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Capstone Projects

Soil and Vegetation Characteristics of High Elevation Wetlands in the Adirondack Park

Mon, 12/03/2012 - 17:14
Abstract: Wetland ecosystems are finally being understood for their true importance. Wetlands in the past were misunderstood and thought to be disease carrying burdens on our way of life; however this mentality changed during the mid-19thcentury. These ecosystems are important for biodiversity and act as natural water purification systems. This study was undertaken to help understand, the high elevation wetland characteristics. Our goals were to analyze the soils and describe the vegetation in high elevation wetlands. The soil and vegetative surveys helped define the characteristics of these ecosystems and create a better understanding of them. The combination of vegetation species that are wetland indicators were found in each site, the soil pH, and nutrients show that each site had signs of being a wetland community.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Environmental Sciences, Forestry
Year: 2012
File Attachments: FINAL Capstone Report.doc
Authors: Brandon Ploss, Sean Ayotte

A MULTI-SCALE EVALUATION OF THE EFFECTS OF FOREST HARVESTING FOR WOODY BIOFUELS ON MAMMALIAN COMMUNITIES IN A NORTHERN HARDWOOD FOREST

Fri, 02/01/2013 - 16:19
Abstract: Forest harvesting and subsequent effects on forest structure have been shown to influence mammalian community assemblages and the abundance of individual species, however less attention has been paid to the implications of how harvested timber is used. This is particularly relevant in the Northern Forest, where a considerable portion of the forest harvesting is used to produce biofuels. Biofuels harvesting typically involves the process of whole-tree chipping which may lead to a dramatic reduction in the amount of woody material in the form of slash and coarse woody debris (CWD) left in harvested stands. The goal of our study was to assess the effects of biofuels harvesting on forest structure and subsequent effects on mammalian community structure and abundance. To address this goal, we focused on a ~35 Ha area of partially-harvested northern hardwood forest in the northern Adirondacks, New York. To sample mammals we used a combination of Sherman traps and track plates established at two scales across stands within this area. Our results showed that the response of small mammals to changes in forest structure is both species and scale specific. At the individual trap scale, CWD, slash, and understory cover were important drivers of the occurrence of individual species of small mammals. At the larger “grid” scale, small mammal relative abundance was driven by canopy cover and the density of woody stems. Our results indicate that the current harvesting practices used for biofuel production in the Adirondacks are unlikely to result in declines in abundance of common small mammal species. However, the retention of some slash post-harvest may be beneficial to some species, thus foresters may want to include slash retention when developing silvicultural prescriptions.
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Major: Environmental Sciences, Fisheries and Wildlife Science, Natural Resources Management and Policy
Year: 2012
Authors: Cody Laxton, Alisha Benack, Danielle Ball, Scott Collins, Sam Forlenza, Richard Franke, Stephanie Korzec, Alec Judge, Connor Langevin, Jonathan Vimislik, Elena Zito

Managing for increased productivity and size of an American kestrel (Falco sparverius) population in northern New York

Mon, 05/07/2012 - 12:58
Abstract: American kestrel (Falco sparverius) populations have recently declined across most of the eastern states. As a result, managers and concerned citizens alike have installed nest boxes across large areas to increase productivity. Mr. Mark Manske has run one of these nest box programs in northern New York, across parts of St. Lawrence and Franklin counties, over the past ten years. Through the combination of his research and other long term management plans, the ideal future plan was developed. The focus of the new plan is to boost efficiency of resources, ease of expansion and sustain a steady or increasing population of kestrels. GIS software was used to analyze each nest boxes’ characteristics in order to develop a model that may predict areas of possible high productivity. Surveys and public outreach are emphasized to create a broader supporting base and possibly acquire future partners for land use, volunteers and advertising. The continued monitoring of the northern New York kestrel population will ensure the presence of this vital species for generations to come.
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Literary Rights: Off
Major: Environmental Sciences, Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2012
File Attachments: Sauca_Final_Submision.docx
Authors: Tonnie Sauca Jr.

Management Plan for Giant Panda Bear (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) in 3 Chinese Provinces: Sichuan, Shaanxi, and Gansu

Thu, 04/26/2012 - 10:33
Abstract: Found only in China, one of the world’s fastest growing and most populated regions, the giant panda clings to survival. The panda is endangered for same fundamental reason that is nature is imperiled throughout China, and indeed throughout the world: Explosive population and unsustainable use of natural resources are causing habitat for wildlife to vanish. Compounding these unrelenting pressures are a host other impediments to giant panda conservation, such as habitat degeneration and fragmentation due to human activi-ties, poaching, poor local communities who rely on natural resources for their livelihood, and a lack of equipment and facilities for patrolling. The goal of this management plan is to protect the remaining giant panda bear community while allowing China to continue to grow and prosper economically. Specifically, this plan intents to (1) decreasing the num-bers of poaching within the reserves, (2) protecting the reserves by promoting ecotourism, (3) and reaching out to landowners to lease their land to the government to plant bamboo. A course of action is provided for these objectives that include the anticipation to develop volunteer programs to assist in patrolling reserves, create forms of panda viewing within the reserve, and evaluate surveys in order to determine the percentage of people willing to plant bamboo on their land.
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Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2012
Authors: Joelle Guisti

Endangered Woodland Caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou): A Management Proposal to Decrease Mortality Rates Caused by Logging and Predation

Fri, 04/27/2012 - 20:22
Abstract: Woodland Caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou) are a subspecies of caribou and are considered endangered with fewer than 5,000 individuals remaining. There are several factors that can be attributed to the population decline of the R. tarandus caribou but the two main ones are habitat destruction/ fragmentation and predation. This management plan focuses on reducing the effects of logging through education and fundraisers, predation is reduced through constant population monitoring and harvesting/ removal. The management plan includes a population model that shows the effects of decreasing mortality rates, a vegetation analysis study to see what areas R. tarandus caribou utilize the most and to see what their diet consists of. A survey was also created to gather information on the human knowledge about R. tarandus caribou and if they are willing to help out in their management. A course of action is outlined in detail on how the population should be managed through the reduction of logging and a reduction in predators.
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Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2012
Authors: Charles Cain III

Plan to Deal With Environmental Toxins in Bald Eagle Populations In New York

Mon, 04/30/2012 - 09:34
Abstract: The purpose of this management plan is to have courses of action in place in case environmental toxins impact Bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) populations. H. leucocephalus requires habitat near a fishery that has minimal disturbance. At these sites they build nests and return every breeding season. Clutch sizes range from one to three but usually one chick survives to fledge the nest. The diet of eagles change seasonally from fish in the summer to mammals and waterfowl in the winter. From these food sources eagles obtain environmental toxins in their bodies. These toxins biomagnify and begin to affect the birds and their offspring at certain levels. Eagles get rid of these toxins from their bodies by demethylation and depositing toxins in their eggs. This has negative effects on their offspring because, early life stages of organisms are highly vulnerable to chemicals. This management plan examines the effects of three toxins (mercury, lead and chlorinated hydrocarbons) on a theoretical population of eagles in New York State and how to respond to it. The plan’s goal is to maintain a stable population of eagles in New York that are being affected by environmental toxins. Three objectives will help achieve this plan: monitoring, supportive actions and public education all with courses of action and assessment protocol. The first course of action is to determine the causes of a population decline or abnormal behavior. This action will be successful if only ten percent decline of the population is undetected and if it has been affected by a toxin. If the action is not working the assessment protocol will find new ways to monitor. The second action is to implement techniques that will stabilize a population being impacted by toxins. This will be successful if there is only a ten percent decline in the population due to environmental toxins. The final course of action is to publicly educate citizens around the impacts of toxins on eagle population. This will be successful if there is a significant amount of respondents that answer in favor of conservation and knowledge about environmental toxins. Overall, this management plan is designed to be used once a toxin has impacted a population. The best management dealing with environmental toxins is to prevent them from causing an impact.
Access: No
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2012
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Ryan Deibler

Management of the Ethiopian Wolf (Canis simensis) in the Afroalpine habitat of Ethiopia

Mon, 04/30/2012 - 09:52
Abstract: Ethiopian wolves are an endemic species of the Ethiopian highlands. These wolves are highly specialized for existence in the afroalpine habitat of Ethiopia, a harsh montane ecosystem extending above 3,400m. This endangered species is threatened by habitat destruction, competition for food, and hybridization with and disease transmission from domestic free roaming dogs. Rabies epidemics in the early 1990s and again in 2003 have decimated 75% of the global population, which is now estimated at 500 individuals. Ethiopian wolves are on the IUCN red list, and are officially protected in Ethiopia. This plan aims to outline a suitable course of action that can be taken to maintain a viable population of wolves, and to reduce the habitat loss caused by human and livestock encroachment. Increasing the population size will provide more genetic diversity, as metapopulations grow and disperse. A rabies vaccination program will be implemented as a part of this plan, as rabies is the number one cause of mortality of Ethiopian wolves. The population will continue to be monitored and the plan reassessed as necessary after 10 years.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2012
Authors: Samantha Lambert

Canvasback (Aythya valisneria) Population Growth through Submersed Aquatic Vegetation Restoration in the Chesapeake Bay

Mon, 04/30/2012 - 10:14
Abstract: Perhaps no single North American waterfowl species has experienced the drastic population swings and over exploitation to the degree that the canvasback (Aythya valisneria) has. Their abundance and exceptional table fare made canvasbacks the foremost target of market hunters. The Lacey and Migratory Bird Treaty Acts helped to bring the infamous market hunting era to an end, but canvasbacks are still facing significant challenges relative to habitat quality. Canvasback winter survival and wintering population increases as the percentage of submersed aquatic vegetation present in their diet increases. Submerged aquatic vegetation in the Chesapeake Bay has decreased, mainly due to the decreased clarity of the water. This decrease in clarity is attributed to increased suspended sediments, increased nutrient inputs, and a drastic decrease in the amount of oysters (Crassostrea virginica) filtering the bay water. To protect the canvasback species and increase the wintering population of canvasbacks on the Chesapeake Bay, so that it is closer to historic levels, it is imperative that measures are taken to increase submersed aquatic vegetation and overall functionality within the bay. The goal of this management plan is to have one-quarter of the continental population of canvasbacks winter on the Chesapeake Bay (n≈170,000). To achieve this goal, this management plan sets to increase submersed aquatic vegetation, establish a refuge, and decrease harmful human activities
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2012
File Attachments: Canvasback Paper.docx
Authors: Matthew D. Hamer

Bringing the American Black Duck (Anas rubripes) population back in the Northeastern U.S.

Mon, 04/30/2012 - 10:28
Abstract: The population of American Black Ducks (Anas rubripes) in the Atlantic Flyway, which is also the only flyway that they are found in in substantial numbers, began a steady decline during the 1950's, with a stabilization occurring in the mid-1980's. Using known literature based on the subject, a management plan has been drawn up to potentially return the population of American Black Ducks to densities reminiscent to their numbers prior to their 1950's decline. using methods ranging from habitat purchase and restoration, to placing more harvest restrictions on Black Ducks while at the same time allowing for more liberal take of the Mallard (Anas platyrynchos) in the Atlantic Flyway, Black Ducks will have the resources needed to gain a foothold for a steady climb back up in the population so that outdoors people of all kinds can enjoy this duck for generations to come.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2012
File Attachments: Final assignment A.docx
Authors: Jesse Warner

Black Bear (Ursus americanus) Management in the Central - Western Range of New York State

Mon, 04/30/2012 - 11:41
Abstract: Due to land use changes and the reforestation of former farmland within New York State; black bear (Ursus americanus) habitat is improving, especially in the western and central New York. In New York state three black bear ranges have existed, the northern Adirondack range, and the Allegany and Catskill ranges comprising he larger Southern range. The Allegany and Catskill ranges have merged within the last ten years resulting in the formation of the Western – Central Black Bear range. Expansion into more heavily populated areas has increased nuisance risks to home owners and car-bear collisions along highways and other areas of heavy traffic. There is an increasing need to manage black bear populations in the state and management practices need to take ecological, economic, and socio cultural influences into consideration, that meet human and ecological needs. Future black bear expansion was developed with GIS procedures quantifying the amount of forest cover in current and potential bear ranges in northwest and north central New York. Through public education of black bear nuisance prevention strategies, publically acceptable means of management, increase in hunter harvest, and mandatory harvest reporting with monetary fines, black bear populations can remain stable with minimal human conflict throughout New York State.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2012
File Attachments: BBManagementPlan.docx
Authors: Joshua M. Matijas