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Capstone Projects

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

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

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

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

Removal of Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii) in a Hardwood Forest in Northwest Connecticut

Mon, 12/05/2011 - 09:57
Abstract: Japanese barberry is an invasive shrub that has overtaken and invaded the forest land of New England. Once established, Japanese barberry grows into dense populations that affect forest regeneration, and availability of different nutrients in the soil. This study focused on determining the most time efficient way to remove Japanese barberry from an area. The amount of time it took to complete each removal method was compared with how effective each method was. The effectiveness of each method was based upon how many stems were removed, and how many stems sprouted after a treatment occurred. Four methods were used which included; root severing, cutting stems, burning stems and a herbicide foliar application. It was found that digging stems took a large amount of time, while stem cutting and burning took a moderate amount of time, and the use of herbicide took a small amount of time. It was found that root severing was the least effective method, producing a high amount of new stems and taking the longest time. Herbicide treatment of stems was the most effective method, producing no new stems after treatment and taking a short amount of time to complete. Out of all the methods, two methods had equal expenses. This study has determined the most efficient and least effective way to remove Japanese barberry from a typical New England hardwood stand.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Forestry
Year: 2011
File Attachments: Capstone Paper.docx
Authors: Douglas Palmer

An Investigation of Soil Nutrient Concentrations and its Relations to the Possible Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum) Decline in the Paul Smith’s College Sugar Bush

Mon, 12/05/2011 - 11:50
Abstract: Sugar maple (Acer saccharum) is an abundant tree specie that can be found almost everywhere in New England. Sugar maples can be used as timber logs, but they are primarily a great source for producing maple syrup. These trees are a vast source of income for a lot of people. Paul Smith’s College annually produces range from $25,000-$30,000 from the syrup production at their sugar bush. There are currently 1400 taps out in the sugar bush. The purpose of this study is to determine if sugar maples are on a decline in the Paul Smith’s College Sugar Bush. There have been many tests and studies done on variables that affect sugar maple growth. Many different variables such as the effects of climate, nutrient concentrations, light, ozone, oxidative stress, elevated CO2, precipitation, other trees, invasive species and mycorrhizal fungi were studied to determine how they affect soil nutrient concentrations, which ultimately affects the ability of sugar maple to survive and thrive. These studies have shown that sugar maples in New England are on a steady decline. All of the studies I have found have focused on the big picture in regard to sugar maple decline, and none on the local level, like the Paul Smith’s College Sugar Bush. The purpose of my study is to determine whether or not the sugar maples in the sugar bush are on a decline and if they are will that information influence the college’s management plan for its sugar bush. This project collected and developed data that helped determine whether sugar maples in the sugar bush are on a decline. With this new information the college will be able to determine what they would like to do with the sugar bush in the future years to come.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Forestry
Year: 2011
Authors: Mark Bouquin

Effects of Forest Cover Type on Carbon Sequestration Rates

Mon, 12/05/2011 - 14:42
Abstract: Climate change and mitigation of climate change are common dilemmas faced by the majority of people within the United States. At the heart of climate mitigation techniques are forestry practices aimed to promote increased carbon sequestration. Forests are effective at sequestering carbon because they act as carbon sinks for the majority of their life. The purpose of this study was to examine the effect that Northeastern forest cover types have on the rate of carbon sequestration. This was done by examining the major forest cover types: northern hardwoods, mixed woods, and conifer forest cover types within Vermont and New Hampshire. This study entailed timber sampling to determine the amount of above ground carbon, increment boring to determine growth rates, soil samples to calculate subsurface carbon, and forest floor samples to determine accumulated carbon in the forest floor. During the study it was found that the conifer stands exhibited the highest rate of carbon sequestration, attributed greatly to the high growth rates and high stocking densities that characterized these stands. In addition, the majority of carbon within all the stands was found to be within the forest soils, which indicates particular attention should be given to this area when managing for carbon sequestration. In conclusion, some suggested management techniques for increasing carbon sequestration rates could include extending the rotation age to capitalize on the entire accelerated growth stage of the trees, and promoting multiple age classes within the stands which would allow for less intensive harvest regimes.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Forestry
Year: 2011
Authors: Charles Dana Hazen

Searching for the Emerald Ash Borer (Agrilus planipennis) in an Un-Infested Area While Interpreting the Effects of Educational Outreach to the Private Landowner

Mon, 12/05/2011 - 16:04
Abstract: Nonnative invasive insect pests can alter the habitat and transform the ecosystems they have invaded, leading to ecological and economical problems. The emerald ash borer (EAB) is an invasive insect that constricts nutrient and water transport in the cambium of ash trees. The EAB has no known eradication method to stop its potential spread across the landscape. The purpose of this study is twofold: 1) to educate the landowner about EAB and 2) to look for EAB in an un-infested area. Survey questionnaires were given before and after the study. The pre-study questions measured landowners’ background knowledge of EAB. The post-project questions gave insight to how the study helped the landowner learn more. A sentinel (girdled) tree survey was conducted at each of four study sites with two purple sticky traps installed and monitored bi-weekly. No emerald ash borers were found, but the public outreach component was successful. Landowners play an important role in being aware of invasive species and alerting natural resource professionals. The landowners gained knowledge about EAB. EAB outreach helped give land management advice to landowners, pertaining to the threat of EAB. The landowners felt confident in helping inform other members of the public and help identify EAB infestations. Keywords: Emerald ash borer (EAB), public outreach, Questionnaire, Sentinel/Girdled tree, purple sticky trap, Identifying Emerald ash borer, Questions Analysis, Educate the landowner, invasive, nonnative, pest
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Forestry
Year: 2011
File Attachments: capstone_final_proj.docx
Authors: Richard A. Silvestro

Forest Habitat Management for Creating Self Sustaining Populations of Ruffed Grouse on Tug Hill Plateau.

Mon, 12/05/2011 - 16:38
Abstract: The ruffed grouse (Bonasa umbellus) is a perhaps the most popular game bird in the northeast. According to locals, the populations of ruffed grouse in the Tug Hill Plateau region located in upstate New York have been on a steady downhill trend over the past several years. This study was focused on habitat, and meant to gain insight on what current habitat exists on Tug Hill Plateau. Two separate study areas were utilized during this project. The first was named the River Road Covert study area, and is part of the Lookout State Forest, located in Lewis county New York. The second was named the Montague Covert study area, and is located in Montague New York, on parker road 10 miles from Montague Inn. Within each study area habitats were classified by cover type. Using fixed plot habitat survey methods, and aerial photo interpretation each study area was subdivided into first quadrants and then stands. A transect style flush count was then implemented in each study area in order to determine which stand possessed the specific cover type most preferred by local populations of ruffed grouse. During the flush count, a more specific data collection pertaining to habitat was taken in areas where grouse were flushed, and consideration was given to the time of year the survey took place in regards to the seasonal habitat preferences of this species. The purpose of this study is to identify what habitats within each study area were most highly favored by grouse, and which habitats were less likely to be utilized given their current condition. After completion of the data analysis researched recommendations were made as to how to manage the less favorable areas for the scarce early successional habitat which ruffed grouse were found to typically associate with.  
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Forestry
Year: 2011
File Attachments: Capstone Report , Appendix A , Appendix B
Authors: Keith F McDonald

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