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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

Influence of Sediment Exposure and Water Depth on Torpedograss Invasion of Lake Okeechobee, Florida

Description: Torpedograss (Panicum repens) was first observed in Lake Okeechobee in the 1970s and appears to have displaced an estimated 6,400 ha of native plants, such as spikerush (Eleocharis cellulosa), where inundation depths are often less than 50 cm. Two series of studies evaluated substrate exposure and water depth influences on torpedograss establishment and competitiveness. Results revealed that fragments remain buoyant for extended periods and so facilitate dispersal. Once anchored to exposed substrate fragments can readily root and establish. Subsequently, torpedograss thrives when subjected to inundations to 75 cm and survives prolonged exposure to depths greater than 1 m. These findings suggest that fluctuating water levels contribute to torpedograss dispersal and colonization patterns and that low water levels increase marsh area susceptible to invasion. The competition study found that spikerush grown in monoculture produces significantly more biomass when continually inundated to shallow depths (10 to 20 cm) than when subjected to drier conditions (-25 cm) or greater inundations (80 cm). In contrast, torpedograss establishes more readily on exposed substrate (-25 to 0 cm) compared to inundate substrates. During the first growing season biomass production increases as substrate exposure interval increases. However, during the second year, established torpedograss produces more biomass when grown on intermittently wet (0 cm) compared to permanently dry (-25 cm) or intermittently inundated (10 cm) substrates. No difference in production was observed between substrates permanently inundated (10 cm) and any other regime tested. During the first two years of torpedograss invasion, regardless of treatment, spikerush suppresses invasion and torpedograss had little effect on established spikerush, indicating that spikerush-dominated areas are capable of resisting torpedograss invasion. Even so, disturbances that might cause mortality of long hydroperiod species, such as spikerush, may create open gaps in the native vegetation and thus facilitate torpedograss establishment and expansion.
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Date: December 2006
Creator: Smith, Dian H.

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

Measuring Atmospheric Ozone and Nitrogen Dioxide Concentration by Differential Optical Absorption Spectroscopy

Description: The main objective was to develop a procedure based on differential optical absorption spectroscopy (DOAS) to measure atmospheric total column of ozone, using the automated instrument developed at the University of North Texas (UNT) by Nebgen in 2006. This project also explored the ability of this instrument to provide measurements of atmospheric total column nitrogen dioxide. The instrument is located on top of UNT’s Environmental Education, Science and Technology Building. It employs a low cost spectrometer coupled with fiber optics, which are aimed at the sun to collect solar radiation. Measurements taken throughout the day with this instrument exhibited a large variability. The DOAS procedure derives total column ozone from the analysis of daily DOAS Langley plots. This plot relates the measured differential column to the airmass factor. The use of such plots is conditioned by the time the concentration of ozone remains constant. Observations of ozone are typically conducted throughout the day. Observations of total column ozone were conducted for 5 months. Values were derived from both DOAS and Nebgen’s procedure and compared to satellite data. Although differences observed from both procedures to satellite data were similar, the variability found in measurements was reduced from 70 Dobson units, with Nebgen’s procedure, to 4 Dobson units, with the DOAS procedure.A methodology to measure atmospheric nitrogen dioxide using DOAS was also investigated. Although a similar approach to ozone measurements could be applied, it was found that such measurements were limited by the amount of solar radiation collected by the instrument. Observations of nitrogen dioxide are typically conducted near sunrise or sunset, when solar radiation experiences most of the atmospheric absorption.
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Date: December 2011
Creator: Jerez, Carlos J.

Modeling of Land Use Change Effects on Storm Water Quantity and Quality in the City of Carrollton and the North Texas Area

Description: Development and population are rapidly increasing in urbanizing areas of North Texas and so is the need to understand changes in storm water runoff flow and its contamination by nutrients, sediment, pesticides and other toxicants. This study contributes to this understanding and has two primary components: first, development of a graphical user interface for a geographic information system and storm water management database, and second, performing a two-scale hydrological modeling approach (the US Corp of Engineers HEC-HMS model and the US Environmental Protection Agency SWMM model). Both primary components are used together as a toolkit to support the storm water management program of the City of Carrollton, located in North Texas. By focusing limited city resources, the toolkit helps storm water managers in the process of compliance with federal regulations, especially the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permit, and provides guidance for reporting, planning and investigation. A planning example was conducted by modeling potential changes in storm water quality due to projections of land use based on the City of Carrollton's Comprehensive Plan. An additional component of this study is the evaluation of future changes in surface water quantity and quality in the North Central Texas area, specifically in a rural but rapidly urbanizing subbasin area of the greater Lake Lewisville watershed. This was accomplished using the US Corp of Engineers HEC-HMS hydrological model. Precipitation scenarios were derived from years of historically high, medium, and low annual precipitation. Development scenarios were derived from current land use in the Lake Lewisville sub basin, current land use in the city of Carrollton, and from Markov projections based on recent land use change calculated from satellite images of 1988 and 1999. This information is useful for future land use planning and management of water resources in North Texas.
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Date: December 2003
Creator: Duncan, Phillip Brent

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

On-Road Remote Sensing of Motor Vehicle Emissions: Associations between Exhaust Pollutant Levels and Vehicle Parameters for Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Texas, and Utah

Description: On-road remote sensing has the ability to operate in real-time, and under real world conditions, making it an ideal candidate for detecting gross polluters on major freeways and thoroughfares. In this study, remote sensing was employed to detect carbon monoxide (CO), hydrocarbons (HC), and nitrogen oxide (NO). On-road remote sensing data taken from measurements performed in six states, (Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Texas, and Utah) were cleaned and analyzed. Data mining and exploration were first undertaken in order to search for relationships among variables such as make, year, engine type, vehicle weight, and location. Descriptive statistics were obtained for the three pollutants of interest. The data were found to have non-normal distributions. Applied transformations were ineffective, and nonparametric tests were applied. Due to the extremely large sample size of the dataset (508,617 records), nonparametric tests resulted in "p" values that demonstrated "significance." The general linear model was selected due to its ability to handle data with non-normal distributions. The general linear model was run on each pollutant with output producing descriptive statistics, profile plots, between-subjects effects, and estimated marginal means. Due to insufficient data within certain cells, results were not obtained for gross vehicle weight and engine type. The "year" variable was not directly analyzed in the GLM because "year" was employed in a weighted least squares transformation. "Year" was found to be a source of heteroscedasticity; and therefore, the basis of a least-squares transformation. Grouped-years were analyzed using medians, and the results were displayed graphically. Based on the GLM results and descriptives, Japanese vehicles typically had the lowest CO, HC, and NO emissions, while American vehicles ranked high for the three. Illinois, ranked lowest for CO, while Texas ranked highest. Illinois and Colorado were lowest for HC emissions, while Utah and California were highest. For NO, Colorado ranked highest ...
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Date: May 2003
Creator: Dohanich, Francis Albert

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

A paleozoological perspective on predator extermination and white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus Boddaert) overabundance in central Texas.

Description: Archaeological and paleontological datasets are used in conservation to add time-depth to ecology. In central Texas several top carnivores including prehistoric Native American hunters have been extirpated or have had their historic ranges restricted, which has resulted in pest-level white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus texana) populations in some areas. Predator extermination has dramatically reduced the average body size of members of the extant predator guild, and large carnivores most capable of hunting white-tailed deer are extirpated. Character release in the remaining “large” predatorsmesocarnivoresis a predicted outcome related to the adaptive vacuum at the top of the trophic hierarchy. Differences in body size of deer between prehistory and modernity are expected given that a lack of predation likely has increased intraspecific competition for forage among deer resulting in smaller body size today. In fact modern deer from settings without harvest pressure are significantly smaller than those from harvested areas and from prehistoric deer. From a natural history perspective, this research highlights potential evolutionary causes and effects of top-predator removal on deer populations and related components of biological communities in central Texas.
Date: May 2007
Creator: Wolverton, Steven J.

Phosphorus Retention and Fractionation in Masonry Sand and Light Weight Expanded Shale Used as Substrate in a Subsurface Flow Wetland

Description: Constructed wetlands are considered an inefficient technology for long-term phosphorus (P) removal. The P retention effectiveness of subsurface wetlands can be improved by using appropriate substrates. The objectives of this study were to: (i) use sorption isotherms to estimate the P sorption capacity of the two materials, masonry sand and light weight expanded shale; (ii) describe dissolved P removal in small (2.7 m3) subsurface flow wetlands; (iii) quantify the forms of P retained by the substrates in the pilot cells; and (iv) use resulting data to assess the technical and economic feasibility of the most promising system to remove P. The P sorption capacity of masonry sand and expanded shale, as determined with Langmuir isotherms, was 60 mg/kg and 971 mg/kg respectively. In the pilot cells receiving secondarily treated wastewater, cells containing expanded shale retained a greater proportion of the incoming P (50.8 percent) than cells containing masonry sand (14.5 percent). After a year of operation, samples were analyzed for total P (TP) and total inorganic P (TIP). Subsamples were fractionated into labile-P, Fe+Al-bound P, humic-P, Ca+Mg-bound P, and residual-P. Means and standard deviations of TP retained by the expanded shale and masonry sand were 349 + 169 and 11.9 + 18.6 mg/kg respectively. The largest forms of P retained by the expanded shale pilot cells were Fe+Al- bound P (108 mg/kg), followed by labile-P (46.7 mg/kg) and humic-P (39.8). Increases in the P forms of masonry sand were greatest in labile-P (7.5 mg/kg). The cost of an expanded shale wetland is within the range of costs conventional technologies for P removal. Accurate cost comparisons are dependent upon expansion capacity of the system under consideration. Materials with a high P sorption capacity also have potential for enhancing P removal in other constructed wetland applications such as stormwater wetlands and wetlands ...
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Date: August 2002
Creator: Forbes, Margaret G.

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

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

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

Description: This dissertation has two main objectives: first, quantify the effects of environmental conditions on spatio-temporal spawning and larval dynamics of zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha [Pallas 1771]) in Lake Texoma, and second, quantify the effects of environmental conditions on survival, growth, and reproduction of young of the year (YOY) juvenile zebra mussels. These biological responses directly influence population establishment success and invasive spread dynamics. Reproductive output of the zebra mussel population in Lake Texoma was significantly related to water temperature and lake elevation. Annual maximum larval (veliger) density decreased significantly indicating a population crash, which was likely caused by thermal stress and variability of lake elevation. In 2011, temperatures peaked at 34.3°C and lake elevation decreased to the lowest level recorded during the previous 18 years, which desiccated a substantial number of settled mussels in littoral zones. Estimated mean date of first spawn in Lake Texoma was observed approximately 1.5 months earlier than in Lake Erie, and peak veliger densities were observed two months earlier. Veligers were observed in the deepest oxygenated water after lake stratification. During a 69-day in situ experiment during summer in Lake Texoma, age-specific mortality of zebra mussels was generally high until temperatures decreased to approximately 28°C, which was observed after lake turnover in late summer. No study organism died after temperatures decreased to less than 26°C, which indicates individuals that survive high summer temperatures are likely to persist into autumn/winter. Shell length growth and soft tissue growth rates were related to temperature and chlorophyll-a concentration, respectively. Growth rates of study organisms were among the highest ever reported for D. polymorpha. Water temperature and body size influenced reproduction of YOY zebra mussels in Lake Texoma. Fecundity of females were positively related to temperature; however, sperm production was negatively related to temperature, which indicates males could be more ...
Date: December 2013
Creator: Churchill, Christopher J.

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

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

Removal of selected water disinfection byproducts, and MTBE in batch and continuous flow systems using alternative sorbents.

Description: A study was conducted to evaluate the sorption characteristics of six disinfection byproducts (DBPs) on four sorbents. To investigate sorption of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), specially designed experimental batch and continuous flow modules were developed. The investigated compounds included: chloroform, 1,2-dichloroethane (DCE), trichloroethylene (TCE), bromodichloromethane (BDCM), methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE), bromate and bromide ions. Sorbents used included light weight aggregate (LWA), an inorganic porous material with unique surface characteristics, Amberlite® XAD-16, a weakly basic anion exchange resin, Amberjet®, a strongly basic anion exchange resin, and granular activated carbon (GAC). Batch experiments were conducted on spiked Milli-Q® and lake water matrices. Results indicate considerable sorption of TCE (68.9%), slight sorption of bromate ions (19%) and no appreciable sorption for the other test compounds on LWA. The sorption of TCE increased to 75.3% in experiments utilizing smaller LWA particle size. LWA could be a viable medium for removal of TCE from contaminated surface or groundwater sites. Amberlite® was found unsuitable for use due to its physical characteristics, and its inability to efficiently remove any of the test compounds. Amberjet® showed an excellent ability to remove the inorganic anions (>99%), and BDCM (96.9%) from aqueous solutions but with considerable elevation of pH. Continuous flow experiments evaluated GAC and Amberjet® with spiked Milli-Q® and tap water matrices. The tested organic compounds were sorbed in the order of their hydrophobicity. Slight elevation of pH was observed during continuous flow experiments, making Amberjet® a viable option for removal of BDCM, bromate and bromide ions from water. The continuous flow experiments showed that GAC is an excellent medium for removal of the tested VOCs and bromate ion. Each of the test compounds showed different breakthrough and saturation points. The unique design of the continuous flow apparatus used in the study proved to be highly beneficial to ...
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Date: December 2002
Creator: Kadry, Ahmed Y.

Reproductive and Growth Responses of the Fathead Minnow (Pimephales Promelas) and Japanese Medaka (Oryzias Latipes) to the Synthetic Progestin, Norethindrone

Description: A commonly prescribed contraceptive, the synthetic progestin norethindrone (NET) inhibits ovulation in humans. However, ecotoxicological data are lacking. Preliminary tests produced an LC50 for NET of > 1.0 mg/L (96-hour, fathead minnow (FHM) and medaka) and a NOEC of 242.0 µg/L, a LOEC of 485.0 µg/L (7-day, growth for FHM and medaka). Reproductive testing revealed a LOEC for fecundity of 24.1 ng/L (21 days, medaka). Further testing confirmed the LOEC of 24.1 ng/L while defining a NOEC of 4.7 ng/L (28 days, medaka). Effect of NET in medaka life-cycle exposure at concentrations exceeding 4.7 ng/L was evident. Few females were present in the 24.7 ng/L exposure concentration, with none in the 104.6 ng/L. Egg production was significantly reduced at concentrations exceeding 4.7 ng/L. Additionally, weight, condition factor and somatic indices were significantly different in males exposed to concentrations exceeding 4.7 ng/L. For fecundity and sexual differentiation; the NOEC was 4.7 ng/L, the LOEC 24.6 ng/L; growth and somatic indices, the NOEC was more appropriately 0.9 ng/L, with effect evident at 4.7 ng/L. Sexual differentiation of the F1 population was similar to the F0. A defining result of this test was development of exceptionally large ovaries in NET- exposed female medaka, perhaps indicative of a threshold limit for exposure in these fish. Results of FHM life-cycle testing were similar, establishing a NOEC for fecundity of 0.9 ng/L, a LOEC of 4.8 ng/L. NET's inhibitory effect on gonadal development was obvious; GSI NOEC for males, 4.8 ng/L, and histological examination confirmed the presence of intersex development at elevated concentrations. Normal physical development and growth were impaired, generally at concentrations exceeding 24.1 ng/L. At exposure concentrations exceeding 4.8 ng/L, external sexual confirmation of fish was difficult; LOEC for finspot development in females, 4.8 ng/L. Sexual determination of the 97.1 ng/L exposure group was ...
Date: May 2011
Creator: Paulos, Peter M.

Residential Grid-Connected Photovoltaics Adoption in North Central Texas: Lessons from the Solarize Plano Project

Description: Residential Grid-Connected Photovoltaics (GPV) systems hold remarkable promise in their potential to reduce energy use, air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, and energy costs to consumers, while also providing grid efficiency and demand-side management benefits to utilities. Broader adoption of customer-sited GPV also has the potential to transform the traditional model of electricity generation and delivery. Interest and activity has grown in recent years to promote GPV in north central Texas. This study employs a mixed methods design to better understand the status of residential GPV adoption in the DFW area, and those factors influencing a homeowner's decision of whether or not to install a system. Basic metrics are summarized, including installation numbers, distribution and socio-demographic information for the case study city of Plano, the DFW region, Texas, and the United States. Qualitative interview methods are used to gain an in-depth understanding of the factors influencing adoption for the Solarize Plano case study participants; to evaluate the effectiveness of the Solarize Plano program; and to identify concepts that may be regionally relevant. Recommendations are presented for additional research that may advance GPV adoption in north central Texas.
Date: August 2016
Creator: Jack, Katherine G.

Revisiting Aldo Leopold's "Perfect" Land Health: Conservation and Development in Mexico's Rio Gavilan

Description: The Rio Gavilan watershed, located in Mexico 's northern Sierra Madre Occidental , has significance in conservation history. Upon visiting the remote, largely un­developed watershed during two hunting trips in the 1930s, renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold thought it was the best picture of land health he had seen. His main indicators of healthy land were slow water runoff rates regulating erosion and historical predator-prey relationships. The visits confirmed Leopold's concept of land health, inspired many of his essays, and helped shape his land ethic. Leopold proposed the area as a control site to research healthy land throughout North America . The proposal never went forward and the area has since been more intensively logged and grazed. This dissertation research used extensive literature review, archives, oral histories, citizen surveys, and rapid assessment of forest, rangeland, riparian, and socioeconomic health to assess impacts of past cultures and update the area's land health status. Projects that could restore land health, such as linked eco-tourism, forest density reduction, and rotational grazing, were assessed for feasibility. Recent critiques of Leopold's land ethic were also reviewed. Results indicate most pre-1940s impacts were light, current land health status is moderate, and local interest exists in restoring land health. Many fish and wildlife populations are reduced, temporarily stabilized, but still at risk. Soil and riverbed erosion, service sector economics, and (at some ridge-top sites) forest density are the land health indicators in worst condition. Land health restoration projects are feasible.
Date: December 2004
Creator: Forbes, William

Riparian Forest Width and the Avian Community in a Greenbelt Corridor Setting

Description: The forest avian community of the Ray Roberts Greenbelt (Denton Co., Texas) was characterized for two years using point count station sampling, from fall 1998 to summer 2000. Richness data for both breeding seasons were correlated with two-spatial metrics: width of the riparian forest and distance to the nearest edge. There were significant correlations between forest interior species richness and both spatial metrics, for both breeding seasons. Based on these data, a minimum riparian forest width threshold of 400-meters is suggested to provide habitat for forest interior species, which have lost considerable habitat through forest fragmentation. Partners in Flight breeding bird priority concern scores were used to create a habitat priority index for the Trinity River bottomland hardwood forest system
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Date: May 2001
Creator: Hoffman, Karl W.