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Friday, February 24th
9:00 AM

Unlocking Montana: A Solution to Corner-Locked Public Land

Sawyer J. Connelly

UC 330

9:00 AM - 9:15 AM

Across the American West, 9.52 million acres of federal and state public lands are inaccessible to the public. The legality of accessing much of those public lands through corner-crossing is unclear in the law because, in the infinitesimal space where four corners of land meet in a checkerboard pattern, there is ambiguity; neither private landowners nor the public can assert an exclusive right or absolute control without infringing upon the rights of the other. This paper discusses the origins of landlocked public land, common law doctrines that inform legal actors in this space, and analyzes federal statute and state legislative attempts to clarify corner-crossing. Informed by principles of statutory interpretation, the paper systematically examines five previous legislative attempts to legalize corner crossing in Wyoming, Nevada, and Montana. It proposes a solution that progresses Montana’s outdoor recreation heritage while respecting private property rights through a thoughtful addition to the Montana Code Annotated.

9:20 AM

Our Loons: Person-Place Relationships within a Long-Running Citizen Science Program

Taylor N. Tewksbury

UC 330

9:20 AM - 9:35 AM

With a call that conjures visions of secluded lakes, the Common Loon is a culturally and ecologically significant bird in the state of New Hampshire. Triggered by the species’ decline, 1975 saw the formation of the Loon Preservation Committee (LPC), a volunteer-driven non-profit organization based in Moultonborough, NH. LPC staff monitor loon success on roughly 350 lakes, which are scattered across the state. Therefore, LPC’s volunteer citizen scientists are integral to the organization’s success. Considered a form of pro-environmental behavior, citizen science is the involvement of the public in scientific research. When participating in their familiar landscapes, citizen scientists can contribute valuable time, access, and knowledge to projects that may otherwise be under-resourced.

While working as an LPC field biologist, I engaged with volunteers that have supported the organization for decades. Volunteers frequently admitted feeling protective of, or responsible for, the loons’ success, often referring to the pair they monitor as “our loons.” Many also shared stories symbolizing their personal attachments to their lakes. Place attachment can be understood as the bond that forms between people and their environments. With a history of community-based monitoring and expression of emotional attachment among its volunteers, LPC provides a case study for examining place attachment among citizen science participants.

This mixed-methods study uses qualitative and quantitative data to understand place attachment and motivations among LPC volunteers. In 2022, I distributed a quantitative survey to LPC’s volunteers, yielding a 59% response rate. This survey collected data on demographics, conservation identity, attachment levels, and motivations to participate in the organization. Data analysis will compare place attachment levels between different subgroups, such as long-and short-term volunteers. I will also compare the motivations of volunteers that self-identified as conservationists and those that did not. Given the nuance of person-place relationships, I am conducting follow-up interviews with participants. I will use the interview data to explore connections between participants’ identities and their involvement in loon conservation. Finally, I will use the interviews to understand how participants’ relationships with loons have changed after volunteering with LPC. Collectively, this study aims to better understand how place attachment may be used to create, and bolster participation in, meaningful citizen science programs.

10:00 AM

Understanding Trauma Awareness and Communication Competency in Athletic Training: A Mixed-Methods Inquiry

Adrienne Tauses, University of Montana, Missoula

UC 330

10:00 AM - 10:15 AM

There has long been a link between stress and injury in athletes. Even so, athletic injuries are often viewed as primarily performance issues which ignores potential underlying psychological contributors to the injury. Research has shown that while athletic trainers have some training in psychological competencies, they lack awareness of trauma and self-efficacy in engaging in difficult conversations with athletes. Addressing the whole person within athletic training could reduce injury and improve performance. To consider holistic healing for athletic injury, it is important to incorporate considerations of childhood trauma on athletes’ current well-being. This research will explore the influence of a whole person athletic training workshop on athletic trainers’ trauma awareness and communication competency using a mixed methods sequential explanatory design.

This presentation will include an overview of the background of the problem, and initial results from pre and post assessments including the ACES questionnaire, Trauma System Readiness Tool, Communication Competency, and a Perceived Stress Scale as well as information about the Whole Person Athletic Training workshop and initial selection process for qualitative inquiry.

Viewing athletic injury through a primarily physical ability and performance lens ignores the mind-body approach to recovery. In considering holistic healing for athletic injury, it is important to incorporate the potential influence of trauma, including childhood trauma, on athletes’ current well-being.

ATs may be presented with the unique opportunity to recognize and understand how childhood trauma can contribute to injury in athletes on college campuses. The ability to recognize the presence of childhood trauma, broach the topic with their athletes, and engage in meaningful conversation and psycho-education about the link between trauma and performance could expedite athletes healing from injury, and even prevent recurring injury. The hope of this research is to enhance ATs knowledge and application to apply a holistic treatment approach, and further decrease stigma of mental health seeking within sport culture.

10:20 AM

Interpersonal Protective Factors of Suicide Ideation and Attempt Among Adolescents

Lillian Martz, University of Montana
Emily Sallee, University of Montana, Missoula
Abraham Cazares-Cervantes, Oregon State University

UC 330

10:20 AM - 10:35 AM

The purpose of this research study is to contribute positively to the literature and research related to the growing epidemic of suicidality among adolescents in the United States. More than one in three high school students report experiencing persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness and one in six youth report making a suicide plan in the past year. Nearly 22% of Montana teens seriously considered suicide in the past year with a full 10.2% of teens making a suicide attempt. The researchers are interested in applying the Interpersonal Theory of Suicide (IPTS) to the adolescent population. ITPS posits that the those who complete suicide do so because they are experiencing extreme mental distress related to feelings of thwarted belonging (TB) and perceived burdensomeness (PB) coupled with an acquired capability to harm themselves (Joiner, 2009). Previous research indicates that IPTS can be applied to identify risk factors among this population. This study applies this theory to examine interpersonal protective factors. We hope that our data will identify factors that caring adults, educational administrators, counselors, and public health officials can use to guide prevention and intervention services. By examining this connection, we can find ways to increase feelings of belonging and reduce feelings of burdensomeness among adolescents and reduce their risk of death by suicide. Methods include conducting a secondary analysis of the archival data from the 2017 Oregon Healthy Teen Survey. We will measure the two predictor variables of PB and TB via proxy items. The survey items were asked on either a binary (yes/no) or 7-point, Likert-type scale. We will utilize binomial logistic regression and multiple regression to examine the correlation between these protective factors and suicide ideation and attempt. Preliminary analysis indicates several factors with statistical significance.

10:40 AM

The Experience and Process of Surviving Sexual Trauma for Minority Individuals

Hana Meshesha, University of Montana, Missoula

UC 330

10:40 AM - 10:55 AM

Millions of individuals report experiencing sexual violence every year with a significant number of them having noted trauma symptoms. Higher rates of sexual violence and trauma symptoms are reported by individuals in minority groups compared to their counterparts in a dominant group. This demands due attention in order to serve them based on the knowledge gained by understanding their journey of surviving sexual trauma. Survivors’ positionality in their intra and intercultural contexts and their interaction with it can shape their process of finding meaning. This grounded theory study aims to explore the experience and process of surviving from sexual trauma for individuals in minority groups. Critical inquiry and social constructivism theories will be used as interpretive frameworks. Charmaz’s constructivist grounded theory and Clarke’s situational analysis will be used to guide the co-construction of knowledge and mapping positionality within social situations. Initial sampling will consist of six survivors of sexual trauma who identify as members of a minority group based on sexual orientation, gender, race, and disability status. Interview will be the method used for data collection. Following two rounds of interviews and initial analysis, participants will be invited for member check. Identification of emerging themes will be guided by Charmaz’s principles and guidance on coding. The emerging relations within the social context of the survivors will be mapped using Clarke’s situational analysis. Procedures of ensuring trustworthiness are member check, triangulation, assigning an inquiry auditor, prolonged engagement, IRB approval, memo writing, journaling, and reflexivity.

11:00 AM

Parasitic Infection in a Social Carnivore: T. gondii Exposure Increases Risky Decision Making in Gray Wolves

Connor J. Meyer, University of Montana, Missoula
Kira A. Cassidy, National Park Service
Erin Stahler, National Park Service
Ellen Brandell, Colorado Parks and Wildlife
Colby B. Anton, Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks
Daniel Stahler, National Park Service
Douglas W. Smith, Retired: National Park Service

UC 330

11:00 AM - 11:15 AM

Toxoplasma gondii is a protozoan parasite capable of infecting any warm-blooded species yet, requires a feline definitive host to sexually reproduce. Experimental studies indicate that T. gondii infection increases an individual’s risky decision-making but, due to the intensive data collection and large samples sizes necessary, T. gondii’s role in ecosystem processes is understudied.

We sought to understand the role in which T. gondii exposure affects gray wolf decision-making in Yellowstone National Park. To achieve this, we used 25 years of wolf serological and behavioral data to build generalized linear mixed models (GLMMs) to test for a change in behavior of gray wolves after exposure. We examined the effect of seropositivity on four behaviors associated with risk taking: (1) dispersal, (2) achieving dominant social status (i.e., becoming pack leader), (3) approaching people or vehicles (i.e., habituation), and (4) dying of a specific cause, measured two ways: intraspecific mortality or anthropogenic mortality. We demonstrate that T. gondii infection directly affected the probability that a wolf became a pack leader or dispersed by 46 and 11 times, respectively, compared to seronegative wolves.

This study helps to unlock the complexity of parasite-host-ecosystem dynamics. The wolf behaviors associated with infection (i.e., dispersal and leadership) have the potential to impact vital rates at the individual, group, population, and ecosystem levels through subsequent changes in reproduction and survival of those exposed to T. gondii. Our study reveals an important and novel link between T. gondii infection and behavioral alterations in a free-living wildlife population.

11:20 AM

Prophages encode and disseminate bacterial immune systems

Amelia K. Schmidt, The University Of Montana

UC 330

11:20 AM - 11:35 AM

Bacteria are under constant threat of infection by viruses called bacteriophages (phages).

As a result, bacteria have evolved diverse phage defense systems; however, these defenses are very specific and effectively defend against a narrow range of phages. I have discovered that the filamentous Pf phages which chronically infect the formidable bacterial pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa encode diverse phage defense systems. Infection by a competing phage mobilizes these systems, allowing defense systems to fluctuate in dominance in response to the ever-changing pressure of phage predation.

11:40 AM

Curious interactions between a bacterium, its virus, and predatory roundworms

Caleb M. Schwartzkopf
Autumn J. Robinson
Mary Ellenbecker
Dominick R. Faith
Diane M. Brooks
Amelia K. Schmidt
Lincoln Lewerke
Ekaterina Voronina
Ajai A. Dandekar

UC 330

11:40 AM - 11:55 AM

The opportunistic human pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1 is infected by the Pf4 bacteriophage (virus). Pf4 virions promote biofilm formation, protect bacteria from antibiotics, and modulate animal immune responses in ways that promote bacterial infection. Furthermore, bacterial strains cured of their Pf4 bacteriophage (∆Pf4) are less virulent in animal models of infection. Consistently, we find that strain ∆Pf4 is less virulent in a Caenorhabditis elegansroundworm infection model. However, our data indicate that bacterial communication, PQS quorum sensing, is activated and production of the pigment pyocyanin, a potent virulence factor, is enhanced in strain ∆Pf4. The reduced virulence of ∆Pf4 despite high levels of pyocyanin production may be explained by our finding that C. elegans mutants unable to sense bacterial pigments through the aryl hydrocarbon receptor are more susceptible to ∆Pf4 infection compared to wild-type C. elegans. Collectively, our data support a model where suppression of quorum-regulated virulence factors by Pf4 allows P. aeruginosa to evade detection by innate host immune responses.