Geography - Masters by Research Theses

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    Exploring Cork City's tourist scene: sites, facilities and mobility
    (University College Cork, 2023) Ikani, Lucky Sunday; Holloway, Paul; Coakley, Liam
    Tourism is a significant contributor to the global economy and a vital source of revenue for many countries. As a multifaceted industry, it encompasses components such as tourist sites, hospitality facilities, and mobility, which all play a crucial role in shaping a destination's appeal and success. This study was aimed at providing a comprehensive understanding of the tourist scene in Cork city, with a focus on tourist sites, hospitality facilities and mobility. The factors that influence tourists' experiences in the city was examined by a conducting field survey. The spatial pattern and density of tourist sites and hospitality facilities in area, as well as the accessibility of the sites and facilities were investigated using spatial techniques such as nearest neighbor analysis, kernel density estimation, Origin-Destination matrix, and least cost path analysis. The research offered valuable insights on the current state of tourism in Cork city and potential avenues for improvement. The findings from the study revealed a random distribution of tourist sites, while the majority of hospitality facilities, such as bars, cafés, and restaurants, exhibited a clustered pattern, particularly around the city centre. The study also highlighted the importance of public transportation and wayfinding information in facilitating tourist mobility. This is especially true for the tourist sites located on the outskirts of the city centre, where most of the facilities were found. The study recommended improving public transportation options to the sites located outside the city centre, enhancing wayfinding alongside directional information, and investing in the quality of services provided by the hospitality facilities to enhance the tourist experience, improve accessibility to tourist sites, and promote tourism development in the study area.
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    Ireland's geospatial distribution of border controls: a macro study of Ireland's migration system
    (University College Cork, 2023) Manley Coughlan, Matthew James; Coakley, Liam; Maceinri, Piaras
    This Master’s research project investigates the scalar principle of control that operates between organisations, agencies and departments from the local, to the regional, to the national and international level to underpin the Irish migration system. At each scale, the assemblage of departments, state actors and territorial state structures work in unison, simultaneously, across these scales to enforce control on migrants through bordering procedures. The Irish migration system has evolved through policy and technological advancements which have helped enforce control beyond the territorial land border of the state. Surveillance information systems and various other newly developed virtual bordering processes such as visas (external process), Irish Residence Permit cards(internal process) and passports (at the ports of entry) add to the level of control the state can exert on a migrant. Through these bordering processes, a hierarchical system of rights develops as the migrant’s nationality (EEA/non-EEA) or specific migrant categorisation (e.g. international protection applicant, programme refugee) lead to specific bordering procedures being applied to these individuals at distinct bordering moments. The research is based on interviews with members of An Garda Síochána, a Lieutenant Commander of the Irish Navy, Advocacy Service Manager of Nasc, a national NGO, Chief of Operations for IOM Ireland, the International Organisation for Migration, a spokesperson for the Transparency Section of the Department of Justice as well as Catherine Day, ex-Secretary General of the European Commission (who has also had other functions relevant to this question). Government legislation and policy documents were used in a blended approach to support the claims made in these interviews and to provide my research with a solid structural base.
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    Analysis of the sea surface temperature variations around Ireland's coastline 2002-2020
    (University College Cork, 2022-07-13) Murphy, Aisling M.; Hickey, Kieran
    This thesis analyses the sea surface temperature variations around Ireland’s coastline from 2002-2020, using time series analysis of the one inactive and five currently active marine buoys. In depth analysis of the annual and seasonal sea surface temperature variations were assessed as well as spells of maximum and minimum sea surface temperature for each buoy. Both short term and long-term causations were identified as contributors to the variations in sea surface temperature experienced around Ireland’s coastline. Particular focus on the Atlantic Multidecadal Variability, The NAO Index, the North Atlantic hurricane season and the position of the jet stream were assessed and correlated with sea surface temperature changes around Ireland’s coastline from 2002-2020. These processes are interconnected and display a proportional relationship to each other as there is a high correlation between changes in these processes and a domino effect of other atmospheric and oceanic processes that influence sea surface temperatures around Ireland’s coastline. There were variations in the annual average SST between the buoys. The buoys M4 and M5 both recorded an overall increase in mean annual SST from 2002-2020. Buoys M2, M3 and M6 recorded an overall decrease in the mean annual SST from 2002-2020. No clear connection between the different annual SST trends between the buoys were identified, however their individual location in relation to the continental shelf was a local factor that may have contributed to the variations between the buoys. In depth analysis of the long- and short-term contributors to variations in SST around Ireland’s coastline showed that the most significant influencing factors of SST variations around Ireland’s coastline were the North Atlantic hurricane season track positions and the varying position of the jet stream. Both of these factors displayed a significant impact on the annual SST variations and the spells of either maximum or minimum SST for each buoy. These factors also contributed to changes in the NAO Index, which further influenced SST variations around Ireland’s coastline. The hurricane events contribute to the mixing of waters around Ireland’s coastline, causing unstable conditions and a high level of mixing waters during negative NAO Index occurrences. The AMV signal impacts on air temperature, causing an increase in the effect and frequency of hurricane events in the North Atlantic which influence SST around Ireland’s coastline. Assessment of ongoing changes in the position of the jet stream would be a critical factor in evaluation of future SST variations around Ireland’s coastline.
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    Incorporating biotic interactions in phenology
    (University College Cork, 2021-09-14) de la Torre Cerro, Rubén; Holloway, Paul; Cawkwell, Fiona; Environmental Protection Agency
    Shifts in the timing of phenological events such as bird migration, leaf unfolding, flowering, and insect emergence, across many taxa and ecosystems are a result of climate change. Phenological shifts depend on different factors and species-specific sensitivity to changes in meteorological variables, therefore when phenological shifts occur within the trophic network we might expect phenological mismatches between interlinked species to occur as a result of climate change, with potential negative effects for biodiversity, ecosystems and the trophic network. However, the availability of data that show how species interactions are affected by climate change is scarce and unified criteria are still lacking on the methodologies studying phenology and biotic interactions. The presented extensive review on the topic allowed the identification of four broad categories of studies that have explored biotic interactions within phenology research and revealed that phenological studies of seasons other than spring are very scarce. This unbalance was also found within biotic interactions research, where mutualistic and obligate interactions, trophic interactions and networks were the main types receiving the most attention compared to other types (i.e., facilitation, competition). Researchers have commonly used co-existence among species as a proxy for biotic interactions, in many cases without any direct measurement of such interactions, while a lack of formal examination in most studies exploring phenological mismatches in response to climate change was also often identified. A conceptual framework was developed for the inclusion of phenology in the study of biotic interactions that categorises research into the conceptualisation and modelling of biotic interactions. Conceptualisation explores phenological data, types of interactions, and the spatiotemporal dimensions, which all determine the representation for biotic interactions within the modelling framework, and the type of models that are applicable. Emerging opportunities were also identified to investigate biotic interactions in phenology research, including spatially and temporally explicit species distribution models as proxies for phenological events and the combination of novel technologies (e.g., acoustic recorders, telemetry data) to quantify interactions. This conceptual framework was applied to a case of study in Ireland, investigating the relevance of different meteorological drivers (maximum and minimum temperature and total precipitation) in the phenology and co-existence of several species linked through the trophic network. Phenological trends towards an earlier phenology in Ireland were identified in terms of advanced date of arrival of migrant birds, first flight of butterflies and moths and green-up (start of the growing season) over the period 2008-2018. A novel analysis developed by van de Pol et al. (2016), the relative sliding time window analyses, was applied in order to identify which meteorological drivers had higher influence on the phenological events of study. Results showed high interannual variability in the time windows at species and group level. We identified common trends between butterflies and moths to show greater influence of temperature time windows when closer to first flight, while in vegetation the opposite pattern was found. Three new indices of phenological change across different trophic levels are presented, these indices allowed to identify potential phenological asynchronies between trophic levels in Ireland and to develop a network of potential interactions based on synchrony among interlinked species.
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    Urban green and blue space in Cork city and its importance to bird diversity
    (University College Cork, 2019) Lambert, Luke; Holloway, Paul; Cawkwell, Fiona
    Urban green and blue spaces are well known for providing ecosystem services in built up areas but they are also becoming increasingly important as these spaces are becoming unique ecosystems for bird diversity. The aims of this study was to investigate the importance of green and blue space in Cork City to bird diversity, through the generation of a satellite image that captures the landscape configuration of Cork City and green and blue space it contains, examine the relationships between bird diversity (richness and abundance) and landscape metrics generated using FRAGSATS and by conducting field surveys. The impact of spatial scales and how they affect species-landscape relationships was also investigated through regression analysis. Using Sentinel-2 satellite data and a maximum likelihood classification, a comprehensive landcover map of Cork City was produced with reliable accuracy. The map revealed that two thirds of the city is composed of green and blue space. The field surveys recorded 62 species in the city. The statistical analysis gathered revealed that green space was the main driver in increasing species richness and abundance, while blue space produced mixed results. The edge effect phenomenon was also found to play a key role in increasing bird diversity. The regression models produced results that revealed a diversified and varied landscape was preferable to bird diversity as the scale was increased. The impact of scale also affected how important blue space is as a connective network within the city. Overall, this study has demonstrated that urban green and blue space is intrinsically linked to bird diversity in Cork City. 40% of the species that were recorded in the field surveys are listed as species of conservation concern in Ireland, with five of these species listed on the Red list. This finding has shown how urban spaces can provide habitats for vulnerable species, and provides precedence for implementing conservation initiatives within urban areas.