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Capstone Projects

Alpine Ecosystems on Ski Area Summits in the Northeast: A Best Management Practices Manual

Mon, 12/01/2014 - 15:19
Abstract: Over the past half a century, anthropogenic climate change has triggered temperatures in the northeastern United States to rise. This increase has led to decreased winter precipitation and a longer annual growing season. Species found in upland/montane habitats on the southern edge of their range limits are particularly threatened by these changes. Warmer temperatures have allowed larger woody plants to advance up mountain slopes, entering the habitat of these fragile species. In the next decade, we will witness a complete disappearance of alpine flora from several locations across the northeast including Whiteface in New York, Sugarloaf in Maine and Mount Mansfield in Vermont. Managers of ski resorts can therefore play an important role in promoting the continued persistence of high-altitude flora and fauna through carefully considered management decisions can also serve to promote the reputation of the ski industry as stewards of mountaintop ecosystems. Doing so will allow for continued study of the species that exist within these communities, the protection of biodiversity, and increased revenue for the resort itself through elevated public image and mountain-top tourism. To help begin these conservation efforts, we have created a best management practice (BMP) manual to guide ski area managers in making these developments. It includes techniques for sustainable slope, soil, vegetation and wildlife management, erosion control, artificial snow production, and ski slope construction and design. Also included are marketing techniques and an overview of the economic viability of the practices outlined in this manual.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Forestry, Natural Resources Management and Policy
Year: 2014
Authors: Pali Gelsomini, Dylan Randall

Possible Limiting Soil Macro-Nutrients of Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum) Growth in an Adirondack Hardwood Stand

Mon, 04/28/2014 - 08:46
Abstract: Sugar maple (Acer Saccharum) has been in decline for the past few decades. Several studies have been done throughout parts of Canada and New England to determine what is limiting sugar maple growth. By mimicking one of these studies, I conducted a fertility study to show correlations between soil fertility and three different measures of tree growth. I selected 40 dominant sugar maple trees in a hardwood stand in the Adirondack Park in northern New York to sample. I collected two increment cores from each tree, measured the DBH and calculated basal area at each tree. I also collected mineral soil from the base of each tree that was sampled and tested its chemical properties and macronutrients that are most related to growth. I found weaker correlations between soil fertility and growth than my parent study had found. This may be because I didn’t have enough variation in my samples, measured growth or fertility in a way that wasn’t the most accurate, soil characteristics may not be limiting, or some soil characteristics may be co-limiting growth.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Natural Resources Management and Policy
Year: 2014
File Attachments: Capstone Report
Authors: Kevin Kenealy

Challenges Associated with Conservation Easements In the Adirondack Park and Recommendations for Improving the Process

Mon, 04/28/2014 - 13:11
Abstract: With conservation easements only becoming popular in the past 40 years, they are at the developmental stage where weaknesses start to become apparent as land starts to change hands from one generation to the next. It is important to find and correct these barriers to ensure these same problems do not occur in the next 40 years. My focus was performing research within the Adirondack State Park of New York. I utilized Semi-Structured Interviews (SSI) along with SSI guides to collect my data while using a sampling technique referred to as a snowball sampling approach. I interviewed two different categories of conservation easement personal. 1. Land owner/manager with conservation easement on property 2.Agency Workers from The Nature Conservancy and the New York State Department of Environmental. I then used emergent themes to reveal the discrepancies or weaknesses in current conservation easements along with their common strengths. From there I used (S.W.O.T) Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats analysis to provide recommendations for policy revising.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Natural Resources Management and Policy
Year: 2014
File Attachments: Capstone Final Draft.docx
Authors: Timothy Kempf

Python Scripting an ArcGIS Add-in for Wildlife Telemetry Data Processing

Mon, 04/28/2014 - 15:46
Abstract: There are currently no modern open source alternatives to commercial radio telemetry processing software. I developed a python add-in for ArcGIS which allows for interactive editing of telemetry data. The add-in was tested for functionality, accuracy and usability. Functionality was tested according to how closely it adhered to the original software requirements specification. Accuracy was tested by generating telemetry data from known animal locations and comparing the estimated locations to the actual locations. Usability was tested through speak aloud user tests. User data was collected on completion status, time of completion, and number usability issues found. The intended functionality goals were met and exceeded. Accuracy was less than expected with an average inaccuracy distance of 202 meters and approximately 10% of the bearing groups were unable to generate a centroid. During user testing, a total of 33 usability issues were discovered that hindered use of the software and on average it took a student 18 minutes to process one data set without prior exposure to the add-in. Qualitative observations from the user tests could be a launching point for GIS usability studies. In addition, the core modules could be modified and expanded into a separate application with dependency on Quantum-GIS or Geographic Analysis Support System (GRASS).
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Natural Resources Management and Policy
Year: 2014
File Attachments: Kacir_2014.docx
Authors: Robert Kacir

Is Green Construction Economically Feasible

Fri, 05/09/2014 - 14:12
Abstract: Green construction is a valuable part of our developing world. Building green will help reduce the negative effects of pollution in our atmosphere. It will also help reduce electrical uses throughout the household and allow you to have a reduction in costs to paying electrical bills. Too many, this process is considered to be expensive to build this way. Products that green homes are made of are considered to be expensive. The materials for energy production are also considered expensive. Too address this, a survey was conducted to see the views of individuals and what they believe it costs to have a green home. The survey also asked if people would consider having a green home if they had the option. It is proven having a green home will reduce the costs of a home eventually leading to paying nothing for maintaining a house called a payback period. To build green will mean to pay less over time and maybe eventually lead to getting paid. There are also many government incentives for building green. The government can invest in this building so you may afford a green building. It is well advised to be educated in all aspects of building green such as the tax incentives, payback periods, environmental effects, and how to approach this.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Natural Resources Management and Policy
Year: 2014
File Attachments: final Capstone Draft.docx
Authors: Daniel Hourihan, Zachary Mein

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

Draft Horse Sustainability Presentations: The effectiveness of presentations on draft animal power at the Adirondack Rural Skills and Homesteading Festival

Fri, 12/06/2013 - 12:53
Abstract: Paul Smith’s College has been putting on draft horse presentations for the public for many years but until now it was unknown how effective these were in education of the audience in topics of the interest. During the 2013 Adirondack Rural Skills and Homesteading Festival, a series of demonstrations and presentations were conducted for the public. Surveys of those in attendance have now given us information on how far people are traveling, what their prior experience is, what they want to learn, and how they want to learn it. From this information we wish to gauge attendees’ response to draft animals and their uses.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Forestry, Natural Resources Management and Policy, Recreations, Adventure Travel and Ecotourism
Year: 2013
Authors: Alexandria Barner, Jacob Shultz

Effects of Food Plots on (1) White-Tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) Movement, (2) Antler Growth and (3) Potential Use by Other Wildlife on a Private 173 Acres in Davenport, NY

Mon, 12/02/2013 - 11:23
Abstract: In Davenport, New York, a 172.9 acre property is planning to undergo changes to suit a white-tailed deer management plan. This plan involves implementing four food plots of 4.25 acres, providing a year-long source of quality forage for the local deer herd, after initially clear-cutting 17 acres of forested land in spring 2012. Goals of food plot establishment are to supplement the value of the land as a hunting lease, increase viewing opportunities of deer, increase antler growth among bucks in the local deer herd, and to adequately supplement the diet of the local deer herd. This study focuses on the effects on (1) movement and (2) antler growth of white-tailed deer after the implementation of food plots on a forested property. Another component is the (3) potential for utilization of these food plots by other species of wildlife. Movement of deer will be assessed based on scat count, track count, and images of observed movement via trail cameras on travel routes. Deviation will be recorded from established travel routes, to new travel routes once the food plots have been implemented. The plot containing white clover showed the highest level of utility post-planting, followed by chicory, alfalfa and turnips.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Natural Resources Management and Policy
Year: 2013
Authors: Nicholas K. Zemlachenko

The role of terrestrial leaf litter inputs on drift of aquatic invertebrate shredders

Mon, 12/02/2013 - 13:34
Abstract: This study examined the effect of food availability on active drift entry of aquatic invertebrates by comparing drift density at low and high levels of terrestrial leaf litter input in Alder Brook. An emphasis was placed on the proportion of shredders collected during each sampling, who rely most on coarse particulate organic matter as a food source. In order to quantify food available in the stream channel, leaf packs were collected along three transects and weighed to determine dry biomass per stream area. Invertebrate drift samples were collected at high (leaf abscission) and low levels (late summer) of food abundance using three surber nets spaced evenly across the stream channel. Samples were taken at 3-hr intervals over a 24-hr sampling period. Out of eight sampling periods, drift density at low litter input was found to be greatest just after sunset and through the evening hours. Drift densities were significantly higher during 2 sampling periods and numerically higher for an additional 4 sampling periods. Shredders did not comprise the greatest proportion of the drift at low litter input, only accounting for 0.4% of total drifting invertebrates. The proportion of shredders increased to 36.2% at high litter input.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Natural Resources Management and Policy
Year: 2013
File Attachments: Final_Manuscript_Simek.docx
Authors: Zachary Simek