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Capstone Projects

The Distribution of Northern Harriers (Circus cyaneus) in Northern New York State in Relation to the Availability of Habitat Types

Mon, 04/16/2012 - 18:55
Abstract: Northern Harriers (Circus cyaneus), a bird of prey species, are widely distributed throughout the United States generally at low densities. Harriers are found in New York State, although they are less common than in the Midwest. As the harrier is a species of concern in some regions, it is important to understand how land cover types can affect the distribution of Northern Harriers over time, within a given area. Specifically, this study investigated whether the distributions of Northern Harriers are dependent upon habitat type, and if the frequency of habitat types significantly affects the abundance of Northern Harriers. The area selected for this study includes the majority of New York State to the North and East of Watertown. This region was selected because data indicates that harrier populations have declined from 1980 to 2005. In addition, this region encompasses mountainous areas as well as lower, relatively flatter land outside of the Adirondacks which represents most of New York State. Remote Sensing and Geographic Information Systems were utilized to determine land cover types for the region. These land cover types were then combined with New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Breeding Bird Atlas survey blocks. Dominant cover types for each survey block were determined, and the region as a whole was compared to survey blocks within which harriers were present. This process was completed for the years 1984 and 2005, two years in which the Breeding Bird Atlas data were collected for New York State. By using Remote Sensing and GIS, a clearer understanding of the relationship between cover type frequency and harrier presence was possible. Results indicate that Northern Harriers are significantly selecting habitat from land cover types in a proportion different to that which is available. Land cover in this region has shifted throughout the time covered in this study. In addition, a trend of open habitat being chosen over closed canopy habitat is evident. Understanding harrier selection of land cover types can greatly affect management strategies, practices and funding, as the specie is listed as threatened in New York State. The results of this study support much of the available scientific literature on harriers, which state that harriers require a combination of open canopy habitats, including early successional habitat with low vegetative cover.
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Major: Forestry, Natural Resources Management and Policy
Year: 2012
Authors: Kelly Hoffman

Comparison of Skid Trail Soil and Adjacent Undisturbed Forest Soil Physical Properties Over a Chronosequence in Vermont

Mon, 04/16/2012 - 19:04
Abstract: The effects of harvesting on forest soil physical properties are visually noticeable on soils where equipment has operated. The effects of equipment passes on forest soils of the Northeastern United States are not well documented. Results from such investigations are less telling when the resilience of forest soils over time is not measured. In an attempt to provide insight, single equipment pass skid trails at two harvest sites (1991 and 2010) meeting similar criteria were sampled. Bulk density (BD), macroporosity, microporosity, total porosity, and strength of skid trial soils and adjacent undisturbed forest soils were measured at each site. The results showed a P-value of 0.019 between soil bulk density, time since harvest, and disturbance type. The 1991 site has resilient soil, as skid trial soil properties were not significantly different than the undisturbed soil properties 20 years later. At the 2010 site, skid trail soil properties were significantly different than undisturbed soil. The goal is that this study be used in conjunction with previous research to aid Northeastern forest managers in determining how to remove wood over successive treatments. The data suggests that soil physical properties are not permanently altered after single equipment passes at the two study sites.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Forestry
Year: 2012
File Attachments: Project 2nd Draft.docx
Authors: Steve Handfield, Daniel Kelting

Gauging Public Perception towards Visitor Impact as well as a Hypothetical Recreation Permit for the Adirondack State Park, New York

Mon, 04/16/2012 - 20:19
Abstract: Human impact upon natural resources can have negative environmental and social impacts. A questionnaire was given out at Marcy Dam to determine whether or not the public perceived negative impacts from visitor use, in particular mountain recreation areas. Participants were also questioned about a hypothetical permit which could introduce a new form of management within impacted areas. Surveys were then analyzed to see how the public had responded to heavily impacted areas and the idea of a recreation permit. Results were displayed in pie chart form to represent public perceptions and views. From the surveyed participants, it was discovered that the majority of people (85%), saw negative impacts in popular recreation areas. The majority of participants (64%), also expressed they would not be willing to accept a recreation permit for use in certain areas.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Forestry
Year: 2012
File Attachments: Capstone_Final Draft.docx
Authors: Kyle Leech

Effects of Snow on GPS Accuracy in Forest Environments

Wed, 04/18/2012 - 15:54
Abstract: Abstract Global Positioning Systems, or GPS, have become an indispensable aspect of modern life, used in everyday situations and is a vital component of many occupations, including forestry and natural resources. With increased GPS accuracy, a forester is able to better locate boundaries and geographic or cultural features beneath forest canopy, leading to increased productivity. In the terms of forestry practices, decreased accuracy can cause errors which could lead to financial or physical loss of resources. The goal of this study is to determine the effects of canopy snow on the accuracy of commercially available, recreation grade GPS units which are suitable for forestry use. The effect of snow on canopy closure was tested through the photographic examination of pre and post snow canopy conditions. GPS accuracy was determined by taking averaged GPS measurements alongside the photo measurements. These were points were compared to previously established coordinates derived from a survey traverse. The results showed that snow did affect the canopy closure of the test forest, yet any correlation between GPS accuracy and increased canopy closure was found to be inconclusive.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Forestry
Year: 2012
File Attachments: Snyder2012.pdf
Authors: Rand J. Snyder

A Paul Smith's College Student Recreational Needs Assessment, A Look Into the Recreation and Leisure Needs and Wants of the Students at Paul Smith's College

Mon, 12/03/2012 - 10:44
Abstract: Paul Smith’s College offers its students what seems like an endless amount of recreation and leisure opportunities. In the field of recreation, a needs assessment is the standard used to gauge the level at which the needs and wants of the users, in this case the students of Paul Smith’s College, are being met by the recreation and leisure programming and facilities available to them. An electronically distributed survey was emailed to all currently enrolled students asking them for their responses regarding the current and potential recreation and leisure opportunities available to them. The results were analyzed to concentrate the emerging themes. Suggestions were than produced that will help align available opportunities with the wants and needs of the students. Most of the suggestions deal with changes to programming, such as expanded offerings and extending the hours that programming such as the climbing wall and swimming pool are open. Yet, there were also recommendations made regarding the facilities, such as adding equipment to the climbing wall to enhance safety. The recommendations, which were directly arrived at using the student's responses, aim at bettering the available recreation and leisure opportunities. That in turn would better serve the students, while clarifying needs and wants to the staff associated with campus recreation at Paul Smith's College.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Recreations, Adventure Travel and Ecotourism
Year: 2012
Authors: Daniel Dwyer

Paul Smith's College Bouldering Guidebook

Mon, 12/03/2012 - 12:41
Abstract: The climbing community of Paul Smith’s College is rapidly expanding. Consequently, there are needs for an established set of climbing ethics (the informal guidelines that govern the development of new routes or climbing areas) and nearby places to practice climbing outdoors. To meet this need, a bouldering guidebook for the local area surrounding Paul Smith’s College that emphasizes ethical climbing practices will be produced. We will explore the woods that are within no more than a 10-minute drive from campus for glacial erratics that are suitable for bouldering. We will compile a set of at least 30 boulders that will be included in a guidebook and spend the spring, summer, and early fall of 2012 cleaning, developing, and documenting them. This guidebook will serve as a valuable resource for many future generations of climbers at Paul Smith’s College.
Access: No
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Recreations, Adventure Travel and Ecotourism
Year: 2012
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Dylan Shows, William Pregnall

An Investigation into the Pennsylvania Sunday Hunting Debate

Mon, 12/03/2012 - 14:17
Abstract: A current debate in Pennsylvania is taking place on the floor of the state congress and throughout small towns. Pennsylvania is one of eleven states that restrict Sunday hunting in some way. Recent bills have attempted to remove the blue law that currently restricts Sunday hunting in the state. Presently this attempt faces stiff opposition from famers, clergy, and other people who recreate outside. Most surprisingly though, is the large amount of varying opinion from hunters themselves on the Sunday hunting issue. This project will take an unbiased look into the Sunday hunting debate, and attempt to gain an understanding of why hunters have formed the opinions that they currently have. The project will then allow citizens of Pennsylvania to make a more informed decision on the issue of Sunday hunting.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Recreations, Adventure Travel and Ecotourism
Year: 2012
Authors: Robert J Edkin

Risk on the Rocks: A study of risk as related to self efficacy in rock climbing

Mon, 12/03/2012 - 15:50
Abstract: Self efficacy is being confident in ones skills or ability to perform a task and may be directly linked to risk in relation to rock climbing. Risk is exposing oneself to danger that can cause you threat loss or harm. The purpose of this project is to see if there is a direct correlation between the risks that rock climbers take and their experience level. A goal sample of 100 rock climbers will partake in a survey asking questions that will help to estimate confidence, age, gender and risk taking behaviors in climbers. This study hopes to show that climbers are more willing to take risks when they are more confident in their experiences. The significance of this study will be useful to the climbing community as a whole because very little research has been conducted on this specific area of climbing.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Recreations, Adventure Travel and Ecotourism
Year: 2012
File Attachments: Risk on the Rocks Capstone
Authors: Matthew Baer

Inclusive Recreation Programming: Pilot Programming at John Dillon Park

Tue, 12/04/2012 - 13:59
Abstract: This project developed pilot inclusive recreation programming for the users of John Dillon Park. From conducting a needs assessment of the park visitors we discovered what kinds of outdoor inclusive recreation visitors would most want to participate in. With this information, three programs were developed and implemented: Camp Cookery and Crafts, Neature Walk, and Halloween-To Fright Fest. Surveys of program participants were done before and after they participated in the programs in order to evaluate changes in well being indicators such as stress, anxiety, the sense of inclusion, and visit satisfaction. Results obtained were not reliable due to a low sample size but showed improvements in all areas. The scrap book pages and comments made by participants indicated that the programs were beneficial to them and should be continued in the future.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Recreations, Adventure Travel and Ecotourism
Year: 2012
Authors: Abigail Hughes, Sean Frantz

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.
Access: No
Literary Rights: Off
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