Scientia Discipulorum vol. 8 (2016)
The Genetic Analysis of High Risk Athletes for the Presence of the DRD4 7 Variable Tandem RepeatThis study examined the DRD4 tandem repeats within three self-described risk-taking groups ranging in expertise from students in the Expeditionary Studies program to internationally ranked Olympic Bobsledders. Prior studies done on novelty seeking have had conflicting results on the 7 variable tandem repeat of the Dopamine Receptor D4. The goal of this study was to find a statistically significant relationship between the 7+ repeat and its possible genetic influence on risk taking behavior. Results indicated that when the experimental group was compared to the control, the 7+ repeat did influence an individual's willingness to take risk. When compared separately, both the Olympic Bobsledders and Free Soloing Rock Climber groups had statistically significant results. The Expeditionary Studies group by itself was not statistically significant in the amount of 7+ repeats present. Professional certifications in the experimental groups were not taken into account for this study.
Presence, Habitat Use, and Prey Selection of Champlain ValleyOwls, New YorkIn this study we examined species-specific owl occupancy and detection, habitat usage and distance to landscape features, as well as food availability of owl species encountered in Clinton County, New York. Through broadcasting owl vocalizations, we were able to identify and determine owl habitat usage using an inexpensive, non-invasive technique. Lunar cycles were also assessed to determine when the owls were most active. Lastly, we hand collected owl pellets to determine what the owls may be eating in Northern New York. Program PRESCENCE was used to assess presence and occupancy across sites. We encountered barred owls (Strix varia) and great horned owls (Bubo virginianus) occurring and co-occurring at 100% of our sites. Detection probabilities for barred owls were 29% and only 4% for great horned owls. Through the use of ArcGIS is was determined that agricultural land-use and forests were the dominate habitat types surrounding the broadcasting sites. Roads and wetlands were reoccurring habitat across sites. We observed that owls were more vocal on nights of high lunar illumination. Through the dissection of owl pellets we concluded that small mammals such as grey squirrels and mice (Peromyscus spp.) were selected prey of a great horned owl. Understanding owl habitat-use patterns is important for habitat conservation purposes in the future as habitat fragmentation and habitat destruction become more persistent across the landscape. We hope to expand our research to other location including residential areas and urban parks to create a better understanding of owl habitat usage in Clinton County.
Fifteen-year Forest Structure Changes in a Sandstone Pavement BarrenThe Altona Flatrock sandstone pavement barren is a rare fire-dependent ecological community geographically located at the narrow overlap of jack pine and pitch pine species ranges. We studied fifteen year post-ice storm plant community change at the Altona Flatrock pine barren in Clinton County, New York. Prior research predicted plant community changes in the barren due to fire exclusion. Our study is the first to examine long-term changes in plant species composition of this pine barren community. In the overstory, pitch pine basal area and density remained similar (i.e., < 20% ) between 1999 and 2014, while density and basal area of red maple increased 67% and 109%, respectively. Jack pine overstory mortality was 100% between 1999 and 2014 in our plots. Few jack pine saplings (12.5 stems/ha) and no pitch pine saplings were present in our plots. However, a great density of red maple saplings (1,950 stems/ha) existed. Ground cover was dominated by huckleberry, Sphagnum spp., and Schreber's big red stem moss. With an absence of fire and the subsequent decreases in jack and pitch pine, this post-ice storm pine barren is developing into a boreal heath barren dominated by huckleberry in the understory with an overstory comprised mostly of red maple. In the absence of fire, or a suitable management alternative, this rare ecological community type may become extirpated from this Region. Further research could focus on successfully regenerating fire dependent pines to provide a more complete understanding of the ecological requirements and traits in this sandstone pavement barrens ecosystem in Clinton County.
The polymorphic ACE gene and resulting genotypes and allele frequencies within specific groupsThe polymorphic angiotensin I-converting enzyme (ACE) gene was one of the first genetic elements to demonstrate a significant impact on human performance. Since then, it has been shown to play a role in coronary artery disease. The functional genetic alleles have been determined. The ACE phenotypes have been associated with improvements in athletic performance, endurance, as well as association with blood pressure variations. The I allele has been connected with endurance events, while the D allele is associated with strength and power athletic events, as well as coronary disease. The objectives for this study were twofold, first to provide a guided inquiry research experience for undergraduate students based on a topic in class, and second, to examine the ACE gene alleles present in five distinct populations: Men's and Women's hockey teams, elite (Olympic level) bobsledders, Ironman Triathletes, members of the college's track team, and African American college students. The results showed significant differences (p<0.05) observed in the distribution of ACE genotype polymorphisms between the control group and both the men's and women's hockey teams, but not in the African American population and international bobsledders or track team members.