• Effect of Tai Chi on Cardiac Autonomic Function and Salivary Cortisol Level in Healthy Adults.

      Kalsaria, Pratik (2012-05-21)
      Introduction: An estimated 8.2 million American adults (1 in 3) have 1 or more types of cardiovascular disease. Heart rate variability (HRV) analysis is considered a non-invasive procedure for analyzing cardiovascular autonomic influence. Depressed HRV has been linked to stress and abnormal cardiovascular autonomic modulation. Purpose: This study evaluated the acute effects of tai chi on cardiac autonomic function and cortisol level in healthy adults. Design: 10 healthy adults, 7 females and 3 males, with an average age of 54 ± 2.04 were included in this study. They were asked not to consume any alcoholic or caffeinated beverages at least 24 hours before the study. Each subject practiced tai chi for 1 hour. HRV measurements were obtained at supine rest using Nexus biofeedback device before and after 10 min, 20 min and 30 min post tai chi exercise. Saliva samples were collected before tai chi and after 45 min post tai chi practice. Results: The cardiac autonomic function was assessed using frequency domain HRV analyses. Repeated measures ANOVA revealed that there is significant difference in means of HR, SDNN, nLF and nHF between the pre tai chi and post tai chi groups. Using student’s T-test, we found that the nHF increased significantly from 42.79 ± 4.12 to 52.82 ± 4.39 after 30 min post tai chi exercise (p<0.05). In contrast, nLF decreased significantly from 57.21 ± 4.12 to 52.82 ± 4.39 after 30 min post tai chi exercise (p<0.05). HR significantly decreased from 73 ± 2 to 67.79 ± 2.94 after 30 min post tai chi exercise. Also, SDNN increased significantly from 34 ± 5.26 to 41.38 ± 6.42 after 30 min post tai chi exercise. No significant changes in cortisol level were observed between pre tai chi and post tai chi groups. Conclusion: Tai chi exercise can modulate cardiac autonomic tone by enhancing the vagal activity and reducing the sympathetic activity. Long-term beneficial effects of tai chi on cardiac autonomic function need further investigation.
    • Effects of Ectoparasites and Reproductive Class on Roost-Switching and Foraging Behavior of Indiana Bats (Myotis sodalis)

      2012-01-19
      Ectoparasites of bats have been known to cause harm to their hosts and to affect roost-switching. Little research exists on effects ectoparasites may have on roosting and foraging behavior of the federally endangered Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis). From 2008 through 2010, I collected ectoparasite data and documented roost-switching and foraging behavior of Indiana bats on habitat restoration lands owned by the Indianapolis International Airport (IND) in central Indiana. I tested for differences in roosting and foraging behavior between bats with varying ectoparasite loads, and for differences in ectoparasite load, roost-switching frequency, and foraging behavior between different reproductive classes of Indiana bats. I used the volume of ectoparasites of each Indiana bat when analyzing data. I found a significant difference in roost-switching frequency and ectoparasite volume between reproductive classes. Neither reproductive class nor ectoparasite load significantly affected any aspect of foraging behavior. Indiana bats in this study apparently maintained moderate loads of ectoparasites which may not affect foraging and roosting, but the insignificant results found in this study may have been due to a small sample size. The significant difference in roost-switching between reproductive classes likely demonstrates variation in bat thermoregulation. Lactating females and pregnant females have a higher need for group thermoregulation and switch roosts less frequently than post-lactating females and volant juveniles. Because ectoparasites have been found to increase in maternity colonies, volant juveniles and post-lactating females may disperse from the main colony roost and switch roosts more often to avoid higher intensities of ectoparasites.
    • Evaluation of an Avian Radar System

      Gerringer, Michael B. (2014-03-18)
      The problem of bird strikes in aviation is becoming an increasing threat, both to aircraft and to human safety. Management efforts have reduced wildlife hazards below 500 feet and within the immediate airport environment, but traditional methods of monitoring bird activity are limited to an observer’s field of view. Avian radar systems could potentially be useful in monitoring bird activity at great distances from the airport, at higher altitudes, and at night (Dolbeer 2006), but little work has been done to validate the tracking capabilities of avian radar systems. Thus, the goal of this research is to evaluate the detection and tracking abilities of the Merlin Avian Radar System provided by DeTect Inc. Radio-controlled (RC) aircraft flights were used to systematically test the tracking abilities of the Merlin System with respect to distance and altitude. Transits by free-flying birds provided an equally important test of the Merlin System, allowing for the assessment of tracking performance as influenced by flock size, altitude, and distance from the radar unit. Overall tracking performance regarding the RC aircraft and single large bird targets was poor across all study distances and altitudes. However, flocks of large birds such as geese and cranes were tracked well, even those several miles away from the radar unit. Given these results, avian radar could be a useful tool for monitoring bird flock activity at airports, but less so for single large bird targets such as thermalling raptors.
    • Extracellular Matrix Proteins: Implications for Angiogenesis

      Williams, Kent Edward (2010-07-20)
      The extracellular matrix (ECM) is an essential requirement for maintaining permanent shape and rigidity in multicellular organisms. The ECM serves two main functions: scaffolding and signaling. Insoluble collagen and soluble proteoglycans, glycosaminoglycans (GAGs), and glycoproteins allow for water retention and flexibility. The signaling role of the ECM is essential for a multitude of events including vascular development and angiogenesis. Via interactions with vascular endothelial cells, proteins of the ECM can induce or repress angiogenesis.
    • Foraging behavior and seasonal movements of the eastern red bat(Lasiurus Borealis)in Central Indiana.

      Everson, Brianne.L (2012-04-13)
      Twenty-four female Eastern red bats(Lasiurus borealis) were captured and tracked to foraging areas near the Indianapolis International Airport during the summers of 2003 and 2004 with full foraging data obtained on 13. A series of multi-azimuth(3-7) triangulations was used to estimate the location of each bat throughout the night.Euclidean distance analysis was used to examine habitat sue by L.borealis.These bats had smaller home ranges than previously noted as well as smaller homes ranges than other species at this location.They foraged over woodlands,newly planted tree fields,open water,park and pasture lands more than predicted by randomly generated points. They avoided highly urban areas such as commercial lands,gravel pits and transportation corridors more than predicted by randomly generated points.Four female L.borealis were tracked leaving the study site between 15 July and 15 August in 2003 and 2004.Simultaneously,signals were lost on four additional radio-tagged bats.Long-term capture rates of adult L.borealis were examined during 3 netting periods(15 May-15 June,15 June-15 July and 15 July-15 August) from 1998-1999,2002-2004.Nearly twice as many adult L.borealis were captured in the third round of netting compared to the previous two rounnds.Based on a comparison of bats radio-tracked leaving the study area with typical home rage sizes of L.borealis at this site, an increase in lost radio tags,and an increase in capture rates of adult female L.borealis during late summer,it appears that L.borealis begins migrating through the study area in late July.Telemetry data indicate their movement through central Indiana is from east tp west,instead of north to south as idicated in large-scale analyses.
    • Impact of Forest Management Techniques on Bats with a Focus on the Endangered Indiana Myotis (Myotis Sodalis)

      Sheets, Jeremy J (2010-07-20)
      Understanding how forest management practices impact bats is important for maintaining a diverse bat community; rare species, especially the federally endangered Indiana myotis (Myotis sodalis) need special consideration. Bats play an important role in the environment because they prey on insects, especially pest species, and conservation of viable foraging and roosting habitats is critical. Positive and negative aspects of the implementation of forest management techniques are discussed for each bat species. Bats were sampled using mist nets at four locations in Morgan-Monroe and five locations in Yellowwood State Forests twice during each summer 2006-2008. Netting locations were adjacent to or in forest stands scheduled for experimental manipulations following conclusion of netting in 2008. This effort produced 342 bats. These data provide a baseline to understand how bats are affected by long-term forest manipulations. An acoustical survey was conducted in summer 2007 to determine forest habitats where bat species occur. Anabat II bat detectors in four habitat types,--interior forest, canopy gap, forest edge, and corridors--produced calls from 7 species, a total of 3113 calls (842 corridor, 681 forest edge, 1075 canopy gap, and 515 forest interior) during 337 sample nights. Occupancy of each habitat by each species was determined; canopy gaps were occupied most, followed by forest edge, corridors, and interior forest. These data are used to predict the response of bats to forest manipulations.
    • Impacts of Different Forest Tree-Harvest Methods on Diets and Populations of Insectivorous Forest Bats

      Caylor, Megan K (2011-09-19)
      The Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment (HEE) in central Indiana presents an excellent opportunity to study species reactions to different forestry practices: clearcutting, shelter wood cutting, and single tree selections. This project focuses on the differences in the populations and diets of the various insectivorous bat species in the HEE management units. Bats studied were Myotis septentrionalis, Lasiurus borealis, Eptesicus fuscus, Perimyotis subflavus, Myotis sodalis, Myotis lucifugus, and Lasionycteris noctivagans. Since insectivorous bats do not simply eat whatever is available, and I hypothesize that the diets of these bats will not change despite their changing environment and changing populations. To test these ideas, guano was collected between years 2006-2010 and ANABAT calls were recorded between years 2007-2010. I analyzed 440 guano samples, and the invertebrate parts were identified visually to the lowest taxonomic level within a reasonable amount of time; this is most often to family, but always order for the Lepidopterans. The data were compared within each species: before and after treatment, across treatment types, between males and females, and across different months. There was no significant change between bat diets before and after treatments, and each species maintained a specific diet across the years. These results reinforce previous conclusions that bats select among available foods and do not simply eat whatever is available. I also analyzed 5346 call minutes using ANABAT bat detectors. There were significant changes in Myotis sodalis, Lasiurus borealis, and Perimyotis subflavus call minutes. This supports the hypothesis that the diets still remain constant despite the changes in the species populations.
    • Insect Abundance and Variability in an Urban-Rural Landscape and Comparison to Foraging Habitat Selection of Bats

      Oehler, Nicole M. (2012-01-19)
      I conducted a study of the relationship between prey availability and foraging habitat selection of Indiana bats (Myotis sodalis), big brown bats (Eptesicus fuscus), eastern red bats (Lasiurus borealis) and evening bats (Nycticeius humeralis) in an urban-rural landscape matrix of southwestern Indianapolis. Insects were collected from nine different habitat types found within the range of these species. Insect data were collected from 2006 to 2008 using sticky traps placed in each habitat type. Habitat types were ranked by importance to each bat species (based on previous studies) and then compared to the average number of prey insects captured per habitat sticky trap. Only the average number of insects captured per habitat sticky trap that were big brown bat and eastern red bat prey varied significantly between all nine habitat types. The average number of prey insects captured per habitat sticky trap that were Indiana bat, big brown bat, eastern red bat and evening bat prey were strongly significantly different between sampling dates within seasons. The average number of prey insects captured per habitat sticky trap that were big brown bat and evening bat prey varied significantly between sampling dates between seasons. The average number of prey insects per habitat type did not correlate significantly with habitat selection by any of the four bat species.
    • Landscape scale and contaminant effects on aquatic assemblage structure.

      Morris, Charles C (2012-05-18)
      Biological surveys are routinely used throughout the United States to identify localized impairments in aquatic ecosystems. This approach however, has had limited acceptance for in situ assessment situations in determining specific sources or causes of observed impairments as required under Section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act. While the best approach for determining the effect of urban impacts on streams is to directly compare biological data before and after urban impacts this approach is rarely used because of the lack of historical or pre-disturbance data. Traditionally, the source-cause investigation focused on using aquatic life chemical criteria as benchmarks, resulting in a "violation perspective" methodology that emphasizes specific water quality criteria being exceeded. Relying solely on this approach can be problematic since not all environmental stressors will have established criteria (e.g., sediment criteria are lacking) and those having criteria may not be sufficiently protective of portions of the aquatic resource (e.g., ammonia). This violation perspective assumes that intermittent chemical sampling and analysis will eventually discover the variables (contaminants) causing the impairment and emphasizes a select few water quality criteria exemplifying the “pollutant” focused approach as opposed to a broader and more comprehensive pollution focused approach. Furthermore, chemical water quality criteria are further removed from the designated use, which is more directly measured by the biota and minimizes type I and II assessment errors that would otherwise be more frequent. Evaluating aquatic systems using the violation perspective becomes increasingly more problematic due to increasing water samples collection costs, increased analysis costs for possible chemical stressors, and determining the identity among the thousands of possible stressors. Imperative to this discussion is that slightly elevated contaminant concentrations, synergistic effects, or sporadic spikes could adversely affect fish assemblage structure. As a result, these factors can potentially result in a biological impairment without the occurrence of specific chemical criteria violations. Nationally, the perception of causality for biologically impaired systems has shifted from point-source influences to more diffuse non-point source influences. Difficulty in tracking these pervasive non point-source impacts, combined with the lack of pre-determined signatory relationships with biological assemblage patterns creates a more complex problem. One way of increasing our knowledge of signatory relationships is through multivariate analysis utilizing the definable relationships between aquatic assemblage structure and quantifiable environmental stressors. The purpose of this research was multifaceted. We investigated the relationship between stressor response models associated with an urban landscape, multiple assemblage response, and fish assemblage nutrient response. Essentially the study area for this research encompassed data collected from across the State of Indiana. The nature of the analysis performed resulted in this volume of data being compartmentalized into discreet spatially driven subsets that were analyzed independently. To determine the responsiveness of fish assemblages to stressors associated with an urban landscape we targeted the Salt Creek Watershed. Salt Creek is a Lake Michigan tributary in Northwest Indiana, USA, which drains a watershed experiencing rapid urbanization as part of the expansion of the Greater Chicago metropolitan area. The watershed supports a managed coldwater fishery comprised principally of the introduced Skamania strain of the steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss). The sustainability of this watershed depends on the proper management of warm water tributaries and salmonid water in the Salt Creek mainstem. Twenty-three fish species were collected in the Salt Creek watershed and were numerically dominated by creek chub (Semotilus atromaculatus) and green sunfish (Lepomis cyanellus) both of which are tolerant to a wide range of environmental conditions. Habitat quality, measured using the Qualitative Habitat Evaluation Index (QHEI), showed that the watershed was generally degraded and scores ranged from 12-69. Fourteen parameters were significantly correlated with reach scale ecological health and biological integrity. Factor analysis found three factors explained 69% of the contributed variance in the watershed fish assemblage. The first factor included habitat measures comprised of the QHEI score and three of its metrics (i.e., channel, riparian and instream cover scores) and explained 36 percent of data variability. The second factor was comprised of two contaminants (i.e., TDS and Chloride) and one local-scale land-use variable (Agriculture) that explained an additional 20 percent of the variability. The third factor was comprised of two local scale land-use variables (i.e., riparian zone and water) explaining 13percent of the variability. To evaluate the responsiveness of multiple aquatic assembles to watershed stress we target the Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge. The Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge encompasses the northern 51,000 acres of the former Jefferson Proving Ground (JPG) which was used from 1940-1995 as a munitions testing facility. Since 2000 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has utilized the northern 51,000 acres of JPG for ecosystem-based management in conjunction with continued use by the U.S. Department of Army and Indiana Air National Guard for air-to-ground training. An investigation of factors that explained the variance in fish, crayfish, and macroinvertebrate assemblage structure and function was based on catchment and reach-scale land use, habitat, contaminants, and water quality. Habitat quality, measured using the Qualitative Habitat Evaluation Index (QHEI), showed that scores ranged from 25 to 85 (average 61.36 + 10.08). The substrate score, instream cover, riffle-run score, and channel score were the primary factors contributing to declining QHEI scores. Factor analysis found four factors explained 69 percent of the contributed variance in the fish assemblage, two factors accounted for 56 percent of the total variance in macroinvertebrate assemblages, and two factors explained 49 percent of the cumulative variance in crayfish assemblages. Overall drivers of assemblage structure were associated with broad scale issues of wastewater treatment, ground water, and land-use. Our results show that fish, macroinvertebrate, and crayfish assemblages respond to similar broad scale stimulus; however, the specific physical/chemical constituent responsible for the stress may vary, and the realized magnitude of the overall stress on the system may be expressed by each organismal group differently. Our data suggest that varying organismal groups can respond independently and stress reflected in one assemblage may not necessarily be observed in another.Finally, we evaluated nutrient response in fish assemblages targeting a large data set collected from the Indiana portion of the Corn Belt Plain Ecoregion. Due to the complex interactions between the various forms of Nitrogen and Phosphorus within respective cycles, Total Nitrogen (TN) and Total Phosphorus (TP) cycling interactions can no longer be accepted as sole limiting factors in either marine or freshwaters. This study is conducted as part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) desire to development regional nutrient thresholds. The first objective of this study is to develop a biotic model capable of determining the contributions of various nutrients, including Nitrogen components and TP, in streams using fish assemblages. The second objective is to establish an approach for designating defensible nutrient biotic index (NBI) score thresholds and corresponding nutrient concentrations, above which fish assemblages show alterations due to increasing nutrient concentrations. Sampling within Indiana’s portion of the Corn Belt and Northern Great Plain Nutrient Ecoregion occurred from 1996-2007 at 1274 sites. Nutrient data were reviewed for outliers and then sorted into three groups relative to drainage class. Each group was arranged into 15 ranges or “bins” using the Jenks optimization method in Arc GIS 9.3. Next, sites were assigned to each bin relative to observed concentrations. These bin assignments were used to populate the species occurrence model for nutrient optima calculation. Nutrient optima were calculated by dividing the sum of the weighted proportion of times a species occurred in each bin by the un-weighted proportion of times a species occurred in each bin. The derived nutrient optima were divided into eleven equal ranges, by nutrient, and tolerance scores (0-10) assigned with respect to each species derived optima. Nutrient tolerance scores were used to calculate Nutrient Biotic Index (NBI) scores for each sampling site by summing the number of individuals of a given species at the site and multiplying times that species tolerance value then dividing by the total number of individuals at the site. A single break point was observed for unionized ammonia, which showed an NBIUnionized Ammonia score shift between 0.003 and 0.03 (mg/L). The mean NBIUnionized Ammonia scores were 3.09 and 3.29, respectively. Nutrient Biotic IndexUnionized Ammonia scores were significantly correlated with IBI score and IBI integrity class. Three break points were observed for Nitrogen, Nitrate+Nitrite, demonstrating a significant NBINitrate+Nitrite score shift at mean concentrations of 0.13 mg/L, 1.09 mg/L, 3.15 mg/L and 6.87 mg/L respectively. The mean NBINitrate+Nitrite scores were 5.58, 5.37, 5.82 and 6.25, respectively. The observed relationship produced a convex curve suggesting an enrichment signature. Nutrient Biotic IndexNitrate+Nitrite scores were significantly correlated with IBI score and IBI integrity class. Two break points were observed for Total Kjeldahl Nitrogen (TKN), which were significant. The mean concentrations of TKN were 0.4 mg/L, 0.68 mg/L, and 1.27 mg/L, respectively. The mean NBITKN scores were 2.73, 3.10, and 3.37, respectively. Nutrient Biotic IndexTKN scores were significantly related to IBI score and IBI integrity class. Two break points observed for TN were significant at concentrations of 0.56 mg/L and 3.30 mg/L. The mean NBITN scores were 4.60 and 4.85, respectively. Nutrient Biotic IndexTN scores were not significantly related to IBI score or IBI integrity class. Two significant break points were observed for TP. The mean concentrations of TP were 0.07 mg/L and 0.32 mg/L, respectively and mean NBITP scores were 3.43 and 3.58, respectively. Nutrient Biotic IndexTP scores were significantly related to IBI score and IBI integrity class. Two break points were observed for Chlorophyll a (periphyton), which were significant. Mean concentrations were 10.15 mg/m2 and 134.14 mg/m2, respectively. Mean NBIPeriphyton scores were 3.75 and 4.20, respectively. Nutrient Biotic IndexPeriphyton scores were not significantly related to IBI score, but were significantly related to IBI integrity class. Four break points were observed for Chlorophyll a (phytoplankton), which occurred at Chlorophyll a (phytoplankton) concentrations of 2.33 μg/L, 10.98 μg/L and 49.13 μg/L, respectively. The mean NBIPhytoplankton scores were 3.43, 3.85 and 5.02, respectively. Nutrient Biotic IndexPhytoplankton scores were significantly related to IBI score and IBI integrity class. Nutrient criteria concentration was interpreted for NBI and IBI integrity class relationships to establish protective nutrient concentration benchmarks. Proposed mean protection values are 3.0 μg/L for Unionized Ammonia, 130 μg/L for Nitrogen, Nitrate+Nitrite, 40 μg/L for TKN, 70 μg/L for TP, and 2.33 μg/L for Chlorophyll a (phytoplankton). Criteria established at or below these benchmarks should protect for both biological integrity of fish assemblages in Indiana as well as nutrient loadings into the Gulf of Mexico.
    • Levels of Selection in a Polymorphic Species

      Korody, Marisa L. (2013-09-05)
      Phenotype is affected by many factors, including but not limited to environment, conspecifics, and genetics. Evidence of phenotypic variation is everywhere, some of which is controlled solely by environment, and others that are fixed by genetics. Genetic polymorphisms are rare, but very useful for the study of selection and genetics. These genetic polymorphisms provide a phenotypic link to the underlying genetics and are even more useful when there are associated behavioral differences. I examine multiple levels of selection that are acting upon a polymorphic passerine, the white-throated sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis). Males and females of this species occur in two morphs, white or tan, based upon the color of their crown strips. This plumage polymorphism is absolutely correlated with a complex chromosomal rearrangement on the second largest autosome. Within this dissertation I explore how climate needs to be addressed in ecological studies to fully understand the mechanisms behind variation. I explore whether sexual selection is acting within this species and the differences between the morphs through the use of Bateman Gradients. Darwin suggested that sex ratios influence sexual selection, but what about morph ratios? I examine the frequency variation of morphs within this species. Variation in morph production may be favored by a potential tradeoff between the number of males and the number of white offspring produced in a clutch that suggests greater costs associated with producing white morph individuals. Mendelian segregation is inconsistent in this species, and transmission distortion may contribute to morph ratio variation. I show that white male sperm varies in production from 0% - 100% white sperm/individual consistent with transmission distortion. Finally, candidate gene mapping was used to identify the genes sequestered in this rearrangement that may be responsible for the polymorphism and the evolution behind the rearrangement.
    • Male adolescents of divorce:the relationship with their noncustodial father.

      Kerr, Christine.L (2012-04-13)
      Since the divorce rate in the United States began to rise dramatically in the 1970's researchers have studied the impact of divorce on those involved.The research indicates that children whose parents divorce are more likely than children whose parents remain married to suffer from a lower level of well-being and are at greater risk for a myriad of researchers have focused on the impact of divorce on male adolescents specifically,studies of adolescent males in general indicate they are at risk for a variety of problems including poor school performance,accidents and involvement in crime. Recent research also indicates the importance of fathers in the lives of male adolescents.However,divorce frequently results in boys being placed in the custody of their mothers,which may disrupt their relationship with their noncustodial fathers.A modified Stevick-Colaizzi-Keen phenomenological method was used for interviewing and methods of analysis(Moustakes,1994).A qualitative investigation of the perceived experience of eight male adolescents of divorce and their relationships with their noncustodial fathers was conducted.The findings indicate that the experience of male adolescents(in this case all college students) regarding their relationships with their noncustodial father(a)impacts their perceptions of fathering.(b)creates a desire for a closer father-son relationship,(c)affects their definition of self,(d)results in a crossing of generational boundaries,(e)informs their lifetime meanings,(f)requires them to rely on others to meet their needs, and (g)confirms prior research findings that children are resilient and most do not carry debilitating psychological effects of divorce into adulthood.
    • Manipulation of Angiogenesis by Cyclosporine-A and Extracellular Matrix Molecules

      Pandey, Raghav (2012-10-19)
      Angiogenesis is the formation of new capillaries from pre-existing capillaries. Angiogenesis plays an important role in the blood vessel formation required during embryonic development, tissue injury, wound healing, and menstruation. It also plays a major role in tumor progression. We propose a mechanism that links the developmental pathways to a therapeutic pathway. Moreover, we show anti-angiogenic nature of an FDA approved immunosuppressant. Extra cellular matrix (ECM) has an important role in maintaining the shape and structure of organisms and in signaling mechanisms. Two major components of ECM are lumican and Magp2. Investigating their role might help us further link angiogenesis to tumor progression in cancer. We show the pro-angiogenic nature of Magp2 in an in-vivo model. Although this project is in early stages, it would provide a good foundation for future study. The aim of this thesis was to check the effect of blocking angiogenesis on tumor growth through different ECM proteins (Lumican and Magp2) and therapeutics (cyclosporine-A). Studying the progression of tumor links the chapters together.
    • Novel Phytol-Derived Immunostimulants (PHIS-01) for Enhancement of Vaccine Efficacy: A Comparative Study

      Youssef, Aachoui (2011-09-16)
      Adjuvants are used widely in vaccine formulations. However for humans, choices are very limited. Since they are selected empirically, it is not expected that any two adjuvants would influence immune mechanisms the same way. However they all influence host microenvironment, antigen presentation, and retention of immunological memory. This study focuses on new terpenoid adjuvants based on phytol derivatives. We previously observed that phytol and one of its derivatives PHIS-01 (a phytol-based immunostimulant, phytanol) are excellent adjuvants. To gain an understanding of the structural features important for adjuvanticity, we further studied compounds derived from a diterpene Phytol. We designed two new phytol derivatives, PHIS-02 and PHIS-03 (aminated and mannosylated compounds respectively). In this study we investigated their relative safety and efficacy compared to PHIS- 01 (phytanol) and other commonly used adjuvants that include alum, Freunds’ adjuvants and SIS (extra-cellular matrix). In addition, we examined how changes at the polar terminus affect adjuvanticity of PHIS-01, PHIS-02, PHIS-03 in term of host microenvironment and safety profile. Using these adjuvants as emulsions with different soluble protein antigens, ovalbumin and a hapten-protein conjugate phthalate-KLH, we evaluated in both autoimmune resistant and susceptible murine models. The following immunological parameters were studied: 1) effects on antibody responses in terms of titers, specificities and isotypic profiles; 2) effects on T-helper cells, cytokines, and chemokines milieu; 3) involvements of apoptotic and/or necrotic activity and inflammasome pathways as their primary modes of action. Our results indicate that: 1)modified phytol-derived adjuvants significantly augment antibody response of isotypes IgG1 and IgG2a, promote effective T cell proliferation and exhibit no adverse autoimmune anti-DNA response in either autoimmune or non autoimmune mice. 2) Phytol derivatives function by activation of antigen-presenting cells involving apoptotic/necrotic effects on target cells. 3) Phytol derivatives improve vaccine immunogenicity by promoting regulated and nonpathogenic inflammatory changes in the immediate microenvironments, as characterized by mobilization of chemo tactic factors (MCP-1, KC, MIP-1, LIX, lymphotactin, eotaxin), growth factors (MCSF, GCSF, GM-CSF), and cytokines that mobilize innate and adaptive immunity and lead to T helper polarization and a magnified antibody response 4) PHIS -01, compared to PHIS-03 and alum , is a better activator of genes in the inflammasome pathways. In conclusion, our findings also clearly highlight the importance of bonds and functional moieties in shaping the adjuvanticity of phytol derivatives. Hydrogenation of phytol generates PHIS-01 which is a very safe and superior adjuvant in terms of the quality and magnitude of the overall immune response evoked. However, modification of its polar terminus of PHIS-01 with a hydrophilic mannose moiety (PHIS-03) profoundly changes the cytokine/chemokine milieu and favors T-helper type 2 rather than the T-helper type1 induced by PHIS-01.
    • Olfactory Mate Choice and Potential Chemical Signals of the White-Throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis)

      Sebastian, Peter (2011-03-15)
      Chemical odor signals are well documented in mammals, and yet almost nothing is known about the use of chemical odor signals in birds due to the traditional view that birds have a no sense or a poor sense of smell. Recent studies have revealed the traditional view to be unfounded, but more work is necessary to 1) expand our knowledge of avian olfaction in passerine species and 2) determine whether birds utilize chemical signals. The aim of this thesis was to 1) test for olfactory-based choice in a passerine species, and examine the chemical composition of preen oil for potential chemical signals. Results suggest that the polymorphic white-throated sparrow does choose between odors from their own bedding and odors from fresh bedding based on their unique disassortative mating, with tan males and white females choosing fresh bedding over their own and white males and tan females choosing their own bedding over fresh bedding. Additionally, a study on captive white-throated sparrows found that multiple preen oil volatile compounds were seasonally elevated during the breeding season, and thus indicate the possibility of these compounds acting as chemical signals. In wild populations, preen oil composition varied by morph-sex classes as well as by year sampled, and some compounds may even change throughout the course of the breeding season. Comparisons between wild populations and captive birds indicate that captive conditions may also alter preen oil composition.
    • Phylogenomics: Molecular Evolution in the Genomics Era

      Seetharam, Arun Somwarpet (2012-10-19)
      Evolutionary studies in recent years have been transformed by the development of new, powerful techniques for investigating many mechanisms and events of molecular evolution. Large collections of many different complete genomes now available in the public domain offer great advantages to genomic scale evolutionary studies. Phylogenomics, a term often used to describe the use of genomic scale data to infer species phylogeny or to predict protein function through evolutionary history, is greatly benefitted by the revolutionary progress in DNA sequencing technology. In the present study we developed and utilized various phylogenomic methods on large genome-scale data. In the first study, we applied Singular Value Decomposition (SVD) analysis to reexamine current evolutionary relationships for 12 Drosophila species using the predicted proteins from whole genomes. An SVD analysis on unfiltered whole genomes (193,622 predicted proteins) produced the currently accepted Drosophila phylogeny at higher dimensions, except for the generally accepted, but difficult to discern, sister relationship between D. erecta and D. yakuba. Also, in accordance with previous studies, many sequences appear to support alternative phylogenies. In this case, we observed grouping of D. erecta with D. sechellia when approximately 55% to 95% of the proteins were removed using a filter based on projection values or by reducing resolution by using fewer dimensions. In the second study, we simulated restriction enzyme digestions on 21 sequenced genomes of various Drosophila species. Using the fragments generated by simulated digestion from the predicted targets of 16 Type IIB restriction enzymes, we sampled a large and effectively arbitrary selection of loci from these genomes. The resulting fragments were then used to compare organisms and to calculate the distance between genomes in pair-wise combination by counting the number of shared fragments between the two genomes. Phylogenetic trees were then generated for each enzyme using this distance measure, and the consensus was calculated. The consensus tree obtained agrees well with the currently accepted tree for these Drosophila species. We conclude that multi-locus sub-genomic representation combined with next generation sequencing, especially for individuals and species without previous genome characterization, can improve studies of comparative genomics and the building of accurate phylogenetic trees. The third study utilized the relatively new Daphnia genome in an attempt to identify 40 orthologous groups of C2H2 Zinc-finger proteins that were previously determined to be well conserved in bilaterians. We identified 58 C2H2 ZFP genes in Daphnia that belong to these 40 distinct families. The Daphnia genome appears to be relatively efficient with respect to these well-conserved C2H2 ZFP, since only 7 of the 40 gene families have more than one identified member. Worms have a comparable number of 6. In flies and humans, C2H2 ZFP gene expansions are more common, since these organisms display 15 and 24 multi-member families respectively. In contrast, only three of the well-conserved C2H2 ZFP families have expanded in Daphnia relative to Drosophila, and in two of these cases, just one additional gene was found. The KLF/SP family in Daphnia, however, is significantly larger than that of Drosophila, and many of the additional members found in Daphnia appear to correspond to KLF 1/2/4 homologs, which are absent in Drosophila, but present in vertebrates. The last study was conducted to investigate the conservation and distribution of 38 C2H2 ZNF gene families in Eukaryotes. We combined two popular approaches for homolog detection, Reciprocal Best Hit (RBH) and Hidden–Markov model (HMM) profile search, on a diverse set of complete genomes of 124 eukaryotic species ranging from excavates to humans. We succeeded in identifying 3,675 genes as distinct members of the 38 C2H2 gene families. This largely automated technique is much faster than manual methods and is able to detect homologs accurately and efficiently among a diverse set of organisms. Our analysis of the 38 evolutionarily conserved C2H2 ZNF gene families revealed a stepwise appearance of ZNF families, agreeing well with the phylogenetic relationship of the organisms compared and their presumed stepwise increase in complexity.
    • Physiological Responses to Temperature in the Lizard, Sceloporus Undulatus

      Ehrenberger, Joseph C. (2010-07-20)
      Temperature affects all organisms differently. Physiological processes, such as metabolism, interact with temperature to determine a minimal rate of energy loss. Physiological limits, such as heat and cold tolerances, likely constrain the activity and survival of organisms. Ultimately, these physiological processes and limits determine a species‘ geographical distribution. Through experiments, I sought to understand specifically how temperature affects the physiology of the lizard Sceloporus undulatus. This species is a model organism to answer such questions, as it is geographically widespread species and well-described phylogenetically. In the first experiment, I compared standard metabolic rates of lizards from three locales and interpreted these rates in the context of the metabolic theory of ecology—a set of models that describes the effects of body mass and body temperature on metabolic rate. My findings indicate that metabolic rate increases with body size, but that the exact nature of this relationship depends on temperature; this result contrasts a major assumption of the metabolic theory of ecology, which stresses the need to evaluate this theory through by examining intraspecific variation. In my second experiment, I measured the preferred body temperatures and critical thermal limits of S. undulatus. Existing theory indicates that physiological traits associated with temperature may be evolutionary static or labile. By measuring these traits from seven populations, which cover the majority of this species‘ range, I have provided one of the most comprehensive comparisons of thermal physiology in a single biological species. My results are consistent with the static view of thermal physiology, suggesting that thermal physiology has not adapted to local conditions in this species.
    • Pollinator Deception and Plant Reproductive Success in Jack-In-The-Pulpit

      Pettit, Joseph L. (2010-07-20)
      I conducted a study of the deceptive pollination system of Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisama triphyllum, Araceae) in forests of west-central Indiana. I focused on (a) determining the identities and abundances of insect visitors to spathes, (b) evaluating the success of female spathes in setting fruit, (c) determining the relative importance of pollinator visitation and plant size for fruit number, and (d) investigating the function of the female spathe’s lack of an exit hole, which has been hypothesized to improve pollination success. I found that (a) Jack-in-the-pulpit receives visits from both flies and thrips. Counts of fly corpses from spathes showed the most prevalent families to be Mycetophilidae and Sciaridae with other nematoceran families and a few brachyceran families present as well. Visitation by thrips, determined by visual inspection of spathes, was low, involving only 30% of plants. (b) Fifty-seven percent of female plants set fruit, with much variation among sites. (c) Mushroom flies, especially the families Mycetophilidae and Sciaridae, were found to be the primary pollinators of Jack-in-thepulpit based on pollen loads, visit rates, and an exclusion experiment. Pollination by thrips, though possible, probably had only a minor effect. (d) An experiment that created an exit hole in female spathes yielded no support for the hypothesis that lack of an exit hole (the natural condition) improves fruit set.
    • Population genetic structure of blanding's turtle(emydiodea blandingii)in New York.

      McCluskey, Eric M (2012-04-25)
      The loss of genetic diversity is a major concern in conservation biology.As wild populations decline and become more isolated from one another overall genetic diversity is influenced by inbreeding,genetic drift and gene flow.Some of the consequences of inbreeding and genetic drift and gene flow are a decrease in a specie's adaptability and accumulation of deleterious alleles.As wetlands vanish,aquatic species can be permanently isolated with no access to adjacent habitat.I investigated how habitat fragmentation and population isolation are affecting gene flow and genetic diversity in Blanding's turtle(Emydoidea blandingii)populations in New York State.Four county populations(Jefferson,St Lawrence,Saratoga,Dutchess)and an adjacent Ontario population were included in this study.These represent populations both peripheral(Jefferson,St Lawrence,Ontario)and disjunct(Saratoga,Dutchess) to the main range.I found evelated genetic diversity in the populations on the periphery of the main range in the northern section of the state compared to the two eastern,disjunct populations.Subpopulations structuring was also evident in the St Lawrence and Dutchess Co populations.
    • Raising African American student graduation rates:A best practices study of predominantly white liberals arts college.

      Pool, Robert W (2012-05-21)
      This qualitative study sought to explore best practices at small, private liberal arts institutions that experienced large increases in African American graduation rates. Particular focus was on institutions that enrolled less than 17% minority students whose overall enrollment fell within the middle 50% of all SAT scores and the middle 50% of institutional full time equivalent (FTE) spending. Two colleges were selected for study via one-on-one interviews of key personnel, focus groups of students, and institutional document analyses. Themes from the data which participants felt contributed to the unusually large African American graduation rate increases are discussed.