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Capstone Projects

Feral Horses (Equus caballus) Management on Assateague Island, MD

Tue, 05/05/2015 - 11:51
Abstract: The “Assateague Wild Ponies,” as they are often referred to, are truly feral horses that were introduced by humans in the early 1600s. These horses are damaging the barrier island ecosystem because the island did not evolve to compensate for horses. The horses graze on sensitive vegetation and trample endangered bird species’ nesting habitat and eggs. However, these horses are seen as a national icon of beauty and freedom causing many people to come visit the island simply to see these “wild ponies.” They are classified as a “desired exotic species.” Therefore these horses need to be managed in order to decrease their negative impacts and maintain a healthy population for the public to enjoy. This will be accomplished by decreasing their population from ~ 150 horses to below 100. Initially the herd will be reduced by a one-time auction of the horses. This will then be maintained via the use of the immmunocontraceptive Porcine Zona Pellucida (PZP) which prevents pregnancy by not allowing the egg to be fertilized. Additional actions will be taken to further reduce the negative effects caused by the horses including exclusion fences and additional feeding to reduce grazing and trampling effects. Furthermore, public education will occur to reduce the number of human-horse conflicts and feeding of the wildlife. Overall, this will decrease the negative impacts the horses have on the island.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2015
File Attachments: ManagementPlan_CN_4.29.docx
Authors: Claire G Nellis

Building Families Stronger

Tue, 05/05/2015 - 14:05
Abstract: The purpose of this study is to design a program that can be implemented in local camps to accommodate the needs of individuals in a family group affected by mental illness. The study will explain the importance of educating individuals about mental illness and integrating supportive behaviors. This program is designed to help families cope with the effects mental illness can have on the entire family dynamic. Families are often the strongest support system for dealing with mental illness and educating families is essential for success of the mentally ill. Team building games are used to enhance social behaviors and encourage group bonding, this program uses a recreational therapeutic approach to addressing issues in the lives of those affected by mental illness. To figure out how many people will be most likely be using the therapy program, a survey was created using a series of questions that went with the topic for respondents to answer. In fact the survey established that the majority of people agree on recreational approach to therapy as a means of coping with their illness in real life tasks. Other questions asked was what their favorite activities where, such as paddle sports and hiking. Another question was what disability was so as to get an idea what accommodations would be need and services for patients involved with the program.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science, Natural Resources Environmental Science, Parks, Recreation and Facilities Management
Year: 2015
Authors: Courtney Berg, Douglas Menge, Ashley Beldock

Management Plan for Ring-necked Pheasants (Phasianus colchicus) in the Western Finger Lakes Region of New York State

Wed, 05/06/2015 - 09:23
Abstract: The ring-necked pheasant (Phasianus colchicus) is one of the most popular game birds in North America. Being a nonnative bird, the first recorded attempts to establish the ring-necked pheasant in New York occurred around 1890. Populations grew through the late 1960s and early 1970s, but have declined to a very low level today. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC) has propagated pheasants since 1927. Pheasant hunting in NY today is almost completely a product of game farm pheasants. Still, there is a desire to return to wild pheasant hunting in the state and create a self-sustaining population. The mission of the Ring-necked Pheasant Management Plan is “to provide a quality ring-necked pheasant hunting experience in New York State.” To support this mission statement, the plan identifies supporting goals, objectives, strategies and actions for guiding restoration and management decisions over a 10-year horizon, 2015-2025.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2015
File Attachments: Finalplan_ccincotta.docx
Authors: Connor Cincotta

Management Plan for Reintroduction of elk (Cervus canadensis) to the Adirondack Park, New York

Fri, 05/08/2015 - 22:08
Abstract: Elk were extirpated from their historic eastern range, which entailed most states and parts of Canada east of the Mississippi River, by the late 1800’s. In the western United States elk (Cervus canadensis) are experiencing encroachment and habitat loss due to current land management practices. Overgrazing by cattle and encroachment through development and natural gas drilling are the main causes of habitat loss for elk. Many eastern states such as Tennessee, Michigan, and Pennsylvania have reintroduced elk herds to protected areas of their respective states to ensure that these anthropogenic causes of habitat loss will not affect the elk. The Adirondacks of New York offer a large expanse of land where elk could thrive in their historic range. The proposed plan would be to reintroduce 100 elk to the western region of the Adirondack Park in parts of Franklin and St. Lawrence Counties. Before the individuals would be reintroduced, forest management through the use of clear-cutting and patch burning would be implemented to promote the suitable amount of foraging habitat. To assess the population growth of the elk, individuals will be fitted with VHF radio collars to be able to conduct aerial surveys. To assess habitat alteration, vegetation surveys will be conducted to determine the amount of understory vegetation occurring in each cut and burnt patch. This management plan will be successful when the elk population has grown to a level at which they can be hunted sustainably. Hunting will be monitored by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. This management effort would successfully reintroduce a once native species to its historic range providing ecological stability, as well as economic and social benefits.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2015
File Attachments: Final Draft.docx
Authors: Kyle Nellis

Investigating Amount of Sample Points Necessary for Accurate Topographic Representation of the Ground Truth

Wed, 04/29/2015 - 18:18
Abstract: Topographic or elevation data has many uses and applications especially when it is converted into a Digital Elevation Model (DEM). Such uses are erosion modeling, surface hydrology, watershed modelling geomorphology, land-sliding, agriculture and ecosystem modeling to list a few examples. This project intends to determine the amount of topographic data points that need to be collected in order to create an accurate model of the ground topography. To accomplish the objective, a topographic survey was conducted on a grid pattern, with a spacing of 7.5 feet between points regularly spaced over one acre. After the data were collected, varying percentages of the total amount of points collected were removed and the resulting digital elevation model (DEM) was compared to the ground truth DEM. When comparing accuracy of interpolated elevation across the entire DEM with a RMSE (root mean square error) it was found that using a subset of 25-30% of the entire data set were needed to create a model that did not significantly differ from the Ground Truth. The change in volume of the elevation surface compared to the Ground Truth results in a linear relationship, as more points are added the closed the change in volume is to zero. The P value derived from the T-test of the mean elevations of the trial DEM’s and the Ground truth, reflect the results from the change in volume, as more points are added the closer to the truth the DEM becomes.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Forestry
Year: 2015
File Attachments: Final_Report_RGM.docx
Authors: Ryan McGowan

Implementing an Educational Demonstration Forest with Working Elements of Silviculture, Wildlife, Recreation, and Water in Harrietstown, Adirondack, NY

Tue, 05/05/2015 - 11:15
Abstract: The project being conducted will provide rationale about the importance of working forestry, all while maintaining positive public sentiment within the forest products industry. The project will focus on public education and maintain water quality, wildlife habitat, and recreational opportunities. The public will see developed interpretive areas with signage at points of interest. The designated area is located near the Adirondack Regional Airport, Hunt Road and NYS Route 30, and is comprised of 226 acres. There are varying stands in the tract that range from pure softwood, hardwood and mixed wood stands. After the designated area was selected, a timber cruise was conducted along with note taking and visual analysis of how the area could entice public use and education. Once all the data was gathered, the conclusion drawn was throughout all different forests types in the tract, there were multiple educational opportunities pertaining to water quality and wildlife habitat through use of sustainable forestry methods. The significance of this project is to facilitate public education on how forestry can be sustainable and beneficial. This will be shown through workshops, kiosks, interpretive walks and a menagerie of other proposed ideas.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Forestry
Year: 2015
File Attachments: Capstone_LIB_Upload.docx
Authors: Jeffrey Bigelow, Raymond Desilva, William Lehning, Llewellyn Palmer, Bennett Lohmeyer, Corey Bulson

Downtown Saranac Lake Urban Forest Management Plan

Thu, 05/07/2015 - 16:47
Abstract: Trees and green spaces are important resources to any community. They are public spaces which provide havens of relaxation, play, and mental and physical stimulation. Trees and green spaces have been proven to have a positive impact on the mental and physical wellbeing of area residents. However, the care of these trees and green spaces is often overlooked or not planned for, leading to human/nature conflicts at a fine scale (local level). This is where arborists enter; arborists are individuals trained in the art of caring for trees, and are often involved in every stage of a tree’s life cycle, from planting to removal. But arborists are also teachers, acting as the intermediary between urban trees and the public and providing education to the people. The village of Saranac Lake, New York, is no different. The results of the data collected on Saranac Lake’s downtown street trees and parks were analyzed and compiled into a comprehensive urban tree management plan. A total of 236 trees and shrubs were inventoried and assessed for their health, overall condition, and pruning needs. Also included in the urban tree management plan are observations on the current state of the urban forest, recommendations for the mitigation and correction of any observable problems, and prevention and treatment courses of action for any future insect pests.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Forestry, Parks, Recreation and Facilities Management
Year: 2015
Authors: Michael O'Sullivan, Danielle Rageotte

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