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Environmental Studies [clear filter]
Tuesday, April 24
 

12:00pm PDT

Hemlock Trees: Beauty And Loss Through The Lens Of A Camera
Western North Carolina (WNC) is home to two species of hemlock trees: the eastern hemlock, Tsuga canadensis, and the Carolina hemlock, Tsuga caroliniana. Both species have been detrimentally affected by the invasive hemlock wooly adelgid, Adelges tsugae, which is native to Asia. Many hemlocks in WNC have died or will be dead within the next few years, which will have adverse effects on local forests. My personal relationship with hemlocks extends back to my childhood. During a rainstorm the best place to stay dry was under one of these magnificent trees, where the thick canopy of green needles allowed a little rain or even light to reach the ground. Today, it would be hard if not impossible to find a hemlock healthy enough to serve as any shelter. As a scientist and artist I wanted to document the grandeur of these trees before they disappear from the forests and our everyday consciousness. Science and art are analogous in that both are human constructs we use to define ourselves and the world around us. I photographed hemlocks in the South Toe Valley of Yancey County, NC where I grew up, as this area and these trees have the greatest meaning to me. My photographs depict hemlock trees with the goal of capturing their grandeur and biological intricacy. I want my photographs to serve as both a memory of these species and a lesson reflecting on their loss.

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Tuesday April 24, 2018 12:00pm - 1:30pm PDT
Sherrill Center Concourse

12:00pm PDT

Mineralogical Study Of Biotite In Metapelites From Mount Mitchell State Park, North Carolina, United States Of America
The purpose of this research project is to analyze rock samples from Mount Mitchell, North Carolina and determine the chemistry of biotite minerals within, specifically for titanium content. A previous study at Mount Mitchell by Coburn (2016) has shown that a few samples collected from this study contained biotite with and without titanium in the same rock. This gives us two different compositions of biotite coexisting within a rock, suggesting two different crystallization events. The samples will be analyzed at UNCA utilizing the methods of Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy (EDS) on the Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) as well as observing optical properties through the Polarized Light Microscope (PLM). After being analyzed at UNCA, the most optimal samples will be shipped to Spectrum Petrographics to be prepared as thin sections. Much of the current information about the geology in this region is outdated and by completing this research project a better understanding of the geology at Mount Mitchell will be achieved. Acquiring the precise chemical composition data of the biotite found in these rocks aids in constraining the temperature and pressure range for the metamorphism of the rocks and the formation of the biotite. This information will allow the geologic history of Mount Mitchell to be placed in context with surrounding geology and related studies.

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Tuesday April 24, 2018 12:00pm - 1:30pm PDT
Sherrill Center Concourse

12:00pm PDT

The Beaucatcher Road Cut, Asheville, NC: New Constraints On Shearing Within The Ashe Metamorphic Suite
The Ashe Metamorphic Suite (AMS), composed of schist, gneiss, and amphibolite is found in the Blue Ridge Mountains and was thrust onto ~1 Ga Grenville basement gneiss during the Ordovician Taconic orogeny. The Taconic was followed by strike-slip faulting during the Silurian-Devonian Acadian orogeny and then thrusting during the Paleozoic Alleghanian orogeny. The Beaucatcher Cut is located along Interstate 240 in Asheville, North Carolina and exposes the AMS which exhibits abundant deformation. The cut provides a detailed view of the rock layers and folds in the AMS, within an undocumented shear zone within the interior of a large scale fold that contains many shear sense indicators. Detailed field mapping and interpretation of shear sense recorded in the rocks were combined to evaluate which orogeny the shearing relates to. The strike is consistently northeast and the dip varies throughout the cut. On the east, the dip is 24° east and progresses to vertical toward the west. The plunge of the mineral stretching lineation also varies throughout the cut, most are greater than 12° towards the northwest indicating mostly thrust motion. Three of the samples were right lateral, or dextral, which indicates a strike-slip fault, while five samples indicated a thrust fault along with dextral movement. The Beaucatcher Cut most likely supports the Taconic Orogeny due to the majority of the lineations plunging more than 20°, which is not documented with Acadian deformation. Alleghanian thrusting has been recorded at temperatures of

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Tuesday April 24, 2018 12:00pm - 1:30pm PDT
Sherrill Center Concourse

1:40pm PDT

Biodiversity Of TA In WNC
The primary objectives were to describe patterns of community composition of testate amoeba (TA), to develop hypotheses to explain differences within the communities, and to determine if taxa occupy similar ecological niches with respect to substrate moisture, total elemental C and N, and pH. TA are a diverse polyphyletic group of shelled protozoans that dominate Sphagnum peatlands. TA have been used as proxies for water quality, environmental acidity, and land use changes globally, however little work has been done using these microorganisms in the southeastern U.S. This research will provide data to aid in the analysis of long term studies evaluating environmental and climatic changes in the fen during the Holocene. Sphagnum peat moss and soil were sampled from hiking trail and non-trail sites within Panthertown valley of Nantahala forest during the fall of 2016, and Franklin bog in spring of 2017. Non-trail sites represent pristine sites and trail sites represent disturbed sites determined by their respective qualitative level of trampling. The categories were compared to look for correlations between anthropogenic disturbance and the residential TA population assemblages. The methods include qualitative and quantitative analysis for each sample; moisture class, water table depth, pH, total elemental carbon/nitrogen content, as well as TA identification. TA processing followed standard wash and filtration preparation protocol. Statistical analysis included, Shannon’s diversity index to determine the biodiversity of each sample, multivariate ordinations to compare species and environmental variables. Panthertown had high TA biodiversity and statistics indicated that populations were dynamic and changing. Environmental stresses due to drought may have caused variation in species richness.


Tuesday April 24, 2018 1:40pm - 2:00pm PDT
014 Zeis Hall

2:00pm PDT

CO2 Emissions From Asheville’s Craft Brewing Industry
This study examined the relationship between two of Asheville’s foundational identities—its environmentally mindful community and the craft brewing industry. The goal was to quantify CO2 emissions from the fermentation process of brewing beer at local breweries in Asheville. Additionally, this project determined whether or not emissions from fermentation were substantial compared to CO2 emissions from the breweries’ electricity usage. Data from three breweries were analyzed. Our results show that the emissions from fermentation were not substantial in relation to electricity usage. Total CO2 emissions from electricity usage from all three breweries were slightly over 31,000 tonnes compared to just under 70 tonnes of CO2 from fermentation. Emissions from fermentation were less than 0.5% of emissions from individual breweries’ electricity usage. While 70 tonnes of CO2 may not seem substantial, this study was limited to just three of the more than 35 breweries in Asheville as of 2016. As such, it is too soon to dismiss fermentation emissions as being unimportant to Asheville’s carbon footprint.


Tuesday April 24, 2018 2:00pm - 2:20pm PDT
014 Zeis Hall

2:20pm PDT

Continued Exploration Of Conditions Favoring The Evolution Of Superfetation Using A State Dependent Life History Model
Superfetation is characterized by the ability of an organism to simultaneous carry multiple offspring to term. Further, each offspring may be in a different stage of development. Superfetation has been observed, with varying degrees of confidence, in a wide range of species, most significant being members of the live-bearing fish family Poeciliidae; however, the evolutionary origins of the phenomenon are still unclear. This research builds off previous investigations into the evolutionary origins of superfetation, using a state-dependent life history model. Although the previous model realistically described reproductive decisions for a female poeciliid, the model did not predict superfetation. The goal of this project was to modify the previous model to determine under what circumstances superfetation is predicted. Creative changes to a variety of axioms present in the previous model are being implemented within the programming environment R. Examples of such changes include, but are not limited to, alterations to both the minimum resource requirements for offspring viability, and the assumptions concerning the distribution of resources amongst developing embryos.

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Tuesday April 24, 2018 2:20pm - 2:40pm PDT
014 Zeis Hall

2:45pm PDT

Terrafemme: An Investigation In Composting Menstrual Products
Each year, the United States adds 17 billion used tampons and pads into our landfills, many of which are made from synthetic fibers, plastics, and foams that take hundreds of years to decompose. Biodegradable menstrual waste products made from natural cotton do exist in the current market, but are wastefully thrown into the trash. The goal of this research is to investigate the possibility of a compostable menstrual waste service at UNCA and in Western North Carolina. This project began through the concept of TerraFemme, a for-profit company that aims to reduce the amount of disposable menstrual napkins in landfills by providing organizations and residences a collection service that composts this material. During the fall semester, TerraFemme’s research has answered the question if composting menstrual waste was physically possible. Aerated static pile composting (ASP composting) is a system which processes conventional compost, such as food scraps and yard waste, but also commonly processes pathogenic materials like animal carcasses, animal waste, and diapers. This process allows proper moisture and aeration control for the compost pile to heat to temperatures between 130 -150 F which kills pathogens and other toxic compounds. If this process kills animal and human pathogenic waste to create potent compost, then menstrual napkins could theoretically be composted as well. Now the question is if there are pathogenic concerns regarding menstrual waste. If there are concerns, then the process in which we currently dispose of menstrual waste is endangering janitorial staff who are in constant contact and ASP composting would be an ideal disposal alternative. There is currently little research on pathogenic content in menstrual blood, which stops industries from composting this material. This research will focus on the pathogenic contents of menstrual blood as well as the logistical, legislative, and social obstacles associated with composting menstrual waste.

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Tuesday April 24, 2018 2:45pm - 3:05pm PDT
014 Zeis Hall

3:05pm PDT

The Burnsville Fault: Determining The Southwest Extension And Relation To The Hayesville Fault
The Appalachian orogen records a complex history, including three mountain building events associated with the assembly of Pangea: the Ordovician Taconic, Silurian-Devonian Acadian, and the late Paleozoic Alleghenian orogenies. The dextral strike slip Burnsville fault runs through western North Carolina (WNC) and is the only Acadian structure in WNC. It was previously mapped between Asheville and Spruce Pine, NC. The Burnsville fault separates the Eastern Blue Ridge (EBR) and the Western Blue Ridge (WBR), which includes ~1 billion year old Grenville basement rocks. This boundary formed during the Taconic orogeny and was reactivated during the Acadian orogeny as the Burnsville fault. The southwest extension of the Burnsville fault is unclear. The Hayesville fault to the southwest of Asheville has previously been documented as a Taconic structure that, like the Burnsville fault, separates the EBR from the WBR. There is a level of uncertainty regarding the relationship between the Burnsville and Hayesville faults due to similar metamorphic conditions during the Taconic and Acadian as well as Alleghanian overprinting. This study tested the hypothesis that the Burnsville fault overprinted the Hayesville fault by mapping the Hayesville fault in the southwest corner of the Clyde 7.5 minute quadrangle, NC. Shear sense indicators, vertical to slightly southeast dipping mylonite trending ~N45°E, and a shallow to horizontal plunging stretching lineation indicate ductile dextral strike slip faulting. Temperatures obtained from dynamic quartz recrystallization that occurred during deformation showed temperatures of ~500° C with slight overprinting from temperatures of less than 400° C. Findings for this shear zone are consistent to what has previously been documented in the Burnsville shear zone to the northeast. Detailed field mapping and microstructure analysis demonstrates that, at least locally, the Burnsville fault possibly continues along the northwest extension of the Hayesville fault.

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Tuesday April 24, 2018 3:05pm - 3:25pm PDT
014 Zeis Hall

3:25pm PDT

Longitudinal Zonation and Functional Feeding Groups of Western North Carolina Fishes
The variation in fish assemblage structure from high to low elevations was observed in two rivers within the French Broad River Basin, Swannanoa River and Little River. The Little River is less disturbed than the Swannanoa River, as the Swannanoa has greater development around it. I hypothesized that the headwater streams of the two rivers would possess smaller, less diverse assemblages of species and functional feeding groups than at lower elevations. I took samples of fish using a Backpack Electrofisher, taking them from riffles and pools at five sites along each stream, starting at the headwaters and ending near the tail waters for a ten-day period in June 2017. The number of species and functional feeding groups increased as the river sites decreased in elevation, as did the number of individuals per feeding group. This displayed a case of longitudinal replacement, which could serve as a model for predicting where certain fish species can be found in greater abundance in future studies. Both rivers surprisingly had the same number of species. The most abundant species found in both the Swannanoa and the Little Rivers was the Mottled Sculpin (17.4% and 15.6% respectively). The Swannanoa River ended up having all seven of the functional groups within its lowest elevation, whereas the Little River’s only had six. This difference indicates that the Swannanoa has a slightly greater capacity for supporting more niches than the Little River, due to its larger size, which may provide a buffer against development. 

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Tuesday April 24, 2018 3:25pm - 3:45pm PDT
014 Zeis Hall