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Capstone Projects

An Educational Assessment of a Nature Center

Wed, 12/04/2013 - 15:18
Abstract: Currently, there is a strong focus on public environmental education. However, it is not known how environmental education programs relate to the New York State Curricula or to the North American Association for Environmental Education’s (NAAEE) education goals for school-aged children. The purpose of this qualitative, relationship study is to determine how and to what extent a nature center’s educational programs relate to New York State Curricula and the North American Association for Environmental Education’s education goals for school aged children. Data will be collected through a content analysis approach. The information gathered from the content analysis will then be compared against each other to see where there are gaps in the nature center’s educational goals and how they might ameliorate them. This information can be used by the nature center to format their educational programs in a way that is more conducive with both the New York State Curricula and the NAAEE educational goals.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Environmental Studies
Year: 2013
Authors: Jacqueline McCabe

Paul Smith's College & International Learning: A Small Scale Assessment of Student Perceived Personal & Academic Gains

Mon, 04/22/2013 - 22:16
Abstract: Many students who participate in a study abroad experience during their college or university career experience positive gains on personal and academic levels. This growth can be gained directly from the sojourn while it is taking place, and/or upon individual reflection of the experience once the student returns home. Currently, Paul Smith’s College (PSC) students are able to participate in a variety of international experiences, including short-term (minimum of ten days) tours, faculty-led service learning practicums and semester-long study abroad programs, personally organized by individual students. Since there has been no central Paul Smith's College entity that examines how students may be making gains from these experiences, there exists an unmet need to discover how students believe they have benefited from study abroad. This study used grounded theory methodology and mixed qualitative research methods to investigate whether PSC students benefited personally and academically from their individual international learning experiences. This research has revealed the majority of students interviewed believed themselves to have been positively affected on both levels. These students are also more open to continuing traveling, either for personal enjoyment or career advancement. This perceived growth occurred despite, and perhaps, as a result of having experienced culture shock during their sojourns or upon their return to the U.S.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Environmental Studies
Year: 2013
File Attachments: Mckenney_FinalCapstone.docx
Authors: Sarah McKenney

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

Poaching: Does The Local Economy Influence Poaching in New Hampshire

Wed, 04/24/2013 - 17:35
Abstract: Because one of the most commonly cited reasons for poaching is to feed one’s family, I investigated whether economic indicators (unemployment, poverty, median household income) affected poaching in New Hampshire on the county level for years 2005-2011. Economic indicator data was collected through the US Census while poaching data was collected from NH Fish and Game. Violations per capita was calculated by dividing the number of violations in each county by the population of the respective county. As the amount of rural area may influence poaching rate, huntable/fishable area in each county (total county area minus residential and transportation area) was calculated as a metric of ruralness. First, in an effort, to determine which economic indicators to use, I sought to determine if the three economic indicators correlated with each other. Because poverty level correlated with household median income, poverty was excluded from the regression analysis. A multiple regression was conducted with unemployment, household median income, and available huntable fishable area as predictors of violations per capita. Due to Coos being an outlier in each of the categories of interest, Coos was excluded from the statistical analysis. Unemployment (coeff = -0.0048752, p = 0.016), household median income (coeff = -0.0000002, p = 0.008), and huntable and fishable area (coeff = 0.0009837, p = 0.029) were significant factors in predicting violations per capita in NH. Although unemployment, household median income, and huntable fishable area can be possible predictors of poaching, other variables may also influence poaching.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2013
File Attachments: Capstone Paper Final.docx
Authors: Joshua Curtis

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.
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: 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