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Capstone Projects

Umami

Fri, 05/08/2020 - 13:48
Abstract: Information about Umami
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Major: Culinary Arts and Service Management
Year: 2020
Authors: By: Vera Fatta

Developing a Bird Integrity Index (BII) for Use as an Indicator of Stream Condition in the Northern Adirondack Park

Mon, 04/27/2020 - 12:50
Abstract: The primary goal of this research was to create a Bird Integrity Index (BII) to be used for the ecological integrity analysis of streams and their related riparian zones in the northern Adirondack Park based on frameworks provided by previous research in Oregon. Fifty-eight metrics were tested from avian survey (point count) data along fifteen stream reaches of 0.5km in length. These metrics represented aspects of avian taxonomic richness, dietary preferences, foraging techniques, tolerance or intolerance to human disturbance, and nesting strategies. To evaluate the responsiveness of each metric, they were plotted against an index of stream condition based on sampling of benthic macroinvertebrates according to the outline provided by the stream biomonitoring research unit of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Five of the fifty-eight candidate metrics remained after removing metrics that had an R2 value of less than .2 or were highly correlated. Individual avian metric scores ranged from 0-10 and BII scores were set on a scale of 0-100. While the BII presented here was successful in responding to varying conditions based on disturbance levels (R2= .64), due to multiple unexpected relationships between avian metrics and stream condition, it is proposed that more in-depth and comparative research be completed before an Adirondack specific BII is presented for field usage.
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Major: Ecological Restoration
Year: 2020
File Attachments: Jesse Rock Capstone.pdf
Authors: Jesse Rock

The Influence of Microtopography on the Spatial Distribution of Peatland Plants

Mon, 04/27/2020 - 13:01
Abstract: Microtopography in peatlands creates structural patterns within the environment that, if understood, could allow for more comprehensive wetland management and restoration plans to be constructed. The objectives of this study are to determine: 1) the spatial scale at which microtopography occurs on in Adirondack peatlands; 2) if hummock size changes in relation to the distance from the forested wetland edge; and 3) if individual plant species respond to, or vary, in relation to microtopography and abiotic factors. To determine the influence of microtopography on peatland plants, data were collected on the surface area and height distributions of hummocks, the distance between hummocks and the abiotic soil characteristics. Plant species richness, and percent cover data were collected on hummocks only. The spatial scale of microtopography was determined to be regularly distributed across the sampling area. There was no significant correlation between the distance from the coniferous-edge and the relative size of hummocks. Plant species richness was found to be higher on hummocks as opposed to hollows. Using a combination of correlation and multiple regression analysis we determined that leather leaf (Chamaedaphne calyculata), lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium), and common cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpa) were correlated to individual abiotic variables. The variability of the percent cover of leather leaf was explained by increasing surface area, lower soil temperatures, and lower pH; the variability of the percent cover of lowbush blueberry was explained by increasing oxidation-reduction potential (ORP) and lower pH; and the variability of the percent cover of common cranberry was explained by lower hummock height alone. Only three of the common plants identified were correlated with the abiotic variables measured. Further research should be done to continue to determine the primary influence of the elevational gradients on the plant species composition and to determine the resilience of these systems to changing climate.
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Major: Ecological Restoration
Year: 2020
Authors: Joshua T. Young

The Lower St. Regis Lake Shoreline: Understanding the Past, Analyzing the Present, and Recommendations for the Future

Sat, 05/09/2020 - 11:54
Abstract: Continuing shoreline research and restoration planning will help Paul Smith’s College adhere to their own missions and visions including experiential learning, improving students' lives, and maintaining an ecological conscience as a community.
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Major: Ecological Restoration, Environmental Sciences
Year: 2020
Authors: Zoe Plant, Thomas Firkins, Julie Capito, and Benjamin Marshall

Financial and Marketing Research for Alumni Campground

Sat, 05/09/2020 - 11:52
Abstract: The purpose of this capstone was to look at the financial plan for the Alumni Campground and make suggestions for marketing. Through interviews, surveys, and other research on the campground, we were able to see who uses the campground and areas of improvement for the physical site and marketing. Our recommendations are to help the campground prosper in the future
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Major: Environmental Studies, Natural Resources Conservation and Management
Year: 2020
File Attachments: Capstone Essay.docx
Authors: Margret Montag, Dallas Olsen

Black Ash Seed Management: A Potential Partnership Project

Tue, 05/12/2020 - 09:06
Abstract: The Emerald Ash Borer beetle is currently decimating Black Ash populations, which is making the species increasingly difficult to find. With the Black Ash species becoming increasingly rare, some management plans have been created to protect the remaining populations of this species. The Akwesasne Mohawk Tribe has a management plan in place that is not only trying to protect the remaining Black Ash but is also harvesting their seeds and growing new trees. Partnering with the Akwesasne Mohawk Tribe to grow Black Ash Trees would be a massive step in the fight to keep this species alive. My research will analyze the challenges and possibilities associated with entering into a partnership with the Akwesasne Mohawk Tribe in a joint effort to secure the Black Ash’s future survival.
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Major: Environmental Studies
Year: 2020
Authors: Joel Caruso

Sun Bear (Helarctos malayanus) 20-year Management Plan for Lao People’s Democratic Republic

Tue, 04/28/2020 - 15:54
Abstract: Sun bears (Helarctos malayanus) are the smallest member of the Ursidae family and are native to large, undisturbed dipterocarp tropical forests in southeast Asia. They are omnivorous with a diet consisting primarily of fruit and insects. Sun bears are solitary and historically avoid areas with a strong human presence. These preferred areas are decreasing in abundance in Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR) as the nation’s economy grows with its timber industry, causing widespread deforestation. The lack of available forests for sun bears inhibits the ability of juveniles to disperse from their mother’s dens, decreasing their survivorship. Deforestation has also forced sun bears to live in closer proximity to humans, especially in agricultural areas. This causes interactions in the form of crop raiding and property damage, bringing economic harm to farmers in Lao PDR. These negative interactions have also caused farmers in Lao PDR to have a negative opinion of sun bears on their farms, increasing adult sun bear mortality from these interactions. Sun bear populations in Lao PDR are projected to decline by 17% over the next 20 years if no management action is taken. This management plan seeks to stabilize the sun bear population in Lao PDR. As habitat availability is declining, increasing the population is not feasible. The objectives to attain a stable population are to increase the survivorship of sun bears during their mother-dependency period and of the adult stage class. This includes increasing cub survivorship by 5%, yearlings by 4%, and juveniles by 1.5% in 20 years and adults by 1% in 10 years. To increase survivorship of mother-dependent sun bears, planning in forestry operations will be implemented to decrease disturbance levels of these operations and increase their efficiency. Reforestation through plantations will also be initiated in previously deforested areas. Finally, all bear bile extraction farms will be located and shut down to prevent poaching. This plan also looks to improve the opinions of farmers towards sun bears. Objectives to achieve this goal includes reducing the number of farmers who view sun bears as a hindrance to agricultural production by 10% over 15 years and decreasing the number of farmers experiencing property damage by 50% over 20 years. Actions to decrease the proportion of farmers who view sun bears as a hindrance include the establishment of a crop insurance program with the Lao PDR Ministry of Forestry to offset losses of farmers due to damage from wildlife and other natural events. Surveys will also be distributed to gather up to date information regarding the current state of the relationship between farmers and sun bears, and what farmers feel should be done to help them. To decrease property and livestock damage, trained livestock guard dogs (LGD) will be distributed to farmers as a deterrent to keep sun bear off their property. Another preventative measure is to establish electric fences around crops to exclude sun bears from these areas as well as provide a deterring effect from the electric shock. These management actions will likely cause an initial increase in the population above a stable level; however, after 5 years the population will reach a level that can be maintained beyond the 20-year management timeline for up to 100 years.  
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2020
File Attachments: Monroe 2020.04.28.pdf
Authors: Richard Monroe

Twenty-year Long-tailed duck (Clangula hyemalis) Management Plan for Eastern North America

Thu, 04/30/2020 - 11:44
Abstract: Long-tailed ducks (Clangula hyemalis) are a migratory sea duck with a circumpolar distribution. Since they are an arctic species and breed outside of current breeding bird surveys there is little data for their demographics and no data specific to eastern North America (Atlantic Flyway and Mississippi Flyway). Over the last 30 years their population has declined by 50%; this causes concern that the species could be at risk of becoming endangered if the trend in population numbers continues. This management plans goal is to increase and stabilize long-tailed ducks population numbers over the next 20 years. This will be accomplished by decreasing the bycatch of long-tailed ducks in commercial gillnet fisheries by 10% and reducing the total number harvested through hunting per year by 10%. To better monitor this progress a breeding bird survey will be established in their eastern North American breeding area. Surveys and alternative fishing methods will be introduced to commercial gillnet fisheries to raise awareness about bycatch of long-tailed ducks and seabirds in general. By the end of this 20 year management plan, it is expected that long-tailed ducks, along with seabirds and other arctic bird species breeding outside of current breeding bird surveys, will benefit from these actions.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2020
Authors: Megan Lazarus

Fifty-Year Mary River Turtle (Elusor macrurus) Management Plan for Eastern Australia

Thu, 04/30/2020 - 12:15
Abstract: Mary River turtles (Elusor macrurus) are environmental specialists and are endemic to the Mary River system in Queensland, Australia. They are highly dependent on cloacal respiration, and are capable of spending up to 72 hours underwater in a single dive. Mary River turtles are a long-lived species, typically not reaching sexual maturity until 30 years of age. Conservation issues for this species include the following: exploitation of nests for the pet trade, loss of habitat connectivity due to the creation of dams, predation of nests by mesopredators, and nest mortality due to inundation of nests by floodwaters. Climate change poses additional risks towards this species due to rising temperatures and increased duration of droughts. There are two goals for this management plan, they include: (1) to restore the Mary River turtle population in Queensland, Australia to sustainable levels, and (2) to restore connectivity of the Mary River system in Queensland, Australia to promote the interaction of the local people with Mary River turtles. In order to reach these goals, multiple objectives have been established, they include: (1a) increase Mary River turtle nest survival by 50% in the Tiaro region of Queensland, Australia over the next 10 years, (2a) increase the number of nesting female Mary River turtles to 50% of the female population over the next 25 years, (1b) increase connectivity of Mary River turtle habitat by 50% over the next 50 years, (2b) increase public support for Mary River turtle conservation by 50% over the next 10 years. Objective 1a will be reached by protecting existing Mary River turtle nesting sites from mesopredator predation. Objective 2a will promote the creation of suitable nesting habitat to attract additional female turtles to nest in a protected area. To satisfy goal 2, objective 1b will be reached by establishing a suitable flow regime for 50% of the dams along the Mary River, which will reduce hypoxic environments to support Mary River turtles. Objective 2b will be reached by educating the public about Mary River turtles, as well as involving the public with the implementation of the management plan through volunteer positions. By fulfilling the goals set forth in this management plan, it will allow for the formation of a long-term/successful Mary River turtle management plan.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2020
File Attachments: Sojka 2020.04.30.docx
Authors: John Sojka

Twenty-Year Management Plan for Northern Long-eared Bat (Myotis septentrionalis) populations in the United States

Thu, 04/30/2020 - 12:32
Abstract: Since the onset of white-nose syndrome in 2006, bat populations have been declining rapidly. For the northern long-eared bat, Myotis septentrionalis, this rate was as high as 75% in some years. With such high mortality it will not take long for the species to be extinct, modeling suggests it could be as soon as within the next 10 years (Appendix B). Unfortunately, white-nose syndrome is not the only issue M. septentrionalis face. They are a tree-roosting migratory bat which means they are highly impacted by windmills and their increasing construction. Bats are struck by the windmill blades, along with the impacts of habitat fragmentation that the windmill construction creates. It is important to implement a management for M. septentrionalis immediately because they provide important ecosystem services to the agriculture community. Northern long-eared bats eat crop pests which increases the yield on those crops, this ultimately leads to a reduction of pesticides farmers need to use and lower food prices. Northern long-eared bats combat more than just crop pests, they eat mosquitos too! Ultimately, if this management plan is executed successfully, northern long-eared bat populations will be restored and farmers will be able to reduce the amount of pesticide use and food prices will remain low.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2020
Authors: Hunter LaBombard