Author(s): Morgan Bailie Environmental Science
Advisor(s): Michael Slattery Environmental Science Tamie Morgan Environmental Science
Location: Session: 1; 3rd Floor; Table Number: 6
Despite wide-spread reliance on land and water, many developing countries face food insecurity, malnutrition, and water insecurity as a result of increasing environmental degradation. Nuclear technology presents a valid solution for these issues, despite public misperception regarding nuclear-related activities. This research examines the basis for international nuclear regulations and the effects on developing countries. The main focus of this research is on the application of gamma ray irradiation, isotope hydrology, nitrogen tracking, and receptor binding assay in Bangladesh, the Iullemeden basin of Sub-Sahara Africa, Sudan, and El Salvador respectively. Moreover, application of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is used to quantify the successes and failures of these nuclear technologies relating to agricultural significance, land use, and water use on the effected populations. The variety of countries was chosen based on the major threats to their land and populations, the regional diversity of each country, and the use of nuclear applications in each country. Data was compiled on the cultural and economic relevance of agriculture and water-use in each country in order to accurately depict the significance of continued environmental degradation to the population.
Exploring the effectiveness of a textured surface at reducing bat activity near wind turbine towers
Bats are dying at wind farms in large numbers globally. The most effective way to mitigate these fatalities would be to address why bats come into contact with wind turbines. Texas Christian University has been working on the hypothesis that wind turbines provide or appear to provide a resource to bats, in particular foraging and/or water source. Studies have shown that the smooth metal surfaces of wind turbine towers have similar acoustic properties to those of water, which may be attracting bats to the turbine tower surface. If this is the case then removing the acoustic similarity between tower surfaces and water may reduce bat activity at wind turbines. Thus, we conducted a feasibility study in which we monitored bat activity with night vision technology, thermal cameras, and acoustic bat detectors at wind turbine tower surfaces at Wolf Ridge Wind, LLC. The goal of our study was to refine our equipment set-up to maximize bat detection and determine if a paired experimental study to test a textured turbine surface treatment was viable. During this study we confirmed the most effective equipment set-up and that the timing of our nightly survey effort was appropriate. Over 21 nights, we observed 171 bats near the turbine tower surfaces and recorded 181 acoustic echolocation calls from bats representing 5 of the 6 local bat species. Among the observations we detected 7 of 8 defined behaviors: passing, reversing, looping, foraging, skimming, sweeping, and colliding; the exception was gleaning. We further classified these behaviors into three categories based on proximity to the turbine tower surface: contact/close contact, close-range, and far-range. Of the behaviors observed, 9% were classified as contact/close contact, 42% as close-range, and 49% as far range. We then explored bat activity at specific turbine sites and found that it did not vary within turbine pairs, providing strong support for a paired study design. Altogether, our findings validate a paired study design to test a texture treatment bat deterrent and emphasize the importance of separating bat activity and behavior into distance categories, as we would expect that the application of a texture treatment to wind turbine tower surfaces would most likely only reduce contact/close contact and close-range bat activity while far-range bat activity would remain unchanged.
Author(s): Jimmy Greene Environmental Science Tory Bennett Environmental Science Tamie Morgan Interdisciplinary Michael Slattery Environmental Science
Advisor(s): Tory Bennett Environmental Science
Location: Session: 1; 1st Floor; Table Number: 1
South Africa is unique in that the majority of its wildlife is managed in privately owned game reserves. One major challenge for reserves is maintaining healthy stable populations, particularly with large species, such as the big five (white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum), African elephant (Loxodonta africana), Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer), African leopard (Panthera pardus), and lion (Panthera leo)). Nevertheless, there has been very little research on management of these charismatic species in such size restricted reserves. To address this need, we are studying the impacts of white rhinoceros on the structure, composition, and spatial distribution of vegetation in Amakhala Game Reserve. The reserve was created in 1999 from 7,500 ha of agricultural land. Since the formation of the reserve, succession of vegetation to a more natural state has been encouraged. However, the introduction of large herbivores, such as the rhino in 2006, may have altered or slowed down this succession. To explore this hypothesis, we conducted a GIS analysis study. Through the use of Landsat imagery, we classified the vegetation type and analyzed historical changes due to rhinos using the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI). We hope that these findings will facilitate game reserve management and provide a better understanding of rhino carrying capacity based on the size of a game reserve.
Author(s): Nicholas Haber Environmental Science
Advisor(s): Mike Slattery Environmental Science Becky Johnson Environmental Science Tamie Morgan Environmental Science
Location: Session: 1; B0; Table Number: 3
The Mill Branch Mitigation Bank (project site) is located in northwest Denton County, Texas approximately 17 miles northwest of the City of Denton and stores stream credits that are used to offset the degradation of our rivers. Mitigation banks also helps the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers achieve the goal of “no overall net loss” of the nations wetland aquatic resource functions that will be lost or impaired by authorized activity. The Mill Branch Mitigation Bank restored 22,876 linear feet of channel and approximately 83 acres of riparian areas within the Mill Branch and Cannon watersheds in Denton County. Before being restored, the Mill Branch stream was used by grazing animals for drinking water. Decades of intensive grazing have caused the channel to degrade, erode and widen; in addition the pasture management and operations have displaced native vegetation. The goal of this project was to define the watershed that drains into the Mill Branch Mitigation Bank, including the historical conditions of the stream and also soils impact on drainage. I used LiDAR data and produced a triangulated irregular network (TIN) that represents the surface of the watershed and then aerial photo were overlaid on the TIN making the surface more realistic. Historical aerial photos were used to examine to the impact of the changes before and after the mitigation occurred. GIS soils data will be used to look at infiltration rates and the impact it has on the volume of water entering into the stream.
This research was designed to address the drainage basin infrastructure in Arlington Heights, Fort Worth, Texas. The Central Arlington Heights watershed is a residential subdivision of roughly 454 acres, dating back to the late 1800’s. Over this extended period, this area has experienced a high rate of urbanization with both commercial and residential development with an ever increasing percentage of the area covered in impervious layers. Subsequently, the original storm water drainage system is outdated and inadequate and several residential properties have experienced significant reoccurring damage from floods.
The previous process of modeling and quantifying the input of impervious cover for storm water drainage design is outdated. A GIS analysis of the impervious cover layer in present conditions is critical in determining the percentage of cover per land parcel and comparing it to the zoning and model parameters set by the city. Using image segmentation, a remote sensing analysis was used to analyze color infrared aerial photography at a resolution of 0.5. Once segmented, a supervised classification was performed to map impervious cover. The percentage of impervious cover per land parcel and land owner was calculated and compared to present storm water design standards and City zoning requirements.
Author(s): Devon Kassler Environmental Science
Advisor(s): Tamie Morgan Environmental Science Robert Denkhaus Environmental Science
Location: Session: 2; 3rd Floor; Table Number: 7
The Fort Worth Nature Center is a nature reserve located northwest of Fort Worth, Texas. The 3621-acre reserve serves as a huge habitat for an abundant number of terrestrial and aquatic animal species. The nature center uses environmental management practices to keep the refuge as healthy and native as possible. To get a better understanding, game cameras are strategically placed by employees to take “inventor” of what creatures are on the refuge with minimal human interruption.
GIS analysis were conducted to determine species diversity and population based on locations and times. A map was created to show where the game cameras were set up in relation to each other and the boundaries on the property. The game cameras not only provide the photos but the time and date as well. The data from the game cameras were then analyzed individually and sorted to create a population density map. The results were then presented to the management which allowed them to make any adjustment they saw would benefit the refuge. In addition, the results were taken and shared in the form of an ESRI story map on the Fort Worth Nature Center’s website for public educational purposes.
A GIS project was conducted working with a client dataset of a company who offer swimming pool repair and service company in the region. The client locations were geocode using the addresses and a spatial statistical cluster analysis was performed. Given the scale of their business (the greater DFW metro), an area of high clustering and run geoprocessing tools from there identified. False-color infrared composite aerial photograph was used to identify swimming pools in the area. The location of current clients from the dataset were mapped and new clients in the area were identified. A GIS network analysis was performed to provide the business with optimal travel routes through the area with current clients and potential clients.
Opal’s Farm Project
Katrina Klawiter and Elizabeth Weber
Texas Christian University
Faculty advisor: Omar Harvey
There are more than 5,200 homeless individuals located within Fort Worth, Texas. Most rely on food received from shelters, church groups, etc. Much of this food lacks adequate amounts of essential vitamins and minerals, and is, overall, unhealthy for the people consuming these products. There is a need for access to free fruits and vegetables within the Fort Worth homeless community. In 2016, Opal Lee, a Fort Worth community leader, was given access to 7 acres of land located along the west fork of the Trinity River. Named Opal’s Farm, after Ms. Lee, her goal is to convert the area into a non-profit urban farm to help the homeless and those in need find both work and healthy food. To begin this process, Opal’s Farm needed information about the land to better determine if the west fork of the Trinity River is a good area to grow a community garden. Looking for ways to help the community, TCU’s spring Soils in the Environment class, instructed by Dr. Omar Harvey, offered to complete that analysis. During the Spring semester, soil samples were collected on site and analyzed for their essential qualities to determine whether this plot of land will be a successful and productive area for Opal's Farm.
In 2016, the Fort Worth Independent School District (FWISD) conducted voluntary lead testing of drinking/drinkable water at 127 schools and administrative locations across the district. The goal of this testing was to assess whether students were being exposed to high lead levels in drinking water while at school. There is no level of lead that is considered harmless or acceptable. Because children are still in the developmental phase of growth, they are particularly vulnerable to the negative health effects associated with exposure to lead contamination. Based on current understanding and best guess estimates, the United States Environmental Protection Agency has set a lead action level in drinking water of 15 parts per billion. Results from the FWISD study showed that 60 of 127 locations had lead levels that exceeded the action level at one or more sample points. As a corrective measure, steps were taken to remove and replace over 500 non-compliant drinking fountains and other plumbing components. This infrastructure was older and was suspected to be the primary cause of the lead contamination due to the leaching of lead from lead-containing components. However, the issue of lead contamination and its potential link to old infrastructure transcends the school system and necessitates a comprehensive assessment on a citywide level. Given that schools are developed around communities of similar age, the FWISD lead data may be useful as a proxy for assessing wider citywide potential lead-in-water and infrastructure replacement issues. In this project, lead data from the FWISD study was combined with infrastructure-related data, spatial analysis, and spatial statistics techniques to identify potential high-priority areas for the city’s lead pipe replacement project. Infrastructure-related factors included in the analysis are parcel age, pipe material, and pipe age. Greater priority will be given to vulnerable populations, including children, low-income communities, and minorities. The results are likely to indicate which areas of Fort Worth have the greatest potential for lead contamination of drinking water and which areas should receive high priority for addressing lead-in-water potential.
The Amakhala Game Reserve, located in the Eastern Cape region of South Africa, was established in 1999 as a result of a joint conservation effort between six different landowners. Prior to the establishment of the game reserve, these properties were converted to, and primarily used for farming. Since then, Amakhala has collectively committed to letting the land revert back to its natural state with great success. The reserve has grown to include 11 different properties that cover an area of roughly 75,000 hectares, and host all manner of native vegetation and wildlife, including the Big Five. The latter were considered to be the most dangerous game animals in Africa; the Leopard, Lion, Elephant, Rhino, and Cape buffalo, but currently the ability to see these animals up close and in the wild, is a major selling point for the reserve. Unfortunately, the majority of these species are under severe threat of poaching, with rhino horn and elephant ivory being the most sought after items. This poaching is often driven by the demand for traditional medicine and status symbols in Asian cultures, particularly Vietnam and China, and the perpetrators of these crimes are either affiliated with larger criminal organizations, or are driven to this action as a result of a lack of economic opportunity.
The safety and security of Amakhala’s Big Five is one of the reserves biggest priorities. In particular, the reserve places the most emphasis on the protection of the rhinos and elephants they have by using GPS collars to keep constant supervision on location and habitat use. For this project, I used digital elevation data, aerial photos, and the movement data from elephants to analyze elephant herd movement patterns and activity hotspots, and determine if their movements are influenced by season. Through a better understanding of how this herd moves, and where they move, I can inform Amakhala Game Reserve managers on not only how to protect these animals, but also identify areas where viewing opportunities would be best for their tourists.
Habitat loss is the primary cause of declining bat populations globally and urbanization represents a major contributing factor. Yet, studies have indicated that urban parks, green belts and tree-lined suburbia can support a diverse and abundant bat community. These areas must, therefore, be providing suitable and readily available resources, such as water. However, in hotter environments many natural water sources are ephemeral. Thus, we propose that bats may be relying on residential swimming pools as a water source. To explore this hypothesis, we used camcorders with night vision capabilities and bat acoustic detectors to record bat activity at a pond in a local park along with four nearby swimming pools in Fort Worth, Texas. Video and acoustic data was then analyzed to determine if bats were using swimming pools and how frequently. Our study revealed that bats drank at all four swimming pools. One pool was used by bats every survey night with multiple drinking events being recorded, while drinking frequency increased at the other three pools as the local pond began to dry up. These results indicate that swimming pools represent an important water resource for bats. The next stage would be to determine what characteristics of swimming pools are bat friendly and use this information to promote healthy, stable bat populations in urban habitats.
A GIS analysis was done on All Saints Episcopal School, in Fort Worth, Texas. The objective of the analysis was to gather and study data that pertained to All Saint’s campus. The data utilized included: soil types, geology, elevation contours, vegetation, hydrology, and air photos to show construction development over time. ArcGIS and ArcScene were the two software programs used to map and visualize the data.
All Saints requested an analysis for future use in the development of their campus. Their two main developmental focuses are river restoration, prairie restoration, and site planning. River restoration requires hydrology data such as the watershed as well as topography and soils to show the flow of water across the campus. For site planning, geology and soil data are important for geotechnical engineering and helps insure structure soundness of building foundations. Prairie restoration requires soil and vegetation data in order to plan native vegetation gardens.
Major flooding events cause economic and social obstacles for all persons and businesses displaced. When coupled with severe storm systems, such as hurricanes, a community can experience a major disaster in the span of a few days. In 2016, Louisiana, Mississippi, and to some extent other gulf states, endured more than seven trillion gallons of rain in eight days and caused over $100 million in damages, according to USA Today (Sergent et al 2016). While communities can prepare for floods as local meteorologists offer warnings, understanding factors that exacerbate flood events can help urban planners in the future to avoid costly losses. The purpose of this analysis is to define environmental and anthropogenic factors that contribute to urban flood run off, specifically in the southeast Louisiana region during the fall of 2016. This analysis identified land use change, population growth and natural topography as key factors that contributed this disaster. It can be concluded that increased environmental engineering to channel flood waters may prevent heavy damages in future floods. It can equally be concluded that high density residential communities reduce soil storage and intensify flood run off.
(Poster is private)
The TCU Wind Initiative is involved in research that aims to develop technologies to minimize bat activity at wind turbines in an effort to lower mortality rates. There are six species of bat currently found in the north-central Texas, of which eastern red bats (Lasiurus borealis) comprise the highest proportion of wind turbine-related deaths. To test the effectiveness of potential technologies in a series of behavioral studies, TCU researchers capture wild bats using a mist netting technique in areas where bats are thought to be flying. However, as eastern red bats are nomadic and migratory, the Fort Worth region commonly experiences fluctuations in the number of bats present across the capture season. This study, therefore, aims to identify areas around Fort Worth that have a high probability of eastern red bat presence (i.e., activity hotspots) in an effort to maximize mist netting success rate.
To identify such hotspots, we first determined the habitat preferences and flight patterns of bats from existing literature. We found that different species of tree bat tended to fly at specific heights and distances from tree lines and woodland edges. These differences minimized competition between the species and reduced the risk of predation (i.e., smaller species flew closer to trees). Bats also required access to water. Therefore, by analyzing tree heights, distance between trees, and distance to water sources we were able to identify areas representing suitable habitat for the eastern red bat. We found tree heights by subtracting the bare earth surface model from the first return surface model. We also conducted a sensitivity test to determine how distance from trees influenced habitat connectivity and therefore the extent of habitat suitability. Based on the literature, we selected three distances to test; 10, 30, and 50 m. Finally, water bodies were determined to be areas of no return of LiDAR data. We then used the results of this analysis to inform TCU researchers of areas with a high probability of eastern red bat presence that they should mist net at.
GIS Project- GEOL/ENSC Spatial Analysis 080
March 23, 2017
A GIS Analysis of food deserts in Indianapolis, Indiana
Urban areas all over the country are being classified as food deserts; these are areas in which people either have no access or restricted access to affordable fresh food. In order to live a healthy and fulfilling life humans need to consume fresh food. Many initiatives are underway to aid these desert areas and bring them the fresh food they need. A GIS analysis of Indianapolis was done to identify possible areas that would classify as food deserts. This will allow relief efforts to be better implemented and positively affect more people. GIS analysis of census data that includes income, race, housing, and population density will be used to create maps of possible food deserts. Fast food, gas stations, and grocery stores will be identified and analyzed for accessibility relating to walking distance and public transportation.