Session A: 9AM – 10:30AM

Social Sciences. Session A – Poster Presentations, Ballroom, Union

SESSION A (9:00-10:30AM)
Location: Ballroom, A. Ray Olpin University Union

Climatic Variability and Mortality in Baja California Sur, Mexico
Isabelle Forrest, University of Utah
Abby Swanson, University of Utah

Faculty Mentor: Shane Macfarlan, University of Utah

SESSION A (9:00-10:30AM)

Human health and well-being are influenced by local climates. Factors such as increasing ambient temperatures and precipitation cause increases in human mortality. However, not all communities are equally negatively impacted by these factors and for some, these changes might produce positive outcomes (if only temporarily). For example, in a hot arid desert, seasonal rains, tropical storms, and hurricanes might produce positive outcomes on human health and well-being. Here, we seek to assess how climatic factors such as ambient temperature and tropical storms/hurricanes influence mortality in Baja California Sur, Mexico over a ten-year window.  To do so, we extracted data on local climate, the presence of hurricanes, and mortality events using freely available data from Mexican government archives. Our analyses suggest that 1) both within and between years, hotter ambient temperatures are positively correlated with mortality events, and 2) within years, hurricanes and tropical storms are negatively related to mortality events. While we find a strong relationship between local climate and mortality, we suggest that not all climatic events that are construed as negative have negative impacts on human mortality.


Walking After Dark: Illuminance Audit of the Pedestrian Environment
Ian Nelson, Southern Utah University
Sabrina Waite, Southern Utah University

Faculty Mentor: Jamie Spinney, Southern Utah University

SESSION A (9:00-10:30AM)

It is becoming increasingly dangerous to be a pedestrian, especially at night. The purpose of this study was to perform an audit of sidewalk illuminance in the neighborhoods immediately surrounding Southern Utah University campus in Cedar City, Utah.  A digital light meter was used to measure illuminance at street intersections and at regularly spaced mid-block locations. GPS coordinates were also collected to enable mapping of the data. Results suggest the pedestrian environment does not meet national lighting standards, which pose significant safety concerns for pedestrians after dark. Results also provide the information required for targeted visibility enhancements of both sidewalks and crosswalks.


Social Connection as a Protective for Individuals with ASD and Social Anxiety 
Lizzy Smith, Brigham Young University
Melissa Chavez,  Brigham Young University
James Blood, Brigham Young University
Ethan Carter, Brigham Young University

Faculty Mentor: Jared Nielsen , Brigham Young University

SESSION A (9:00-10:30AM)

There has been a significant amount of research into social support as a protective factor against suicide. This information is important because it provides a coping mechanism for those with suicidal ideation and tendencies. All of that research has conclusively stated that social support is a protective factor against suicide, however, the greater portion of the research was completed in a neurotypical population. The scientific community lacks information and research on how protective social support is for populations of neurodiverse individuals. In attempts to answer this issue, we have gathered data from a socially anxious group, autistic group, and control group about social interaction and connection over a time period ranging from 6 weeks to 9 months. The individuals from each group were asked questions about their virtual and face-to-face interactions via a Metricwire survey that they received every night for the duration that they participated in the study. The results of both in-person and digital results suggest a weak correlation in support of a possible coping mechanism that the more social connection one has, the less suicidal they will be (representing a downward trend). Nevertheless, it was highly dependent per individual as to whether they find social support to be a protective factor.  Thus, from this measure it is shown that social support is a protective factor for those within the neurodivergent population, all though a weak one. This suggests that other protective factors may be more relevant to the neurodiverse population.  Further research regarding this question must be completed to come to a scientifically relevant conclusion this question.



Oppression in Xinjiang: Rhetorical Parallels to the Causal Mechanisms
Christina Anderson, Utah State University

Faculty Mentor: Colin Flint, Utah State University

SESSION A (9:00-10:30AM)

This paper focuses on the framings of ethnic conflict compared to expectations of political science explanations of the causes of such conflict. I used the example of Uyghur Muslims and Han Chinese in Xinjiang as narrated by Chinese and U.S. news media. Framings are statements used to portray the who, what, and why of an issue through the emphasis or exclusion of information to create a specific agenda. The theoretical expectation from social science is that ethnic conflict is a result of a commitment problem, which is where the two parties in the conflict cannot credibly guarantee the protection of the other. I performed a comparative content analysis to uncover the framings that both internal and external actors are using, the differences between them, and their congruence with universal expectations from political science analyses of ethnic conflict. Findings of incongruence help us interpret narratives surrounding issues of ethnic conflict and respond to them more effectively through policy as there may be a mismatch between the rhetoric surrounding these issues and what is at the root of the conflict.


Let’s Talk About Sex…
Mary Cannon, Southern Utah University

Faculty Mentor: Kirsten L. Graham, Southern Utah University

SESSION A (9:00-10:30AM)

Faculty Mentors: Dr. Kirsten Graham (Mentor), and Dr. Julie Johnson-Pynn, Psychology

This study aimed to look at the correlation between previous sex education received by the participants, the actual comprehensive knowledge of each participant, and then their attitudes towards sex positivity. The participants were directed to a survey that first tested their comprehensive sex education knowledge and then their sex positivity and finally some demographic questions. By comparing the results of participants using factor analysis the implications are likely to promote a more comprehensive, inclusive, and educational sex education program. Everyone should have the right to education and knowledge that allows them to make well-informed and good decisions for their health and well-being, this including sexual health and wellness. Preliminary results will be presented, but we predict to see a positive correlation between comprehensive sex knowledge and sex positivity.



Associations Among Maternal Trauma History, Prenatal Emotion Dysregulation, and Prenatal Sleep Quality
Marissa Larkin, University of Utah

Faculty Mentor: Sheila Crowell, University of Utah

SESSION A (9:00-10:30AM)

Sleep is a key yet under appreciated mechanism that has a long-term impact on mental and physical health. Consequences of poor quality of sleep can include diabetes, heart attack, depression, and anxiety. Likewise, those who have faced traumatic experiences throughout their lifetime can experience mental and physical health setbacks, including poor sleep quality. One group of individuals who are especially prone to encountering poor sleep quality are pregnant women, especially those who have experienced trauma. Understanding the relation between maternal trauma history and prenatal sleep quality is vital because of its effects on fetal development, maternal health, and later parenting outcomes. More specifically, women’s experiences with trauma have been linked to their sleep quality during pregnancy; however, limited research has examined if the relation between maternal trauma history and prenatal sleep quality varies based on levels of prenatal emotion dysregulation. For instance, it may be that traumatic life experiences negatively influence sleep quality only among women who also have difficulties regulating their emotions. For us to address this gap in the literature, we had 86 women aged 19-38 who were enrolled in a longitudinal study on sleep, emotion dysregulation, and suicide risk during the perinatal period fill out a variety of self-report measures (F31MH124275, PI Kaliush). The participants completed self-report measures pertaining to traumatic life experiences (Traumatic Experiences of Betrayal across the Lifespan [TEBL]; Kaliush et al., unpublished), emotion dysregulation (Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale [DERS]; Gratz & Roemer, 2004), and subjective sleep quality (Consensus Sleep Diary [CSD]; Carney et al., 2012). We ran correlational analyses to investigate overall associations among the variables of interest. Hierarchical linear regression was used to test emotion dysregulation as a moderator of the predictive association between maternal trauma history and prenatal sleep quality. We hypothesized a negative correlation between emotion dysregulation and prenatal sleep quality, and a positive correlation between maternal trauma history and the mother’s emotion dysregulation. We also hypothesized the relation between maternal trauma history and prenatal sleep quality would vary based on levels of prenatal emotion dysregulation. We hypothesized that high accumulation of trauma would be associated with poor sleep quality only among women who also experienced high emotion dysregulation. Similarly, we hypothesized that regardless of trauma history, women with high emotion dysregulation would have poor sleep quality. Understanding the relation between women’s trauma history and prenatal sleep quality-and how this relation may differ based on women’s difficulties with emotion regulation-can inform intervention efforts that promote long-term maternal, child, and family health outcomes. Keywords: emotion dysregulation, pregnancy, sleep quality, trauma



The Willingness to Pay for a Carbon Tax in Utah
Katie Tenney, Weber State University

Faculty Mentor: Therese Grijalva, Weber State University

SESSION A (9:00-10:30AM)

The purpose of this study is to estimate public acceptability in Utah of a carbon tax (CT) program to mitigate carbon emissions. In 2019, the Clean the Darn Air campaign proposed a ballot measure that would create a CT of $12 per metric ton of CO2 in Utah. Upon failing to gather enough signatures for the 2020 election, they have relaunched the campaign for a 2024 ballot initiative. A CT is a market-based solution promoted by economists to correct for a market failure that arises when the full costs of production and consumption (such as air pollution and climate change) are not reflected in market prices. A discrete choice experiment (CE) survey method is used to elicit preferences and acceptability of a CT program with alternative revenue use proposals that would address the regressive nature of the tax and environmental program funding, as well as estimating the dollar amount that, on average, a Utah resident would be willing-to-pay (WTP) in the form of a CT imposed as a per gallon tax at the gas pump. Socio-demographic, economic, and environmental questions are included to identify how individual characteristics affect preferences. The survey was administered using Prolific, an online research platform. Other studies have used CEs to investigate CT preferences in individual countries, such as Australia, Turkey, and the U.S., but this is the first study focused on Utah, and thus is an important contribution to the literature and local policymakers. The survey data is analyzed using a multinomial conditional logit model to provide the probability of a Utah resident supporting a CT given its attributes and the individual’s characteristics. On average, the results show that individuals would be WTP a per gallon CT of $0.64, $0.54 and $0.46, if revenues are used to reduce grocery sales tax, cleaning local air pollution, and clean energy development, respectively. The results are quantitatively similar to what others have found in the literature.



Impact of trauma exposure and posttraumatic stress symptoms on baseline self-reported safety behaviors versus observer-rated safety behaviors during the trauma film paradigm
Caleb Woolston, University of Utah

Faculty Mentor: Anu Asnaani, University of Utah

SESSION A (9:00-10:30AM)

Background: Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a high-burden disorder marked by the tendency to engage in safety behaviors (SB) to avoid distress when an individual is facing fearful situations, which published literature suggests maintains their symptoms. However, work in other disorders (e.g., obsessive-compulsive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder) suggests there exists a discrepancy between observer-measured SB and patients’ self-reported SB, creating a need to examine if this is also the case for PTSD, and whether this discrepancy exists in those who have simply had a traumatic exposure or is observed primarily in those with the presence of significant PTSD symptoms. We expect that the presence of increasing PTSD symptoms will be correlated with greater SBs in general and that those with PTSD symptoms will have a greater discrepancy between these two types of SBs. Methods: We used a between-subject design to examine an observer-rated measure of safety behaviors performed by participants exposed to distressing trauma-related videos compared to a self-reported measure of SB (Safety Behaviors Assessment Form; SBAF) for three groups: individuals with no trauma exposure (n = 77), those with trauma exposure but minimal PTSD symptoms (n = 50) and those with trauma exposure and probable PTSD (n = 24), (PTSD symptoms were measured via the Primary Care PTSD Screen-5; PC-PTSD-5). Results: Correlational analysis revealed probable PTSD is correlated to higher self-reported SB (r = .27, p<.001), but not observer-rated SB (r = -.04, p=.69). An analysis-of-variance revealed a significant discrepancy between self-reported and observer-rated SBs for those with probable PTSD compared to the other two groups, who did not show significant discrepancy in type of SBs (F (2,101) =3.53, p= .033), such that those with probable PTSD reported greater self-reported SBs. Conclusions: Consistent with expectations, we found that individuals with probable PTSD showed greater discrepancies in types of SBs. Such a finding suggests SB may be more covert and internalized for individuals with PTSD, and therefore harder for observers to catch and report, underscoring the need for clinicians and researchers to ensure that they are utilizing adequate and validated self-report measures to capture SBs in individuals with PTSD.



Elucidating the Mechanisms of Amygdala-Mediated Memory Enhancement
Carson Miller, University of Utah

Faculty Mentor: Cory Inman, University of Utah

SESSION A (9:00-10:30AM)

Emotional events are often better remembered than neutral events. Research suggests this is due, at least in part, to the amygdala and its interactions with other brain regions in the medial temporal lobe (MTL). Although there is broad support for the role of the amygdala and MTL in memory, little is known about how the amygdala differentially modulates recall vs. recognition memory. Prior work shows that direct electrical stimulation of the human amygdala enhances recognition memory and increases neuronal oscillations between the amygdala and downstream MTL regions. However, the effects of amygdala stimulation on recall memory and subsequent amygdala-MTL interactions is unknown. We are interested in examining the neural correlates of recall memory in the context of amygdala-mediated memory enhancement. This research aims to use previously collected data from experiments using depth electrodes to directly stimulate the amygdala in human patients to investigate whether brief electrical stimulation enhances recall memory and influences amygdala-MTL interactions (see Figure 1 in Supplement for task design). More specifically, this study explores the interactions between the amygdala and hippocampus and how these interactions may facilitate recall memory. To extract behavioral data, each individual patient’s free recall list of remembered images was examined, and it was determined whether the image they recalled was one they actually saw during the encoding phase and whether the image was associated with amygdala stimulation. Data analysis determined the ratio of images recalled that were associated with amygdala stimulation during encoding (see Figure 2 in Supplement), whether a clustering effect occurred, and the percentile of the stimulated images in the recall list. Finally, an analysis script incorporated permutation testing in Python on the original dataset to test the null hypothesis. For the uncompleted aspects of this project, the neural correlates of amygdala-mediated recall memory enhancement within the amygdala and hippocampus will be analyzed by examining the neural data for each patient’s recall-memory trials and calculating the difference between the oscillatory activity for remembered images in the BLA stimulation condition vs. the non-stimulation condition. Additionally, the subsequent memory effects will be investigated to determine the neural states during encoding that predict successful recall during retrieval.  Finally, the neural correlates of correctly recalled vs. incorrectly recalled items will be studied by examining the neuronal oscillations between the BLA and hippocampus during recall of an image that the patient saw during encoding vs. false recall of an image that the patient never saw during encoding. Together, the results of this project will clarify the involvement of the amygdala and amygdala-hippocampal interactions in recall memory, opening a path to future therapies for episodic memory loss.



An In-Depth Analysis Of The Court System’s Response To A Child’s Psychological Well-being in Domestic Violence Custody Hearings.
Ximena Franco, University of Utah

Faculty Mentor: Annie Fukushima, University of Utah

SESSION A (9:00-10:30AM)

In a child custody hearing where domestic violence is present in the household, court appointed evaluators are tasked to investigate the nature of the alleged domestic abuse, the offender and victims, and the threat of ongoing violence after the separation. Preceding research outlines both the court’s tendency to assign joint custody and the psychological resources that are offered to the separating parents. If there exists the risk of domestic violence continuing or evolving after the separation, children who remain in joint custody situations are at risk of continued exposure to violence. The psychological burden that domestic violence may have on a child is of serious concern. Exposure to domestic abuse, in all its forms, negatively impacts the cognitive, social, and attachment development of children. Regarding hearing the victims’ narratives and receiving psychological intervention, children remain to be an underrepresented demographic. An in-depth analysis of public court records and transcribed interviews with domestic abuse survivors were conducted to identify if the court system takes the child’s psychological well-being into consideration, and if any form of counseling or intervention was court mandated to protect those children. Keywords: domestic violence, child custody, psychological intervention, joint custody



Test Retest Study of Multisensory Cue-Combination
Jensen Koff, University of Utah

Faculty Mentor: Sarah Creem-Regehr, University of Utah

SESSION A (9:00-10:30AM)

It is known that our everyday senses, such as vision, hearing, self-motion, and others help us navigate everyday tasks, such as crossing the street. For example, we combine the sound of cars zooming past us with the visual cues of car lights to ensure that it is safe. But what happens when one of those senses is taken away? Are we less accurate in our navigation? Our research study aims to compare vision and self-motion cues and see what happens when one of those cues is taken away, leaving participants with one or the other to navigate. It also compares accuracy and reliability within and across participants, having them come back for a retest of data. This specific research is important, because it shows us how stable our metric is of cue combination, as well as improving the foundation of the field of multi sensory integration. Once we can answer that question and determine if this metric is stable, we can then ask further questions, such as how do people combine, or weight, their senses during an orientation/navigation task?



Exploring Associations Between Maternal Rejection and Insensitivity and Attachment Behaviors in Infancy
Caroline Martin, University of Utah

Faculty Mentor: Elisabeth Conradt, University of Utah

SESSION A (9:00-10:30AM)

Infants require high caregiver sensitivity to develop healthy socio-emotional skills. A mother’s ability to be sensitive toward her infant’s needs and cues is significantly influenced by the amount of sensitivity or rejection she receives from her own caregivers. Mothers who have experienced childhood adversity are more likely to misinterpret their baby’s biological cues as signs of rejection of their care. This encourages the child’s development of abnormal coping mechanisms so that they may better survive on their own, creating a loop of insecure attachment persisting across generations. In the absence of a trustworthy caregiver, infants may develop insecure attachment styles, such as avoidant or anxious attachment, through coping mechanisms to offset their lack of received caregiver sensitivity. Down the line, these children might perform poorly in school, abuse drugs and alcohol, and even choose peer groups with shared insecurities and trauma. It is absolutely essential to understand how early caregiver relationships affect the development of an infant’s socio-emotional skills since the trajectory of a child’s life is highly impacted by these earliest attachments. Comparatively, Utah has the highest rate of mental illness in the US, according to SAMHSA’s 2019-2020 National Survey On Drug Use And Health. There is a crucial need within our state to evaluate emotion dysregulation in order to halt this intergenerational cycle of hereditary psychopathology and poor developmental outcomes. My research sheds light on how the cycle of transmitted insecure attachment can be interrupted. This impacts current mothers, but it also impacts Utah’s future generations. I aim to specifically examine sensitivity levels among mothers with high levels of emotion dysregulation to understand better the perceptions mothers develop towards their babies’ behaviors depending on how much neglect they receive for themselves.



Examining the Contributions of Social Neglect and Parental Sensitivity on Internationally Adopted Children’s Behavior Problems
Rose Mclaughlin, University of Utah

Faculty Mentor: Lee Raby, University of Utah

SESSION A (9:00-10:30AM)

Children adopted internationally often encounter adverse environments prior to adoption that can potentially harm their development. For example, many internationally adopted children experience social neglect while living in institutional settings because there are not enough (Dozier et al., 2012). Social neglect, in particular, has been linked to high rates of behavior problems among internationally adopted children (Gunnar et al., 2007). The present research project tested the hypothesis that high levels of parental sensitivity act as a buffer and lower behavior problems among adopted children who experienced social neglect prior to adoption, while low levels of parental sensitivity exacerbate behavior problems among children with pre-adoption experiences of social neglect. The sample included 106 children (52% female) who were adopted internationally by families living in the United States. The children were primarily adopted from countries in Asia (68%), Eastern Europe/Russia (18%), and Africa (13%) when they were between 4.8 months and 37.8 months old. The results of the linear regression analyses indicated that children who experienced social neglect prior to adoption exhibited more behavior problems at Time 2, even after controlling for initial behavior problems at Time 1. However, there was not a significant association between social neglect and later behavior problems after controlling for parental sensitivity. In contrast, parental sensitivity was negatively associated with adopted children’s behavior problems at Time 2 before and after controlling for social neglect prior to adoption. Contrary to our hypothesis, the association between parental sensitivity and later behavior problems was not moderated by whether the child experienced social neglect. These findings may help inform the ways in which adoption agencies and service providers assist current and prospective adoptive parents prepare to care for their children.



Increasing science self-efficacy and identity through participation in the Native American Summer Research Internship Program
Nura Mostaghimi, University of Utah

Faculty Mentor: Akiko Kamimura, University of Utah

SESSION A (9:00-10:30AM)

The purpose of this study is to determine how participation in the Native American Summer Research Internship Program (NARI) at the University of Utah can increase science self-efficacy and identity among participants who are college students and of Native American heritage. Across the nation, individuals of American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) descent represent a minority in health science professions. Their limited presence in these occupations has negative implications for the health of the greater Native American population. In order for health trends to improve amongst this population, the NARI program aims at increasing the number of AI/AN physicians, nurses, researchers, pharmacists, technicians, and additional bioscience professionals by providing summer undergraduate research opportunities. The data for this project was collected as part of surveys given to participants of NARI. During the 2019 and 2022 program summers, two surveys were distributed prior to and following the NARI program to assess participants’ knowledge and confidence with engaging in lab work, subject areas such as patient screening, data collection, and working with patients in clinical settings. There were 47 participants in total. The preliminary results indicate, participants developed a preference towards working with patients in a clinical setting, gained confidence in skills essential to clinical, translational and basic research and a vision of a career path they can pursue. Overall, this study is critical to understanding how undergraduate research opportunities such as NARI can empower cohorts of Native American undergraduate students to pursue professions in the biosciences and fill the gap in these careers such that the health disparities experienced by AI/AN individuals may be alleviated over time.



Play Profiles in Toddlers at-risk for Autism across the Second Year of Life
Jada Voth, University of Utah

Faculty Mentor: Stacy Shumway Manwaring, University of Utah

SESSION A (9:00-10:30AM)

Background: Early play skills are linked with several critical areas such as cognition, social communication, and language. Preschool-aged children with developmental delays often show differences or delays in their play development, including play that is less elaborative and less varied than their typically developing peers. However, less is known about play in the toddler years for children with or at-risk for developmental delays. This study examines the play of toddlers at 18- and 24-months of age with increased likelihood of autism due to significant language delays. Methods: Toddlers with language delay (LD; n=30) or typical development (TD; n=61) were drawn from longitudinal studies of early LD. Toddlers with LD were classified as ASD (LD-ASD; n=11) or non-ASD (LD-NonASD; n=19) after an evaluation at 36-months. A coding scheme was used to code play from a video-recorded 15-minute parent-child interaction with a standard set of toys obtained at 18 and 24 months. The variables examined included: total number of play actions, proportion of actions across four levels of play (indiscriminate, discriminate, functional/conventional, and symbolic), and diversity of play (number of different play actions and number of different toys played with). Results: Table 1 provides a summary of descriptive statistics of play at 18 and 24 months. In general, toddlers in the LD-ASD group engaged in fewer total play actions compared with toddlers with LD-NonASD and TD at both 18 and 24 months. Examination of the proportions of play actions across the four levels of play revealed that the LD-ASD group engaged in more Indiscriminate play (Level 1) compared to the LD-NonASD and TD groups. In contrast, toddlers in the LD-Non-ASD and TD groups showed proportionally more Discriminate and Functional/Conventional play. In relation to play diversity, toddlers in the LD-ASD group engaged in fewer different play actions than toddlers in the LD-NonASD and TD groups at 18 and 24 months. Conclusion: Preliminary findings from this study suggest that toddlers with LD and particularly those with ASD outcomes engaged in less sophisticated and less diverse play compared to TD toddlers at 18 months, with this play profile persisting at 24 months. Although significant variability was observed, toddlers in the LD-NonASD group showed similar frequency and diversity of play to TD, a surprising result given the relationship between language and play development reported in the literature. Regardless of group, toddlers engaged in less indiscriminate play and more functional/conventional play from 18 to 24 months. Continuing to follow this LD sample over time to examine how play develops with age along with language and social communication will be important in informing a more complete picture of the play of toddlers with delays, with the goal of informing more targeted interventions.


The role of colonizers in 17th century fire regime and vegetation composition in South Africa’s fynbos biome
Topher Roller, University of Utah

Faculty Mentor: Stella Mosher, University of Utah

SESSION A (9:00-10:30AM)

South Africa’s fire-adapted fynbos biome is one of the most biodiverse in the world, covering 90,000 km^2 along South Africa’s western and southern coasts, and containing nearly 9,000 plant species- of which about 70% are endemic (Goldblatt & Manning 2002). For millennia, climate conditions and natural variability have controlled fire activity in South Africa’s fynbos biome. However, the interpretation of these causes driving fire activity today has largely faded, favoring anthropogenic drivers. Aside from less dominant influence from early pastoralists, the entry of Dutch settlers to this area initiates a regimen of change onto Fynbos fire activity through a variety of mechanisms, including fire suppression, agricultural use, and the introduction of alien and invasive species to the existing extremely biodiverse landscape. The research proposed has the intention to explore the ecological indicators of these changes that colonizers brought to the area by investigating fire activity and vegetation change. To achieve this goal, I will focus on a coastal lake along the Southern Cape coast, Eilandvlei, by reconstructing fire history using macrocharcoal and analytical tools such as Char-Analysis, quantifying charcoal morphotypes based on physical appearance, or morphotype, and synthesizing existing pollen data from Eilandvlei and other nearby fynbos sites. I expect that changes in Fynbos vegetation during this time, with the introduction of species like Pinus and Acacia and the buildup of fuel from fire suppression, had a large influence on fire activity in the aftermath of Dutch settlement after 1652 CE. Furthermore, the frequency and intensity of fires in the area as a result from this change are important for understanding the impacts that humans had on the environment in general and are also relevant to modern day issues revolving around fire and land management. As such, reconstructing fire history is important in a broad sense because of the many ways it informs our understanding of past activities and future management operations. This project is currently ongoing, and though it is still not close enough to attribute to colonialism, there are evident shifts in charcoal counts that give insight into the health of the system’s fires before Dutch arrival. This research is projected to extend another semester, so it may not be entirely complete before UCUR, but is anticipated to be able to give some preliminary information to the research question, which is: how did colonization influence fire activity in the coastal fynbos system and how has fynbos vegetation changed because of anthropogenic pressures? Currently I hypothesize that periods of low fire activity (indicated by low counts of macrocharcoal and reduced charcoal influx) juxtaposed with a large and intense fire (indicated by high counts of microcharcoal and elevated charcoal influx) afterward will indicate the use of fire suppression techniques from the Dutch. I hope to be able to use my poster to convey changes in charcoal activity that reflect these possible techniques, and also provide a digestible description of the ins and outs of this research. I will also discuss morphotyping and hope to have enough of my own data to make some preliminary explanations about the vegetation changes.


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Utah Conference on Undergraduate Research 2023 - Program Copyright © 2023 by Office of Undergraduate Research is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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