After logging in with the login link in the top right, click here to upload your Capstone

Capstone Projects

Managing Fisher (Martes pennanti) in Region 7 of Central New York: Opening a trapping season

Fri, 05/02/2014 - 20:40
Abstract: In the late 1800’s fisher were very abundant throughout New York State, but they were nearly trapped to extinction by the 1930s. Few populations survived until 1949 when the trapping season was closed. Today fisher can be found throughout approximately 26,000 square miles of forested habitat in the state; many of these areas have established management plans. Region 7 has not established a population estimate of fisher in the past because there have been few sightings until recently. In 2013, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC) and Cornell documented fishers at 54 of 100 survey locations in Region 7. The goal of this management plan is to maintain a fisher population that is large enough to sustain itself and support annual trapping seasons in Region 7. To support the goal of opening a trapping season, fisher habitat will be improved by limiting fragmentation and increasing connectivity. Fisher harvests will be limited by issuing harvest tags, and monitored by pelt seal records. Opening a trapping season will improve recreational opportunities for trappers, while assisting in maintaining a healthy predator prey ratio.
Access: No
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2014
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Carter O'Gorman

Management of Endemic Hawaiian Honeycreepers (Drepanidinae)

Thu, 05/01/2014 - 00:37
Abstract: The islands of Hawaii have been heavily impacted by human use through the clearing of lowland forests, the introduction of mammalian predators and nonnative bird species, ungulates, and avian pox and avian malaria, all causing severe declines in avian species. Due to their isolated evolutionary history honeycreepers (Drepanidinae) had never been exposed to these threats. When introductions took place honeycreepers were hit very hard. Currently of the 31 historically known honeycreeper species 12 are presumed extinct, 15 are federally endangered and only 4 are not listed. My goal is to increase populations of honeycreepers and support sustainable populations into the future. I propose protection of current honeycreeper habitat and reforestation efforts where applicable, and a reduction in feral hog, goat, sheep, rat, mongoose and cat populations, and a reduction in mosquito vectors. To accomplish this I propose an integrative approach to mosquito control utilizing point source reduction and the use of biopesticides, the use of rodenticides to control rat and mongoose populations, trapping programs to reduce feral cats, and the culling of feral ungulates. If action is not taken, honeycreeper extinctions will continue to take place, and one of the greatest examples of life’s ability to diversify will be lost.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2014
File Attachments: Final submission.docx
Authors: John Neddermeyer

Management Plan to Increase and Protect the Population of Bearded Vultures (Gypaetus barbatus) in the Drakensberg Mountains of South Africa

Wed, 04/30/2014 - 22:35
Abstract: Lammergeiers (Gypaetus barbatus) are a long-lived vulture species native to Europe, Asia, and Africa. They were highly persecuted in the 1800s and early 1900s to the point of near extinction. The only population in South Africa is comprised of roughly 500 individuals in the Drakensberg Mountains. Trophy hunting and secondary poisoning using baits imperils this population. They are also being driven further into the mountains because of human population and commercial expansion around the mountains, a growing destination for tourists. Lammergeiers are most vulnerable as chicks. My management goal is to protect and increase the population of lammergeiers living within the Drakensberg Mountains. By rescuing second hatched chicks from the nests and hand raising them before being released as juveniles we will ensure a higher chance of survival for them during their most sensitive life stages. This action coupled with the removal of poisoned baits in their habitat and stricter regulations preventing more bait placement will increase recruitment rates and adult survival. If successful, this plan would show an increase in population density within 5 years of its institution.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2014
File Attachments: Management_FINAL.docx
Authors: Leslie Fortier

Snowshoe hare (Lepus americanus) increase activity below the thermoneutral zone

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 21:43
Abstract: Species store body fat, enter states of torpor or hibernation, and avoid cold temperatures by tunneling beneath snow and creating dens in order to survive winter. Snowshoe hare (Lepus americanus) do not employ these strategies. We hypothesized that hare will increase in foraging activity as ambient temperatures drop below their thermoneutral zone (-10°C) in order to fuel the increased metabolic rate associated with low ambient temperatures. Each hare was outfitted with an activity collar to determine when the hare was moving and when the hare was at rest, a stopwatch was used to time the duration of each activity bout, and temperature was taken at 3 points in the hour long observation period. Temperatures were averaged across each observation period and time of observation period was analyzed as hours before and after sunset. A break-point regression analysis determined at which temperature the slope of the line representing activity changed from no slope to a negative slope. A multivariate regression determined, at temperatures below and within the thermoneutral zone which factor, temperature or time of day, affected activity. When ambient temperatures were within hare thermoneutral zone temperature did not affect activity. While hares increased activity below the thermoneutral zone (break-point at -10.4°C, r^2=.6931, P<0.05, slope -132.52). -10.4°C represents a physiological threshold below which metabolic rate increases and hare activity is strongly tied to ambient temperature. The lack of energy-stores and the inefficiency of using movement to generate heat leads us to conclude that the increase in activity is associated with foraging.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2014
File Attachments: Capstone_4-27.docx
Authors: John Neddermeyer

A Management Plan for Black Rhinos (Diceros bicornis) in South Africa

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 21:10
Abstract: The black rhinoceros population has decreased by more than 50% in recent decades. The cause for this has been the severe pressure of poaching for their horns. Asian and middle-eastern countries use rhino horn still today for medicinal and ceremonial purposes. There have been many attempts to protect the black rhino from poaching; however, no continuous plans have been implemented. The goal of this management plan is to create a legal market for the sale of rhino horn. By dealing with this economic issue on a larger scale, we can directly involve the foreign countries who desire rhino horn. This will be more cost effective than trying to track and catch poachers. Legally dehorning rhinos will create an ongoing and sustainable supply of rhino horn. By removing the economic need for poachers, we should see an increase and expansion of black rhino populations across Africa.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2014
File Attachments: black rhino management plan
Authors: Thaddeus E. Mapes

Temporal Variation in Relative Abundance of Aquatic Macro-Invertebrates and its Implications for Water Quality Assessments

Mon, 04/28/2014 - 16:06
Abstract: Macro invertebrate sampling is widely used to assess the water quality of streams. Sampling can be performed throughout the year depending on the geographical location. In this study a repeated sampling of rivers and streams in the St. Lawrence River basin located in northern New York State was carried out to determine if seasonal changes affect aquatic invertebrate relative abundance within macro invertebrate communities. This relationship was compared to water quality assessments to determine the most accurate time for sampling. By assessing the changes in relative abundance of macro invertebrates we can determine if those changes affect the measures used to infer water quality. By comparing changes in the inferred water quality to the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) assessments, an appropriate sampling window was determined. Kick sampling methods following the DEC’s protocols were used to collect aquatic invertebrates throughout the scale of eight months in six rivers throughout the northern Adirondacks. Currently the DEC recommendation for sampling is June through September. The findings of this study illustrate that June and July is not an appropriate time for sampling in the northern Adirondacks. The most stable time to sample for aquatic macro-invertebrates, according to the 2013 sampling events is August through October.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2014
File Attachments: Powells_Capstone.docx
Authors: Jason R. Powell

Evaluation of the First 10 Years of Long-Term Ecological Monitoring of Fishes and Physical Habitat with Regional Temperature and Precipitation Regimes in the Smitty Creek Watershed with Recommendations for Future Efforts

Mon, 04/28/2014 - 13:39
Abstract: Long-term ecological monitoring of freshwater ecosystems is a relatively recent trend in the scientific community. Trends in such monitoring data help fisheries biologists in determining best management practices to ensure the sustainability and longevity of these commonly used natural resources. Ten years of standard physical habitat and fish capture data has been collected from the Smitty Creek Watershed (upstate New York) from 2004 to 2013. The goals of this study were (I) to determine if there were significant changes in stream reach hydromorphology between 2004 and 2013 and (II) to detect any long-term trends between local precipitation and temperature regimes and fish catches in Smitty Creek. A one-way analysis of variance was conducted to determine significant changes in stream reach widths between 2004 and 2013. Total catches of the most common fishes found in the sampling reaches and age-0 brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) were related to yearly and monthly precipitation and temperature regimes using Pearson correlation matrices with a ~95% confidence interval. Correlation matrices were also used to assess species catches versus species to determine if certain species catches are related. All four mean stream reach widths increased to some extent from 2004 to 2013. Both Little Aldo Creek and Aldo Creek mean stream widths increased significantly, while Middle Smitty and Lower Smitty only increased marginally (Table 1). Smaller streams increased significantly more than larger ones; suggesting that smaller streams are more susceptible to hydro-geometrical changes during high flow events than larger streams. Over 60 statistically significant relationships were found between fish catches and various temperature and precipitation variables. The most intriguing findings were that overall brook trout catches and age-0 brook trout catches were highly negatively correlated with December lowest temperatures and highly positively correlated with January total precipitation. Suggesting that brook trout recruitment in the Smitty Creek Watershed is sensitive to winter precipitation and temperature regimes. Cold winters with high snowfall may stabilize these small streams, providing safe and suitable habitat for the early life history stages of brook trout. Overall, the results of this study provide a comprehensive analysis and outline of the major trends and relationships found in the Smitty Creek Watershed. In addition, it provides numerous recommendations for future research and analysis of these trends and relationships.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2014
Authors: Nathan T. Mills

Perception of the Color Blue in North American River Otters, Lontra canadensis

Fri, 12/06/2013 - 11:41
Abstract: Color vision is essential to many animal species, playing major roles in activities such as foraging and mate selection. Most animal phyla have 4 cones that aid in color vision, while mammals typically only have 2. This study aimed to provide evidence of the blue-range color vision in North American river otters, Lontra canadensis, by behavioral testing 4 captive otters. The subjects (2 male and 2 female adults) were tested individually over a period of 42 weeks. Each otter was presented with 3 cards, with choices between 2 white control cards and a blue test card (n = 1213). In later tests, all subjects were presented with 1 white control card, 1 blue test card, and 1 gray card (n = 417). All subjects distinguished the blue test card from the white control cards but only 1 subject differentiated the color blue from a grayscale correspondent (One-proportion z-test, p = 0.011). A bias based on card location was present only in 1 subject in the blue-white phase of testing (One-proportion z-test, p = 0.201) and in 3 subjects in the blue-grey phase of testing. The cause of this bias was unknown. The ability of 1 subject to reliably select the test card (One-proportion z-test, p = 0.011), provided some evidence that L. canadensis perceive the color blue.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2013
Authors: Chelsie LaFountain

The Response of Captive Gray Wolves (Canis lupus) to Agonistic Howl Recordings

Thu, 12/05/2013 - 18:58
Abstract: Gray wolves (Canis lupus) are a highly social carnivore that communicates through olfactory and acoustic signals, maintaining their social bonds and hierarchy with body language and touch. Long distance (i.e. howling) and olfactory communication are important in maintaining territory boundaries and mitigating interpack conflict or strife. The study area is a private, not-for-profit wolf conservation and education center in southern New York in the northeast United States. The goal of this study was to determine the overall change in behavior of wolves when faced with a long distance form of communication conveying an aggressive message. I hypothesized that wolves will respond with more activity during and after the howl recordings. An ethogram was adapted from Quandt, but upon personal observation, was altered as additional behaviors were observed. Instantaneous focal sampling was used during data collection at an interval of 15 seconds to sample two gray wolf siblings. The behaviors between wolves were not significantly different from each other (chi square = 0.86, critical value = 14.07, df = 6). This information has many management implications such as determining home range of packs, pack size, and could serve as a possible tool for deterring predation on livestock.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2013
File Attachments: Write-Up.docx
Authors: Erin Brinton

Tasmanian Platypus Management Plan

Fri, 12/06/2013 - 01:12
Abstract: Platypuses are an iconic mammal endemic to Australia (Furlan et al. 2010). They are an integral part of biodiversity of freshwater ecosystems. They are the only living representative of a significant lineage of platypus-like animals with a 60 million year fossil history (Grant and Temple-Smith 2003). Platypuses are regularly seen in Tasmania and promote curiosity and interest. They directly benefit ecotourism. A number of businesses including sanctuaries, wildlife tours, restaurants, cafes, caravan parks and motels benefit from their popularity (Gust and Griffiths 2010). Freshwater resources are essential to sustaining human existence and as a result, anthropogenic activities have severely diminished the quality of freshwater ecosystems worldwide. Physical alteration, habitat loss, water withdrawal, pollution, overexploitation, and the introduction of non-native species all have contributed to the decline in freshwater species (Revenga et al 2005).
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2013
File Attachments: final_Pritchard.pdf
Authors: Tori Pritchard