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Full-Text Articles in Life Sciences

Impacts Of Invasive Phragmites Australis On Diamondback Terrapin Nesting, Cassandra Cook Oct 2016

Impacts Of Invasive Phragmites Australis On Diamondback Terrapin Nesting, Cassandra Cook

Dissertations, Theses, and Masters Projects

The diamondback terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin) is a species of turtle found exclusively in brackish water habitats. Terrapins are currently facing population threats including by-catch mortality in crab pots, predation, and habitat loss. The expansion of the exotic, invasive reed Phragmites australis is causing widespread structural and functional changes to coastal ecosystems throughout North America, which could negatively impact the nesting success of female terrapins by invading preferred nesting habitats. I examined the extent to which Phragmites affects nesting of a breeding population of diamondback terrapins at Fisherman Island National Wildlife Refuge on the eastern shore of Virginia, where Phragmites has ...


A Test For Heritable Variation In A Wild Population In Response To Endocrine Disrupting Events, Emily Van Den Blink Jun 2016

A Test For Heritable Variation In A Wild Population In Response To Endocrine Disrupting Events, Emily Van Den Blink

Dissertations, Theses, and Masters Projects

Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are a pervasive threat to the health of both human and wildlife populations. EDCs bind to hormone receptors and mimic or block their action, causing disrupted growth, metabolism and reproduction. Fertility affected by EDCs might be compensated if some individuals are genetically resistant. Genetic resistance in a variable population might cause hormonal feedback pathways to be more resilient to disruption. The effects of EDCs on fertility will be studied using a naturally variable population. A wild population of neonatal male mice, Peromyscus leucopus, was treated with testosterone propionate during a critical developmental period. Genetic variation was ...


Differences In Sockeye Salmon Antibody Composition: Testing The Immunological Imprinting Hypothesis, Maxwell Elliott Chappell Apr 2016

Differences In Sockeye Salmon Antibody Composition: Testing The Immunological Imprinting Hypothesis, Maxwell Elliott Chappell

Dissertations, Theses, and Masters Projects

Anadromous fish such as sockeye salmon return to their natal streams to spawn, during which they undergo significant physiological changes including the release of cortisol, a known immunosuppressive hormone. Our lab has proposed the Immunological Imprinting Hypothesis, which suggests that juvenile anadromous fish respond to pathogens specific to their natal site by producing protective long lived plasma cells (LLPCs) that constitutively produce antibodies against those pathogens. These LLPCs are believed to be highly cortisol resistant. Thus, fish returning to their natal streams have immunological protection from pathogens found at that specific location. I investigated the Immunological Imprinting Hypothesis through analysis ...


Alexandrium Monilatum In The Lower Chesapeake Bay: Sediment Cyst Distribution And Potential Health Impacts On Crassostrea Virginica, Sarah Pease Jan 2016

Alexandrium Monilatum In The Lower Chesapeake Bay: Sediment Cyst Distribution And Potential Health Impacts On Crassostrea Virginica, Sarah Pease

Dissertations, Theses, and Masters Projects

The toxin-producing harmful algal bloom (HAB) species Alexandrium monilatum has long been associated with finfish and shellfish mortalities in the Gulf of Mexico. In the summer of 2007, A. monilatum re-emerged as a bloom-forming species in the Chesapeake Bay. Over the last decade, late summer blooms of A. monilatum have been expanding in range in the lower Chesapeake Bay and have reached record-high densities, particularly in the lower York River. This dinoflagellate species overwinters in the sediments as a resting cyst, and upon excystment under suitable environmental conditions produces blooms the following summer. The research presented here includes the first ...


Biogeochemistry Of Redox-Sensitive Elements In The Subterranean Estuary, Alison E. O'Connor Jan 2016

Biogeochemistry Of Redox-Sensitive Elements In The Subterranean Estuary, Alison E. O'Connor

Dissertations, Theses, and Masters Projects

Submarine groundwater discharge (SGD) is any flow of water along the continental margins from the seabed into the coastal ocean, and it represents an important source of nutrients and trace metals to the coastal ocean. The chemical composition of SGD is strongly influenced by biogeochemical reactions that take place within the subterranean estuary (STE), the subsurface mixing zone of fresh and saline waters. Understanding the reactions that take place within the shallow STE is critical to evaluating the composition of SGD, and therefore SGD-driven chemical fluxes. In this dissertation, I seek to determine the biogeochemical processes controlling the behavior of ...


Patterns Of Abundance And Community Dynamics In Atlantic Coastal Sharks, Cassidy Peterson Jan 2016

Patterns Of Abundance And Community Dynamics In Atlantic Coastal Sharks, Cassidy Peterson

Dissertations, Theses, and Masters Projects

No abstract provided.


Density Dependence And Clonal Integration In Common Milkweed, Asclepias Syriaca, Mary Danielle Seward Jan 2016

Density Dependence And Clonal Integration In Common Milkweed, Asclepias Syriaca, Mary Danielle Seward

Dissertations, Theses, and Masters Projects

The density of individuals in a population has the potential to affect growth and death rates of that population. This effect of density is called density dependence and can be negatively or positively related to a vital rate. In most populations, increasing density leads to lower growth rates, which is negative density dependence. Positive density dependence, or Allee effects, occurs when increasing density leads to an increase in a vital rate, such as increasing survival in large herds. However, in clonal plants, there is the potential for the effects of density to be ameliorated. Clonal plants produce genetically identical progeny ...


Reproductive Altruism, Social Diversity And Host Association In Sponge-Dwelling Snapping Shrimps, Synalpheus, Tin Chi Solomon Chak Jan 2016

Reproductive Altruism, Social Diversity And Host Association In Sponge-Dwelling Snapping Shrimps, Synalpheus, Tin Chi Solomon Chak

Dissertations, Theses, and Masters Projects

The diversity of animal social strategies has interested evolutionary biologists since the time of Darwin. Eusociality—the apex of animal sociality—traditionally characterized by cooperative offspring care, overlapping generations and reproductive division of labor, was until recently known only in insects and a few vertebrate species. The independent evolution of eusociality in shrimps in the genus Synalpheus offers a unique opportunity to test the generality of social evolution theories that are based mainly on insects and social vertebrates. The genus Synalpheus is particularly ideal for comparative analysis because their social organizations are highly diverse, yet they share very similar ecology ...


Population Dynamics Of Gelatinous Zooplankton In The Chesapeake Bay And Sargasso Sea, And Effects On Carbon Export, Joshua Paul Stone Jan 2016

Population Dynamics Of Gelatinous Zooplankton In The Chesapeake Bay And Sargasso Sea, And Effects On Carbon Export, Joshua Paul Stone

Dissertations, Theses, and Masters Projects

Gelatinous zooplankton (GZ; cnidarians, ctenophores, and pelagic tunicates) periodically are the dominant members of the zooplankton throughout the majority of the world’s oceans. their unique body plans and life cycles allow them to rapidly take advantage of favorable environmental conditions, which has far-ranging consequences for food web dynamics and biogeochemical cycles. GZ populations have been speculated to respond to anthropogenic changes, but few long-term studies exist to test this hypothesis and even fewer have examined the consequent effects on carbon export. I analyzed two long-term time series in the Chesapeake Bay and one in the Sargasso Sea for annual ...


Zooplankton Community Composition And Grazing In The Amazon River Plume And Western Tropical North Atlantic Ocean, Brandon J. Conroy Jan 2016

Zooplankton Community Composition And Grazing In The Amazon River Plume And Western Tropical North Atlantic Ocean, Brandon J. Conroy

Dissertations, Theses, and Masters Projects

Large river plumes and frontal zones are important physical features influencing plankton distribution in the marine environment. In the western tropical North Atlantic Ocean (WTNA) the Amazon River plume may extend over an area reaching 1.5 x 106 km2. The freshwater plume creates a low-density lens in the surface 25m and supplies silicon and phosphorus to the WTNA. These physical and chemical gradients create an ideal environment for large-scale blooms of diatom diazotroph associations (DDAs), a symbiotic relationship between nitrogen-fixing cyanobacteria and chain-forming diatoms. While the physical and chemical properties of the plume with regard to influences on phytoplankton ...


The Effect Of Methylmercury On The Auditory Brainstem Response In Domestic Zebra Finches (Taeniopygia Guttata), Sarah Elizabeth Wolf Jan 2016

The Effect Of Methylmercury On The Auditory Brainstem Response In Domestic Zebra Finches (Taeniopygia Guttata), Sarah Elizabeth Wolf

Dissertations, Theses, and Masters Projects

With global urbanization on the rise, human activities continue to threaten the functionality of auditory communication in birds through induced change to vocalizations, the acoustic landscape, and hearing ability. One human-associated pollutant potentially affecting auditory communication is mercury, which is released into the environment through industrial emissions and is correlated with markers of global climate change. Already, mercury has been implicated in mammalian high-frequency hearing impairment; however, the effect of mercury on avian hearing ability is unknown. In this study, we examined whether dietary mercury exposure affected hearing ability in domestic zebra finches using the auditory brainstem response (ABR), which ...


Does Sound Help Prevent Birds From Flying Into Objects?, Nicole Ingrassia Jan 2016

Does Sound Help Prevent Birds From Flying Into Objects?, Nicole Ingrassia

Dissertations, Theses, and Masters Projects

Bird strike is the often fatal collision between a bird and a surface, such as a window or tower. Collisions kill millions of birds each year in the US alone, and cost industries millions of dollars per year. as more buildings, wind turbines, communication towers and other structures are built, bird strikes and its associated costs are predicted to increase. Researchers have explored mitigative measures to alleviate bird strikes but to date none have solved this growing problem. Recent research suggests that current technologies fail because their design does not take into account birds' sensory ecology, including habituation to loud ...


Assemblage Dynamics Of Larval Fishes In The York River Of Virginia And The Chesapeake Bay, Cindy Marlene Marin Martinez Jan 2016

Assemblage Dynamics Of Larval Fishes In The York River Of Virginia And The Chesapeake Bay, Cindy Marlene Marin Martinez

Dissertations, Theses, and Masters Projects

This thesis developed from the VIMS Larval Fish Monitoring Program, which began in 2007 as part of a study comparing the larval fish assemblages of Chesapeake and Delaware Bays. Ribeiro et al. (2015) analyzed data from the first three years of this time series to describe the temporal variation in the larval fish assemblages. After this initial study was completed (three years in duration), the sampling continued at the fixed station near the mouth of the York River, which was used to represent the Chesapeake Bay. For this thesis, therefore, eight years of data (2007-2015) were available to investigate temporal ...


The Effects Of Drifting Fish Aggregating Devices On Bycatch In The Tropical Tuna Purse Seine Fisheries In The Atlantic And Indian Oceans, Julia Snouck-Hurgronje Jan 2016

The Effects Of Drifting Fish Aggregating Devices On Bycatch In The Tropical Tuna Purse Seine Fisheries In The Atlantic And Indian Oceans, Julia Snouck-Hurgronje

Dissertations, Theses, and Masters Projects

Thousands of floating objects, known as drifting fish aggregating devices (dFADs), are released every year by commercial tropical tuna purse seine vessels in the three equatorial oceans to aggregate tuna and increase catch. The escalation in the number of dFADs deployed over the last three decades has caused changes in fishing effort that are poorly reflected in traditional indices of purse seine effort and catch per unit of effort (CPUE). In addition, concerns have been raised regarding the impacts of such high numbers of dFADs being deployed on both catch and bycatch species. I studied two aspects of dFAD deployments ...


Factors Affecting Temporal Variation In Occupancy Of Two Common Species Of Butterflies In Woodlands Of The Eastern United States, Papilio Glaucus And Eurytides Marcellus., Angela Louise Zappalla Jan 2016

Factors Affecting Temporal Variation In Occupancy Of Two Common Species Of Butterflies In Woodlands Of The Eastern United States, Papilio Glaucus And Eurytides Marcellus., Angela Louise Zappalla

Dissertations, Theses, and Masters Projects

Identifying key factors of habitat quality and the extents at which they operate is invaluable to the understanding of the biology of a species. Key factors defining habitat quality for many common butterfly species have yet to be determined. Diverse methods are used to define habitat quality for butterflies. Some of these, such as mark-release-recapture or distance sampling, can be difficult to implement. Occupancy modeling is less invasive and generally less expensive than these other methods. Occupancy modeling is based on repeated presence-absence surveys. Occupancy is the probability that a species is present at a given site after accounting for ...


Influence Of Structural Complexity And Location On The Habitat Value Of Restored Oyster Reefs, Melissa Ann Karp Jan 2016

Influence Of Structural Complexity And Location On The Habitat Value Of Restored Oyster Reefs, Melissa Ann Karp

Dissertations, Theses, and Masters Projects

In the Chesapeake Bay, < 1% of the historic oyster population remains, and efforts have been increasing to restore oysters and the services they provide. Building reefs that successfully provide ecosystem services–especially habitat and foraging grounds–may require different restoration techniques than those previously used, and success may depend on reef morphology (complexity), location, and environmental conditions. Salinity and habitat complexity are two important factors that may interact to effect benthic communities and predator-prey interactions on restored reefs. The goals of this project were: (1) Characterize the benthic communities on restored oyster reefs in lower Chesapeake Bay, and (2) examine the effects of structural complexity and salinity on benthic communities and predator-prey interactions. A two-year field survey of restored reefs was carried out in four rivers in lower Chesapeake Bay to characterize faunal communities on restored reefs and to quantify the effect of reef complexity on faunal communities. A laboratory mesocosm experiment was conducted to examine the effect of reef complexity on predator foraging. In total, 61 macrofaunal species were identified among all samples, and restored reefs supported on average, 6,169 org/m2 and 67.88 g-AFDW/m2. There were significant differences in the community composition and diversity among the rivers, and salinity was the environmental factor that best explained the observed differences in species composition across the rivers. Salinity and rugosity (i.e., structural complexity) both positively affected diversity, while salinity negatively affected macrofaunal abundance and biomass. Oyster density and rugosity positively affected macrofaunal biomass, and oyster density positively affected mud crab, polychaete, and mussel densities. In the mesocosm experiment, predator foraging, measured by proportion and number of prey consumed, was significantly reduced in the presence of oyster shell structure. However, predators were able to consume more prey when prey density was increased, even in the presence of oyster shell structure. These results combine to enhance our understanding of the benefits of increased habitat complexity for both prey and predators on restored oyster reefs. Increasing complexity worked to increase the abundance, biomass, and diversity of organisms inhabiting restored reefs, and even though predator consumption was reduced in the presence of structure compared to non-structured habitat, predators were able to consume more prey individuals when prey density was increased. Therefore, increasing the structure of oyster reef habitat may benefit prey species by providing refuge habitat, and benefit predators by providing an increased abundance of available prey items.


Influence Of Perkinsus Marinus Infection And Oyster Health On Levels Of Human-Pathogenic Vibrios In Oysters, Lydia M. Bienlien Jan 2016

Influence Of Perkinsus Marinus Infection And Oyster Health On Levels Of Human-Pathogenic Vibrios In Oysters, Lydia M. Bienlien

Dissertations, Theses, and Masters Projects

The eastern oyster Crassostrea virginica is an ecologically and commercially important species whose natural populations have been devastated by overharvesting, habitat destruction, and disease, but the rapid growth of oyster aquaculture has shown potential to restore the economic significance of this species. A key threat to the growth and sustainability of oyster aquaculture is the association of human-pathogenic Vibrio bacteria with product marketed for raw consumption. Two Vibrio species, Vibrio vulnificus and Vibrio parahaemolyticus, are the causes of the highest rates of seafood consumption-related mortality and gastrointestinal illness, respectively. Identification of the factors influencing V. vulnificus and V. parahaemolyticus prevalence ...


Modulation Of Watershed Nutrient Loads By Tidal Creek Ecosystems On The Virginia Eastern Shore, Britt Leighanne Dean Jan 2016

Modulation Of Watershed Nutrient Loads By Tidal Creek Ecosystems On The Virginia Eastern Shore, Britt Leighanne Dean

Dissertations, Theses, and Masters Projects

While deeper estuaries typically demonstrate predictable responses to increased nutrient loads, responses in shallow systems are more varied, due in part to the presence of multiple benthic autotrophs. Shallow systems are particularly vulnerable to increases in watershed nutrient loads due to their position at the interface between land and open water. The prevailing conceptual model of eutrophication for shallow systems currently describes a succession in the dominant autotroph from seagrass to macroalgae to phytoplankton, but this model does not include benthic microalgae, which can sequester nutrients in photic systems. The Virginia Eastern Shore is characterized by shallow lagoons connected to ...


Dietary Mercury Exposure In Male Zebra Finches Does Not Decrease Their Attractiveness To Females, Virginia Greene Jan 2016

Dietary Mercury Exposure In Male Zebra Finches Does Not Decrease Their Attractiveness To Females, Virginia Greene

Dissertations, Theses, and Masters Projects

Choosing a high-quality mate contributes strongly to increased reproductive success in birds. Female birds assess quality in males, in part, via condition-dependent signals such as male songs and plumage. The production of attractive signals can be disrupted by environmental stressors, however, including environmental toxins. Mercury, a globally-increasing pollutant, is one such toxin. Mercury exposure has been shown to affect song, plumage, bill color, and mating behaviors in male birds, but the effect of these changes on the outcome of female mate choice is unknown. These effects on condition-dependent signals indicate that mercury could potentially alter males’ attractiveness to females, as ...


Thyroid Hormone Receptor Nucleocytoplasmic Transport, Zhang Jibo Jan 2016

Thyroid Hormone Receptor Nucleocytoplasmic Transport, Zhang Jibo

Dissertations, Theses, and Masters Projects

The thyroid hormone receptor α1 (TRα1) and the thyroid hormone receptor β1 (TRβ1) are transcription factors that modulate the expression of target genes that are important in metabolism and development in response to thyroid hormone. Although primarily localized to the nucleus, prior studies have shown that TRα1 and TRβ1 shuttle rapidly between the nucleus and cytoplasm, and that nuclear import of TRα1 is directed by two nuclear localization signal (NLS) motifs: NLS-1 in the hinge domain, and NLS-2 in the N-terminal A/B domain. In contrast, TRβ1 lacks NLS-2. Previous studies also characterized two nuclear export signal (NES) motifs, NES-H3 ...


Modeling Phytoplankton Community Response To Nutrient Loading And Climate Change In A Shallow Temperate Estuary, Sara Aimee Blachman Jan 2016

Modeling Phytoplankton Community Response To Nutrient Loading And Climate Change In A Shallow Temperate Estuary, Sara Aimee Blachman

Dissertations, Theses, and Masters Projects

Phytoplankton account for at least half of all primary production in estuarine waters and are at the center of biogeochemical cycles and material budgets. Environmental managers use water column chlorophyll-a (chl-a) concentrations as a basic water quality indictor, as the problems of eutrophication and hypoxia are intrinsically linked to excessive phytoplankton growth. Evidence suggests that the distribution and frequency of harmful algal blooms may be increasing worldwide. For the most part, phytoplankton communities follow a standard seasonal pattern, with specific groups dominating the assemblage during the time of year when environmental conditions correspond to their requisites for growth. However, climate ...