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Capstone Projects

Feral Horses (Equus caballus) Management on Assateague Island, MD

Tue, 05/05/2015 - 11:51
Abstract: The “Assateague Wild Ponies,” as they are often referred to, are truly feral horses that were introduced by humans in the early 1600s. These horses are damaging the barrier island ecosystem because the island did not evolve to compensate for horses. The horses graze on sensitive vegetation and trample endangered bird species’ nesting habitat and eggs. However, these horses are seen as a national icon of beauty and freedom causing many people to come visit the island simply to see these “wild ponies.” They are classified as a “desired exotic species.” Therefore these horses need to be managed in order to decrease their negative impacts and maintain a healthy population for the public to enjoy. This will be accomplished by decreasing their population from ~ 150 horses to below 100. Initially the herd will be reduced by a one-time auction of the horses. This will then be maintained via the use of the immmunocontraceptive Porcine Zona Pellucida (PZP) which prevents pregnancy by not allowing the egg to be fertilized. Additional actions will be taken to further reduce the negative effects caused by the horses including exclusion fences and additional feeding to reduce grazing and trampling effects. Furthermore, public education will occur to reduce the number of human-horse conflicts and feeding of the wildlife. Overall, this will decrease the negative impacts the horses have on the island.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2015
File Attachments: ManagementPlan_CN_4.29.docx
Authors: Claire G Nellis

Building Families Stronger

Tue, 05/05/2015 - 14:05
Abstract: The purpose of this study is to design a program that can be implemented in local camps to accommodate the needs of individuals in a family group affected by mental illness. The study will explain the importance of educating individuals about mental illness and integrating supportive behaviors. This program is designed to help families cope with the effects mental illness can have on the entire family dynamic. Families are often the strongest support system for dealing with mental illness and educating families is essential for success of the mentally ill. Team building games are used to enhance social behaviors and encourage group bonding, this program uses a recreational therapeutic approach to addressing issues in the lives of those affected by mental illness. To figure out how many people will be most likely be using the therapy program, a survey was created using a series of questions that went with the topic for respondents to answer. In fact the survey established that the majority of people agree on recreational approach to therapy as a means of coping with their illness in real life tasks. Other questions asked was what their favorite activities where, such as paddle sports and hiking. Another question was what disability was so as to get an idea what accommodations would be need and services for patients involved with the program.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science, Natural Resources Environmental Science, Parks, Recreation and Facilities Management
Year: 2015
Authors: Courtney Berg, Douglas Menge, Ashley Beldock

Management Plan for Ring-necked Pheasants (Phasianus colchicus) in the Western Finger Lakes Region of New York State

Wed, 05/06/2015 - 09:23
Abstract: The ring-necked pheasant (Phasianus colchicus) is one of the most popular game birds in North America. Being a nonnative bird, the first recorded attempts to establish the ring-necked pheasant in New York occurred around 1890. Populations grew through the late 1960s and early 1970s, but have declined to a very low level today. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC) has propagated pheasants since 1927. Pheasant hunting in NY today is almost completely a product of game farm pheasants. Still, there is a desire to return to wild pheasant hunting in the state and create a self-sustaining population. The mission of the Ring-necked Pheasant Management Plan is “to provide a quality ring-necked pheasant hunting experience in New York State.” To support this mission statement, the plan identifies supporting goals, objectives, strategies and actions for guiding restoration and management decisions over a 10-year horizon, 2015-2025.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2015
File Attachments: Finalplan_ccincotta.docx
Authors: Connor Cincotta

Management Plan for Reintroduction of elk (Cervus canadensis) to the Adirondack Park, New York

Fri, 05/08/2015 - 22:08
Abstract: Elk were extirpated from their historic eastern range, which entailed most states and parts of Canada east of the Mississippi River, by the late 1800’s. In the western United States elk (Cervus canadensis) are experiencing encroachment and habitat loss due to current land management practices. Overgrazing by cattle and encroachment through development and natural gas drilling are the main causes of habitat loss for elk. Many eastern states such as Tennessee, Michigan, and Pennsylvania have reintroduced elk herds to protected areas of their respective states to ensure that these anthropogenic causes of habitat loss will not affect the elk. The Adirondacks of New York offer a large expanse of land where elk could thrive in their historic range. The proposed plan would be to reintroduce 100 elk to the western region of the Adirondack Park in parts of Franklin and St. Lawrence Counties. Before the individuals would be reintroduced, forest management through the use of clear-cutting and patch burning would be implemented to promote the suitable amount of foraging habitat. To assess the population growth of the elk, individuals will be fitted with VHF radio collars to be able to conduct aerial surveys. To assess habitat alteration, vegetation surveys will be conducted to determine the amount of understory vegetation occurring in each cut and burnt patch. This management plan will be successful when the elk population has grown to a level at which they can be hunted sustainably. Hunting will be monitored by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. This management effort would successfully reintroduce a once native species to its historic range providing ecological stability, as well as economic and social benefits.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2015
File Attachments: Final Draft.docx
Authors: Kyle Nellis

A MULTI-SCALE EVALUATION OF THE EFFECTS OF FOREST HARVESTING FOR WOODY BIOFUELS ON MAMMALIAN COMMUNITIES IN A NORTHERN HARDWOOD FOREST

Fri, 02/01/2013 - 16:19
Abstract: Forest harvesting and subsequent effects on forest structure have been shown to influence mammalian community assemblages and the abundance of individual species, however less attention has been paid to the implications of how harvested timber is used. This is particularly relevant in the Northern Forest, where a considerable portion of the forest harvesting is used to produce biofuels. Biofuels harvesting typically involves the process of whole-tree chipping which may lead to a dramatic reduction in the amount of woody material in the form of slash and coarse woody debris (CWD) left in harvested stands. The goal of our study was to assess the effects of biofuels harvesting on forest structure and subsequent effects on mammalian community structure and abundance. To address this goal, we focused on a ~35 Ha area of partially-harvested northern hardwood forest in the northern Adirondacks, New York. To sample mammals we used a combination of Sherman traps and track plates established at two scales across stands within this area. Our results showed that the response of small mammals to changes in forest structure is both species and scale specific. At the individual trap scale, CWD, slash, and understory cover were important drivers of the occurrence of individual species of small mammals. At the larger “grid” scale, small mammal relative abundance was driven by canopy cover and the density of woody stems. Our results indicate that the current harvesting practices used for biofuel production in the Adirondacks are unlikely to result in declines in abundance of common small mammal species. However, the retention of some slash post-harvest may be beneficial to some species, thus foresters may want to include slash retention when developing silvicultural prescriptions.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Environmental Sciences, Fisheries and Wildlife Science, Natural Resources Management and Policy
Year: 2012
Authors: Cody Laxton, Alisha Benack, Danielle Ball, Scott Collins, Sam Forlenza, Richard Franke, Stephanie Korzec, Alec Judge, Connor Langevin, Jonathan Vimislik, Elena Zito

Managing for increased productivity and size of an American kestrel (Falco sparverius) population in northern New York

Mon, 05/07/2012 - 12:58
Abstract: American kestrel (Falco sparverius) populations have recently declined across most of the eastern states. As a result, managers and concerned citizens alike have installed nest boxes across large areas to increase productivity. Mr. Mark Manske has run one of these nest box programs in northern New York, across parts of St. Lawrence and Franklin counties, over the past ten years. Through the combination of his research and other long term management plans, the ideal future plan was developed. The focus of the new plan is to boost efficiency of resources, ease of expansion and sustain a steady or increasing population of kestrels. GIS software was used to analyze each nest boxes’ characteristics in order to develop a model that may predict areas of possible high productivity. Surveys and public outreach are emphasized to create a broader supporting base and possibly acquire future partners for land use, volunteers and advertising. The continued monitoring of the northern New York kestrel population will ensure the presence of this vital species for generations to come.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Environmental Sciences, Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2012
File Attachments: Sauca_Final_Submision.docx
Authors: Tonnie Sauca Jr.

Can black-capped chickadees learn to associate ultraviolet markers with a food source?

Thu, 12/06/2012 - 07:22
Abstract: Food storing birds, like black-capped chickadees (Poecile atricapillus), have a higher hippocampal volume than other birds, giving them the ability to hide food in small caches and retrieve them hours later with great precision using physical features of the surrounding area as guides. This capacity for learning spatial information may be able to translate to other forms of learning, such as association. Black-capped chickadees are also able to see in the near ultraviolet range (~370nm), theoretically to allow for more vibrant plumage during the breeding season. I hypothesized that black-capped chickadees have the ability to associate an ultraviolet marker with a food source. If they can, perhaps birds can be 'taught' to go towards or away from things like wind turbines, windows, and other hazardous objects. I tested my hypothesis by counting the number of chickadees that landed on two different feeders, one with an ultraviolet marker and food and one with neither. I found that there was no significant trend, either within or between days, that would indicate that the birds learned (χ2 test and Student’s t-test). As a management use, researchers propose that ultraviolet markers on wind turbines could decrease the collision rate of birds with turbine blades.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2012
File Attachments: Eck_Capstone_Final.doc
Authors: Benjamin Eck

The influence of temperature, moon phase and cloud cover on the catchability of bats in the Upper Connecticut River Basin and the Merrimack River Basin

Sun, 12/09/2012 - 15:28
Abstract: Small mammals modify their behavior in response to environmental factors such as weather, temperature, moon phase, visibility and the time of night at which they forage. The goal of my study was to determine how environmental variables such as temperature, moon phase and visibility (cloud cover) affected the efficiency (bat captures/net meter/ hour) of bat mist netting. Mist nets were placed in the months of June, July, August, September and November from 2003 to 2012 using mist netting surveys at 23 Army Corps of Engineers dams and recreation projects in New Hampshire and Vermont. Catch rate of bats was not affected by moon phase (P= 0.317) or cloud cover (P=0.130), but were slightly affected by temperature (P=0.053). These results were consistent with other studies that looked at the effects of moon phase, cloud cover and temperature on bats. Knowing the effects of environmental conditions on catchability could be useful to biologists in determining if it is worthwhile to mist net bats on nights with certain conditions to maximize efficiency of catching bats
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2012
Authors: Jeremy Chamberlain

Comparative growth study of Eurasian watermilfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum) and Northern watermilfoil (Myriophyllum sibiricum): a look at apical influence

Mon, 04/16/2012 - 18:13
Abstract: Eurasian watermilfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum L) (EWM) is a highly invasive aquatic plant that has infested lakes across North America. EWM grows rapidly to form a dense canopy and outcompetes other species for light through shading. Northern watermilfoil (Myriophyllum sibiricum Komarov) (NWM) is a native, non-invasive, milfoil that occupies similar habitats as EWM. Little research has been done comparing fragment growth in these two species. This study compared fragment growth of EWM to NWM to better understand the invasiveness of EWM. Fragments of both species with and without an apical tip were allowed to grow in laboratory conditions for a duration of 6 weeks. Data were collected weekly on lateral bud growth, rootlet growth, and apical tip growth. On average EWM and NWM developed a similar number of lateral buds, but EWM had longer lateral buds. EWM also had fewer rootlets and longer average apical tip growth than NWM. In natural settings the physiology of EWM may allow it to allocate resources to apical tip and lateral growth in order to build up a dense canopy and outcompete native plants for light. This study further validates that the competitiveness of EWM is directly linked to its ability to form a dense canopy.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2012
File Attachments: MHall.Capstone.4.16.12.docx
Authors: Michael S. Hall

Varyable diets in house mice, Mus musculus, do not influence ability to determine new food sources through olfaction

Wed, 04/18/2012 - 21:35
Abstract: The olfactory system is important in helping mammals to be aware of predators, interact with one another and find food. The olfactory epithelial layer is located throughout the nasal cavity and the olfactory system, and contains many nerve receptors. These nerve receptors are continuously replaced throughout the animal’s life time, and it is evident the nerve receptors are more or less sensitive to different stimuli based on the odors and other chemical cues the olfactory system is regularly exposed to, in the animal’s environment. Gustation, or taste, is also important for animals to be able to learn and identify what food sources are harmful and which are edible. Because the nasal cavity and the opening into the mouth share a small space of the same connecting canal, at the top of the throat and esophagus, they both have the perceived ability to interact and influence each other. In this study two groups of mice were given different diets from each other; one restricted to lab blocks (n=4) and the other provided a more diverse diet (n=5). The ability for the mice to discriminate new possible food sources through olfaction was assessed by comparing their preferences to sniff, spend time at and visit a known food item and a novel food item. Mice groups were then compared to each other to assess how gustatory experiences could alter new food identification through olfaction. Mice in both groups preferred the known food item over the novel item (p=0.019; p=0.005), and there was not a significant difference in responses between the two groups (p=0.126; p=0.336). Data suggest the ability of mice to identify new possible food sources by olfaction could be more dependent on gustatory experiences related to that particular food source, not by how diverse the gustatory experiences of mice had.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2012
Authors: Chantel Perkins