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Capstone Projects

Paul Smith’s College Shoreline Restoration Conservation Plan

Fri, 12/14/2018 - 12:24
Abstract: A restoration plan was created for the Lower St Regis Lake shoreline of Paul Smith's College. To date, about 140 students have participated by way of studies and course work in surveys and assessments, which clearly indicate a much reduced level of biological diversity, ecosystem function, and human uses compared to other sites. The plan is designed based upon field assessments and with the intentions of using the shoreline as an on-site case study of experiential education – a tradition of at the core of Paul Smith’s College. The aim of the restoration plan is to increase biodiversity, ecosystem function, aesthetics, educational studies, and shoreline use.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Ecological Restoration
Year: 2018
Authors: Hunter Gaudette
, Joseph Hollner
, Jonathan Meadows
, Ryan Morr
, Sara Savoia, Cassandra Schrader

Vista Wellness: An Educational Community Center for the Glenview Preserve

Fri, 12/14/2018 - 23:29
Abstract: The Glenview Preserve is home to a beautiful open vista of the High Peaks. This land was recently purchased by the Adirondack Land Trust and is looking for ways to sustainably manage the property by utilizing Paul Smith’s College capstone students for recommendations. One viable opportunity the ALT can incorporate, is the addition of a sustainable forum and conference center. With a community-oriented mind, Vista Wellness will provide a multitude of spaces for businesses and individuals to retreat while partaking in recreational activities. Vista Wellness is designed to be low impact with features such as a living roof and LEED certification. Using a promotional commercial and an intricate model, using state of the art construction supplies, we are able to convey the need for this addition to the Glenview property.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Environmental Sciences, Sustainable Communities & Working Landscapes
Year: 2018
Authors: Kimberly Kehr
, Matthew Syke
, Thomas Szabo

A USE VERSUS AVAILABILITY DIET STUDY OF AGE-0 FISHES IN NEAR SHORE WOODY STRUCTURE

Thu, 12/13/2018 - 14:09
Abstract: In 2014, the need for an ecological restoration program began at Paul Smiths College in attempt to restore or improve the shoreline along Lower St. Regis Lake. When restoring a shoreline, one must look at what organisms are using the area and how they are doing it. Invertebrates and fishes play a large role in distinguishing problems or changes in an environment, so we sampled both to add useful knowledge to the restoration program. Specifically, we looked to see if fishes were selecting for specific invertebrates (food), or if they did not have a preference. We used a backpack electrofishing unit to sample young of the year fishes near shore along three 60-meter segments, and a 100-foot bag seine to collect fishes offshore along the same segments. Invertebrates were sampled along the same segments and was done so by picking up all coarse woody debris and brushing the pieces off with our hands into a sieve bucket. Woody debris too large to pick up were scraped underwater using a standard kick net. Invertebrates were identified to order level, and fish stomach contents were also identified to the order so that we could conduct a comparison. After using a Chi Square test, we found that according to our p-value (0.2796) fishes were not selecting against any individual taxonomic group. Smallmouth bass were also the dominant present species along nearshore woody debris which could either suggest a higher recruitment than other species, a preference of use by the smallmouth bass, or human introduced capturing bias. Although we can’t indefinitely say fishes were selecting for Dipterans, data shows that dipterans made up just 4.5% of the total invertebrate composition on CWD but made up 9% of the fishes’ stomach contents suggesting fishes may be selecting for them.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
File Attachments: CompletedCapstone.docx
Authors: Adrian Forbes, Alexander Frank, Matthew D Simpson

Minnow Abundance in Heron Marsh: Spatial Variation, the Status of the Non-Native Fathead Minnow, and Hybridized Redbelly and Finescale Dace

Fri, 12/14/2018 - 09:27
Abstract: Due to their distinct influence on surrounding ecosystems and food web dynamics, minnow populations have been monitored in Heron Marsh, in the northern Adirondacks in New York, since fall of 2012. This study documented the presence of species known to predate on minnows, the hybridization between redbelly dace (Chrosomus eos) and finescale dace (Phoxinus neogaeus), and the presence of the recently documented fathead minnow (Pimephales prometas). To survey piscivores, two fyke nets were set around the marsh for one trap night. The fishes were then identified and measured. The collection of predators is part of a preliminary study to document the presence of predator fish species within Heron Marsh. Minnow data was collected via minnow traps set at long term study sites and one new site. The traps were set over night and collected the following day. The minnows were identified and measured to the nearest mm. When analyzing the data collected in the field, the data from previous years was compared to this years data. The findings indicate that hybrids of redbelly and finescale dace can be observed only at sites where both parent species exist. This 2018 study was the first one to document hybrid species though they have been observed in past years. The status of the fathead minnow is not significantly different from findings from 2017 however, their populations are noticeably smaller than previous years. Predator composition was primarily brown bullhead (Ameiurus nebulosus) and creek chub (Semtilus atromaculatus).
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
Authors: Sarah LaLumiere and Patrick Nicholson

Assessing the Use of Backpack Electrofishing to Index Age-0 Fish Abundance in Woody Structure Adjacent to the Lakeshore

Fri, 12/14/2018 - 10:50
Abstract: The preservation and monitoring of age-0 fishes and their habitat is imperative to the overall health of a lake and its fishery. The effectiveness of backpack electrofishing at capturing age-0 fishes along shorelines with coarse woody structure was assessed by attempting to correlate electrofishing catch rates with known population sizes. A 60x2m controlled study area along the shoreline of Lower St. Regis lake was selected and blocked off through use of a net encompassing the perimeter. Known population sizes were stocked into the net and a three-pass electrofishing depletion was conducted within the study area. Results indicated that there was no significant correlation between the known population size and the population estimate generated through electrofishing (p = 0.172). The lack of correlation may have been due to failure of the block net encompassing the study area.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
File Attachments: Full Report
Authors: Justin Rozema

Management plan of honey badger (Mellivora capensis) populations in Karnataka, India

Fri, 04/27/2018 - 11:56
Abstract: Honey badgers (Mellivora capensis) are known for their thick skin and fearless behavior. Honey badgers have a large distribution throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, Arabia, Iran and western India. Honey badgers are commonly found in open woodlands, desert, high mountains and coastal shrubs. Their diet consists of scorpions, Hottentotta rugiscutis, Heterometrus swammerdami, Hottentotta tamulus, and Lychas tricarinatus; small rodents: lesser bandicoot rat (Bandicota bengalensis), Indian bush rat (Golunda ellioti), soft-furred rat (Millardia meltada), little Indian field mouse (Mus booduga), house mouse (Mus musculus), Sahyadris forest rat (Rattus satarae), Nilgiri long-tailed tree mouse (Vandeleuria nilagirica), jungle palm squirrel (Funambulus tristriatus), Malabar spiny dormouse (Platacanthomys lasiurus), Etruscan shrew (Suncus etruscus), and the Asian house shrew (Suncus murinus); and herpetofauna, Brook’s gecko (Hemidactylus brookii), bark gecko (Hemidactylus leschenaultia), brahminy skink (Mabuya carinata), Indian rat snake (Ptyas mucosa), and the banded racer (Argyrogena fasciolatus). Honey badgers are mustelids that burrow into the banks of streams, rock cavities, and thick brush along with the spaces naturally formed by tree roots. Ecological concerns threatening honey badger populations include deforestation, lack of space, and disease. Sociocultural and economic threats to honey badgers include bush meat trade, medicinal uses, illegal fur trade and apiarist’s defending their hives from honey badgers. All of these issues have been documented in Sub-Saharan Africa, where the majority of research for this species has been done. The scope of this management plan focuses in Karnataka, India, these threats, are relevant and current concerns to honey badger populations in Karnataka. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species has the honey badger listed as a species of least concern, this listing is given due to the absence of information on this species. The goal of this management plan is to increase and stabilize honey badger populations in Karnataka in order to make the honey badger a flagship species for the state (2018-2048). Objectives of this goal include: increase protected honey badger habitat, by 10% in ten years, increase understanding of honey badger ecology in Karnataka in eight years publishing four, peer reviewed scientific articles, evaluate 85% of honey badger populations in Karnataka in five years, and having a honey badger acceptance rate of 70% by human populations in thirty years. Honey badgers are an elusive and unique species who have increased acclaim due to the use of social media websites. With proper management this species can have sustainable and sizable populations for the state of Karnataka.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
File Attachments: Management_Plan_Woods
Authors: Alaina Woods

2018 Management Plan for Fossas (Cryptoprocta ferox) in Madagascar

Mon, 04/30/2018 - 11:28
Abstract: Fossas (Cryptoprocta ferox) are an endemic species to Madagascar with features resembling members of Felidae, Herpestidae, and Viveridae. They are widely distributed throughout the island and are located in rainforests, dry forests, and mountainous terrain. As the top-predators of Madagascar, fossas are opportunistic hunters and will feed on the most abundant prey in an area, which are usually the various lemur species inhabiting Madagascar. Fossas are often overlooked in terms of research for their lemur counterparts, resulting in a lack of information pertaining to the species. Fossas are listed as vulnerable on the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List and under Appendix II of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). The species has declined by 30% over the last 21 years and are projected to mirror that decline over the next 21 years. The fossas’ decline is primarily linked to habitat destruction and fragmentation and hunting of the species. Invasive species are likely also contributing by transmitting foreign pathogens to fossas, but more research in this area is required. Madagascan forests are continuing to decline annually as more are cleared to make room for agricultural practices. Local Madagascans hunt fossas due to their negative view in local culture, to protect their fowl and livestock, and as a source of bushmeat in some areas. Of Madagascar’s 46 protected areas, many of them contain established populations of fossas. However, these populations are too small or fragmented and will not remain viable into the future. Fossas can be successful if their habitat is preserved and their negative perception by Madagascan villagers is altered. Their top-predator status, unique morphology and taxonomy, and endemic nature make them a valuable species worth restoring to sustainable population levels and protecting for future generations. This management plan has two goals; (1) Establish fossas as a valuable wildlife species among wildlife stakeholders and (2) improve the negative ecological conditions facing fossas to foster population growth. Both goals require multiple objectives to be met to be completed and thus ensure the survival of the species. Educational programs will improve fossas’ negative perception and negative interactions between fossas and Madagascans will be decreased to lessen the numbers harmed or killed by locals. Ecotourism focusing on fossas will be established to increase awareness and funding for conservation. Protected areas of fossa habitat will be enlarged or connected to better suit their needs. Fossa food availability will be increased indirectly by increasing the size of their protected habitat. Invasive species populations of felines and canines will be decreased. Further research on fossa ecology is necessary to improve understanding of fossas and their demographics and improve management practices in the future. If fossas’ habitat requirements are met and protected and their negative view in the eyes of Madagascans is reversed, the species’ decline will be reversed and the population will become sustainable into the future.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
File Attachments: Notoris_2018_04_25.docx
Authors: John Notoris

Management plan for wild ring-necked pheasant (Phasianus colchicus) populations in Wyoming County, New York

Wed, 05/02/2018 - 18:51
Abstract: Ring-necked pheasants (Phasianus colchicus) are an upland game species found throughout much of the United States, including western New York. Pheasant population numbers throughout the state have decreased since their peak in the 1960s and 1970s, and continue to decline. Their diet is focused on small invertebrates as well as seeds, grains, roots, and berries. Their habitat consists primarily of small overgrown farm fields with abundant edge habitat and hedgerows for escape, thermal, and nesting cover. Much is known about the biology of this species but population numbers continue to decrease throughout New York despite current management actions. The decline of this species has been due to the loss of cover from monocultures and increased predation by red fox (Vulpes vulpes), coyote (Canis latrans), skunk (Mephitidae), raccoon (Procyon lotor), and avian predators such as the red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis). Ring-necked pheasants are a primary game species in areas of New York that help contribute monetary funds to assist with the states conservation needs. Currently, the majority of hunters in the state rely on the introduction of pen-raised pheasants for a successful hunt. The goal of this management plan is to maintain a self-sustained wild ring-necked pheasant population for sporting, aesthetic, biologic, and scientific value in the town of Middlebury, Wyoming County, NY. This goal requires multiple objectives and actions to ensure success of the species in the Middlebury study area. Management plan objectives include: 1) increase available pheasant habitat on private lands by 10% in ten years, 2) increase the wild pheasant populations in the town of Middlebury by 15% in 10 years (2018-2028), and 3) control pheasant predator populations (coyote, red fox, red-tailed hawks, raccoons and skunks) in the town of Middlebury by decreasing them by 15% in the next ten years (2018-2028). Pheasant populations are important to ecosystem health by providing seed dispersal for many plant species as well as being an important prey species. Being that pheasants are a game species, they provide a source of monetary value to conservation funds that can be used for the conservation of other species. More habitat and predation studies need to be conducted in the town of Middlebury as well as the rest of the county to better inform managers on the needs of the species. If the conservation needs of the ring-necked pheasant are addressed correctly, a self-sustained wild population will be possible.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
Authors: Dakotta Loft

Population Management for Invasive Cane Toads (Rhinella marina) in Florida

Wed, 05/02/2018 - 20:59
Abstract: Cane toads (Rhinella marina) are a relatively large species of anuran that are historically native to South America through Central America and as far north as extreme Southwestern Texas. This range has been artificially expanded by humans to numerous areas of the globe, usually as a form of biological pest control, the most infamous of which is the release of a population of cane toads in Australia in the 1930’s that failed and has wreaked havoc on the native ecosystems and residents of the country ever since with no evidence of stopping. Cane toads were also inadvertently released into Florida in the 1950’s when a population escaped from the Miami airport, and was supplemented by subsequent releases from pet owners. The main concern with cane toads is their particularly potent toxin that they release when threatened which has led to many cases of pet death and emergency vet visits for curious dogs in Florida and the decline of some entire species of predator in Australia. However the detrimental effects can also come in other forms as cane toads can be hosts for “the parasite spill back” phenomenon, in which an invading species such as cane toads can be the perfect breeding ground for a parasite and then through expanding range and increasing population numbers disseminate it to other related species. As of now cane toads are mostly a problem for pet owners in Florida and do not seem to be much threat to the natural ecosystems as they are limited in movement by Florida’s tall grass ecosystems. This threat should not be ignored however, as cane toads are highly adaptable and in Australia the invading population has adapted to habitats in which they are not usually encountered. The goal of this management plan is to use the lessons of Australia and what little research has been done in the United States to reduce the population of, and prevent or limit the spread of cane toads further into urban areas and prevent potential degradation of natural habitat by 2028. This includes the education and training of the public to help get the highest numbers of individuals captured, along with education for pet owners on what to do should your pet become poisoned and the best ways to prevent this. Should this plan be successful it will help to prevent a potentially disastrous situation resembling the one that has occurred in Australia while the cane toad is still very limited in its movements and vulnerable to large scale elimination efforts.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
Authors: Christopher Rappleyea

Wildlife Management Plan for Amur Leopards (Panthera pardus orientalis) in the Primorski Krai Region of Northeast Russia

Wed, 05/02/2018 - 21:21
Abstract: The Amur leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis) is an endangered subspecies of leopard that inhabits the far eastern regions of Asia. It is also locally known as the far-eastern leopard, Manchurian leopard, or Korean leopard. These large carnivores are solitary animals that prefer habitat of mixed coniferous and deciduous woods with rocky outcrops, cliffs, and fallen timber. They are elusive mammals that are especially adapted to living in the snowy winters in Russia and populations are declining at an alarming rate. Habitat loss is the leading cause of population decline in the species, but other factors include disease, poaching, retaliatory killings, a decrease in prey bases, leopard-human conflict, and other unnatural causes. Understanding these issues and background of Amur leopards is difficult because there is a lack of data regarding the species’ reproduction, immigration and emigration, population, and habitat use. This management plan aims to increase the population of Amur leopards in Primorski Krai to numbers that are economically, ecologically, and culturally appreciated. Several techniques like fully understanding the species with camera traps, habitat conservation, education and incentive programs, stabilizing prey species, and reducing human-leopard conflicts may be used to help accomplish this goal. Many of the actions and objectives involve the patience and support of researchers and conservationists, as the collection of data regarding the Amur leopard is extremely time consuming. The recovery and success of this leopard depends on the cooperation of public and private organizations as well as stakeholder support. Through the implementation of this management plan, the recovery and long term success of the Amur leopard will be ensured.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
File Attachments: AmurLeopard_FinalDraft.docx
Authors: Hannah Poljacik