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

Capstone Projects

Adirondack Aquaponics

Sat, 05/03/2014 - 12:00
Abstract: This project aims to create an aquaponics system for Paul Smith’s College. This project would help further efforts in developing sustainable environments for both learning and practical use within the student community. This would integrate culinary, business, environmental science/fisheries disciplines to help facilitate a diverse educational experience. An aquaponic system is the use of effluent byproduct from fish to fertilize and grow vegetation in less than ideal environmental settings such as winter months in northern climates. Fish are contained in a large tank and the nutrient rich water from the fish excrement is cycled through planting medium and is absorbed by the plants as energy/food. This sustainable agricultural practice is a closed loop form of food production, involving minimal inputs for a large output. An aquaponics system would provide integrated studies between disciplines and expand the unique experiences that Paul Smith’s College has to offer. The presence of such a system would hopefully provide more reason for prospective students to consider Paul Smith’s as their top choice. In effect, bringing in more students and increasing the economic value of Paul Smith’s College. The general population of students attending Paul Smith’s work towards a more sustainable lifestyle and this system is of high interest to the general student body. Beyond the student body there is also a growing trend of sustainability throughout the United States along with the entire world. Along with general interest there is also an opportunity for cutting operating costs of Paul Smith’s College by creating a commercially sized aquaponics system. This system could provide more than just an educational value, it could provide food to be utilized in food service areas on campus. For more information, see attached grant proposal.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Business Management and Entrepreneurial Studies
Year: 2014
File Attachments: Capstone Final Report.doc
Authors: Jacob Sporn, Matthew Pelkey

Forest Succession's Effect on Soil Physical and Chemical Properties after Agriculture Abandonment

Mon, 12/01/2014 - 11:00
Abstract: Landscapes have been significantly altered by humans and replacing forests with agricultural crops is a major alteration humans have made. This landscape change has affected soils significantly. Agriculture practices can potentially have detrimental effects on soils. However, through the 20th century forest cover drastically increased in the United States through the recruitment of second growth forests as a result of agriculture abandonment. Forests reclaiming farm lands through forest succession can have a significant effect on recoveries in soil physical and chemical properties such as bulk density, soil strength, porosity and fertility. Therefore, the goal of this study was to investigate forest successions effect on soil physical and chemical properties after agriculture abandonment. Three specific hypotheses were tested: 1) Bulk density and soil strength will decrease while micro and macro porosity will increase as forests reclaim farm lands. 2) Soil carbon and available nitrogen will increase over time. 3) Soil pH will decrease and electrical conductivity will increase over time. These hypotheses were explored on abandoned agriculture fields in a chronosequence study on coarse loamy Inceptisols in upstate New York across a 60 year temporal scale. Data showed that total porosity, total carbon and available nitrogen increase while soil pH, bulk density, soil strength and electrical conductivity decline over time. These results support all three hypotheses except for the latter half of hypothesis number three. The findings of this study suggest that although agriculture may disturb soil properties, time coupled with forest succession can result in significant recoveries.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Forestry
Year: 2014
File Attachments: Final Report.docx
Authors: Nathan Piché

Alpine Ecosystems on Ski Area Summits in the Northeast: A Best Management Practices Manual

Mon, 12/01/2014 - 15:19
Abstract: Over the past half a century, anthropogenic climate change has triggered temperatures in the northeastern United States to rise. This increase has led to decreased winter precipitation and a longer annual growing season. Species found in upland/montane habitats on the southern edge of their range limits are particularly threatened by these changes. Warmer temperatures have allowed larger woody plants to advance up mountain slopes, entering the habitat of these fragile species. In the next decade, we will witness a complete disappearance of alpine flora from several locations across the northeast including Whiteface in New York, Sugarloaf in Maine and Mount Mansfield in Vermont. Managers of ski resorts can therefore play an important role in promoting the continued persistence of high-altitude flora and fauna through carefully considered management decisions can also serve to promote the reputation of the ski industry as stewards of mountaintop ecosystems. Doing so will allow for continued study of the species that exist within these communities, the protection of biodiversity, and increased revenue for the resort itself through elevated public image and mountain-top tourism. To help begin these conservation efforts, we have created a best management practice (BMP) manual to guide ski area managers in making these developments. It includes techniques for sustainable slope, soil, vegetation and wildlife management, erosion control, artificial snow production, and ski slope construction and design. Also included are marketing techniques and an overview of the economic viability of the practices outlined in this manual.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Forestry, Natural Resources Management and Policy
Year: 2014
Authors: Pali Gelsomini, Dylan Randall

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.
Access: Yes
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.
Access: Yes
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.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Forestry
Year: 2014
File Attachments: Actually Done.docx
Authors: Dylan Kirk

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.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Integrative Studies, Recreations, Adventure Travel and Ecotourism
Year: 2014
Authors: Thomas Manitta

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

Northern Suds - A Business Plan

Thu, 12/05/2013 - 08:09
Abstract: Northern Suds is new business being started in the North Country. The products from Northern Suds include detergents and cleaners that are additive and dye free. Products are made with eco-friendly, all natural ingredients. All products are also handmade. Northern Suds will begin selling products via Etsy.com and Craigslist.org on or around January 1st, 2014. Products will also be available for purchasing at the Saranac Lake Famers’ Market. The business came from the need for inexpensive allergy friendly products. The plan provided has full financials in addition to the results from testing surveys.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Business Management and Entrepreneurial Studies
Year: 2013
Authors: Shelby Treadwell

"Streamlining operations: Application of technology at Whitetail Excavation, LLC"

Sat, 12/07/2013 - 15:36
Abstract: Abstract The goal of this project is to streamline business operations of Whitetail Excavation LLC, in the accounting, billing, and bidding departments. This project will introduce technology into the company, including a website presence. It will demonstrate the advantages of automating these aspects of the businesses operations through the use of computer software. It is believed that by automating these systems the business will operate more efficiently reducing clutter and time spent doing paperwork. Automation of these systems will keep manpower where it is needed, which is out in the field. By keeping manpower on jobs it will seed the completion of work allowing Whitetail to service more customers than before the use of technology. In order for Whitetail Excavation to service more customers it must also attract more customers. Until now Whitetail Excavation has only been promoted by word of mouth. This project hopes to change that buy establishing a web presence. It will do this through the use of social media and a company webpage. By establishing a web presence it is hoped that Whitetail Excavation will attract customers who were previously unaware of Whitetail Excavation. The website would contain company contact information as well as location, and services provided. The site would also host a photographic portfolio of past jobs and works completed. In addition to the website this project recognizes the importance of a social media presence as well. With over a billion users it would make sense for this project to also include a Facebook page. This would allow customers to share their experiences and make suggestions as well as expand on word of mouth advertising.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Business Management and Entrepreneurial Studies
Year: 2013
File Attachments: Capstone report
Authors: Randall Bishop