This collection contains the Doctoral and Masters by Research theses produced within the department.

Recent Submissions

  • Open Carboniferous Limestone pavement grike microclimates in Great Britain and Ireland: understanding the present to inform the future

    Burek, Cynthia; Hosie, Lottie; Geary, Matt; York, Peter, J. (University of ChesterUniversity of Chester, 2020-04)
    Limestone pavements are a distinctive and irreplaceable geodiversity feature, in which are found crevices known as grikes. These grikes provide a distinct microclimate conferring a more stable temperature, higher relative humidity, lower light intensity and lower air speed than can be found in the regional climate. This stability of microclimate has resulted in an equally distinctive community of flora and fauna, adapted to a forest floor but found in an often otherwise barren landscape. This thesis documents the long-term study of the properties of the limestone pavement grike in order to identify the extent to which the microclimate may sustain its distinctive biodiversity, to provide recommendations for future research which may lead to more effective management. Over a five-year study, recordings of temperature, relative humidity, light intensity and samples of invertebrate biodiversity were collected from five limestone pavements situated in the Yorkshire Dales and Cumbria in Great Britain, and The Burren in the Republic of Ireland. An extensive description of the grike microclimate was undertaken using the data collected to understand the extent of the microclimate stability of the grike and the conditions for variation in the grike microclimate. Further insights into the grike microclimate were gained through simulation techniques more commonly used in engineering, to explore the effects of air flowing over a grike, the light from the sun entering the grike and regression analysis to simulate the temperature within the grike in the present and projected for the future. This study has indicated that although the whole of the grike confers a degree of microclimatic stability, it is made up of a less stable upper zone and a more stable lower zone. The instability of the upper zone is hypothesised to result from the extent to which the majority of light and external air can enter the grike, whereas the stability of the lower zone may be governed by the thermal stability of the limestone surrounding it. Based on this zonation and the projections for the grike temperature, it is hypothesised that climate change will have the most substantial effects in the upper grike zone where species obligated to this area could be most heavily impacted. This study recommends a range of areas in which research may be employed so that the limestone pavement habitat may be successfully managed in Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland.
  • The Functionality of “Ogi” – a fermented cereal gruel made in Nigeria, in the Management of Gastrointestinal Disease

    Pickles, Neil; Weili, Li; Olayanju, Adetokunbo T (University of ChesterUniversity of Chester, 2019-04)
    Fermentation is an ancient food processing technique which has over the years had significant impact on food availability, production, economy and health. Fermented corn, ‘ogi’, is a popular meal in South and West African countries and is also traditionally administered to people, especially children, during the incidence of diarrhoea as it is believed to enhance gut health. Various authors have supported the advantageous health functions of fermented corn but have focussed on the possible health benefits that may be derived from the action of the fermentation organisms by investigating their probiotic potentials. Furthermore, in vivo studies have investigated effective functionality of fermented foods and where studies have suggested positive effect of the fermented food intervention, the component of the complex food matrix that may be responsible is often unknown. Though hypothesised, there has been little information on the possible effects of the end products of the fermentation on gut health. Therefore, this thesis aimed to explore the functionality potentials for ‘ogi’, to enhance gut health by investigating the mechanisms through which it may be able to confer the health benefits when consumed. An independent meta-analysis was undertaken to explore and review the analysis of the effectiveness of fermented foods to significantly reduce the duration of diarrhoea. The first experimental study was a comparison between spontaneously fermented vs controlled method of ‘ogi’ production with the aim to explore the possibility of achieving similar end products. The probiotic potential of fermentation organisms and antimicrobial effect of fermentation organisms against E. coli were also investigated. Colonic short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) are known to enhance immune function in the gut. The second experimental study explored the production of SCFAs in fermented corn with the theory that fermented corn may be a dietary source of SCFA and may produce a comparable effect in the gut as the colonic SCFA. It is established that one of the functions of endogenously synthesised nitric oxide (NO) in the body is to enhance immune functions. Therefore, the potential for ‘ogi’ to enhance immune response in the gut by being a dietary source of Nitric Oxide (NO) was explored in the third experimental study. The outcomes of this thesis suggest that it may not be possible to mimic the exact spontaneous fermentation process in a controlled setting. Weissella confuse, Pediococcus pentosaceus and Saccharomyces cerevisiae were the lactic acid bacteria (LAB) and yeast isolated from spontaneously fermented corn using 16S rRNA sequencing. The isolated organisms along with Lactobacillus plantarum were used as starter culture for controlled fermentation. There was a significant difference between the end products of both fermentations. All organisms except W. confuse showed probiotic potential. Acetate was produced during both fermentations but butyrate was produced during spontaneous fermentation only. There was however higher concentration of NO in controlled fermented corn than spontaneous fermentation with nitrate values of 30.54 µM and 23.21 µM and nitrite values of 17.50 µM and 10.11 µM respectively. These suggest that fermented corn may have probiotic potential and may be able to further enhance immune health in the gut by being a dietary source of SCFAs and NO.
  • Changes in selective biomarkers after transurethral resection of the bladder tumour (TURBT), and their association with Non-muscle invasive bladder cancer (NMIBC) recurrence and progression

    Ella-Twongiis, Peter (University of ChesterUniversity of Chester, 2019-10-01)
    Introduction Bladder Cancer (BC) is the 10th most common cancer in the UK, with about 10,000 new cases annually. It affects more men than women (ratio 3:1). Major risk factors include tobacco, chemical carcinogens, schistosomiasis infection and age. About 75-85% of BC are non-muscle invasive (NMIBC), which is associated with high recurrence and progression rates (50-60% within 7-10 years). Currently, diagnosis, treatment and management of BC is via clinical procedures such as transurethral resection of the bladder tumour (TURBT) and endoscopy. Concerning laboratory investigations, there are no routine biomarkers currently available for identifying BC patients at increased risk of developing recurrence and progression. By monitoring changes in selective biomarkers post-TURBT, any sustained changes may be a predictor of cancer recurrence or progression. The main-focus of this research study was to evaluate changes in selective novel biomarkers and their association with recurrence and progression in BC. Materials & Methods In this research, 40 patients (n=40) scheduled for TURBT at the Wrexham Maelor Hospital, North Wales were recruited after written informed consent. Ethical approval for the project was granted via IRAS (REC4: 14/WA/0033). Venous blood samples were taken at baseline (pre-operative) and following TURBT surgery at 1, 3 and 6 months post-operatively. Bladder tumour samples were also taken during TURBT according to standard procedure. Selective biomarkers to assess inflammation, angiogenesis and tumour growth, were measured using commercially available ELISA and BioPlex multiplex assay kits. Tissue immunoreactivity of novel biomarkers were also assessed in BC tissues using immunohistochemistry, with clinical outcome measures being recorded for all patients. Results Significant increases in serum Cluster of differentiation 31 (CD31) (p=0.003) and Stem Cell Factor (SCF) (p=0.032) concentration, as well as trends of increasing concentration of serum basic Fibroblast Growth Factor (bFGF) (p=0.14), Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Receptor-1 and 2 (VEGFR-1) (p=0.15), VEGFR-2 (p=0.15) and Follistatin (p=0.40) were observed in BC patients up to 6 months post-operative. There were also significant decreases in serum Macrophage Inflammatory Protein -2 (MIP-2) (p=0.001), Platelet Derived Growth Factor (PDGF) (p=0.012), Matrix Metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) (p=0.002) and Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor C (VEGF-C) (p=0.04) serum concentration. Trends of decreasing concentration in MMP-2 (p=0.79), MMP-3 (p=0.15), interleukin-6 (IL-6) (p=0.26), interleukin-8 (IL-8) (p=0.15) and tumour necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) (p=0.69) were observed in BC patients up to 6 months post-operative. There was significant immunoreactivity of CD31 (p< 0.001), CD34 (p< 0.001), Human epidermal growth factor receptor-2 (HER-2) (p=0.032), S100P (p< 0.001), Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) (p< 0.001), VEGFR-3 (p< 0.001), SOX-2 (p< 0.001) and thrombomodulin (p=0.010) in bladder tumours. Although recurrence was significantly associated with cancer grade, there was no association with antibody immunoreactivity. Conclusion Findings from the present study may indicate an alternative approach in the monitoring and management of patients with BC. It is proposed that by allowing urological surgeons access to laboratory markers such as MIP-2, MMP-9, PDGF, SCF, HER-2, Thrombomodulin and CD31 (biomarker profile), potentially, in the future, these biomarkers may be used in addition to, or in combination with, currently used scoring systems to predict cancer recurrence and progression. However, verification and validation of these biomarkers are needed using larger cohorts.
  • A Geoconservation perspective on the trace fossil record associated with the end – Ordovician mass extinction and glaciation in the Welsh Basin

    Burek, Cynthia; Hosie, Lottie; Nicholls, Keith H. (University of Chester, 2019-03-24)
    In this thesis I have illustrated the value of our geological heritage and geodiversity by focussing on a particular detailed aspect of the geological and palaeontological record, i.e. the trace fossil record associated with the end Ordovician (Hirnantian) global glaciation and extinction episode. The major elements of this work that are new are: • a significantly improved understanding of the nature of the soft sediment deformation, and in particular the role of “debrites” as basal landslide decollements in the Lower Palaozic Llangrannog rock succession of West Wales, • a much more detailed description of the trace fossil ichnocoenose present in the Llangrannog succession than has previously been published • an improved understanding of the nature of the ecological perturbation associated with the Hirnantian (Late Ordovician) Glacial “ice-house”, and the apparent role of an opportunistic soft body fauna in filling ecological niches vacated as a consequence of the associated extinction. • Considerable thought has been given to the question of how to value abiotic nature, and it is argued that the methods of conservation valuation associated with “Geosystem services” and in particular “Natural Capital” hold considerable potential for the Geoconservation community to engage with the public and with policy makers. • As a direct result of this research, two formal proposals have been put forward for new RIGS sites, together with a new geological SSSI.
  • The Use of Qualitative Risk Analysis Methods to Facilitate Decision Making in the Management of Health and Welfare in Wildlife

    Hill, Sonya; Smith, Tessa; Hartley, Matt (University of Chester, 2018-10-08)
    This thesis is composed of a series of papers, all of which have been published in peer reviewed publications. The papers use the recognised process of qualitative risk assessment in a range of scenarios in the field of wildlife health and welfare in both in situ and ex situ environments. Chapter 1 discusses the challenges faced regarding availability of empirical data in field of wildlife and zoological health and welfare and justifies the exploration of techniques to assist with decision making. The development of risk analysis and its integration with risk management and risk communication to become risk assessment is described before being put into the specific context of wildlife and zoological disease. Chapters 2 and 3 consider two scenarios where disease risk assessment is well established as a tool, importation across national borders and in conservation interventions. Chapter 2 develops the standard import risk assessment approach to include multiple species and multiple diseases. Chapter 3 reviews developments made over the last 25 years and proposes best practice approaches to implement. Chapter 4 describes how the risk assessments formulated as described in Chapter 3 are used for licensing purposes emphasising the importance of risk management and communication. This theme is continued in Chapter 6 where the integration of risk assessment and evidence based decision making is considered in the broad context of a strategic approach to wildlife health bringing together the outcomes and processes described in Chapters 2, 3, 4 and 5. The papers in Chapters 2,5 and 8 are focused on how risk analysis aids in development of disease control approaches and policy. The evidence base is composed primarily of peer-reviewed literature supported by expert review of the finalised assessment. Chapter 7 uses risk assessment in an applied scenario, taking the recognised process and modifying it to structure an active disease investigation demonstrating the versatility of the technique. Chapter 9 takes this a step further by again adapting the methodology which, has historically been used primarily for infectious diseases, to consider reproduction and assess risks to welfare rather than purely health. The paper in Chapter 9 builds on the methodology by combining existing peer-reviewed literature with data collected specifically for the purpose of feeding into the assessment and utilising a stakeholder and expert opinion elicitation workshop to obtain data too. These process are proposed and described in Chapter 3. The final chapter critically reviews risk assessment, highlighting three key areas of potential weakness and proposing approaches to address these criticisms. The value of the approach in wildlife and zoological health and welfare as demonstrated by this series of papers is described
  • The genetics and evolution of the critically endangered Trinidad Piping Guan Pipile pipile, synonym Aburria pipile.

    McDowall, Ian; Hosie, Charlotte A.; Grass, Amelia (University of Chester, 2018-02)
    The Trinidad Piping Guan, Pipile pipile synonym Aburria pipile (Jaquin, 1784) is the only endemic Cracid on the island of Trinidad. The species is currently listed as Critically Endangered and is considered to be in ‘on-going decline’ by the IUCN, BirdLife International and Cracid Specialist Group. This study aims to examine aspects of genetic variation and the evolution of the mitochondrial genome in the Trinidad Piping Guan utilising, for the first time, samples collected from individuals in the wild and reference specimens of the genus Pipile sourced from museum collections. In this study the complete mitochondrial genome of the Trinidad Piping Guan was sequenced for the first time. Analysis of intra-specific variation of wild Trinidad Piping Guan individuals using single nucleotide polymorphisms demonstrates extremely limited variation within the genes of the mitochondrial genome and nuclear gene intron sequences. Limited variation within this population is consistent with both historical and contemporary contractions of populations within a restricted island system, which may have serious implications for the future of this species in terms of both genetic diversity and conservation management. Phylogenetic analysis of the complete mitochondrial genome of the Trinidad Piping Guan enabled placement of the genus Pipile within the Galliforme evolutionary tree for the first time, and subsequently places the genus within the broader context of the Aves class. Mito-genomic analysis confirms that the Cracids are one of the basal Galliforme clades, and sister taxa to the Megapodidae. Phylogenetic placement of the Pipile genus is basal to that of the Crax species within the Cracidae family, indicative of an earlier evolutionary origin of the Piping Guans. The inclusion of the Trinidad Piping Guan, in the avian evolutionary tree using the whole mitochondrial genomes expands the current genetic phylogeny of the Cracid family, yielding a better understanding of evolutionary relationships among the Galliforme order and the diversification of modern avian lineages. This study has established novel molecular techniques for the analysis of mitochondrial DNA in historical specimens of the genus Pipile from museum reference collections. The analysis of inter-specific relationships within the genus Pipile has clarified the evolutionary and biogeographic relationships between the Piping Guan species. Additionally, the Trinidad Piping Guan is genetically defined for the first time as an evolutionarily significant unit, which represents a unique evolutionary pathway within this important genus in a closed island system on the island of Trinidad.
  • Production of DNA aptamers with specificity for bacterial food pathogens

    Bonwick, Graham A.; Drasbek, Mette R.; Young, Niall; Smith, Christopher; McDowall, Ian; Kärkkäinen, Riikka M. (University of Chester, 2012-09)
    Aptamers are biomolecular ligands composed of nucleic acids. They can be selected to bind specifically to a range of target molecules and subsequently exploited in a fashion analogous to more traditional biomolecules such as antibodies. In this study a method for selecting new aptamers which specifically bind whole live bacterial cells is described. A non-pathogenic strain of Escherichia coli K12 was used to develop the method. A DNA library containing 100 bases long random nucleotide sequences was produced and the aptamer selection process was repeated nine times. An enzyme-linked technique was first used to detect bound aptamers thereafter fluorimetry and fluorescence microscopy methods were used for the detection. The aptamers were cloned and sequenced and the cloned aptamers produced with fluorescent labels. The E. coli K12-binding aptamers were used to demonstrate the detection of the bacterial cells in a complex food matrix, namely probiotic yogurt, by using fluorescence based detection method. The aptamer selection method with some modifications was also used to select aptamers with specificity for the food pathogens E. coli O157, Listeria monocytogenes, L. innocua, S. typhimurium and S. enteritidis. The aptamers against E. coli O157 and S. typhimurium were cloned and the sequences and the binding properties of these aptamers were analysed. The use of E. coli K12 as a target organism and the aptamer sequences presented in this study, have not previously been published in scientific literature. This is also the first report where the aptamers have been used in detection of live bacterial cells in yogurt.
  • The Role of Anaerobic Digestion in Achieving Soil Conservation and Sustainable Agriculture for Sustainable Development in the UK

    Burek, Cynthia V.; Bonwick, Graham A.; Alexander, Roy; Duruiheoma, Franklin I. (University of Chester, 2015-12)
    The subjection of soils to degradation directly and indirectly from rising world food demand and resultant intensified agricultural production, population growth, and climate change, demand that soils are better protected. The role of AD in addressing this challenge is examined using a pragmatic research paradigm and the questions: How can we raise awareness of AD in the UK? What factors motivate and hinder farmers towards adopting improved technology and sustainable agricultural practises? What is the perception of farmers about soils? To what extent does sustainable agriculture incorporate soil conservation in theory and practice? What role can legislation and policies play in AD adoption in the UK? The research was in two phases; qualitative and quantitative. The qualitative phase involved interviews with 21 AD stakeholder in the UK using electronic mail. The stakeholders who were divided into groups according to their expertise, were interviewed to explore their views on the areas of focus in the UK strategy and action plan regarding raising awareness of the technology, soil conservation, sustainable agriculture and sustainable development. Thematic analysis of interview data was carried out using MAXQDA 11 statistical software. The quantitative phase involved an online survey of 283 UK farmers aided by Yellow Pages directory for UK, Natural England directory, Twitter and electronic mail. Using SPSS 22.0 statistical software, the Chi square test was used to check for relationships between the variables measured at 95% confidence level (p<.05). Relationship strength was measured by means of Cramer’s V and Phi values. Answers to the 1st research question showed that: aligning AD with sustainable development goals, community AD and localism, small AD plants, provision of an available market for AD products, building UK skills and diversifying biogas use from AD are positive options for raising awareness of AD. Response to 2nd research question revealed: significant relationships between interests in agricultural technology and gender, level of education, and farm size; between knowledge of what AD is and gender, level of education and farm size; between interest in AD and age; between willingness to invest in AD if it improved soil properties and farm ownership; and between organic farming practice and age, farm type and farm size. Responding to the third research question, farmers’ describe soils in abstract, scientific, physical attribute and functional terms; awareness of soil benefits other than crop production was significantly related to age, and farm ownership; educational level was significantly related to familiarity with soil conservation, and opinion on whether soil should be protected like other natural resources. Findings regarding the 4th and 5th research questions showed: limited understanding of soil matters as a key challenge that has restricted the priority given to soil conservation, while level of education, knowledge of soil conservation and sustainable development and understanding of sustainable agriculture were also identified as influencing factors; digestate from AD is the main benefit viewed to contribute to soil conservation; finance, policy and legislation, low awareness and understanding, lack of feedstock and market, land use conflict and inefficiency of AD plants were identified as barriers to AD in the UK; promoting AD, providing finance, minimizing bureaucracy and simplification of AD systems are options for promoting AD adoption. This thesis also documents the implications of these findings for knowledge, policy and practice, and based on these recommendations are made, some of which are: better engagement of farmers in policy development for AD and soil management; use of small AD plants, demonstration, networking and training for AD adoption; promote soil conservation in theory and practice; and provision of enhanced support for owners, potential investors and farmers through incentives, simplified planning approval process, and available market for AD product.
  • Investigating Non-invasive Measures of Stress in Ornamental Fish

    Wolfenden, David C. C. (University of Chester, 2014)
    The transport of ornamental marine fish may cause stress, which to date has been the subject of limited research. The present study aimed to characterise the behavioural and physiological responses to simulated transport stress in the common clownfish Amphiprion ocellaris (Cuvier, 1830) with the additional goal of validating non-invasive measures of water cortisol in a marine teleost for the first time. Behaviour and physiology of the animals was measured at different stages of transport (from initial capture and handling up to 72 hours transport time) and water quality measurements were taken from the transport water at key sampling points. In a second experiment biological filtration materials (“Bioballs” with denitrifying bacteria) were added to the transport bag to determine if stress was reduced when water quality was improved. The results of the study suggest that capture, handling and transport are stressful for clownfish, and the stress response appears to peak between 24 and 48 hours after the onset of the stressor. Water-borne cortisol was found to be a valid alternative to invasive methods of sampling, although only an average of 53% cortisol was recovered from sea water. Although handling and confinement appeared to be highly significant factors in eliciting the stress response water quality measurements revealed that fish are temporarily subjected to relatively high concentrations of ammonia as transport time increased, which may contribute to long-term effects on the health of the animals. This was reflected in an increased latency to feed and reduced social behaviours in fish transported for 24 hours or longer. Improving water quality did reduce the concentration of ammonia present; however, fish still exhibited elevated cortisol excretion suggesting that water quality is not the primary stressor associated with transport. Thus, the duration of transport should be restricted to a maximum of 24 hours to reduce the stress associated with this practice. A separate study investigated the potential for beauty treatment ‘fish spas’ to elicit stress in the freshwater cyprinid fish Garra rufa (Heckel, 1843). Water cortisol was measured non-invasively to determine if stress was reduced through the provision of environmental enrichment / furnishings, and whether stocking density influenced stress. Water quality was monitored to determine the effects of stocking density on environmental parameters (pH, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate). Finally, the effect of ii human hands being placed into the aquarium was investigated, to determine whether this influenced stress. Three hundred G. rufa were used in total, with groups being allocated randomly to one of four treatment groups: OP/B (optimum stocking density / barren tank – i.e. no enrichment); OP/E (optimum stocking density / enriched tank); OS/B (overstocked / barren tank); and OS/E (overstocked / enriched tank). Human hands were placed in each tank, and water samples were collected before and after for measurement of cortisol by ELISA, and to determine water quality parameters. The results revealed that overstocking tanks with G. rufa produced relatively higher baseline cortisol levels, suggesting that stocking density may have a significant effect on stress levels. The addition of furnishings into the aquarium did not reduce baseline cortisol levels in the fish prior to the introduction of human hands. However, fish maintained under enriched conditions exhibited a greater cortisol response when compared to individuals in barren tanks. It is hypothesised that the provision of enrichment reduces the available space for fish following the introduction of human hands, thereby increasing stress. Further studies are required to attempt to determine the effect of enrichment based upon the results of the present study. Feeding on human hands resulted in an elevated cortisol response from three out of the four treatment groups (with the exception of OP/B), with the results suggesting that either 1) the lower (i.e. optimal) stocking density and lack of enrichment in holding tanks is preferable for G. rufa fish welfare, or 2) the elevated cortisol reflected a response to a rewarding stimulus and is linked to increased foraging. Overall, the results of these studies have shown that water cortisol measurements are a valid means of assessing physiological stress in two species of fish in different contexts. This negates the need for invasive sampling and is an important refinement to existing protocols where fish are killed for plasma or whole body samples. The results also highlight the welfare impacts of transport and overstocking of ornamental fish providing valuable evidence that may be relevant to improving the husbandry and guidelines with respect to the ornamental fish industry.
  • Physiological and behavioural measures of stress in domestic horses

    Young, Tamsin (University of Liverpool (Chester College of Higher Education), 2011-09)
    The welfare of domestic horses has been scrutinised by the scientific community in recent years. Traditional riding and stable management practices have been recognised to be at odds with the physical and behavioural adaptations of the horse. There is, therefore, a growing need to understand how modern horse management can impact on horse welfare. The first study in this thesis assessed the impact of common management practices on physiological stress in the horse. Faecal cortisol was higher in horses that were stabled and exercised, than turned out to grass with no exercise. The effect of exercise alone was also seen to increase levels of salivary cortisol. No change was seen in cortisol following short-term routine husbandry procedures such as exposure to the sound of electric coat clippers, but it was suggested that this required further investigation. The study confirmed exercise increased stress as reflected by cortisol concentration, and indicated that individual stabling may also contribute to elevated stress. The study recommended that horses may benefit from periods of rest and turn out to grass, to reduce stress levels and improve welfare. The measurement of stress for the purpose of welfare assessment is, however, best carried out using an integration of both physiological and behavioural measures. Behaviour scores offer non-invasive, quick and easy methods of assessing stress in domestic animals, but have typically been developed using only behavioural assessment of the stress response. In the second study a scale of behavioural indicators of stress was developed using behavioural and physiological measures for the purpose of assessing stress in stabled domestic horses. Principal component analysis of behavioural reactions and changes in salivary cortisol concentration in response to routine husbandry procedures, revealed three meaningful components that were used as the basis to the stress scale. Behavioural reactions to the husbandry procedures were further analysed by a panel of equestrian professionals using free choice profiling, and results were added to the appropriate components. The final scale comprised of four levels of stress (no stress, low, iii medium and high stress), and each category was further sub-divided into behaviour scores (BS). The scores represented accumulating levels of behavioural indicators of stress within each stress level, and provided indices of physiological stress. The scale offers an easy to use method of welfare assessment in horses, and reduces the need for additional physiological measures to be taken. The scale represented a novel approach to measuring stress, and was used in the final study to measure stress in horses stabled individually, group housed, and in horses moved from stabling to group housing. The effectiveness of the scale at measuring stress, was compared to the effectiveness of measures of heart rate variability (HRV) and faecal cortisol at measuring stress in the same horses. Lower levels of stress were recorded in group housed horses as measured by the BS, but measures of HRV and faecal cortisol showed no difference between those stabled or group housed. Stress levels were unaffected by the move to group housing, but BS declined significantly over the three weeks that the horses remained group housed. The physiological measures did not, however, reflect such a decrease in stress. Stress levels were also compared between horses housed in both environments whilst waiting to be fed. Group housed horses had lower stress levels as measured by the BS. Results provided by the BS were supported by relevant literature, and the scale appeared to be more sensitive than the physiological measures which did not yield significant results with the small sample sizes used in the study. The research confirmed short-term management practices horses are typically exposed to daily, can elevate their stress levels. Further research into which practices put horse welfare at a particular risk, and thus require modification or need to be avoided where possible, is necessary. The findings also suggest horse-owners may need to pay more attention to their horse’s stress levels, to avoid repeated or on-going stress that can jeopardise health and welfare. The scale of behavioural indicators of stress would provide a suitable method by which stress could be monitored and thus become a part of horse management.
  • Genetic analysis of the critically endangered Trinidad Piping guan (Pipile pipile): Implications for phylogenetic placement and conservation strategies

    McDowall, Ian; Hosie, Charlotte A.; Robinson, Louise A. (University of Chester, 2011-11)
    Classified as critically endangered since 1994, the Trinidad Piping guan (Pipile pipile) is an endemic species estimated to number less than 200 individuals. Known to locals of Trinidad as the ‘Pawi’ this bird has been the subject of substantial hunting pressures and much of the species habitat has been destroyed through deforestation. Although officially protected since 1958, occasional recreational hunting of this elusive species still occurs. Due to difficulties locating and capturing the species, no genetic research has previously been performed using samples obtained from Trinidad. All previous research studies have been conducted using biological materials obtained from captive birds outside Trinidad and island data has never been obtained or compared. The genetic diversity of the remaining population was therefore examined through the investigation of mitochondrial haplotypes, pairwise comparison and SNP analysis. With the intention of assisting the protection of this endangered species by the location of remaining areas of habitation, methods of genetic identification were established for the Trinidad Piping guan utilising non-invasive feather samples. Species specific primers were created in the regions of the ND2 and cyt b genes of the mitochondrial genome to identify Pipile pipile. Species detection was further verified with the use of PCR-RFLP of the same gene regions digested with BsaXI, EcoRV and BsrDI. This combined approach allowed the separation of closely related taxa based on single inter-species SNPs. Confirmation of species identification was subsequently performed through the use of forensically informative nucleotide sequencing. The established methodologies were used in the current study to correct the classification of a UK breeding population of Piping guans thought to be Pipile pipile and to identify Trinidad field samples. These detection methods have implications for ecological studies through the location of populations from trace evidence collected in the field. In addition this method could be used to assist Trinidadian police forces in the identification of bushmeats or simply act as a deterrent to hunters. The sequence data obtained in the present study were also used to re-assess the phylogeny of Piping guans. As genetic sequence from a true island bird was previously unstudied, differences between phylogenies created using non-island and island bird data sets were examined. Combined analysis was performed on 1884bp of the ND2 and cyt b genes and placement of Trinidad Piping guan was found to differ from that which has been previously published.
  • The sportization of swimming: A sociological examination of the development of swimming as a modern competitive sport, c.1595-1908

    Bloyce, Daniel; Cock, Steven (University of Chester, 2012-04)
    Modern competitive swimming is a highly structured, organized, codified and regulated sport. This has not always been the case. The aim of this thesis has been to examine the long-term development of competitive forms of swimming throughout the periods between the late sixteenth and early twentieth centuries. Despite some recent historical analyses, the emergence of swimming as a modern competitive sport is an under-researched topic. There are no sociological analyses relating to the development of competitive swimming and significant gaps within much historical research. This thesis has been conducted from a sociological perspective in order to test the relative adequacy of Norbert Elias’s concept of sportization. Figurational sociologists have often examined the concept of sportization in relation to the development of contact sports such as boxing and rugby. Some authors have sought to criticize figurational sociologists for over-emphasizing issues relating to the increasing control of violence when examining the development of such activities. In this manner, there is scope to contribute to existing empirical and theoretical knowledge by testing the relative adequacy of the concept of sportization in relation to the long-term development of the predominantly non-contact sport of competitive swimming. To this end, data have been examined from a range of documentary sources. Various swimming-based texts, treatises, periodicals and magazines were examined at the British Library and Colindale Newspaper Library in London. The original minute books of the Amateur Swimming Association and its predecessor bodies have also been analyzed. In addition, a range of digitized source material has been examined from several electronic databases. It has been argued that the development of modern competitive swimming was an unplanned and unintended outcome resulting from the complex interweaving of wider social processes in England throughout the periods between the Middle-Ages and the early twentieth century. The earliest reported swimming contests took place in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries in the form of a cash wager between two or more individuals. These events were less structured and regulated than modern forms of competitive swimming. Betting upon the outcome of such events was deemed to be an appropriate means to experience heightened levels of tension-excitement within the context of an emerging society in which people were increasingly expected to demonstrate greater self-control over their behaviour and emotions. More organized forms of competitive swimming gradually emerged during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The emergence of an increasingly complex network of clubs, societies and associations at local, county, district and national levels facilitated such developments and contributed to the emergence of standardized rules and regulations within the emerging sport of swimming. Such developments have been explained in relation to ongoing processes of state-formation, pacification, lengthening chains of interdependence and a gradual lowering in the threshold of repugnance within England in the period between the Middle-Ages and the early twentieth century. In this manner, it has been argued that the concept of sportization is an appropriate theoretical framework for explaining the long-term development of the modern non-contact sport of competitive swimming.
  • Maternal investment in mountain gorillas (Gorilla Beringei Beringei)

    Fletcher, Alison W.; Eckardt, Winnie (University of Liverpool (University of Chester), 2010-02)
    Investigating maternal investment (Ml) and mother-offspring relationships during the period of infant dependency is critically important to furthering the understanding of female reproductive strategies in primates. Infant primates are completely dependent upon their mothers. The way in which a mother allocates her resources therefore is crucial for infant survival, but is balanced Against her need to invest in subsequent offspring. One approach to examining how mothers might invest in their offspring stems from the Trivers & Willard hypothesis (TWH, 1973), which predicts that mothers in good condition should bias their investment towards sons and whereas mothers in poorer condition should bias investment toward daughters. Long-term demographic records on birth sex ratio and inter-birth interval suggest that female mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei) do not bias investment prenatally, but they may adjust postnatal Ml according to the TWH. This study investigated Ml and mother-offspring relationships in wild mountain gorillas, using behavioural correlates of Ml, including suckling, weaned age, physical contact, "transport, and grooming to redress the lack of understanding about Ml in this species. The appropriateness of TWH was investigated, integrating different indicators of maternal condition. Important determinants of Ml and mother-offspring relationships were considered, such as offspring age, parity, presence of siblings and maternal relatives, group size and lastly, personality, which has been largely neglected in nonhuman primates. The extent, to which the offspring influenced Ml patterns, was examined using the parent-offspring conflict theory (Trivers, 1972) as a theoretical framework. During 2006-2007, 38 mother-offspring dyads were observed in the Virunga massif, resulting in 1210 hours of direct behavioural observation. Additional field data from the previous four decades were integrated into the dataset for the analysis of suckling and weaned age. Gorilla personality was assessed through the Hominoid Personality Questionnaire. Findings relating to suckling frequency, weaned age, and maternal feeding activities were consistent with the TWH: sons suckled more often than daughters when they had mothers in good condition, whereas the reverse sex-pattern occurred in offspring with mothers in poorer condition. In addition, daughters were weaned at an earlier age than sons when mothers were in better condition, although this sex-difference reduced in older mothers that were categorised as being in good condition. Maternal feeding time and feeding efficiency revealed that mothers in poorer condition spent more time ingesting food when they had daughters, whereas mothers in better .condition spent more time ingesting food when they had sons. Furthermore, group size affected lactation duration with offspring in small groups being weaned earlier than offspring in large groups. Behavioural conflicts over Ml showed that the mother and offspring influenced Ml patterns during the period of dependency. Finally, six personality dimensions were identified, of which five revealed effects maternal behaviour, such as maternal retrieval, responsiveness and rejection, although their relative importance varied between those behaviours. In general, mother and offspring personality effects were complex due to their interactions with the developmental stage of offspring. In conclusion, my thesis research has made several novel contributions to furthering the understanding of female reproductive strategies in the highly endangered mountain gorilla. I presented the first evidence using behavioural data that females bias their postnatal investment towards the sex with the greatest fitness return as predicted by the TWH. My findings are discussed in the light of alternative Ml strategies, such as the local resource competition and enhancement model. My research has highlighted the importance of integrating anthropometric and physiological measures and demographic long-term data into future Ml studies to assess direct costs and benefits of Ml. The examination of mother-offspring behavioural conflicts showed that offspring have a strong impact on the level of Ml they receive. I have also examined the personality of a wild mountain gorilla population for the first time. My findings demonstrate that personality-parenting links are evident in several respects and I have demonstrated the great potential of personality as a determinant of maternal behaviour and mother-offspring relationships.
  • The classification and management of limestone pavements - an endangered habitat

    Burek, Cynthia V.; Alexander, Roy; Thom, Tim; Willis, Sue D. M. (University of Liverpool (University of Chester), 2011-01)
    This thesis describes an in-depth study of limestone pavements across North West England and North Wales. The aim was to combine elements of geodiversity and biodiversity in order to create a holistic limestone pavement classification to inform future management. A field-based research protocol was used to assess a stratified random sample (46 pavements), accounting for approximately 10% of the limestone pavements in the geographical area. Detailed analyses of key elements are presented, along with important issues that continue to pose threats to this Annex One Priority Habitat. This research resulted in a comprehensive classification, using TWINSPAN analysis and Nonmetric Multidimensional Scaling, identifying six distinct holistic functional groups. The prime factors driving limestone pavement morphology, and hence the classification, were established to be lithology, proximity to structural fault, altitude and human intervention, particularly in terms of grazing intensity. Three upland, open limestone pavement classes were formed. Of these, the richest in terms of geodiversity and biodiversity was the group with the thickest bedding planes and hence the deepest grikes, typically greater than 1m. The class that was most species-poor was "at the highest altitude (above 450m), formed on the thin limestones of the Yoredales. These were characterised by shallow, wide grikes. The third upland limestone pavement group had mid-range grikes, generally 0.5-1m in depth, and small clints. Two wooded classes were identified. One was a lowland 'classic' wooded limestone pavement group with deep, narrow grikes and shallow soils. Indicator species included Juniperus communis and Taxus baccata. The second wooded group was situated proximal to a major structural fault. In this group the pavement dip ranged between 10°-40° with well-runnelled clints that were heavily moss-covered. The sixth group was low altitude, proximal to the coast, characterised by low moss growth, un-vegetated clints and the presence of Ulex europaeus. Conservation management was identified as key to the quality of the limestone pavement habitat and this thesis identifies best management practises and links these to the holistic limestone pavement classification. Finally, as a sample case study, this thesis presents mollusc species and diversity from eleven of the Yorkshire limestone pavements. Analysis establishes significant links between geodiversity and mollusc populations, with key drivers for mollusc communities echoing those of plant species on limestone pavement.
  • Factors modifying welfare in captive lioned-tailed mazaques (Macaca silenus)

    Smith, Tessa E.; Skyner, Lindsay J. (University of Liverpool (University of Chester), 2006-07)
    The lion-tailed macaque (Macaca silenus) is endangered due to habitat destruction with less than 3500 individuals remaining in isolated fragments of South-West India. Lion-tailed macaques do not reproduce readily in captivity and captive breeding may be relied upon for future conservation. Poor welfare can have negative effects on reproduction so it is important that lion-tailed macaque welfare is examined in captive groups. The aims of this thesis were to understand certain aspects of lion-tailed macaque welfare (behaviour and HPA physiology) in captive populations, with the view to making suggestions for management to promote the species' welfare and reproduction. Behaviour (188 hours), urine (n=133) and faecal samples (n=294) were collected from 38 lion-tailed macaques housed in four groups at the North of England Zoological Society (Chester Zoo), Bristol Zoological Gardens, Assiniboine Park Zoo and San Diego Wild Animal Park. The study successfully developed and validated assays to detect cortisol in lion-tailed macaque urine and faeces. The assays were then subsequently used to explore behaviour and HPA activity in these endangered primates. The institution in which the individuals were housed and basic life history parameters (age and sex) were explored to further understand the interplay between behaviour and physiology. Social relationships were assessed by measuring proximity (inter-individual distances and time spent in "arms-reach"). Finally the effect of visitors on behaviour, HPA activity and enclosure use was explored. There was significant variation between institutions in behaviour and HPA activity but not proximity. The age of lion-tailed macaques modified their behaviour, but not their HPA activity or proximity. The sex of lion-tailed macaques did not modify behaviour, HPA activity or proximity. The effect of visitors on lion-tailed macaques in the current study is not clear and confirms previous research on the visitor effect on captive primates. It can be concluded from this research that lion-tailed macaques are sensitive to the environment in which they are housed, indicating factors which may have negative effects on their captive breeding rates and ability to cope with habitat fragmentation for population's in-situ. The study has highlighted the need for each captive and wild group of lion-tailed macaques to be considered and monitored separately with regard to welfare and breeding.
  • Colonisation and development of salt mark in the Dee estuary, NW England: Integrating large-scale pattern and small-scale ecological process

    Marrs, Robert H.; Potter, Jacqueline; Huckle, Jonathan M. (University of Liverpool (Chester College of Higher Education), 2000-07)
    The Dee estuary, one of the most important British estuaries in terms of size and conservation value, has been subject to extensive colonisation and development of intertidal mudflats by salt marsh vegetation. In the last century, acceleration of this process has been attributed to the ability of Spartina anglica C.E. Hubbard to colonise bare sediment. The research in this thesis aims to investigate the ecological patterns and processes involved in the development of salt marsh vegetation. These have been examined using a large-scale approach involving remote sensing techniques and a small-scale approach to examine ecological processes at the level of the individual plant and species. Large-scale temporal patterns in the distribution were investigated by analysing a sequence of monochrome aerial photographs dating from 1955 to 1997. At the marsh apex, initial rapid colonisation was followed by a decreased rate of expansion and a reduction in the pioneer zone. This suggested a steepening of the marsh elevation gradient, which is interpreted as the marsh approaching its natural limit of expansion. The rate of salt marsh expansion was consistent across the time sequence for the second target area, a cross-section of the marsh gradient, but with S. a«g/zca-dominated colonisation of mudflats changing to colonisation by a pioneer community co-dominated by S. anglica and Salicornia europaea. Large-scale spatial distribution patterns were further investigated using multispectral remote sensing data from 1997. Radiometric data were used to define the spectral characteristics of the major types of salt marsh vegetation. Airborne Thematic Mapper data were used to classify the reflectance data from the whole marsh to determine the spatial distribution of plant communities based on their spectral characteristics. Mapping of these communities provided a baseline that will be a useful tool for future management of the salt marsh. An experimental approach was used to examine the role of abiotic and biotic factors on the growth and interactions between S. anglica and Puccinellia maritima (Huds.) Parl. In two series of competition experiments, P. maritima exerted a one¬way effect over S. anglica. The intensity of this interaction was increased in environmental conditions favourable to P. maritima, and was greater in terms of above-ground than below-ground biomass. In both experiments, S. anglica exhibited a disproportionate reduction in below-ground competitive interaction in abiotic conditions less favourable to P. maritima. A corresponding increase in rhizomes suggested that this is a potential mechanism by which S. anglica may evade competitive neighbours at low marsh elevations. An appreciation of the importance of scale has led to a multi-scaled and holistic view of the ecological process of salt marsh colonisation and development. Integration of both large and small-scale approaches has provided valuable information on the ecological patterns and processes, and has important implications for current and future management of salt marsh in the Dee estuary.