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Capstone Projects

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.
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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 The cultural and natural resources of the site have been underutilized by the outdated Self-Guided Nature Trail brochure and insufficient signage.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.
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Major: Forestry
Year: 2012
Authors: Lawrence Montague

Influence of Stand Density and Species Proportion on the Productivity of Planted Forests

Mon, 12/03/2012 - 13:24
Abstract: This study examines the influence of stand density and species proportion in mixed species forest plantations through the Forest Vegetation Simulator (FVS), forest growth modeling software. It is hypothesized that a mixed-species stand will be more productive than any monoculture of the same density due to some compatibility between the two chosen species. Trees were “planted” in 5 different densities; 460, 540, 660, 860, and 1100 trees per acre. The ratios of eastern white pine (Pinus strobus) and eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) were then altered using substitutive plot designs and grown for 100 years. The most productive stand was established as a mixed-species plantation with a white pine:eastern hemlock ratio of 60:40. This stand was established with 1100 trees per acre; 660 white pine and 440 eastern hemlock. This translates to 39.6 square feet per tree, or a grid size of about 6.29’x6.29’. This stand, after 100 years of simulated growth, was 1.0038 times more productive than highest producing monoculture of the same density. Although the hypothesis was accepted, the most productive mixed-species stand developed into a white pine monoculture after 100 years of simulation.
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Major: Forestry
Year: 2012
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Tyler J. Dallas

A stewardship plan for the Temple, New Hampshire Town Forest property based on multiple-use values derived from focus group research

Tue, 12/04/2012 - 12:37
Abstract: Open space and un-fragmented land constitutes a valuable community asset. In the town of Temple, New Hampshire, residents enjoy a sense of community and a rich agricultural history. Outdoor recreation is a popular activity for many residents. A hidden gem, the Temple Town Forest property, is open to the public for recreational foot traffic use, but it is not being actively utilized. The property is managed by the Temple Conservation Commission. To aid the Commission, a stewardship plan was created from focus group research with three overarching goals of forest health, increased recreational opportunities and ways the public can participate in forest management. The end result is the promotion of a managed working forest the public can appreciate. The plan provides a forest health inventory, examines recreational usage and a timber cruise identified potential trees that could be harvested. Suggestions were stated on how the public can assist in management for the Town Forest like, forming a specialized town forest committee and supporting local maple sugaring.
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Major: Forestry
Year: 2012
File Attachments: Final Draft Capstone.docx
Authors: Eric W. Foley

Silviculture Prescription and Regeneration Analysis: An Investigation of the Creighton Compartment of the Paul Smith’s College Forest Management Plan

Wed, 12/05/2012 - 10:31
Abstract: Paul Smith’s College, being an environmental college, has a unique opportunity to explore the newest research to find the best methods of silviculture treatments to meet regeneration goals while sustaining forest structure. This study investigated the Creighton Compartment of the PSC forest management plan specifically examining the silviculture prescriptions and regeneration. Seedling and sapling regeneration data was compared with the management plan to determine whether regeneration goals were met. Overall, the hardwood stands were regenerating in vast amounts of undesired American beech (Fagus grandifolia) and not meeting the preferred goal of red maple (Acer rubrum), sugar maple (Acer saccharum), black cherry (Prunus serotina) and yellow birch (Betula alleghaniensis). The softwood stands were regenerating in vast amounts of undesired balsam fir (Abies balsamea) and not meeting the preferred goal of eastern white pine (Pinus strobus) and red spruce (Picea rubens). Based on extensive research, it has been determined that a variable sized group selection harvest was the best solution to regenerate the preferred hardwoods and a two-cut shelterwood system with at least 40 percent light scarification should be conducted to favor regeneration of preferred softwoods.
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Major: Forestry
Year: 2012
File Attachments: Day_Final_Capstone.pdf
Authors: Nicholas Day

Evaluation of Current Old Growth Classification System Applied to Northern Hardwood Forests of Western New York State

Fri, 12/07/2012 - 17:08
Abstract: A study of four old growth stands in Western New York was conducted to document the ecological complexities and characteristics of these isolated pockets of protected forests. These stands were compared to stands in a study, Selected Nova Scotia old-growth forests: Age, ecology, structure, scoring (Stewart et.al, 2003). Using techniques and sampling of Stewart et al., data included estimated age structure, species composition, basal area, density, coarse woody debris, volumes, heights, and snags. All of the stands were uneven-aged, as were the stands in the comparison study. All stands displayed low varying basal area ranges and lower stand density than those stands in Stewart et al. The comparison study had basal areas ranging from 32.5 to 55.5 m^2/ha, but the collected basal area of this study ranged from 14.5 to 29 m^2/ha. Volumes of dead wood ranged from 2 to 60 m^2/ha, which again was significantly less than dead wood volumes in Stewart et al. Most of the dead wood volume was derived from coarse woody debris, with few snags throughout the stands. Six attributes were rated on a 100 point system according to age, primal value, diameters, lengths of dead wood, canopy structure and understory structure. The scores of this study ranged from 52 to 70, which were significantly less than the scores in the comparison study. The Nova Scotia stands were dominated by softwood species and were larger in acreage. The western New York stands were dominated mostly by hardwood species and were smaller in acreage. Due to these differences, the western New York stands fell short of the Nova Scotia stands in two important criteria: ‘Primal Forest Value’ and ‘Bole Length of Snags and CWD.’ The protocols of Stewart et al. were generally adequate for evaluating the old growth characteristics. However, this study suggests that some of the criteria could be adapted to capture characteristics found in smaller, isolated pockets of hardwood dominated old growth forests.
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Major: Forestry
Year: 2012
Authors: Catherine Veress

Distribution of Native & Non-native Ground Flora in Upstate New York in Relation to Nearby Forest Roads

Fri, 12/07/2012 - 17:26
Abstract: Plant distribution and diversity are affected by disturbances in forested landscapes. Disturbances such as forest roads including skid trails and haul roads are among those which affect plants. The introduction and spread of invasive species is a big concern with these types of roads because of the damage these species cause to the ecosystem. The goal of this study is to determine the effect these forest roads have on distribution and diversity of plants relative to the distance from the road. I wanted to find out how non-native and invasive species were distributed, as well as native protected species. Transects in two separate regions were set up perpendicular to the roads at the sites chosen, and each transect contained 16 – 1m x 1m plots in which all plants were surveyed. This study showed that distance away from forest roads does not appear to significantly affect the number of plant species, distribution of native or non-native plants, or distribution of protected species in New York. Based on the findings in this study, forest managers may not need to be overly concerned with the effects of forest roads on plant populations, but they should consider management of invasive species since Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii) was found well beyond the disturbed area in this study. Since it was found near the forest interior, it may be causing damage to the ecosystem.
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Major: Forestry
Year: 2012
File Attachments: capstone_complete.docx
Authors: Travis Lowe

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.
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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

Promoting Conservation of Biodiversity in the Adirondack Park Through Understanding and Engaging Stakeholders

Thu, 02/09/2012 - 11:31
Abstract: Anthropogenic disturbance of natural environments has led to the widespread loss of native biodiversity and degradation of ecosystems. It is increasingly recognized that addressing this “biodiversity crisis” entails understanding the societal drivers of unsustainable patterns of use. Conservation psychology is a new discipline that specifically focuses on understanding the linkages between human behavior and action and promoting a healthy and sustainable relationship between humans and nature. In this project, we employed principles of conservation psychology with the goal of improving the efficacy and efficiency of conservation of biodiversity in the Adirondack Park (AP). To meet this goal we employed three specific strategies. The first of these strategies was the use of surveys to assess the values, attitudes, and actions different stakeholders have in regards to conservation of biodiversity in the AP. These surveys were disseminated via both direct mailings and online, and included 30 questions. Our second strategy was to use discourse analysis to create a dictionary of terms and phrases employed in a positive, neutral, and negative light in regard to conservation of biodiversity. This entailed analysis of 30 emic accounts derived from opinion articles written by stakeholders in the AP, as well as analysis of a number of etic accounts drawn from online sources. Our third strategy was to use conservation psychology literature to assess ways in which the presentation of information and peer-dynamics influenced the responses of stakeholders towards conservation of biodiversity. Using the combination of these three strategies, we were able to provide a holistic understanding of how different stakeholders in the AP perceive and act towards biodiversity conservation; identify language that can be used to illicit a more positive response from these stakeholders; and identify specific tools based on principles of psychology that can encourage more active and effective engagement in conservation of biodiversity by different stakeholders. Our research findings will allow groups focusing on promoting conservation of biodiversity in the AP to be more effective and efficient in their work in the future.
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Major: Environmental Sciences, Fisheries and Wildlife Science, Forestry, Natural Resources Management and Policy, Recreations, Adventure Travel and Ecotourism
Year: 2011
Authors: Christopher Critelli, John Ghanime, Derek Johnson, Samantha Lambert, Justin Luyk, Matthew Parker, Robert Vite, Heather Mason, Jesse Warner, Ethan Lennox, Sarah Robbiano, David Mathis, David A. Patrick

Removal of Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii) in a Hardwood Forest in Northwest Connecticut

Mon, 12/05/2011 - 09:57
Abstract: Japanese barberry is an invasive shrub that has overtaken and invaded the forest land of New England. Once established, Japanese barberry grows into dense populations that affect forest regeneration, and availability of different nutrients in the soil. This study focused on determining the most time efficient way to remove Japanese barberry from an area. The amount of time it took to complete each removal method was compared with how effective each method was. The effectiveness of each method was based upon how many stems were removed, and how many stems sprouted after a treatment occurred. Four methods were used which included; root severing, cutting stems, burning stems and a herbicide foliar application. It was found that digging stems took a large amount of time, while stem cutting and burning took a moderate amount of time, and the use of herbicide took a small amount of time. It was found that root severing was the least effective method, producing a high amount of new stems and taking the longest time. Herbicide treatment of stems was the most effective method, producing no new stems after treatment and taking a short amount of time to complete. Out of all the methods, two methods had equal expenses. This study has determined the most efficient and least effective way to remove Japanese barberry from a typical New England hardwood stand.
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Major: Forestry
Year: 2011
File Attachments: Capstone Paper.docx
Authors: Douglas Palmer