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Capstone Projects

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

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

Management Plan for American Black Ducks in New England

Wed, 04/24/2013 - 17:38
Abstract: The American black duck was selected as a focal species for this management plan due to its conservation need. At one time the American black duck was the most abundant fresh water duck in the Atlantic Flyway, and particularly in New England where they were year round residents (US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2011). Although relatively stable over the last 15 years, the black duck population experienced a 50% decline from the 1950’s to the 1990’s and are below the desired abundance (Denvers & Collins, 2011). While the reason for black duck population decline is still unclear, researchers hypothesize that loss of wintering and breeding habitat, competition and hybridization with mallards, and overharvesting may be responsible (Denvers & Collins, 2011; US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2011; Black Duck Joint Venture, 2008). This management plan outlines an approach that can be taken to increase the total breeding population of American black ducks from ~ 565,000 breeding individuals to 650,000 breeding individuals, the desired breeding populations (Denvers & Collins, 2011). By increasing preserved breeding habitat, increasing nest success and reducing harvest mortalities in New England, this goal is feasible. A possible course of action is provided to inform the public of our planed actions. Cooperation with state governments and sportsmen within New England is essential in order to reach the desired black duck population. In order for this plan to be deemed successful the American black duck population must increase to at least 650,000 breeding individual.
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Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2013
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Joshua Curtis

Eastern Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris) Management in Upstate New York

Thu, 04/25/2013 - 11:21
Abstract: The eastern wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris), was completely absent from the state of New York for nearly 100 years. With suitable habitat regenerating, the turkeys have migrated back into the state and along with New York State Department of Environmental Conservation trap and transfer efforts, the turkeys have made a full recovery. Although turkeys are now found in all suitable habitats of the state, there population is still at risk. Poult survival is a strong determining factor in the existence of the population. With poult mortality approaching 75% in bad years, every effort needs to be made in order to ensure the poults that survive, reach maturity. Management practices of public operations as well as farmers need to be adjusted to delay mowing of roadside ditches and hay fields until July to protect hens and their nests. By creating suitable nesting habitat, that keeps the eggs and poults safe from the elements and predators, as well as educating the public and landowners about the importance of nesting habitat, poults will have a higher chance of reaching maturity.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2013
Authors: Brad Marshall

New York State Ruffed Grouse (Bonasa umbellus) Management Plan

Thu, 04/25/2013 - 11:24
Abstract: In New York State, Ruffed grouse have been an important bird for many hunters and outdoor enthusiasts. This species’ population has been slowly declining due to the loss of habitat. Ruffed grouse prefer early successional forests with high stem density. This allows them to hide in the cover and shelters them from predators. These early successional forests provide mid staged trees increasing the brood habitat and increasing the survival of young. The goals of this management plan are to increase the total area of early successional forests in New York State and to increase the estimated Ruffed grouse population size. The goals will be achieved by logging and clear cutting allowing young trees and shrubs to begin growth and by monitoring populations to see population trends. Increasing these habitats will improve nesting and brood habitat which may lead to a population increase. Logged areas are preferred areas for male Ruffed grouse to drum, allowing them to possibly attract more mates. The management sites will be monitored to see if tree species incorporated with early successional forests need to be added. Public and private land will be managed to ensure habitat is added not only on public forests to allow possible dispersal and immigration of populations. To ensure future Ruffed grouse populations action needs to be done now or the decrease of their natural habitat will continue to expand.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2013
File Attachments: Ruffed grouse management
Authors: Kyle Keys

Management Plan for Nutria (Myocastor coypus) in Louisiana Marshlands

Thu, 04/25/2013 - 11:25
Abstract: Nutria have been in Louisiana from the late 1800’s and has been destroying the Louisiana marshes since their release in the 1930’s. Nutria are large rodents that feed extensively on marsh grasses and roots. The nutria harvest 25% of their body weight (5.5Kg) each day, however they only consume 10% of the food they harvest. The goal of this management plan is to eradicate the nutria from the Louisiana ecosystem through hunting and trapping with economic incentives. There are two reasons that eradication is the answer to the nutria infestation. The first reason for their eradication is they are an invasive species that has replaced the native muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus). The second reason for their eradication is that they have incredibly high rates of reproduction with relatively low rates of predation. If the nutria is left to exist on its own, the population would soon get out of control and completely destroy Louisiana’s ecosystems. Nutria need to be eradicated in order to save the remaining marshlands and prevent erosion in the Louisiana marshland.
Access: No
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2013
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Stephen Jennings

Mountain Lion Reintroduction Management Plan for New Hampshire

Thu, 04/25/2013 - 11:27
Abstract: Due to the extinction of the eastern cougar (Puma concolor), Mountain lions have been officially absent from the northeast since 2011. This management plan is designed to reintroduce a breeding population of Mountain lions to New Hampshire. With this introduction, this plan hopes to return Mountain lions to the Northeast and eventually have a sustainable population to hunt. The goals of this management plan can be achieved through stocking Mountain lions from States that already have sustainable populations. Once the new population of Mountain lions has been caught, they will be released into the landscape throughout specially selected suitable habitats in the northern part of New Hampshire. This management plans hinges on gaining strong public support through education, acquisition of surplus Mountain lions, and establishing policies and procedures designed to protect experimental populations.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2013
File Attachments: Final management plan.docx
Authors: Kelly Starkweather

Management Plan for the Common Loon (Gavia immer) in the Adirondack Park in New York State

Thu, 04/25/2013 - 11:30
Abstract: Common loons (Gavia immer) have been a symbol of the remote northern lakes and wilderness. Because of their eerie calls, striking plumage, fierce territoriality, and a habitat selection that coincides with people, the common loon has accumulated a significant amount of national attention. Although overall populations are thriving there are many threats throughout the loon’s life cycle. As a result, managers and concerned citizens have created laws, regulations, and have tried to educate the public about common loons. The primary goal of this management plan is to continue to maintain the stability of the common loon population in the Adirondack Park in New York State. The goals of this management plan can be achieved by protecting and conserving loon habitat and educating the public about limiting the amount of human disturbances.
Access: No
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2013
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Ann Jardin

Plan for the Eradication of Feral Pigs (Sus scrofa), from the State of Vermont

Thu, 04/25/2013 - 12:20
Abstract: There is currently a population of feral pigs (Sus scrofa) in Southeastern Vermont. Due to their reproductive strategy, and demographics, this relatively small population can grow rapidly. Their reproductive strategy of large litter sizes, early maturation, and number of litters possible in a year combined with their survival rates. This allows their population to grow almost exponentially if left unmanaged. Feral pigs present many problems to the ecosystem as well as anthropogenic related issues. These problems with the ecosystem, economics, and property are partly due to how and what they eat. The behavior of feral pigs combined with their ability to eat almost everything, from crops and natural vegetation, to livestock, and wildlife causes many problems. Among them, rooting and wallowing causes extensive property and agricultural damage. Feral pigs are also known to carry diseases which they may transmit to humans, livestock, pets, and wildlife. All of these factors demonstrate a need to eradicate feral pigs from the state, as they cannot be successfully managed. This can be accomplished through population monitoring, lethal population control, and monitoring of potential reinvasion areas.
Access: No
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2013
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: John Chestna

The Effectiveness of Scents to Decrease Stereotypic Pacing of Amur Tigers (Panthera tigris altaica) in Captivity

Thu, 04/25/2013 - 16:17
Abstract: Animals in captivity typically exhibit stereotypies, which are repetitive behaviors not normally conducted in the wild. Environmental enrichment is a technique to decrease stereotypies and promote wild behavior by providing stimuli. The goal of this study was to contribute to the understanding of methods for decreasing stereotypic behavior in captive Amur tigers (Panthera tigris altaica). I hypothesized spices would decrease pacing in 2 Amur tigers at the Seneca Park Zoo in Rochester, New York. One of either ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, pumpkin pie, apple pie or water (a control) were presented on paper bags 4 days a week from the end of May to the end of August of 2012. Pacing significantly decreased for both tigers from before to after placement of the bags with scents and controls (Wilcoxon signed-rank test). While there was a pattern of greater decrease in pacing when bags contained scents versus controls, there was no statistical significance, indicating that other factors may have been responsible for the decrease. Although scent presence and specific scents were not retained in the models, temperature, tiger, and the interaction between temperature and tiger affected the decrease in pacing (ANCOVA). Magnitude of pacing was opposite for each tiger based on temperature. Scents did not cause the decrease in pacing; instead, it could have been caused by normal shifts in behaviors during the day or the disturbance of placing the bag. Environmental enrichment appears to be complex because of the interaction between abiotic conditions, individual tigers, and forms of environmental enrichment.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2013
Authors: Sabrina Dalinsky