect to logarithmic decreases in duration regardless of metal, endpoint or water type. Effective concentrations of cadmium however, were usually higher than those of copper, especially in TWE. LOECs for C. dubia survival following 24-hour and 5-minute exposures to copper were 116 and 417 µg/L, respectively. LOECs for fecundity were 58 and 374 µg/L, respectively. Neonate production of first generation adult C. dubia appeared to recover from pulsed copper exposure upon examination of individual broods. Cumulative mean neonate production however, showed almost no signs of recovery at exposure durations ≥3 hours. Pulse exposure to copper also resulted in diminished fecundity of unexposed second generation individuals. Such effects were pronounced following parental exposure for 24 hours but lacking after parental exposures ≤3 hours. LOECs for C. dubia survival following 24-hour and 5-minute exposures to cadmium in RHW were 44 and 9000 µg/L, respectively. LOECs for ...
Date: August 2005
Creator: Turner, Philip K.

Evaluation of the Developmental Effects and Bioaccumulation Potential of Triclosan and Triclocarban Using the South African Clawed Frog, Xenopus Laevis

Description: Triclosan (TCS) and triclocarban (TCC) are antimicrobials found in U.S. surface waters. This dissertation assessed the effects of TCS and TCC on early development and investigated their potential to bioaccumulate using Xenopus laevis as a model. The effects of TCS on metamorphosis were also investigated. For 0-week tadpoles, LC50 values for TCS and TCC were 0.87 mg/L and 4.22 mg/L, respectively, and both compounds caused a significant stunting of growth. For 4-week tadpoles, the LC50 values for TCS and TCC were 0.22 mg/L and 0.066 mg/L; and for 8-week tadpoles, the LC50 values were 0.46 mg/L and 0.13 mg/L. Both compounds accumulated in Xenopus. For TCS, wet weight bioaccumulation factors (BAFs) for 0-, 4- and 8-week old tadpoles were 23.6x, 1350x and 143x, respectively. Lipid weight BAFs were 83.5x, 19792x and 8548x. For TCC, wet weight BAFs for 0-, 4- and 8-week old tadpoles were 23.4x, 1156x and 1310x. Lipid weight BAFs were 101x, 8639x and 20942x. For the time-to-metamorphosis study, TCS showed an increase in weight and snout-vent length in all treatments. Exposed tadpoles metamorphosed approximately 10 days sooner than control tadpoles. For the hind limb study, although there was no difference in weight, snout-vent length, or hind limb length, the highest treatment was more developed compared to the control. There were no differences in tail resorption rates between the treatments and controls. At relevant concentrations, neither TCS nor TCC were lethal to Xenopus prior to metamorphosis. Exposure to relatively high doses of both compounds resulted in stunted growth, which would most likely not be evident at lower concentrations. TCS and TCC accumulated in Xenopus, indicating that the compound has the potential to bioaccumulate through trophic levels. Although TCS may increase the rate of metamorphosis in terms of developmental stage, it did not disrupt thyroid function and metamorphosis in ...
Date: December 2010
Creator: King, Marie Kumsher

Evaluation of the Economic, Social, and Biological Feasibility of Bioconverting Food Wastes with the Black Soldier Fly (Hermetia illucens)

Description: Food waste in the waste stream is becoming an important aspect of integrated waste management systems. Current efforts are composting and animal feeding. However, these food waste disposal practices rely on slow thermodynamic processes of composting or finding farmers with domestic animals capable of consuming the food wastes. Bioconversion, a potential alternative, is a waste management practice that converts food waste to insect larval biomass and organic residue. This project uses a native and common non-pest insect in Texas, the black soldier fly, which processes large quantities of food wastes, as well as animal wastes and sewage in its larval stage. The goal of this research is to facilitate the identification and development of the practical parameters of bioconversion methods at a large cafeteria. Three major factors were selected to evaluate the practicality of a bioconversion system: (1) the biological constraints on the species; (2) the economic costs and benefits for the local community; (3) the perception of and interaction between the public and management agencies with respect to the bioconversion process. Results indicate that bioconversion is feasible on all levels. Larvae tolerate and consume food waste as well as used cooking grease, reducing the overall waste volume by 30-70% in a series of experiments, with an average reduction of 50%. The economical benefits are reduced collection costs and profit from the sale of pupae as a feedstuff, which could amount to as much as $1,200 per month under optimal conditions. Social acceptance is possible, but requires education of the public, specifically targeting school children. Potential impediments to social acceptance include historical attitudes and ignorance, which could be overcome through effective educational efforts.
Date: August 2004
Creator: Barry, Tami

Geology as a Georegional Influence on Quercus Fagaceae Distribution in Denton and Coke Counties of Central and North Central Texas and Choctaw County of Southeastern Oklahoma, Using GIS as an Analytical Tool.

Description: This study elucidates the underlying relationships for the distribution of oak landcover on bedrock and soil orders in two counties in Texas and one in Oklahoma. ESRI's ArcGis and ArcMap was used to create surface maps for Denton and Coke Counties, Texas and Choctaw County, Oklahoma. Attribute tables generated in GIS were exported into a spreadsheet software program and frequency tables were created for every formation and soil order in the tri-county research area. The results were both a visual and numeric distribution of oaks in the transition area between the eastern hardwood forests and the Great Plains. Oak distributions are changing on this transition area of the South Central Plains. The sandy Woodbine and Antlers formations traditionally associated with the largest oak distribution are carrying oak coverage of approximately 31-32% in Choctaw and Denton Counties. The calcareous Blackland and Grand Prairies are traditionally associated with treeless grasslands, but are now carrying oak and other tree landcover up to 18.9%. Human intervention, including the establishment of artificial, political and social boundaries, urbanization, farming and fire control have altered the natural distribution of oaks and other landcover of this unique georegion.
Date: December 2007
Creator: Maxey, George F.

A geospatial tool for assessing potential wildland fire risk in central Texas.

Description: Wildland fires in the United States are not always confined to wilderness areas. The growth of population centers and housing developments in wilderness areas has blurred the boundaries between rural and urban. This merger of human development and natural landscape is known in the wildland fire community as the wildland urban interface or WUI, and it is within this interface that many wildland fires increasingly occur. As wildland fire intrusions in the WUI increase so too does the need for tools to assess potential impact to valuable assets contained within the interface. This study presents a methodology that combines real-time weather data, a wildland fire behavior model, satellite remote sensing and geospatial data in a geographic information system to assess potential risk to human developments and natural resources within the Austin metropolitan area and surrounding ten counties of central, Texas. The methodology uses readily available digital databases and satellite images within Texas, in combination with an industry standard fire behavior model to assist emergency and natural resource managers assess potential impacts from wildland fire. Results of the study will promote prevention of WUI fire disasters, facilitate watershed and habitat protection, and help direct efforts in post wildland fire mitigation and restoration.
Date: August 2005
Creator: Hunter, Bruce Allan

Habitat Fragmentation by Land-Use Change: One-Horned Rhinoceros in Nepal and Red-Cockaded Woodpecker in Texas

Description: This research focuses on the spatial analysis of the habitat of two vulnerable species, the one-horn rhinoceros in the grasslands of southern Nepal, and the red-cockaded woodpecker in the Piney woods of southeast Texas, in the USA. A study sites relevant for biodiversity conservation was selected in each country: Chitwan National Park in Nepal, and areas near the Big Thicket National Preserve in Texas. Land-use differs in the two study areas: the first is still undergoing agrarian development while the second is in a technological phase and undergoing urbanization processes. Satellite remote sensing images were used to derive land-cover maps by supervised classification. These maps were then processed by Geographic Information Systems methods to apply habitat models based on basic resources (food and cover) and obtain habitat suitability maps. Several landscape metrics were computed to quantify the habitat characteristics especially the composition and configuration of suitable habitat patches. Sensitivity analyses were performed as the nominal values of some of the model parameters were arbitrary. Development potential probability models were used to hypothesize changes in land-use of the second study site. Various scenarios were employed to examine the impact of development on the habitat of red-cockaded woodpecker. The method derived in this study would prove beneficial to guide management and conservation of wildlife habitats.
Date: December 2010
Creator: Thapa, Vivek

The Influence of Urban Green Spaces on Declining Bumble Bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae)

Description: Bumble bees (Bombus spp.) are adept pollinators of countless cultivated and wild flowering plants, but many species have experienced declines in recent decades. Though urban sprawl has been implicated as a driving force of such losses, urban green spaces hold the potential to serve as habitat islands for bumble bees. As human populations continue to grow and metropolitan areas become larger, the survival of many bumble bee species will hinge on the identification and implementation of appropriate conservation measures at regional and finer scales. North Texas is home to some the fastest-growing urban areas in the country, including Denton County, as well as at least two declining bumble bee species (B. pensylvanicus and B. fraternus). Using a combination of field , molevular DNA and GIS methods I evaluated the persistence of historic bumble bee species in Denton County, and investigated the genetic structure and connectivity of the populations in these spaces. Field sampling resulted in the discovery of both B. pensylvanicus and B. fraternus in Denton County's urban green spaces. While the relative abundance of B. fraternus in these spaces was significantly lower than historic levels gleaned from museum recors, that of B. pensylvanicus was significantly higher. Statistical analyses found that both bare ground and tree cover surrounding sample sites were negatively associated with numbers of bumble bee individuals and hives detected in these green spaces. Additionally, limited genetic structuring of bumble bee populations was detected, leading to the conclusion that extensive gene flow is occurring across populations in Denton County.
Date: May 2016
Creator: Beckham, Jessica Lorene

Informing Conservation Management Using Genetic Approaches: Greater Sage-grouse and Galápagos Short-eared Owls as Case Studies

Description: Small isolated populations are of particular conservation interest due to their increased extinction risk. This dissertation investigates two small wild bird populations using genetic approaches to inform their conservation. Specifically, one case study investigated a Greater Sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) population located in northwest Wyoming near Jackson Hole and Grand Teton National Park. Microsatellite data showed that the Jackson sage-grouse population possessed significantly reduced levels of neutral genetic diversity and was isolated from other Wyoming populations. Analysis with single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and microsatellite data provided further evidence that the population's timing of isolation was relatively recent and most likely due to recent anthropogenic habitat changes. Conservation recommendations include maintaining or increasing the population's current size and reestablishing gene flow with the nearest large population. The second case study investigated the genetic distinctiveness of the Floreana island population of the Galápagos Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus galapagoensis). Mitochondrial DNA sequence data did not detect differences across nine island populations, yet microsatellite and morphometric data indicated that limited gene flow existed with the population and surrounding island populations, which appeared asymmetric in direction from Floreana to Santa Cruz with no indication of gene flow into Floreana. These results have important conservation implications and recommend that the Floreana Short-eared Owl population be held in captivity during the rodenticide application planned for an ecosystem restoration project in 2018. The population is less likely to receive immigrants from surrounding island populations if negatively effected by feeding on poisoned rodents.
Date: May 2016
Creator: Schulwitz, Sarah E

Investigation of Lead Hydrolytic Polymerization and Interactions with Organic Ligands in the Soil/Sediment-Water Environment

Description: The objective of this research was to investigate lead speciation in the soil/sediment-water environment and to better understand how the species affect lead mobility under different environmental conditions. The research involved both field soil and sediment samples as well as standard lead solutions. Field samples were fully characterized and extracted by aqueous and organic solvents. The results were compared and evaluated with the metal speciation model, MINTEQA2. Hydrolytic polymerization and organic complexation studies were conducted with standard lead solutions under controlled experimental conditions. Results of the field samples showed that pH, dissolved cations, ionic strength, dissolved organic matter, and nature of the soil/sediment matrix play major roles in the distribution and mobility of lead (Pb) from contaminated sites. In the aqueous equilibration experiment, the magnitude of Pb2+ solubilization was in the order of pH4>pH7>pH9. The results were in good agreement with MINTEQA2 predictions. An important finding of the research is the detection of Pb polymerization species under controlled experimental conditions. At pH 5.22, Pb polymeric species were formed at rate of 0.03 per day. The role of Pb complexation with organic matter was evaluated in both field and standard samples. Different methodologies showed three types of organically bound Pb. A very small fraction of Pb, in the ppb range, was extractable from the contaminated soil by polar organic solvents. Sequential extractions show that 16.6±1.4 % of the Pb is organically complexed. Complexation of Pb with fulvic acid provided new information on the extent of Pb association with soluble organic matter. The overall results of this research have provided new and useful information regarding Pb speciation in environmental samples. The results, in several instances, have provided verification of MINTEQA2 model's prediction. They also revealed areas of disagreement between the models prediction and the experimental results. A positive note regarding the experimental ...
Date: December 2002
Creator: Sanmanee, Natdhera

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

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 of magnitude higher than predicted environmental concentrations indicating potential transgenerationals effects. Additionally, a process-based dynamic energy budget (DEB) model is implemented to predict the simulated effects of chronic toxicity of SERT and CBZ to C. dubia individual behavior at laboratory condition. The model‘s output indicates the ecotoxicological mode of action of SERT exposure, which acts on feeding or assimilation with an effect that rapidly saturates at higher concentrations. Offspring size decreases with the toxic effects on feeding, and offspring number is thus less affected than total investment in reproduction. Consequently, CBZ affects direclty in reproduction which are captured by DEBtox ...
Date: December 2013
Creator: Lamichhane, Kiran

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

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 County. Impacts to environmental health were determined by monitoring hydrocodone concentrations in wastewater effluent released from Denton’s wastewater treatment plant before and after D4 events. Data collected and analyzed from the D4 events and the wastewater monitoring suggests D4 events were successful in contributing to improvements in public and environmental health; however there was insufficient evidence to prove that D4 events were exclusively responsible for these improvements. An additional interesting finding was that willingness to travel to participate in D4 events was limited to a five to six mile threshold. This geographic information, combined with other findings related to socioeconomic, ...
Date: August 2012
Creator: Stoddard, Kati Ireland

Organic carbon dynamics of the Neches River and its floodplain.

Description: A large river system typically derives the majority of its biomass from production within the floodplain. The Neches River in the Big Thicket National Preserve is a large blackwater river that has an extensive forested floodplain. Organic carbon was analyzed within the floodplain waters and the river (upstream and downstream of the floodplain) to determine the amount of organic carbon from the floodplain that is contributing to the nutrient dynamics in the river. Dissolved organic carbon was significantly higher at downstream river locations during high discharge. Higher organic carbon levels in the floodplain contributed to increases in organic carbon within the Neches River downstream of the floodplain when Neches River discharges exceeded 10,000 cfs. Hurricane Rita passed through the Big Thicket National Preserve in September 2005. Dissolved organic carbon concentrations recorded after Hurricane Rita in the Neches River downstream of the floodplain were significantly higher than upstream of the floodplain. Dissolved organic carbon was twice as high after the hurricane than levels prior to the hurricane, with floodplain concentrations exceeding 50 ppm C. The increase in organic carbon was likely due to nutrients leached from leaves, which were swept from the floodplain trees prior to normal abscission in the fall. A continuum of leaf breakdown rates was observed in three common floodplain species of trees: Sapium sebiferum, Acer rubrum, and Quercus laurifolia. Leaves collected from blowdown as a result of Hurricane Rita did not break down significantly faster than leaves collected prior to abscission in the fall. Processing coefficients for leaf breakdown in a continuously wet area of the floodplain were significantly higher than processing coefficients for leaf breakdown on the floodplain floor. The forested floodplain of the Neches River is the main contributor of organic carbon. When flow is greater than 10,000 csf, the floodplain transports organic carbon directly ...
Date: December 2007
Creator: Stamatis, Allison Davis