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Capstone Projects

An analysis of social behavior in captive gray wolves and its effects on pack dynamics

Mon, 12/05/2011 - 17:55
Abstract: Animals live in groups for a variety of reasons, including access to certain prey items, defense of territory, and protection of resources. Canids have proved a popular subject for studies in social behavior, and many variables of behavior have been tested, providing an in-depth picture of how these animals typically live. Gray wolves (Canis lupus) in particular have been studied extensively throughout the years, both in the wild and in captivity. This study investigated social behaviors within a captive wolf pack so that an activity budget could be established with aid of an ethogram. A pack hierarchy was also established using tail positions as a guide, and behavior frequency was compared between each gender. Overall, resting behaviors were the most common for the pack under study, and most common for both males and females. This is likely because the study took place during the summer when temperatures were high and the animals didn’t expend much energy. Males and females did not show a significant difference in the proportion of time spent exhibiting each behavior (X2=1), likely because each sex plays a similar role in the pack. While play behaviors comprised only 12% of all recorded, I believe that social play is an important function for providing social cohesion and an outlet for aggression. Since there is still much to be understood about social play in adult wolves, I believe that it should be the focus of future studies. I also believe that this study can provide a framework for future investigations of a similar nature, and that such future studies should also attempt to draw comparisons between wild and captive wolf packs, as they differ in several respects.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2011
File Attachments: equandt_capstonefinal.pdf
Authors: Elizabeth Quandt

Food Plots for White-tailed Deer: Effects on the Browse Intensity of Commercial Tree Species in Western New York

Mon, 12/05/2011 - 10:09
Abstract: Throughout North America high densities of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) are creating problems that affect humans as well as the natural environment; such as property damage (ex. deer/car accidents), crop damage due to browse, changes in forest species composition, as well as the creation of alternate stable states throughout the northeastern forests of the U.S. This study examined whether food plots for white-tailed deer are increasing, decreasing or having no effect on the browse intensity of commercial tree species in the northern hardwood/coniferous forests of western New York. Spring and summer browse intensity was determined at six sites throughout Wyoming, Cattaraugus, and Erie counties; three forested sites with food plots and three forested sites without food plots that were similar in species composition. The study found that food plots were causing an increase in browse intensity on commercial tree species to areas immediately adjacent (0-2 meters) to the food plots. However, further analysis that excluded measurements taken for subplots one at both food plot and non-food plot sites showed that non-food plot sites had a significantly greater proportion browsed. The findings suggest that if food plots are used as a management option for white-tails in western New York a buffer zone of at least 2 meters outside the food plot should be incorporated to account for the overflow of deer browse.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Natural Resources Management and Policy
Year: 2011
Authors: Mike Domagalski