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Capstone Projects

Using Pellet Counts and Vegetation Analysis to Determine Moose (Alces alces) Densities in Vermont and in the Adirondacks, to Better the Understanding of Moose Densities for New York State DEC

Thu, 12/15/2011 - 14:46
Abstract: Using Pellet Counts and Vegetation Analysis to Determine Moose (Alces alces) Densities in Vermont and in the Adirondacks, to Better the Understanding of Moose Densities for New York State DEC
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2011
Authors: Nicole Bellerose, William Carpenter

Hare Body Mass Index in relationship to habitat type andcover availability at the landscape scale in snowshoe hare in the Northern Adirondacks

Wed, 12/07/2011 - 12:38
Abstract: Snowshoe hares (Lepus americanas) are an important keystone species in environments in which they are present. An important indicator of fitness in many organisms is Body Mass Index (BMI). My question is whether the BMI and relative abundance (hares per unit effort) of snowshoe hares will change under different habitat scenarios as determined by National Land Cover Data. I hypothesized that snowshoe hares would have a higher BMI and greater abundance under areas of higher % conifer and mixed forest. I collected weight, foot length, hare harvest location, and hunt effort data from two hare derbies in the northern Adirondacks. I calculated BMI, relative abundance, and % area of each type of habitat cover and correlated habitat cover with my response variables. I then used principle component analysis to describe the four main configurations of habitat where hare were found and correlated those with BMI and relative abundance. Univariate analysis showed that BMI correlates negatively with % mixed forest and positively with % herbaceous wetland and % developed land. Relative abundance does not correlate with BMI, but relative abundance correlates with herbaceous wetland, grassland, and shrub. Principle component analyses showed that BMI was marginally significantly positively correlated with habitats that were developed, shrub, and mixed forest dominated. Relative abundance was negatively correlated with habitats that were developed, shrub, mixed, and woody wetland dominated. These outcomes are the opposite of my hypothesis. This suggests that hares are energy maximizers and choose habitats where they have the highest quality food over cover from aerial predation.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2011
File Attachments: DeGrave_2011_Capstone.docx
Authors: Caitlin DeGrave

A Study of Cover Type and Habitat Use of Radio Collared White-Tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in South Western New York State

Mon, 12/05/2011 - 18:43
Abstract: Two radio collared male white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) were monitored from late February to early November of 2003 and two collared deer were monitored from late February to early November of 2007 in southwestern New York State. White-tailed deer used deciduous forest the most during the study, occupying deciduous forest 90% of the time in 2003 and between 76% and 85% in 2007. White-tailed deer preferred deciduous forest each season, a high preference for evergreen forest during the spring and moderate preference for summer seasons, and shrub scrub during the fall season. P values of <.0001 were found for all individual and seasonal preferences. White-tailed deer collared in 2003 averaged 266.6 ha (50% kernel) and 95% use of 1167.0 ha (95% kernel). Those collared in 2007 averaged 425.5 ha (50% kernel) and 1626.3 ha (95% kernel). Spring home ranges were 35% smaller than summer, and fall, due to food preference and snow melt on a west facing slope. Summer ranges were driven by water resources and fall by the onset of breeding season activities. Seasonal shifts in mean centers for geographic distribution for spring to summer ranges were shifted by 580 meters, while summer to fall shifts were half of the distance (283 m). Deciduous and evergreen forests are important preferred food and cover resources used by white-tailed deer in this region, with this understanding the management of white-tailed deer populations can be greatly influenced by the management of those resources that white-tailed deer require and prefer.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2011
File Attachments: Capstone_Final.docx
Authors: Joshua M. Matijas

An analysis of social behavior in captive gray wolves and its effects on pack dynamics

Mon, 12/05/2011 - 17:55
Abstract: Animals live in groups for a variety of reasons, including access to certain prey items, defense of territory, and protection of resources. Canids have proved a popular subject for studies in social behavior, and many variables of behavior have been tested, providing an in-depth picture of how these animals typically live. Gray wolves (Canis lupus) in particular have been studied extensively throughout the years, both in the wild and in captivity. This study investigated social behaviors within a captive wolf pack so that an activity budget could be established with aid of an ethogram. A pack hierarchy was also established using tail positions as a guide, and behavior frequency was compared between each gender. Overall, resting behaviors were the most common for the pack under study, and most common for both males and females. This is likely because the study took place during the summer when temperatures were high and the animals didn’t expend much energy. Males and females did not show a significant difference in the proportion of time spent exhibiting each behavior (X2=1), likely because each sex plays a similar role in the pack. While play behaviors comprised only 12% of all recorded, I believe that social play is an important function for providing social cohesion and an outlet for aggression. Since there is still much to be understood about social play in adult wolves, I believe that it should be the focus of future studies. I also believe that this study can provide a framework for future investigations of a similar nature, and that such future studies should also attempt to draw comparisons between wild and captive wolf packs, as they differ in several respects.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2011
File Attachments: equandt_capstonefinal.pdf
Authors: Elizabeth Quandt

Burrow characteristics, nest success, and chick productivity of the black guillemot (Cepphus grylle) on two islands in the Gulf of Maine.

Mon, 12/05/2011 - 13:54
Abstract: Knowledge of the black guillemot Cepphus grylle population, nesting habitat preference, nest success and chick growth in North America is limited as the majority of studies on this species have been conducted in other northern countries such as Ireland and Greenland. Petit Manan Island and Eastern Brothers Island (Gulf of Maine, ME) each offer unique black guillemot nesting habitat from each other. Petit Manan offers predominately debris-like habitat (driftwood, buoys, etc.) and Eastern Brothers offers traditional rock-cliff habitat. I investigated the influence of burrow characteristics on nest success and chick growth on both islands. Burrow measurements were particle size of nest substrate, nest depth, nest cup diameter, light penetration, and neighbor distance. Nest success was scored by number of eggs hatched and chick growth was measured through body mass indices (mass/wing chord). Nest cup diameters were significantly larger in debris than in rock burrows which were typically tight crevices. No other characteristics were statistically significant different between debris or rock burrows. Consequently, nest success and chick growth was not affected by type of burrow.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2011
File Attachments: Capstone FINAL.docx
Authors: Chelsea DiAntonio

High Ruffed Grouse (Bonasa umbellus) Relative Abundance in a Transitional, Early-Successional Habitat

Mon, 12/05/2011 - 10:34
Abstract: Abstract I recorded and examined ruffed grouse (Bonasa umbellus) flush data across upland hardwoods, lowland coniferous, and transitional habitats within the Adirondack State Park, New York. The flush data was recorded throughout September, 2011. Study site areas were accounted for to establish a flush per hectare rate. Contrary to my hypothesis the transitional habitat produced significantly more flushes (x2, p<0.0001) than the hardwoods and coniferous habitats. Lowland (conifer + transitional) and upland flush per hour rates were compared to a mean central Adirondack rate. I was unable to establish a significant conclusion from this comparison. A habitat suitability index indicated that stem density and the absence of aspen (Populus tremuloides, Populus gradidentata) appeared to be the limiting factors within the hardwoods habitat. Unanimous upland stem density suitability index values (SIV3) of zero resulted in an upland fall to spring cover value (FSCOV) of zero. If stem density was suitable throughout the upland habitat the quality of grouse cover would have increased significantly (FSCOV=0.9). However, aspen would have to be established to create quality grouse habitat with adequate cover and forage. Therefore, I concluded that as the upland forest stand ages and stem density increases, grouse densities are also likely to increase.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2011
File Attachments: Hamer_Matt
Authors: Matt Hamer

Assessment of Anion Retention within Variable-Charged Eastern-Central Adirondack Forest Sub-Soils

Mon, 12/05/2011 - 10:20
Abstract: Anthropogenic influences such as acid deposition and road salting have caused shifts in both the pools and fluxes of nutrients within Earth’s biogeochemical cycles. The mobility of ions within forest soils is a very well documented concept; however the significant mechanisms affecting these patterns are poorly understood. One mechanism affecting anion retention is the electrostatic attraction to soil colloid surfaces, which is poorly documented in the Adirondack Park. Soils were sampled from both glacial till and outwash sites with predominantly deciduous canopies. The amount of anion retention was documented through multiple soil ion extractions over a pH gradient from 2 to 9. A loss on ignition procedure was used to understand the relationship between both organic matter or Fe/Al oxides and the overall soil surface charge. The estimated retention of Cl- and NO3- is 252 Kg/Ha and 440 Kg/Ha, respectively. Using hypothetical watersheds, we calculated that it will take 14 years to saturate the subsoil with NO3- and only 7 years to saturate with Cl-. These results suggest that the effects of acid deposition may be seen up to 14 years even after deposition has ceased. The relatively limited retention of Cl- however, may explain increased salinization of freshwater ecosystems.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2011
File Attachments: Capstone Final Paper.docx
Authors: John Mullins

Home Range Size and the Effects of Abiotic Conditions on Snowshoe Hares (Lepus americanus) in the Adirondacks.

Mon, 06/30/2014 - 19:01
Abstract: In northern boreal forest landscapes snowshoe hares (Lepus americanus) are an integral part of the ecosystem. They significantly impact vegetation, predators, and other prey species through their interactions. By understanding how snowshoe hares move on the landscape and their home range sizes. It can allow for insight into how they modify their behavior in relation to the distribution of natural resources, and predators on the landscape. The purpose of this research is to determine how snowshoe hare modify movement rate within home range in relation to abiotic conditions. Research took place within the Adirondack Visitor’s Interpretive Center, in the Adirondack Park, in northern New York State. Radiotracking was done in average 8 minute intervals multiple times a day in order to detect movement rates. Snowshoe hare was radio tracked and their locations were triangulated using an arithmetic mean. The locations were used to generate a home range with kernel density estimators and minimum convex polygons. Average snow depth had a negative effect on movement rate (p-value=0.006, r2=0.548). Movement rate was not affected by temperature (p-value=0.341, r2=0.003). Movement rate was also not affected by wind speed (p-value=0.696, r2=0.0515). Proximity of tracking location to hare in relation to movement rate showed a slight relationship (p-value=0.0009, r2=0.162). The snowshoe hare moved an average of 14.044 m/min for the total of 11 tracking days. The average home range size of the snowshoe hare 179.168 ha. The average radio telemetry error was. The snowshoe hare spent more time in coniferous habitat in comparison to mixed-deciduous (Χ2= 9.07177, p-value=0.011). The effects of abiotic conditions were close to expectations, and the home range size was larger than other published home range size studies of snowshoe hare within the Adirondack Park.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2011
Authors: Jacob Dillon

Ecological Education toward Environmental Responsibility: Envisioning and Implementing an Interpretive Trail System for an Adirondack Summer Camp

Tue, 12/06/2011 - 13:44
Abstract: In an age when children are increasingly cut off from the natural world, summer camps have the power to influence these formative years in a fundamental way. Summer camps, especially organized residential summer camps, have an inherent advantage over the school setting because the audience views itself as non-captive. Because grades and tests do not exist in the camp setting, environmental education is free to continue at its own pace, based on the interests and desires of the campers. The purpose of this project was to build, partly and also find and produce the most effective way in which to utilize an existing recreational trail as an educational resource at a summer camp in the Adirondacks. In determining the most effective format toward this purpose, an interpretive guide book was chosen. The goal was to fit this book into, and expand on, the core philosophy and values of the camp. It is meant to serve as a starting point, a tool to pique interest and obtain a broad understanding and appreciation for the local ecosystem, which will hopefully lead to a “land ethic” in the future.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Forestry
Year: 2011
Authors: Tucker Culpepper

Silvicultural techniques for white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) habitat management

Tue, 12/06/2011 - 09:25
Abstract: White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virgianus) habitat is most commonly managed through forestry activities such as timber management. Sound silvicultural prescriptions and management scheduling can increase the lands carrying capacity of white-tailed deer through increased food availability and cover habitat. Biologists claim that white-tailed deer will eat an average of six to seven pounds of food daily, which makes food management a key factor when increasing deer densities. This study examined what silvicultural techniques are best used for increasing deer inhabitance on a family farm in west central Vermont. Currently, the study area is occupied by a large percentage of undesirable stand structures and plant species occupancy. Some of these stands were created through old pasture succession. The focal point of this study was to prescribe management tactics to better the habitat for white-tailed deer. Forest inventory through point sampling was used to make silvicultural prescriptions for six different stands within 163 acres of farm forest. Combinations of two-age and uneven-age treatments were suggested for the study area to increase species diversity and structural diversity. Uneven-age small group selections and single tree selections were recommended for the forest interior to promote cover habitat, and small patch cuts were recommended for bordering forest stands to promote a woody browse food source.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Forestry
Year: 2011
File Attachments: capstone
Authors: Tyler Pelland