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Adaptive Advantages of Carotenoid Pigments in Alpine and Subalpine Copepod Responses to Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon Induced Phototoxicity

Description: Alpine zooplankton are exposed to a variety of stressors in their natural environment including ultraviolet radiation. Physiological coping mechanisms such as the accumulation of photoprotective compounds provide these zooplankton protection from many of these stressors. Elevated levels of carotenoid compounds such as astaxanthin have been shown to help zooplankton survive longer when exposed to ultraviolet radiation presumably due to the strong antioxidant properties of carotenoid compounds. This antioxidant capacity is important because it may ameliorate natural and anthropogenic stressor-induced oxidative stress. While previous researchers have shown carotenoid compounds impart increased resistance to ultraviolet radiation in populations of zooplankton, little work has focused on the toxicological implications of PAH induced phototoxicity on zooplankton containing high levels of carotenoid compounds. This thesis discusses research studying the role that carotenoid compounds play in reducing PAH induced phototoxicity. By sampling different lakes at elevations ranging from 9,500' to 12,700' in the front range of the Colorado Rocky Mountains, copepod populations containing different levels of carotenoid compounds were obtained. These populations were then challenged with fluoranthene and ultraviolet radiation. Results discussed include differences in survival and levels of lipid peroxidation among populations exhibiting different levels of carotenoid compounds, and the toxicological and ecological implications of these results.
Date: May 2010
Creator: Kovach, Matthew James

Effects of Suspended Multi-Walled Carbon Nanotubes on Daphnid Growth and Reproduction

Description: Multi-walled carbon nanotube aggregates can be suspended in the aqueous phase by natural organic matter. These aggregates are ingested by filter feeding zooplankton. Ingested aggregates result in decreased growth and decreased reproduction. These effects may be caused by reduction in energy input from normal feeding behavior. pH alters natural organic matter structure through changes in electrostatic repulsion. Altered natural organic matter structure changes multi-walled carbon nanotube aggregate size. This size variation with variation in pH is significant, but not large enough a change in size to alter toxicity, as the aggregate size range remains well within the particle size selection of the organisms.
Date: May 2010
Creator: Alloy, Matthew Michael

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

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

Hepatotoxicity of Mercury to Fish

Description: Tissue samples from spotted gar (Lepisosteus oculatus) and largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) were collected from Caddo Lake. Gar and bass livers were subjected to histological investigation and color analysis. Liver color (as abs at 400 nm) was significantly correlated with total mercury in the liver (r2 = 0.57, p = 0.02) and muscle (r2 = 0.58, p = 0.01) of gar. Evidence of liver damage as lipofuscin and discoloration was found in both species but only correlated with liver mercury concentration in spotted gar. Inorganic mercury was the predominant form in gar livers. In order to determine the role of mercury speciation in fish liver damage, a laboratory feeding study was employed. Zebrafish (Danio rerio) were fed either a control (0.12 ± 0.002 µg Hg.g-1 dry wt), inorganic mercury (5.03 ± 0.309 µg Hg.g-1 dry wt), or methylmercury (4.11 ± 0.146 µg Hg.g-1 dry wt) diet. After 78 days of feeding, total mercury was highest in the carcass of zebrafish fed methylmercury (12.49 ± 0.369 µg Hg.g-1 dry wt), intermediate in those fed inorganic mercury (1.09 ± 0.117 µg Hg.g-1 dry wt), and lowest in fish fed the control diet (0.48 ± 0.038 µg Hg.g-1 dry wt). Total mercury was highest in the viscera of methylmercury fed zebrafish (11.6 ± 1.86 µg Hg.g-1 dry wt), intermediate in those fed inorganic diets (4.3 ± 1.08 µg Hg.g-1 dry wt), and lowest in the control fish (below limit of detection). Total mercury was negatively associated with fish length and weight in methylmercury fed fish. Condition factor was not associated with total mercury and might not be the best measure of fitness for these fish. No liver pathologies were observed in zebrafish from any treatment.
Date: August 2010
Creator: Barst, Benjamin Daniel

Role of N-Acylethanolamines in Plant Defense Responses: Modulation by Pathogens and Commercial Antimicrobial Stressors

Description: N-acyl ethanolamines (NAEs) are a class of lipids recently recognized as signaling molecules which are controlled, in part, by their degradation by fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH). On the basis of previous studies indicating increased NAE levels in a tobacco cell suspension-xylanase elicitor exposure system and the availability of FAAH mutants, overexpressor and knockout (OE and KO) genotypes in Arabidopsis thaliana, further roles of NAEs in A. thaliana plant defense was investigated. The commonly occurring urban antimicrobial contaminant triclosan (TCS) has been shown to suppress lipid signaling associated with plant defense responses. Thus, a second objective of this study was to determine if TCS exposure specifically interferes with NAE levels. No changes in steady state NAE profiles in A. thaliana-Pseudomonas syringae pv. syringae and A. thaliana-flagellin (bacterial peptide, flg22) challenge systems were seen despite evidence that defense responses were activated in these systems. There was a significant drop in enoyl-ACP reductase (ENR) enzyme activity, which catalyzes the last step in the fatty acid biosynthesis pathway in plants, on exposure of the seedlings to TCS at 10 ppm for 24 h and decreased reactive oxygen species (ROS) production due to flg22 in long term exposure of 0.1 ppm and short term exposure of 5 ppm. However, these responses were not accompanied by significant changes in steady state NAE profiles.
Date: August 2010
Creator: Vadapalli, Vatsala

Wind Energy-related Wildlife Impacts: Analysis and Potential Implications for Rare, Threatened and Endangered Species of Birds and Bats in Texas

Description: Texas currently maintains the highest installed nameplate capacity and does not require publicly available post-construction monitoring studies that examine the impacts of wind energy production on surrounding fauna. This thesis examines potential wind energy impacts on avian and bat species in Texas through a three-part objective. The first two objectives synthesize literature on variables attractive to species within wind development areas and estimate impacted ranges outside of Texas, based on studies examining wind energy's environmental impacts. The third objective focuses on Texas wind development potential for interaction with rare, threatened and endangered species of birds and bats using GIS analysis with a potential hazard index (PHI) model, which addresses broad-spectrum, high risk variables examined within the first two objectives. Assuming areas with higher wind speeds have potential for wind development, PHI values were calculated for 31 avian and ten bat species, based on an analysis of species range data obtained from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and wind data obtained from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Results indicate one avian species, Tympanuchus pallidicinctus, is at high risk for wind development interaction on an annual basis, with 20 species of birds and nine species of bats at higher risk during the spring season. This macro-scale approach for identifying high risk species in Texas could be used as a model to apply to other conterminous states' preliminary evaluation of wind energy impacts.
Date: August 2010
Creator: Graham, Tara L.