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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

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