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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


An insect society needs to share information about important resources in order to collectively exploit them. This task poses a dilemma if the colony must consider multiple resource types, such as food and nest sites. How does it allocate workers appropriately to each resource, and how does it adapt its recruitment communication to the specific needs of each resource type? In this dissertation, I investigate these questions in the ant Temnothorax rugatulus. In Chapter 1, I summarize relevant past work on food and nest recruitment. Then I describe T. rugatulus and its recruitment behavior, tandem running, and I explain its …

Contributors
Cho, John Yohan, Pratt, Stephen C, Hölldobler, Bert, et al.
Created Date
2019

There is a growing consensus that photodegradation accelerates litter decomposition in drylands, but the mechanisms are not well understood. In a previous field study examining how exposure to solar radiation affects decomposition of 12 leaf litter types over 34 months in the Sonoran Desert, litter exposed to UV/blue wavebands of solar radiation decayed faster. The concentration of water-soluble compounds was higher in decayed litter than in new (recently senesced) litter, and higher in decayed litter exposed to solar radiation than other decayed litter. Microbial respiration of litter incubated in high relative humidity for 1 day was greater in decayed litter …

Contributors
Bliss, Michael Scott, Day, Thomas A., Garcia-Pichel, Ferran, et al.
Created Date
2019

Aboveground net primary production (ANPP) and belowground net primary production (BNPP) may not be influenced equally by the same factors in arid grasslands. Precipitation is known to affect ANPP and BNPP, while soil fauna such as nematodes affect the BNPP through herbivory and predation. This study on black grama grass (Bouteloua eriopoda) in the Chihuahuan Desert investigates the effects of precipitation and nematode presence or absence on net primary production (NPP) as well as the partitioning between the aboveground and belowground components, in this case, the fraction of total net primary production occurring belowground (fBNPP). I used a factorial experiment …

Contributors
Wiedenfeld, Amy, Sala, Osvaldo, Gerber, Leah, et al.
Created Date
2018

For interspecific mutualisms, the behavior of one partner can influence the fitness of the other, especially in the case of symbiotic mutualisms where partners live in close physical association for much of their lives. Behavioral effects on fitness may be particularly important if either species in these long-term relationships displays personality. Animal personality is defined as repeatable individual differences in behavior, and how correlations among these consistent traits are structured is termed behavioral syndromes. Animal personality has been broadly documented across the animal kingdom but is poorly understood in the context of mutualisms. My dissertation focuses on the structure, causes, …

Contributors
Marting, Peter Reilly, Pratt, Stephen C, Wcislo, William T, et al.
Created Date
2018

The most advanced social insects, the eusocial insects, form often large societies in which there is reproductive division of labor, queens and workers, have overlapping generations, and cooperative brood care where daughter workers remain in the nest with their queen mother and care for their siblings. The eusocial insects are composed of representative species of bees and wasps, and all species of ants and termites. Much is known about their organizational structure, but remains to be discovered. The success of social insects is dependent upon cooperative behavior and adaptive strategies shaped by natural selection that respond to internal or external …

Contributors
Rodriguez Messan, Marisabel, Kang, Yun, Castillo-Chavez, Carlos, et al.
Created Date
2018

Riparian systems in the arid southwest are heavily altered and, based on relative land-area, provision a disproportionately high number of native wildlife. Amphibians and reptiles are collectively the most threatened vertebrate taxa and, in the Sonoran Desert, are often reliant on riparian habitat. The link between amphibians and environmental water characteristics, as well as the association between lizards and habitat structure, make herpetofauna good organisms for which to examine the effects of environmental change. My objective was to relate capture rates of a fossorial anuran and lizard abundance to aspects of native, invaded, and shrub-encroached riparian habitats in order to …

Contributors
Riddle, Sidney Bishop, Bateman, Heather L., Albuquerque, Fabio, et al.
Created Date
2018

Desert environments provide considerable challenges to organisms because of high temperatures and limited food and water resources. Accordingly, desert species have behavioral and physiological traits that enable them to cope with these constraints. However, continuing human activity as well as anticipated further changes to the climate and the vegetative community pose a great challenge to such balance between an organism and its environment. This is especially true in the Arabian Desert, where climate conditions are extreme and environmental disturbances substantial. This study combined laboratory and field components to enhance our understanding of dhub (Uromastyx aegyptius) ecophysiology and determine whether habitat …

Contributors
Al-Sayegh, Mohammed Taher, DeNardo, Dale, Angilletta, Michael, et al.
Created Date
2017

Functional traits research has improved our understanding of how plants respond to their environments, identifying key trade-offs among traits. These studies primarily rely on correlative methods to infer trade-offs and often overlook traits that are difficult to measure (e.g., root traits, tissue senescence rates), limiting their predictive ability under novel conditions. I aimed to address these limitations and develop a better understanding of the trait space occupied by trees by integrating data and process models, spanning leaves to whole-trees, via modern statistical and computational methods. My first research chapter (Chapter 2) simultaneously fits a photosynthesis model to measurements of fluorescence …

Contributors
Fell, Michael, Ogle, Kiona, Barber, Jarrett, et al.
Created Date
2017

An important component of insect social structure is the number of queens that cohabitate in a colony. Queen number is highly variable between and within species. It can begin at colony initiation when often unrelated queens form cooperative social groups, a strategy known as primary polygyny. The non-kin cooperative groups formed by primary polygyny have profound effects on the social dynamics and inclusive fitness benefits within a colony. Despite this, the evolution of non-kin queen cooperation has been relatively overlooked in considerations of the evolution of cooperative sociality. To date, studies examining the costs and benefits of primary polygyny have …

Contributors
Haney, Brian Russell, Fewell, Jennifer H, Cole, Blaine J, et al.
Created Date
2017

The spread of dengue worldwide currently places half of the world’s population at risk. In the absence of a dengue vaccine, control of the disease requires control of the mosquito species that transmit the virus. The most important of these is. Advances in research detailing the responsiveness of Aedes aegypti to small changes in climate enable the production of more sophisticated remote sensing and surveillance techniques for monitoring these populations. Close monitoring of global dengue activity and outbreaks likewise enables a greater specificity when determining to which human populations the virus is most likely to spread. There have been no …

Contributors
Hughes, Tyler C., Perrings, Charles, Kinzig, Ann, et al.
Created Date
2016

Throughout the Southwest, complex geology and physiography concomitant with climatic variability contribute to diverse stream hydrogeomorphologies. Many riparian plant species store their seeds in soil seed banks, and germinate in response to moisture pulses, but the climatic controls of this response are poorly understood. To better understand the ecological implications of a changing climate on riparian plant communities, I investigated seed bank responses to seasonal temperature patterns and to stream hydrogeomorphic type. I asked the following questions: Are there distinct suites of warm and cool temperature germinating species associated with Southwestern streams; how do they differ between riparian and terrestrial …

Contributors
Setaro, Danika, Stromberg, Juliet, Franklin, Janet, et al.
Created Date
2016

A key factor in the success of social animals is their organization of work. Mathematical models have been instrumental in unraveling how simple, individual-based rules can generate collective patterns via self-organization. However, existing models offer limited insights into how these patterns are shaped by behavioral differences within groups, in part because they focus on analyzing specific rules rather than general mechanisms that can explain behavior at the individual-level. My work argues for a more principled approach that focuses on the question of how individuals make decisions in costly environments. In Chapters 2 and 3, I demonstrate how this approach provides …

Contributors
Udiani, Oyita Udiani, Kang, Yun, Fewell, Jennifer H, et al.
Created Date
2016

There is considerable recent interest in the dynamic nature of immune function in the context of an animal’s internal and external environment. An important focus within this field of ecoimmunology is on how availability of resources such as energy can alter immune function. Water is an additional resource that drives animal development, physiology, and behavior, yet the influence hydration has on immunity has received limited attention. In particular, hydration state may have the greatest potential to drive fluctuations in immunity and other physiological functions in species that live in water-limited environments where they may experience periods of dehydration. To shed …

Contributors
Moeller, Karla, DeNardo, Dale, Angilletta, Michael, et al.
Created Date
2016

Although mimetic animal coloration has been studied since Darwin's time, many questions on the efficacy, evolution, and function of mimicry remain unanswered. Müller (1879) hypothesized that unpalatable individuals converge on the same conspicuous coloration to reduce predation. However, there are many cases where closely related, unpalatable species have diverged from a shared conspicuous pattern. What selection pressures have led to divergence in warning colors? Environmental factors such as ambient light have been hypothesized to affect signal transmission and efficacy in animals. Using two mimetic pairs of Heliconius butterflies, Postman and Blue-white, I tested the hypothesis that animals with divergent mimetic …

Contributors
Seymoure, Brett Michael, Rutowski, Ronald L, McGraw, Kevin J, et al.
Created Date
2016

In desert riparian ecosystems, rivers provide free water but access to that water diminishes with distance producing a steep gradient in the relative importance of water for growth and reproduction of riparian animals and hence, their biodiversity. Previous work suggests that water limited riparian predators eat more prey to meet their water demand where free water is not available. Here I explore the effect of water limitation on prey selection and per capita interaction strengths between a predatory spider ( Hogna antelucana) and two prey species occupying different trophic levels using a controlled field experiment conducted in the riparian forest …

Contributors
Leinbach, Israel, Sabo, John, Harrison, Jon, et al.
Created Date
2015

Phosphorus (P), an essential nutrient for growth of all organisms, is often in limited biological supply for herbivore consumers compared to other elements, such as carbon (C). Ecological stoichiometry studies have assessed responses of filter-feeding zooplankton from the genus Daphnia to single and multi-species food resources that are P-limited, finding decreased growth as a result to changes in metabolic processes and feeding behavior. Conversely, recent laboratory studies have shown that P-rich algal food resources also result in decreased growth rates for Daphnia, though the possible mechanisms behind this maladaptive response is understudied. Moreover, no published study tests the existence of …

Contributors
Currier, Courtney McCann, Currier, James, Harrison, Jon, et al.
Created Date
2015

Sexual and social signals have long been thought to play an important role in speciation and diversity; hence, investigations of intraspecific communication may lead to important insights regarding key processes of evolution. Though we have learned much about the control, function, and evolution of animal communication by studying several very common signal types, investigating rare classes of signals may provide new information about how and why animals communicate. My dissertation research focused on rapid physiological color change, a rare signal-type used by relatively few taxa. To answer longstanding questions about this rare class of signals, I employed novel methods to …

Contributors
Ligon, Russell Andrew, McGraw, Kevin J, McGraw, Kevin J, et al.
Created Date
2015

For animals that experience annual cycles of gonad development, the seasonal timing (phenology) of gonad growth is a major adaptation to local environmental conditions. To optimally time seasonal gonad growth, animals use environmental cues that forecast future conditions. The availability of food is one such environmental cue. Although the importance of food availability has been appreciated for decades, the physiological mechanisms underlying the modulation of seasonal gonad growth by this environmental factor remain poorly understood. Urbanization is characterized by profound environmental changes, and urban animals must adjust to an environment vastly different from that of their non-urban conspecifics. Evidence suggests …

Contributors
Davies, Scott, Deviche, Pierre, Sweazea, Karen, et al.
Created Date
2014

Urbanization provides an excellent opportunity to examine the effects of human-induced rapid environmental change (HIREC) on natural ecosystems. Certain species can dominate in urban habitats at the expense of biodiversity. Phenotypic plasticity may be the mechanism by which these 'urban exploiters' flourish in urban areas. Color displays and condition-dependent phenotypes are known to be highly plastic. However, conspicuous color displays are perplexing in that they can be costly to produce and may increase detection by enemies. The Western black widow spider () is a superabundant pest species that forms dense aggregations throughout metropolitan Phoenix, Arizona, USA. Adult female display a …

Contributors
Gburek, Theresa Marie, Johnson, James C, Mcgraw, Kevin J, et al.
Created Date
2014

The explicit role of soil organisms in shaping soil health, rates of pedogenesis, and resistance to erosion has only just recently begun to be explored in the last century. However, much of the research regarding soil biota and soil processes is centered on maintaining soil fertility (e.g., plant nutrient availability) and soil structure in mesic- and agro- ecosystems. Despite the empirical and theoretical strides made in soil ecology over the last few decades, questions regarding ecosystem function and soil processes remain, especially for arid areas. Arid areas have unique ecosystem biogeochemistry, decomposition processes, and soil microbial responses to moisture inputs …

Contributors
Wyant, Karl Arthur, Sabo, John L, Elser, James J, et al.
Created Date
2014

Modified and artificial water sources can be used as a management tool for game and non-game wildlife species. State, federal, and private agencies allocate significant resources to install and maintain artificial water sources (AWS) annually. Capture mark recapture methods were used to sample small mammal communities in the vicinity of five AWS and five paired control sites (treatments) in the surrounding Sonoran desert from October 2011 to May 2012. I measured plant species richness, density, and percent cover in the spring of 2012. A Multi-response Permutation Procedure was used to identify differences in small mammal community abundance, biomass, and species …

Contributors
Switalski, Aaron, Bateman, Heather L, Miller, William, et al.
Created Date
2013

This work is an assemblage of three applied projects that address the institutional and spatial constraints to managing threatened and endangered (T & E) terrestrial species. The first project looks at the role of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in protecting wildlife and whether banning non–conservation activities on multi-use federal lands is socially optimal. A bioeconomic model is used to identify scenarios where ESA–imposed regulations emerge as optimal strategies and to facilitate discussion on feasible long–term strategies in light of the ongoing public land–use debate. Results suggest that banning harmful activities is a preferred strategy when valued species are in …

Contributors
Salau, Kehinde Rilwan, Janssen, Marco A, Fenichel, Eli P, et al.
Created Date
2013

Here I present a phylogeographic study of at least six reproductively isolated lineages of harvester ants within the Pogonomyrmex barbatus and P. rugosus species group. The genetic and geographic relationships within this clade are complex: four of the identified lineages are divided into two pairs, and each pair has evolved under a mutualistic system that necessitates sympatry. These paired lineages are dependent upon one another because interlineage matings within each pair are the sole source of hybrid F1 workers; these workers build and sustain the colonies, facilitating the production of the reproductive caste, which results solely from intralineage fertilizations. This …

Contributors
Mott, Brendon Michael, Gadau, Juergen, Fewell, Jennifer, et al.
Created Date
2012

The spread of invasive species may be greatly affected by human responses to prior species spread, but models and estimation methods seldom explicitly consider human responses. I investigate the effects of management responses on estimates of invasive species spread rates. To do this, I create an agent-based simulation model of an insect invasion across a county-level citrus landscape. My model provides an approximation of a complex spatial environment while allowing the "truth" to be known. The modeled environment consists of citrus orchards with insect pests dispersing among them. Insects move across the simulation environment infesting orchards, while orchard managers respond …

Contributors
Shanafelt, David, Fenichel, Eli P, Richards, Timothy, et al.
Created Date
2012

Human recreation on rangelands may negatively impact wildlife populations. Among those activities, off-road vehicle (ORV) recreation carries the potential for broad ecological consequences. A study was undertaken to assess the impacts of ORV on rodents in Arizona Uplands Sonoran Desert. Between the months of February and September 2010, rodents were trapped at 6 ORV and 6 non-ORV sites in Tonto National Forest, AZ. I hypothesized that rodent abundance and species richness are negatively affected by ORV use. Rodent abundances were estimated using capture-mark-recapture methodology. Species richness was not correlated with ORV use. Although abundance of Peromyscus eremicus and Neotoma albigula …

Contributors
Reid, John Simon, Brady, Ward, Miller, William, et al.
Created Date
2012

Colorful ornaments in animals often serve as sexually selected signals of quality. While pigment-based colors are well-studied in these regards, structural colors that result from the interaction of light with photonic nanostructures are comparatively understudied in terms of their consequences in social contexts, their costs of production, and even the best way to measure them. Iridescent colors are some of the most brilliant and conspicuous colors in nature, and I studied the measurement, condition-dependence, and signaling role of iridescence in Anna's hummingbirds (Calypte anna). While most animal colors are easily quantified using well-established spectrophotometric techniques, the unique characteristics of iridescent …

Contributors
Meadows, Melissa Grace, Mcgraw, Kevin J, Rutowski, Ronald L, et al.
Created Date
2012

Land management practices such as domestic animal grazing can alter plant communities via changes in soil structure and chemistry, species composition, and plant nutrient content. These changes can affect the abundance and quality of plants consumed by insect herbivores with consequent changes in population dynamics. These population changes can translate to massive crop damage and pest control costs. My dissertation focused on Oedaleus asiaticus, a dominant Asian locust, and had three main objectives. First, I identified morphological, physiological, and behavioral characteristics of the migratory ("brown") and non-migratory ("green") phenotypes. I found that brown morphs had longer wings, larger thoraxes and …

Contributors
Cease, Arianne, Harrison, Jon, Elser, James, et al.
Created Date
2012

Differences between males and females can evolve through a variety of mechanisms, including sexual and ecological selection. Because coloration is evolutionarily labile, sexually dichromatic species are good models for understanding the evolution of sex differences. While many jumping spiders exhibit diverse and brilliant coloration, they have been notably absent from such studies. In the genus Habronattus, females are drab and cryptic while males are brilliantly colored, displaying some of these colors to females during elaborate courtship dances. Here I test multiple hypotheses for the control and function of male color. In the field, I found that Habronattus males indiscriminately court …

Contributors
Taylor, Lisa A., Mcgraw, Kevin J, Clark, David L, et al.
Created Date
2012

Infectious diseases have emerged as a significant threat to wildlife. Environmental change is often implicated as an underlying factor driving this emergence. With this recent rise in disease emergence and the acceleration of environmental change, it is important to identify the environmental factors that alter host-pathogen dynamics and their underlying mechanisms. The emerging pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) is a clear example of the negative effects infectious diseases can have on wildlife. Bd is linked to global declines in amphibian diversity and abundance. However, there is considerable variation in population-level responses to Bd, with some hosts experiencing marked declines while others …

Contributors
Hyman, Oliver, Collins, James P, Davidson, Elizabeth W., et al.
Created Date
2012

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

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

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

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

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

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