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Capstone Projects

Tetrodotoxin- toxicity of red efts (Notophthalmus viridescens) based on predatory selection

Thu, 04/30/2015 - 09:33
Abstract: Predators and prey have been coevolving for millions of years; those that have more aggressive relationships undergo more extreme selection as they become paired in an evolutionary arms race. This selection must affect both organisms to truly be an arms race; a relationship that accurately fits these criteria is that of the Eastern Red-Spotted Newt (red-efts) (Notophthalmus viridescens) and the Eastern Hognose Snake (Heterodon platirhinos). Samples of tetrodotoxin (TTX) extracted from red-efts were used to analyze a potential relationship between the efts and resistant predatory species. The values acquired upon analysis of samples were recorded from a population of organisms in an area vacant of the hognose and can be compared to areas where both species reside. Samples came from eighteen red-efts in a wetland located in the southeastern portion of the Adirondack Park where there are no known populations of the hognose snake. These samples were processed using various ELSIA grade chemicals, a procedure that concluded with ELSIA assays applicable for comparison to a set standard. By performing this study we hope to attain data pertaining to tetrodotoxin levels in red-efts that reflect an environment which does not contain hognose snakes, presented in the form of low levels of the specified toxin.
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Major: Integrative Studies
Year: 2015
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Sarah Desrosier

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programs in the area has been cut or eliminated, and much of the data that has been collected is now old and outdated.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.
Access: Yes
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

The Effects on Soil Caused by Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata) in a Northern Hardwood Forest in the Northern Adirondack Mountains

Mon, 12/02/2013 - 10:54
Abstract: Plant invasions are thought to be among the worst causes of biological extinction and biodiversity loss in the modern world. With the United States spending upward of thirty four million dollars a year in attempts to control and repair the damages caused by invasive plants, not only are we feeling the biological effects, but we financially cannot afford to keep combating these invasive species (Barto and Cipollini, 2009). Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) can invade multiple types of sites whether the soil is sandy or if a site has been disturbed. This invasive species will take over the understory and alter soil chemistry (Morris, McClain, Anderson and McConnaughay, 2012). This study aimed to look at how garlic mustard is affecting soils in the northern Adirondack Mountains in New York State. Although currently scattered and not very prevalent, there have already been changes to the soil chemistry. This study was conducted by setting up multiple plots within areas where garlic mustard was present and gathering soil to be used to test for nutrient values. It was found in this study that calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, potassium, sodium, aluminum and soil pH values changed due to the presence of garlic mustard.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Biology, Forestry
Year: 2013
File Attachments: Capstone Final.docx
Authors: Kyle Dash

A Paleolimnological study of precipitation variability in the Adirondacks over the last thousand years

Mon, 12/02/2013 - 20:40
Abstract: At present, most regional climate models anticipate wetter conditions by the end of this century, but a few models anticipate drier conditions. This study uses foresight to test these models, as well as describe the relationship between the dominant climate system in the region and past precipitation in the Adirondacks. Precipitation was inferred from diatom assemblages observed along a lake sediment core extending into the 1000 years. This study shows that abrupt, extreme wet events were common during the last 1000 years, and a relationship between the dominant climate system (North Atlantic Oscillation) and precipitation was irregular during the cool Little Ice Age but negatively associated during the warm Medieval Climate Anomaly. With temperatures in the Northeast projected to increase by 2-5 degrees C by 2100 AD, our study suggests the region may become more arid rather than wetter, opposite of what models currently suggest.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Biology, Environmental Sciences
Year: 2013
File Attachments: regalado.serwatka.docx
Authors: Sean A. Regalado, W. Martin Serwatka

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.