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Capstone Projects

Cultural eutrophication of Lower Saint Regis Lake using diatoms and organic content as indicators of eutrophication.

Tue, 04/28/2020 - 12:06
Abstract: Cultural eutrophication can greatly affect water quality, leading to algae blooms and can affect fish communities. Throughout the history of Paul Smith’s Hotel and College, development along Lower St. Regis lake has led to increases in eutrophic conditions, which has detrimental effects on water quality. In this study, a sediment core from Lower St. Regis Lake was analyzed to determine when past eutrophication events occurred. This was accomplished using species counts of diatoms from every 1.0 cm of sediment. The relative abundance of diatom species such as Tabellaria flocculosa, Asterionella formosa, and Fragilaria crotonensis were used as indicators of more eutrophic conditions. Loss on ignition (LOI) was also used to measure the organic content in the sediment at increments of 0.5 cm. The higher percent lost on ignition indicates higher productivity in the lake and more eutrophic conditions. Some samples from the sediment core were also dated using lead-210 to create a timeline that could be compared to known dates of events occurring along the lake that could have affected the trophic status of Lower St. Regis Lake. There was a sudden spike in the relative abundance of F. crotonensis and an increase in organic content at a depth of 20 cm in the core, indicating that conditions became more eutrophic. Based on the lead-210 dates, this spike in F. crotonensis and organic content occurred between 1898 and 1908, when development around the lake was increasing and Paul Smith’s Hotel added indoor plumbing with poor wastewater treatment practices.
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Major: Biology
Year: 2020
File Attachments: Capstone_0.docx
Authors: Lydia Harvey

The Influence of Microtopography on the Spatial Distribution of Peatland Plants

Mon, 04/27/2020 - 13:01
Abstract: Microtopography in peatlands creates structural patterns within the environment that, if understood, could allow for more comprehensive wetland management and restoration plans to be constructed. The objectives of this study are to determine: 1) the spatial scale at which microtopography occurs on in Adirondack peatlands; 2) if hummock size changes in relation to the distance from the forested wetland edge; and 3) if individual plant species respond to, or vary, in relation to microtopography and abiotic factors. To determine the influence of microtopography on peatland plants, data were collected on the surface area and height distributions of hummocks, the distance between hummocks and the abiotic soil characteristics. Plant species richness, and percent cover data were collected on hummocks only. The spatial scale of microtopography was determined to be regularly distributed across the sampling area. There was no significant correlation between the distance from the coniferous-edge and the relative size of hummocks. Plant species richness was found to be higher on hummocks as opposed to hollows. Using a combination of correlation and multiple regression analysis we determined that leather leaf (Chamaedaphne calyculata), lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium), and common cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpa) were correlated to individual abiotic variables. The variability of the percent cover of leather leaf was explained by increasing surface area, lower soil temperatures, and lower pH; the variability of the percent cover of lowbush blueberry was explained by increasing oxidation-reduction potential (ORP) and lower pH; and the variability of the percent cover of common cranberry was explained by lower hummock height alone. Only three of the common plants identified were correlated with the abiotic variables measured. Further research should be done to continue to determine the primary influence of the elevational gradients on the plant species composition and to determine the resilience of these systems to changing climate.
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Major: Ecological Restoration
Year: 2020
Authors: Joshua T. Young

Alumni Campground Lean-to Design Analysis

Sat, 05/09/2020 - 11:32
Abstract: When thinking about the Adirondacks, lean-tos are among the first that come to mind. The Adirondack lean-to has, for most of the parks history, been a staple for back country shelters. The design of the lean-to is the most important part about them. Traditionally built with full round logs to have three walls and one open side with an overhang from the roof. Notches in the logs at each corner of the lean-to allow for the structure to be more ridged then if notches were not used. The goal behind this project is to look at the design of the Adirondack lean-to and see what about it could be simplified to make plans for an easier to build and construct lean-to.
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Major: Natural Resources Conservation and Management, Sustainable Communities & Working Landscapes
Year: 2020
Authors: Michael J Gaulin

Risk Management in the Front Country Setting

Tue, 05/12/2020 - 09:34
Abstract: This paper is a proposal for a risk management plan for the Adirondack Watershed Institute's Front-Country Steward Program that was created in the summer of 2019. Research as well as interviews, surveys, and personal experiences were used in order to create a baseline for this plan.
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Major: Parks and Conservation Management
Year: 2020
Authors: Stephanie Tyski

Assessment of Barriers and Solutions to Obtaining Local Food on Paul Smith's College Campus

Mon, 05/11/2020 - 01:46
Abstract: Throughout the course of the last century, food systems have profoundly shifted from a primarily locally focused diet, to a virtually infinite global array of options. The many negative impacts of this momentous shift are now becoming more evident overtime. With light being recently shined upon these adverse effects, a substantial shift back to more local food options has begun. However, with all this newfound attention placed on localizing food systems, the meaning of local food has adapted an endless number of meanings. Paul Smith’s College agricultural instructor, Sara Dougherty echoed this feeling by saying, “‘Local food’ has been defined in a variety of ways, and we've seen this definition change and morph over time” (Dougherty). This evolving conversation around the benefits local food can have on communities has caused many entities to reassess their own food systems. More specifically, institutions of learning have increasingly rallied behind this movement. “Bringing healthy, locally produced food into institutions has been proposed as an effective strategy to address social, economic, and environmental issues” (“CAMPUS DINING”). Though the specifics of each sustainable food system are unique, they often share similar goals and values. Many of these values happen to also be innately engrained in the principles of which Paul Smith’s College was founded on.
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Major: Sustainable Communities & Working Landscapes
Year: 2020
File Attachments: Capstone Paper SUS 496.docx
Authors: Hannah Rion

What Are the Differences in Trichome Density and Morphology Between Arabidopsis Lyrata Subsp. Lyrata Populations When Grown in A Northern Common Garden, Outside of Their Geographic Distribution?

Tue, 04/30/2019 - 15:23
Abstract: Trichomes are diverse among plants. There is evidence suggesting that environmental factors may influence these structures and their densities. Other evidence shows that weather may influence genetics and gene expression. Arabidopsis lyrata subsp. lyrata is a wild flower that is native to North America and Europe and has been extensively studied. Literature regarding Arabidopsis states that within the family and genus, there is evidence suggesting that trichomes can be either non-branched, twice branched or thrice branched. This study’s purpose was to analyze how trichome density, and morphology in Arabidopsis lyrata subsp. lyrata differs between populations when grown outside of the natural distribution limit. Four populations of Arabidopsis lyrata subsp. lyrata were studied based on latitude. After analyzing the outcomes, unexpectedly there are no major differences between the north and south populations; however, there are differences between the four populations. Based on the data gathered, it was determined that the population, North2 (07G) must be genetically different from the other three populations. The four populations were grown together in a common garden; thus, all variables were the same. The environment did not influence trichome density or morphology within the North2 population, therefore the structures were genetically pre-determined.
Access: Yes
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Major: Biology
Year: 2019
File Attachments: Scarabaggio_A.docx
Authors: Amber My Scarabaggio

Proposal for Improvements to Alumni Campground Waterfront

Sat, 12/14/2019 - 15:42
Abstract: The Alumni Campground is full of potential. A front country campground in close proximity to many great wilderness experiences. Some of those experiences can be best reached by water and yet the Alumni Campground waterfront is not much more than a single “No Swimming” sign nailed to a tree. This lack of infrastructure has caused degradation of the shoreline as the user base for water craft does use the campground as a starting point for excursions onto the St. Regis waterways but due to a lack of durable launching sites they have created several eroded and denuded spots along the lakes bank. In order to accommodate the amount of use this asset receives and prevent further degradation this proposal is designed to give the Alumni Campground Committee a sensible set of options for structural improvements designed to suit the user bases needs and protect the valuable waterfront resources.
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Major: Parks and Conservation Management
Year: 2019
Authors: Tobias Calzarette

Reinvigoration of the Champlain-Adirondack Biosphere Reserve: Stakeholder Perceptions

Tue, 05/08/2018 - 15:02
Abstract: The Champlain-Adirondack Biosphere Reserve (CABR) was designated by the United Nations in 1989. This reserve spans the entire Adirondack Park, and includes the Lake Champlain Valley in Vermont as well. Biosphere reserves focus on conservation at a global level, and use international knowledge from lessons learned to best benefit each specific biosphere. Although CABR was designated in 1989, it became classified as inactive soon after. In 2016, Brian Houseal, Director of SUNY's College of Environmental Science and Forestry Newcomb Campus, prepared a periodic report to UNESCO on CABRs current status. The goal of this research was to determine the probability of stakeholder support to bring CABR out of inactivity, almost 20 years after it was designated originally. The research performed focused on stakeholders’ awareness and perceptions of the CABR, along with past indications of concerns and resistance among local residents. The research addresses this deficit and identifies and clarifies our representative’s samples perceptions of the designation. The research revealed that land use rights were still the major concern. The research revealed that this was still a concern because there is still a major lack of information on the CABR land classifications/land use rights. Information on CABR was concluded to be one of the largest challenges at this time. This research revealed that 68% of the residents were unaware of CABR until the periodic review was published in 2016, and over 40% of the residents had no idea what CABR was until they received an invite to come to the focus group.
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Major: Arboriculture and Landscape Management, Parks and Conservation Management
Year: 2018
File Attachments: Coolidge Capstone 2018.docx
Authors: Nicholas Coolidge

Lower St. Regis Lake Survey: A Comparative Study of Fish Population Structure and Function over Time

Thu, 12/13/2018 - 14:24
Abstract: Lake surveys are performed on bodies of water to provide a health analysis of fish populations over time. Lake surveys can be conducted in a variety of ways to attain specific data. Lower St. Regis Lake was surveyed to determine the fish community composition and to understand fish population traits. Using fyke nets placed at six predetermined locations for 24 hours, as well as fishing, we collected data for age, length (mm), weight (g), and parasites present. Data was analyzed in the lab using Excel to form graphs and tables to demonstrate our findings. Catch rates were lower compared to years before and comparing our data to New York State Department of Conservation data found that our length-at-age data was lower for the six-species sampled. Pumpkinseed and yellow perch were the only two species to have over twenty fish sampled. Decreased air temperatures brought in by a cold front during the week of our sampling may have been a reason for our lower number of fish caught. Mesh size is also a bias while using these nets as smaller fish can escape, and predatory fish can prey on smaller fish while in the net. Some species of fish such as black crappie may be more susceptible to capture due to its habit of associating with structure.
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Major: Biology, Environmental Sciences, Environmental Studies, Fisheries and Wildlife Science, Natural Resources Conservation and Management
Year: 2018
File Attachments: Capstone_Final.docx
Authors: Deacon Chapin, Jared Chlus, Louis Daversa, Jon Herrman, Robert Visicaro

A Comparison of Winter Wildlife Use of Minimally, Moderately and Highly Impacted Shorelines on Lower St. Regis Lake and Black Pond in the Adirondack Park, NY

Wed, 05/09/2018 - 10:51
Abstract: Continued development and human interference with freshwater shorelines creates a degraded environment and can negatively affect native wildlife along impacted areas. Throughout the Adirondack Park, shorelines have experienced substantial degradation with the development of lakeside summer homes. There tends to be a strong preference for the aesthetics that lakes offer, as well as the numerous recreational opportunities they provide. The increased human use of shorelines and the development of anthropogenic structures has directly resulted in the degradation of shorelines in the Adirondack Park. Likewise, the Paul Smith’s College shoreline along Lower St. Regis Lake has been subjected to degradation throughout the history of the campus. This highly impacted site was selected, alongside minimally and moderately impacted sites in the surrounding areas as representatives for different impact levels. Shoreline degradation includes a decline in the health and presence of natural vegetation, creating a decrease in available food source for native wildlife. The removal of natural vegetation creates a decline in shoreline stability with the removal of root systems, allowing for greater amounts of erosion to occur. Additionally, degradation decreases available canopy cover and increases exposure of wildlife to predation. The objective of this study was to determine the difference in wildlife activity and diversity between three levels of shoreline impacts: minimal, moderate, and high. It was expected that the minimally and moderately impacted shoreline sites would show a greater diversity and abundance of wildlife than highly impacted shorelines. Trail camera data was analyzed at three sites for each treatment on Paul Smith’s College property, along both the Lower St. Regis Lake and Black Pond. Although we detected no significant differences in either activity or diversity across the treatments, there was higher relative activity and diversity in moderately impacted shorelines than minimally or highly impacted. However, wildlife species that are more rare and/or area-sensitive, such as the fisher (Martes pennanti) and American marten (Martes americana), were only detected in the minimally impacted shorelines of Black Pond. A restoration of the highly impacted shoreline to reflect minimally and non-impacted shorelines of the surrounding region would allow for opportunities to improve habitat for native wildlife species.
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Major: Biology, Ecological Restoration, Environmental Sciences
Year: 2018
File Attachments: Shoreline Restoration
Authors: Tessa White, Caroline Matuck, Kasey Lane, Rosemary Bloodnick, Kyle Pasanen, Annalee Kraai