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Capstone Projects

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.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Biology, Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2013
Authors: Danielle E. Ball

Determining Habitat Suitability for Ruffed Grouse (Bonasa umbellus) in Five Forest Harvest Method Plots on the Paul Smith’s Visitors Interpretation Center Land to Promote Long Term Suitable Habitat.

Sun, 04/28/2013 - 11:42
Abstract: Ruffed grouse (Bonansa umbellus) populations are in a steady decline due to the loss of early successional forests. Our study focused on the suitability of ruffed grouse habitat which is considered an area with adequate food and cover in. We used a habitat suitability index designed for ruffed grouse in Colorado that included average height of woody stems, percent conifers, density of mature yellow birch, and total equivalent stem density as the variables that indicate whether an area has suitable cover and food for ruffed grouse. Using the habitat suitability index we measured the vegetation in five forest harvest methods including: single tree selection, two-age cut, shelter-wood cut, clear-cut, and a control plot to determine if a habitat suitability index developed in Colorado can be used to assess habitat suitability for ruffed grouse in New York. These plots are located in the Adirondacks in Northern New York State at the Paul Smith’s College Visitors Interpretation Center (VIC). Our results suggested that 14 years after harvest a single tree selection harvest method has the highest overall habitat suitability (0.95) for ruffed grouse. This is different from other studies we found that indicated clear-cut was the most suitable forest harvest method for ruffed grouse. We also projected the change in habitat suitability for height of woody stems over time for the clear-cut based on the yearly growth rate of 0.656 feet. Based on our findings from the study we made recommendations to land owners and land managers to develop and promote short term and long term suitable habitat for ruffed grouse. These recommendations included using a variety of forestry practices that included: single tree selection, shelterwood, and clear-cut because ruffed grouse require a variety of different cover types and habitat over their lifetime.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science, Forestry
Year: 2013
File Attachments: Final_Draft.doc
Authors: Jeremy Anna, Jake Baulch

Current State of the Black Ash Stand on Heaven Hill

Fri, 12/06/2013 - 01:06
Abstract: This study was conducted to assess the health and current state of the rare black ash (Fraxinus nigra) tree species on Heaven Hill property located in Lake Placid, New York. Little is known about black ash trees ecologically, it is mainly known solely for its cultural significance in basket making by the indigenous. Therefore, to learn more about the intricacies of black ash twenty fixed area plots were used to characterize the overstory in the 4 acre black ash stand. Diameter at Breast Height (DBH), crown class, crown condition, bark depth, and basket quality were measured. One black ash tree and one tree of another species were cored in each plot to analyze annual growth rings. Age of black ash trees was derived from the rings along with average ring growth per decade. Using the computer program, NED-2, basal area per acre (sq. ft) and stems per acre were calculated for the black stand. There was found to be a drop in stems per acre and basal area per acre after the seven inch diameter is met. Poor crown condition was found to be very low in black ash trees and even lower with an increase in DBH; 0% of the black ash trees between 11.5” and 17.5” DBH had Poor crown condition. Basket quality was assessed for each black ash tree and was based solely on physical features observed in the field. Basket quality for the stand was nine percent which represents the range in DBH classes from 5” to 15”. Only sixteen black ash trees were found to be potential basket quality trees.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Forestry
Year: 2013
File Attachments: Black_Ash.docx
Authors: Alexis Bancroft

Draft Horse Sustainability Presentations: The effectiveness of presentations on draft animal power at the Adirondack Rural Skills and Homesteading Festival

Fri, 12/06/2013 - 12:53
Abstract: Paul Smith’s College has been putting on draft horse presentations for the public for many years but until now it was unknown how effective these were in education of the audience in topics of the interest. During the 2013 Adirondack Rural Skills and Homesteading Festival, a series of demonstrations and presentations were conducted for the public. Surveys of those in attendance have now given us information on how far people are traveling, what their prior experience is, what they want to learn, and how they want to learn it. From this information we wish to gauge attendees’ response to draft animals and their uses.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Forestry, Natural Resources Management and Policy, Recreations, Adventure Travel and Ecotourism
Year: 2013
Authors: Alexandria Barner, Jacob Shultz

Developing a Log Rule for Portable Sawmill Operators in Vermont

Fri, 04/26/2013 - 10:30
Abstract: Since the beginning of the 19th century, American lumbermen have been vexed by one of the unique questions of their trade; how do you estimate the yield of squared lumber to be cut from a round log? Since 1825, answers to this question have come in the form of log rules; a table or formula that estimates the yield of logs. These tables are in no way universal, and in some cases are crudely inaccurate. The shortcomings of these log rules have manifest differently in the various geographic locales and industry sectors where they are used. This study sought to identify such shortcomings as they pertain to a specific group of lumbermen; portable sawmill operators. These sawyers utilize modern bandsaw technology and have unique business practices, yet they estimate outputs based on century old log rules created for traditional sawmills. Through the use of semi-structured open ended interviews, technical and socioeconomic information was gathered from 7 sawyers in Vermont. Among other concerns, five of the sawyers expressed the need for a better way to estimate log yield. Based on their collective suggestions and technical approaches, a new log rule was created here to address sawyers’ needs.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Forestry
Year: 2013
File Attachments: CAPSTONE_HAIGH.pdf
Authors: Ben Haigh

Soil and Vegetation Characteristics of High Elevation Wetlands in the Adirondack Park

Mon, 12/03/2012 - 17:14
Abstract: Wetland ecosystems are finally being understood for their true importance. Wetlands in the past were misunderstood and thought to be disease carrying burdens on our way of life; however this mentality changed during the mid-19thcentury. These ecosystems are important for biodiversity and act as natural water purification systems. This study was undertaken to help understand, the high elevation wetland characteristics. Our goals were to analyze the soils and describe the vegetation in high elevation wetlands. The soil and vegetative surveys helped define the characteristics of these ecosystems and create a better understanding of them. The combination of vegetation species that are wetland indicators were found in each site, the soil pH, and nutrients show that each site had signs of being a wetland community.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Environmental Sciences, Forestry
Year: 2012
File Attachments: FINAL Capstone Report.doc
Authors: Brandon Ploss, Sean Ayotte

Vegetation colonization of a large sediment deposit from Tropical Storm Irene and the trajectory of the ecosystem

Sun, 12/02/2012 - 20:06
Abstract: Rivers, floodplains and riparian zones are important pieces of all landscapes. Humans have always had a close connection with these ecosystems but commonly that connection has led to anthropogenic disturbance of the natural system. There are very few undisturbed rivers, floodplains, and riparian zones left in the temperate biome. A better understanding of how disturbance, humans, and invasive plants are interacting with reference to rivers, floodplains and riparian zones may help with protection of these sensitive areas. This study analyzed the vegetation which was left and which colonized a large sediment deposit from Tropical Storm Irene, August 28, 2011. The understory vegetation was assessed in four 1 m2 plots based on stem count and percent foliar cover 319, 349 and 394 days after the tropical storm. Overstory trees were also inventoried in order to identify species and make connections between the overstory and new understory. Invasive species accounted for 16.1% of all stems found from day 319 to day 394. There were 5 invasive species found within the plots (garlic mustard, honeysuckle, Japanese knotweed, goutweed, chervil). Garlic mustard and Japanese knotweed increased in foliar cover from day 319 to 394 and may have retarded the growth of native plants and seedlings. Only 9.4% of all stems were found to be tree seedlings. The invasive plants which are colonizing fluvial deposits may be altering the structure and succession of floodplain forests and riparian zones. This invasive plant-covered deposit now provides a seed source for areas downstream as well as prevents native vegetation from growing on the site.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Forestry
Year: 2012
File Attachments: Capstone Paper.docx
Authors: Hannah Wahlstrom

Forces at Work: An Interpretive Management Plan for Fernow Forest Nature Trail

Mon, 12/03/2012 - 12:23
Abstract: Fernow Forest Nature Trail in the town of Tupper Lake, Franklin County, New York, is a recreation facility with great educational value to tourists and the local community. The cultural and natural resources of the site have been underutilized by the outdated Self-Guided Nature Trail brochure and insufficient signage. A survey was conducted at the trail to obtain pertinent data on visitor preferences regarding popular landmarks along the trail and types of interpretive programming. Recognizing that a greater impact on visitors could be made if interpretation at the site was improved, a thematic interpretive management plan for the Self-guided Nature Trail was developed. The new program, “Forces at Work,” consisted of a revised brochure, a complete map of the trail and amenities, and recommendations for the successful implementation of the new program including the utilization of an on-site interpreter. Future care of the trail was entrusted to Paul Smith’s College’s Forestry Club under the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Adopt-A-Natural Resource program.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Forestry
Year: 2012
Authors: Lawrence Montague