After logging in with the login link in the top right, click here to upload your Capstone

Capstone Projects

The influence of a common parent on sap sweetness among open pollinated sugar maple (Acer saccharum Marsh.) offspring

Wed, 05/08/2019 - 15:08
Abstract: Beginning in the 1950s, the United States Forest Service began to look into the ability to predict and control the heritability of sap sweetness in sugar maples (Acer saccharum Marsh.). A search for genetically superior (sweeter) trees was conducted across 6 states, testing 21,000 trees. Only 53 trees were chosen to be parental stock for the “Super Sweet” sugar maple improvement program. These trees, cloned through rooted cuttings and scion wood grafting, were planted in the Grand Isle, VT clonal bank. One of the five progeny tests of open pollinated offspring from the clonal bank was established in Lake Placid, New York. These trees had their first evaluation at age ten. Each tree had its diameter and height measured, as well as its sap sweetness tested. Now, 35 years after planting, the trees were evaluated again. An inventory was conducted with diameter at breast height, tree height, and live crown ratio measurements. Of the 725 trees planted, only 396 trees remain. Only 258 trees were of size and quality to handle a 5/16” tap. Their sap sweetness was measured at multiple times though out the season. Knowing one of the two parents of each tree allowed for the comparison of the sap sweetness of the different common-parent groups. The data collected did not support that the knowledge of only one parent could be used to predicts a tree’s sweetness relative to any other parent’s offspring. The bigger picture progeny evaluations will continue the “Super Sweet” sugar maple improvement program.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Forestry
Year: 2019
Authors: Eric Mance

Lower St. Regis Lake Survey: A Comparative Study of Fish Population Structure and Function over Time

Thu, 12/13/2018 - 14:24
Abstract: Lake surveys are performed on bodies of water to provide a health analysis of fish populations over time. Lake surveys can be conducted in a variety of ways to attain specific data. Lower St. Regis Lake was surveyed to determine the fish community composition and to understand fish population traits. Using fyke nets placed at six predetermined locations for 24 hours, as well as fishing, we collected data for age, length (mm), weight (g), and parasites present. Data was analyzed in the lab using Excel to form graphs and tables to demonstrate our findings. Catch rates were lower compared to years before and comparing our data to New York State Department of Conservation data found that our length-at-age data was lower for the six-species sampled. Pumpkinseed and yellow perch were the only two species to have over twenty fish sampled. Decreased air temperatures brought in by a cold front during the week of our sampling may have been a reason for our lower number of fish caught. Mesh size is also a bias while using these nets as smaller fish can escape, and predatory fish can prey on smaller fish while in the net. Some species of fish such as black crappie may be more susceptible to capture due to its habit of associating with structure.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Biology, Environmental Sciences, Environmental Studies, Fisheries and Wildlife Science, Natural Resources Conservation and Management
Year: 2018
File Attachments: Capstone_Final.docx
Authors: Deacon Chapin, Jared Chlus, Louis Daversa, Jon Herrman, Robert Visicaro

A Comparison of Winter Wildlife Use of Minimally, Moderately and Highly Impacted Shorelines on Lower St. Regis Lake and Black Pond in the Adirondack Park, NY

Wed, 05/09/2018 - 10:51
Abstract: Continued development and human interference with freshwater shorelines creates a degraded environment and can negatively affect native wildlife along impacted areas. Throughout the Adirondack Park, shorelines have experienced substantial degradation with the development of lakeside summer homes. There tends to be a strong preference for the aesthetics that lakes offer, as well as the numerous recreational opportunities they provide. The increased human use of shorelines and the development of anthropogenic structures has directly resulted in the degradation of shorelines in the Adirondack Park. Likewise, the Paul Smith’s College shoreline along Lower St. Regis Lake has been subjected to degradation throughout the history of the campus. This highly impacted site was selected, alongside minimally and moderately impacted sites in the surrounding areas as representatives for different impact levels. Shoreline degradation includes a decline in the health and presence of natural vegetation, creating a decrease in available food source for native wildlife. The removal of natural vegetation creates a decline in shoreline stability with the removal of root systems, allowing for greater amounts of erosion to occur. Additionally, degradation decreases available canopy cover and increases exposure of wildlife to predation. The objective of this study was to determine the difference in wildlife activity and diversity between three levels of shoreline impacts: minimal, moderate, and high. It was expected that the minimally and moderately impacted shoreline sites would show a greater diversity and abundance of wildlife than highly impacted shorelines. Trail camera data was analyzed at three sites for each treatment on Paul Smith’s College property, along both the Lower St. Regis Lake and Black Pond. Although we detected no significant differences in either activity or diversity across the treatments, there was higher relative activity and diversity in moderately impacted shorelines than minimally or highly impacted. However, wildlife species that are more rare and/or area-sensitive, such as the fisher (Martes pennanti) and American marten (Martes americana), were only detected in the minimally impacted shorelines of Black Pond. A restoration of the highly impacted shoreline to reflect minimally and non-impacted shorelines of the surrounding region would allow for opportunities to improve habitat for native wildlife species.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Biology, Ecological Restoration, Environmental Sciences
Year: 2018
File Attachments: Shoreline Restoration
Authors: Tessa White, Caroline Matuck, Kasey Lane, Rosemary Bloodnick, Kyle Pasanen, Annalee Kraai

Effects of Silvicultural Treatments on Wildlife Communities at the Paul Smith's College Forest Research Demonstration Areas

Fri, 05/11/2018 - 16:15
Abstract: Logging has drastically altered North American forest ecosystems for centuries. While extensive studies have been done to determine the impacts of different silvicultural practices on plant communities, minimal research has evaluated the impacts on wildlife communities, particularly in the Adirondack Mountains. Silvicultural practices may significantly impact wildlife communities due to the disturbances it causes, as well as the way it alters the habitat. We monitored winter wildlife communities in the Forest Ecosystem Research Demonstration Area owned by Paul Smith’s College in the Northern Adirondack Park. By analyzing the data collected by trail cameras, tracks and measuring percent browse, we compared the abundance and diversity of wildlife in three silvicultural treatments (i.e., clearcut, group selection, control). We also collected data regarding the physical aspects of the silvicultural treatment plot (i.e. canopy cover and snow depth) to indicate the kind of available habitat. We found that despite there being the highest average relative activity in group selection, there is no significant relationship between average relative activity and harvest treatment type. Using the Shannon-Weiner Diversity Index, we found that the highest diversity was in control/reference. Due to our limited treatment sample size, we did not have conclusive findings in most areas of our study. However, the highest total tracks and relative activity were found in the clearcuts. We suggest that more research be done on this study in order to eventually make forest management plans that properly account for both plant and wildlife species.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Biology, Environmental Sciences, Natural Resources Conservation and Management
Year: 2018
Authors: Jacob Adams, Caitlin De Bellis, Tyler Fisk, Hyla Howe, Mark McHugh, Daniel Sutch

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