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Capstone Projects

Growth of Black Spruce and Tamarack in Response to Abiotic Variables

Tue, 05/03/2016 - 12:46
Abstract: The growth of black spruce (Picea mariana) and tamarack (Larix laricina) was examined in relation to the potential influences of pH, dissolved oxygen, conductivity, water temperature, proportion of canopy closure and depth to ground water in a northern Adirondack peatland ecosystem. 42 plots were constructed in a sphagnum dominated wetland and sampled for the above abiotic variables throughout the summer and fall of 2015. Heights, ages and periodic annual increment of 26 tamarack and 23 black spruce samples were determined in February and March of 2016. An age to height ratio and periodic annual increment for each species was then regressed against the above abiotic variable data in order to determine any influence of these data on growth rates of the conspecifics. Results show that depth to water table and increased exposure to light had a significantly positive relationship with the age to height ratio of tamarack. Periodic annual increment of tamarack had a significant positive relationship with decreasing light exposure. Black spruce’s age to height ratio had a significant positive relationship with dissolved oxygen (mg/L).
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Major: Forestry
Year: 2016
Authors: Robert DeSotle

Best Management Practices for Cultivating Cold-Weather Shiitake Strains in the Adirondack North Country

Fri, 05/01/2015 - 09:55
Abstract: Shiitake (Lentinula edodes) cultivation has become an important tool for private woodlot owners to diversify their income and manage their woodlots more efficiently and sustainably. Through the art and science of mushroom cultivation three strains of shiitake have been created for varying climates: Wide Range (WR), Warm Weather (WW), and Cold Weather (CW). This study proposes that CW strains would be most ideal for the Adirondack North Country because growing conditions now and in the future are nearly optimal. CW strains have a shorter fruiting period (spring and fall) than the WR and WW; therefore, the mushroom production potential of the CW is underutilized. In order to get maximum production of their logs, most growers use a method called shocking to induce fruiting with WR and WW; however, research has shown that shocking does not trigger fruiting in the CW strains; rather, CW strains respond to temperature fluctuations. Taking this into account, we’ve introduced a hybrid approach of growing CW shiitake, which combines outdoor and indoor cultivation techniques to best imitate that temperature fluctuation. Growing CW shiitake using a hybrid approach can be the best choice for small-scale growers who wish to extend their growing season into the winter months, thus opening new market opportunities. By conducting interviews with shiitake growers in similar climates and compiling and analyzing literature from other professionals, we have gathered data on log harvesting, laying yard conditions, moisture management, and lighting conditions and developed a best management practices guide for small-scale shiitake grower/woodlot owners in a northern Adirondack climate. Ultimately, growers could diversify their sources of income, provide incentive to manage their woodlots and most importantly learn how to effectively utilize CW strains through the winter months.
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Major: Environmental Studies, Forestry
Year: 2015
Authors: Brittney E. Bell, Evan M. White

Predicting the amount of usable lumber contained in American beech (Fagus grandifolia) logs infected with beech bark disease based on exterior defects.

Wed, 12/02/2015 - 10:09
Abstract: Beech Bark disease has had many effects on the hardwood forests of the northeastern United States. Many studies have been done in regards to the changes caused by the disease affecting the ecology, species composition of the forest, abundance of American beech (Fagus grandifolia), and physiology of individual trees. However, American beech is a dense, strong species that machines and bends well, and has uses in the form of flooring, handles, and some furniture. This study examines how the severity of beech bark disease affects the amount of usable lumber that can be recovered from American beech sawlogs. To do this, American beech sawlogs with varying degrees of beech bark disease infection were harvested, bucked and scaled. These logs were rated according to their degree of beech bark disease infection based on exterior defects such as raised or sunken cankers, fissures and evidence of scale insect. These logs were then sawn into lumber form and rescaled to find a percentage of usable lumber that resulted from the gross scale taken prior to sawing. There was not a definitive relationship between degree of infection, and lumber yield. This study will be useful to the stakeholders of the lumber industry to aid in predicting whether or not a log infected with beech bark disease can be economically used for lumber.
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Major: Forestry
Year: 2015
Authors: Alex Cote, Zachary Smith

Vermont Maple Forest Products LLC. Forest Management and Business Plan

Wed, 12/02/2015 - 17:52
Abstract: Maple syrup production is an extremely important aspect of the American economy in the northeast, generating around 132 million dollars in revenue annually across its U.S production range (United States Department of Agriculture, 2014). At the current rate of production U.S producers are presently only tapping 0.4% of the maples which may be available (Farrell & Chabot, 2012). Vermont has the greatest number of its trees tapped, with 2.94% of available trees currently in production. The low percentage of tappable maple trees in production has been seen as a short coming in the industry. However, this does create the possibility for entry into the industry. Vermont Maple Forest Products LLC is in current maple production and desires to produce on an industrial scale. Simon Boulet and Claude Deschenes (2005) found that the highest degrees of profit are generated when a producer is considered a medium(5,000-19,000 taps)-large (>19,000 taps) supplier. At this point costs per tap are reduced and sap yeilds increase. Vermont Maple Forest Products currently has the land available for potentially over 28,000 taps. To achieve this goal a business plan and forest management plan was developed and will be implemented across the tract with the goal of maple syrup production.
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Major: Forestry
Year: 2015
Authors: Adam D Allen

Forest Succession's Effect on Soil Physical and Chemical Properties after Agriculture Abandonment

Mon, 12/01/2014 - 11:00
Abstract: Landscapes have been significantly altered by humans and replacing forests with agricultural crops is a major alteration humans have made. This landscape change has affected soils significantly. Agriculture practices can potentially have detrimental effects on soils. However, through the 20th century forest cover drastically increased in the United States through the recruitment of second growth forests as a result of agriculture abandonment. Forests reclaiming farm lands through forest succession can have a significant effect on recoveries in soil physical and chemical properties such as bulk density, soil strength, porosity and fertility. Therefore, the goal of this study was to investigate forest successions effect on soil physical and chemical properties after agriculture abandonment. Three specific hypotheses were tested: 1) Bulk density and soil strength will decrease while micro and macro porosity will increase as forests reclaim farm lands. 2) Soil carbon and available nitrogen will increase over time. 3) Soil pH will decrease and electrical conductivity will increase over time. These hypotheses were explored on abandoned agriculture fields in a chronosequence study on coarse loamy Inceptisols in upstate New York across a 60 year temporal scale. Data showed that total porosity, total carbon and available nitrogen increase while soil pH, bulk density, soil strength and electrical conductivity decline over time. These results support all three hypotheses except for the latter half of hypothesis number three. The findings of this study suggest that although agriculture may disturb soil properties, time coupled with forest succession can result in significant recoveries.
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Major: Forestry
Year: 2014
File Attachments: Final Report.docx
Authors: Nathan Piché

A Forest Management Plan For Lynn Woods Reservation

Sun, 04/27/2014 - 18:49
Abstract: Lynn Woods Reservation located in Lynn, MA (42°29' N, 70°59’ W) is a 2,200 acre municipal park under the joint management of the Lynn Parks Department and the Lynn Water and Sewer Department. Since 1881, there has been little management on the lands of the reservation. This project developed a forest management plan for the Reservation. A forest inventory took place in January 2014 utilizing SilviaTerra’s Plothound data collection app. Data was then processed in NED-2 and ArcGIS to create final data used in the creation of this plan. The tract was divided into three compartments based on location and access. Multiple stands are inaccessible or do not contain merchantable timber but most of this tract is harvestable. Based on the data collected, suggested silvicultural prescriptions were developed along with other management suggestions for the tract. This plan was submitted to the park ranger, Dan Smalls, for review and final implementation.
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Major: Forestry
Year: 2014
File Attachments: St_John_Final_Draft.pdf
Authors: M. Dalton St. John

A Genetic Comparison of Two Populations of American Beech (Fagus grandifolia) Impacted by the Invasive Disease Complex Causing Beech Bark Disease

Mon, 04/28/2014 - 23:35
Abstract: Many mature American beech trees have died due to beech bark disease throughout the northeastern United States. However, there are many pockets of beech trees throughout its native range that show resistance to the disease. This study will be focused on comparing specific genetic markers in a variety of American beech trees which have been categorized by the levels of severity of beech bark disease per individual tree. Leaf and bud samples were taken in October 2013 from 30 individual trees with varying degrees of disease severity. DNA will be purified from these soft tissue samples in order to use PCR and focus on 5 microsatellite locations for a comparison between all individuals being sampled. These loci will help to determine the genetic differences and similarities between American beech trees with and without signs of resistance to beech bark disease. The results of this study will set the stage for a landscape level study in the future, as well as further studies on finding genetic markers for resistance.
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Major: Forestry
Year: 2014
File Attachments: Complete Project.docx
Authors: Emily Malick

Developing a Log Rule for Portable Sawmill Operators in Vermont

Fri, 04/26/2013 - 10:30
Abstract: Since the beginning of the 19th century, American lumbermen have been vexed by one of the unique questions of their trade; how do you estimate the yield of squared lumber to be cut from a round log? Since 1825, answers to this question have come in the form of log rules; a table or formula that estimates the yield of logs. These tables are in no way universal, and in some cases are crudely inaccurate. The shortcomings of these log rules have manifest differently in the various geographic locales and industry sectors where they are used. This study sought to identify such shortcomings as they pertain to a specific group of lumbermen; portable sawmill operators. These sawyers utilize modern bandsaw technology and have unique business practices, yet they estimate outputs based on century old log rules created for traditional sawmills. Through the use of semi-structured open ended interviews, technical and socioeconomic information was gathered from 7 sawyers in Vermont. Among other concerns, five of the sawyers expressed the need for a better way to estimate log yield. Based on their collective suggestions and technical approaches, a new log rule was created here to address sawyers’ needs.
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Major: Forestry
Year: 2013
File Attachments: CAPSTONE_HAIGH.pdf
Authors: Ben Haigh

Soil and Vegetation Characteristics of High Elevation Wetlands in the Adirondack Park

Mon, 12/03/2012 - 17:14
Abstract: Wetland ecosystems are finally being understood for their true importance. Wetlands in the past were misunderstood and thought to be disease carrying burdens on our way of life; however this mentality changed during the mid-19thcentury. These ecosystems are important for biodiversity and act as natural water purification systems. This study was undertaken to help understand, the high elevation wetland characteristics. Our goals were to analyze the soils and describe the vegetation in high elevation wetlands. The soil and vegetative surveys helped define the characteristics of these ecosystems and create a better understanding of them. The combination of vegetation species that are wetland indicators were found in each site, the soil pH, and nutrients show that each site had signs of being a wetland community.
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Major: Environmental Sciences, Forestry
Year: 2012
File Attachments: FINAL Capstone Report.doc
Authors: Brandon Ploss, Sean Ayotte

Vegetation colonization of a large sediment deposit from Tropical Storm Irene and the trajectory of the ecosystem

Sun, 12/02/2012 - 20:06
Abstract: Rivers, floodplains and riparian zones are important pieces of all landscapes. Humans have always had a close connection with these ecosystems but commonly that connection has led to anthropogenic disturbance of the natural system. There are very few undisturbed rivers, floodplains, and riparian zones left in the temperate biome. A better understanding of how disturbance, humans, and invasive plants are interacting with reference to rivers, floodplains and riparian zones may help with protection of these sensitive areas. This study analyzed the vegetation which was left and which colonized a large sediment deposit from Tropical Storm Irene, August 28, 2011. The understory vegetation was assessed in four 1 m2 plots based on stem count and percent foliar cover 319, 349 and 394 days after the tropical storm. Overstory trees were also inventoried in order to identify species and make connections between the overstory and new understory. Invasive species accounted for 16.1% of all stems found from day 319 to day 394. There were 5 invasive species found within the plots (garlic mustard, honeysuckle, Japanese knotweed, goutweed, chervil). Garlic mustard and Japanese knotweed increased in foliar cover from day 319 to 394 and may have retarded the growth of native plants and seedlings. Only 9.4% of all stems were found to be tree seedlings. The invasive plants which are colonizing fluvial deposits may be altering the structure and succession of floodplain forests and riparian zones. This invasive plant-covered deposit now provides a seed source for areas downstream as well as prevents native vegetation from growing on the site.
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Major: Forestry
Year: 2012
File Attachments: Capstone Paper.docx
Authors: Hannah Wahlstrom