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University of Guelph

Country: Canada
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14 Projects, page 1 of 3
  • Funder: NSF Project Code: 7359158
    Partners: University of Guelph
  • Funder: NSF Project Code: 0904622
    Partners: University of Guelph
  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: NE/E015212/1
    Funder Contribution: 389,323 GBP
    Partners: University of St Andrews, University of Guelph

    Iceland represents a natural laboratory for studying the colonization of freshwater habitats by fish since rivers and lakes all date from the end of the last Ice-Age less than 10,000 years ago. The North Atlantic provided a refuge for species such as arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus) which invaded freshwater once the ice retreated. New habitats and the lack of competing species led to the appearance of different forms of Artic charr, called morphs. In particular, 27 discrete populations of dwarf charr have been identified with specialised feeding morphology that enables them to exploit the small larval fissures on the bottom of streams and lakes. Our Icelandic and Canadian partners have collected an enormous amount of data on each of the dwarf populations including, habitat characteristics (temperature and bottom type), diet, maximum body size, size and age at sexual maturity and cranial morphology. Other studies in progress on rapidly evolving DNA sequences we will enable us to determine the relationships between each population and estimate which ones arose independently allowing us to study the repeatability of evolution for populations living in similar habitats. Studies involving such diverse organisms as worms, flies and vertebrates suggest that poor nutrition alone is sufficient to produce dwarfism via effects on the signaling pathways controlled by the hormone Insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I): indicating a universal and conserved biological mechanism. Intriguingly, in the zebrafish, which is often used for studies of development, so-called 'knock-outs' of an IGF-binding-protein gene also caused alterations to the shape of the head which are reminiscent of those found in dwarf charr. We will therefore experimentally test the hypothesis that interactions between the environment and the IGF-hormone system during development can produce the specialised jaw and cranial morphology characteristic of the dwarf phenotype. Since early development in fish is entirely dependent on genetic messages passed through the egg yolk we will conduct experiments to determine whether it is the environment of the mother, the embryo or both that are important for producing fish with dwarf characteristics. Thingvallavatn, the largest and oldest lake in Iceland, contains four Arctic charr morphs, including a dwarf form, which are specialised to exploit different habitats. Laboratory breeding experiments have shown that the large differences in body size, morphology and life history such as the size at sexual maturity are heritable. This suggests that intense competition between morphs and reproductive isolation has resulted in natural selection and specialization for characters helping each morph to survive in their chosen environment. Previously we showed that dwarfism in the Thingvallavatn charr has resulted in a reduction in the number of muscle fibres in the trunk, which is thought to lower costs of maintenance relative to the ancestral charr. By studying a large number of Arctic charr populations (15 dwarfs and 5 generalists) we will test the generality of the hypothesis that the relative importance of developmental plasticity versus selection for setting muscle fibre number is related to the age and stability of the habitat and is different depending on whether there is competition with other morphs. The research is important because it addresses the fundamental question of how natural selection and plasticity operate to produce different forms of the same species at the level of physiological systems. The evolution of different morphs of the same species is relatively common and is found, for example, in sticklebacks and African cichclids. The practical application of this research is in understanding how the biodiversity of fish populations arises and how it may be conserved for future generations.

  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: NE/V020439/1
    Funder Contribution: 7,207 GBP
    Partners: Loughborough University, University of Guelph

    ESRC : Hannah Thompson : ES/P000711/1 Investing in girls' and women's sport participation has been shown to support long-term achievement (Ickovics et al., 2014), and leads to higher earnings and job quality (Cabane & Clark, 2015). Research has found that a 10% increase in girls' sport participation led to a 1% increase in university applications and a 1-2% increase in participation in the workforce, particularly in male-dominated industries and high skill occupations (Stevenson, 2010). Thus, sport participation plays a role in the development of human capital for girls and women. Research has also shown that girls who have active women athletes as role models were significantly more physically active than girls whose chosen role models were outside sport (Young et al., 2015). But media coverage for women's sport ranges from 1.8% to 4% (Cooky et al., 2013) making it incredibly hard for girls to see their role models. In addition, we know that girls drop out of sport at a much higher rate than boys making the visibility of role models even more important. Conversations about women's sport coverage remains rife despite decades-worth of scholarship calling for more and fairer quality and quantity within the sports pages and minutes on the screen. Musto et al., (2017) found, coverage of sportswomen remains to be 'bland' and 'wishy-washy' marginalizing sportswomen as uninspiring performers reaffirming patriarchal beliefs. This differential coverage in both qualitative and quantitative ways is said to be harmful "as [it] generate[s] and reinforce[s] stereotypical gender roles and negatively impacts perceptions of women's capabilities" (Fink, 2015 p.322). Most of this has been explained by a lack of diversity within newsrooms, for example Laucella et al., (2016) recognize sport editors often believe interest of women's sports to be low and don't feel like coverage needs to be improved. However, they also found a shift that hinted towards an increase in women being hired relating to improvements of female athletes and women's sport. Although, it's important to note that hiring more women doesn't necessarily equate to more coverage, when there are other potential and unknown factors at play. Hence, our application of stakeholder theory will prove useful to understand who the actors are and what influence do they have on the quantity and quality of women's sports coverage. In summary, there is a lack of gender-balance coverage perceived to be the case in both Canada and UK. Therefore, by creating a score report card, we seek to evaluate the make-up of who the people are in positions of power to create and shape narratives of women's sport. Addressing gender, race, class, and sexuality markers, we aim to uncover whether the more diversity of the newsroom may equal increasing numbers of women's sport coverage. And, by profiling sports news organisations, we can hold accountable the calls and pledges for fairer and gender equitable coverage. Our proposal is truly innovative in its approach to debates on gender, sport and media and will provide novel insights that can have a broad industry impact as there is a real gap in knowledge of how to measure and hold account these pledges for equitable sports media practices. Plus, while it is widely accepted that sport media remains to be predominantly served by white men there are few studies that investigate gatekeeping processes in sports media.

  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: NE/T014687/1
    Funder Contribution: 12,713 GBP
    Partners: University of Guelph, University of Warwick

    Flaviviruses pose an ever increasing problem for the worldwide population. Before 1970 only 9 countries had experienced severe dengue epidemics; now dengue is endemic in over 100 countries. Similarly, before the 1980s human infection from Zika was a very rare occurrence; now 86 countries have reported mosquito-transmitted Zika outbreaks. It is challenging to predict which flaviviruses will result in the next epidemic and the dynamics between co-circulating pathogens may be responsible for increased morbidity. Antibody dependent enhancement (ADE) is known to increase the severity of dengue-related illnesses when a population is infected with different serotypes of dengue consecutively. It is believed that this mechanism may also occur between dengue and Zika owing to their near identical structures, which is particularly concerning as they share the same vectors, Aedes aegypti and A. albopictus. As a result of climate change, the habitat of these mosquitoes is expanding and in recent years persistent populations of A. albopictus have been found as far north as Southern Ontario in Canada with A. aegypti being found in previous years. Currently, there is no approved vaccine for dengue or Zika. For dengue this is in part due to the effects of ADE, which could see vaccinated individuals with no prior exposure experiencing severe side effects should they be subsequently infected. Therefore, the dynamics within dengue serotypes and between them and Zika is crucially important for any future prevention and control policies. This project aims to elucidate the dynamics of co-circulating flaviviruses considering ADE through the use of statistical and mechanistic models. By integrating the statistical models used currently by the Public Health Care Agency of Canada (PHAC) to represent the distribution of Aedes across Canada with a mechanistic model for dengue and Zika considering ADE, we will be able to forecast the change in risk for sequential and concurrent dengue and Zika outbreaks that take into account the effect of climate change.This project will determine the number of imported cases and vectors carrying dengue and/or Zika required for sequential and concurrent outbreaks to occur and which environmental and demographic variables have the biggest impact upon future invasion risk. Modelling infectious diseases requires an interdisciplinary approach and this project will take full advantage of the wide variety of specialists accessible through Dr Greer and her lab group. Her monthly lab group meetings are attended by individuals from PHAC which facilitates an exchange of ideas and expertise between academics and policy makers. There will be opportunities to collaborate with other academics such as Dr Heffernan who specialises in co-infection, from York University, and Dr Rob Deardon, a biostatistician at the University of Calgary. Furthermore Entomogen Inc., a company which monitors the mosquito population and carries out viral testing, is based in Ontario. Visits to this group will improve understanding of how mosquito data are gathered and elucidate any possible biases in reported data. Finally, in 2020 the American Society for Tropical Medicine and Hygiene are holding their annual conference in Toronto, which will provide an ideal opportunity to network with experts in the flavivirus research. At the conclusion of this project we will have developed a model that can be utilised to establish the risk of outbreaks of dengue fever and Zika occurring in Canada that takes into account future climate change. The outputs of this model will be communicated directly to our collaborators at the University of Guelph and PHAC, thus informing contingency planning for outbreaks of flaviviruses in Canada in the future.