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Capstone Projects

Acidic Deposition in Adirondack Lakes: Episodic Acidification and Equilibrium

Tue, 05/05/2015 - 10:06
Abstract: Acid deposition has been a historic problem in the Adirondacks. Though after original mitigation attempts were deemed successful, funding for many acid deposition-monitoring programs in the area has been cut or eliminated, and much of the data that has been collected is now old and outdated. Newer data on this issue needed to be collected to determine if there truly has been recovery of Adirondack lakes. Through this observational experiment the pH levels of 18 different lakes scattered around the Adirondacks during winter were examined. The pH levels of the snow around the lakes were examined to determine the levels of acid shock. This data was compared to the historic data available and created a preliminary finding. This comparison helped determine that Adirondack water bodies could possibly be coming to a form of equilibrium as the pH levels are possibly returning to a resemblance of pre-disturbance conditions, which suggests recent legislation may have had measurable successes in the goal of reducing the acidification of Adirondack freshwater ecosystems.
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Literary Rights: Off
Major: Integrative Studies, Natural Resources Management and Policy
Year: 2015
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Timothy Johnston, Andrew Olcott

An Examination of the Paul Smith’s Visitor Interpretative Center Trail Conditions and Suggested Sustainable Maintenance Practices

Tue, 05/05/2015 - 10:59
Abstract: The Adirondack Park is a 6.4 million acre state park in Upstate New York. With over 2,000 miles of hike able trails, this region is a popular tourist attraction in the Northeast. Thousands of people visit the Adirondack region to hike each year, which means that the trails within the park are subject to high intensity use. Natural resource management professionals such as the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) are concerned with the quality of trails winding through the region, and also promote awareness of the fragile alpine ecosystems resting atop the 5,000+ ft. tall mountains- which are constantly being degraded by human foot traffic. However, there are smaller and less maintained trails that run through our own backyard here at Paul Smith’s College, at the Visitors Interpretative Center (V.I.C.), with equally as fragile and important ecosystems. These range from bogs to eskers- the home of the rare and interesting Pitcher Plant (Sarracenia purpurea), to wetlands and riverine systems containing native heritage Brook Trout (Salvelinus fontinalis), populations such as the Windfall strain. Currently, there is no formal data documenting the condition of trails within the VIC property, therefore one may never know the true condition of the entire trail system. The Paul Smith’s V.I.C. can greatly benefit from applying recommended management techniques in the future using up to date information gathered in the spring of 2015. This report will provide new data, which will help management professionals examine the feasibility of applying accepted current and future sustainable trail management practices to the trails belonging to Paul Smith’s College.
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Literary Rights: Off
Major: Integrative Studies
Year: 2015
File Attachments: NEWCAPSTONE.docx
Authors: Loretta Buerkle

White Pine Blister Rust at Paul Smith’s VIC: Concerns and Recommendations

Tue, 05/05/2015 - 18:34
Abstract: Abstract- Blister rust was reported on the Paul Smith’s VIC property. White pine blister rust is a complex disease pathosystem in which Cronartium ribicola – a rust fungus - infects both eastern white pine (Pinus strobus) and species in the Ribes genus. P. strobus is a disturbance species in the Adirondacks. Ribes spp. are early seral stage plants and readily exploit small gaps in the forest. Both are found on the VIC property. C. ribicola limits white pine regeneration, but isn’t currently considered a serious forest pathogen in the Northeast because its spread is limited by environmental, topographic, climatic, and temporal conditions. Despite these limits, blister rust has moved around the globe and has successfully spread across a wide range in the U.S. Because blister rust exists in a dynamic and interconnected world, there exists the potential for it to increase in virulence and incidence. Historically, management of blister rust has involved removing ribes from the landscape in favor of white pine- a scheme that is too costly and yields little long term benefit for landowners. A gap in the knowledge exists for smaller landowners dealing with blister rust. With this considered, based on a wide body of literature, management plans were designed to fit the VIC’s needs now and in the future.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Integrative Studies
Year: 2015
File Attachments: Riquier capstone.docx
Authors: Adam Riquier

Impacts of Maple Syrup Production Programming at the Paul Smith’s College Visitor Interpretive Center

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 12:37
Abstract: Education and interpretation provides strategies and techniques to successfully communicate natural resource and environmental concerns. This research addresses the effectiveness of a community education project at the Paul Smith’s College (PSC) Visitor Interpretive Center (VIC) in the Adirondacks of New York State. Educational programs regarding maple syrup production were designed and evaluated to determine their impact on the local community. The objectives were to offer skills education, raise awareness on a local resource, foster a connection to the land, and offer involvement in the VIC’s community maple project. The goal of maple education at the VIC is to educate the community in an attempt to encourage the growth of an underutilized sustainable local resource that community members can become involved in without degradation of Adirondack forests. Determinations were made using a survey questionnaire provided before and after the programs were performed. Based on the data collected the determination made is that the majority of participants that attended ultimately were interested in becoming involved in maple sugaring using to VIC as a gateway for maple sugaring, primarily as a hobby and outdoor activity. This research has aided in the determination that effective programming at the VIC results in encouraging the community to be involved in maple syrup production. With this determination the VIC will continue to perform the designed educational programs as a service to the community.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Integrative Studies, Recreations, Adventure Travel and Ecotourism
Year: 2014
Authors: Thomas Manitta

Maintaining the Population of Thornicroft Giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis thornicroftt)

Sun, 05/04/2014 - 13:12
Abstract: There is a lack of information on the Thornicroft giraffe’s population size and of the amount of poaching taking place on the giraffes with in the Southern Luangwa Valley National Park. As of right now the giraffes population appears to be stable but there are a lot of factor unknown pertaining to the threats to the population and to their habitat. The goal of this management plan is to maintain the Thornicroft Giraffes population which is exclusively found in Luangwa Valley in Zambia Africa, the management plan is focused on the Southern Luangwa Valley National Park. With this management plan the objectives is to establish the population size within the park, maintain the preferred habitat of the giraffes, determine if poaching is taking place within the park and the potential effects poaching could have on the population. Once the population is known and stable then a harvest management strategy will be implemented for the locals. There will be pamphlets handed out in villages in the area; along with a survey used to access on poaching and the importance that giraffe based products have on their culture.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Integrative Studies
Year: 2014
File Attachments: Managment rough draft.docx
Authors: Emily Williams

Tardigrade Abundance in Green Shield Lichens on Different Tree Species

Wed, 04/24/2013 - 18:43
Abstract: Many studies have been done on tardigrades, a microscopic, aquatic organism that feeds on plant cell fluid, bacteria, algae, protozoa, and other small invertebrates. Most of these studies have addressed their ability to survive extreme environments and not their preferred living habitats. Virtually no studies have been done investigating the ecology of tardigrades. This study focuses on which species of tardigrade live on a species of lichen (Common Greenshield Lichen, Flavoparmelia caperata) found on three species of trees; Red Maple (Acer rubrum), Black Cherry (Prunus serotina), and White Pine (Pinus strobus). Five trees of each species were chosen and five samples of the Common Greenshield Lichen were taken from all 25 trees during each of the fall and winter seasons. From every lichen sample processed, five slides were looked at, each containing two drops of the water that the lichen was suspended in for 2 hours. The samples were looked at underneath a compound microscope and a dichotomous key was used to identify tardigrades that were found. Due to the fact that liquid water is less available in winter, samples were taken during the fall and winter to look at the differences in species diversity and abundance. The greatest abundance of tardigrades was found on Red Maple, during both fall and winter. Black Cherry had the lowest abundance of tardigrades during both fall and winter. White Pine had an abundance less than that of Red Maple but greater than that of the Black Cherry. There were more tardigrades found on the lichen in fall than in winter. This implies that they find Red Maple a more suitable habitat than the Black Cherry and White Pine, may be related to acidity of the Black Cherry and White Pine being greater than that of Red Maple. Throughfall and stemflow on the trees may also contribute to habitat preference of the tardigrades.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Biology
Year: 2013
File Attachments: Capstone Report.docx
Authors: Heather Cooner

New York State Feral Hog (Sus scrofa) Management Plan: Species Eradication and Public Education

Thu, 04/25/2013 - 11:22
Abstract: Feral hogs, also referred to as feral swine, Eurasian or Russian wild boar, and wild pigs, are the same species Sus scofa. They are an aggressive invasive species introduced to the United States in the 1500s and have spread over most of the country in the last few decades (Gipson et al. 1998). Due to their unique life history feral hogs are a persevering ungulate species capable of causing extensive economical and ecological damage while causing a threat to human health and safety. They are considered one of the world’s worst invasive species (Lowe et al. 2000). Extinction of native species and loss of biodiversity due to this widely invasive species has been documented worldwide (Wolf and Conover 2003). This management plan describes the life history of feral hogs, the need for management in New York State, several action plans to address the need for management, and assessment protocol for each action plan. Also included in this plan is a grant request to fund the educational objectives in order to achieve more awareness and cooperation with the public, promoting higher probability of management success.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Biology
Year: 2013
File Attachments: Feral Hog Management Plan
Authors: William Schmieder Jr.

Compaction of Hiking Trails Located in the Northeastern Area of the Adirondack State Park, New York

Mon, 04/29/2013 - 12:19
Abstract: With continued increases in outdoor recreation in the United States, the physical impact of that use needs to be monitored for its effects. The purpose of this study was to explore whether a relationship exists between traffic numbers and soil strength of trails in the High Peaks Region of New York’s Adirondack state park. Soil strength was used as a measure of compaction because of its ability to indicate certain aspects of soil physical properties like bulk density, and hydrological condition (Mirreh & Ketcheson,1972), which are also soil physical properties that are effected by compaction (Hanna & Al-Kaisi,2009). These physical properties are important factors which influence a soils ability to carry out its biotic and abiotic processes (Kozlowski,1999). Initially the relationship between average soil strength of trails and traffic was insignificant. Upon further analyzing the data we found a significant relationship between on-trail and off-trail soil strength and used this relationship to create on-trail residual soil strengths. This was done to remove the influence that off-trail soil strength was having on the traffic vs. soil strength relationship. With the on/off-trail relationship influence removed, the relationship between on-trail residual soil strength and traffic was significantly improved. Literature discussed showed how the soil strengths collected could be used to infer possible effects on the sites tested. Relations between soil strength and bulk density, root elongation, root penetration, and trail recovery were all reviewed to provide insight on the quality of the soil at sample sites.
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Literary Rights: Off
Major: Biology
Year: 2013
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Karl Van Osch

No Known Antidote: Quantification of a deadly toxin, tetrodotoxin, in red efts (Notopthalamus viridescens; Rafinesgue, 1820)

Mon, 04/29/2013 - 17:42
Abstract: Tetrodotoxin (TTX) in found in taxa worldwide including the eft life stage of the eastern newt (Notopthalamus virisdescens). Previous studies have shown that there is variability of TTX concentrations within efts and newts, and it is not known if the presence of TTX in these efts is common among populations. Our objective was to determine the distribution of TTX within the body N. viridescens efts. We hypothesized that the skin would have the highest concentrations of TTX as it is the area of the body that will likely come into contact with a predator. If certain regions of the skin come into contact with a predator more often than others, there may be significant differences in the dorsal, abdominal and pectoral regions of skin. Further, we hypothesized that the ova would have the second highest concentration of TTX as they are vital to reproduction yet vulnerable to predation. Through HPLC analysis we determined the concentrations of TTX within different tissues of N. viridescens efts including the: dorsal, pectoral, and abdominal skin; ovaries; testes; liver; pancreas; and alimentary canal. The concentrations of TTX between the different tissue types are not significantly different, nor were individuals significantly different in concentration of TTX from one another. Toxicity levels were high in comparison to other N. viridescens efts and more similar to the toxicity of highly toxic Taricha newts. The high toxicity of N. viridescens could be contributed to strong predation pressure by the slightly resistant garter snake (Thamnopsis sirtalis) and eastern hognose snake (Heterodon platirhinos).
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Literary Rights: Off
Major: Biology
Year: 2013
Authors: Kimberly M. Forrest

The Conservation and Management of Wolverine (Gulo gulo) Populations in Northern Idaho to Help Prevent Human Caused Extirpation from the Contiguous United States

Thu, 05/02/2013 - 11:21
Abstract: Wolverines (Gulo gulo) were once a thriving species in the North Western United States, but large scale trapping and poison programs in the early 1900s lead to the species near extinction. Since then, populations in the United States have been struggling to maintain a strong presence in Idaho. Its current listing as threatened on the Endangered Species Act prohibits hunting and trapping, but more management is needed to sustain populations. Human development and recreation activities have caused wolverines to disperse from its nature range. Using habitat preservation techniques on current and historical wolverine habitat, increase availability and connectivity will improve dispersal. Close relationship with state officials will provide protection regarding land use, recreation, hunting, trapping and harassment. Public education will teach residents ways they can help prevent wolverine populations from further decline. Extensive research and population monitoring are needed due to the currently declining populations and the low fecundity of the species.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Biology, Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2013
Authors: Danielle E. Ball