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Full-Text Articles in Life Sciences

Effect Of Environmental History On The Physiology And Acute Stress Response Of The Eastern Oyster (Crassostrea Virginica), Jill Ashey May 2019

Effect Of Environmental History On The Physiology And Acute Stress Response Of The Eastern Oyster (Crassostrea Virginica), Jill Ashey

Undergraduate Honors Theses

Oysters are a critical part of the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem, so it is important to understand how they might respond to increasingly variable and potentially stressful environmental conditions. This study aimed to investigate the links between environmental history and oyster physiology in order to understand how oysters might perform in future conditions. The objectives of this study were to (1) examine how environmental history might influence oyster physiology, (2) evaluate how environmental history might influence physiological stress responses, (3) assess the relative importance of distal and proximal environmental history on oyster physiology, and (4) determine the relative importance of distal ...


Cryptic Viral Infections In Benthic Biofilm Communities, Alexandra Payne May 2019

Cryptic Viral Infections In Benthic Biofilm Communities, Alexandra Payne

Undergraduate Honors Theses

As the most ubiquitous biological entities on earth, viruses have important impacts on aquatic microbial ecology and have been studied at length in the global ocean. However, the role of bacteriophage in lotic ecosystems, particularly in benthic biofilms, have been largely under studied. Streams and rivers play crucial roles in global carbon cycling, with over 2 x 1015 g C turned over each year, and benthic biofilms appear to be hotspots of microbial activities like organic carbon transformations. Given this importance of lotic ecosystems and the known impacts of viruses in other aquatic systems, investigating the ecology of viruses ...


Sketching To Learn In High School Biology Classrooms, Emma Arents May 2019

Sketching To Learn In High School Biology Classrooms, Emma Arents

Undergraduate Honors Theses

This pilot study tested the ability of the materials we created to elicit higher-order understanding and model-based reasoning (MBR) at three high schools. Participants completed iterative review sessions for an introductory biology topic, either through sketching or reading a text outline. After iterative review, participants responded to a single-question assessment. The question involved transfer of the information provided to students. The structure-behavior-function (SBF) coding structure used to analyze student answers distinguished levels of understanding in student responses (descriptive, explanatory, or integrative). However, grading written text responses alone did not provide adequate information to determine whether the student participants utilized MBR ...


Investigation Into Characteristics Of Bench Press Using Push Band, Avery Peters, Kimitake Sato May 2019

Investigation Into Characteristics Of Bench Press Using Push Band, Avery Peters, Kimitake Sato

Undergraduate Honors Theses

Introduction: Sport scientist and strength coaches use resistance training to increase athletic performance and muscle hypertrophy. Improving muscular strength is the most essential task for these scientists, however, how best to identify weakness has yet to be established. The popularity of velocity-based resistance training has recently increased as a method to prescribe resistance training intensity, therefore, the purpose of the study was to identify the characteristics of bench press concentric velocity. It is hypothesized that the velocity output will decrease during the change from the 75% relative load of the 1RM to the 85% relative load of 1RM. It is ...


The Effect Of Cysteine-Reactive Catechol Antioxidants On Alcohol Dehydrogenase As A Model For Oxidative Stress In Neurodegenerative Disease, Rachel Smith May 2019

The Effect Of Cysteine-Reactive Catechol Antioxidants On Alcohol Dehydrogenase As A Model For Oxidative Stress In Neurodegenerative Disease, Rachel Smith

Undergraduate Honors Theses

The cellular mechanisms underlying age-related neurodegeneration, especially in disease states, are poorly understood. Oxidative stress has been heavily implicated as one factor both produced by and contributing to the progression of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. In particular, it can destroy a cell’s ability to produce energy through aerobic and anaerobic respiration, thus leading to the death of individual cells and brain tissues as a whole. This study focuses on the relationship between oxidative stress and energy production in disease states. In particular, we examine the ability of catechol molecules to take on pro-oxidative properties and modify ...


The Effects Of Intra- And Interspecific Phenotypic Variations For Competition In Freshwater Zooplankton, Zeyi Han May 2019

The Effects Of Intra- And Interspecific Phenotypic Variations For Competition In Freshwater Zooplankton, Zeyi Han

Undergraduate Honors Theses

Communities are structured by interactions between species and their environment and between one another. Because resources are typically limited in nature, competition (sensitivity to the presence of other individuals of the same or of another species) is an important determinant of whether or not species can coexist, and is also an important process to understand biodiversity (Tilman, 1987; Freckleton et al., 2009 ). Numerous studies have measured how the presence of competitors alters growth and survival (Connell, 1983; Ascheoug et al., 2016), and researchers are currently focused on effectively translating experimental measures of competition to the coexistence and biodiversity patterns observed ...


Impacts Of Harmful Algal Blooms On Dissolved Organic Carbon In The Lower York River Estuary, Joshua Sacks, Mark J. Brush, Iris C. Anderson Apr 2019

Impacts Of Harmful Algal Blooms On Dissolved Organic Carbon In The Lower York River Estuary, Joshua Sacks, Mark J. Brush, Iris C. Anderson

Undergraduate Honors Theses

Estuaries are important sites of carbon cycling; however, the impact of increasingly prevalent harmful algal blooms (HABs) on cycling in these systems remains unclear. To examine the impact of two bloom species, Alexandrium monilatum and Margalefidinium polykrikoides on the quantity and composition of the dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and chromophoric dissolved organic matter (CDOM) pools and rates of benthic and pelagic microbial respiration in the lower York River Estuary, VA, a series field samplings and laboratory incubations were performed. The two HAB species greatly increased the size of the DOC and CDOM pools and altered the character of the CDOM ...


A Stage-Structured Oyster Population Model For Reef Restoration, Rachel Wilson Apr 2019

A Stage-Structured Oyster Population Model For Reef Restoration, Rachel Wilson

Undergraduate Honors Theses

Oysters have experienced drastic declines in their population because of environmental factors and harvesting pressures, making them a focal species for restoration efforts [1, 22]. Oyster shell has become a limited resource and alternative substrates are not as suitable for larval recruitment and shell accumulation [1, 2, 7]. For this reason, restoration efforts are restricted, despite the attempts in the private and public sector. To increase the effectiveness of restoration, the dynamics of oyster reef systems must be further analyzed and understood. This thesis proposes a stage-structured ordinary differential equation model to investigate the dynamics of deterministic and stochastic oyster ...


Impacts Of Projected Sea Level Rise On Diamondback Terrapin Nesting Habitats In Virginia, Holly Funkhouser, Robert Isdell, Randy Chambers Apr 2019

Impacts Of Projected Sea Level Rise On Diamondback Terrapin Nesting Habitats In Virginia, Holly Funkhouser, Robert Isdell, Randy Chambers

Undergraduate Honors Theses

Diamondback terrapins face a variety of ecological and human pressures. As an estuarine species reliant on the availability of optimal nesting sites, the effects of climate change and sea level rise are important to consider when determining appropriate conservation methods for terrapins. My research focuses on the potential impacts of sea level rise on diamondback terrapin nesting locations along tidal shorelines in Virginia. Utilizing GIS and maximum entropy modeling (MaxEnt), I have edited and analyzed spatial data to determine optimal nesting habitats and how these locations will change as rising sea level forces land use shifts. Through my analysis, I ...


Principles And Properties Of Rna Self-Assembly, Gabriel Tauber Jan 2019

Principles And Properties Of Rna Self-Assembly, Gabriel Tauber

Undergraduate Honors Theses

Ribonucleoprotein (RNP) granules are membraneless assemblies of condensed RNA and protein that form through multivalent interactions between the constituent components. Recently, RNA self-assembly has been shown to contribute to the formation of stress granules, which are RNP granules associated with the stress response and neurodegeneration. However, little is understood about the properties of self-assembled RNA. Here, I show that different RNA sequences can self- assemble into condensates with distinct material properties and partitioning preferences in vitro. Due to interactions that minimize surface free energy, RNA self-assembly can generate the spontaneous self-patterning of RNA assemblies. By reducing surface free energy, thereby ...


Uncovering Evolutionary Changes In The Mitochondrial Genomes Of Lichenized Fungi Within The Order Arthoniales, Dustin Bailey Jan 2019

Uncovering Evolutionary Changes In The Mitochondrial Genomes Of Lichenized Fungi Within The Order Arthoniales, Dustin Bailey

Undergraduate Honors Theses

Lichens are symbiotic organisms that are understudied despite their usefulness to a wide range of disciplines. Studying the genetics of lichen, will contribute to a better understanding of the genetic mechanisms behind symbiosis and fill in grey areas of taxonomic classification of lichens. The lichen order of Arthoniales is even less studied compared to its sister order Lecanorales. This study expands the genomic resources for the former order of lichen and reveals some novel genetic trends found among species within Arthoniales. Some genetic trends have yet to be identified in other lichen species such as the trans-splicing of nad4 among ...


Using Genetically Encoded Fluorescent Sensors To Accurately Observe The Physiology Of Persister Cells Through Single-Cell Microscopy, Thomas Yao Jan 2019

Using Genetically Encoded Fluorescent Sensors To Accurately Observe The Physiology Of Persister Cells Through Single-Cell Microscopy, Thomas Yao

Undergraduate Honors Theses

Isogenic bacterial communities are capable of harboring a small subpopulation of phenotypically distinguished cells that are transiently resistant to antibiotics. Upon exposure to antibiotics, these cells - termed persisters - enter a dormant state, rendering them tolerant to the antibiotic stimulus. Once the antibiotic stimulus subsides, these cells revert to a normal state and continue dividing to repopulate the community. This feature makes it extremely difficult to eradicate persisters, consolidating their role in the recurrence of chronic infections. While multiple mechanisms can trigger entry into the persistent state, the underlying factor leading to dormancy has been determined to stem from a downregulation ...


The Grass Is Always Greener On The Other Side (Of The Basement Membrane): Prostate Cancer Metastasis As Intracorporeal Dispersal, Matthew Oh Jan 2019

The Grass Is Always Greener On The Other Side (Of The Basement Membrane): Prostate Cancer Metastasis As Intracorporeal Dispersal, Matthew Oh

Undergraduate Honors Theses

Dispersal ecology offers a possible explanation for the behavior of prostate cancer (PCa), which disproportionately metastasizes to the bone. Organisms become more likely to leave their home patch when conditions are unfavorable, with the goal of becoming established in more favorable patches. Similarly, PCa cells are pushed from the prostate tumor by hypoxic stress and pulled toward the bone by the presence of bone stromal cells (BSCs), which support PCa growth and proliferation. When PCa settles in the bone, it leads to the formation of a feedforward loop in which PCa enhances osteoblast differentiation; osteoblasts in turn promote PCa proliferation ...


Effects Of Changing Prosthetic Foot Stiffness On 3d Hip Angles In Toddlers With Versus Without Unilateral Transtibial Amputations, Kaitlyn Jayne, Kara Ashcraft, Alena M Grabowski Jan 2019

Effects Of Changing Prosthetic Foot Stiffness On 3d Hip Angles In Toddlers With Versus Without Unilateral Transtibial Amputations, Kaitlyn Jayne, Kara Ashcraft, Alena M Grabowski

Undergraduate Honors Theses

Background: Pediatric prosthetists and physical therapists have observed that use of prosthetic feet with different stiffnesses affects external hip rotation during walking in toddlers with unilateral transtibial amputations (TTAs). A protocol for prescribing pediatric prosthetic feet is needed to minimize injury from improper biomechanics.

Methods: 12 toddlers participated in this study (9 non-amputee, 3 with a TTA). Three custom passive prosthetic feet were made for each toddler with a TTA. Kinetic and kinematic data was at 0.50 m/s. Peak hip joint angles and range of motion were determined in the sagittal, frontal, and transverse planes.

Results: The data ...


Effect Of Quinolizidine Alkaloid Consumption And Seed Feeding Behavior On Caterpillar Growth, Hannah Hartung Jan 2019

Effect Of Quinolizidine Alkaloid Consumption And Seed Feeding Behavior On Caterpillar Growth, Hannah Hartung

Undergraduate Honors Theses

Caterpillars who feed on a wide variety of plant hosts must adapt to the defenses of every plant they feed on. For seed-eating caterpillars this can be particularly difficult because the seed is one of the most heavily defended bodies on a plant. Helicoverpa zea, the corn earworm, is both a seed eater and a generalist, feeding on plants belonging to over 30 families, including both agricultural crops and native plants, such as Lupinus texensis. I studied the corn earworm and L. texensis to answer three questions: i) what is the feeding behavior of these seed-eating caterpillars, ii) how do ...


Comparative Analysis Of Dna Isolation Methods For The Human Microbiome, Hannah Chatwin Jan 2019

Comparative Analysis Of Dna Isolation Methods For The Human Microbiome, Hannah Chatwin

Undergraduate Honors Theses

The human microbiome is made up of millions of microbes coexisting in and on us with involvement in health and disease. The exact mechanisms by which this occurs have yet to be fully elucidated. Due to high variability in the composition of each person’s microbiome, it requires large numbers of people to begin to identify some of these processes. A major road block to generating large data sets for analysis is the high cost of DNA isolation from large collections of phenotypically well-characterized human subjects. This study explores the possible application of an inexpensive alternative DNA isolation method utilizing ...


Effects Of H-Ras Disease Mutations On Binding To The Ras Binding Domain Of Pi3ky Measured By Micro-Scale Thermophoresis, Justin Martyr Jan 2019

Effects Of H-Ras Disease Mutations On Binding To The Ras Binding Domain Of Pi3ky Measured By Micro-Scale Thermophoresis, Justin Martyr

Undergraduate Honors Theses

H-Ras is a G-protein responsible for the activation of multiple signaling pathways that control cell growth. Our primary interest is examining its role in the regulation of the phosphoinositide-3-kinase (PI3K) signaling cascade, as H-Ras has been previously shown to recruit PI3K to the plasma membrane where this lipid kinase phosphorylates PIP2 to PIP3, a signal for cellular growth. The H-Ras-PI3K-PIP3 signaling pathway is known to be highly oncogenic, with constitutive activation of H-Ras leading to increased PIP3 production and cell growth. We hypothesize that disease-linked mutations on the binding interface between Ras and PI3K increase the ...


Analysis Of Murine Polyomavirus Dna Replication: Large T-Antigen Interaction With Host Dna Damage Repair Protein Rpa During Cellular Infection, Katherine Rose Jan 2019

Analysis Of Murine Polyomavirus Dna Replication: Large T-Antigen Interaction With Host Dna Damage Repair Protein Rpa During Cellular Infection, Katherine Rose

Undergraduate Honors Theses

Murine Polyomaviruses are dsDNA viruses that hijack the host’s DNA damage response (DDR) pathway to replicate their own genomes (Heiser et al., 2016), offering a model for human polyomavirus replication. The viral protein large T-antigen (LT) is essential for viral replication and can interact with a variety of DDR proteins in viral DNA replication centers (Brodsky & Pipas, 1998). Replication protein A (RPA) is a DDR protein complex made up of three subunits, RPA70, RPA32, and RPA14. RPA70 and RPA32 have been shown to directly interact with LT in cells over-expressing each protein, either individually or together (Banerjee et al ...


Nanoscale Stiffness Cues Influence Valvular Interstitial Cell Activation To Myofibroblasts, Michaela Wenning Jan 2019

Nanoscale Stiffness Cues Influence Valvular Interstitial Cell Activation To Myofibroblasts, Michaela Wenning

Undergraduate Honors Theses

Surgery is currently the primary treatment option for aortic valve stenosis (AVS) patients, many of whom are ineligible for surgery and are left untreated. AVS is progression is known to differ between males and females, and an understanding of sex-specific mechanisms of disease progression is imperative in developing accurate treatment options for men and women. The development of a nonsurgical therapy for AVS patients requires a deeper understanding of the molecular and cellular mechanisms of AVS progression. Currently, the role of calcium phosphate nanoparticles detected in the aortic valve during early stages of AVS in influencing disease progression and valvular ...


Comparative Analysis Of Prairie Dog Colony Spatial Structure, Elizabeth Hasan Jan 2019

Comparative Analysis Of Prairie Dog Colony Spatial Structure, Elizabeth Hasan

Undergraduate Honors Theses

Just as food and water are resources for organisms, so is space. The way animals make efficient use of space may be based on resource availability and genetic relatedness among individuals and has the potential to help inform how humans could use space more efficiently. It is unclear if/when animals are using space randomly or according to patterns in spatial organization. My study characterized six prairie dog colonies in Boulder and Gunnison, Colorado, to model spatial dynamics with GPS (global positioning system) data complemented by images of full colonies collected by drones. Spatial burrow data were analyzed for non- ...


Benthic Macroinvertebrates In The Alpine Lakes Of Green Lakes Valley, Samuel Yevak Jan 2019

Benthic Macroinvertebrates In The Alpine Lakes Of Green Lakes Valley, Samuel Yevak

Undergraduate Honors Theses

The community composition of different benthicmacroinvertebrates can be used as an indicator of environmental conditions. Benthicmacroinvertebrates are small organisms that lack a backbone (invertebrate), live on the bottom (benthic), and are visible with the naked eye (macro). To better understand the community structure of benthicmacroinvertebrates communities and how they respond to changing environmental conditions, 53 benthic macroinvertebrate samples were collected over the summer of 2018 from three alpine lakes in the Green Lakes Valley, CO. Benthicmacroinvertebrates were sampled from the shoreline, inlet (inflow of water), and outlet (outflow of water) of each sampled lake, within lake ...


The Climb Towards Conservation: Identifying And Mitigating The Effects Of Outdoor Rock Climbing On Surrounding Ecosystems In Colorado, Chloe Sommer Jan 2019

The Climb Towards Conservation: Identifying And Mitigating The Effects Of Outdoor Rock Climbing On Surrounding Ecosystems In Colorado, Chloe Sommer

Undergraduate Honors Theses

Since the 1960s, rock climbing has become an increasingly important player in America’s recreation landscape. Today, rock climbing is a growing contributor to the nation’s $800+ billion-dollar outdoor recreation industry, and indoor and outdoor climbing are more popular than ever. Historically, rock climbers and other outdoor recreationalists have claimed a correlation between recreation and conservation of public lands. Ample evidence suggests, however, that rock climbing still causes an array of negative impacts to ecosystems. This is the first known study to analyze potential impacts of recreational outdoor rock climbing on a large scale with GIS techniques, overlaying geographic ...


Predicting Persisters: Investigating Gene Regulation In Persister Cells, Sowmya Dhanwada Jan 2019

Predicting Persisters: Investigating Gene Regulation In Persister Cells, Sowmya Dhanwada

Undergraduate Honors Theses

Bacterial populations produce a small number of persister cells that remain tolerant to multidrug exposure by becoming metabolically dormant. This inquiry focuses on investigating metabolic gene expression levels in persisters to determine potential predictors of bacterial persistence. Strains from the E. Coli Promoter library were imaged using single cell microscopy, and gene expression levels were measured with the integrated reporter GFP. Persister cells were isolated using ofloxacin. Results indicate that bacterial cells that survive antibiotic exposure exhibit filamentous growth before dividing. Resumption of normal growth morphology is accompanied by increased proteolytic activity in daughter cells, however more investigation is required ...


Evolution Of Gene Regulation In Association With The Origin Of Armor In Stickleback Fishes, Hannah Ghasemi, David Stock Jan 2019

Evolution Of Gene Regulation In Association With The Origin Of Armor In Stickleback Fishes, Hannah Ghasemi, David Stock

Undergraduate Honors Theses

Abstract

Whether the origin of novel structures requires extensive novelty at the genetic level remains an important question in Evolutionary Biology. The bony plates in the dermis (inner layer of the skin) of stickleback fishes (Order Gasterosteiformes) are novel structures that arose as a replacement for scales and whose genetic basis is becoming increasingly well-understood. Previous work has identified an enhancer (a short DNA sequence that regulates the expression of neighboring genes) that is necessary for the expression of the Ectodysplasin (Eda) gene in the bony dermal plates of the Threespine Stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus). This gene is necessary for the ...


Genes Regulating Cell Movement During Regeneration In Drosophila Melanogaster Following Radiation Damage, Michelle Ledru Jan 2019

Genes Regulating Cell Movement During Regeneration In Drosophila Melanogaster Following Radiation Damage, Michelle Ledru

Undergraduate Honors Theses

Each year, 1.7 million people are diagnosed with cancer and 610,000 people die from the disease (“Cancer Statistics,” 2018). Ionizing radiation therapy is a commonly used method of treatment for many cancers because it kills cancer cells (Baskar et al., 2012). However, cancer cells that have not been eradicated can proliferate, leading to resistance to treatment (Hanahan & Weinberg, 2011). Drosophila melanogasteris an excellent model organism because they have a short life cycle and share 75% of human disease-causing genes, while the larvae can withstand high amounts of radiation and have regenerative properties. Different genes were investigated to ...


Exploration Of Hair Cortisol Concentrations And Implications Of Stress In Hunting Dogs On The Bosawas Biosphere Reserve, Nicaragua, Grace Bowland Jan 2019

Exploration Of Hair Cortisol Concentrations And Implications Of Stress In Hunting Dogs On The Bosawas Biosphere Reserve, Nicaragua, Grace Bowland

Undergraduate Honors Theses

This thesis examines the relationships between physiological factors of hair color, sex, nutritional health, and body size (mass) with measures of hair cortisol in domesticated Nicaraguan hunting dogs on the Bosawas Biosphere Reserve. Prior research on cortisol in dogs has been relatively limited to small, homogenous population samples under restricted environmental conditions. This leaves a gap in current knowledge, and a need for larger-scale studies to assess whether current understandings of how cortisol acts in dogs is applicable to dogs within dynamic and heterogeneous environments. The population of hunting dogs examined in this study live in an unpredictable environment in ...


The Use Of Visualizations In A Biology Classroom At The University Of Colorado At Boulder As An Alternative Way To Access Student Understanding, Katie Ryan Jan 2019

The Use Of Visualizations In A Biology Classroom At The University Of Colorado At Boulder As An Alternative Way To Access Student Understanding, Katie Ryan

Undergraduate Honors Theses

As educational practices start to focus on three-dimensional (3D) learning for students by incorporating practices, concepts, and core ideas, it is vital to understand how alternative forms of idea development affect student understanding. In a revolutionary 2015 commentary, Quillin and Thomas (2015) created the model Drawing-to-Learn to convey the need for drawing in Biology classrooms. The main conclusion was that since other STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematical) disciplines are using drawings to create a deeper understanding of the topic, there is also a need for it in biology. Using similar ideas to the concept of Drawing- to-Learn, 109 students ...


Distance Gradient Of Vocalization Discrimination And Aggression In Neighborhoods Of Rufous-And-White Wrens (Thryophilus Rufalbus), Andrew P. Newgard Jan 2019

Distance Gradient Of Vocalization Discrimination And Aggression In Neighborhoods Of Rufous-And-White Wrens (Thryophilus Rufalbus), Andrew P. Newgard

Undergraduate Honors Theses

Vocalization-based communication networks have been observed in multiple animal taxa. Many territorial animals in these communication networks tend to act differentially towards their neighbors compared to farther-removed strangers given competitive pressure in habitats. My study investigated communication among rufous-and-white wrens (Thryophilus rufalbus), and whether this involves greater aggression towards neighbors or towards strangers. T. rufalbus vocally defend territories year-round and have been shown to exhibit ability to discriminate between vocalizations of neighbors versus strangers (neighbor-stranger discrimination, NSD). I quantified whether T. rufalbus demonstrates different levels of aggression upon hearing played-back vocalizations from close-by neighbors, neighbors of adjacent neighbors, and most ...


Quantifying Community Response To Drought: A Trait Based Analysis Of The Xeric Tallgrass Prairie In Boulder, Colorado, Emily Kelman Jan 2019

Quantifying Community Response To Drought: A Trait Based Analysis Of The Xeric Tallgrass Prairie In Boulder, Colorado, Emily Kelman

Undergraduate Honors Theses

Increased severity and duration of drought events in Colorado pose a threat to grassland systems. Utilizing plant traits to analyze community responses to environmental disturbance serves as an accurate mechanism in addressing climate change influences on grassland ecosystems. In this project, I aim to quantify the relationship between five plant traits and drought intensity over time, in order to see if plant traits can capture changes in community structure in response to drought. I calculated the mean value of traits at the community level as well as the amount of variation observed in those values, in order to analyze community ...


Using Random Forest Machine Learning Methods To Identify Spatiotemporal Patterns Of Cheatgrass Invasion Through Landsat Land Cover Classification In The Great Basin From 1984 - 2011, Dylan Murphy Jan 2019

Using Random Forest Machine Learning Methods To Identify Spatiotemporal Patterns Of Cheatgrass Invasion Through Landsat Land Cover Classification In The Great Basin From 1984 - 2011, Dylan Murphy

Undergraduate Honors Theses

In the Great Basin region of the Western United States, the establishment of cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum), an invasive annual grass, has dramatically affected native sagebrush steppe ecosystems. Cheatgrass, and the grass-fire cycle associated with the species, have led to extensive sagebrush community degradation, fragmentation, and eventually, conversion to near-monoculture exotic cheatgrass grasslands. This process has changed regional fire regimes, placing people, property, and native fauna at risk. Despite the known impacts of cheatgrass invasion in the Great Basin, attempts to quantify regional scale changes in ecosystem type have been limited. In this study, a methodology is developed which utilizes Random ...