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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


Emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) in vulnerable populations are a proposed cause of reduced global biodiversity due to local and regional extinctions. Chytridiomycosis, a fungal disease caused by Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), is affecting amphibian populations worldwide. Chapter 1 of this thesis reports using lab-raised larval tiger salamanders (Ambystoma tigrinum nebulosum), collected as eggs, to test if Bd infects them. Bd infects metamorphosed tiger salamanders; however, it is currently unknown if larvae can be infected by Bd. Adult frogs tend to host Bd on ventral surfaces and hind legs while tadpoles host Bd in keratinized mouthparts. No research has considered differences in …

Contributors
Otsuru, Shinji Author, Collins, James P, Davidson, Elizabeth, et al.
Created Date
2019

Aboveground net primary production (ANPP) is an important ecosystem process that, in drylands, is most frequently limited by water availability. Water availability for plants is in part controlled by the water holding capacity of soils. Available water holding capacity (AWHC) of soils is strongly influenced by soil texture and depth. This study drew upon localized rain gauge data and four data-sets of cover-line and biomass data to estimate ANPP and to determine annual precipitation (PPT). I measured soil depth to caliche and texture by layer of 112 plots across the four landscape units for which estimation of ANPP were available. …

Contributors
Wagner, Svenja K, Sala, Osvaldo E, Cease, Arianne, et al.
Created Date
2019

Cities are increasingly using nature-based approaches to address urban sustainability challenges. These solutions leverage the ecological processes associated with existing or newly constructed Urban Ecological Infrastructure (UEI) to address issues through ecosystem services (e.g. stormwater retention or treatment). The growing use of UEI to address urban sustainability challenges can bring together teams of urban researchers and practitioners to co-produce UEI design, monitoring and maintenance. However, this co-production process received little attention in the literature, and has not been studied in the Phoenix Metro Area. I examined several components of a co-produced design process and related project outcomes associated with a …

Contributors
Sanchez, Christopher Allen, Childers, Daniel L, Cheng, Chingwen, et al.
Created Date
2019

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

Rangelands are an extensive land cover type that cover about 40% of earth’s ice-free surface, expanding into many biomes. Moreover, managing rangelands is crucial for long-term sustainability of the vital ecosystem services they provide including carbon (C) storage via soil organic carbon (SOC) and animal agriculture. Arid rangelands are particularly susceptible to dramatic shifts in vegetation cover, physical and chemical soil properties, and erosion due to grazing pressure. Many studies have documented these effects, but studies focusing on grazing impacts on soil properties, namely SOC, are less common. Furthermore, studies testing effects of different levels of grazing intensities on SOC …

Contributors
Boydston, Aaron, Sala, Osvaldo, Throop, Heather, et al.
Created Date
2018

Baseline community composition data provides a snapshot in time that allows changes in composition to be monitored more effectively and can inform best practices. This study examines Arizona Upland plant community composition of the Sonoran Desert through three different lenses: floristic inventory, and fire and reseeding effects. A floristic inventory was conducted at Cave Creek Regional Park (CCRP), Maricopa County, AZ. One hundred fifty-four taxa were documented within Park boundaries, including 148 species and six infraspecific taxa in 43 families. Asteraceae, Boraginaceae, and Fabaceae accounted for 40% of documented species and annuals accounted for 56% of documented diversity. Fire effects …

Contributors
Barron, Kara Lynn, Pigg, Kathleen B, Stromberg, Juliet, et al.
Created Date
2018

Dissolved organic matter (DOM) is an important part of aquatic foodwebs because it contains carbon, nitrogen, and other elements required by heterotrophic organisms. It has many sources that determine its molecular composition, nutrient content, and biological lability and in turn, influence whether it is retained and processed in the stream reach or exported downstream. I examined the composition of DOM from vascular wetland plants, filamentous algae, and riparian tree leaf litter in Sonoran Desert streams and its decomposition by stream microbes. I used a combination of field observations, in-situ experiments, and a manipulative laboratory incubation to test (1) how dominant …

Contributors
Kemmitt, Kathrine, Grimm, Nancy, Hartnett, Hilairy, et al.
Created Date
2018

Climate and environmental forcing are widely accepted to be important drivers of evolutionary and ecological change in mammal communities over geologic time scales. This paradigm has been particularly influential in studies of the eastern African late Cenozoic fossil record, in which aridification, increasing seasonality, and C4 grassland expansion are seen as having shaped the major patterns of human and faunal evolution. Despite the ubiquity of studies linking climate and environmental forcing to evolutionary and ecological shifts in the mammalian fossil record, many central components of this paradigm remain untested or poorly developed. To fill this gap, this dissertation employs biogeographical …

Contributors
Rowan, John, Reed, Kaye E, Campisano, Christopher J, et al.
Created Date
2018

Drylands (arid and semi-arid grassland ecosystems) cover about 40% of the Earth's surface and support over 40% of the human population, most of which is in emerging economies. Human development of drylands leads to topsoil loss, and over the last 160 years, woody plants have encroached on drylands, both of which have implications for maintaining soil viability. Understanding the spatial variability in erosion and soil organic carbon and total nitrogen under varying geomorphic and biotic forcing in drylands is therefore of paramount importance. This study focuses on how two plants, palo verde (Parkinsonia microphylla, nitrogen-fixing) and jojoba (Simmondsia chinensis, non-nitrogen …

Contributors
Alter, Samuel, Heimsath, Arjun M, Throop, Heather L, et al.
Created Date
2018

Animals have evolved a diversity of signaling traits, and in some species, they co-occur and are used simultaneously to communicate. Although much work has been done to understand why animals possess multiple signals, studies do not typically address the role of inter-signal interactions, which may vary intra- and inter-specifically and help drive the evolutionary diversity in signals. For my dissertation, I tested how angle-dependent structural coloration, courtship displays, and the display environment interact and co-evolved in hummingbird species from the “bee” tribe (Mellisugini). Most “bee” hummingbird species possess an angle-dependent structurally colored throat patch and stereotyped courtship (shuttle) display. For …

Contributors
Simpson, Richard Kendall, McGraw, Kevin J, Rutowski, Ronald L, 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

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

Habitat fragmentation, the loss of habitat in the landscape and spatial isolation of remaining habitat patches, has long been considered a serious threat to biodiversity. However, the study of habitat fragmentation is fraught with definitional and conceptual challenges. Specifically, a multi-scale perspective is needed to address apparent disagreements between landscape- and patch-based studies that have caused significant uncertainty concerning fragmentation’s effects on biological communities. Here I tested the hypothesis that habitat fragmentation alters biological communities by creating hierarchically nested selective pressures across plot-, patch-, and landscape-scales using woody plant community datasets from Thousand Island Lake, China. In this archipelago edge-effects …

Contributors
Wilson, Maxwell, Wu, Jianguo, Smith, Andrew, 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

Modern, advanced statistical tools from data mining and machine learning have become commonplace in molecular biology in large part because of the “big data” demands of various kinds of “-omics” (e.g., genomics, transcriptomics, metabolomics, etc.). However, in other fields of biology where empirical data sets are conventionally smaller, more traditional statistical methods of inference are still very effective and widely used. Nevertheless, with the decrease in cost of high-performance computing, these fields are starting to employ simulation models to generate insights into questions that have been elusive in the laboratory and field. Although these computational models allow for exquisite control …

Contributors
Seto, Christian, Pavlic, Theodore, Li, Jing, et al.
Created Date
2018

School failure among children and adolescents has long been a serious issue in Myanmar. The recent statistics indicate that a large number of adolescents do not complete high school. As a consequence, they lose prosperous work opportunities and ability to earn an adequate income. These outcomes highlight a need to study the factors that hamper academic success of adolescents in Myanmar. Academic success is a complex concept and needs a multidimensional perspective to gain an accurate understanding of factors associated with it. Therefore, this study used an ecological risk/protective model and identified risk and protective factors that contribute to academic …

Contributors
Lynn, Zayar, Krysik, Judy Lynn, Klimek, Barbara G, et al.
Created Date
2018

Population growth within drylands is occurring faster than growth in any other ecologic zone, putting pressure on already stressed water resources. Because the availability of surface water supplies in drylands tends to be highly variable, many of these populations rely on groundwater. A critical process contributing to groundwater recharge is the interaction between ephemeral channels and groundwater aquifers. Generally, it has been found that ephemeral channels contribute to groundwater recharge when streamflow infiltrates into the sandy bottoms of channels. This process has traditionally been studied in channels that drain large areas (10s to 100s km2). In this dissertation, I study …

Contributors
Schreiner-McGraw, Adam, Vivoni, Enrique R., Whipple, Kelin X., 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

Many animals thermoregulate to maximize performance. However, interactions with other animals, such as competitors or predators, limit access to preferred microclimates. For instance, an animal may thermoregulate poorly when fighting rivals or avoiding predators. However, the distribution of thermal resources should influence how animals perceive and respond to risk. When thermal resources are concentrated in space, individuals compete for access, which presumably reduces the thermoregulatory performance while making their location more predictable to predators. Conversely, when thermal resources are dispersed, several individuals can thermoregulate effectively without occupying the same area. Nevertheless, interactions with competitors or predators impose a potent stress, …

Contributors
Rusch, Travis, Angilletta, Michael, Sears, Mike, et al.
Created Date
2017

Constructed treatment wetlands (CTW) have been a cost-efficient technological solution to treat different types of wastewater but may also be sources of emitters of methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O). Thus, my objective for this dissertation was to investigate CH4 and N2O fluxes via multiple pathways from the Tres Rios CTW located in Phoenix, AZ, USA. I measured gas fluxes from the CTW along a whole-system gradient (from inflow to outflow) and a within-marsh gradient (shoreline, middle, and open water sites). I found higher diffusive CH4 release in the summer compared to spring and winter seasons. Along the whole-system gradient, …

Contributors
Ramos, Jorge, Childers, Daniel L, Grimm, Nancy B, et al.
Created Date
2017