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Capstone Projects

Environmental Factors Influencing the Establishment of Moss Species in the Elevator Shaft on Whiteface Mountain: A Descriptive Study

Wed, 12/02/2015 - 15:19
Abstract: The moss species growing in the elevator shaft on Whiteface Mountain have not yet been identified and little is known on the environmental conditions in which they exist. Light, moisture, substrate pH, and temperature play vital roles in the establishment and reproduction of moss. In the summer of 2015 eight moss species, present only in their gametophyte generation, were identified in the shaft. Four of these species are known to exist on the mountain outside of the elevator shaft. Temperature and relative humidity were measured to represent the conditions of the shaft, whereas available light, moisture, and substrate pH were measured with each colony. Temperature and humidity became more stable further into the shaft, similar to that of a cave environment. In addition, temperature peaked during the hours the elevator was in operation. Light, moisture, and substrate pH of each species were not strongly correlated with colony area. Most colonies were found to be growing on a type of sediment, rather than directly on the granite wall of the shaft. The pH of these substrates ranged between 6.68 and 8.99. The influx of tourists on Whiteface between May and October may play a vital role in the establishment of these species. The elevator may provide air circulation within the shaft and the electric lights omit the radiation necessary for the mosses survival. There is a 6 month period with possibly no light source or circulation of air. Further research should document these changes in environmental conditions during this period.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Integrative Studies
Year: 2015
Authors: Danica R. Maloney

Assessing Activities and Policies to Improve Outing Club Participation

Wed, 04/29/2015 - 19:48
Abstract: College outing clubs have proven to be very beneficial for college students of all ages and fields of study. Research shows that outing programs, outdoor education programs, and adventure education programs can have a terrific impact on student’s mental, physical, and spiritual health. This study aims to assess activities and policies that could potentially increase participation in the outing club of Paul Smiths College in the Adirondack Mountains of Upstate New York. The questions this study intends to answer are: 1.) What types of activities will cause an increase in participation? 2.) What types of qualifications & experience should be required of guides and group leaders? and 3.) What can we do to increase organization or professionalism of our program? Using surveys, interviews, and credible sources, this study collected data from successful college outing clubs, the Paul Smith’s student body, and professionals in the field of recreation and summarized it into one collection of results with intentions of exposing ways to increase participation in the program and increase professionalism and organization of the program. Results exposed reoccurring themes regarding expectations for guide training, activities provided through other successful programs, and activities suggested by the student body. The student body survey revealed high support of technical skills seminars to teach students technical backcountry skills in a shorter period of time, and a high demand for high intensity activities such as white water rafting. Many responses supported the fact that in order to increase popularity in a program, the activities need to be demanding enough that individuals aren’t likely to partake in the activity without prior organization and qualified leadership. The results and data found in this study can be used in the future to develop outing club policies and procedures to aid in the success of the program.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Integrative Studies
Year: 2015
File Attachments:
Authors: Richard DeLong

Optimal Clutch Size of American Kestrels (Falco sparverius) in Northern New York

Mon, 04/28/2014 - 12:08
Abstract: American kestrels readily use nest boxes, which makes them perfect candidates for studies on nesting activity and success. Nesting success is important to understand so that managers can effectively assess the productivity of a breeding population of kestrels. The goal of this study was to determine optimum clutch size for American Kestrels in Northern New York. The hypothesis was that optimum clutch size consisted of four eggs per clutch. The objective was to determine what clutch size is most effective at hatching young. The study was conducted during the months of June 2013 through August 2013 on 150 nest boxes that were established in 2002. The contents of each elevated nest box were observed using a video baby monitor attached to an extendible pole to minimize disturbance. Clutch size data and number of chicks hatched was compiled and analyzed using a Kruskal-Wallis test. This test was used because it allowed data to be separated into different clutch sizes, and determined the significance between the number of eggs in each clutch and the number of chicks hatched. Clutch sizes varied from 1-5 eggs, with occurrences of one and four eggs being most common. The majority of nesting attempts with one egg failed, resulting in a low probability of chicks hatching from one egg clutches. A clutch size of four eggs has the highest probability of successfully hatching chicks and the highest mean number of chicks hatched compared to the other clutch sizes.
Access: No
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2014
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Jennifer Miller

Management Plan to Prevent Regional Extinction of Little Brown Bat (Myotis lucifugus) in Northeastern United States

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 01:11
Abstract: Since the first record of white-nose syndrome in 2006 outside Schenectady, NY, populations of hibernating bats in the northeastern United States have continued to decline making more susceptible hibernating bat species, such as the little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus), at risk for regional extinction (Frick, et.al, 2010). There have been management plans to control the spread of white-nose syndrome and protect areas not yet inflicted with the disease, but nothing to stop the development of the disease or restore the survival rates on infected populations. The goal of this management plan is to increase the population size and prevent the regional extinction of little brown bats in the northeastern United States. In order to achieve this, summer roosts must be more available to increase fat build up before winter, and then have artificial hibernacula with regulated internal temperatures to deter the growth of the white-nose fungus on hibernating bats.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2014
Authors: Abigail Bradley

Hector's Dolphins, Cephaloryhnchus hectori hectori: A Management Plan to Increase Populations via Increased Protective Legislature

Wed, 04/30/2014 - 22:31
Abstract: Hector's dolphins (Cephalorhynchus hectori) are the only cetacean endemic to New Zealand. The South Island subspecies (C. hectori hectori) has an estimated population size of 7,270 individuals and has been listed as Endangered on the IUCN red list since 2000. The largest threat to Hector's dolphins is gillnet mortalities – it's estimated that 63% of mortalities are caused by fisheries bycatch. The life history of the dolphins indicates that they cannot reproduce quickly enough to replace the individuals lost to bycatch. Current rates of gillnet mortality must be decreased by at least 75% for Hector's dolphins to recover. This plan is designed increase populations of Hector's dolphins by decreasing gillnet mortalities to a sustainable level through legislation. Paramount to this goal are increasing the size and number of protected areas and increasing gillnet restrictions across the range of Hector's dolphins. The offshore distribution of Hector's dolphins depends on the bathymetry of the area, and thus management areas should be evaluated individually to best protect local populations.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2014
Authors: Chelsie LaFountain

Management of residential and migratory Canada goose (Branta canadensis) populations on airports in the Northeastern United States

Wed, 04/30/2014 - 22:47
Abstract: Canada geese (Branta canadensis) are a familiar sight throughout North America, with over one million inhabiting the Northeastern United States alone. The habitat requirements for this species align with human fondness for landscaped lawns, leading to human-goose conflicts. Nowhere are these conflicts more life threatening than in airports, where bird strikes on airplanes are dangerous and costly. The most hazardous bird species to airports are Canada geese, due to their large body size, tendency to fly in tight flocks, and utilization of airports as habitat. Between 1990 and 2012, 1,400 collisions occurred between these geese and planes in North America, causing $116,295,969 worth of damage and multiple human deaths. This management plan describes the most effective methods of preventing Canada geese from utilizing airport property as habitat. Habitat modifications including elimination of water bodies and planting of unpalatable grass species discourage geese from landing to roost or feed. If they do land, a detailed hazing regime is recommended to remove them from the property quickly and safely. All recommended actions are evaluated for ethical and practical viability. With the increasing amount of shared airspace between Canada geese and humans, it is an unacceptable risk to allow geese on airports.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2014
File Attachments: Bjacques_MGMTplan.docx
Authors: Benjamin K. Jacques

A Management Plan for the Przewalski’s Horse (Equus ferus przewalskii)

Thu, 05/01/2014 - 12:10
Abstract: The Przewalski’s horse is endemic to the grassland regions of Mongolia. These horses were once extinct in the wild, and have since been brought back to their native lands through extensive reintroduction efforts. However, there are very few individuals in the wild today, and the individuals that do occur have very low genetic diversity. This management plan will be in place to continue these reintroduction efforts and to ensure that the Przewalski’s horse population will become self-sustaining. The goals of this management plan are to increase the overall genetic diversity of the wild Mongolian Przewalski’s horse population and to increase population numbers until it is self-sustaining. These goals will be achieved through captive breeding programs of non-related individuals, and then slowly releasing these new individuals into already established wild populations. The native peoples of Mongolia will be surveyed and informed using pamphlets and verbal communication, of these conservation efforts to avoid and conflict and confrontations. Further education outreach will also take place in zoological societies, to inform the public of this species. This management project will continue until a self-sustaining population is maintained, and until genetic diversity, and levels of non-relatedness between individuals are frequent.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2014
Authors: Jenna Correia

Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia) Management Plan for the State of Utah

Thu, 05/01/2014 - 12:10
Abstract: In the state of Utah the burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia) is listed as a species of special concern. Populations have been declining at a steady rate due to lack of habitat and other influences such as urban development and chemical use. Burrowing owls nest in ground dwelling mammal’s burrows. With mammal populations declining it has shown effects on the burrowing owl populations. The goal of this management plan is to enhance and maintain the burrowing owl population by enhancing breeding habitat where the habitat has been degraded. The use of artificial burrows and preservation of natural burrows will be strategies to increase survivability during breeding seasons. Burrowing owls are used as an indicator species of degrading ecosystems and are of value to farmers as they feed on small rodents and other organisms that are considered pests. Management action should be taken to recover their steadily declining population.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2014
File Attachments: PlanRoughDraft.docx
Authors: Brandee Keuer

Florida’s Burmese Python (Python molurus bivittatus) Management Plan

Thu, 05/01/2014 - 15:19
Abstract: A population of Burmese pythons (Python molurus bivittatus) has been established within Florida, and is currently thriving unlike the declining populations within its native range. These pythons are a large species of snake (up to 5.5m and greater in length) native to Southeast Asia. Within their current range in Florida, declines of up to 99.3% have been seen in native species, such as raccoons (Procyon lotor), since their introduction. Current action being taken to control these pythons is ineffective, and the population continues to grow and expand. Therefore, action must be taken in order to reduce, and/or contain, the distribution, and/or number of, Burmese pythons in Florida to within the borders of the Everglades National Park (ENP) and Big Cypress Swamp (BCS). In order to accomplish this goal, research to determine effective extermination that causes little or no adverse effects (≤ 5% decrease in population) on native species will be completed. Following the research, the effective strategy(ies) will be implemented along with continued current means of control until such time that the goal is met. Failure to act will result in the continued growth and expansion of Burmese pythons, and lack of recovery for declining native species.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2014
Authors: Casey Gagne

Management of Eastern Hellbenders in the Allegheny Watershed of New York State

Thu, 05/01/2014 - 17:28
Abstract: The eastern hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis alleganiensis) is a large aquatic salamander unique to North America. Research on C. alleganiensis shows a decline in population size throughout much of its range. Hellbender populations in the Allegheny Watershed of New York State have been estimated to include only 400 individuals. The Allegheny River has been altered over the past century by dam construction, stream relocation, and agricultural and urban developments, negatively impacting both the water quality and benthic environment of the watershed. These changes have two major impacts on the species: siltation and pesticide and nutrient runoff, which harm hellbenders directly and reduce cover, food availability, and nest sites. This plan seeks to address these problems through the development of riparian buffer zones. Buffer zones filter nutrients and chemicals from runoff and ground water, and act as a physical barrier against silt. This action is considered the most desirable as it will not only benefit hellbenders, but the ecosystem and community at large by improving water quality, wildlife habitat, and the aesthetic value of the watershed.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2014
File Attachments: Hellbender management plan
Authors: Daniel Alempijevic