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Capstone Projects

Management Plan for Marbled Murrelets (Brachyramphus marmoratus) in the Pacific Northwest

Tue, 05/01/2012 - 11:52
Abstract: Marbled murrelets in North America (Brachyramphus marmoratus) are small seabirds found from the Bering Sea to central California (Ralph et al., 1995). They are unique from other Alcids in that they are dependent upon old-growth forests for nesting sites. Within the southern limits of their range in Washington, Oregon, and California, their breeding distribution is determined by the distribution and accessibility of old-growth and late-successional coniferous forests (Ralph et al., 1995). The majority of nests are found within 60 kilometers of the coast on large diameter, moss-covered limbs (Ralph et al., 1995). The primary threats to marbled murrelets are the loss of nesting habitat and habitat fragmentation caused by humans. In the last decade, over a quarter million acres of old-growth forest in the United States was lost due to logging practices (Perry, 1995). Predation of nests, especially by crows and ravens, increases as fragmentation increases from habitat loss (Nelson and Hamer, 1995). Fisheries by-catch and loss of foraging habitat pose as potential threats, increasing adult mortality (Burkett, 1995). Combined, these factors along with other threats are causing the decline and fragmentation of marbled murrelet populations in the Pacific Northwest. Marbled murrelet populations are declining at a rate of 4 to 6 percent annually (Ralph et al., 1995). This significant decline has caused alarm in the Pacific Northwest and globally. In 1991, the state of California listed the species as endangered due to the extreme loss of old-growth forests (Ralph et al., 1995). In February of 1993, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service listed marbled murrelets as threatened in Washington, Oregon, and California (Ralph et al., 1995). Globally, marbled murrelets are listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List (Ralph et al., 1995). This plan focuses on the most prevalent threats to marbled murrelets presently and to propose actions which may slow or halt the decline of the species in the Pacific Northwest. Specifically, this plan intends to (1) assess and protect the amount of old-growth forest needed to sustain a healthy population of marbled murrelets across Washington, Oregon, and California and (2) to better understand the foraging ecology of marbled murrelets at offshore and inshore sites. These two broad goals represent the imperative need to protect the habitat they depend on and to gain better knowledge of an aspect of the species not well-known, respectively.  
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2012
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Chelsea DiAntonio

Management Plan for Common Loons (Gavia immer) in Maine

Tue, 05/01/2012 - 11:55
Abstract: Common loons (Gavia immer) have been a symbol of remote northern lakes and wilderness. Due to their eerie call, beautiful plumage and their habitat choice of remotes lakes coinciding with people’s choice of remote lakes, the common loon is recognized across North America. Due to shooting mortality by humans, habitat loss due to development of lakes, and many others, loon populations declined throughout much of their range in the twentieth century, increasing human awareness and protection of loons. Today, the world population for the common loon is approximately 607,000-635,000. Current threats to their population include lake shore development, increased human lake recreation, and a daunting rise in mercury levels in lakes due to atmospheric distribution by power plants and other anthropogenic causes. Two goals are consisted for common loons: To increase Common Loon populations in Central, Western, and Northern Maine (focus on 56 lakes throughout the state), and to reduce mercury (Hg) levels in Common Loon populations in Maine. Courses of action include monitoring the current population, capture and band common loons on 56 lakes located in Central Maine, Western Maine, and Northern Maine assess and create better nesting habitat for COLO by implementing the use of nest rafts, reducing human traffic (i.e. jet skis, motor boats etc.), and to reduce mercury levels in those lakes through harsher restrictions on power plants. An assessment protocol for each course of action is included. Implementing the components of this management plan will lead to an increased population of common loon populations in central Maine.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2012
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Nicole Bellerose

Eastern Mud Turtle (Kinosternon subrubrum) Recovery Plan for Long Island, New York

Tue, 05/01/2012 - 12:05
Abstract: The Eastern Mud Turtle is a rapidly decreasing reptile in the most northeastern part of its range, Long Island, New York. They get their name from the behavior of digging through mud to hibernate. The biggest threats to them are road mortality, nest predation, and loss of habitat. They are slow to mature and therefore depend on high levels of adult survivorship to maintain populations. It takes 5-8 years for a female to mature. Then there is a high risk of the eggs being eaten and the females being hit by cars because they make annual movements to nest. Not many eastern mud turtles have been documented in New York. The goal of this management plan for the eastern mud turtle is to decrease the mortality drastically. Key components include decreasing road mortality, increasing the survival of juveniles, and getting the public more aware and involved. If these are addressed properly, then the eastern mud turtle population is should increase.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2012
File Attachments: Full management plan.docx
Authors: Elena Zito

New York State Goshawk Management

Wed, 05/02/2012 - 01:29
Abstract: Abstract: Northern Goshawks (Accipiter gentilis) occupy mature coniferous and deciduous stands one of the few raptors that can actually navigate through dense forests at high rates of speed. Mainly due to timber harvesting of older mature forests they are locked in a constant battle for territory and good food. They prey on small animals like squirrels, grouse, rabbit and even some song birds. With the constant battle for habitat our goals for management will revolve more around the land than the actual bird this would include data on landscape parameters like stand type and age, then by looking at the comparative goshawk population and distribution in those areas a preferred stand type will be selected. After the preferred habitat is determined we look to increase the population of goshawks in the Northern U.S. by ten percent through selective harvesting.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2012
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Darrell Vannederynen

Monitoring the Zebra Mussel Invasion Front: Use of New Technology

Thu, 02/09/2012 - 15:39
Abstract: Zebra mussels are invasive mollusks that are affecting the well-being of the water bodies in the United States. This study uses environmental DNA (eDNA) is a sensitive early detection system that may be useful in monitoring their spread. The purpose of this study is to determine the effectiveness of eDNA technology in identifying infested water bodies, to determine if zebra mussel DNA is in the Adirondack water bodies not known to be infested, if the water chemistry of these water bodies is favorable for zebra mussel establishment, and if the eDNA technology is transferable to an institution like Paul Smith’s College. Eighteen lakes, all in New York State were sampled, fifteen of which are located in the Adirondack Park. DNA was extracted from water and plankton samples and species specific primers were used for PCR amplification to determine if zebra mussel DNA was present. Of seven samples taken from sites known to be infested, five of these tested positive for zebra mussel eDNA. Four lakes not known to be infested within the Park also tested positive for zebra mussel eDNA. Based on zebra mussel risk parameters (water chemistry) applied to 1,469 Adirondack water bodies, less than 3% are at risk of zebra mussel establishment. However it is possible that established populations could occur at microsites that may have locally high levels of calcium and higher pH.
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Major: Biology, Environmental Sciences, Environmental Studies, Fisheries and Wildlife Science, Forestry, Natural Resources Management and Policy
Year: 2011
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Alexandria Bevilacqua, John Bishop, Charles Cain, Tyler Clark, Seth Crevison, Robert Culyer, Ryan Deibler, Brian DeMeo, Jonathan Eckert, Kirsten Goranowski, Joelle Guisti, Alan Jancef, Korinna Marino, Michelle Melagrano, KaitlynNedo, Joseph Nelson, Aaron Palmieri, Cole Reagan, John Scahill, JohnathanStrassheim, Scott Travis, Sarah Van Nostrand and Sarah Vella

Promoting Conservation of Biodiversity in the Adirondack Park Through Understanding and Engaging Stakeholders

Thu, 02/09/2012 - 11:31
Abstract: Anthropogenic disturbance of natural environments has led to the widespread loss of native biodiversity and degradation of ecosystems. It is increasingly recognized that addressing this “biodiversity crisis” entails understanding the societal drivers of unsustainable patterns of use. Conservation psychology is a new discipline that specifically focuses on understanding the linkages between human behavior and action and promoting a healthy and sustainable relationship between humans and nature. In this project, we employed principles of conservation psychology with the goal of improving the efficacy and efficiency of conservation of biodiversity in the Adirondack Park (AP). To meet this goal we employed three specific strategies. The first of these strategies was the use of surveys to assess the values, attitudes, and actions different stakeholders have in regards to conservation of biodiversity in the AP. These surveys were disseminated via both direct mailings and online, and included 30 questions. Our second strategy was to use discourse analysis to create a dictionary of terms and phrases employed in a positive, neutral, and negative light in regard to conservation of biodiversity. This entailed analysis of 30 emic accounts derived from opinion articles written by stakeholders in the AP, as well as analysis of a number of etic accounts drawn from online sources. Our third strategy was to use conservation psychology literature to assess ways in which the presentation of information and peer-dynamics influenced the responses of stakeholders towards conservation of biodiversity. Using the combination of these three strategies, we were able to provide a holistic understanding of how different stakeholders in the AP perceive and act towards biodiversity conservation; identify language that can be used to illicit a more positive response from these stakeholders; and identify specific tools based on principles of psychology that can encourage more active and effective engagement in conservation of biodiversity by different stakeholders. Our research findings will allow groups focusing on promoting conservation of biodiversity in the AP to be more effective and efficient in their work in the future.
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Major: Environmental Sciences, Fisheries and Wildlife Science, Forestry, Natural Resources Management and Policy, Recreations, Adventure Travel and Ecotourism
Year: 2011
Authors: Christopher Critelli, John Ghanime, Derek Johnson, Samantha Lambert, Justin Luyk, Matthew Parker, Robert Vite, Heather Mason, Jesse Warner, Ethan Lennox, Sarah Robbiano, David Mathis, David A. Patrick

Assessment of Anion Retention within Variable-Charged Eastern-Central Adirondack Forest Sub-Soils

Mon, 12/05/2011 - 10:20
Abstract: Anthropogenic influences such as acid deposition and road salting have caused shifts in both the pools and fluxes of nutrients within Earth’s biogeochemical cycles. The mobility of ions within forest soils is a very well documented concept; however the significant mechanisms affecting these patterns are poorly understood. One mechanism affecting anion retention is the electrostatic attraction to soil colloid surfaces, which is poorly documented in the Adirondack Park. Soils were sampled from both glacial till and outwash sites with predominantly deciduous canopies. The amount of anion retention was documented through multiple soil ion extractions over a pH gradient from 2 to 9. A loss on ignition procedure was used to understand the relationship between both organic matter or Fe/Al oxides and the overall soil surface charge. The estimated retention of Cl- and NO3- is 252 Kg/Ha and 440 Kg/Ha, respectively. Using hypothetical watersheds, we calculated that it will take 14 years to saturate the subsoil with NO3- and only 7 years to saturate with Cl-. These results suggest that the effects of acid deposition may be seen up to 14 years even after deposition has ceased. The relatively limited retention of Cl- however, may explain increased salinization of freshwater ecosystems.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2011
File Attachments: Capstone Final Paper.docx
Authors: John Mullins

High Ruffed Grouse (Bonasa umbellus) Relative Abundance in a Transitional, Early-Successional Habitat

Mon, 12/05/2011 - 10:34
Abstract: Abstract I recorded and examined ruffed grouse (Bonasa umbellus) flush data across upland hardwoods, lowland coniferous, and transitional habitats within the Adirondack State Park, New York. The flush data was recorded throughout September, 2011. Study site areas were accounted for to establish a flush per hectare rate. Contrary to my hypothesis the transitional habitat produced significantly more flushes (x2, p<0.0001) than the hardwoods and coniferous habitats. Lowland (conifer + transitional) and upland flush per hour rates were compared to a mean central Adirondack rate. I was unable to establish a significant conclusion from this comparison. A habitat suitability index indicated that stem density and the absence of aspen (Populus tremuloides, Populus gradidentata) appeared to be the limiting factors within the hardwoods habitat. Unanimous upland stem density suitability index values (SIV3) of zero resulted in an upland fall to spring cover value (FSCOV) of zero. If stem density was suitable throughout the upland habitat the quality of grouse cover would have increased significantly (FSCOV=0.9). However, aspen would have to be established to create quality grouse habitat with adequate cover and forage. Therefore, I concluded that as the upland forest stand ages and stem density increases, grouse densities are also likely to increase.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2011
File Attachments: Hamer_Matt
Authors: Matt Hamer

Burrow characteristics, nest success, and chick productivity of the black guillemot (Cepphus grylle) on two islands in the Gulf of Maine.

Mon, 12/05/2011 - 13:54
Abstract: Knowledge of the black guillemot Cepphus grylle population, nesting habitat preference, nest success and chick growth in North America is limited as the majority of studies on this species have been conducted in other northern countries such as Ireland and Greenland. Petit Manan Island and Eastern Brothers Island (Gulf of Maine, ME) each offer unique black guillemot nesting habitat from each other. Petit Manan offers predominately debris-like habitat (driftwood, buoys, etc.) and Eastern Brothers offers traditional rock-cliff habitat. I investigated the influence of burrow characteristics on nest success and chick growth on both islands. Burrow measurements were particle size of nest substrate, nest depth, nest cup diameter, light penetration, and neighbor distance. Nest success was scored by number of eggs hatched and chick growth was measured through body mass indices (mass/wing chord). Nest cup diameters were significantly larger in debris than in rock burrows which were typically tight crevices. No other characteristics were statistically significant different between debris or rock burrows. Consequently, nest success and chick growth was not affected by type of burrow.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2011
File Attachments: Capstone FINAL.docx
Authors: Chelsea DiAntonio

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.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2011
File Attachments: equandt_capstonefinal.pdf
Authors: Elizabeth Quandt