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Recent documents in Wyoming Scholars Repository
Updated: 12 hours 9 min ago

Conservation of the Black-and-Chestnut Eagle in Ecuador

Tue, 2017-06-20 20:15

My research had two aspects; 1) Field research of the Golden-winged Manakin (Masius chrysopterus) 2) A literature search and interdisciplinary meeting on endangered Black-and-Chestnut Eagles (Spizaetus isidori). The endangered Black-and-Chestnut Eagle is one of the least studied raptor populations in South America. With the rapid deforestation found in South America, specifically Ecuador, the population continues to decline. I participated in the initial meeting of a project to understand habitat use, population size within the Tandayapa Valley, and juvenile survival rates. This information will be used to institute and promote conservational efforts for the cloudforests of the western Ecuadorian slope. I contributed by describing the current status of published research on the eagle. I found two published papers (Valdez and Osborn, 2004 and Zuluaga and Echeverry-Galvis, 2016) that reported the elusive nature and continued conflict with human-eagle interactions aiding in final decision to focus on the Black-and-Chestnut Eagle population in Ecuador.

Woodpeckers and Parasites: Testing for correlations between immune function and carotenoid levels

Tue, 2017-06-20 20:15

Many physiological processes must take place in order for an immune response to be activated. Adequate nutrition providing all of the body’s essential vitamins, minerals, pigments is a necessary component of normal health responses. Diet-based carotenoids have been linked with activating the body’s immune response. What is unclear is whether the amount of carotenoids present, seen in the surface area of carotenoid-based plumage coloration, correlate with the intensity of parasitic infection. I am actively testing how the amount of carotenoid-based plumage coloration corresponds with the level of infection with avian malaria (Plasmodium spp. and Haemoproteus spp.) in Red-breasted sapsuckers (Sphyrapicus ruber). The findings of my study will help to emphasize the importance of nutritional status on population health and sexual selection.

Spatial and Temporal Patterns in Age Structure of Golden Eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) Wintering in Eastern North America

Tue, 2017-06-20 20:15

Behavior of wild animals varies seasonally, especially for migratory species that may spend sequential seasons in very different habitats. However, in the case of migratory birds, our understanding of behavior tends to derive from studies on breeding grounds. We tested the hypothesis that golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) in eastern North America show age-specific wintering behavior by evaluating spatial and temporal patterns in age structure on wintering grounds. We used motion-sensitive trail cameras set at scavenging bait sites over multiple years to collect images of golden eagles in the Appalachians during winters 2013 and 2014. All eagles were aged and age ratios estimated for each year with two different techniques. We tested our estimates of age ratios against a stable age distribution and used the aging technique that produced the most plausible age ratios in subsequent analysis. Age ratios of eagles were not the same at each site (i.e., they varied spatially within a given year) but spatial patterns in age ratios were not consistent across years (i.e., they varied temporally). Site-specific variation in age ratios across years suggests that eagles do not show age specific wintering behavior but instead show inter-annual fidelity to wintering sites. Such patterns are inconsistent with previously described age-specific wintering behavior for eagles but consistent with telemetry data from eagles that also show site fidelity by wintering birds.

Do reclaimed areas within natural gas fields augment deer mouse body condition and abundance?

Tue, 2017-06-20 20:15

Habitat loss and fragmentation from anthropogenic activities alters habitat availability for wildlife and can result in changes to wildlife behavior, space use, and fitness. Discerning both how and why populations change in response to habitat alteration can improve our understanding of community structure and species interactions across trophic levels in disturbed systems. Energy development is a growing source of habitat alteration worldwide. Some small mammals, including deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus), are known to be more prevalent in areas with increased habitat loss from natural gas development, leading to increased predation rates for co-occurring songbirds. Why rodents may be more abundant in gas fields, however, remains unclear. We investigated whether mice receive fitness benefits from living near development. We hypothesized deer mouse populations are augmented by food subsidies in reclaimed areas adjacent to well pads. Accordingly, we predicted increased abundance and improved fitness for deer mouse populations adjacent to reclaimed areas compared to populations far-removed from reclaimed areas, and increased abundance with grass cover in reclaimed areas. Although we found no difference in abundance or fitness metrics between mice living near and far from development, we found higher abundance of deer mice near reclaimed areas with higher densities of grasses (an important food resource). Understanding mechanisms underlying small mammal abundance near energy development will facilitate development of targeted management strategies to protect vulnerable species of songbirds breeding near energy development.

Persnickety Parents: How Parental Care Behavior affects Songbird Nest Success

Tue, 2017-06-20 20:15

Incubation attentiveness and rhythms can have important fitness consequences for songbirds through influencing their number and quality of successful young. Songbirds are highly susceptible to nest failure due to predation given their use of sessile reproductive sites, and have been shown to alter their nesting behavior in response to perceived predation risk. One sagebrush-obligate songbird, the Brewer’s sparrow (Spizella breweri), has been shown to adjust their parental care behavior following failed nesting attempts. We therefore expected that sage thrasher (Oreoscoptes montanus) nest survival also may be affected by parental care behaviors. Specifically, we predicted that birds with successful broods would take fewer trips to the nest and have longer bout lengths, reducing the likelihood that their nest would be discovered by predators. We analyzed parental care videos from sage thrasher nests during incubation to assess differences in parental behaviors between successful and unsuccessful nesting attempts. We assessed average on- and off-bout lengths, total nest attentiveness, and average number of trips taken to the nest per hour. Videos were recorded from May-August 2015 and 2016 at sites in the Upper Green River Basin, WY as part of a larger study of sagebrush-obligate songbird nest success. Preliminary results suggest that sage thrashers that successfully fledge young tend to have longer on-bout and shorter off-bout length, higher total nest attentiveness, and have fewer visits per hour to the nest. Identifying whether and how sagebrush-obligate songbirds mitigate predation risk via behavioral plasticity will facilitate better understanding of how birds respond to ongoing human disturbance, such as energy development, which alters habitat and predator communities.

Effect of Spraying Mosquitoes on Macroinvertebrates in Spring Creek, Laramie, WY

Tue, 2017-06-20 20:15

Many local governments have mosquito control programs to prevent West Nile Virus throughout the community. The pesticides administered in each city may not target mosquitoes exclusively. In Laramie, the broad adulticide sprayed in the air settled into Spring Creek where a variety of aquatic invertebrates live. We sampled invertebrates with a Hess sampler and drift nets at two sites along Spring Creek. Drift samples were collected before, immediately after, and a day after application. We collected two pre-application and two-post application samples with the Hess sampler. Diversity and abundance of invertebrates increased in post-application drift samples. We are currently processing benthic samples and worms, nematodes, ostracods, and Baetis mayflies are abundant in benthic samples. We will present our results to date on how the invertebrate community differs before and after application during the summer. Determining the effects of mosquito pesticide on the Spring Creek invertebrates will inform the city’s future mosquito control program and allow managers to make informed decisions. A better understanding of pesticides’ effects gives us the opportunity to protect people from West Nile virus while minimizing the effects on aquatic ecosystems.

11,000 Years of Human Adaptation to Climate Change in Wind River Country

Tue, 2017-06-20 20:15

Archaeology students participating in the Central Wyoming College Interdisciplinary Climate Change Expeditions have documented extensive human use of the Dinwoody drainage system in the Wind River Mountains beginning with some of the earliest Paleoindian cultures at the end of the Pleistocene to the present. Cold-adapted cultures sought out the harsh, high alpine environment throughout episodes of continental warming or cooling. Andean cultures make annual pilgrimages to worship glaciers as sacred sources of water. The dense concentration of Dinwoody petroglyphs indicates that Native peoples have regarded the Dinwoody as sacred for thousands of years. Ethnographic research conducted for this project with the Eastern Shoshones confirms this interpretation, and reveals that recent discussions have occurred in which some Tribal officials have considered requesting that the US Forest Service close the area to recreation and archaeological research. Wind River Reservation governments, however, have no plans to adapt to the pressing impacts of climate change or imminent extinction of the glaciers. The National Park Service is assisting Tribes in Louisiana and Alaska with evacuation plans as their communities become uninhabitable. This paper poses questions about the future of the Shoshone and Arapaho Tribes in the Wind River country.

Utilizing Plant Pigment-related Transcription Factor Genes for the Development of New Petunia Cultivars With Enhanced Ornamental Value

Sat, 2017-06-17 20:11

Petunias are one of the most popular annual flower crops because they have beautiful blooms from spring to frost, and come in a plethora of varieties. Gene engineering is an expanding field for both research and commercial purposes to add desired traits of interest in existing commercial crop cultivars. Anthocyanin biosynthesis has been extensively used for the genetic manipulation of flower color. This flavonoid can be traced to several genes derived from different plants. The goal of this study was to insert a differently derived transcription factors and evaluate their efficiency to produce novel phenotypes for ornamental purposes. Petunia leaves were excised from seedlings growing in tissue culture and wounded using tweezers. The leaves were then suspended in a solution of A. tumefaciens carrying a regulatory gene (LC, MybA1, or Ruby) that overexpresses the production of anthocyanin pigments. After following predetermined protocol for transformation and post transformation red pigmentation was observed in cells of petunia leaf discs co-cultivated with the desired gene. Within two weeks transgenic red shoots interspersed with non-transformed green color shoots emerged. Transgenic shoots were transferred to rooting medium and then acclimated. Plants with red foliage and petals were observed. Subsequent studies include regenerating transgenic plant lines and examining co-suppression due to overexpression of pigment genes.

Senior Design in Environmental Engineering

Fri, 2017-06-16 20:09

A wastewater treatment plant in Parker, Colorado has reached 75% of its design capacity and flow to the plant is growing rapidly. As required by Colorado law, the treatment plant must begin planning to expand its facility. The plant currently treats 2 million gallons per day (mgd) and must expand to 6 mgd. This project team was hired to research treatment options for the advanced water treatment processes at the plant, phosphorus removal and disinfection. Using a cost-benefit analysis, treatment options for each process were researched and evaluated and the best alternative was chosen. A conceptual design for these operations was prepared as well.

The student team included Erica Gilrein, Sierra Johnson, Antolin Barraza, Joey Meier, Shelby Kindsvater, and Megan Varner.

Removing Harmonic Noise from Geophysical Surface Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Measurements

Fri, 2017-06-16 20:09

Surface nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) is a unique geophysical method due to its direct sensitivity to water. An NMR measurement produces a sounding that shows volumetric water content as a function of depth, which is useful for hydrogeology. A key limitation to overcome is the difficulty of obtaining usable data from surface NMR measurements in environments with anthropogenic electromagnetic noise, particularly constant frequency sources such as powerlines. Noise from these sources is typically much larger in magnitude than the desired NMR water signals, and it significantly corrupts the data. Previous research has explored a variety of methods for removing the noise, usually based on prior knowledge of the noise sources. Here, I take a different approach based on prior knowledge of the NMR water signal, which has a well-defined mathematical form. This form can be exploited to identify and remove noise from the data. I present a method of removing certain types of noise by utilizing frequency domain symmetry of surface NMR signals to reconstruct portions of the spectrum corrupted by frequency-domain peaks. This procedure is simple, does not introduce errors into the dataset, and requires no prior knowledge about the noise source. Modeling and field examples show that the noise-reduction procedure decreases the effects of powerline harmonics on the water content inversion and makes the inversion more accurate than before.

The Effects of Exercise on Diabetes Mellitus Type 2

Fri, 2017-06-16 20:09

Diagnosis of diabetes mellitus type 2 is slowly rising in the United States, with poor eating habits and sedentary lifestyles increase the number of incidences. Medications are used to treat individual symptoms of diabetes. Society ignores the positive effect exercise has on all aspects of the disease and improving quality of life. Research previously completed demonstrates: exercise decreases blood pressure, adipose tissue levels, resting blood glucose, insulin resistance, immune responses, and inflammatory factors. These changes in physiology have a direct link to alleviating symptoms and complications diabetes mellitus type 2. While medications and exercise both aim to treat this disease, exercise is a lifestyle change that the body does not become resistant to. This gathering of previous research aims to influence the increase of exercise and nutrition as a viable prescription for the management and cure of diabetes mellitus type 2.

Reactions of Atomic Hydrogen with Isotopes of Nitric Oxide in Solid Parahydrogen

Fri, 2017-06-16 20:09

Cold chemistry is becoming a hot area of research as a way to test fundamental principles about chemical reactions governed by quantum mechanics. Typically chemists think of molecules with ball and stick models, but at extremely low temperatures molecules can start to behave like waves. Molecules at very low temperatures (2-4 K) do not have much energy with which to react. Classically, at these low temperatures, only reactions with no barrier to reaction should take place. However, recent experiments in the Anderson group have shown that the reaction of hydrogen atoms (H) with nitric oxide (NO) can produce both HNO and NOH. This is surprising because the reaction to form HNO is barrierless, whereas the reaction that forms NOH has a significant barrier. The fact that NOH is produced in these low temperature reactions is due to quantum mechanical effects or the H atoms behaving as matter waves. I am helping analyze the Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) spectra that are used to follow the kinetics (how fast reactions occur) of these reactions. I am also analyzing the FTIR spectra of different isotopes of nitric oxide (14NO and 15NO) to better characterize the rotational dynamics of the NO reagent. In the Born-Oppenheimer approximation, both of these isotopes of NO should react similarly at low temperature and I am helping to analyze the FTIR spectra to determine if this is true.

Fear or Safety? How the United States Ordnance has Evolved Warfare and Society

Fri, 2017-06-16 20:09

The United States has been in conflict to a degree since its establishment in 1776. During that time there have been numerous developments in weapons, technology, and intelligence all aimed at maintaining a power advantage over our enemies. The United States Ordnance Corps continues to develop weapons that change the warfare tactics and strategies used against America’s enemies. When the development of new ordnance is authorized on the battlefield, they prompt new tactics, techniques and procedures based upon the utilization of these new developments. From the Civil War to the present War on Terrorism, there are direct correlations to how each war’s ordnance and developments have influenced the outcome. Rifles, artillery, aviation, atomic bombs, and improvised explosive devices (IED) have changed the way the American Army has performed on the battlefield. The enemies in those wars have changed from conventional to insurgent in complex fashion. We can only speculate who we will fight in the future, and what that fight might look like. Aside from the strategic and tactical advancements of ordnance, the development of ordnance has impacted civilization. The more advanced ordnance becomes, the stricter laws and policies are passed to ensure they are not used to incinerate the earth eight times over. Shifts in policy during the Cold War indicate how the fear of ordnance dictates the behavior of societies. The research conducted in this paper illuminates the advancements of key ordnance that changed and shaped American wars. It also verifies that ordnance and the fear they cause directly impact our society, and leaves us questioning how it will impact the future of warfare.

Propaganda and the Youth during the Chinese Revolution

Fri, 2017-06-16 20:09

Chinese youth were greatly influenced by the revolutionary images presented by Mao Zedong during the Chinese Revolution of 1966. My research aims to evaluate the different types of propaganda used by Mao Zedong and his constituents, such as posters, songs, and the infamous Little Red Book, in order to understand how it contributed to the mass movement of millions of Chinese youth during the Chinese Revolution. Further, I will attempt to demonstrate how the use of educational propaganda fueled the actions of the Red Guards by encouraging the removal of Western influence and the violent attacks on China’s intellectual citizens. This paper will also explore the various interpretations of Maoist propaganda and develop an interpretation as to why the revolutionary movement made such an impact on the youth of the time. By examining the various propaganda methods implemented during this period, I hope to gain an understanding of its use as a strategy to recruit a large portion of the population in the revolutionary movements.

The Effect of Dietary Sodium Levels on Consumer Appeal

Fri, 2017-06-16 20:09

Literature supports the theory that high dietary salt intake is associated with increased blood pressure and increased risk of cardiovascular disease. However, there is no research that specifically examines the flavor difference between high sodium and low sodium variations where the only difference between identical recipes is the amount of salt used. Is there a flavor difference between low sodium and high sodium recipes? If there is a difference in flavor between low sodium and high sodium recipes, is that difference enough to outweigh the health benefits associated with the low sodium variation? Is the perceived flavor advantage in the high sodium variation worth the risk of increased blood pressure and increased risk of cardiovascular disease? This research evaluated different levels of sodium in guacamole and its consumer appeal.

Zar Spirit Possession: Muslim Women in Ancient and Modern History

Fri, 2017-06-16 20:09

Hearing the word “spirit” in western culture leads the reader to associate the word with fictitious thoughts flitting through the human mind due to the western belief that spirits are part of the fabled supernatural and thus not part of the rational world. This is not true in some cultures, especially in Zar culture where spirit possession is seen as a frequent occurrence and the goal is to relieve the possessed through acts of dancing and feasting. Zar is seen in many regions where Islam is the dominant religion, where the existence of spirits is even noted in many of the religious texts including the Qur’an and the Hadith. Zar possession is not the same as malevolent spirits found within the Quran and is not tied exclusively to Islam, rather it offers an alternative worship to women who are not welcomed in masculine forms of worship such as mosques. In this paper, I will analyze Zar culture throughout regions where Islam is the dominant religion and examine that due to women’s exclusion from the traditional mode of spiritual guidance from mosques and other male dominated spheres, the alternative action of Zar spirit possession and group healing is used to form communities that uplift women’s confidence, cure illnesses of the mind, and offer support for the women excluded from a male dominated environment.

The Effect of a Secondary Cognitive Task on Lower Extremity Biomechanics during Landing

Fri, 2017-06-16 20:09

Background: The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of a cognitive task on jump-landing biomechanics and performance. Methods: 31 recreational athletes participated in the study. Participants jumped forward off of a 30cm box a distance equal to one half of their body height, then immediately performed a countermovement jump. This movement was performed in a control condition, while counting backwards by intervals of 1, and by intervals of 7. Initial knee flexion, knee range of motion, peak vertical ground reaction force (PVGRF), stance time, and jump height were calculated. Results: There were statistically significant differences in initial knee flexion (p = 0.0004), PVGRF (p = 0.031), and stance time (0.038) between the control and counting by 1 condition. There were also significant differences in knee range of motion (p = 0.049, p = 0.012) and jump height (p = 0.001, p = 0.0002) between the control and both the 1 and 7 conditions. Conclusion: This study demonstrated that the addition of a cognitive task did alter both landing biomechanics and performance. These results have implications for developing new ACL injury screening procedures to more realistically imitate a sport environment.

Relating Bar Formation to Sandy River Channel Width

Fri, 2017-06-16 20:09

Sandy rivers are complex systems that are not clearly understood but make up a large portion of rivers worldwide. Rivers effect many aspects of infrastructure like the building of bridges and dams. In addition to the impact that rivers have on society, they also effect many species of animals and plants. This is why improving human understanding of river movement is crucial for both environmental and societal purposes. After analyzing multiple rivers I have recognized general trends in the transport and deposition of sediments. I hypothesize that wider sections of rivers enable the formation of larger and more stable sandbars.

If wider parts of the river have more exposed sand then there will be a greater number of opportunities for nesting environments for the piping plovers and least terns, species that are considered to be threatened and endangered. These birds are more likely to select nesting sites on larger (2+ acre) sandbars. Therefore, building future habitats in relatively wide parts of the river would be more conducive to natural bird habitats. The results of this study will aid in improving overall understanding of sandy rivers as well as give insight into where birds select to nest based on the geomorphology of a system.

Para-Xylene Derived from Biorenewable Feedstock

Fri, 2017-06-16 20:09

Para-xylene is an organic chemical which has been historically produced in the petroleum industry. It is has several uses in the chemical industry, but is most prominently used as a feedstock to make terephthalic acid, purified terephthalic acid, or dimethyl-terephthalate-saturated polyester fibers. These compounds are widely used to make plastics. Although the non-renewable resources used to produce para-xylene are not projected to be completely depleted anytime soon, it is assumed that they will run out one day. Thus, methods to produce this chemical from bio-renewable resources should be explored to prolong the production from non-renewable resources, and to have solely renewable production in the future. The purpose of this project is to investigate the production of para-xylene from D-fructose. This process is done in three steps: converting D-fructose to hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF), HMF to dimethylfuran (DMF), and DMF to para-xylene. This project was developed using Aspen Plus Version 8.4 and an economic analysis was performed to determine the feasibility of this project.

Inertial Focusing of Nuclei in Xenopus Egg Extract

Fri, 2017-06-16 20:09

The enlargement of nuclei can be an indicator of diseases such as cancer. While we know that this occurs, the mechanism behind nuclei scaling is unclear. We applied microfluidic encapsulation technology to encapsulate nuclei into different sized and shaped droplets, creating an artificial cell to test scaling mechanisms in a more in vitro environment. In previous experiments, this has proven to be hard because the nuclei stick together causing tens of nuclei to be encapsulated together, not one as wanted. To separate the nuclei, inertial focusing was used, as it has a predictable outcome and is passive in order to not harm the nuclei during focusing. This novel approach of using inertial focusing to separate an organelle will be described and explained.