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Capstone Projects

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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Literary Rights: Off
Major: Environmental Studies, Forestry
Year: 2015
Authors: Brittney E. Bell, Evan M. White

Building Families Stronger

Tue, 05/05/2015 - 14:05
Abstract: The purpose of this study is to design a program that can be implemented in local camps to accommodate the needs of individuals in a family group affected by mental illness. The study will explain the importance of educating individuals about mental illness and integrating supportive behaviors. This program is designed to help families cope with the effects mental illness can have on the entire family dynamic. Families are often the strongest support system for dealing with mental illness and educating families is essential for success of the mentally ill. Team building games are used to enhance social behaviors and encourage group bonding, this program uses a recreational therapeutic approach to addressing issues in the lives of those affected by mental illness. To figure out how many people will be most likely be using the therapy program, a survey was created using a series of questions that went with the topic for respondents to answer. In fact the survey established that the majority of people agree on recreational approach to therapy as a means of coping with their illness in real life tasks. Other questions asked was what their favorite activities where, such as paddle sports and hiking. Another question was what disability was so as to get an idea what accommodations would be need and services for patients involved with the program.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science, Natural Resources Environmental Science, Parks, Recreation and Facilities Management
Year: 2015
Authors: Courtney Berg, Douglas Menge, Ashley Beldock

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.
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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

A Forest Management Plan For Lynn Woods Reservation

Sun, 04/27/2014 - 18:49
Abstract: Lynn Woods Reservation located in Lynn, MA (42°29' N, 70°59’ W) is a 2,200 acre municipal park under the joint management of the Lynn Parks Department and the Lynn Water and Sewer Department. Since 1881, there has been little management on the lands of the reservation. This project developed a forest management plan for the Reservation. A forest inventory took place in January 2014 utilizing SilviaTerra’s Plothound data collection app. Data was then processed in NED-2 and ArcGIS to create final data used in the creation of this plan. The tract was divided into three compartments based on location and access. Multiple stands are inaccessible or do not contain merchantable timber but most of this tract is harvestable. Based on the data collected, suggested silvicultural prescriptions were developed along with other management suggestions for the tract. This plan was submitted to the park ranger, Dan Smalls, for review and final implementation.
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Literary Rights: Off
Major: Forestry
Year: 2014
File Attachments: St_John_Final_Draft.pdf
Authors: M. Dalton St. John

A Genetic Comparison of Two Populations of American Beech (Fagus grandifolia) Impacted by the Invasive Disease Complex Causing Beech Bark Disease

Mon, 04/28/2014 - 23:35
Abstract: Many mature American beech trees have died due to beech bark disease throughout the northeastern United States. However, there are many pockets of beech trees throughout its native range that show resistance to the disease. This study will be focused on comparing specific genetic markers in a variety of American beech trees which have been categorized by the levels of severity of beech bark disease per individual tree. Leaf and bud samples were taken in October 2013 from 30 individual trees with varying degrees of disease severity. DNA will be purified from these soft tissue samples in order to use PCR and focus on 5 microsatellite locations for a comparison between all individuals being sampled. These loci will help to determine the genetic differences and similarities between American beech trees with and without signs of resistance to beech bark disease. The results of this study will set the stage for a landscape level study in the future, as well as further studies on finding genetic markers for resistance.
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Literary Rights: Off
Major: Forestry
Year: 2014
File Attachments: Complete Project.docx
Authors: Emily Malick

Differences in soil fertility along roadsides between state and locally managed roadways in Franklin County, New York

Thu, 05/08/2014 - 20:30
Abstract: Techniques for managing roadways often incorporate use of sodium chloride, or roadsalt. Use of this substance can vary greatly depending on whether state or local municipalities are prescribing management for particular roadways. Roadsalt has the potential to affect the chemical composition of roadside soils. This study sought examine relationships between winter management techniques and soil chemical properties as distance increased from roadsides. Transects were set up perpendicular to 5 roads managed by the State of New York, and 5 roads managed by towns in Franklin County, New York. 10 samples were removed from the soil surface at each transect, every two meters back from each roadside from 2 to 20 meters. pH, conductivity, abundances of Ca, Na, K, Mg, Cl, % Na on CEC, & % Ca on CEC were determined for each sample. Using ANOVA equations pH, % Na, and Cl concentration were found to have significant relationship with distance while %Na, % Ca, and Na concentration had significant relationships with regards to management. It was concluded that Na is displacing large amounts of Ca on exchange near state managed roads, decreasing soil fertility specifically in those areas. Results follow trends found in other studies that cite increasing concentrations of both Na and Cl on watershed scales.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Forestry
Year: 2014
File Attachments: Actually Done.docx
Authors: Dylan Kirk

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