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Capstone Projects

Management Plan for Round Gobies (Neogobius melanostomus) in the Great Lakes

Sat, 04/29/2017 - 08:30
Abstract: Round gobies (Neogobius melanostomus; hereafter goby) are an invasive fish species native to the Black and Caspian Sea. They were introduced in 1990 and have rapidly expanded their population throughout all of the Great Lakes, faster than any previous invader. Round gobies are bottom dwelling fish structurally and functionally similar to a native species, the mottled sculpin (Cottus bairdii). Gobies are much more aggressive, causing high competition for the sculpins. They feed primarily on zebra mussels, but also on the eggs of lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) and smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieu), which are popular native gamefish. There is a possibility of the species spreading into the Mississippi River through tributaries coming out of the lakes, which would introduce them to the largest watershed in the United States. In 2002, the population estimate of round gobies in western Lake Erie alone was 13.27 tonnes/km2 (9.9 billion individuals) which is up to 7 times higher than the biomass estimated of yellow perch (Perca flavenscens). This management plan proposes to decrease the population by 50% by 2023 by reducing introduction into the Great Lakes, isolating the population that currently exists from spreading, educating the public on the species, and capturing fish using a combination of techniques, increasing mortality. Some actions include monitoring ballast water tanks of ships entering the Great Lakes, using electrical barriers to isolate gobies, and using minnow traps baited with liver to capture the fish. No action would result in gobies reaching extremely large numbers in areas where they do not currently exist. If all objectives are successful, the current population of round gobies in the Great Lakes will decrease by 50% by 2032.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2017
File Attachments: MgmtPlan.docx
Authors: Michala Seibert

Establishment of Self-sustaining Asiatic Black Bear (Ursus thibetanus) Populations in South Korea

Sun, 04/30/2017 - 15:49
Abstract: The Asiatic black bear (Ursus thibetanus) is similar to the American black bear (Ursus americanus) in size and appearance and is distributed across much of Asia. They are omnivorous, but eat mostly plant matter and are heavily reliant on hard mast in the fall. When fall mast supply is low, these bears move out of forests and into fields, consuming crops to supplement their diet and negatively interacting with humans. Little is known about the biology of this species, but it is an IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Threatened Species and listed on national conservation lists in many of the countries in its range. The decline of this species has been linked to forest decline alongside the expansion of agriculture and hunting for their gallbladders. South Korea has a small, protected population of Asiatic black bears in Jirisan National Park and others scattered throughout the forests of the country. These bears can be successful if protected and studied, however they are common agricultural pests and public opinion toward them varies. Once part of the ancient culture of the area and because hunting them is illegal, they are now farmed for their gallbladders which produce high-value bile which is used in traditional medicine. As the bear is the mascot for the Paralympic Games, the nation should focus on restoring this bear to its former status both ecologically and socioculturally. The goal of this management plan is to make the Asiatic black bear a national icon for the country of South Korea and establish a growing population in the protected lands of the nation. This goal requires multiple objectives to ensure the success of the species. An analysis to assess the conservation gaps of the species will show where action is needed. A public education program will harbor support in South Korea. More biological studies must be funded and conducted to better inform management. If conservation of the Asiatic black bear is prioritized in South Korea and public opinion is improved, this species’ population will be able to sustain growth.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2017
File Attachments: Craig_MgmtPlan.docx
Authors: Robert Craig

Long-Eared Owl (Asio otus) Management Plan for Regions 5 and 6 of New York State

Sun, 04/30/2017 - 17:49
Abstract: Long-eared owls (Asio otus) are commonly associated with open grasslands, riparian areas and edge habitat which are used for hunting. Diet consists of 90% voles (Microtus spp.) with the other 10% consisting of other small mammals and rarely, birds. Nesting typically occurs in dense conifer stands where inactive corvid or hawk nests also exist. Inactive nests must be present because like other owl species, long-eared owls do not build their own nests. Outside of the breeding season long-eared owls are highly migratory and have been found to roost communally. Loss of habitat to urban expansion, forest succession and changing farming techniques are considered to be major threats to this species. Across North America, two sub species of long-eared owls exist, however this plan focuses on management of the eastern subspecies (A. o. wilsonianus) in Northern New York. Throughout the Northeast region the long-eared owl is listed as threatened or endangered except in New York where it has no additional protection. 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 IUCN Red List. The goals of this plan are to increase the population from 250 to 350 over the next 25 years and to provide information that leads to greater protection of the species in New York. The objectives to achieve these goals include: reductions in nest predation via predator exclusion, increases of nesting and hunting habitat via habitat artificial nest boxes and restoration, and population surveys via banding, radio telemetry and nest success surveys. Based on population modeling adult survival is the key factor to focus on when managing for this species. A 5% increase in adult survivorship should result in a positive population trend, with a 6% increase being more favorable to the overall goals and objectives. Long-eared owls are a lesser known species that deserve our help to ensure their survival and growth for the enjoyment of current and future generations of New York.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2017
File Attachments: LEOW_Mgmt_Plan.docx
Authors: Matthew Williams

Management Plan of Harlequin Ducks (Histrionicus histrionicus) on the East Coast of the United States (2017-2027)

Wed, 05/10/2017 - 19:16
Abstract: Harlequin ducks (Histrionicus histrionicus) are sea ducks that winter on the east coast of North America and breed in eastern Canada. They nest along rapid streams that provide suitable nesting habitat along with high abundancy of aquatic invertebrates. Harlequin ducks are a species of special concern in Canada as well as on the east coast of the United States. The species is declining they prefer have thin breeding habitat requirements, a relatively small population size, and are sensitive to disturbances on their wintering and breeding grounds. Such disturbances include transformation of habitats and human disturbances. This plan has goals that mainly focuses on the conservation of Harlequin duck populations and habitat from 2017 to 2027. The first goal of this plan is to create and maintain possible habitat for Harlequins to breed and winter on the east coast of the United States. The objectives to achieve this goal are to identify and map by 2019 all-important Harlequin ducks wintering and potential breeding habitats on the east coast of the United States, through 2027 create, protect, and manage important and possible areas for breeding and wintering habitats, and by 2020 set guidelines to protect Harlequin duck habitat from industrial, recreational, and fisheries activities. The second goal of this plan is to increase the distribution and abundance of Harlequins wintering. The objective for this goal is to increase the egg and hatch year bird survival by 10% for all Harlequin ducks on the east coast of United States as well as the overall population by 30% by 2027. The final goal is to inform and educate recreational users and hunter’s about Harlequin ducks and their habitats, and threats. For this goal the objectives are to mitigate factors that are restricting the species wintering survival on the east coast of the United States by 2022. The second objective to this final goal is by 2019, develop an educational program on the east coast of the United States that will promote the understanding of Harlequin ducks and their wintering requirements.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2017
File Attachments: Management Plan.docx
Authors: Dakota Urban

Management Plan of Bobolinks (Dolichonyx oryzivorus) Breeding in The Finger Lakes Region of New York

Fri, 10/13/2017 - 10:50
Abstract: Bobolinks (Dolichonyx oryzivorus) are sexually dimorphic, medium-sized, songbirds that commonly breed across North America. In New York, bobolinks begin nesting around mid-May in open grasslands or hayfields larger than 2 hectares with 3-4 cm of thatch on the ground. Bobolinks are typically philopatric, however land-use practices may alter habitat suitability and negatively affect nesting success. During a ten-year period from 2003 to 2013, bobolink populations have decreased -1.19% across North America (Renfrew 2015). Modernization of hay harvesting practices have increased the occurrence and frequency of disturbance to nesting bobolinks. In New York, the main cause of nest failure is cutting for hay during the nesting season. The goal of this management plan is to increase the population of bobolinks breeding in the Finger Lakes Region of New York. This plan aims to improve bobolink breeding habitat by creating a program that uses policy and philanthropy to balance habitat requirements of bobolink with stakeholder needs through compensation of financial loss due to habitat protection. Coordinating best management practices among landowners and increasing enrollment within the Conservation Reserve Program will reduce edge effects and increase available breeding habitat in the Finger Lakes region. Failure to alter unsuccessful management strategies will permit the current declining population trend to continue. Management is necessary to maximize protection of nesting bobolinks while minimizing financial and legal restrictions encountered by farmers. If this management plan is successful, there will be an increase in the population size of bobolinks returning to the Finger Lakes Region during the breeding season and the once declining population trend will stabilize within the region.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2017
Authors: Emily Eidman

The Application of Silvicultural Treatments to Establish and Maintain Early Successional Habitat in the Adirondack Forests of New York State

Sat, 04/29/2017 - 15:12
Abstract: Early successional habitat (ESH) in New York state can be described as young forests comprising trees, shrubs, grasses, and other herbaceous plants that form relatively open canopies with dense understories. ESH has decreased due to nearly ninety percent of the naturally occurring shrublands of North America having been destroyed. The destruction of this habitat is of top concern due to the threatened and endangered species whom rely on these sorts of habitats to thrive. Considering the future climate projections, population models, and theoretical species distribution, responsible stewardship is needed to manage in favor of ESH types. A meta-analysis of various journals and databases was performed to synthesize information into a general management plan for establishing ESH in the Adirondacks. Through combining methods and silvicultural management practices from past plans in the northeastern United States, as well as background knowledge of the area, this management plan has been tailored specifically for an Adirondack forest. These outlined silvicultural treatments may also be extended to a variety of other forest types in the eastern U.S.A. Re-establishing young forests throughout the region is the goal of this plan. In doing so, these practices will enhance the health, resiliency, and biodiversity of the Adirondack region, and New York State by creating critical ESH which the fauna and flora of this region depend upon.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Integrative Studies, Natural Resources Management and Policy
Year: 2017
Authors: Nicole Morin, Ryan Baker, Ora Bice

Site Management Plan for the VIC-Quarry Wall

Fri, 05/05/2017 - 13:38
Abstract: Over time, the Paul Smith's College VIC (VIC) has evolved into a more accessible and enjoyable nature center for the community and the Paul Smith's College students. The VIC offers free and fee based activities such as arts, sports, and educational programs throughout the year, including bird and nature walks, children's educational programs, art exhibits, concerts, lectures, workshops, and naturalist-led paddles (Discover the Adirondack Mountains at the VIC, 2017). Starting a management plan for an outdoor rock climbing wall, located on the VIC property, involves many aspects and considerations. These specifications must then be effectively evaluated to start a functioning program.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Recreation, Adventure Education and Leisure Management
Year: 2017
File Attachments: Management Plan
Authors: Bayle Reichert, Brian Lane

Feasibility Study of Running a Summer Day Camp at the VIC

Mon, 05/08/2017 - 19:28
Abstract: Since the late nineteenth century, summer camp has been a part of the lives of American children; over the years it has transformed from a place for young boys to learn “manly things” to a place where parents can send their children for a summer of experience, education, and memories (Van Slyck, 2006). According to the American Camp Association, there are over 14,000 day and overnight camps in the US with approximately 14 million children and adults in the US attending camps annually. Recent research has shown the many benefits of sending children to summer camp, which includes physical, educational, and social benefits. The Paul Smith’s College VIC consists of 3,000 acres including 25 miles of trails for recreational use by the public and an interpretive center used for art shows and environmental education. Their mission is “to connect outdoor recreation, experiential education, and the arts, naturally.” Through the vast amount of land and use of the interpretive building, the VIC could potentially be the ideal location for a summer day camp. There are several other factors to consider in whether or not the VIC is a feasible location to run a day camp; these include products and services offered, the target market, marketing strategies, organization and staffing, annual scheduling,technological analysis, financial projections, and recommendations. The mission of this potential day camp is to connect children with nature, the environment and each other, fostering learning, environmental stewardship, and friendship. Through this study, it has been determined that a day camp is feasible - it would take some time however, to get funding, licensing, insurance, staff, etc. into place before the program could be implemented.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Recreation, Adventure Education and Leisure Management
Year: 2017
Authors: Lenore Elizabeth Marcuson, Lauren Elsa Brieant

Forest Structure and Composition in the Smitty Creek Watershed

Wed, 12/14/2016 - 09:56
Abstract: The 2016 Smitty Creek CFI (Continuous Forest Inventory) study addressed the issue of creating a reliable and repeatable inventory design to examine general forestry trends and their relationships with the watershed itself. Identifying these trends and their consequences is important when considering factors linked to climate change, such as carbon storage and allocation. The objective of this project were as follows: establish 10 new CFI plots, monitor and record for signs of disease and insects, tree mortality, and overstory wildlife habitat, accurately estimate forest carbon sequestration, record understory composition in a 1/50th acre area around each plot center, and suggest methods and reasons for application in Paul Smith’s College CFI capstone projects. The study was conducted within the Smitty Creek watershed in Paul Smiths, NY with the plots falling on a transect that runs north and south. At each plot, trees within the radius were assigned numbered aluminum tags, trees were measured at diameter at breast height, and other features, such as snags, were recorded. Upon completing the project, 10 CFI plots had been created and their locations were recorded, several diseases and forest health concerns were identified, as well as, tree mortality and wildlife habitat considerations, carbon sequestration for the watershed was modeled over the next century, and a CFI project was designed for the Paul Smith’s College land compartments. The Smitty Creek watershed CFI project is repeatable and has an accurate baseline of information for future studies, and the Paul Smith’s College land compartments CFI plot design is ready for implementation.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Environmental Sciences, Fisheries and Wildlife Science, Forestry
Year: 2016
Authors: Gregg Slezak, Leonard Johnson, William O'Reilly, Jake Weber, Charlie Ulrich, Collin Perkins McCraw, Jake Harm, Nick Georgelas

Management Plan for Roseate Spoonbills (Platalea ajaja) in the Everglades National Park

Thu, 05/05/2016 - 14:04
Abstract: This is a management plan for the roseate spoonbill (Platalea ajaja) in the Everglades National Park.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2016
Authors: Michael Campbell