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Capstone Projects

Conservation Easements

Fri, 12/14/2018 - 23:16
Abstract: The privatization of land through conservation easements serve an important role of protecting biodiversity and ecosystem services across various landscapes. This research investigated the purposes of conservation easements, how they are acquired, and the importance of strong landowner relationships and yearly monitoring. Numerous peer-reviewed articles and websites were analyzed for this research in addition to interviews with three participants, each at different land trusts (Harris Center for Conservation Education, The Nature Conservancy, and the Adirondack Land Trust). However, despite the interviewees working at different organizations, the process of easement acquisition and overall thoughts on conservation easements were very similar. My own experience as a Conservation Easement Monitor was also applied to this research, and two examples of completed monitoring reports from my time at the Harris Center accompany this document. Furthermore, this study suggests the need of individuals becoming involved with conservation easements either through volunteering, interning, or having their property become an easement at participating organizations.
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Major: Natural Resources Conservation and Management
Year: 2018
Authors: Nicole DeCarolis

The Conservation and Management of Wolverine (Gulo gulo) Populations in Northern Idaho to Help Prevent Human Caused Extirpation from the Contiguous United States

Thu, 05/02/2013 - 11:21
Abstract: Wolverines (Gulo gulo) were once a thriving species in the North Western United States, but large scale trapping and poison programs in the early 1900s lead to the species near extinction. Since then, populations in the United States have been struggling to maintain a strong presence in Idaho. Its current listing as threatened on the Endangered Species Act prohibits hunting and trapping, but more management is needed to sustain populations. Human development and recreation activities have caused wolverines to disperse from its nature range. Using habitat preservation techniques on current and historical wolverine habitat, increase availability and connectivity will improve dispersal. Close relationship with state officials will provide protection regarding land use, recreation, hunting, trapping and harassment. Public education will teach residents ways they can help prevent wolverine populations from further decline. Extensive research and population monitoring are needed due to the currently declining populations and the low fecundity of the species.
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Major: Biology, Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2013
Authors: Danielle E. Ball

The Response of Captive Gray Wolves (Canis lupus) to Agonistic Howl Recordings

Thu, 12/05/2013 - 18:58
Abstract: Gray wolves (Canis lupus) are a highly social carnivore that communicates through olfactory and acoustic signals, maintaining their social bonds and hierarchy with body language and touch. Long distance (i.e. howling) and olfactory communication are important in maintaining territory boundaries and mitigating interpack conflict or strife. The study area is a private, not-for-profit wolf conservation and education center in southern New York in the northeast United States. The goal of this study was to determine the overall change in behavior of wolves when faced with a long distance form of communication conveying an aggressive message. I hypothesized that wolves will respond with more activity during and after the howl recordings. An ethogram was adapted from Quandt, but upon personal observation, was altered as additional behaviors were observed. Instantaneous focal sampling was used during data collection at an interval of 15 seconds to sample two gray wolf siblings. The behaviors between wolves were not significantly different from each other (chi square = 0.86, critical value = 14.07, df = 6). This information has many management implications such as determining home range of packs, pack size, and could serve as a possible tool for deterring predation on livestock.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2013
File Attachments: Write-Up.docx
Authors: Erin Brinton

Perception of the Color Blue in North American River Otters, Lontra canadensis

Fri, 12/06/2013 - 11:41
Abstract: Color vision is essential to many animal species, playing major roles in activities such as foraging and mate selection. Most animal phyla have 4 cones that aid in color vision, while mammals typically only have 2. This study aimed to provide evidence of the blue-range color vision in North American river otters, Lontra canadensis, by behavioral testing 4 captive otters. The subjects (2 male and 2 female adults) were tested individually over a period of 42 weeks. Each otter was presented with 3 cards, with choices between 2 white control cards and a blue test card (n = 1213). In later tests, all subjects were presented with 1 white control card, 1 blue test card, and 1 gray card (n = 417). All subjects distinguished the blue test card from the white control cards but only 1 subject differentiated the color blue from a grayscale correspondent (One-proportion z-test, p = 0.011). A bias based on card location was present only in 1 subject in the blue-white phase of testing (One-proportion z-test, p = 0.201) and in 3 subjects in the blue-grey phase of testing. The cause of this bias was unknown. The ability of 1 subject to reliably select the test card (One-proportion z-test, p = 0.011), provided some evidence that L. canadensis perceive the color blue.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2013
Authors: Chelsie LaFountain

Poaching: Does The Local Economy Influence Poaching in New Hampshire

Wed, 04/24/2013 - 17:35
Abstract: Because one of the most commonly cited reasons for poaching is to feed one’s family, I investigated whether economic indicators (unemployment, poverty, median household income) affected poaching in New Hampshire on the county level for years 2005-2011. Economic indicator data was collected through the US Census while poaching data was collected from NH Fish and Game. Violations per capita was calculated by dividing the number of violations in each county by the population of the respective county. As the amount of rural area may influence poaching rate, huntable/fishable area in each county (total county area minus residential and transportation area) was calculated as a metric of ruralness. First, in an effort, to determine which economic indicators to use, I sought to determine if the three economic indicators correlated with each other. Because poverty level correlated with household median income, poverty was excluded from the regression analysis. A multiple regression was conducted with unemployment, household median income, and available huntable fishable area as predictors of violations per capita. Due to Coos being an outlier in each of the categories of interest, Coos was excluded from the statistical analysis. Unemployment (coeff = -0.0048752, p = 0.016), household median income (coeff = -0.0000002, p = 0.008), and huntable and fishable area (coeff = 0.0009837, p = 0.029) were significant factors in predicting violations per capita in NH. Although unemployment, household median income, and huntable fishable area can be possible predictors of poaching, other variables may also influence poaching.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2013
File Attachments: Capstone Paper Final.docx
Authors: Joshua Curtis

Eastern Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris) Management in Upstate New York

Thu, 04/25/2013 - 11:21
Abstract: The eastern wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris), was completely absent from the state of New York for nearly 100 years. With suitable habitat regenerating, the turkeys have migrated back into the state and along with New York State Department of Environmental Conservation trap and transfer efforts, the turkeys have made a full recovery. Although turkeys are now found in all suitable habitats of the state, there population is still at risk. Poult survival is a strong determining factor in the existence of the population. With poult mortality approaching 75% in bad years, every effort needs to be made in order to ensure the poults that survive, reach maturity. Management practices of public operations as well as farmers need to be adjusted to delay mowing of roadside ditches and hay fields until July to protect hens and their nests. By creating suitable nesting habitat, that keeps the eggs and poults safe from the elements and predators, as well as educating the public and landowners about the importance of nesting habitat, poults will have a higher chance of reaching maturity.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2013
Authors: Brad Marshall

New York State Ruffed Grouse (Bonasa umbellus) Management Plan

Thu, 04/25/2013 - 11:24
Abstract: In New York State, Ruffed grouse have been an important bird for many hunters and outdoor enthusiasts. This species’ population has been slowly declining due to the loss of habitat. Ruffed grouse prefer early successional forests with high stem density. This allows them to hide in the cover and shelters them from predators. These early successional forests provide mid staged trees increasing the brood habitat and increasing the survival of young. The goals of this management plan are to increase the total area of early successional forests in New York State and to increase the estimated Ruffed grouse population size. The goals will be achieved by logging and clear cutting allowing young trees and shrubs to begin growth and by monitoring populations to see population trends. Increasing these habitats will improve nesting and brood habitat which may lead to a population increase. Logged areas are preferred areas for male Ruffed grouse to drum, allowing them to possibly attract more mates. The management sites will be monitored to see if tree species incorporated with early successional forests need to be added. Public and private land will be managed to ensure habitat is added not only on public forests to allow possible dispersal and immigration of populations. To ensure future Ruffed grouse populations action needs to be done now or the decrease of their natural habitat will continue to expand.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2013
File Attachments: Ruffed grouse management
Authors: Kyle Keys

Mountain Lion Reintroduction Management Plan for New Hampshire

Thu, 04/25/2013 - 11:27
Abstract: Due to the extinction of the eastern cougar (Puma concolor), Mountain lions have been officially absent from the northeast since 2011. This management plan is designed to reintroduce a breeding population of Mountain lions to New Hampshire. With this introduction, this plan hopes to return Mountain lions to the Northeast and eventually have a sustainable population to hunt. The goals of this management plan can be achieved through stocking Mountain lions from States that already have sustainable populations. Once the new population of Mountain lions has been caught, they will be released into the landscape throughout specially selected suitable habitats in the northern part of New Hampshire. This management plans hinges on gaining strong public support through education, acquisition of surplus Mountain lions, and establishing policies and procedures designed to protect experimental populations.
Access: Yes
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2013
File Attachments: Final management plan.docx
Authors: Kelly Starkweather

Current summarization and future recommendations: A universal management plan for American beaver (Castor canadensis) across the northeastern U.S.

Thu, 04/25/2013 - 15:18
Abstract: The northeastern United States has the most diverse trapping regulations of the entire country. Driven by political and socio-cultural views on trapping, laws have been passed in recent years that are not based on the best available science. A summary has been completed of the current regulations throughout the northeast with management implications for the future. The intent of this management plan is to create steps to improve laws so they are based solely on the current ecological problems of the species.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2013
Authors: Tyson Morrill

The Effectiveness of Scents to Decrease Stereotypic Pacing of Amur Tigers (Panthera tigris altaica) in Captivity

Thu, 04/25/2013 - 16:17
Abstract: Animals in captivity typically exhibit stereotypies, which are repetitive behaviors not normally conducted in the wild. Environmental enrichment is a technique to decrease stereotypies and promote wild behavior by providing stimuli. The goal of this study was to contribute to the understanding of methods for decreasing stereotypic behavior in captive Amur tigers (Panthera tigris altaica). I hypothesized spices would decrease pacing in 2 Amur tigers at the Seneca Park Zoo in Rochester, New York. One of either ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, pumpkin pie, apple pie or water (a control) were presented on paper bags 4 days a week from the end of May to the end of August of 2012. Pacing significantly decreased for both tigers from before to after placement of the bags with scents and controls (Wilcoxon signed-rank test). While there was a pattern of greater decrease in pacing when bags contained scents versus controls, there was no statistical significance, indicating that other factors may have been responsible for the decrease. Although scent presence and specific scents were not retained in the models, temperature, tiger, and the interaction between temperature and tiger affected the decrease in pacing (ANCOVA). Magnitude of pacing was opposite for each tiger based on temperature. Scents did not cause the decrease in pacing; instead, it could have been caused by normal shifts in behaviors during the day or the disturbance of placing the bag. Environmental enrichment appears to be complex because of the interaction between abiotic conditions, individual tigers, and forms of environmental enrichment.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2013
Authors: Sabrina Dalinsky