Western spruce budworm (Choristoneura occidentalis) outbreaks periodically disturb Western US conifer forests by defoliating canopies, which could alter the quantity and chemistry of throughfall delivered to the forest floor. Our objectives were to: i) quantify throughfall water, carbon (C), nitrogen (N), and phosphorus (P) fluxes under budworm-impacted canopies, and ii) examine the influence of herbivore intensity on flux magnitudes. In June 2015, we installed throughfall collectors in two watersheds experiencing high and background levels of herbivory. In each watershed, four plots, each with three throughfall collectors, were established (n=24) collectors), and two bulk rainfall collectors were installed in areas without canopy cover. Throughfall and rainfall were collected from late June to early November 2015. Samples were analyzed for dissolved organic carbon (DOC), ammonium (NH4-N), and soluble reactive phosphorus (SRP). Over the sampling period, throughfall fluxes ranged 8.57 to 47.59 kg/ha for DOC, 0.004-0.011 kg/ha for NH4-N, and 007 - 0.29 kg/ha for SRP. Percent throughfall was slightly, but not significantly, higher in the high (48%) compared to the background watershed (42%). There were no differences in solute concentrations among the watersheds. Net throughfall fluxes, the sum of canopy uptake and leaching and dry/fog deposition, differed significantly for NH4-N by herbivory level and through time for NH4-N and DOC but not SRP. Over time, net NH4-N throughfall fluxes showed a clear transition from net uptake of NH4-N to net leaching of NH4-N in the high herbivory watershed. There was also a clearn NH4-N pulse in the high herbivory watershed after the first, but not subsequent, rainfall events. In this N-limited forest, altered throughfall N may affect soil nutrient cycling and downstream water quality.
This thesis interrogates sense of place and place attachment in the Big Empty on the north central Texas plains. The region stretches from the Red River on the north to the Colorado River basin on the south and from the Cross Timbers on the east to the Caprock escarpment on the west. Since 1930, the Big Empty has seen sustained and severe population decline such that some counties there now register less than a quarter the population they did at their peaks during the interwar years. Through in-depth field interviews, I examine sense of place and place attachment amidst apparently irreversible decline. I also describe conditions of postindustrial rurality arising from rolling reconfigurations of economic and social relations, particularly changes in scale in farming and the diminished centrality of productivist agriculture in local economies and culture, and how these conditions become legible through the study of place.
Urbanization is seen as a threat to biodiversity within urban ecosystems, which are largely reliant on humans for their composition. Two types of extremes exist in the spectrum of urban domestic gardens; on one end, the typical urban garden which is planted by landscapers at the time the house is built and is generally left unchanged, and, at the other, a "wild" landscape planted entirely with native plants which provides habitat for native fauna and pollinators. This study assesses the plant choices made by members of organized gardening groups-the Denton County Master Gardeners (DCMG), the Elm Fork Master Naturalists (EFMN), the Trinity Forks Native Plant Society (TFNPS), and Keep Denton Beautiful (KDB)-and toward which extreme these choices put these gardens on the psectrum. TFNPS and EFMN both fall closer to the wild garden extreme, with TFNPS the closest to a "wild garden." DCMG was almost directly between the two extremes, but fell closer to the typical urban garden. By looking at how these groups manage their gardens, we begin to understand the ways in which gardeners can mitigate and soften the harsh changes between wild landscapes and urban environments. Collaboration between groups could have the potential to encourage more people to use native plants which provide habitat for native fauna and pollinators if those in the typical urban garden spectrum could find in the "wild" gardens of those on the opposite end of the spectrum.
Over 9 million new cases of tuberculosis (TB) were reported worldwide in 2013. While the TB rate is much lower in the US, its uneven distribution and associated explanatory variables require interrogation in order to determine effective strategies for intervention and control. However, paucity of case data at fine geographic scales precludes such research. This research, using zip code level data from 837 confirmed TB cases in Tarrant County obtained from Texas Department of State Health Services, explores and attempts to explain the spatial patterns of TB and related risk markers within a framework of place vulnerability. Readily available census data is then used to characterize the spatial variations in TB risk. The resulting model will enable estimations of the geographic differences in TB case variables using this readily available census data instead of time-consuming and expensive individual data collection.
Change detection is amongst the most effective critical examination methods used in remote sensing technology. In this research, new methods are proposed for building and vegetation change detection using only LiDAR data without using any other remotely sensed data. Two LiDAR datasets from 2009 and 2013 will be used in this research. These datasets are provided by the City of Surrey. A Parcel map which shows parcels in the study area will be also used in this research because the objective of this research is detecting changes based on parcels. Different methods are applied to detect changes in buildings and vegetation respectively. Three attributes of object –slope, building volume, and building height are derived and used in this study. Changes in buildings are not only detected but also categorized based on their attributes. In addition, vegetation change detection is performed based on parcels. The output shows parcels with a change of vegetation. Accuracy assessment is done by using measures of completeness, correctness, and quality of extracted regions. Accuracy assessments suggest that building change detection is performed with better results.
Invasive woody shrubs are a problem when they displace native species and threaten habitats, especially those that harbor rare or endangered species. They not only compete with native plants, but also alter habitat and food that many organisms depend upon. Invasive plants undergo a release from their specialist predators in the nonnative range, providing them advantages over native species. Because modes and pathways of how invasive species spread are not fully understood, predicting spread and implementing restoration ecological controls remain inexact. Due to the lack of comparative studies on woody shrubs, especially invasive privets, we understand very little about conditions affecting their invasiveness. A study was conducted near Dallas, Texas to determine if privet has allelopathic properties that influences growth of native plants. Soil nutrients and other analyses were made and compared between field plots supporting privet, plots in which privet has been removed, and plots where privet has not been observed. In some field plots, natives were planted under the three previously mentioned conditions, and their survival and condition were monitored to evaluate effects of privet on their establishment and growth. It was found that Chinese privet did hinder seed germination in red mulberry, soapberry and beautyberry and root formation in beautyberry cuttings. The soil in the sites were found to be normal for bottomland forests that endured two flooding events within one year.
Ancestral Pueblo communities of the central Mesa Verde region (CMVR) became increasingly reliant on agriculture for their subsistence needs during Basketmaker III (BMIII) through Terminal Pueblo III (TPIII) (AD 600–1300) periods. Researchers have been studying the Ancestral Pueblo people for over a century using a variety of methods to understand the relationships between climate, agriculture, population, and settlement patterns. While these methods and research have produced a well-developed cultural history of the region, studies at a smaller scale are still needed to understand the changes in farming behavior and the distribution of individual sites across the CMVR. Soil moisture is the limiting factor for crop growth in the semi-arid region of the Goodman Watershed in the CMVR. Thus, I constructed the soil moisture proxy model (SMPM) that is on a local scale and focuses on variables relevant to soil moisture – soil particle-size, soil depth, slope, and aspect. From the SMPM output, the areas of very high soil moisture are assumed to represent desirable farmland locations. I describe the relationship between very high soil moisture and site locations, then I infer the relevance of that relationship to settlement patterns and how those patterns changed over time (BMIII – TPIII). The results of the model and its application help to clarify how Ancestral Pueblo people changed as local farming communities. The results of this study indicates that farmers shifted away from use of preferred farmland during Terminal Pueblo III, which may have been caused by other cultural factors. The general outcome of this thesis is an improved understanding of human-environmental relationships on the local landscape in the CMVR.
Snowmelt is one of the major sources of surface water supply and ground-water recharge in high elevation areas and can also cause flooding in snow dominated watersheds. Direct estimation of daily snowmelt requires daily snow water equivalent (SWE) measurements that are not always available, especially in places without monitoring stations. There are two alternative approaches to modeling snowmelt without using direct measurements of SWE, temperature-based and energy-based models. Due to its simplicity, computational efficiency, and less input data requirement, the temperature-based method is commonly used than the energy-based method. In the temperature-index approach snowmelt is estimated as a linear function of average air temperature, and the slope of the linear function is called the degree-day factor (DDF). Hence, the DDF is an essential parameter for utilizing the temperature-based method to estimate snowmelt. Thereby, to analyze the spatial properties of DDF, 10 years DDF from the entire state of Colorado was calculated for this research. Likewise, to study the temporal properties, DDFs for 27 years from the White Yampa water basin and the Colorado Headwaters water basin were calculated. As a part of the spatial analysis, the calculated DDFs were correlated with spatial variables (slope, aspect, latitude and elevation) and a spatial correlation graph was created to observe the possibility of predicting DDF. Also a multivariate regression model was prepared using these spatial variables to predict the DDF using spatial variables. Further, the DDFs calculated from Colorado headwaters and the White Yampa water basins were correlated for annual temporal variation, daily variation, variation with peak snow water equivalent and variation with important temporal cycles like accumulation period and melting period of snowmelt. The result obtained from this study showed that the variability of DDF is more dependent upon temporal factors compared to the spatial factors. Also, the results showed that predicting ...
This study uses the storm surge sediment beds deposited by Hurricanes Audrey (1957), Carla (1961), Rita (2005) and Ike (2008) to investigate spatial and temporal changes in sedimentation rates on the McFaddin National Wildlife Refuge in Southeast Texas. Fourteen sediment cores were collected along a transect extending from 90 to 1230 meters inland from the Gulf Coast. Storm-surge-deposited sediment beds were identified by texture, organic content, carbonate content, the presence of marine microfossils, and Cesium-137 dating. The hurricane-derived sediment beds are marker horizons that facilitate assessment of marsh sedimentation rates from nearshore to inland locations as well as over decadal to annual timescales. Near the shore, on a Hurricane Ike washover fan, where hurricane-derived sedimentation has increased elevation by up to 0.68 m since 2005, there was no measurable marsh sedimentation in the period 2008-2014. Farther inland, at lower elevations, sedimentation for the period 2008-2014 averaged 0.36 cm per year. The reduction in sedimentation in the period 2008-2014 on the nearshore part of the marsh is likely due to reduced flooding in response to increased elevation from hurricane storm surge sediment deposition. These results provide valuable knowledge about the sedimentary response of coastal marshes subject to storm surge deposition and useful guidance to public policy aimed at combating the effects of sea level rise on coastal marshes along the Gulf of Mexico.
In North Texas, the Barnett Shale underlies large areas of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex (DFW), which magnifies debates about the externalities of shale gas development (SGD). Continued demand for natural gas and expansive urbanization in DFW will cause more people to come in contact with drilling rigs, gas transport, and other urban shale gas landscapes. Thousands of gas wells within the DFW region occupy a large, yet scattered land surface area. DFW city planners, elected officials, and other stakeholders must deal with current and future urban growth and the surface impacts that are associated with gas development. This research examines how shale gas landscapes affect urban land uses, landscapes, and patterns of development in DFW. The study focuses on multiple fast growing DFW municipalities that also have high numbers of gas well pad sites. This study asks what are the spatial characteristics of gas well production sites in DFW and how do these sites vary across the region; how do gas well production sites affect urban growth and development; and how are city governments and surface developers responding to gas well production sites, and what are the dominant themes of contestation arising around gas well production sites and suburban growth?
In recent years, small towns have experienced declining levels of retail activity attributable to a variety of factors. Previously conducted research identifies a number of these factors such as changing population dynamics, continuously evolving retail practices, locational factors, and an assortment of other macroeconomic factors. Although retail decline is common for many small towns, there are some small towns that have been able to maintain their viability in an ever-changing economic climate. The primary purpose of this research is to better understand what spatial and socio-economic characteristics contribute to retail growth and decline in a series of small towns. This research highlights a selection of small towns across a 14 county area within east Texas. The selection of small towns includes a number of towns with an increasing number of retail establishments as well as a number of towns with decreasing retail establishments over the 14 year study timeframe. Contained within this research is a discussion of small town economic and retail development, as well as findings regarding spatial and socio-economic characteristics as they relate to retail growth and decline in small towns. This research finds that locational characteristics do have an effect on retail growth and decline. The research also supports the literature, which states retail growth and decline is more pronounced within certain retail categories.
Although Costco operates over 580 warehouse stores throughout North America, their location strategy remains relatively unexamined in the economic geography literature. A cursory examination of Costco’s network makes it clear that the firm chooses to locate primarily in the suburbs of major cities, where income levels are somewhat higher than the national average. However, what is not clear is the extent to which other demographic and geographic factors adequately account for Costco’s store locations, and what strategy underlies the geography of the firm’s warehouse stores, especially in relation to its distribution network. This research studies Costco in order to decode the location strategies that have guided the company’s North American and international expansions. The investigation attempts to identify key elements of Costco’s multinational retail network, including this network’s evolution over time. This paper seeks to benefit both retail business and public policymakers by highlighting elements of Costco’s location strategy that have contributed to the firm’s success.
Nutritional quality and availability is thought to regulate geographic patterns of variability in animal body size due to phenotypic plasticity. The purpose of this study is to determine how vegetation quality, abundance and population density influence white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) body size on a subregional spatial scale at Fort Hood, Texas. Harvest and census records are used to test the hypothesis that white-tailed deer exhibit phenotypic plasticity (e.g. larger body size) in response to differences in vegetation quality and availability. Results from these analyses suggest that forage quality and abundance alone is not a main driver of white-tailed deer body size. Analysis of deer population density (generally) resulted in an inverse relationship with body size. Areas with high quality forage and low population density support larger deer while areas with low quality forage and high density support smaller than average deer. The few exceptions occur in areas exhibiting poor quality forage and low population density or high forage quality and high density. Results from this study suggest that continued overcrowding of deer within isolated areas may eventually lead to efficiency phenotypic conditions producing smaller sized deer. These results could prove useful in interpreting deer population responses to harvest management. For successful local management of deer, studies examining the combined influence of habitat variables (such as forage quality, abundance and population density) on deer health offer managers valuable information needed to establish annual harvest goals and understand deer-habitat relationships relative to carrying capacity.
Disease maps are powerful tools for depicting spatial variations in disease risk and its underlying drivers. However, producing effective disease maps requires careful consideration of the statistical and spatial properties of the disease data. In fact, the choice of mapping method influences the resulting spatial pattern of the disease, as well as the understanding of its underlying population characteristics. New developments in mapping methods and software in addition to continuing improvements in data quality and quantity are requiring map-makers to make a multitude of decisions before a map of disease burdens can be created. The impact of such decisions on a map, including the choice of appropriate mapping method, not been addressed adequately in the literature. This research demonstrates how choice of mapping method and associated parameters influence the spatial pattern of disease. We use four different disease-mapping methods – unsmoothed choropleth maps, smoothed choropleth maps produced using the headbanging method, smoothed kernel density maps, and smoothed choropleth maps produced using spatial empirical Bayes methods and 5-years of zip code level HIV incidence (2007- 2011) data from Dallas and Tarrant Counties, Texas. For each map, the leading population characteristics and their relative importance with regards to HIV incidence is identified using a regression analysis of a CDC recommended list of socioeconomic determinants of HIV. Our results show that the choice of mapping method leads to different conclusions regarding the associations between HIV disease burden and the underlying demographic and socioeconomic characteristics. Thus, the choice of mapping method influences the patterns of disease we see or fail to see. Accurate depiction of areas of high disease burden is important for developing and targeting appropriate public health interventions.
GIS has been utilized in cultural resources management for decades, yet its application has been largely isolated to predicting the occurrence of archaeological sites. Federal and State agencies are required to protect archaeological sites that are discovered on their lands, but their resources and personnel are very limited. A new methodology is evaluated that uses modern light detection and ranging (LiDAR) and historic aerial photogrammetry to create digital terrain models (DTMs) capable of identifying sites that are most at risk of damage from changes in terrain. Results revealed that photogrammetric modeling of historic aerial imagery, with limitations, can be a useful decision making tool for cultural resources managers to prioritize conservation and monitoring efforts. An attempt to identify key environmental factors that would be indicative of future topographic changes did not reveal conclusive results. However, the methodology proposed has the potential to add an affordable temporal dimension to future digital terrain modeling and land management. Furthermore, the methods have global applicability because they can be utilized in any region with an arid environment.
Urbanization causes various environmental issues including water pollution, air pollution, and solid waste. Urbanization of watersheds has a profound influence on the quality of stormwater runoff. The quality of stormwater runoff is highly associated with land use. This study analyzed the exceedance frequency of stormwater quality in five watersheds of Denton over eleven years and also analyzed the relationship between stormwater quality and land use/cover of each watershed. The results showed that the most of the water quality parameters that were examined in the Lower Pecan watershed exceeded their threshold most frequently. The higher frequency of exceedance in this watershed can be attributed to the wastewater treatment plant and landfill site. Total suspended solids and turbidity were frequently exceeded in Hickory and Clear Creek watersheds. Conductivity was found to have highest percentage of exceedance in Upper Pecan and Cooper watersheds. Thus, rural watersheds were related with higher exceedance of TSS and turbidity whereas urban watersheds were related with higher exceedance of conductivity.
The archaeofaunal remains left by the Ancestral Puebloan people of Goodman Point Unit provides a valuable, yet underutilized resource into pit structure function. This thesis explores temporal changes in pit structure use and evaluates if a final feast occurred during a kiva decommissioning. The results from zooarchaeological analyses of a pithouse and two great kivas suggest that changes in pit structures at Goodman Point mimic the regional trend toward specialization until late Pueblo III. Cross-cultural studies on feasts, southwest ethnographies and previous zooarchaeological work established methods for identifying a feast. The analysis of differences in faunal remains from a great kiva and multiple room block middens imply that the remains in the kiva were from a final feast prior to a decommissioning ceremony and were not fill. Spatially and temporally the great kiva appears to be a unique, specialized structure in the cultural development of the Goodman Point community.
Rain gardens are low impact developments designed to mitigate a suite of issues associated with urban stormwater runoff. The site for this study was a Denton City rain garden at the Denton Waste Water Treatment Plant. Nitrogen and phosphorus removal was examined in light of two overflow events comprised of partially treated wastewater from an upslope anaerobic digester pond. Nitrate removal efficiency was examined across differing dry spell intervals of 5, 8, and 12 d, displaying a moderate negative correlation (r2 = 0.59). Continued phosphorus removal capacity was assessed, showing phosphorus removal in cases where P was in excess of 0.8 mg/L, reflecting an equilibrium phosphorus concentration. A high expanded shale component in the soil media (25%) was likely a factor in the continued removal of phosphorus. Overall the rain garden proved to be a large source of nitrate (+425%) and total nitrogen (+61%) by mass. The study showed that while the rain garden intercepted a large volume of partially treated wastewater during the overflow events, preventing it from reaching a nearby creek, the mitigation of an acute event has extended to a chronic one as nitrogen is gradually processed and flushed from the system as nitrate.
Pastoralists tend to occupy highlands and drylands lands with uncertain climates and are experienced at coping with climatic variability and drought. Increasingly, however, the speed with which climate patterns are changing has become an issue of concern. This study examines household water management strategies of pastoralists in western Argentina. In this semi-arid region, pastoralists rely primarily on streams and springs fed by snow and glacier melt from the Andes, and have developed various strategies to meet their water needs. They also deal with myriad challenges posed by climate, economic, and socio-cultural change and work vigorously to maintain their herds – a combination of cattle, goats, and sheep – in this water scarce region. The goal of this study is to understand: 1) different household water management strategies; 2) the ways pastoral livelihoods are changing in response to changes in water supply; and 3) the socio-economic changes that affect pastoral livelihoods. Information from interviews, household surveys, and participant observations reveals that climate fluctuation impacts water supplies and use, herd size, and expenses made on tanks, technology, and infrastructure for the storage and transport of water, food for animals, and subsistence crops. Understanding the micro-scale, water practices of pastoral households provides insight into the ways rural populations in semi-arid and arid environments respond to changes in climate and meet their water needs. Moreover, these findings can contribute to scholarship on traditional and local knowledge and resource management systems, and may potentially inspire the development of adaptive management solutions.
The Leon River, a small-medium river in central Texas, is highly impacted by multiple impoundments, enrichment from agricultural runoff, and decreased dissolved oxygen levels. This degraded river contains sixteen unionid species, two of which are both endemic to the region and candidates for the federal endangered species listing (Quadrula houstonensis and Truncilla macrodon). While there is a short historical record for this river basin and a recent modern survey completed in 2011, zooarchaeological data adds evidence for conservation efforts by increasing the time depth of data available and providing another conservation baseline. Zooarchaeological data for the Leon River is available from the two Late Holocene archaeological sites: 41HM61 and the Belton Lake Assemblages. Data generated from these assemblages describe the prehistoric freshwater mussel community of the Leon River in terms of taxonomic composition and structure. By comparing this zooarchaeological data to the data generated by the longitudinal modern survey of the Leon River, long term changes within the freshwater mussel community can be detected. A conceptual model is constructed to evaluate how robusticity, identifiability, and life history ecology affect unionid taxonomic abundances in zooarchaeological data. This conceptual model functions as an interpretive tool for zooarchaeologists to evaluate forms of equifinality in zooarchaeological assemblages. This thesis determines differences between the late Holocene and modern freshwater community of the Leon River, explores how different alternative mechanisms influence zooarchaeological data, and exemplifies of how zooarchaeological data can be used for conservation biology.
This paper critically analyzes the implementation of compressed natural gas and the ways in which it creates discourse in urban Bolivia. The rapidly developing nation is keen on making ubiquitous use of compressed natural gas a reality by issuing subsidies, citing increased mobility, savings, and environmental stewardship as the primary motives. Currently, eight out of every 10 public vehicles in Bolivia are powered by compressed natural gas. Through semi-structured interviews, questionnaires and secondary data collection, this paper elucidates the transitional process of building a natural gas-based transport network through discursive governance. This work draws on the critical discourse analysis literature to dissect disaggregated modal preference data, government documents, and news articles collected in Santa Cruz, Latin America's second fastest growing city. Moreover, this paper identifies and examines the ways in which the counter-discourse impacts the transformation of the country’s energy matrix. Results show that Bolivian automobile owners are reluctant to convert their automobiles, despite reduced transportation costs, stating that minimal compressed natural gas infrastructure exists outside of urban areas, and the conversion damages their vehicles’ motor. Additionally, the research reveals that automobile owners are currently the main beneficiaries, though respondents who do not posses an automobile speak more favorably of natural gas. Finally, this research illustrates that the compressed natural gas-oriented policies encourage personal automobile use that continues to drive socio-spatial segregation of Santa Cruz’s residents. Thus, the compressed natural gas discourse helps shape the urban landscape by persuading the public to consume domestically extracted and manufactured natural gas.
Locational decisions based on stigma and low funding have handicapped the efficiency of community based mental healthcare in the United States since 1963. However, the pattern of services in the 21st century American South remains largely unknown. This thesis addresses this gap in knowledge by using a mixed methodology including location allocation, descriptive statistics, and qualitative site visits to explore the geography of community clinics offering both physical and mental health services. The City of Houston has proposed using these facilities to anchor new supportive housing, but introducing more fixed costs to a mismatched system could create more problems than solutions. The findings of this study suggest the presence of an unnecessary concentration of services in the central city and a spatial mismatch between accessible clinics and the poor, sick people in need. Furthermore, this research reveals a new suburban pattern of vulnerability, calling into question long-held assumptions about the vulnerability of the inner city. Building supportive housing around existing community clinics, especially in the central city, may further concentrate vulnerable people thereby contributing to intensifying patterns of service-seeking drift and the continued traumatization of mentally ill homeless persons in Houston.
The archaeology of the Northern Rio Grande region of New Mexico has recently received an increased amount scholarly attention. In particular, understanding past trends in demographics, agricultural productivity, violence, and social networks have been primary goals of archaeological research. Understanding patterns in animal exploitation has, however, received far less attention due to a small yet growing regional zooarchaeological database. Through the identification of animal remains from a site called Ponsipa (occupied ca. A.D. 1300 to 1600), this thesis adds one large dataset to this growing database. In addition, this thesis expands on the pre-impoundment distribution of an endangered native freshwater fish species in the state of New Mexico called the blue sucker (Cycleptus elongatus). The blue sucker is a unique fish that is currently experiencing range reduction across all of its known North American distribution due to anthropogenic habitat fragmentation and degradation. Skeletal remains that were identified from Ponsipa represent the farthest known northern record of its occurrence in the state of New Mexico and highlight the extent of range restriction of the species in the area. The data concerning the historical biogeography of the blue sucker from Ponsipa have implications for the effective conservation and restoration of blue sucker located in the Rio Grande Basin.
Throughout its current range, the Cross Timbers forest ecosystem is vulnerable to land-use change. In this study, we examined the surrounding land use matrix on the vegetation structure, composition and regeneration of six Cross Timbers forest fragments in Denton County, Texas (north of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex). Two fragments adjacent to agricultural land, two to residential neighborhoods, and two formally protected forest sites were selected. In summer 2015, five 100 m2 plots were randomly established in each fragment at least 200 meters from the edge. In each plot, all live and dead trees ≥ 3 cm diameter were identified and their height and diameter at breast height (DBH at 1.3 m aboveground) measured. Evidence of dumping (presence of trash) was recorded as an index of human frequentation. Differences in vegetation structure among the forest fragments were found. Most notably, fragments adjacent to agriculture contained 25% to 50% fewer trees per hectare than all other sites (Kruskal-Wallis, p < 0.02), especially trees <10 cm DBH. However, residential fragments had fewer trees that were ≥15 cm DBH compared to the other fragments, indicating that these are the youngest of the forest patches surveyed. Trash was observed in 60% of plots surveyed at residential forest sites, showing high levels of human frequentation compared to the protected and agricultural forest sites. Agricultural sites contained the lowest number of recorded tree species and were most similar to each other, sharing 91% of species. These findings indicate that surrounding land use affects forest structure and composition, consequently affecting valuable ecosystem services including wildlife habitat, aesthetics and recreation.
Within the past few decades, commuter rail routes in several major metropolitan areas have been implemented to provide an alternative to automobile transportation. Urban planners in these cities are looking to commuter rail to mitigate congestion and pollution. However, research on the impacts of commuter rail development on the surrounding retail landscape is still needed. In metropolitan Dallas-Fort Worth, the Denton County Transportation Authority recently opened its new A-Train light rail service linking suburban Denton and downtown Dallas. This thesis examines urban changes that occurred in the years before and after the A-Train line's 2011 opening, with a focus on restaurant and retail development in the vicinity of the A-Train stations in Denton County. This analysis evaluates changes in retail density and type, the population surrounding stations, and municipal initiatives that shape the retail landscape of station vicinities. This was done by gathering field data, retailer listings, population data, and conducting interviews with local businesses and city planners. The findings suggest that A-train stations have had a differential impact on the surrounding landscape, depending on the existing retail landscape, the types of retailers present, and the current state of municipal infrastructure that promotes accessibility. Overall, results suggest that urban planners play a vital role in harnessing the potential of commuter rail to promote nearby retail growth.
This analysis of faunal remains from eleven archaeological sites in the northern San Juan region, extensively occupied by the Ancestral Pueblo people until they leave the region by AD 1300, explores the effects of resource intensification of small wild and domestic resources leading up to this regional depopulation. By examining multiple lines of evidence, in addition to faunal abundance, causal factors are identified to address changes in abundances through time. In particular, age- and sex-based mortality are examined for lagomorphs (jackrabbits and cottontails) and domesticated turkey, respectively, to test hypotheses generated using the prey and patch choice models. Analyses of these resources follow a systematic paleontology which provides explicit identifications made of five sites from a large study area, Goodman Point Pueblo Unit. These data are integrated with those from large village sites from the encompassing central Mesa Verde region. The results of both analyses help clarify why the Ancestral Pueblo people left southwestern Colorado. During the final twenty-year occupation period, the results of this study support a shift from reliance on turkey husbandry to intense exploitation of locally available garden resources (i.e. cottontails).
Plastic deposition in hydrological systems is a pervasive problem at all geographic scales from loci of pollution to global ocean circulation. Much attention has been devoted to plastic deposition in marine contexts, but little is known about inputs of plastics into local hydrological systems, such as streams. Any attempt to prevent plastic litter must confront people’s behaviors, so archaeological concepts are used to distinguish between various cultural inputs (e.g., littering) and non-cultural forces (e.g., stream transport) that affect litter patterns on the landscape. Litter surveys along Hickory Creek in Denton, TX, are used to assess these factors.
Understanding spatial perspectives on the spread and incidence of a disease is invaluable for public health planning and intervention. Choropleth maps are commonly used to provide an abstraction of disease risk across geographic space. These maps are derived from aggregated population counts that are known to be affected by the small numbers problem. Kernel density estimation methods account for this problem by producing risk estimates that are based on aggregations of approximately equal population sizes. However, the process of aggregation often combines data from areas with non-uniform spatial and population characteristics. This thesis presents a new method to aggregate space in ways that are sensitive to their underlying risk factors. Such maps will enable better public health practice and intervention by enhancing our ability to understand the spatial processes that result in disparate health outcomes.
When an earthquake happens, one of the most important tasks of disaster managers is to conduct damage assessment; this is mostly done from remotely sensed data. This study presents a new method for building detection and damage assessment using high-resolution satellite images and LiDAR data from Port-au-Prince, Haiti. A graph-cut method is used for building detection due to its advantages compared to traditional methods such as the Hough transform. Results of two methods are compared to understand how much our proposed technique is effective. Afterwards, sensitivity analysis is performed to show the effect of image resolution on the efficiency of our method. Results are in four groups. First: based on two criteria for sensitivity analysis, completeness and correctness, the more efficient method is graph-cut, and the final building mask layer is used for damage assessment. Next, building damage assessment is done using change detection technique from two images from period of before and after the earthquake. Third, to integrate LiDAR data and damage assessment, we showed there is a strong relationship between terrain roughness variables that are calculated using digital surface models. Finally, open street map and normalized digital surface model are used to detect possible road blockages. Results of detecting road blockages showed positive values of normalized digital surface model on the road centerline can represent blockages if we exclude other objects such as cars.
Birth defects are the leading cause of infant death in the United States. Research has linked poor maternal micronutrient intake to birth defects including neural tube defects, heart defects, and oral clefts. After investigating spatial patterns of these birth defects in the City of Dallas and the neighborhood characteristics within clusters, geospatial access to supermarkets and convenience stores measured by proximity and concentrations are examined as environmental risk factors for nutrition-related birth defects. Spatial clusters of all three nutrition-related birth defects exist in the City of Dallas. Cluster for NTD occurs in vulnerable places with lower income and high minority population specifically Hispanics with no supermarkets. Cluster for heart defects mostly occurs in high income and predominantly white neighborhoods with many supermarkets. Clusters of oral clefts mostly occurs in middle-class income with relatively high minority populations with many convenience stores. For the entire study area, geographical access to supermarkets that include healthy foods are shown to be spatially reachable from most of mothers of infants with nutrition-related birth defects as well as convenience stores that typically include the majority of unhealthy processed foods with very few nutrients. Thus, not only easy geographical access to healthy food vendors but to convenience stores with low quality produces is observed at the same time.
Coastal marshes and wetlands are vital natural resources that offer habitats for plants and animals, serve as ecological filtration for soil and water pollutants, and act as protection for coastlines. Fishing, both commercial and sport, has a large economic impact in the study area – the Gulf Coast between Galveston Bay, TX and Oak Grove, LA. The objective of this research was to determine the contribution of Hurricane Ike storm surge sedimentation to long-term marsh aggradation in Texas and Louisiana coastal marshes. The research hypothesized that Hurricane Ike’s storm surge deposit would be equal to decades and possibly even a century’s worth of the average annual non-storm sedimentation. A quantitative field study was performed. The storm surge deposit was examined in a series of 15 transects covering approximately 180 km east of Hurricane Ike’s landfall. Nine of the 15 transects were re-surveyed a year after the initial measurement to assess preservation of the deposit. The results demonstrate that Hurricane Ike contributed between 10 to 135 years’ worth of sediment to coastal marshes along the coasts of Texas and Louisiana, and the sediment deposits have been preserved for over two years.
Phytophthora ramorum, an exotic forest pathogen known as ‘sudden oak death’ (SOD), has received considerable attention in recent years because of its effects on vegetation structure, composition, and fire disturbance regimes in western U.S. coastal forests. This research examines differences in the importance (e.g., density, dominance, and frequency) and distribution of five host species of P. ramorum–– Umbellularia californica (California bay laurel), Quercus agrifolia (coast live oak), Pseudotsuga menziesii (Douglas fir), Sequoia sempervirens (Coast redwood), and Arbutus menziesii (Madrone)––in Soquel, California. A stratified random sampling design was used to select 66 plots surrounding a managed forest edge in Soquel Demonstration State Forest. Vegetation measurements were conducted in summer 2013. In each plot, all trees ≥3 cm diameter at breast height (DBH) were identified to species, counted, and DBH, height, and canopy position measured. Leaf area index (LAI) of bay laurel was measured to quantify the amount of leaves available for pathogen dispersal with a LiCOR 2200 Plant Canopy Analyzer. In addition, morning (9:00 am) and afternoon (1:00 pm) photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) were quantified using a quantum light sensor. This paper examines the influence of environmental variables, including distance to edge, aspect, slope, and light availability on host species spatial patterns in Soquel, CA. Studying P. ramorum host pattern and importance among managed forest edges is critical for determining hotspots most susceptible to infection and spread, thus relevant for implementing control measures.
Since 2004, the number of people living with HIV (PLWH) has steadily increased by about 5% and currently, the number in Texas is about 86,000. Though the National HIV/AIDS Strategic Plan seeks to ensure “unfettered access to quality healthcare”, barriers to access still exist especially among minority populations. This study examines the relationship between HIV infection rates and the geographic location of HIV service centers with a focus on 4 counties: namely, Dallas, Denton, Harris and Tarrant. The goal is to show whether there is a spatial mismatch between HIV rates and service providers. Are service facilities located in zip codes where they are most needed? Using the vulnerability framework and the Inverse Care Law (ICL), we address the research question using demographic variables (race/ethnicity, sex, poverty, education attainment) and HIV data. Our results show that extreme vulnerable zip codes have high HIV rates and closest proximity to HIV service providers.
This thesis presents the results of geoarchaeological investigations of several archaeological sites along the Elm Fork of the Trinity River in north central Texas. Archaeological data recorded from mitigation excavations in Denton and Cooke counties were analyzed to understand the geologic impacts on faunal preservation resulting from site formation processes. The faunal assemblages are highly fragmented, even in settings known for good preservation. A combined approach using geoarchaeological and taphonomic techniques was implemented to examine how fragmentation, evidence of soil weathering, and differential preservation were impacted by differing geologic conditions throughout the river basin. Intrasite and intersite results of the sites show that a great deal of variability of faunal preservation is present at difference scales of analysis.
The focus of this thesis was to gather and analyze micromorphological and petrographic data on soils at the archaeological site of Dmanisi in order to better understand the extent to which the deposition and alteration of the sediments has affected the preservation of artifacts and faunal remains. A major goal of this research was to test hypothesis related to why bone material is discovered in some strata and not in others. This research focuses on the application of micromorphology (supplemented with other methods) to the soils through the use of petrographic analysis of thin sections and scanning electron microscopy. These techniques complement previous field analyses by providing a quantitative assessment of individual strata through point counting and chemical mapping. The results of this research support the hypothesis that the sediments are predominantly mafic ashes, while showing that there is very little soil development in the strata. This suggests quick episodic burial in a relatively dry climate, confirming the hypothesis for a short time sequence in the strata. Additionally, differential weathering probably did not play a significant role in the differential abundance of bone remains among the strata at Dmanisi.
Data on rates of atmospheric deposition is limited in many montane ecosystems, where high spatial variability in meteorological, topographic, and vegetation factors contributes to elevated atmospheric inputs and to the creation of deposition hotspots. Addressing the ecological consequences of increasing deposition in these areas will require a better understanding of surface controls influencing atmospheric deposition rates at both large and small-scales. The overarching objective of this thesis research was to understand the influence of vegetation structure and canopy exposure on small-scale patterns of atmospheric sulfate, nitrate, and chloride deposition inputs to a conifer forest in the Santa Cruz Mountains, California. Throughfall ion fluxes (i.e., ions delivered in water that pass from the forest canopy to the forest floor), bulk deposition (i.e., primarily wet deposition), and rainfall data were collected during the rainy period from October 2012 to May 2013. Throughfall SO42-, Cl-, and NO3- fluxes were measured beneath eight clusters of Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) trees (three trees per cluster) differing in tree size (i.e., diameter at breast height; DBH) and canopy exposure. In each cluster, a throughfall collector was placed 1-meter from the bole of an individual tree, for a total of 24 individual collectors. The position of each throughfall collector was recorded with a Trimble® GPS. In addition, tree height, tree diameter, and leaf area index, were measured for all trees. LiDAR data were obtained from GeoEarthScope’s Northern California Airborne LiDAR project and used to model the elevation (DEM), canopy surface height (DSM), tree height (CHM), slope, and curvature of the canopy surface across the entire study area. Over the rainy season, total throughfall flux of SO42--S, a conservative tracer of total deposition (wet + dry + fog), to Douglas fir clusters ranged from 1.44 - 3.84 kg S ha-1 wet season-1, while dry and fog deposition ranged ...
Terroir combines the physical landscape of the vineyard with the grapevines and the methods and techniques used to produce wine from the grapes. This study used a GIS to identify the characteristics of the physical landscape in Pottawattamie, Mills, Montgomery, Fremont, and Page counties in southwestern Iowa. The components were combined in the GIS using a weighted linear index to identify areas suitable for vineyard development and to identify the general characteristics of the area. Vineyard owners were interviewed to help determine the weighting system to use in the GIS and to determine their perceptions of how the physical landscape impacts their vineyards, as well as to determine what grape varieties they plant in their vineyards and their decisions on making wine from these grapes. This information was collected to identify whether the vineyard owners had developed a sense of place for their vineyards and how this sense might aid them in the development of a terroir for their wines. The resulting perceptions about the individual wineries were then considered in conjunction with the results from the GIS modeling to understand how the physical landscape influences the concepts of sense of place and terroir in southwest Iowa. The physical landscape of southwest Iowa was fairly uniform, as were the grape varietals planted in the vineyards. This created a measure of similarity among the wineries, while individuality between wineries was then created by the wine-makers as they used different techniques to produce wine from the grapes. This allows each winery to develop a sense of place, yet be part of a larger sense of place that encompasses multiple wineries within the area.
Valley development through erosional processes typically tends to create symmetrical valleys. Over time, water cuts through the substrate to create valleys, gorges, and canyons for which the sides are the valley are evenly sloped. However, there are anomalies to this process. Asymmetrical valleys have been well-documented even in areas of uniform substrate or little tectonic uplift. One proposed explanation for the asymmetry of these valleys is differential insolation. This may lead to different microclimates from one slope to another which alter the rate and extent of erosion. Since the differences in received insolation vary with latitude (especially in streams that flow along an east/west axis), it follows that the degree of asymmetry should also vary with latitude if differential insolation is a primary driving factor in the development of these valleys. To evaluate if insolation plays a role in the development of asymmetrical valleys, this study examines variability in asymmetry across 447 valleys in nine study areas located at different latitudes. The degree of asymmetry for each valley was measured by using 30 meter resolution digital elevation models (DEMs) to determine the slope angle of each side of the valley. Asymmetry was measured by computing a ratio of the average slope angle for each side of the valley (larger value divided by smaller). If the resulting value is one, the valley is deemed symmetrical. As the value increases, the degree of asymmetry increases. This investigation found that contrary to expectations, valleys at lower latitudes tend to have a higher degree of asymmetry than those at higher latitudes, which suggests that differential insolation does not play a major role in the development of these valleys. Instead, this study found that high altitudes and low latitudes are more frequently associated with a higher degree of asymmetry. These unexpected findings open the door ...
This thesis presents the results of geoarchaeological investigations conducted at two new test pits, M11 and M12, at the paleoanthropological site of Dmanisi during the 2012 field season. This research is important for understanding the site formation processes occurring along the north-south axis of the Dmanisi site and how that affects the chronostratigraphic sequence and interpretation of archaeological materials here. With these excavations we can build a stronger interpretation for how broader areas of this site formed and changed both geologically and archaeologically. The geologic results of this study indicate that changes in sediment deposition and development episodes can affect interpretations of how long these sediments accumulated, how likely bones are to preserve, as well as how secondary gravel deposition can influence several archaeological interpretations. The archaeological results suggest that there could have been changes in occupation intensity between the stratum A and B phases although different rates of sediment deposition and surface stability could affect such artifact accumulations. In addition, during the stratum B phase there appears to be little change in artifact procurement behaviors and reduction characteristics by these hominins. The overall results of this research indicate that geologic factors should be addressed and cautions should be taken prior to making interpretations about archaeological assemblages.
Accurate estimates of tree and forest biomass are essential for a wide range of applications. Automated treetop detection and tree crown discrimination using LiDAR data can greatly facilitate forest biomass estimation. Previous work has focused on homogenous or single-species forests, while few studies have focused on mixed forests. In this study, a new method for treetop detection is proposed in which the treetop is the cluster center of selected points rather than the highest point. Based on treetop detection, tree crowns are discriminated through comparison of three-dimensional shape signatures. The methods are first tested using simulated LiDAR point clouds for trees, and then applied to real LiDAR data from the Soquel Demonstration State Forest, California, USA. Results from both simulated and real LiDAR data show that the proposed method has great potential for effective detection of treetops and discrimination of tree crowns.
Many policy and business decisions regarding food deserts in the U.S. are based on the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) definition of a food desert. This definition only includes large/national chain grocery retailers, based on the assumption that these major retailers are the only affordable sources of food contributing to balanced diets. As alternative distribution channels, including smaller stores, start to include groceries in their product offering, the need to consider the role of other businesses in the food retailing environment should be addressed. This thesis assesses the role of smaller format grocery retailers (small local grocers, convenience stores, gas stations, dollar stores, and drug stores) in shaping the food desert landscape in Dallas, Texas. The analysis evaluates the products offered in these stores, and then identifies the difference these stores make when included in the USDA analysis. This was done by collecting in-store data to determine the variety of products offered, the affordability of those products, and the overall healthfulness of the store. In addition, the gaps in supply and demand were identified in the USDA-defined food deserts in order to identify the impact any smaller format retailer may have. The findings suggest that, overall, smaller format retailers do offer a variety of products needed for a balanced diet. However, the products in these stores are mostly not affordable, and most stores offer more unhealthy foods, than unhealthy. Overall, results suggest dollar stores may play a role in alleviating the impact of food deserts.
This study looks at spatial variation of groundwater nitrate in Texas and its fluctuations at 10 year increments using data from the Texas Water Development Board. While groundwater nitrate increased in the Ogallala and Seymour aquifers across the time period, the overall rate in Texas appears to be declining as time progresses. However, the available data is limited. Findings show that a much more targeted, knowledge based strategy for sampling would not only reduce the cost of water quality analysis but also reduce the risk of error in these analyses by providing a more realistic picture of the spatial variation of problem contaminants, thereby giving decision-makers a clearer picture on how best to handle the reduction and elimination of problem contaminants.
Environmental controls are becoming more and more expensive to implement, so environmental management is becoming more technologically advanced and efficient through the adoption of new techniques and models. This paper reviews the potential for storm water runoff for the city of Denton, Texas and with the main objective to perform storm water runoff analyses for three different land use datasets; each landuse dataset created with a different methodology. Also analyzed was the difference between two North Central Texas Council of Governments land use datasets and my own land use dataset as a part of evaluating new and emerging remote sensing techniques. The results showed that new remote sensing techniques can help to continually monitor changes within watersheds by providing more accurate data.
Renewable energy studies are becoming increasingly important as world energy demand rises and current energy sources are increasingly questioned. Solar photovoltaics (PV) are the focus of this study as a renewable industry still in its infancy. This research examines the geography of solar panel installation and manufacturing from 2007 to 2010 in California and New York. California is the larger of the two markets and has implemented more policy support; programs that appear to have increased the pace of installations, reduce the size of the subsidy, and help lower total costs. Similar trends are observable in New York. US based companies are still making solar panels, but foreign competitors, most notably from China and Mexico, are capturing an increasing share of the market.
Twenty four percent of all HIV infections in the United States occur among adults aged 50 and older (mature adults), yet little is understood of the dynamics of HIV infection among this group in Texas. Data from 1999 to 2009 examined the relationship between HIV spatial and temporal patterns affecting socio-economic and demographic variables including poverty, gender, race/ethnicity and mode of exposure. Results revealed highest HIV infection rates among White homosexual men, Black males engaged in IV-drug use, Black female heterosexuals and minorities in poverty. Concentrations of HIV infection among mature adults were located primarily in urban centers of Houston and Dallas and indicated increasing HIV infection rates from 1999 to 2009. These results will assist future allocation of resources by zip code in urban areas for this understudied population.
Residential irrigation efficiency is a long-term concern for any community that faces water supply stress. When ability to raise water prices is constrained, public education and conservation programs can produce reduced water usage. Understanding the factors behind residential irrigation efficiency allows the design of more effective conservation campaigns. Combining site-specific water budgets with usage data for four hundred homes in North Texas enables quantifying efficient irrigation behavior. A survey of homeowners tests for the presence of conservation-positive attitudes and the knowledge required to implement those attitudes. The influence of neighbors’ watering habits is investigated using spatial clustering tools. Findings are analyzed in the context of an attitude, knowledge, and habit model of conservation behavior. The presence of automatic irrigation systems, small irrigated areas, and having knowledge of the amount that one waters one’s lawn are found to contribute to more intensive irrigation. Mixed evidence for small-scale clustering in irrigation intensity is presented.
Volunteered geographic information (VGI) has received increased attention as a new paradigm for geographic information production, while light detection and ranging (LiDAR) data is widely applied to many fields. This study quantitatively compares LiDAR data and user-generated 3D building models created using Google Building Maker, and investigate the potential applications of the quantitative measures in support of rapid disaster damage assessment. User-generated 3D building models from Google Building Maker are compared with LiDAR-derived building models using 3D shape signatures. Eighteen 3D building models are created in Fremont, California using the Google Building Maker, and six shape functions (distance, angle, area, volume, slope, and aspect) are applied to the 18 LiDAR-derived building models and user-generated ones. A special case regarding the comparison between LiDAR data and building models with indented walls is also discussed. Based on the results, several conclusions are drawn, and limitations that require further study are also discussed.
Buruli ulcer (BU), an infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium ulcerans, is the third most common mycobacterial disease after leprosy and tuberculosis and a WHO-defined neglected tropical disease. Despite years of research, the mode of transmission of BU remains unknown. This master’s thesis provides an integrated spatial analysis of disease dynamics in Ghana, West Africa, an area of comparatively high BU incidence. Within a case/matched control study design, environmental factors associated with BU infection and spatial behaviors are investigated to uncover possible links between individual daily activity spaces and terrains of risk across disturbed landscapes. This research relies upon archival and field-collected data and analyses conducted with geographical information systems (GIS).
More Texans are living with HIV infection than ever before. in fact, there has been a 6% increase annually, since 2002. This trend is not a result of increased HIV/AIDS incidence, but rather improving life expectancy of those living with HIV. Due to significant advances in HIV/AIDS testing, prevention, and treatment, individuals with HIV are living longer than ever before. However, throughout the state, the life expectancy of a person infected with HIV/AIDS varies spatially. This study investigates and attempts to explain the spatial distribution of HIV/AIDS survival rates by examining neighborhood socioeconomic characteristics. the results suggest that, contrary to expectation, the lowest survival rates occur, not in extreme poverty areas, but rather in moderate SES areas. Too rich to qualify for free treatments, but not rich enough to afford purchasing such treatments, the middle income living with HIV infection are caught between the cracks. the results provide important input for targeting public health interventions to improve HIV/AIDS survival.
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