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Capstone Projects

Python Scripting an ArcGIS Add-in for Wildlife Telemetry Data Processing

Mon, 04/28/2014 - 15:46
Abstract: There are currently no modern open source alternatives to commercial radio telemetry processing software. I developed a python add-in for ArcGIS which allows for interactive editing of telemetry data. The add-in was tested for functionality, accuracy and usability. Functionality was tested according to how closely it adhered to the original software requirements specification. Accuracy was tested by generating telemetry data from known animal locations and comparing the estimated locations to the actual locations. Usability was tested through speak aloud user tests. User data was collected on completion status, time of completion, and number usability issues found. The intended functionality goals were met and exceeded. Accuracy was less than expected with an average inaccuracy distance of 202 meters and approximately 10% of the bearing groups were unable to generate a centroid. During user testing, a total of 33 usability issues were discovered that hindered use of the software and on average it took a student 18 minutes to process one data set without prior exposure to the add-in. Qualitative observations from the user tests could be a launching point for GIS usability studies. In addition, the core modules could be modified and expanded into a separate application with dependency on Quantum-GIS or Geographic Analysis Support System (GRASS).
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Natural Resources Management and Policy
Year: 2014
File Attachments: Kacir_2014.docx
Authors: Robert Kacir

Challenges Associated with Conservation Easements In the Adirondack Park and Recommendations for Improving the Process

Mon, 04/28/2014 - 13:11
Abstract: With conservation easements only becoming popular in the past 40 years, they are at the developmental stage where weaknesses start to become apparent as land starts to change hands from one generation to the next. It is important to find and correct these barriers to ensure these same problems do not occur in the next 40 years. My focus was performing research within the Adirondack State Park of New York. I utilized Semi-Structured Interviews (SSI) along with SSI guides to collect my data while using a sampling technique referred to as a snowball sampling approach. I interviewed two different categories of conservation easement personal. 1. Land owner/manager with conservation easement on property 2.Agency Workers from The Nature Conservancy and the New York State Department of Environmental. I then used emergent themes to reveal the discrepancies or weaknesses in current conservation easements along with their common strengths. From there I used (S.W.O.T) Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats analysis to provide recommendations for policy revising.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Natural Resources Management and Policy
Year: 2014
File Attachments: Capstone Final Draft.docx
Authors: Timothy Kempf

Possible Limiting Soil Macro-Nutrients of Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum) Growth in an Adirondack Hardwood Stand

Mon, 04/28/2014 - 08:46
Abstract: Sugar maple (Acer Saccharum) has been in decline for the past few decades. Several studies have been done throughout parts of Canada and New England to determine what is limiting sugar maple growth. By mimicking one of these studies, I conducted a fertility study to show correlations between soil fertility and three different measures of tree growth. I selected 40 dominant sugar maple trees in a hardwood stand in the Adirondack Park in northern New York to sample. I collected two increment cores from each tree, measured the DBH and calculated basal area at each tree. I also collected mineral soil from the base of each tree that was sampled and tested its chemical properties and macronutrients that are most related to growth. I found weaker correlations between soil fertility and growth than my parent study had found. This may be because I didn’t have enough variation in my samples, measured growth or fertility in a way that wasn’t the most accurate, soil characteristics may not be limiting, or some soil characteristics may be co-limiting growth.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Natural Resources Management and Policy
Year: 2014
File Attachments: Capstone Report
Authors: Kevin Kenealy

Determining Habitat Suitability for Ruffed Grouse (Bonasa umbellus) in Five Forest Harvest Method Plots on the Paul Smith’s Visitors Interpretation Center Land to Promote Long Term Suitable Habitat.

Sun, 04/28/2013 - 11:42
Abstract: Ruffed grouse (Bonansa umbellus) populations are in a steady decline due to the loss of early successional forests. Our study focused on the suitability of ruffed grouse habitat which is considered an area with adequate food and cover in. We used a habitat suitability index designed for ruffed grouse in Colorado that included average height of woody stems, percent conifers, density of mature yellow birch, and total equivalent stem density as the variables that indicate whether an area has suitable cover and food for ruffed grouse. Using the habitat suitability index we measured the vegetation in five forest harvest methods including: single tree selection, two-age cut, shelter-wood cut, clear-cut, and a control plot to determine if a habitat suitability index developed in Colorado can be used to assess habitat suitability for ruffed grouse in New York. These plots are located in the Adirondacks in Northern New York State at the Paul Smith’s College Visitors Interpretation Center (VIC). Our results suggested that 14 years after harvest a single tree selection harvest method has the highest overall habitat suitability (0.95) for ruffed grouse. This is different from other studies we found that indicated clear-cut was the most suitable forest harvest method for ruffed grouse. We also projected the change in habitat suitability for height of woody stems over time for the clear-cut based on the yearly growth rate of 0.656 feet. Based on our findings from the study we made recommendations to land owners and land managers to develop and promote short term and long term suitable habitat for ruffed grouse. These recommendations included using a variety of forestry practices that included: single tree selection, shelterwood, and clear-cut because ruffed grouse require a variety of different cover types and habitat over their lifetime.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science, Forestry
Year: 2013
File Attachments: Final_Draft.doc
Authors: Jeremy Anna, Jake Baulch

Developing a Log Rule for Portable Sawmill Operators in Vermont

Fri, 04/26/2013 - 10:30
Abstract: Since the beginning of the 19th century, American lumbermen have been vexed by one of the unique questions of their trade; how do you estimate the yield of squared lumber to be cut from a round log? Since 1825, answers to this question have come in the form of log rules; a table or formula that estimates the yield of logs. These tables are in no way universal, and in some cases are crudely inaccurate. The shortcomings of these log rules have manifest differently in the various geographic locales and industry sectors where they are used. This study sought to identify such shortcomings as they pertain to a specific group of lumbermen; portable sawmill operators. These sawyers utilize modern bandsaw technology and have unique business practices, yet they estimate outputs based on century old log rules created for traditional sawmills. Through the use of semi-structured open ended interviews, technical and socioeconomic information was gathered from 7 sawyers in Vermont. Among other concerns, five of the sawyers expressed the need for a better way to estimate log yield. Based on their collective suggestions and technical approaches, a new log rule was created here to address sawyers’ needs.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Forestry
Year: 2013
File Attachments: CAPSTONE_HAIGH.pdf
Authors: Ben Haigh

A Meta-Analysis of the Impacts of Professional Bass Fishing Tournaments

Mon, 04/29/2013 - 19:28
Abstract: Professional black bass (Micropterous spp.) fishing tournaments have significant economic benefits associated with them; however concerns about various negative ecological effects are being raised. Fish mortality has the potential to be critically high following release of the fish, whether it be from stress, hooking injuries, heat exposure, disease, or a lack of sufficient oxygen. Mortality can occur prior to release, or it can occur several days to even weeks after release. The vast majority of organized tournaments release all of the fish in one specific location once the weigh-in process has been completed. The lack of dispersal among bass once they are released back into the water is another key issue. Utilizing 17 different studies on mortality and 8 studies on dispersal, this meta-analysis study looks at how tournaments can affect the bass population in lakes and rivers across the country. It also examines the variables that affect mortality and dispersal such as season, water temperature, location, and species of bass. The potential ways for the survival rate to be improved is also discussed. The results of the meta-analysis showed that water temperature had a significant impact on mortality, as did the time of year the tournaments were held. Mortality was highest from a period of 1-10 days following the tournaments, but was still occurring up to one month after. Dispersal was highest for Largemouth Bass, and for Spring-held tournaments. The study concludes that there are several ways to potentially lower the tournament associated mortality rate for black bass.
Access: No
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Natural Resources Management and Policy
Year: 2013
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Brett Leidner

Remote Sensing for Forest Change Detection in Afghanistan

Fri, 04/26/2013 - 08:41
Abstract: Abstract: Afghanistan’s forests are one of the country’s most important natural resources. Afghanistan has faced conflicts that have plagued the country for more than 25 years and resulted in rapid deforestation and environmental despoliation. Forested lands need to be preserved in order for Afghanistan to revamp social and economic livelihoods and control the environmental degradation. This study will analyze Landsat satellite imagery using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and ERDAS DeltaCue change detection software to assess forest deviations in Afghanistan between 1998 and 2010. Areas in Nangarhar Province identified significant change in vegetation cover in terms of both deforestation and reforestation. Deforestation occurred more frequently around the city edges of Jalalabad, whereas reforestation occurred farther from settlements. The Tasseled Cap process produced a final output change detection layer which represented the combined detection of all significant change between the three images. Determining where deforestation is occurring through Remote Sensing is a critical first step towards rehabilitating Afghanistan’s forest productivity.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Natural Resources Management and Policy
Year: 2013
Authors: David Lattuca

A COPAR Report of Ethnographic Inquiry Addressing Issues of Water Availability and Hygiene Mathare Valley, Nairobi, Kenya

Wed, 04/24/2013 - 21:30
Abstract: I conducted a cyclical ethnographic inquiry in the Mathare Valley informal settlement of Nairobi, Kenya, during the months of May and June 2012. My question was: How do Mathare residents interact with and access water and what are the technological and environmental restrictions limiting or preventing adequate water supply? The goal of this study was to create environmental and social change by improving access to water for consumption and bathing. As both a researcher and technical advisor, I adopted and used Community Oriented Participatory Action Research (COPAR). This research approach required my immersion into the Kenyan culture where I lived, ate and slept in the informal settlement of Mathare Valley, interviewing a total of 49 families on communal issues of water and hygiene. While in Mathare, I recorded quantitative and qualitative data comparing wet and dry seasons; distance to water sources; amount of water used; cost of water; and prevalence of disease (represented by potability) as well as issues regarding the Nairobi City Council, communal water availability, and hygienic conditions. A potential solution to water conservation and hygiene was construction of a bucket shower (several liter metal bucket with handle and valve to control water flow) to conserve bathing water reducing overall consumption. Through analysis of seven major, quantitatively and qualitatively determined themes, this paper presents anecdotal evidence in the context of empirical data through temporal revelation of thematic constraints. I found that during the dry season: family members in Mathare travel significantly farther to gather water, spending more money while consuming less water presenting complex issues among livelihoods within an informal settlement environment.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Natural Resources Management and Policy
Year: 2013
File Attachments: Anderson_Ian_Capstone.docx
Authors: Ian Anderson

Effects of Snow on GPS Accuracy in Forest Environments

Wed, 04/18/2012 - 15:54
Abstract: Abstract Global Positioning Systems, or GPS, have become an indispensable aspect of modern life, used in everyday situations and is a vital component of many occupations, including forestry and natural resources. With increased GPS accuracy, a forester is able to better locate boundaries and geographic or cultural features beneath forest canopy, leading to increased productivity. In the terms of forestry practices, decreased accuracy can cause errors which could lead to financial or physical loss of resources. The goal of this study is to determine the effects of canopy snow on the accuracy of commercially available, recreation grade GPS units which are suitable for forestry use. The effect of snow on canopy closure was tested through the photographic examination of pre and post snow canopy conditions. GPS accuracy was determined by taking averaged GPS measurements alongside the photo measurements. These were points were compared to previously established coordinates derived from a survey traverse. The results showed that snow did affect the canopy closure of the test forest, yet any correlation between GPS accuracy and increased canopy closure was found to be inconclusive.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Forestry
Year: 2012
File Attachments: Snyder2012.pdf
Authors: Rand J. Snyder

Gauging Public Perception towards Visitor Impact as well as a Hypothetical Recreation Permit for the Adirondack State Park, New York

Mon, 04/16/2012 - 20:19
Abstract: Human impact upon natural resources can have negative environmental and social impacts. A questionnaire was given out at Marcy Dam to determine whether or not the public perceived negative impacts from visitor use, in particular mountain recreation areas. Participants were also questioned about a hypothetical permit which could introduce a new form of management within impacted areas. Surveys were then analyzed to see how the public had responded to heavily impacted areas and the idea of a recreation permit. Results were displayed in pie chart form to represent public perceptions and views. From the surveyed participants, it was discovered that the majority of people (85%), saw negative impacts in popular recreation areas. The majority of participants (64%), also expressed they would not be willing to accept a recreation permit for use in certain areas.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Forestry
Year: 2012
File Attachments: Capstone_Final Draft.docx
Authors: Kyle Leech