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Capstone Projects

White-tailed Deer Browse Preference: A Comparative Study of the Catskill and Adirondack Mountain Regions, New York State

Tue, 05/05/2015 - 14:23
Abstract: Abundant white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in New York State, United States, affect forest regeneration and stand composition through feeding (browse) pressure. White-tailed deer browse preference of six different hardwood tree species in two mountain ranges, the Catskill and Adirondack Mountains, within New York State were compared in order to determine the extent of browse selection by deer. There were no statistically different browse selection by white-tailed deer within the Catskills or Adirondack study area or between each study site. Visual analysis of the study areas after concluding the study revealed that red maple (Acer rubrum) was the preferred browse species at each study site.
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Major: Biology, Natural Resources Management and Policy
Year: 2015
File Attachments: Title, abstract, TOC , Report
Authors: John MacNaught, Blaine Kenyon, Mark Staats, Travis Boucher, Noah Finlayson-Gesten

Examination of Potentially Ectoparasite-driven Behavior in Burrowing Owls: Tests of Alternative Hypotheses

Thu, 05/07/2015 - 19:06
Abstract: Burrowing Owls (Athene cunicularia) and their nests harbor at least 39 species of arthropods from 21 different families. Among the ectoparasites on Burrowing Owls are fleas, which are primarily Pulex irritans (Family Pulicidae), the human flea. Fleas can number in the hundreds on individual Burrowing Owls. Thus, we hypothesized that flea infestation has shaped Burrowing Owl behavior to avoid the costs of ectoparasitism. As part of experiments using infrared trail cameras deployed at Burrowing Owl nests in southern Idaho ¬¬during 2012-2013, we noticed apparent sunning behavior in both adult and nestling Burrowing Owls. Camera images captured owls lying on the ground with wings outstretched and flat. We only observed this behavior during daylight hours, although cameras were active for 24 h/day. Sunbathing in birds is often associated with ectoparasite reduction, although sunning has not previously been examined in relation to flea infestation. During 2014 we conducted an experiment that included fumigating some nests with a flea removing insecticide and examined the prediction that sunbathing would occur more frequently in control nests where ectoparasites remained. As sunning was not during the coolest parts of the day, it did not appear to function for warming. Also, we ultimately found no difference in the frequency of sunning in fumigated and control nests, and there was no relationship between sunning and abundance of fleas on owls. Thus, the evidence is not consistent with the ectoparasite hypothesis, as owls sunned irrespective of flea load. We also evaluated the alternative hypotheses that sunning was related to thermoregulation, anting, drying or feather degrading bacteria. The first three we were able to reject, and the last will need future research.
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Major: Biology
Year: 2015
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Skyler Wysocki

Effective Computer Services

Wed, 04/29/2015 - 12:51
Abstract: Effective Computer Services (ECS) is a full service computer company with focus on personal computers and repair. Catering to the needs of the individual, ECS offers a personal touch of on-site service, repair, and software training. ECS offers a range of services from virus removal, data backup or file recovery, to complex small business networking. Effective Computer Services has the resources to complete a project on time and within with minimal turn-around time and at industry competitive prices. ECS offers a variety of new, used, and loaner computers. Its commitment to customer complete satisfaction and convenience is paramount. ECS works directly with customers to determine computer products that match users’ needs. ECS offers free consultation with any purchase from small personal computers to large network infrastructures
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Integrative Studies
Year: 2015
File Attachments: ECS bplan final (1).docx
Authors: James Finizio

Tetrodotoxin- toxicity of red efts (Notophthalmus viridescens) based on predatory selection

Thu, 04/30/2015 - 09:33
Abstract: Predators and prey have been coevolving for millions of years; those that have more aggressive relationships undergo more extreme selection as they become paired in an evolutionary arms race. This selection must affect both organisms to truly be an arms race; a relationship that accurately fits these criteria is that of the Eastern Red-Spotted Newt (red-efts) (Notophthalmus viridescens) and the Eastern Hognose Snake (Heterodon platirhinos). Samples of tetrodotoxin (TTX) extracted from red-efts were used to analyze a potential relationship between the efts and resistant predatory species. The values acquired upon analysis of samples were recorded from a population of organisms in an area vacant of the hognose and can be compared to areas where both species reside. Samples came from eighteen red-efts in a wetland located in the southeastern portion of the Adirondack Park where there are no known populations of the hognose snake. These samples were processed using various ELSIA grade chemicals, a procedure that concluded with ELSIA assays applicable for comparison to a set standard. By performing this study we hope to attain data pertaining to tetrodotoxin levels in red-efts that reflect an environment which does not contain hognose snakes, presented in the form of low levels of the specified toxin.
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Major: Integrative Studies
Year: 2015
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Sarah Desrosier

Acidic Deposition in Adirondack Lakes: Episodic Acidification and Equilibrium

Tue, 05/05/2015 - 10:06
Abstract: Acid deposition has been a historic problem in the Adirondacks. Though after original mitigation attempts were deemed successful, funding for many acid deposition-monitoring programs in the area has been cut or eliminated, and much of the data that has been collected is now old and outdated. Newer data on this issue needed to be collected to determine if there truly has been recovery of Adirondack lakes. Through this observational experiment the pH levels of 18 different lakes scattered around the Adirondacks during winter were examined. The pH levels of the snow around the lakes were examined to determine the levels of acid shock. This data was compared to the historic data available and created a preliminary finding. This comparison helped determine that Adirondack water bodies could possibly be coming to a form of equilibrium as the pH levels are possibly returning to a resemblance of pre-disturbance conditions, which suggests recent legislation may have had measurable successes in the goal of reducing the acidification of Adirondack freshwater ecosystems.
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Major: Integrative Studies, Natural Resources Management and Policy
Year: 2015
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Timothy Johnston, Andrew Olcott

An Examination of the Paul Smith’s Visitor Interpretative Center Trail Conditions and Suggested Sustainable Maintenance Practices

Tue, 05/05/2015 - 10:59
Abstract: The Adirondack Park is a 6.4 million acre state park in Upstate New York. With over 2,000 miles of hike able trails, this region is a popular tourist attraction in the Northeast. Thousands of people visit the Adirondack region to hike each year, which means that the trails within the park are subject to high intensity use. Natural resource management professionals such as the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) are concerned with the quality of trails winding through the region, and also promote awareness of the fragile alpine ecosystems resting atop the 5,000+ ft. tall mountains- which are constantly being degraded by human foot traffic. However, there are smaller and less maintained trails that run through our own backyard here at Paul Smith’s College, at the Visitors Interpretative Center (V.I.C.), with equally as fragile and important ecosystems. These range from bogs to eskers- the home of the rare and interesting Pitcher Plant (Sarracenia purpurea), to wetlands and riverine systems containing native heritage Brook Trout (Salvelinus fontinalis), populations such as the Windfall strain. Currently, there is no formal data documenting the condition of trails within the VIC property, therefore one may never know the true condition of the entire trail system. The Paul Smith’s V.I.C. can greatly benefit from applying recommended management techniques in the future using up to date information gathered in the spring of 2015. This report will provide new data, which will help management professionals examine the feasibility of applying accepted current and future sustainable trail management practices to the trails belonging to Paul Smith’s College.
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Major: Integrative Studies
Year: 2015
File Attachments: NEWCAPSTONE.docx
Authors: Loretta Buerkle

White Pine Blister Rust at Paul Smith’s VIC: Concerns and Recommendations

Tue, 05/05/2015 - 18:34
Abstract: Abstract- Blister rust was reported on the Paul Smith’s VIC property. White pine blister rust is a complex disease pathosystem in which Cronartium ribicola – a rust fungus - infects both eastern white pine (Pinus strobus) and species in the Ribes genus. P. strobus is a disturbance species in the Adirondacks. Ribes spp. are early seral stage plants and readily exploit small gaps in the forest. Both are found on the VIC property. C. ribicola limits white pine regeneration, but isn’t currently considered a serious forest pathogen in the Northeast because its spread is limited by environmental, topographic, climatic, and temporal conditions. Despite these limits, blister rust has moved around the globe and has successfully spread across a wide range in the U.S. Because blister rust exists in a dynamic and interconnected world, there exists the potential for it to increase in virulence and incidence. Historically, management of blister rust has involved removing ribes from the landscape in favor of white pine- a scheme that is too costly and yields little long term benefit for landowners. A gap in the knowledge exists for smaller landowners dealing with blister rust. With this considered, based on a wide body of literature, management plans were designed to fit the VIC’s needs now and in the future.
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Literary Rights: Off
Major: Integrative Studies
Year: 2015
File Attachments: Riquier capstone.docx
Authors: Adam Riquier

Tardigrade Abundance in Green Shield Lichens on Different Tree Species

Wed, 04/24/2013 - 18:43
Abstract: Many studies have been done on tardigrades, a microscopic, aquatic organism that feeds on plant cell fluid, bacteria, algae, protozoa, and other small invertebrates. Most of these studies have addressed their ability to survive extreme environments and not their preferred living habitats. Virtually no studies have been done investigating the ecology of tardigrades. This study focuses on which species of tardigrade live on a species of lichen (Common Greenshield Lichen, Flavoparmelia caperata) found on three species of trees; Red Maple (Acer rubrum), Black Cherry (Prunus serotina), and White Pine (Pinus strobus). Five trees of each species were chosen and five samples of the Common Greenshield Lichen were taken from all 25 trees during each of the fall and winter seasons. From every lichen sample processed, five slides were looked at, each containing two drops of the water that the lichen was suspended in for 2 hours. The samples were looked at underneath a compound microscope and a dichotomous key was used to identify tardigrades that were found. Due to the fact that liquid water is less available in winter, samples were taken during the fall and winter to look at the differences in species diversity and abundance. The greatest abundance of tardigrades was found on Red Maple, during both fall and winter. Black Cherry had the lowest abundance of tardigrades during both fall and winter. White Pine had an abundance less than that of Red Maple but greater than that of the Black Cherry. There were more tardigrades found on the lichen in fall than in winter. This implies that they find Red Maple a more suitable habitat than the Black Cherry and White Pine, may be related to acidity of the Black Cherry and White Pine being greater than that of Red Maple. Throughfall and stemflow on the trees may also contribute to habitat preference of the tardigrades.
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Literary Rights: Off
Major: Biology
Year: 2013
File Attachments: Capstone Report.docx
Authors: Heather Cooner

New York State Feral Hog (Sus scrofa) Management Plan: Species Eradication and Public Education

Thu, 04/25/2013 - 11:22
Abstract: Feral hogs, also referred to as feral swine, Eurasian or Russian wild boar, and wild pigs, are the same species Sus scofa. They are an aggressive invasive species introduced to the United States in the 1500s and have spread over most of the country in the last few decades (Gipson et al. 1998). Due to their unique life history feral hogs are a persevering ungulate species capable of causing extensive economical and ecological damage while causing a threat to human health and safety. They are considered one of the world’s worst invasive species (Lowe et al. 2000). Extinction of native species and loss of biodiversity due to this widely invasive species has been documented worldwide (Wolf and Conover 2003). This management plan describes the life history of feral hogs, the need for management in New York State, several action plans to address the need for management, and assessment protocol for each action plan. Also included in this plan is a grant request to fund the educational objectives in order to achieve more awareness and cooperation with the public, promoting higher probability of management success.
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Major: Biology
Year: 2013
File Attachments: Feral Hog Management Plan
Authors: William Schmieder Jr.

Compaction of Hiking Trails Located in the Northeastern Area of the Adirondack State Park, New York

Mon, 04/29/2013 - 12:19
Abstract: With continued increases in outdoor recreation in the United States, the physical impact of that use needs to be monitored for its effects. The purpose of this study was to explore whether a relationship exists between traffic numbers and soil strength of trails in the High Peaks Region of New York’s Adirondack state park. Soil strength was used as a measure of compaction because of its ability to indicate certain aspects of soil physical properties like bulk density, and hydrological condition (Mirreh & Ketcheson,1972), which are also soil physical properties that are effected by compaction (Hanna & Al-Kaisi,2009). These physical properties are important factors which influence a soils ability to carry out its biotic and abiotic processes (Kozlowski,1999). Initially the relationship between average soil strength of trails and traffic was insignificant. Upon further analyzing the data we found a significant relationship between on-trail and off-trail soil strength and used this relationship to create on-trail residual soil strengths. This was done to remove the influence that off-trail soil strength was having on the traffic vs. soil strength relationship. With the on/off-trail relationship influence removed, the relationship between on-trail residual soil strength and traffic was significantly improved. Literature discussed showed how the soil strengths collected could be used to infer possible effects on the sites tested. Relations between soil strength and bulk density, root elongation, root penetration, and trail recovery were all reviewed to provide insight on the quality of the soil at sample sites.
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Major: Biology
Year: 2013
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Karl Van Osch