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ASU Electronic Theses and Dissertations


This collection includes most of the ASU Theses and Dissertations from 2011 to present. ASU Theses and Dissertations are available in downloadable PDF format; however, a small percentage of items are under embargo. Information about the dissertations/theses includes degree information, committee members, an abstract, supporting data or media.

In addition to the electronic theses found in the ASU Digital Repository, ASU Theses and Dissertations can be found in the ASU Library Catalog.

Dissertations and Theses granted by Arizona State University are archived and made available through a joint effort of the ASU Graduate College and the ASU Libraries. For more information or questions about this collection contact or visit the Digital Repository ETD Library Guide or contact the ASU Graduate College at gradformat@asu.edu.


Subject
Date Range
2010 2019


More than half of all accessible freshwater has been appropriated for human use, and a substantial portion of terrestrial ecosystems have been transformed by human action. These impacts are heaviest in urban ecosystems, where impervious surfaces increase runoff, water delivery and stormflows are managed heavily, and there are substantial anthropogenic sources of nitrogen (N). Urbanization also frequently results in creation of intentional novel ecosystems. These "designed" ecosystems are fashioned to fulfill particular needs of the residents, or ecosystem services. In the Phoenix, Arizona area, the augmentation and redistribution of water has resulted in numerous component ecosystems that are atypical for …

Contributors
Larson, Elisabeth Knight, Grimm, Nancy B, Hartnett, Hilairy E, et al.
Created Date
2010

General ecological thought pertaining to plant biology, conservation, and urban areas has rested on two potentially contradictory underlying assumptions. The first is that non-native plants can spread easily from human developments to “pristine” areas. The second is that native plants cannot disperse through developed areas. Both assume anthropogenic changes to ecosystems create conditions that favor non-native plants and hinder native species. However, it is just as likely that anthropogenic alterations of habitats will favor certain groups of plant species with similar functional traits, whether native or not. Migration of plants can be divided into the following stages: dispersal, germination, establishment, …

Contributors
Gade, Kristin Joan, Kinzig, Ann P, Grimm, Nancy B, et al.
Created Date
2010

ABSTRACT The February 2008 study of a Snowflake, Arizona site measured changes in soil organic carbon, total nitrogen, extractable phosphorus, and soil moisture, to determine what affect One-seed Juniper (Juniperus monosperma) trees have on surrounding soil, thus affecting native grass growth. Increasing juniper densities in grasslands also decrease populations of some grassland bird species. Measurements were taken each meter along a twelve meter line transect, moving from juniper trees, through a bare soil area and into a grassland. Non-linear relationships were examined, in regard to distance from the tree and juniper root mass. Relationships were examined to determine any affect …

Contributors
Weller, Christopher, Green, Douglas, Miller, William H, et al.
Created Date
2010

The highly-social plateau pika (Lagomorpha: Ochotona curzoniae) excavates vast burrow complexes in alpine meadows on the Tibetan Plateau. Colonies of over 300 individuals/ha have been reported. As an ecosystem engineer, their burrowing may positively impact ecosystem health by increasing plant species diversity, enhancing soil mixing, and boosting water infiltration. However, pikas are commonly regarded as pests, and are heavily poisoned throughout their range. The underlying assumption of eradication programs is that eliminating pikas will improve rangeland quality and decrease soil erosion. This dissertation explores the link between plateau pikas and the alpine meadow ecosystem in Qinghai Province, PRC. This research …

Contributors
Hogan, Brigitte Wieshofer, Smith, Andrew T., Anderies, J. Marty, et al.
Created Date
2010

Urban ecosystems cover less than 3% of the Earth's land surface, yet more than half of the human population lives in urban areas. The process of urbanization stresses biodiversity and other ecosystem functions within and far beyond the city. To understand the mechanisms underlying observed changes in biodiversity patterns, several observational and experimental studies were performed in the metropolitan area of Phoenix, Arizona, and the surrounding Sonoran Desert. The first study was comprised of seven years of arthropod monitoring using pitfall traps in common urban land-use types. This study revealed differences in community structure, diversity and abundance over time and …

Contributors
Bang, Christofer, Faeth, Stanley H., Sabo, John L., et al.
Created Date
2010

As an industrial society, humans have increasingly separated agricultural processes from natural ecosystems. Many areas of the Southwestern US, however, maintain traditional practices that link agricultural systems to the natural environment. One such practice, diverting river water into fields via earthen irrigation canals, allows ditch water to recharge groundwater and riparian vegetation to prosper along canal banks. As there is growing interest in managing landscapes for multiple ecosystem services, this study was undertaken to determine if irrigation canals function as an extension of the riparian corridor. I was specifically interested in determining if the processes within semi-arid streams that drive …

Contributors
Betsch, Jacqueline Michelle, Stromberg, Juliet C, Hall, Sharon J, et al.
Created Date
2010

River and riparian areas are important foraging habitat for insectivorous bats. Numerous studies have shown that aquatic insects provide an important trophic resource to terrestrial consumers, including bats, and are key in regulating population size and species interactions in terrestrial food webs. Yet these studies have generally ignored how structural characteristics of the riverine landscape influence trophic resource availability or how terrestrial consumers respond to ensuing spatial and temporal patterns of trophic resources. Moreover, few studies have examined linkages between a stream's hydrologic regime and the timing and magnitude of aquatic insect availability. The main objective of my dissertation is …

Contributors
Hagen, Elizabeth M, Sabo, John L, Fisher, Stuart G, et al.
Created Date
2010

Over the past century in the southwestern United States human actions have altered hydrological processes that shape riparian ecosystems. One change, release of treated wastewater into waterways, has created perennial base flows and increased nutrient availability in ephemeral or intermittent channels. While there are benefits to utilizing treated wastewater for environmental flows, there are numerous unresolved ecohydrological issues regarding the efficacy of effluent to sustain groundwater-dependent riparian ecosystems. This research examined how nutrient-rich effluent, released into waterways with varying depths to groundwater, influences riparian plant community development. Statewide analysis of spatial and temporal patterns of effluent generation and release revealed …

Contributors
White, Meg, Stromberg, Juliet C, Fisher, Stuart G, et al.
Created Date
2011

Climate change has the potential to affect vegetation via changes in temperature and precipitation. In the semi-arid southwestern United States, heightened temperatures will likely lead to accelerated groundwater pumping to meet human needs, and altered storm patterns may lead to changes in flood regimes. All of these hydrologic changes have the potential to alter riparian vegetation. This research, consisting of two papers, examines relationships between hydrology and riparian vegetation along the Verde River in central Arizona, from applied and theoretical perspectives. One paper investigates how dominance of tree and shrub species and cover of certain functional groups change along hydrologic …

Contributors
Hazelton, Andrea Florence, Stromberg, Juliet C, Schmeeckle, Mark W, et al.
Created Date
2011

This study addresses the landscape connectivity pattern at two different scales. The county-level analysis aims to understand how urban ecosystem structure is likely to evolve in response to the proposed development plans in Maricopa County, Arizona. To identify the spatio-temporal land pattern change, six key landscape metrics were quantified in relative to the urban development scenarios based on the certainty of the proposed urban plans with different level of urban footprints. The effects of future development plans from municipalities on landscape connectivity were then analyzed in the scaled temporal and spatial frame to identify in which urban condition the connectivity …

Contributors
Park, Sohyun, Cook, Edward, Crewe, Katherine, et al.
Created Date
2011

Non-native saltcedar (Tamarix spp.) has invaded many riparian communities and is the third most abundant tree in Southwestern riparian areas. I evaluated lizard populations and microhabitat selection during 2009 and 2010 along the Virgin River in Nevada and Arizona to determine the impact of saltcedar. Along the riparian corridor, I observed common side-blotched lizards (Uta stansburiana) within two vegetation types: monotypic non-native saltcedar stands or mixed stands of cottonwood (Populus fremontii), willow (Salix spp.), mesquite (Prosopis spp.) and saltcedar. I predicted that population parameters such as body condition, adult to hatchling ratio, abundance, and persistence would vary among vegetation types. …

Contributors
Nielsen, Danny Patrick, Bateman, Heather L., Miller, William H., et al.
Created Date
2011

This study was designed to produce a comprehensive flora of Usery Mountain Regional Park and Pass Mountain of the Tonto National Forest. A total of 168 vascular plant species representing 46 families and 127 genera were collected or documented at this study area. Sixteen species were not native to the flora of Arizona and represent 9.5% of the flora. Nevertheless, the study area does not appear to be significantly damaged or degraded in spite of its historical and current land use. The location and types of invasive species recorded in this study will assist with implementing preventative measures to prevent …

Contributors
Marshall, Laura Lee, Steele, Kelly P, Miller, William H, et al.
Created Date
2011

ABSTRACT The elephant tree, Bursera microphylla, is at the northern limit of its range in central Arizona. This species is sensitive to frost damage thus limiting its occurrence in more northern areas of the southwest. Marginal populations of B. microphylla are found in mountain ranges of Central Arizona and are known to occur in the rugged mountain range system of the South Mountain Municipal Park (SMMP). Little is known of the distribution of this species within the park and details relevant to the health of both individual plants and the population such as diameter and number of trunks, height, and …

Contributors
Cordova, Cesar, Steele, Kelly P., Tridane, Abdessaman, et al.
Created Date
2011

Worldwide, riverine floodplains are among the most endangered landscapes. In response to anthropogenic impacts, riverine restoration projects are considerably increasing. However, there is a paucity of information on how riparian rehabilitation activities impact non-avian wildlife communities. I evaluated herpetofauna abundance, species richness, diversity (i.e., Shannon and Simpson indices), species-specific responses, and riparian microhabitat characteristics along three reaches (i.e., wildland, urban rehabilitated, and urban disturbed) of the Salt River, Arizona. The surrounding uplands of the two urbanized reaches were dominated by the built environment (i.e., Phoenix metropolitan area). I predicted that greater diversity of microhabitat and lower urbanization would promote herpetofauna …

Contributors
Banville, Melanie, Bateman, Heather L, Brady, Ward, et al.
Created Date
2011

The species distribution model DISTRIB was used to model and map potential suitable habitat of ponderosa pine throughout Arizona under current and six future climate scenarios. Importance Values for each climate scenario were estimated from 24 predictor variables consisting of climate, elevation, soil, and vegetation data within a 4 km grid cell. Two emission scenarios, (A2 (high concentration) and B1 (low concentration)) and three climate models (the Parallel Climate Model, the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, and the HadleyCM3) were used to capture the potential variability among future climates and provide a range of responses from ponderosa pine. Summary tables for …

Contributors
Peters, Matthew, Brady, Ward W, Green, Douglas, et al.
Created Date
2011

This thesis explores the independent effects of the manipulation of rocks into alignments, prehistoric farming, and season on soil properties in two areas with a history of prehistoric agriculture in central Arizona, Pueblo la Plata within the Agua Fria National Monument (AFNM), and an archaeological site north of the Phoenix basin along Cave Creek (CC). Soil properties, annual herbaceous biomass and the physical properties of alignments and surface soils were measured and compared across the landscape, specifically on: 1) agricultural rock alignments that were near the archaeological site 2) geologically formed rock alignments that were located 0.5-1 km away from …

Contributors
Trujillo, Jolene E., Hall, Sharon J, Collins, Scott L, et al.
Created Date
2011

Like individual organisms, complex social groups are able to maintain predictable trajectories of growth, from initial colony foundation to mature reproductively capable units. They do so while simultaneously responding flexibly to variation in nutrient availability and intake. Leafcutter ant colonies function as tri-trophic systems, in which the ants harvest vegetation to grow a fungus that, in turn, serves as food for the colony. Fungal growth rates and colony worker production are interdependent, regulated by nutritional and behavioral feedbacks. Fungal growth and quality are directly affected by worker foraging decisions, while worker production is, in turn, dependent on the amount and …

Contributors
Clark, Rebecca M., Fewell, Jennifer H, Mueller, Ulrich, et al.
Created Date
2011

Once considered an abundant species in the eastern United States, local populations of red-shouldered hawks, Buteo lineatus, have declined due to habitat destruction. This destruction has created suitable habitat for red-tailed hawks, Buteo jamaicensis, and therefore increased competition between these two raptor species. Since suitable habitat is the main limiting factor for raptors, a computer model was created to simulate the effect of habitat loss in central Maryland and the impact of increased competition between the more aggressive red-tailed hawk. These simulations showed urban growth contributed to over a 30% increase in red-tailed hawk habitat as red-shouldered hawk habitat decreased …

Contributors
Murillo, Crystal, Whysong, Gary, Alford, Eddie, et al.
Created Date
2011

In 2010, a monthly sampling regimen was established to examine ecological differences in Saguaro Lake and Lake Pleasant, two Central Arizona reservoirs. Lake Pleasant is relatively deep and clear, while Saguaro Lake is relatively shallow and turbid. Preliminary results indicated that phytoplankton biomass was greater by an order of magnitude in Saguaro Lake, and that community structure differed. The purpose of this investigation was to determine why the reservoirs are different, and focused on physical characteristics of the water column, nutrient concentration, community structure of phytoplankton and zooplankton, and trophic cascades induced by fish populations. I formulated the following hypotheses: …

Contributors
Sawyer, Tyler, Neuer, Susanne, Childers, Daniel L, et al.
Created Date
2011

The relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning (BEF) is a central issue in ecology, and a number of recent field experimental studies have greatly improved our understanding of this relationship. Spatial heterogeneity is a ubiquitous characterization of ecosystem processes, and has played a significant role in shaping BEF relationships. The first step towards understanding the effects of spatial heterogeneity on the BEF relationships is to quantify spatial heterogeneity characteristics of key variables of biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, and identify the spatial relationships among these variables. The goal of our research was to address the following research questions based on data …

Contributors
Yuan, Fei, Wu, Jianguo, Smith, Andrew T, et al.
Created Date
2011