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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

The Effects of Varying Wavelengths of Light on Diatom Movement

Wed, 05/06/2015 - 16:18
Abstract: Diatoms were studied in order to determine in which wavelength of light they would be most active. It was surmised this knowledge would allow easier testing of future diatom movement hypotheses. This knowledge could, in turn, allow control over diatom movement in order to prevent or circumvent hazardous diatom blooms. Specimens were studied using a Parco scientific microscope in a dark room. They were studied both with and without cover slips to ensure the cover slips did not hinder movement. Sheets of high quality color transparency paper were laid over the microscope light, producing a single, strong color. In the end, the diatoms didn’t move at all, no matter the circumstances. The diatoms could have had no reason for movement or have been restricted by the small amount of water on the microscope slide due to the vast difference between the slide and the diatoms’ natural environment.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Biology
Year: 2015
File Attachments: Diatoms.docx
Authors: Eric Swiecki

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

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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Literary Rights: Off
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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Literary Rights: Off
Major: Forestry
Year: 2015
Authors: Adam D Allen

Investigating Amount of Sample Points Necessary for Accurate Topographic Representation of the Ground Truth

Wed, 04/29/2015 - 18:18
Abstract: Topographic or elevation data has many uses and applications especially when it is converted into a Digital Elevation Model (DEM). Such uses are erosion modeling, surface hydrology, watershed modelling geomorphology, land-sliding, agriculture and ecosystem modeling to list a few examples. This project intends to determine the amount of topographic data points that need to be collected in order to create an accurate model of the ground topography. To accomplish the objective, a topographic survey was conducted on a grid pattern, with a spacing of 7.5 feet between points regularly spaced over one acre. After the data were collected, varying percentages of the total amount of points collected were removed and the resulting digital elevation model (DEM) was compared to the ground truth DEM. When comparing accuracy of interpolated elevation across the entire DEM with a RMSE (root mean square error) it was found that using a subset of 25-30% of the entire data set were needed to create a model that did not significantly differ from the Ground Truth. The change in volume of the elevation surface compared to the Ground Truth results in a linear relationship, as more points are added the closed the change in volume is to zero. The P value derived from the T-test of the mean elevations of the trial DEM’s and the Ground truth, reflect the results from the change in volume, as more points are added the closer to the truth the DEM becomes.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Forestry
Year: 2015
File Attachments: Final_Report_RGM.docx
Authors: Ryan McGowan

Implementing an Educational Demonstration Forest with Working Elements of Silviculture, Wildlife, Recreation, and Water in Harrietstown, Adirondack, NY

Tue, 05/05/2015 - 11:15
Abstract: The project being conducted will provide rationale about the importance of working forestry, all while maintaining positive public sentiment within the forest products industry. The project will focus on public education and maintain water quality, wildlife habitat, and recreational opportunities. The public will see developed interpretive areas with signage at points of interest. The designated area is located near the Adirondack Regional Airport, Hunt Road and NYS Route 30, and is comprised of 226 acres. There are varying stands in the tract that range from pure softwood, hardwood and mixed wood stands. After the designated area was selected, a timber cruise was conducted along with note taking and visual analysis of how the area could entice public use and education. Once all the data was gathered, the conclusion drawn was throughout all different forests types in the tract, there were multiple educational opportunities pertaining to water quality and wildlife habitat through use of sustainable forestry methods. The significance of this project is to facilitate public education on how forestry can be sustainable and beneficial. This will be shown through workshops, kiosks, interpretive walks and a menagerie of other proposed ideas.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Forestry
Year: 2015
File Attachments: Capstone_LIB_Upload.docx
Authors: Jeffrey Bigelow, Raymond Desilva, William Lehning, Llewellyn Palmer, Bennett Lohmeyer, Corey Bulson

Downtown Saranac Lake Urban Forest Management Plan

Thu, 05/07/2015 - 16:47
Abstract: Trees and green spaces are important resources to any community. They are public spaces which provide havens of relaxation, play, and mental and physical stimulation. Trees and green spaces have been proven to have a positive impact on the mental and physical wellbeing of area residents. However, the care of these trees and green spaces is often overlooked or not planned for, leading to human/nature conflicts at a fine scale (local level). This is where arborists enter; arborists are individuals trained in the art of caring for trees, and are often involved in every stage of a tree’s life cycle, from planting to removal. But arborists are also teachers, acting as the intermediary between urban trees and the public and providing education to the people. The village of Saranac Lake, New York, is no different. The results of the data collected on Saranac Lake’s downtown street trees and parks were analyzed and compiled into a comprehensive urban tree management plan. A total of 236 trees and shrubs were inventoried and assessed for their health, overall condition, and pruning needs. Also included in the urban tree management plan are observations on the current state of the urban forest, recommendations for the mitigation and correction of any observable problems, and prevention and treatment courses of action for any future insect pests.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Forestry, Parks, Recreation and Facilities Management
Year: 2015
Authors: Michael O'Sullivan, Danielle Rageotte

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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Literary Rights: Off
Major: Forestry
Year: 2014
File Attachments: Final Report.docx
Authors: Nathan Piché