Nicholas School of the Environment

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Master's projects by Nicholas School of the Environment students, including the Duke Marine Laboratory.

The masters project is done in partial fulfillment of the degree requirements for the professional Master of Environmental Management or the Master of Forestry degree. While the MP may include original laboratory or field research, it may also take the form of management plans, handbooks, educational curricula, or other such products. Each student is advised by a faculty member who reviews and approves the project prior to completion.

A masters projects that is original research should not be as large as a masters thesis although it should be of publishable quality but not necessarily comprehensive enough to stand alone as a publication. A masters projects that does not follow the usual format for scientific research should follow a framework that is considered good practice in an appropriate field.

Duke migrated to an electronic-only system for masters projects between 2006 and 2010. As such, projects completed between 2006 and 2010 may not be part of this system, and those created before 2006 are not hosted here except for a small number that have been digitized.

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Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 20 of 2032
  • ItemOpen Access
    Environmental Benefits and Market Potential of Agrivoltaics: The Symbiotic Relationship of Sustainable Agriculture and the Energy Transition
    (2024-04-13) Kirton, Erin; Woodruff, Colleen; Wu, Sisi
    Traditional renewable energy is often faulted for its extensive land requirements. In most cases, solar and wind energy replaces farmland and faces opposition from local community members frustrated with the loss of their farming culture and livelihoods. Agrivoltaics can provide a unique solution to this challenge, combining renewable energy production with continued farming. Thus far, agrivolatics has only generated strong policy support and commercial viability in areas that are land constrained and have protections to maintain farmland. This paper explores pathways for agrivolatics to become more widely deployed by 1) exploring case studies of successful agrivoltaic deployments, 2) evaluating how these learnings can be expanded to other regions, and 3) proposing mechanisms to support the transition to sustainable agriculture through agrivoltaics.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Start Right - Environmentall Compliance Strategies for Start-Ups
    (2024-04-12) Fanslau, Tausha
    With the passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), and Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS), construction of manufacturing facilities has more than doubled since late 2021. As companies rush to find a site to build these facilities, it is important to consider the environmental responsibilities associated with a new build. Often, companies do not have internal environmental staff at this phase. The cost of noncompliance can be high. The Environmental Plan Guide (EPG) assists companies during each phase of a construction project in performing due diligence and meeting environmental responsibilities while addressing compliance with common environmental issues and a focus on federal regulations. The EPG describes the topic, how to screen for applicability, what steps to take if it applies, and an estimate of how long compliance activities will take. Each topic also includes links to get more information.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Long-term Effects of Repeated Fire on the Belowground Ecosystem and Soil Nutrients: A Study of the Tall Timbers’ Stoddard Fire Plots in the American Southeast
    (2023-12-15) Nurmi, Sam
    The historical use of fire in southeastern North America is well documented, yet the extended effects of fire on soil health and chemistry remain understudied. This study aims to evaluate the long-term effects of repeated fire on the O-horizon and surficial A and B horizons of mineral soil. In collaboration with Tall Timbers Research Station, we examined 65-years of fire effects (from prescribed burns on one, two, and three-year cycles) on soil organic carbon and nitrogen, pH, macroscopic charcoal, and plant pollen. Results indicate that within the fire treatment plots soil organic carbon, influenced by charcoal loading, is increasing alongside nitrogen levels. These repeated fire treatments also increase pH by leaving behind carbon and ash in the soil. Understanding these effects is vital, as fires oxidize organic matter releasing it to the atmosphere as CO2, nitrogen, and sulfur gases, it releases mineral nutrients in soluble forms, and contributes ash and charcoal to the forest floor and upper mineral soil.
  • ItemUnknown
    Vegetation dependence on depth in a salt marsh, and implications for marsh drowning
    (2023-12-15) Blackford, Nathaniel
    Coastal salt marshes are among the world’s most important ecosystems with ecosystem services valued at over $193,000 per hectare (Costanza et al. 2014). Despite this, over 150,000 hectares of salt marshes have been lost globally in the last 20 years (Campbell et al. 2022). They face numerous threats, including drowning due to increasing rates of sea level rise (SLRR). However, marshes are able to grow vertically by enhancing inorganic sedimentation and creating organic sediments. Whether or not marshes can gain elevation at a rate that keeps up with increases in sea level rise depends, in part, on how marsh vegetation responds to changing water depths. Here, we use field observations from two sites within an interconnected marsh system to evaluate two distinct models of marsh vegetation dynamics: a parabolic model, following Morris et al. (2002), where biomass increases and subsequently decreases with depth, and a logistic model, following Finotello et al. (2022), where biomass decreases with depth. We find that at one of our sites (Winyah Bay), Spartina alterniflora exhibits an increase in biomass with depth, while at the other (North Inlet), there is an initial increase in biomass with depth followed by a decrease beyond a biomass-optimizing depth. Both sites are consistent with a parabolic depth-biomass relationship, with the difference between them suggesting that Winyah Bay occupies a “stable” position on the parabola, where increases in SLRR will increase biomass and enhance the ability of the marsh to keep up with increases in SLRR. In contrast, vegetation at North Inlet occupies an “unstable” position where increases in SLRR would be followed by decreases in biomass. This decrease in production would reduce the ability of the marsh to gain elevation and could lead to marsh drowning. We attribute these divergent responses to differences in characteristics of the inundating waters, with lower salinity and higher nutrient and sediment concentrations at Winyah Bay leading to increased plant growth and a more stable marsh platform. Our results broadly support a parabolic biomass-depth relationship and identify salinity and nutrient concentrations as additional variables that can affect marsh responses to increases in the rate of sea level rise.
  • ItemUnknown
    Quantifying Emerald Ash Borer Induced Ash Mortality & Assessing Ash Reintroduction Strategies in the Duke Forest
    (2023-12-15) Kolarova, Andrea
    The Emerald Ash Borer (Agrilus planipennis), or EAB, is a non-native invasive pest responsible for the widespread loss of millions of ash trees (genus Fraxinus) in the United States. Initially detected near Detroit, Michigan, in 2002, this wood-boring beetle has since expanded its range to thirty-six states, including North Carolina. Observational evidence suggests A. planipennis began impacting ash trees in the Duke Forest as early as 2017. This project serves as the first organized survey of ash decline and mortality in the Duke Forest, quantifying the current extent of EAB damage. Additionally, plot samples from select hardwood covertypes were used to model ash regeneration strategies and inform reintroduction recommendations. Although damage from A. planipennis is ongoing and a strategy for landscape-level protection of mature ash has not been developed, the results from this project assist the Duke Forest in understanding current conditions and will inform future reintroduction efforts.
  • ItemUnknown
    Research on Species Distribution and Population Dynamics of the Reintroduced Chinese Alligators in Chongming Dongtan, Shanghai
    (2023-05-04)
    The Chinese alligator is a critically endangered species that is endemic to China, with fewer than 200 individuals in the wild and over 13,000 in captivity. Reintroduction is crucial to restore its wild population, and Dongtan Wetland Park (DWP) in Shanghai is one of the reintroduction sites. However, the population size and viability were unclear due to inconsistent post-monitoring and lack of program evaluation. No further introduction or management plans were devised. Current literature also had little quantitative research on Chinese alligator habitat selection. To understand DWP population status, this study first conducted population surveys using spotlight count. N-mixture models were employed to estimate the population size, and an average size of 54 individuals was calculated. Then, we examined the impact of environmental factors on Chinese alligator habitat selection in DWP by conducting habitat surveys and applied species distribution models. Finally, this paper used the software Vortex to identify factors influencing population growth and simulate population development. Vortex is commonly used for population viability analysis and has been used on crocodilian species. We discovered that high vegetation coverage and a moderate presence of trees had a positive impact on alligator presence, while high mortality rates, low percentage of females breeding, and the percentage of males at birth exceeding 50% could severely hinder population growth. The viability analysis showed that the population is viable, and reintroduction may not be needed in the short term. Finally, we recommended that the park should construct more proper habitat with riparian cover and elevated ground for nesting females. Systematic and consistent monitoring should be established in DWP to provide long-term data. If monitoring shows low recruitment rates, reintroducing alligators from diverse genetic lineages should be considered.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Entanglement: A Community Art Approach to Environmental Education
    (2023-05) Mantell, Sydney
    Entanglement was first defined in 1997 by David W. Laist, marine mammal expert and policy analyst, as the ways in which loops and openings of marine debris may entrap an animal. Entanglement has documented effects on 354 distinct species and hundreds of thousands of animals die each year. Still, plastic production continues to increase, and most solutions are short-term and focus on disentangling the small fraction of entangled animals we can see. But entanglement is connected to more aspects of our existence than the material threat to marine species. In the field of quantum mechanics, two particles are entangled when the state of one is dependent on the other, regardless of how far apart they are. Even if we are separated from our oceans geographically our lives depend on them. The more my Project progressed, reflecting on entanglement, the more elaborate the meaning of the term became. This complexity is inherent – entanglement is “a means of entangling; that by which a person or thing is entangled; an embarrassment, a snare; a circumstance which complicates or confuses a matter.” My Project aimed to explore these definitions, along with the ways in which our identities are entangled with our daily lives and professions. The academic sciences are especially in need of the practice, as researchers may attempt to remain objective, a characteristic of white supremacy. Alexis Pauline Gumbs is a fellow Black, Queer woman who knows about entanglement. Her book Undrowned: Black Feminist Lessons from Marine Mammals (2021), changed my perspective on my role as a marine scientist. I should not be learning about marine species. Instead, I should be learning from them. Reading Undrowned’s meditations on themes such as slowing down, collaborating, refusing, resting, and staying Black gave me space to reflect on how I could use art as a form of Community-Based Environmental Management (CBEM). Within my graduate studies, there were few opportunities for creative engagement like the critical work that Gumbs practices. To me, environmental management should make connections between the social and natural sciences, arts, policy, humanities, and non-western schools of thought instead of relying on one or two. To address this gap, I formulated two main objectives for my MP: To intentionally create spaces for artistic expression in my community, and 2) To collaboratively communicate the concept of entanglement through artwork. I hypothesized that if I could create these spaces for collaborative artmaking and share those works with others, then people may be inspired to continue creating and reflecting on entanglement. Part of my methodology for my MP involves my own creative practice of fluid painting, a technique I learned alongside my mother Susan. The method involves thinning down acrylic paints then layering all the colors into one cup. Then the paint is plopped, drizzled, or poured onto a canvas, creating unpredictable pieces of art. Just as I had to accept and appreciate the fluidity of my paintings, I had to do the same with my Project as it evolved over the school year. I welcomed the serendipitous connections that informed how I would accomplish my objectives, like my reintroduction to the practice of zinemaking in my Critical Marine Studies class. Zines, pronounced like “teens,” are interdisciplinary, non-professional, and non-commercial publications that often uplift marginalized voices that are undervalued by mainstream media. With roots in Black feminism and anti-establishment movements of the 1960s and 1970s, zines were used by activists to spark collective action and call attention to issues of environmental injustice. As I learned more about the history and culture associated with zines, I saw the potential in creating a zine for my Project to foster creativity, share perspectives, and reckon with entanglement. But my project is more about the process, the “means of entangling,” than it is about any final deliverable. Entanglement: A Community Art Approach to Education is two-part project, as I developed and hosted Community Co-Creation Events and compiled the attendees’ artwork along with other independent submissions into Entanglement: A Co-Created Community Zine. The Community Co-Creation Events brought people together to make art, challenge our ways of thinking, strengthen interpersonal connections, and meditate on entanglement. For example, in “Doodle & Discuss: Crafting Against Capitalism,” participants paired doodle artmaking with a guided reading discussion of Gumbs’s “end capitalism” meditation that explicitly discusses the threat of marine entanglement to the North Atlantic right whale. While the “products” of the event, the doodles, are included in my zine, the significance of having that space for reflection cannot be fully encapsulated on a page. The Entanglement zine contained submissions from over 30 contributors making more than 20 distinct types of media. I plan to continue the recursive process of zinemaking, creating and adding new pieces to the online blog where the zine will be hosted. Other artists have committed to continue creating and reflecting, as well. For example, my mother, Susan, who has made over 140 collages since my “Collaging & Connecting” Community Co-Creation event in November to the publication of this Report in April. Throughout my MP, I was able to consider our entanglements to oppressive systems, our identities, our communities, and the nonhuman world by collaborating with others. In conclusion, Entanglement: A Community Art Approach to Environmental Education demonstrates ways in which artmaking can build community and encourage deep, recursive learning.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Increasing Water Affordability through a Statewide Customer Assistance Program in California
    (2023-04-28) Lee, Jennifer
    California has adopted a statewide policy where “every human being has the right to clean, safe, affordable, and accessible water.” Yet having the right to clean and affordable water is not the same as having clean and affordable water. Customer assistance programs (CAP) can offer financial relief and bridge the gap to making water more affordable for everyone. Many water utilities offer rebates, subsidies, high bill adjustments, and other financial programs to help offset the cost of water utility bills. While these programs vary by water supplier, California legislators have introduced a statewide water rate assistance program. However, this bill was ultimately vetoed by the governor due to a lack of sustainable funding source. Regardless, water affordability remains an important issue and this project analyzes different options for a statewide CAP, quantifies how much it would cost, and evaluate if it is affordable for low-income households.
  • ItemEmbargo
    Food Sovereignty and Conservation
    (2023-04-28) Drici, Adam
    This Master's Project examines the intersections between food sovereignty and conservation. Interviews and focus groups with community members and experts inform the recommendations. Equitable access to food, land, funding, and markets were the most pressing challenges detailed by community members. Several recommendations regarding policy, program, and approach were offered to the client, including equitable government conservation funding access policy reform and the development of a nationwide system of Indigenous protected areas based upon Indigenous traditional food and medicine species ranges. Conservation organizations must center community priorities in efforts to protect wild places to build resilient, inclusive strategies.
  • ItemOpen Access
    COVID-19 risk perceptions and attitudes toward the environment: Evidence from longitudinal data
    (2023-04-28) Qin, Ziyue
    This study investigated the role of perceived risks triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic in enhancing positive attitudes toward the environment, liberal attitudes toward politics, and pro-environmental behavioral intentions. We used participant data (N=4100) from 74 countries collected from the PsyCorona survey, a cross-national longitudinal study, with the main predictors being (1) perceived risk of coronavirus infection and (2) perceived risk of economic loss due to coronavirus. Our predictions were added as covariates using multilevel and mediation analysis, nesting individual and level variables within country-level variables. Results show that the health risk perceptions of individuals positively predict their pro-environmental behavioral intentions, moderated by the positive environmental attitude change as a mediating variable, and the economic risk perceptions of individuals also positively predict their pro-environmental behavioral intentions, moderated by liberal-oriented political attitude change as a mediating variable. Our findings provide great insight into the positive effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the environment in terms of influencing human attitudes and behaviors, which could help to increase public environmental attitudes and promote public pro-environmental behavior in post-pandemic development.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Constitutional Conservation in California: Evaluation of Environmental Rights in Law and Governance
    (2023-04-28) Carter, Michelle Elizabeth
    The United States legal system has played a crucial role in modern environmental protection. However, environmental laws are difficult to enforce, reactive, and do not adequately protect ecosystems and human health. New legal movements like Rights of Nature and Green Amendments seek to close these gaps by granting legal rights to either ecosystems or human communities to defend their natural environments. Through a comparative legal analysis, this project concludes that the most effective policy option is to grant humans the right to a clean and healthy environment. This approach offers numerous advantages, including compatibility with existing state laws, established precedent in other states, and anticipatory and preventative language. To put this policy into action at the state level, the project includes a stakeholder analysis and assessment of California's legal landscape. Findings suggest that such an amendment is likely to pass through California's state legislature.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Who Receives Relief Aid? Understanding the Effects of Household Income and Education on Aid in Nepal
    (2023-04-28) Palandurkar, Ishani
    Risk and vulnerability of a community towards environmental or nonenvironmental shocks determine their ability to receive relief aid. This study aims to understand the effect of socioeconomic factors such as income and education on a household’s ability to receive aid from government, nonprofit, and informal sources in Nepal. I study the World Bank panel data from 2016 to 2018 to analyze the effects of various shocks, and socioeconomic statuses on a household’s ability to receive aid from different sources using fixed effects linear model. Results find that shocks significantly affect aid received by households. Environmental shocks show greater dependence on government and nonprofit aid, whereas nonenvironmental shocks increase aid from informal sources. The availability of government or nonprofit aid in previous years significantly enhances access to them in later years. Education is found to be a key determinant in both increasing awareness of aid as well as reducing reliance on them. This study indicates policy development for enhancing education and aid management, especially for nonenvironmental shocks, in Nepal.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Legacies of Lead Paint Contamination in the Mineral Soils Adjacent to Historic Buildings
    (2023-04-28) Skinner, Adam; Lambert, Carson
    For hundreds of years, compounds containing the element lead (Pb) have been added to paint in order to improve the texture and weather resistance. Across the United States, millions of homes and buildings were painted with lead-based paints up through the 1970s, when lead paint was phased out following medical research confirming the link between lead and a variety of neurological and developmental disorders. Over 170 million Americans are estimated to have been exposed to lead levels above safe concentrations, many of whom were likely exposed to soil lead while playing in yards as children. Although the phase-out of lead in paint began over 50 years ago, the legacies of contamination from lead paint are still present in the soil in a meaningful way. This is largely due to the immobile nature of lead in the soil, tightly binding to clays and other particles, preventing it from being leached out of the soil. Previous soil lead studies have attempted to characterize spatial patterns of contamination at various scales, but this study is unique in the highly fine-scale sampling design around each structure. Up to 190 samples were taken around each structure, at a point density of 1 sample every 4-12 square meters, prioritizing areas closer to the base of the structure. Nine study sites were chosen in the vicinity of Durham, North Carolina, including 2 buildings that continue to be well-maintained, 5 dilapidated structures, and 2 footprints of buildings burned to the ground. For our study, we surveyed the top inch of the mineral soil using an Olympus Vanta portable X-ray Fluorescence Machine to get lead concentration in parts per million. At all nine of our study sites, we found evidence of elevated lead levels in the mineral soil that can reasonably be attributed to legacies of paint contamination. Sites varied in the intensity of lead contamination, ranging from maximum values below 300ppm to multiple samples above 5000ppm, and each had its own unique footprint of soil lead. Interpolations of lead concentration were created in ArcGIS from the point data. Despite the variation, we were able to draw a variety of conclusions about the state of soil lead around historic structures: • Concentrations are typically highest adjacent to the base of the structure, and often decline rapidly with distance. • Concentrations often decline back down to the geologic background within 4-12 meters of the structure, related to the maximum concentration. • The corners of buildings are often hotspots for lead contamination, likely due to weathering patterns of paint. • Topography and erosion of soil can affect concentrations and directionality of elevated lead plumes. • We did not find any direct pattern between lead levels and a building’s height, age, location, or level of maintenance. • Destroyed/burned structures can show very high hotspots even within the footprint of the former structure. • Mulch and other ground covers may either protect the soil from contamination or insulate the soil lead from loss. Statistical and geospatial analysis was used to help characterize the spatial patterns of the contamination at each site. For each structure, data of lead concentration versus distance from the building was used to generate a logarithmic regression that can be used to predict concentration at any given distance. For two structures, interpolations were georeferenced to estimate the area of spatial contamination at different thresholds. Other analyses were done on a site-specific basis, such as comparing concentrations at the different cardinal directions from one structure. All of our results were communicated and interpreted to the landowners to help inform their knowledge of their properties. This is especially important considering most of our sites are open to the public, and multiple have outdoor programs for children. For each site, we estimated a total health risk, based on the levels of lead contamination and the potential for human exposure. Considering the levels still present in soils even after 50+ years, more research is needed into soil remediation methods, as the high values we found in soils demonstrate that lead still poses a considerable risk to humans.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Water Quality Study at the Pauli Murray Center in Durham, North Carolina
    (2023-04-28) Parks, Ryan
    This project examined Maplewood Cemetery's effects on the groundwater quality of the Pauli Murray Center for History and Social Justice (PMC). Maplewood Cemetery and the PMC are located in the West End neighborhood of Durham, North Carolina, a prominent and historic African American neighborhood. The PMC bridges history and human rights by honoring Pauli Murray's lifelong fight for peace and equity. At the heart of the PMC rests Pauli Murray's childhood home. This home is situated directly behind Maplewood Cemetery, created as a white-only burial ground. Based on literature examining the effects of cemeteries on groundwater quality, we hypothesized that Maplewood Cemetery might negatively affect the groundwater beneath the PMC. Water samples were collected from three monitoring wells—one at Maplewood Cemetery and two on the premises of the PMC–and a nearby stream from September 2022 to December 2022. Water samples were tested for thirty-three metals and total coliform bacteria. Lithium, manganese, arsenic, lead, and aluminum concentrations in the three monitoring wells and the stream exceeded various non-enforceable water quality standards, such as the North Carolina Groundwater Standards, but did not exceed enforceable drinking water standards. The concentrations of certain metals were generally higher in the samples collected from the well in the cemetery compared to the shallower well at the PMC, which tapped into the same surficial aquifer as the cemetery well. Total coliform concentrations in the three monitoring wells and the stream exceeded the EPA's Total Coliform Rule, and the cemetery had two-to-five-fold higher levels than the PMC. The stream had ten-to-thirty-fold higher total coliforms than the PMC and was the only water source that contained detectable levels of Escherichia coli, a type of coliform bacteria. Further investigation into a reference site and geochemical tracing is needed to determine whether the measured metals and bacteria naturally occur or derive from anthropogenic processes relating to the human burial process. This study contributes to the environmental justice literature regarding disproportionate environmental hazards in communities of color.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Sustainable Business Strategies for a Small, Women-Owned, Zero-Waste Shop
    (2023-04-28) Peck, Nicole
    The impacts of global climate change are felt around the globe, as is the increasing pressure to make sustainable differences to reduce pollution and emissions. Many climate change solutions are geared towards larger entities or political policies, skipping the intimate opportunities for the consumer to become engaged. Ekologicall, LLC is a small, woman-owned business in Charlotte, North Carolina selling zero-waste products and educating the community on zero-waste lifestyle. This project examined Ekologicall, LLC’s current business operations and its unique market as a zero-waste shop through periods of observation and benchmark analysis. Then, using sustainable business strategies including strategy cascade, TOWS analysis, and business model canvas, this project considered which strategies were best aligned with its goals. Findings from this project suggest that to increase profits and expand growth, Ekologicall, LLC should 1) form more purposeful relationships with local partners, 2) secure permanent retail space, 3) provide additional value to customers through increased engagement, 4) seek and leverage additional certifications, and 5) hire additional staff for support. This project highlights the limitations and difficulties of being a small business, and more specifically, being a zero-waste shop.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Spatiotemporal Behavior & Interactions of Neotropical Felids
    (2023-04-28) Pepke, Chloe
    The intraguild dynamics of apex and meso-carnivores contribute to the structure and resiliency of ecosystems, but temperature change and habitat loss threaten carnivores globally. This study explores the spatial and temporal behavior of four felid species (Puma concolor, Leopardus pardalis, Leopardus wiedii, and Leopardus tigrinus) in the Santa Lucia Cloud Forest Reserve (SL), near Quito, Ecuador. I used camera trap data from 2016 through 2022 to identify felid species and compare temporal trends in activity, distribution, and occupancy in relation to environmental factors. I then used the species-specific models to predict species occupancy in the unmonitored regions of the reserve. These results inform future monitoring efforts and provide insight into the extent of potential interactions among these four felids.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Drones and Machine Learning for Marine Animal Behavior Analysis
    (2023-04-28) Poling, David
    Understanding the behavior of marine animals is critical to effective management especially as they fall under increasing anthropogenic pressures. Recent advances in two technologies, drones and machine learning offer versatile, data driven, automatable solutions capable of effective collection and analysis of large datasets. In this paper I illustrate how pose estimation as an effective machine learning based solution for analyzing marine animal behavior. This study investigates pose estimations use on drone imagery due to its rising prevalence in marine science and prior combination with pose estimation in our lab. As initial work at our lab has investigated the use of pose estimation on marine mammal datasets and my goal is to expand on these efforts and build an overview of both technologies integration for researchers interested working with them. In the present study I use a collection of shark video taken by myself and other Duke researchers locally off the Rachel Carson Reserve on the North Carolina coast as demonstration and to help build a catalog of models and best practices for use of pose estimation on different taxa. This paper will provide an overview of drones and pose estimation including Social LEAP Estimates Animal Poses (SLEAP), a pose estimation framework which has proven to have good potential in marine science. SLEAP was chosen due to its accessibility, versatility and tracking algorithm which allows multiple subjects to be tracked and analyzed at the same time. The latter is a major steppingstone for pose estimation software as past projects may have been able to identify multiple individuals in one frame but not be able to keep track of who is who across thousands of frames of video. Covered topics will include: 1. Technical overview of drones and pose estimation. 2. Data collection 3. Using pose estimation a. Model types and programming 4. Data export and processing 5. Analysis 6. Conclusions on using pose estimation in marine science and future work. After data export, a novel solution will also be assessed for compensating for camera movement, in this case a moving drone, which has proven to be one of the biggest roadblocks of using SLEAP, which was developed for processing stationary video. This solution processes data in a way that is plug and play with existing analytical methods and will be open source.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Analysis of Marine Mammal Biologically Important Areas and Species Density on the East Coast
    (2023-04-28) Ozog, Jessica
    In accordance with various federal regulations, any agency or organization planning to conduct activities in the marine environment that may harm marine mammals must undergo an impact assessment process. Two available tools to assist resource managers in these analyses include biologically important areas (BIAs) and habitat-based density models. BIAs were delineated through expert elicitation and represent temporal feeding, reproductive, and migratory areas, while the models combine animal sighting and environmental data to estimate species density on a broad scale. Both were first published in 2015/2016 and have undergone updates in 2022/2023. This project uses North Atlantic right whales and humpback whales on the East Coast as focus species to assess (1) monthly species abundance within each BIA, (2) the relationship strength between BIA type and species abundance, (3) the changes in these relationships over time, and (4) the influence of a new scoring component on the relationship between abundance and active period.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Assessing Inclusion of Social Equity Principles in 30x30 Coastal Conservation and Management Policies Using an Access-based Equity Framework
    (2023-04-28) Yang, Fanny
    Coastal Indigenous peoples and local communities face issues of non-equitable distribution of coastal resources when conservation policies restrict entry to marine areas. Restrictions bar traditional community access to such spaces for economic, social, and cultural purposes. The Convention of Biological Diversity’s adoption of the Post-2020 Global Diversity Framework in December 2022 calls for a global initiative of conserving at least 30 percent land and sea areas by 2030. For coastal communities that rely on marine resources for their way of life, it is essential that future coastal conservation efforts balance ecological preservation with social equity needs. This paper seeks to address how well national governments are integrating social and equity values when designing coastal conservation policies by using access as a social equity proxy lens. The research resulted in 1) an access-based equity framework from a limited equitable marine conservation literature review and 2) an equity code book based on the developed equity framework, as potential policy analysis tools that can be used by researchers and policymakers to assess equity gaps in sets of national coastal conservation policies. The two tools were applied to example scenarios in Australia and India. The paper includes recommendations for policymakers, governmental coastal resource managers, and researchers on how to use the developed framework and codebook to assess equitable access for coastal IPLCs when designing and implementing coastal conservation policies.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Spatiotemporal Behavior & Interactions of Neotropical Felids
    (2023-04-28)
    The intraguild dynamics of apex and meso-carnivores contribute to the structure and resiliency of ecosystems, but temperature change and habitat loss threaten carnivores globally. This study explores the spatial and temporal behavior of four felid species (Puma concolor, Leopardus pardalis, Leopardus wiedii, and Leopardus tigrinus) in the Santa Lucia Cloud Forest Reserve (SL), near Quito, Ecuador. I used camera trap data from 2016 through 2022 to identify felid species and compare temporal trends in activity, distribution, and occupancy in relation to environmental factors. I then used the species-specific models to predict species occupancy in the unmonitored regions of the reserve. These results inform future monitoring efforts and provide insight into the extent of potential interactions among these four felids.