Graduate Theses

Indicators of native bee communities in Alberta’s agricultural zone - Ashton Sturm, M.Sc., 2017

Bees are a key component of terrestrial ecosystems and provide valuable ecosystem services to both natural and agricultural landscapes. It estimated that 87.5% of native plants benefit from pollination, including 1/3 of global food crops. Additionally, pollination by bees provides maximized yields for commercial pulse crops, which has significant economic benefits. Unfortunately, bees are in decline. With an increasing demand for higher crop production to support the growing human population, th...
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Effect of grazing on litter decomposition and extracellular enzyme activity across agro-climatic subregions in Alberta - Xiaozhu Chuan, M.Sc., 2017

Grasslands cover approximately 40% of the Earth’s terrestrial surface and provide a wide range of ecologically and economically important services such as forage production, carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) storage, and wildlife habitat. Livestock grazing is a ubiquitous use of grasslands around the globe; however, the direct and indirect effects of grazing on ecosystem processes including C and nutrient cycling, are still overlooked. To better understand how livestock grazing and associated sh...
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Effects of environmental and disturbance gradients on native bee diversity, abundance and composition in Alberta’s prairies - Monica Kohler, M.Sc., 2017

Native bees provide pollination services to a range of crops, supporting food production and the global economy. They also support the fitness of native flowering plants and terrestrial plant diversity. These functions are delivered by a diverse community of bees with a broad spectrum of life history traits. Recent evidence indicates that many native bee species are in decline as a result of the cumulative effects of multiple human-induced stressors, such as habitat loss, pesticide exposure, dis...
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Assessing diversity of prairie plants using remote sensing - Ran Wang, Ph.D., 2017

Biodiversity loss endangers ecosystem services and is considered as a global change that may generate unacceptable environmental consequences on the Earth system. Global biodiversity observations are needed to provide a deep understanding of the biodiversity - ecosystem services relationship and conserve the Earth’s biodiversity. Traditionally, in situ biodiversity monitoring is limited in time and space and is usually a costly and time-consuming enterprise. Remote sensing can provide data...
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The drivers of invasive species establishment and impact on ecological and evolutionary aspects of resident plant communities - Gisella Stotz, Ph.D., 2016

Invasive species can have important ecological and evolutionary impacts on resident species. Yet, we still lack a broad understanding of the conditions that determine invasive species establishment, performance and impact on ecological and evolutionary aspects of communities. In this thesis, I first determined the drivers of the strength of biotic resistance to invasion by integrating a meta-analysis and remote-sensing data. I found that the magnitude of biotic resistance to invasion increased w...
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Impact of grazing on Alberta’s northern temperate grasslands - Mark Lyseng, M.Sc., 2016

Understanding factors affecting elemental carbon stocks on Alberta’s grasslands is of special importance with recent policy shifts focusing on climate change and carbon (C) emissions. A large part of Alberta is native prairie utilized by the beef industry. This study examined soil and vegetation over more than a hundred Alberta grassland sites to better understand the effects that regional climate and grazing have on grassland C. Overall, grazing maintained plant production and increased v...
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The effects of defoliation on growth, reproduction and pollination of a non-native legume (Astragalus cicer) in the Mixedgrass prairie - Angela Phung, M.Sc., 2016

Herbivory can lead to trade-offs between plant growth and reproduction as defoliated plants lose initial resource investments and have reduced photosynthetic capacity. This trade-off can lead to reduced investment into reproductive structures and have repercussions for floral traits, pollinator attraction and plant reproduction. I investigated the effect of timing and intensity of artificial herbivory on the growth, floral traits, pollinator visitation and reproduction of an exotic perennial leg...
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Soil quality dynamics and spatial heterogeneity in grasslands and cropping systems in western Canada - Mina Kiani, M.Sc., 2016

Managing the land properly should lead us to conserve the soil which is a critical substance for sustaining our life and the global society. Quantifying the effects of land management and land-use conversion on soil physical and biological properties can aid to identify best management practices that can reverse the trend of declining soil quality. Additionally, underlying heterogeneity in soil properties can impose and amplify existing management challenges in common land use systems. Therefore...
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Soil organic carbon content and stability, and greenhouse gas emissions in three agroforestry systems in central Alberta, Canada - Mark Baah-Acheamfour, Ph.D., 2016

Western Canada’s prairie region is extensively cultivated for agricultural production, which is a large source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Agroforestry systems are common land uses across Canada, which integrate trees into the agricultural landscape and could play a substantial role in sequestering carbon (C) and mitigating increases in atmospheric GHG concentrations. This thesis research quantified soil C storage and stability, and CO2, CH4, and N2O emissions in forest and herbland...
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Characterizing thorny buffaloberry (Shepherdia argentea) encroachment into the Mixedgrass Prairie in Alberta, western Canada - Regina Dahl, M.Sc., 2014

The expansion of woody species is a worldwide concern for rangeland managers due to its impact on ecosystem services, including native diversity and forage production. In south east Alberta (Canada) at the Mattheis Research Ranch, part of the Rangeland Research Intstitute (RRI) of the University of Alberta, the encroachment of the native shrub thorny buffaloberry (Shepherdia argentea) was observed. Plant community composition and forage production were compared in 30 paired-plots consisting of a...
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