Author(s): Adam Buckmeier Environmental Sciences Manuel de Oyarzabal Barba Environmental Sciences Peter Fahey Environmental Sciences
Advisor(s): Brendan Lavy Environmental Sciences
Location: First Floor, Table 4, Position 1, 11:30-1:30
Trees provide an array of benefits to urban communities, such as oxygen production, flood mitigation, air pollution reduction, increased property value, cooling effects, and cultural services. Tree distribution, however, varies across cities, impacting the delivery of these services from neighborhood to neighborhood. Research has shown that low-income neighborhoods are more likely to have less trees than wealthier neighborhoods, leaving these neighborhoods more vulnerable to health impacts, such as heat-related and respiratory illnesses. The purpose of this study is to analyze tree canopy cover in relation to a set of demographic variables at the US Census block group level to understand if inequities exist in Fort Worth, Texas. We used a geographic information system (GIS) to assess the extent to which age, race, income, and housing characteristics are related to tree canopy. We conducted a correlation analysis between percent canopy cover and the demographic variables. Preliminary results suggest that majority minority and low-income block groups possess less canopy cover than predominantly white, higher-income areas in Fort Worth.
As urbanization continues to fragment landscapes, wildlife become more isolated and find it harder to access the necessary resources to survive. Finding ways to connect fragmented landscapes is necessary for wildlife, but it is important to know what areas wildlife currently occupy. Trees provide valuable habitat for many species, but it is important to know what tree species are the most beneficial, and where these are located. This study used point locations of five tree species, bobcats, and coyotes to identify the density of each in Tarrant County. We identified that cedar elms have the most overlap with both bobcats and coyotes. The areas with high densities of cedar elms are the best for and bobcats, which is an indicator that they will be good for other species. Therefore these areas should be targeted for conservation and restoration.
Author(s): Manuel de Oyarzabal Barba Environmental Sciences
Advisor(s): Tory Bennett Environmental Sciences Brendan Lavy Environmental Sciences
Location: Basement, Table 9, Position 1, 11:30-1:30
The expansion of urban areas is a threat to wildlife because it fragments habitat and reduces the access to resources. Consequently, there is a need to improve the quality of urban habitats by increasing connectivity between habitats and resources. For volant species like bats, birds, and flying invertebrates, linear features such as tree-lines and/or connected canopies can create corridors that allow these wildlife to move along. In an urban environment, the structure of the urban forest (essentially all the trees in an urban area) can provide connectivity, if appropriate, thereby increasing access to resources and landscape permeability. Thus, in this study we used behavioral observation and acoustics surveys to monitor the commuting activity of bats in Fort Worth, Texas along 15 potential commuting routes. At each route, we measured tree height, percent canopy cover, gap distance, number of gaps, and rugosity or ruggedness of the canopy edge to identify what tree canopy features aided bat movement. Using GLM, we found that routes surrounded with more linear canopy cover and less gap distance resulted in more bats commuting. Moreover, we found that an increase in rugosity negatively influenced route use, as undulating tree canopies increased obstacles that created an inefficient commuting route (i.e., straight lines save energy). Our study demonstrates that the urban environment can be managed to increase connectivity and we provide recommendations on how to better manage the urban forest to increase commuting corridors for bats in this landscape.
Currently over 1,400 households use the Roubidoux Aquifer in Northeastern Oklahoma as their main source of drinking water. Additionally, the total water demand is projected to increase 56% from 2010 to 2060. This increase in water demand is concerning due to the Boone and Roubidoux aquifers being highly susceptible to surface contamination, containing elements such as lead and zinc, from the Tar Creek Superfund site located (TCSS) in Picher, OK. This study seeks to determine, using spatial analysis tools in GIS, the contamination susceptibility of the Boone and Roubidoux aquifer recharge zones as a result of direct surface contaminants and processes that facilitate their propagation.
Author(s): Binita Ghimire Environmental Sciences
Advisor(s): Gehendra kharel Environmental Sciences Esayas Gebremichael Geological Sciences
Location: Third Floor, Table 6, Position 2, 1:45-3:45
Flood is a major threat to many communities worldwide, despite many areas lacking flood hazard mapping due to data scarcity. Under such a scenario, remote sensing and GIS-based approaches could be a promising solution for assessing and characterizing flood hazard risk. Therefore, the objectives of this research project are to develop a flood hazard risk map for Rowlett Creek Watershed using remote sensing data and GIS (Geographic Information Systems) techniques to identify and evaluate flood risk areas over the study site. The research will involve development of complied flood hazard index (FHI) using GIS software based on flood causative factors such as slope, flow accumulation, drainage network density, distance from drainage channel, geology, land use/cover, soil moisture and rainfall intensity. Filed data of geology will be obtained from SSURGO and other data will be extracted from remote sensing product such as SRTM, NLCD, CROPCASMA and PERSIAN. The expected outcome of the research is the development of flood hazard risk thematic map and further verify it with the inundation area of a historical flood events in the study area, which will help to purpose proper mitigation and management strategies in flood-prone area. This research looks over a remote sensing and GIS-based approach for characterizing flood hazard risk, which will provide valuable information for policymakers, disaster management agencies, and other stakeholders working towards reducing the impact of floods even in data-scarce areas.
Author(s): Trip King Environmental Sciences Tabby Pyle Geological Sciences
Advisor(s): Esayas Gebremichael Environmental Sciences
Location: Basement, Table 10, Position 2, 11:30-1:30
The present study is aimed at comparing the annual income per household to amenities in districts within the Dallas Fort Worth metroplex. Several datasets and analysis results including the spatial distribution of public and private schools, school ratings, proximity to health facilities, parks, and other government provided services will be combined to investigate the research question. Some of the data analysis techniques that will be implemented using ArcGIS Pro include creating buffer zones which act as visual guides to better demonstrate comparisons and communicate the findings in an interactive way.
Author(s): Kaleigh Klosak Environmental Sciences Ashlyn Morrill Environmental Sciences Camilla Price Biology Olivia Sottile Biology
Advisor(s): Brendan Lavy Environmental Sciences
Location: Third Floor, Table 8, Position 2, 1:45-3:45
Each year, as much as 40 percent of food produced in the United States is wasted by producers or consumers. When food waste is sent to landfills, it competes for limited space and generates the greenhouse gas methane. Globally, food loss and waste represent 8 percent of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. Restaurants are known to be a contributor to food waste, both in the kitchen and from consumers. The purpose of this research is to examine food recovery efforts of restaurants in Fort Worth. We sent a survey to 371 restaurants in Fort Worth asking about their food waste management practices. The survey was designed to document restaurants’ current food waste practices, interest in food donation and composting programs, and business characteristics. We analyzed the responses through descriptive statistics and other statistical methods to evaluate how practices varied by business demographics and type of establishment. From this survey, we discovered local barriers to food recovery and from these, we suggest forms of outreach or programming that would help restaurants to reduce food waste. We also used responses to identify and map ideal food waste drop-off locations for restaurants that the city could use to plan recovery efforts.
Urban forests are a common way to integrate nature into heavily populated areas. Urban forests provide a range of benefits to urban communities. Trees provide economic, social, and cultural benefits. For instance, trees provide opportunities for individuals to engage with the environment, reduce stress, and increase property values. Trees also contribute to ecosystem services as well by filtering air pollution, providing habitat for wildlife, and mitigating storm water runoff. The purpose of this research is to assess the biodiversity and the climate resiliency of trees in an urban forest in Arlington, Texas that was part of a program for environmental mitigation of a flood plain. To assess the biodiversity and climate resiliency of the area’s trees, we collected the following data: tree diameter measured at 4.5 feet above the ground (DBH), GPS coordinates of trees, species, and tree condition. We analyzed the data using the Simpson’s Biodiversity Index and the Shannon Diversity Index values to assess the biodiversity of present tree species and identify their climate resiliency. We compared these results to two Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs) to understand the potential impact of climate change on the urban forest. Finally, we offer suggestions to increase the resiliency of this urban forest and the potential for incorporating these findings in future urban forest management plans.
At the Water and Society Lab at TCU, we are studying the presence of Escherichia coli (E. coli). The Village Creek tributary of the Trinity River is the subject of this testing, and it is one of the many water bodies monitored by the US Geological Service. Using information provided by the monitoring location alongside the data gathered from our research, we can assess and monitor the concentration of E. coli in the Village Creek.
Through weekly sample collection and analysis, we can determine the prevalence of E. coli in the Village Creek. Our method is to collect water samples, add EPA-approved Colilert testing chemicals, and incubate the samples at 35℃ for 24 hours. During analysis, the presence of E. coli is quantified by colony forming units (CFU). This research indicates whether or not the sample contains unsafe levels of E. coli. According to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the US EPA, 126 CFU per 100 mL of water is deemed unsafe. In addition to recording CFU, we also document certain hydro-climatological variables such as ambient and water temperature, rainfall, and turbidity. Through these findings, we can be applied to water management and quality decisions throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth and north-central Texas regions.
Wildfires are a global concern as they are unpredicted fires that cause harm to their surrounding environment, local wildlife, and humans. The negatives of these wildfires outweigh the positives as their occurrence is natural but also caused by human negligence. This past year there were about 69,000 wildfires reported nationally; of these fires, 835 were from Colorado. This study assesses the risk of wildfires in Colorado by using GIS and spatial data to map fire risk and determine possible mitigation techniques through utilizing livestock.
For the past 20 years, Colorado has experienced their largest wildfires, and with no decrease in the number of wildfires each year, mitigation techniques are crucial. In determining what method to use, it is valuable to focus on all the factors that add to these fires, such as the amount of rainfall, elevation, humidity, human activities, and more. Multiple past studies have used livestock as a form of wildfire mitigation. Using grazers to eat the fuel these fires thrive on can decrease the spread of future fires. Grazers are an environmentally stable form of fire mitigation as they eat the vegetation and then process it to become nutrients for the soil. We can determine the areas of high risk in Colorado by assessing how the stated factors contribute to Colorado wildfires and see if grazers are a possible mitigation method.
Author(s): I'Yanna Scott Environmental Sciences
Advisor(s): Victoria Bennett Environmental Sciences Gehendra Kharel Environmental Sciences
Location: Third Floor, Table 9, Position 1, 11:30-1:30
Water represents one of the required resources for wildlife to live and thrive in an area. Due to urbanization, we have seen an increase in the transformation of natural water sources (i.e. lakes, streams, and rivers) to semi-natural (i.e. retention ponds, reservoirs, and drainage ditches), for which we create for the urban infrastructure and for animals. The objective of the following study was to assess whether water quality influences the direct use of water sources by terrestrial wildlife in an urban environment utilizing bats as our indicator species. We, therefore, hypothesize that water sources with higher water quality will have an abundant and diverse community of bats using them (i.e., foraging and drinking), while lower quality water sources will have little to no bat activity and lower species diversity. We conducted this study using thermal cameras and acoustic monitoring to determine whether water quality has discernible influences for water resource use by bats at water sources across six urban parks and greenspaces in Fort Worth, Texas. We observed increased bat activity at water sources that were listed as areas with higher water quality standards with very slow moving water, and little activity in areas that have been known to have lower water quality. Understanding how the water quality of urban sources impacts bats, may not only be used as an indicator of water availability for other wildlife species in urban areas, but also provide insights into the environmental health of local parks and surrounding neighborhoods.
Author(s): Chandler Baskerville Environmental Sciences Lauren Trotter Environmental Sciences
Advisor(s): Brendan Lavy Environmental Sciences
Location: Basement, Table 4, Position 3, 11:30-1:30
Trees provide essential ecosystem services to urban environments. Urban forests attenuate air pollution, mitigate flooding, reduce energy consumption, raise property values, promote community cohesion, and enhance quality of life. To maximize these services, colleges, universities, and associated campus organizations engage in a host of activities designed to enhance the structure and function of their urban forests. These activities include protecting and preserving trees, planting and maintaining trees, and offering outreach on the benefits of trees. Additionally, tree measurements present an opportunity to assess the extent to which campus trees provide important services to the university and the surrounding community. The purpose of this research is to quantify the ecosystem services of trees on the TCU campus. We recorded standard tree measurement variables, including trunk diameter, tree height, and crown width. Next, we used i-Tree Eco, an open source urban forestry software from the USDA Forest Service, to quantify the ecosystem services of campus trees. We calculated the following services: 1) pollution removal and human health impacts; 2) carbon sequestration and storage; and 3) hydrology effects, including avoided run-off, interception, and transpiration. Preliminary results indicate that campus trees provide a range of ecosystem services but vary by species and location. We recommend continued maintenance of campus trees and additional tree plantings to maximize ecosystem services.
Transparency in business operations has increased across industries as consumer demand for companies to share their sustainability practices has expanded. Because of this, businesses have begun to reinvigorate earlier operational goals that involved actions to improve environmental protection, social equity, or economic stability to align with the three conceptual pillars of sustainability – economy, society, and environment. The purpose of this research is to add to the expanding body of scholarly work investigating methods for operationalizing sustainability research and build on a method for visualizing and analyzing the extent to which sustainability practices align with each pillar of sustainability. To illustrate this method, we examined the websites of 164 manufacturing companies that have their headquarters in one of Texas’s four largest metropolitan statistical areas (MSA; i.e., Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown, Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, and San Antonio-New Braunfels). We used a quantitative content analysis approach to document occurrences of sustainability practices related to each entity’s business operations. We sorted these observations into one of the three pillars of sustainability and then visualized the occurrences across the four MSAs. The results show how location can influence manufacturer’s sustainability efforts, and that the integration of sustainability practices remain nascent despite consumer demand for transparency and sustainability.
Author(s): Tori Martinez Biology Andrew Todd Environmental Sciences Macyn Willingham Biology
Advisor(s): Matt Chumchal Environmental Sciences
Location: Basement, Table 8, Position 1, 11:30-1:30
Long-jawed orbweaving spiders (Tetragnatha sp.) as Sentinels of Mercury Contamination of the Trinity River
Authors: Tori Martinez, Macyn Willingham, Christopher Allender, Morgan Capone, Matt Chumchal, Ray Drenner, Cale Perry, Robby Peterson, Iris Schmeder, Andrew Todd, Tyler Williams
Human-made sources such as coal-fired power plants and artisanal gold mines have large outputs of emissions containing inorganic mercury (IHg), resulting in an overall increase in environmental mercury (Hg) levels across the globe. IHg is not bioavailable and therefore does not normally pose a risk to organisms. However, the conversion of IHg to bioavailable methylmercury (MeHg) that takes place in an aquatic ecosystem threatens human and wildlife health, given that MeHg is a neurotoxin. To investigate this further, the amount of MeHg must be determined for specific locations given that there is a large variation in inorganic mercury deposition throughout various landscapes and ecosystems. Specifically, this project examines the bioaccumulation of MeHg in aquatic food webs and individual bodies of water, through the use of shoreline spiders as a sentinel species. If excess mercury is present within an aquatic food web, there would be a presence of mercury in emergent aquatic insects. Shoreline spiders, then, prey on the emergent aquatic insects, resulting in an accumulation of mercury within their tissue. Shoreline spiders have been proposed as sentinels of MeHg but there have been relatively few studies examining biological factors that could influence the concentration of MeHg in their tissues. The objective of this study is to determine how spider size and sex can influence MeHg concentrations in the Clear and West Fork of the Trinity River. There is existing evidence that the two forks may have varying amounts of mercury accumulation, based on a study done in 2016. This study focused on the long-jawed orb weaver (Family Tetragnathidae; Tetragnatha sp.) shoreline spider, in which over 1000 were captured from June to August 2019. We preserved spiders in 95% ethanol followed by measurement of leg length (a proxy for body size), determination of spider sex and Hg analysis. In this presentation we will discuss the relationship between spider size, sex, and ecosystem contamination levels on Hg concentration.
It is generally acknowledged that natural resources are preferentially selected by wildlife and it is only when these resources are unavailable or limited that a species will seek a less preferable option or alternative. While the use of anthropogenic structures and features by wildlife in disturbed habitats or urban environments is well-documented, the use of such resources in natural and semi-natural habitats is not. To address this, we explored the importance of artificial water sources for bats in a semi-natural habitat. We conducted acoustic monitoring surveys at two swimming pools at tourist lodges on the Amakhala Game Reserve in South Africa from 2018 to 2021 and behavioral observation surveys in June of 2021. From the data collected, we determined species-specific activity within proximity to the pools, foraging activity (identified by approach phase calls and feeding buzzes), and drinking activity (identified by the occurrence of drinking buzzes). Seven of 23 locally known species have been identified at the swimming pools, at which both foraging (~1% of calls) and drinking activity (~5%) has been recorded. This study provides insights into how anthropogenic features could be of value to wildlife in a semi-natural habitat.
Author(s): Ashlyn Morrill Environmental Sciences Emily LeBlanc Environmental Sciences Camilla Price Biology Gloria Serrano Environmental Sciences
Advisor(s): Brendan Lavy Environmental Sciences
Location: Second Floor, Table 5, Position 3, 11:30-1:30
Since the 19th century, Earth’s average surface temperature has risen 2 degrees Fahrenheit due to an increase in the pollution of greenhouse gases caused by human activity. The magnitude of food waste produced in the United States contributes to climate change through the methane released by the excess food discarded in landfills. Each year, 40 percent of food in the United States is never consumed due to food loss or waste along the supply chain including growers, consumers, retailers, and restaurants (NRDC 2020; SOFA 2019). However, millions of Americans are food insecure or live in areas known as food deserts that have little access to fresh food. Recent estimates suggest 690 million people around the world went hungry in 2019 (UNICEF 2020). For food systems to operate more sustainably, we must promote food recovery processes, one of which is composting. The purpose of this research is to first quantify the amount of food waste produced and then diverted from landfills through a community composting program in Fort Worth, Texas. Our group has partnered with Roy Pope Grocery to collect composting material and deliver it to the UNT Health Science Garden, where it is weighed, processed, composted, and later used in gardening plots. Through composting, we are able to limit the amount of greenhouse gases emitted in the air, in turn, fighting climate change and preventing its negative impacts on Earth’s ecosystem. We are analyzing four months of food waste via descriptive statistics and the EPA’s Waste Reduction Model (WARM).
Microbial interactions with plant biomass contribute significantly to the cycling of nutrients and contaminants in the environment. Primarily among these interactions is the role of fungal-induced degradation of organic matter, its regulatory effects on the carbon cycle, and pollutant transport. This study uses fungal colonization of spent coffee grounds as a model for understanding fungi-plant biomass interactions and their relationship to carbon stability and pollutant removal capacity. Results indicate that fungal-induced alterations of the plant material result in an increase in aromatic and a concomitant decrease in methyl components of the organic matter. This molecular alteration was accompanied by an increase in the carbon content of the remaining material, an increase in the carbon stability as determined by the materials R , and an increase in sorption capacity for cationic species as determined from gentian violet sorption to the materials. The results from this study could contribute additional knowledge to solving grand challenges in climate and pollution.
Author(s): Camilla Price Environmental Sciences Izzy Acheson Environmental Sciences
Advisor(s): Victoria Bennett Environmental Sciences
Location: Basement, Table 11, Position 2, 1:45-3:45
Bats provide many ecosystem services, including pest control, pollination, and seed dissemination, which are economically beneficial to humans. Yet as human populations continue to grow, leading to the increasing loss, degradation, and fragmentation of natural habitats to urban sprawl, wildlife species including bats are having to adapt to this unnatural environment. One important resource that bats must access in such environments is water. In natural landscapes, bats drink from ponds, lakes, streams, rivers, and even puddles, but in human-modified areas, studies have shown that bats can drink from drainage ditches, cattle troughs, and residential swimming pools. However, it is generally assumed that these resources are not preferred and, if present, more semi-natural water sources, such as retention and ornamental ponds, would be preferentially used. But what if we are incorrectly assuming that all semi-natural water sources are readily accessible and available to bats. To explore this uncertainty, we conducted behavioral observation surveys using thermal cameras and acoustic detectors to determine whether semi-natural water sources within Fort Worth, including the retention pond on the Texas Christian University (TCU) campus, were suitable for bats. Specifically, we compared bat drinking activity at these ponds and identified pond characteristics that might deter or encourage bats to drink at them. Our study revealed that the presence of artificial lights represented a major characteristic that deterred bats. In particular, we found that only when flood lights from the TCU soccer field were turned off, bat activity was recorded at the TCU retention pond. This result confirmed that not all water sources are readily accessible and available to bats, but turning lights off when they are not needed could effectively improve water availability for bats. It is findings such as these that can inform the enrichment of urban environments for bats and, therefore, aid their conservation.
Author(s): Morgan Washington Environmental Sciences Aria Tirion Environmental Sciences
Advisor(s): Gehendra Kharel Environmental Sciences
Location: First Floor, Table 5, Position 1, 11:30-1:30
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) classifies nearly 28% of assessed rivers and streams in Texas as impaired due to pathogenic bacteria in the water. One such stream is the Village Creek, a tributary of the Trinity River in north-central Texas. Therefore, this study in the Water and Society Lab at TCU aims to monitor Escherichia coli (E. coli) concentration in the Village Creek.
In this ongoing study, we collect water quality samples weekly, incubate them for 24 hours at 35 °C, and then determine the presence or absence and total E. coli count as CFU (colony forming units) using the US EPA-approved Colilert system. E. coli over 126 CFU per 100 mL water sample indicates unsafe levels per the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the US EPA. Based on the analysis of 16 samples, the average, minimum, and maximum E. coli counts are 324.4 CFU, 15.5 CFU, and 1620 CFU, respectively. The next important step in this study is to build the statistical relationship of E. coli with different hydro-climatological variables, including streamflow, rainfall, ambient temperature, water temperature, pH, conductivity, and turbidity. The findings of this study will help make water quality and water resources management decisions in the north-central Texas region.
(Presentation is private)
Do edge effects influence wildlife distributions in a small game reserve in South Africa?
Lyall A. Blanché*1 and Victoria J. Bennett1
1Department of Environmental Science, Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, TX 76129 USA
Physical boundaries in the landscape can influence the abundance and distribution of species through edges effects, which are characterized as a behavioral response to features or boundaries, creating an area of avoidance known as edge habitat. The implication is a reduction in the amount of available habitat for an individual and/or its population. Studies have shown that anthropogenic features, such as roads and fences, can cause edge effects. Thus, should we be considering the consequences of anthropogenic edge effects when managing wildlife populations in game reserves? To address this, we used Global Positioning System point locations collected from 2004-2020 on cheetah, elephant, leopard, and lion in Amakhala Game Reserve, a 66 km2 fenced reserve in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. This reserve is bordered by a national highway and bisected by a public road. We used regression analysis to determine any relationship between the proportion of locations within 5 m increments and 1) the national highway, 2) public road, 3) boundary fence, 4) a river on the reserve, and 5) control sections of the reserve. Our analysis revealed a significant positive correlation between elephant locations and distance from the national highway, with elephants avoiding a 600 m wide section of the reserve next to the highway. Our study highlights the importance of identifying potential edge effects to better inform the management of small reserves.
(Presentation is private)
Globally, floods are the most common natural disasters, imposing stress on communities through infrastructure damage, financial costs, public health, and environmental damage. Serving as a major threat to the city of Houston, Texas (TX), this metropolitan area has an extensive flooding history. This project aims to develop a flood risk map for the White Oak Bayou Watershed, found in the North-East region of Houston. Using existing literature, the flood risk susceptibility for this study is based on seven factors: elevation, slope, flow accumulation, hydrologic classifications of soil, land use, rainfall, and distance to river networks. Using methods from existing literature, each individual factor was classified into 5 risk levels, based on their characteristics that make an area more prone to flooding. By using the weighted overlay analysis tool, the individual factors were weighted based on their contribution to overall flooding. The results show majority of the watershed is classified as medium risk, including areas of high and low flooding vulnerability. The high risk areas surround the river networks and increase risk towards the watershed’s discharge point, located in close proximity to the downtown area of Houston.
(Presentation is private)
Urbanization imposes threats to the quantity and quality of stormwater, driving communities to identify water management strategies that aid in sustainable development. As demand for urbanization increases, green infrastructure (GI) practices can be implemented as mitigation strategies, allowing for sustainable growth in communities with limited harm to water resources. This project will model the Village Creek (VC) watershed, a semi-urban watershed in north-central Texas, using the Soil Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) to estimate the effects of GI on water quantity and quality. Topographic, land cover, and soil data along with historical water quality and climate data drove the model, then GI designs influenced the transport of streamflow, bacteria, sediments, and nutrients. We expect the results to quantify changes in water quantity and quality from GI implementation and highlight the effectiveness of GI for the watershed. This research provides VCLA watershed managers and stakeholders information on environmentally sound and sustainable watershed protection planning.
Author(s): Katie Lawton Environmental Sciences Victoria Bennett Environmental Sciences
Advisor(s): Victoria Bennett Environmental Sciences Mark Demarest Biology Becky Johnson Environmental Sciences
Location: Zoom Room 3, 12:30 PM
To understand wildlife ecology, one common strategy is a technique known as telemetry. This technique involves attaching radio-transmitters to animals. For volant species, such as bats, transmitters are attached to their backs with an adhesive. However, one issue is that it is easy for the bats to remove the transmitter. The loss of transmitters early in surveys is not only costly, but limits the amount of data that can be collected. Thus, there is a real need to extend the length of time a transmitter remains on a bat. To address this, we conducted a two-part behavioral observation study in the bat flight facility at TCU. In part 1 from April to September 2019, we tested 1) two currently available transmitter brands and 2) three different prototype designs to determine if the overall shape and size of the transmitter impacted the length of time they remained attached. We found that regardless of transmitter brand or design, the antennas incurred a significant amount of damage, suggesting the bats used the antennas to grab and pull them off. Thus, for part 2 from August to September 2020, we conducted a series of trials to establish the effectiveness of three coatings at preventing bats from damaging the antennas. We found that transmitters did not remain attached significantly longer with cayenne pepper, nail-biting deterrent, or Tabasco sauce on the antenna, suggesting that either 1) bats were not deterred by the three coatings we selected, or 2) bats may not be chewing the antennas or putting them in their mouths to provide leverage to remove them. Overall, our study revealed that bats can and will remove transmitters by grooming them off using the antennas and recommend that future research focuses on integrating the antenna into the body of the transmitter as a preventative measure.
(Presentation is private)
Rivers are an essential part of any urban or rural landscape, providing drinking water, transportation, and recreational opportunities for local residents. However, with the continuous growth and development of urban areas like Fort Worth and Dallas, flooding poses a significant risk to human life and property. This increased development creates a need for careful monitoring and forecasting of river conditions and flood probabilities. This study explores the associated historical river data for USGS Gauges on the Trinity River in Tarrant and Dallas Counties. This data, along with topographic information and land use surveys, are used to project the possible impacts of flooding scenarios. These possible impacts include damage to property, critical infrastructure, and threats to human life. This data can then be interpreted spatially to effectively inform the public and public officials of risks and monetary costs associated with future flooding events.
(Presentation is private)
For urban environments to support bat communities, resources need to be readily available, such as water. For example, bats typically use urban water sources, such as drainage ditches, lakes, and ponds. However, in areas where temperatures are consistently high and rainfall limited, these sources tend to be ephemeral. During these periods, bats utilized residential swimming pools. If pools were more attractive to bats, we may be able to improve urban habitats for bats both in terms of abundance and species diversity. We, therefore, set out to determine whether size, shape (round of square), lighting, and treatment type (chlorine, salt, or mineral) encouraged bats to drink at pools. Thus, we conducted behavioral surveys at 14 pools using thermal cameras and acoustic detectors to record bat foraging and drinking activity. Our results demonstrated that while shape did not influence pool use, treatment type, lighting, and size did. With this information, we can better advise interested residents in urban neighborhoods how better to make their backyards more bat-friendly.