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Capstone Projects

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.

Can black-capped chickadees learn to associate ultraviolet markers with a food source?

Thu, 12/06/2012 - 07:22
Abstract: Food storing birds, like black-capped chickadees (Poecile atricapillus), have a higher hippocampal volume than other birds, giving them the ability to hide food in small caches and retrieve them hours later with great precision using physical features of the surrounding area as guides. This capacity for learning spatial information may be able to translate to other forms of learning, such as association. Black-capped chickadees are also able to see in the near ultraviolet range (~370nm), theoretically to allow for more vibrant plumage during the breeding season. I hypothesized that black-capped chickadees have the ability to associate an ultraviolet marker with a food source. If they can, perhaps birds can be 'taught' to go towards or away from things like wind turbines, windows, and other hazardous objects. I tested my hypothesis by counting the number of chickadees that landed on two different feeders, one with an ultraviolet marker and food and one with neither. I found that there was no significant trend, either within or between days, that would indicate that the birds learned (χ2 test and Student’s t-test). As a management use, researchers propose that ultraviolet markers on wind turbines could decrease the collision rate of birds with turbine blades.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2012
File Attachments: Eck_Capstone_Final.doc
Authors: Benjamin Eck

The influence of temperature, moon phase and cloud cover on the catchability of bats in the Upper Connecticut River Basin and the Merrimack River Basin

Sun, 12/09/2012 - 15:28
Abstract: Small mammals modify their behavior in response to environmental factors such as weather, temperature, moon phase, visibility and the time of night at which they forage. The goal of my study was to determine how environmental variables such as temperature, moon phase and visibility (cloud cover) affected the efficiency (bat captures/net meter/ hour) of bat mist netting. Mist nets were placed in the months of June, July, August, September and November from 2003 to 2012 using mist netting surveys at 23 Army Corps of Engineers dams and recreation projects in New Hampshire and Vermont. Catch rate of bats was not affected by moon phase (P= 0.317) or cloud cover (P=0.130), but were slightly affected by temperature (P=0.053). These results were consistent with other studies that looked at the effects of moon phase, cloud cover and temperature on bats. Knowing the effects of environmental conditions on catchability could be useful to biologists in determining if it is worthwhile to mist net bats on nights with certain conditions to maximize efficiency of catching bats
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2012
Authors: Jeremy Chamberlain

Comparative growth study of Eurasian watermilfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum) and Northern watermilfoil (Myriophyllum sibiricum): a look at apical influence

Mon, 04/16/2012 - 18:13
Abstract: Eurasian watermilfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum L) (EWM) is a highly invasive aquatic plant that has infested lakes across North America. EWM grows rapidly to form a dense canopy and outcompetes other species for light through shading. Northern watermilfoil (Myriophyllum sibiricum Komarov) (NWM) is a native, non-invasive, milfoil that occupies similar habitats as EWM. Little research has been done comparing fragment growth in these two species. This study compared fragment growth of EWM to NWM to better understand the invasiveness of EWM. Fragments of both species with and without an apical tip were allowed to grow in laboratory conditions for a duration of 6 weeks. Data were collected weekly on lateral bud growth, rootlet growth, and apical tip growth. On average EWM and NWM developed a similar number of lateral buds, but EWM had longer lateral buds. EWM also had fewer rootlets and longer average apical tip growth than NWM. In natural settings the physiology of EWM may allow it to allocate resources to apical tip and lateral growth in order to build up a dense canopy and outcompete native plants for light. This study further validates that the competitiveness of EWM is directly linked to its ability to form a dense canopy.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2012
File Attachments: MHall.Capstone.4.16.12.docx
Authors: Michael S. Hall

Varyable diets in house mice, Mus musculus, do not influence ability to determine new food sources through olfaction

Wed, 04/18/2012 - 21:35
Abstract: The olfactory system is important in helping mammals to be aware of predators, interact with one another and find food. The olfactory epithelial layer is located throughout the nasal cavity and the olfactory system, and contains many nerve receptors. These nerve receptors are continuously replaced throughout the animal’s life time, and it is evident the nerve receptors are more or less sensitive to different stimuli based on the odors and other chemical cues the olfactory system is regularly exposed to, in the animal’s environment. Gustation, or taste, is also important for animals to be able to learn and identify what food sources are harmful and which are edible. Because the nasal cavity and the opening into the mouth share a small space of the same connecting canal, at the top of the throat and esophagus, they both have the perceived ability to interact and influence each other. In this study two groups of mice were given different diets from each other; one restricted to lab blocks (n=4) and the other provided a more diverse diet (n=5). The ability for the mice to discriminate new possible food sources through olfaction was assessed by comparing their preferences to sniff, spend time at and visit a known food item and a novel food item. Mice groups were then compared to each other to assess how gustatory experiences could alter new food identification through olfaction. Mice in both groups preferred the known food item over the novel item (p=0.019; p=0.005), and there was not a significant difference in responses between the two groups (p=0.126; p=0.336). Data suggest the ability of mice to identify new possible food sources by olfaction could be more dependent on gustatory experiences related to that particular food source, not by how diverse the gustatory experiences of mice had.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2012
Authors: Chantel Perkins

An Evaluation of the Substrate and Vegetative Cover Selection of Nesting Piping Plovers

Fri, 04/20/2012 - 13:11
Abstract: The Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus) is a migratory shorebird that utilizes the coastal regions associated with the Atlantic Ocean for nesting areas. The population of Piping Plovers is considered threatened in this region, and is limited by predation, habitat loss and abandonment. As a means of investigating the factors affecting the success of the species, data concerning the preferred habitat characteristics of breeding plovers could provide valuable insights. This study addresses the topic “What are the preferred substrate and vegetative cover of nesting Piping Plovers?” These aspects were investigated at three County Park beaches on Long Island NY. After the plover chicks hatched and were no longer reliant on or utilizing the nest, the percentage of vegetation and substrate composition were quantified. Random locations on the beach were also sampled in the same manner. Plovers were found on average to nest in areas with a substrate dominated by sand (80%), as well as 9% vegetation. However in some cases Plovers were found to nest in areas significantly different from the nearby matrix. As the preferred habitat/nesting site characteristics of Piping Plovers are determined, these data can be used to identify areas suitable for breeding Piping Plovers and aid in creating restoration zones specifically for their purposes.
Access: No
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2012
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Jordan Talmage

Management Plan for Pig-nosed Turtles of the Kikori Region, Papua New Guinea

Wed, 04/25/2012 - 12:01
Abstract: Pig-nosed turtles (Carettochelys insculpta) are the last remaining turtle of its family and it is estimated roughly 3,000 individuals remain in the wild. In the Kikori region of Papua New Guinea, the population of this turtle has been on a severe and rapid decline over the past 30 years as a result of population growth of the local villages, causing increased turtle harvest rates. The more blatant aspect causing affect is the harvesting for food by the locals, as they eat both the eggs and the adult turtles. Nests are raided and all the contents are removed and adults are harvested with close to a 90% successful catch rate. Habitat destruction caused by village development and fresh water collection, and collection pressures from the pet trade are also additively responsible for the population decline. In order to establish an effective manner to increase populations to a sustainable level, much more research needs to be conducted on these turtles, as little is known about them. It may also be imperative to their survival to establish other ways local villages can acquire protein sources.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2012
File Attachments: Final Management Plan.docx
Authors: Chantel Perkins

Managing for an Increasing Population of Bobcat (Lynx rufus) in New York State, through Harvest Expansion

Thu, 04/26/2012 - 10:11
Abstract: Bobcats (Lynx rufus) occur mostly in the United States, but also occur into northern Mexico and southern Canada (Nowell and Jackson, 1996). Bobcats are found throughout most of New York State, except for Long Island. They are protected under CITES causing federal protection and control over the exporting of their spotted pelts. The bobcat population is higher than any historic population in New York State and is estimated to be 5,078 and is increasing and expanding throughout their historic range. The rapid increase in the population as well as the potential to continue to increase has caused management efforts to begin. The goal of bobcat management in New York is to sustain a stable and healthy population of 5,000 bobcats, while minimizing the negative human-bobcat interactions. Increasing populations of bobcat are unsustainable, are unhealthy for the population, and cause increase negative human-bobcat interactions, which in the past has caused state-funded efforts to remove predators, which could be detrimental to the population. Actions to achieve this includes increasing the number of Wildlife Management Units (WMUs 4A, 4F, 5R, 6S, 6R, 7M, 7P, 4O, 7S, 7R, 8S, 8R, 8W, 8Y, 8T, 8X, 8P, 9P, 9Y, 9X, 9W, 9N, 9M, 9T, 9S, 9R, 9K, and 9J) in New York allowed to harvest bobcat, altering food sources, as well as doing nothing due to lack of funds, public cooperation, and time. These additional WMUs will be implemented for the 2012-2013 season and will be monitored after each hunting season for the first five years.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2012
Authors: William Carpenter

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