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Capstone Projects

Recovery plan for Stenoderma rufum in the El Yunque National Forest of Puerto Rico

Thu, 05/03/2018 - 10:26
Abstract: Puerto Rico is the largest island in the Caribbean, an area with regular hurricanes that cause large scale disturbances on a regular interval of about 60 years. Recently the frequency of these events has increased with Hurricane Hugo in 1991, Hurricane Georges in 1994, and Hurricane Maria in 2017, the most damaging. Stenoderma rufum, the red fig-eating bat, has become increasingly rare as these large-scale disturbances have increased.. Hurricane Hugo was the first documented hurricane for its effects on the red fig-eating bat. Initial population damage was low in comparison to related species such as Artibeus jamaicensis, the Jamaican fruit bat, however the long term damage was greater: A. jamaicensis recovered to pre-hurricane levels within 3 years whereas S. rufum declined in population for nearly 3 years afterward and did not show significant signs of recovery until 5 years after the storm. In part this delayed recovery could be attributed to Hurricane Georges shortly thereafter. S. rufum is a phyllostomid bat that is foliar nesting and frugivorous which makes it more vulnerable to disturbance than other species on the island when defoliation from hurricanes can be as high as 100% in some areas of the LEF with tree mortality as high as 50%. Frugivorous bats are major agents of seed dispersal which is critical to the health of forest communities in a disturbance habitat. The red fig-eating bat was the dominant frugivorous bat in Puerto Rico prior to Hurricane Hugo and the only known seed dispersal agent for at least one species of tree. This bat acts as a keystone species in its environment but as of now its status is unknown. The most recent hurricane, Maria, was the third most expensive hurricane in terms of damages in the United States and has unofficially been described as the worst defoliation event in the history of Puerto Rico. Aside from hurricane disturbance human expansion over the last few decades has fragmented habitat on the island causing a number of isolated populations. S. rufum has been shown to be a weak flier with individuals maintaining small home ranges making immigration an unlikely vector for recovery. This plan looks to recover the population of the red fig-eating bat in the LEF which at the time of last study was declining or potentially absent altogether and with the addition of the damage from Hurricane Maria the population is likely in critical condition. To accomplish this monitoring needs to be established long-term to understand the state of the population as well as the effects of management undertaken. Population size and demographics as well as forest recovery are the primary factors addressed as they are both the most significant effects caused by hurricanes and the slowest to recover. Due to the possibility that this species is already at a critical point it is also suggested that captive breeding be implemented. Captive bred populations could be used to supplement the declining numbers as well as protect the species should wild populations disappear. Two breeding sites are recommended in this plan: One on site to allow the species a more familiar climate to grow in as well as being accessible for active and consistent release of individuals to bolster wild populations, and a second on the mainland of the US to protect the captive breeding program from being exposed to the same danger of severe weather disturbance that endangers the wild population. If no action is taken to recover red fig-eating bat populations could be extinct within the next 20 years.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
Authors: Scott Curley

Management of Sierra Nevada Red Foxes (Vulpes vulpes necator) in the Sierra Nevada and Cascade Mountains

Thu, 05/03/2018 - 10:32
Abstract: Sierra Nevada red foxes (Vulpes vulpes necator) are one of three subspecies of montane red fox that exist from 1,200 m to 3,600 m in elevation throughout the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges. California and Oregon are thought to contain the 7 remaining populations of SNRF, with other potential populations existing in these states as well as Nevada. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species has lowland red fox species (Vulpes vulpes) listed as a species of least concern, leaving this subspecies neglected with respect to management. It is estimated that fewer than 50 individuals exist in the wild, leaving extinction as a possible outcome in the near future. With current population estimations being based upon camera sightings and genetic evidence, a need for management is imperative. Depletion of high elevation heterogeneous habitat, competition, predation, disease, and climate change act as potential threats to the remaining populations of Sierra Nevada red foxes. A scarce amount of data has been produced regarding their distribution, ecology, and behavior, making it difficult to develop a detailed plan to revive their species. They are a native species, however, that possess much value. Their extinction could lead to an ecological imbalance with respect to predators, prey, and the native flora that inhabit mountainous ecosystems. Their revival may lead to incorporation into local zoos and the dissolving of the red fox trapping ban in California, offering room for economic growth. Indigenous people of California, Oregon, and possibly Nevada may also gain aesthetic pleasure by viewing these foxes in nature if populations were to increase. Further regulation from these three states would provide rules and guidelines regarding the well-being of these foxes should their populations exhibit this increase. With these concepts in mind, the goals are to educate the people of California, Oregon, and Nevada on the current state of Sierra Nevada red foxes while striving to produce healthy and stable populations. Obtaining more accurate estimations of their total population by camera trapping and scat sampling will be essential for this claim. Radio tracking efforts will also help to fill in the ecological data gaps that exist. Gaining knowledge on diseases, restoring alpine habitat by mitigating overgrazing and conducting controlled burns, and eliminating coyotes will aid in the production of healthy and stable populations. This management plan focuses on a combination of these objectives and corresponding actions in order to meet the overall goals in an efficient and timely manner.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
File Attachments: Nardelli_5_2.docx
Authors: Dave Nardelli

Managing Raccoons (Procyon lotor) to Benefit Allegheny Woodrats (Neotoma magister) in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

Thu, 05/03/2018 - 10:45
Abstract: Raccoons (Procyon lotor) are a generalist species whose populations are on the rise throughout the United States. Raccoons are well known for carrying rabies, mange, and many other diseases that can be transmitted to other species. However, it’s the lesser known raccoon round worm (Baylisascaris procyonis) that is having a dramatic effect in the Northeastern United States. The adult worms reside in the small intestine of the raccoon and the eggs are passed in its feces which is then transferred to a new host. The round worms are not fatal to raccoons but can be to other species. One of those species, the Allegheny woodrat (Neotoma magister) collects the feces of other animals to eat the seeds out of it, meaning when they collect raccoon feces they are susceptible to contracting raccoon round worm. The Alleghany woodrat is endangered in New York state and threatened in New Jersey (Sheldon 2004). Therefore, it has become necessary to manage raccoons, the host of the round worm, in a way that will benefit the Allegheny wood rat. This includes decreasing raccoon populations, deworming raccoons, and getting the public more involved with the management of raccoons. If all of this were completed then the Allegheny wood rat would be much more stable and possibly able to recolonize the habitat it’s been extirpated from.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
File Attachments: Davies 5.3.18.docx
Authors: Liam Davies

Rock Pigeons of Portland, Oregon: 10 Year Management Plan (2018-2028)

Thu, 05/03/2018 - 12:56
Abstract: Rock pigeons (Columba livia) of the family Columbidae are urban exploiters with a worldwide distribution. Pigeons commonly present a management issue in urban areas due to their high density and opportunistic feeding habits. Rock pigeons are not protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act as they are non-migratory however, their versatile nature as wild, feral, and domestic stock tends to lead to their exclusion from hunting seasons and similar legislation. Property damage caused by pigeons in Portland is intensified in areas where the birds roost such as the site of a deconstruction grant program where roosting pigeons caused irreparable damage to over 66% of previously recoverable siding material. The view of pigeons as a nuisance by residents and the potential for disease transmission to people add to human-pigeon conflict within Portland. At its current trajectory, the rock pigeon population of Portland, Oregon will continue to rise above the social carrying capacity until it reaches the biological caring capacity. The goal of this management plan is to reduce human-pigeon conflict in Portland, Oregon. This goal requires a reduction in the population size of pigeons in the city, a reduction in pigeon related damages to public and private property, a decrease in disease transmission potential of the pigeon population, and offering a controlled opportunity for human pigeon interaction.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
File Attachments: Hill_2018.05.03
Authors: Kaiden Jenna Hill

Management Plan to Increase King Rail (Rallus elegans) Populations in the Northeastern United States (2019-2034)

Fri, 05/04/2018 - 19:00
Abstract: King rails (Rallus elegans) live in freshwater marshlands and rice field habitats. These habitats are often associated with food sources and nesting cover. Diet consists of 58% animal matter ranging from small crustaceans to fish and frogs. Nests are placed in large clumps of grass throughout dense vegetation, or in a tussock. Outside the nesting and breeding season, rails found in the northeastern United States migrate south in search of food opportunities. With only 10% of natural wetlands remaining from destruction and alterations in farming techniques, major threats associated with king rail populations have rose. King rails are listed as near threatened throughout the United States and under no protection aside from the Migratory Bird Act. The IUCN Red List reported that the current population trend is decreasing at rate of 30% over 14 years. Based on population models, survival within the fledgling stage is the key factor to focus on during conservation practices. The goal of this plan is to increase the population from its current state to a sustainable level for maximum viewing and ecological stability throughout the northeastern states of Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey within the next 15 years. The objectives to reach this goal include: find population estimates to better assess the species abundance of king rails, obtain lands for king rails species to inhabit, decrease the amount of selected marshland being restructured, and increase the fledgling stage survival rate of king rails. King rails are an understudied species that deserve conservation help to ensure survival.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
File Attachments: King_2018_05_03.docx
Authors: Kyle King

Management Plan to Increase Nesting Success of Northern Pintails (Anas acuta) in the Prairie Pothole Region of North Dakota

Mon, 05/07/2018 - 17:36
Abstract: Once one of the most abundant ducks in North America, northern pintails have significantly declined since the 1960s when populations reached about 10 million. Over the past 40 years they have declined 78%, or about 2.4% per year between 1966 and 2015, due to expanding agricultural activity in their prairie pothole breeding grounds. In 2009 that the pintail population was estimated at 3.2 million, which is substantially below the 5.6 million population goal set by the North American Waterfowl Management Plan. The northern pintail population is substantially impacted by drought; and a loss of grasslands and wetland habitat in the prairie pothole region. Without proper breeding habitat pintails migrate further north to the Artic lowland tundra, where wetland conditions are more stable. However, when large numbers breed in these regions fewer young are produced. As a result, the prairies are where the fate of the pintail population lies. Throughout North America the northern pintail is listed as a migratory bird species where it is protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and receives some management under the North American Waterfowl Management Plan. In North Dakota, the northern pintail is listed as a level II species of concern and there it receives management under the State Wildlife Action Plan, but because it is only a level II species it does not receive the management until all actions are covered for level I species. However, due to the species large geographic range and large worldwide population estimate it is listed as a species of Least Concern with a declining population on the International Union for Conservation of Species (IUCN) Red List of threatened species. The goals of this plan are to increase the abundance and distribution of northern pintails in North Dakota over the next 10 years and to provide information that leads to greater public involvement for the management of the species in North Dakota. The objectives to achieve these goals include: mitigation of agricultural impacts on nests, reductions of egg, hatchling, and hen predation via predator exclusion, increase in nesting habitat via Farm Bill practices and State Wildlife Grants, and the education of the public about the nesting requirements of northern pintails and the potential impacts of agriculture as well management practices to avoid these impacts. Based on population modeling, egg, hatchling, and hen survival is the key factor to focus on when managing for this species. An increase of about 50% nest success (eggs) and reduced predation rate on hatchlings and hens should result in a positive population trend, yielding a population of 6.7 million in 10 years, with a greater than 50% increase being more favorable to the overall goals and objectives. Northern pintails are a game species that needs management action in breeding areas to ensure their survival and growth for the enjoyment of current and future generations.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
Authors: Joseph K Roberts

Special Topic: An Investigation of Long Term Monitoring of Fishes in Two Aquatic Ecosystems

Fri, 05/11/2018 - 10:06
Abstract: Lower St. Regis Lake Abstract Long-term ecological research is important in understanding how fish communities change over time. The objective of this study was to determine how fish communities in Lower St. Regis Lake have changed. From 2004 - 2017 fisheries students at Paul Smith’s College have conducted lake surveys on Lower St. Regis Lake using standardized sampling protocols. This study showed shifts in fish community composition, changes in size structure, and variable body condition. As Lower St. Regis Lake changes, continued long-term ecological research will provide an opportunity for students monitor and study factors that may be effecting fish populations and communities. Smitty Creek Abstract Long term ecological monitoring of streams provides an effective means to evaluate changing habitat conditions on fish population dynamics. Our objective was to use long-term data from four tributaries in Smitty Creek Watershed to explore the relationship of age-0 brook trout densities to regional weather conditions. Catch data of age 0 brook trout was collected during the fall from 2004 to 2017. Average monthly precipitation and temperature data was taken from the Lake Clear regional weather station. Of four streams, Little Aldo showed correlation of age-0 brook trout with the precipitation and temperature data. Future work should include improved instrumentation within the reaches and the use of site-specific data.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
File Attachments: Final Capstone West St. Cyr
Authors: Taylor West, Joe St. Cyr

Homesteading for Beginners

Wed, 12/12/2018 - 14:51
Abstract: Homesteading isn’t just a movement, it’s a way of life. Our first research proposal was to create a guide to homesteading for beginners. Initial research showed there are countless types of homesteads and so we decided to research what homesteading is and the different ways you can homestead. Homesteading can be defined as a life of self sufficiency. But our research found that there can be many ways to achieve that goal.
Access: No
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Natural Resources Management and Policy, Natural Resources Sustainability Studies
Year: 2018
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Ron Fina
Erica Martin