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Capstone Projects

Management of Africanized Honey Bees (Apis mellifera scutellata) in the United States

Tue, 05/05/2015 - 10:06
Abstract: Africanized honey bees (AHB) are a hybrid species that the United States Fisheries and Wildlife Services classify as invasive. The species has spread at an alarmingly high rate since it was introduced to Brazil. AHB are a genetic cross between European and African honey bees. This hybridized species of bee exhibits increased rates of absconding, more aggressive and defensive behaviors, less selectivity in nesting sites, and higher swarming rates. The result of these behavioral characteristics is an increase in the number of stings per incident. Faster reproductive rates and shorter incubation periods allow AHB to invade EHB colonies and convert the genetic structure within a few weeks. AHB pose a threat populations of EHB which are already experiencing losses due to colony collapse disorder. Their tendency to colonize a wide range of cavities often puts them in immediate proximity to humans which poses a threat to the well-being of anyone who lives where AHB have colonized. The spread of AHB throughout the U.S. has had an impact on the beekeeping and honey industry due to apiculturists who are reluctant to expose themselves to the danger that accompanies this species. Declines in managed bee populations create problems for the agricultural industry as well which relies heavily on managed bee populations for pollination. Management plans have been established in many states and it is illegal to possess managed AHB colonies. Our goal is to decrease the rate of AHB dispersal by identifying and eradicating Africanized hives, and to distribute information on the species on a national scale by consolidating existing material and creating education opportunities in every state. Each action will be assessed to determine whether it accomplished the desired objective and adjusted to increase effectiveness. If adequate conservation efforts are not established in the U.S., AHB will likely have significant ecological and socio-economic implications.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2015
Authors: Nathaniel Wells

The management of the Virunga Mountain Gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei) in the face of political instability.

Tue, 05/05/2015 - 10:09
Abstract: Located in one of the most war torn and corrupt regions on the planet is the Mountain gorilla. Discovered by western science in only 1902 this species population is estimated at less then 1000 individuals who are split into two distinct populations. The first is in the Bwindi impenetrable forest of Rwanda and the other is the focus of this management, which is located in Virunga National Park. Virunga has faced a myriad of political corruption, social disorder, and economic stability. Not only the battlefront for some of the worst human on human crimes in history, it has also been a refuge for millions of people escaping genocide for the past 20 to 30 years. This has led to this region having some of the densest human populations being 300-600 individuals per square kilometer. For these two reasons habitats have been destroyed, resources overexploited, and disease transmission has greatly increased. These factors are some of the main contributions to population declines of many species in this region, especially the mountain gorilla. This management plan will address four of the most influential negative impacts on the mountain gorilla population survival. These four are habitat loss, hunting and poaching, disease transmission, and the amount of civil unrest and war in the region. To successfully manage the gorillas there will b social, economic, political and biological factors that will be addressed to ensure the most complete management plan. The actions of this plan will be a blend working with local communities, the resources around them and the people using the resources. The most important actions that should be done first are to address the amount of deforestation and the establishment of reforestation programs.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2015
Authors: Christopher Mattern

Recovery Plan for the Critically Endangered Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas)

Tue, 05/05/2015 - 10:32
Abstract: Green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) are a long lived marine reptilian species that are found in nearly all of the earth’s oceans. Green sea turtle populations used to range in the millions of individuals but since the overharvesting and bycatch of the species began in the late eighteen hundreds, the populations have declined to an estimated 180,000 breeding individuals world-wide. The species was red listed by the IUCN and put on the endangered species list in 1982 almost a decade after the Endangered Species Act was created. Ninety percent of adult and juvenile mortality is caused by drowning in fishing nets killing thousands every year just in United States waters. Thousands more are killed every year in the rest of the world’s oceans from similar fishing practices. The sea turtle life history strategy has a high reproductive value for adults and focuses little on the newborns each year. The death of each sexually mature adult has a large declining effect on the population. This management plan is designed to increase green sea turtle populations to remove them from the endangered species list by reducing mortality by fisheries bycatch through legislation. This will be achieved by increasing the use of turtle excluder devices (TEDs) in fishing industries world-wide to reduce bycatch mortality and increase survivorship of adults and juveniles. Saving this endangered species is of extreme importance and up to us to do.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2015
File Attachments: Management Plan.docx
Authors: Jonathan Rice

Feral Horses (Equus caballus) Management on Assateague Island, MD

Tue, 05/05/2015 - 11:51
Abstract: The “Assateague Wild Ponies,” as they are often referred to, are truly feral horses that were introduced by humans in the early 1600s. These horses are damaging the barrier island ecosystem because the island did not evolve to compensate for horses. The horses graze on sensitive vegetation and trample endangered bird species’ nesting habitat and eggs. However, these horses are seen as a national icon of beauty and freedom causing many people to come visit the island simply to see these “wild ponies.” They are classified as a “desired exotic species.” Therefore these horses need to be managed in order to decrease their negative impacts and maintain a healthy population for the public to enjoy. This will be accomplished by decreasing their population from ~ 150 horses to below 100. Initially the herd will be reduced by a one-time auction of the horses. This will then be maintained via the use of the immmunocontraceptive Porcine Zona Pellucida (PZP) which prevents pregnancy by not allowing the egg to be fertilized. Additional actions will be taken to further reduce the negative effects caused by the horses including exclusion fences and additional feeding to reduce grazing and trampling effects. Furthermore, public education will occur to reduce the number of human-horse conflicts and feeding of the wildlife. Overall, this will decrease the negative impacts the horses have on the island.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2015
File Attachments: ManagementPlan_CN_4.29.docx
Authors: Claire G Nellis

Building Families Stronger

Tue, 05/05/2015 - 14:05
Abstract: The purpose of this study is to design a program that can be implemented in local camps to accommodate the needs of individuals in a family group affected by mental illness. The study will explain the importance of educating individuals about mental illness and integrating supportive behaviors. This program is designed to help families cope with the effects mental illness can have on the entire family dynamic. Families are often the strongest support system for dealing with mental illness and educating families is essential for success of the mentally ill. Team building games are used to enhance social behaviors and encourage group bonding, this program uses a recreational therapeutic approach to addressing issues in the lives of those affected by mental illness. To figure out how many people will be most likely be using the therapy program, a survey was created using a series of questions that went with the topic for respondents to answer. In fact the survey established that the majority of people agree on recreational approach to therapy as a means of coping with their illness in real life tasks. Other questions asked was what their favorite activities where, such as paddle sports and hiking. Another question was what disability was so as to get an idea what accommodations would be need and services for patients involved with the program.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science, Natural Resources Environmental Science, Parks, Recreation and Facilities Management
Year: 2015
Authors: Courtney Berg, Douglas Menge, Ashley Beldock

Management Plan for Ring-necked Pheasants (Phasianus colchicus) in the Western Finger Lakes Region of New York State

Wed, 05/06/2015 - 09:23
Abstract: The ring-necked pheasant (Phasianus colchicus) is one of the most popular game birds in North America. Being a nonnative bird, the first recorded attempts to establish the ring-necked pheasant in New York occurred around 1890. Populations grew through the late 1960s and early 1970s, but have declined to a very low level today. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC) has propagated pheasants since 1927. Pheasant hunting in NY today is almost completely a product of game farm pheasants. Still, there is a desire to return to wild pheasant hunting in the state and create a self-sustaining population. The mission of the Ring-necked Pheasant Management Plan is “to provide a quality ring-necked pheasant hunting experience in New York State.” To support this mission statement, the plan identifies supporting goals, objectives, strategies and actions for guiding restoration and management decisions over a 10-year horizon, 2015-2025.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2015
File Attachments: Finalplan_ccincotta.docx
Authors: Connor Cincotta

Management Plan for Reintroduction of elk (Cervus canadensis) to the Adirondack Park, New York

Fri, 05/08/2015 - 22:08
Abstract: Elk were extirpated from their historic eastern range, which entailed most states and parts of Canada east of the Mississippi River, by the late 1800’s. In the western United States elk (Cervus canadensis) are experiencing encroachment and habitat loss due to current land management practices. Overgrazing by cattle and encroachment through development and natural gas drilling are the main causes of habitat loss for elk. Many eastern states such as Tennessee, Michigan, and Pennsylvania have reintroduced elk herds to protected areas of their respective states to ensure that these anthropogenic causes of habitat loss will not affect the elk. The Adirondacks of New York offer a large expanse of land where elk could thrive in their historic range. The proposed plan would be to reintroduce 100 elk to the western region of the Adirondack Park in parts of Franklin and St. Lawrence Counties. Before the individuals would be reintroduced, forest management through the use of clear-cutting and patch burning would be implemented to promote the suitable amount of foraging habitat. To assess the population growth of the elk, individuals will be fitted with VHF radio collars to be able to conduct aerial surveys. To assess habitat alteration, vegetation surveys will be conducted to determine the amount of understory vegetation occurring in each cut and burnt patch. This management plan will be successful when the elk population has grown to a level at which they can be hunted sustainably. Hunting will be monitored by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. This management effort would successfully reintroduce a once native species to its historic range providing ecological stability, as well as economic and social benefits.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2015
File Attachments: Final Draft.docx
Authors: Kyle Nellis

Predicting the amount of usable lumber contained in American beech (Fagus grandifolia) logs infected with beech bark disease based on exterior defects.

Wed, 12/02/2015 - 10:09
Abstract: Beech Bark disease has had many effects on the hardwood forests of the northeastern United States. Many studies have been done in regards to the changes caused by the disease affecting the ecology, species composition of the forest, abundance of American beech (Fagus grandifolia), and physiology of individual trees. However, American beech is a dense, strong species that machines and bends well, and has uses in the form of flooring, handles, and some furniture. This study examines how the severity of beech bark disease affects the amount of usable lumber that can be recovered from American beech sawlogs. To do this, American beech sawlogs with varying degrees of beech bark disease infection were harvested, bucked and scaled. These logs were rated according to their degree of beech bark disease infection based on exterior defects such as raised or sunken cankers, fissures and evidence of scale insect. These logs were then sawn into lumber form and rescaled to find a percentage of usable lumber that resulted from the gross scale taken prior to sawing. There was not a definitive relationship between degree of infection, and lumber yield. This study will be useful to the stakeholders of the lumber industry to aid in predicting whether or not a log infected with beech bark disease can be economically used for lumber.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Forestry
Year: 2015
Authors: Alex Cote, Zachary Smith

Vermont Maple Forest Products LLC. Forest Management and Business Plan

Wed, 12/02/2015 - 17:52
Abstract: Maple syrup production is an extremely important aspect of the American economy in the northeast, generating around 132 million dollars in revenue annually across its U.S production range (United States Department of Agriculture, 2014). At the current rate of production U.S producers are presently only tapping 0.4% of the maples which may be available (Farrell & Chabot, 2012). Vermont has the greatest number of its trees tapped, with 2.94% of available trees currently in production. The low percentage of tappable maple trees in production has been seen as a short coming in the industry. However, this does create the possibility for entry into the industry. Vermont Maple Forest Products LLC is in current maple production and desires to produce on an industrial scale. Simon Boulet and Claude Deschenes (2005) found that the highest degrees of profit are generated when a producer is considered a medium(5,000-19,000 taps)-large (>19,000 taps) supplier. At this point costs per tap are reduced and sap yeilds increase. Vermont Maple Forest Products currently has the land available for potentially over 28,000 taps. To achieve this goal a business plan and forest management plan was developed and will be implemented across the tract with the goal of maple syrup production.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Forestry
Year: 2015
Authors: Adam D Allen

Investigating Amount of Sample Points Necessary for Accurate Topographic Representation of the Ground Truth

Wed, 04/29/2015 - 18:18
Abstract: Topographic or elevation data has many uses and applications especially when it is converted into a Digital Elevation Model (DEM). Such uses are erosion modeling, surface hydrology, watershed modelling geomorphology, land-sliding, agriculture and ecosystem modeling to list a few examples. This project intends to determine the amount of topographic data points that need to be collected in order to create an accurate model of the ground topography. To accomplish the objective, a topographic survey was conducted on a grid pattern, with a spacing of 7.5 feet between points regularly spaced over one acre. After the data were collected, varying percentages of the total amount of points collected were removed and the resulting digital elevation model (DEM) was compared to the ground truth DEM. When comparing accuracy of interpolated elevation across the entire DEM with a RMSE (root mean square error) it was found that using a subset of 25-30% of the entire data set were needed to create a model that did not significantly differ from the Ground Truth. The change in volume of the elevation surface compared to the Ground Truth results in a linear relationship, as more points are added the closed the change in volume is to zero. The P value derived from the T-test of the mean elevations of the trial DEM’s and the Ground truth, reflect the results from the change in volume, as more points are added the closer to the truth the DEM becomes.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Forestry
Year: 2015
File Attachments: Final_Report_RGM.docx
Authors: Ryan McGowan