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Capstone Projects

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.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
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.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
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

A USE VERSUS AVAILABILITY DIET STUDY OF AGE-0 FISHES IN NEAR SHORE WOODY STRUCTURE

Thu, 12/13/2018 - 14:09
Abstract: In 2014, the need for an ecological restoration program began at Paul Smiths College in attempt to restore or improve the shoreline along Lower St. Regis Lake. When restoring a shoreline, one must look at what organisms are using the area and how they are doing it. Invertebrates and fishes play a large role in distinguishing problems or changes in an environment, so we sampled both to add useful knowledge to the restoration program. Specifically, we looked to see if fishes were selecting for specific invertebrates (food), or if they did not have a preference. We used a backpack electrofishing unit to sample young of the year fishes near shore along three 60-meter segments, and a 100-foot bag seine to collect fishes offshore along the same segments. Invertebrates were sampled along the same segments and was done so by picking up all coarse woody debris and brushing the pieces off with our hands into a sieve bucket. Woody debris too large to pick up were scraped underwater using a standard kick net. Invertebrates were identified to order level, and fish stomach contents were also identified to the order so that we could conduct a comparison. After using a Chi Square test, we found that according to our p-value (0.2796) fishes were not selecting against any individual taxonomic group. Smallmouth bass were also the dominant present species along nearshore woody debris which could either suggest a higher recruitment than other species, a preference of use by the smallmouth bass, or human introduced capturing bias. Although we can’t indefinitely say fishes were selecting for Dipterans, data shows that dipterans made up just 4.5% of the total invertebrate composition on CWD but made up 9% of the fishes’ stomach contents suggesting fishes may be selecting for them.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
File Attachments: CompletedCapstone.docx
Authors: Adrian Forbes, Alexander Frank, Matthew D Simpson

Minnow Abundance in Heron Marsh: Spatial Variation, the Status of the Non-Native Fathead Minnow, and Hybridized Redbelly and Finescale Dace

Fri, 12/14/2018 - 09:27
Abstract: Due to their distinct influence on surrounding ecosystems and food web dynamics, minnow populations have been monitored in Heron Marsh, in the northern Adirondacks in New York, since fall of 2012. This study documented the presence of species known to predate on minnows, the hybridization between redbelly dace (Chrosomus eos) and finescale dace (Phoxinus neogaeus), and the presence of the recently documented fathead minnow (Pimephales prometas). To survey piscivores, two fyke nets were set around the marsh for one trap night. The fishes were then identified and measured. The collection of predators is part of a preliminary study to document the presence of predator fish species within Heron Marsh. Minnow data was collected via minnow traps set at long term study sites and one new site. The traps were set over night and collected the following day. The minnows were identified and measured to the nearest mm. When analyzing the data collected in the field, the data from previous years was compared to this years data. The findings indicate that hybrids of redbelly and finescale dace can be observed only at sites where both parent species exist. This 2018 study was the first one to document hybrid species though they have been observed in past years. The status of the fathead minnow is not significantly different from findings from 2017 however, their populations are noticeably smaller than previous years. Predator composition was primarily brown bullhead (Ameiurus nebulosus) and creek chub (Semtilus atromaculatus).
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
Authors: Sarah LaLumiere and Patrick Nicholson

Management plan of honey badger (Mellivora capensis) populations in Karnataka, India

Fri, 04/27/2018 - 11:56
Abstract: Honey badgers (Mellivora capensis) are known for their thick skin and fearless behavior. Honey badgers have a large distribution throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, Arabia, Iran and western India. Honey badgers are commonly found in open woodlands, desert, high mountains and coastal shrubs. Their diet consists of scorpions, Hottentotta rugiscutis, Heterometrus swammerdami, Hottentotta tamulus, and Lychas tricarinatus; small rodents: lesser bandicoot rat (Bandicota bengalensis), Indian bush rat (Golunda ellioti), soft-furred rat (Millardia meltada), little Indian field mouse (Mus booduga), house mouse (Mus musculus), Sahyadris forest rat (Rattus satarae), Nilgiri long-tailed tree mouse (Vandeleuria nilagirica), jungle palm squirrel (Funambulus tristriatus), Malabar spiny dormouse (Platacanthomys lasiurus), Etruscan shrew (Suncus etruscus), and the Asian house shrew (Suncus murinus); and herpetofauna, Brook’s gecko (Hemidactylus brookii), bark gecko (Hemidactylus leschenaultia), brahminy skink (Mabuya carinata), Indian rat snake (Ptyas mucosa), and the banded racer (Argyrogena fasciolatus). Honey badgers are mustelids that burrow into the banks of streams, rock cavities, and thick brush along with the spaces naturally formed by tree roots. Ecological concerns threatening honey badger populations include deforestation, lack of space, and disease. Sociocultural and economic threats to honey badgers include bush meat trade, medicinal uses, illegal fur trade and apiarist’s defending their hives from honey badgers. All of these issues have been documented in Sub-Saharan Africa, where the majority of research for this species has been done. The scope of this management plan focuses in Karnataka, India, these threats, are relevant and current concerns to honey badger populations in Karnataka. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species has the honey badger listed as a species of least concern, this listing is given due to the absence of information on this species. The goal of this management plan is to increase and stabilize honey badger populations in Karnataka in order to make the honey badger a flagship species for the state (2018-2048). Objectives of this goal include: increase protected honey badger habitat, by 10% in ten years, increase understanding of honey badger ecology in Karnataka in eight years publishing four, peer reviewed scientific articles, evaluate 85% of honey badger populations in Karnataka in five years, and having a honey badger acceptance rate of 70% by human populations in thirty years. Honey badgers are an elusive and unique species who have increased acclaim due to the use of social media websites. With proper management this species can have sustainable and sizable populations for the state of Karnataka.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
File Attachments: Management_Plan_Woods
Authors: Alaina Woods

2018 Management Plan for Fossas (Cryptoprocta ferox) in Madagascar

Mon, 04/30/2018 - 11:28
Abstract: Fossas (Cryptoprocta ferox) are an endemic species to Madagascar with features resembling members of Felidae, Herpestidae, and Viveridae. They are widely distributed throughout the island and are located in rainforests, dry forests, and mountainous terrain. As the top-predators of Madagascar, fossas are opportunistic hunters and will feed on the most abundant prey in an area, which are usually the various lemur species inhabiting Madagascar. Fossas are often overlooked in terms of research for their lemur counterparts, resulting in a lack of information pertaining to the species. Fossas are listed as vulnerable on the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List and under Appendix II of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). The species has declined by 30% over the last 21 years and are projected to mirror that decline over the next 21 years. The fossas’ decline is primarily linked to habitat destruction and fragmentation and hunting of the species. Invasive species are likely also contributing by transmitting foreign pathogens to fossas, but more research in this area is required. Madagascan forests are continuing to decline annually as more are cleared to make room for agricultural practices. Local Madagascans hunt fossas due to their negative view in local culture, to protect their fowl and livestock, and as a source of bushmeat in some areas. Of Madagascar’s 46 protected areas, many of them contain established populations of fossas. However, these populations are too small or fragmented and will not remain viable into the future. Fossas can be successful if their habitat is preserved and their negative perception by Madagascan villagers is altered. Their top-predator status, unique morphology and taxonomy, and endemic nature make them a valuable species worth restoring to sustainable population levels and protecting for future generations. This management plan has two goals; (1) Establish fossas as a valuable wildlife species among wildlife stakeholders and (2) improve the negative ecological conditions facing fossas to foster population growth. Both goals require multiple objectives to be met to be completed and thus ensure the survival of the species. Educational programs will improve fossas’ negative perception and negative interactions between fossas and Madagascans will be decreased to lessen the numbers harmed or killed by locals. Ecotourism focusing on fossas will be established to increase awareness and funding for conservation. Protected areas of fossa habitat will be enlarged or connected to better suit their needs. Fossa food availability will be increased indirectly by increasing the size of their protected habitat. Invasive species populations of felines and canines will be decreased. Further research on fossa ecology is necessary to improve understanding of fossas and their demographics and improve management practices in the future. If fossas’ habitat requirements are met and protected and their negative view in the eyes of Madagascans is reversed, the species’ decline will be reversed and the population will become sustainable into the future.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
File Attachments: Notoris_2018_04_25.docx
Authors: John Notoris

Management Plan for Feral Cats in Oahu, Hawaii

Wed, 05/02/2018 - 21:26
Abstract: Feral cat (Felis catus) populations are increasing rapidly due to their reproduction frequency and size. On average, four kittens are found per litter two times a year. Feral cats are opportunistic hunters. The diet of feral cats consists of 70% mammals, 16% birds, and 3% reptiles/amphibians. In a closed system, the feral cats range will occupy most areas of the closed system due to their ability to be generalists. On the island of Oahu, Hawaii, feral cat ranges overlap 1.3 million humans. The population of feral cats has been estimated to be 16,000 on Oahu. Recent attempts to decrease the populations due to sociocultural, economic, and ecological issues has resulted in the use of TNR (Trap, Neuter, and Release) programs. A short-term result would be a decrease in populations, however, these programs do not promote the protection of native wildlife that occupy the island of Oahu. There are currently no effective management plans that create an effort to manage for the wildlife populations where there is an overabundance of feral cats, while providing a humane strategy of eradication to please the public. The goal of this management plan is to decrease the population of feral cats on the island of Oahu to protect the native wildlife which inhabits Oahu. The objectives that are required to obtain this goal include decreasing the survivorship of weaning cats by 42% by using drop fall traps and hunting, increasing the eradication rate by 6.6% every year from the shelter or shelters by creating an adoption program and euthanasia protocol, and increasing awareness of feral cat problems via survey in 1 year and passing legislation that regulates feral cat feeding, abandonment, and introduction in to the wild. When implemented, this plan will decrease feral cat populations on Oahu which will decrease the predation on native small mammals, birds, and reptiles/amphibians.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
File Attachments: FeralCatsOahu.docx
Authors: Sean Dudenhoeffer

A Sustainable Management Plan of Saiga antelope (Saiga tatarica) in Kazahkstan

Wed, 05/02/2018 - 23:45
Abstract: Saiga antelope (Saiga tatarica) are a remnant of the last ice age, and are a charismatic symbol of people who live in the vast steppes and arid plains of Eurasia. Once existing in masses comparable to ungulates of African savannah, Saiga populations in the past few decades have witnessed a dramatic decline due to a host of environmental and anthropogenic factors. At the turn of the century numbers were one million, and at present numbers around 18,000 individuals. Poaching, diseases, harsh winters, rampant predation by wolves and pet dogs, and human caused mortality forces preventing Saiga populations from rebounding. These issues are in what is moving Saiga toward extinction. To stop this impending ecological disaster from happening, a management plan must be created in order to save an emblematic and historic species from annihilation. Kazakhstan currently holds the largest number of surviving Saiga herds and individuals, and has the most potential for a managed rejuvenation of the population, which is currently still in decline. Measures must be taken to reduce predation and poaching, and allow for more recruitment of claves into the breeding population, which in addition to increasing the population will also offset the gross sex ratio of males to females that currently is precarious enough that a potential reproductive collapse is not impossible. Measures reducing human impacts must also be taken to ensure the end of poaching and hunting of Saiga, sale of their parts, and cooperation between the managers and the Kazakhstani government via a council that will oversee the entire management implementation, as well as advocate for Saiga any legal or legislative situation. With enough funding and support, and with the completion of the societal and ecological objectives, it may be possible to accomplish our overall goal to increase Saiga populations, returning them to sustainable levels.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
Authors: Owen Denton

Gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) management plan in New Jersey, 2019 to 2029

Thu, 05/03/2018 - 00:04
Abstract: Gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) are a medium sized omnivore living from the southern edge of Canada to the northern regions of Columbia and Venezuela. The species has a stable population across its geographic range. On a finer scale, some localized populations are unstable, and are of conservation concern. NJ’s gray fox population is unstable, with a 99% decrease in the population since the early 1980’s and a 52% decrease since the early 2000’s. The goal of this management plan is to increase the gray fox population within NJ to a self-sustaining population. This will be achieved by five objectives; (1) use known major factors found to affect gray fox populations outside of NJ and investigate them within NJ, identifying the severity of each across all of NJ, (2) reduce morbid diseases in gray fox across all of NJ by 50%, (3) increase and preserve preferred gray fox habitat of deciduous forests, brushy forests, early successional fields, and the contiguity between, or a combination of any four by 20% across all of NJ, (4) reduce predation by coyotes or humans, or a combination of both on gray fox by 20% across all of NJ, and (5) increase gray fox pup, age 0 to 4 months, survivorship within NJ by 65%. Unstable populations result from habitat alteration, habitat destruction, overharvest, disease, or any combination of them, making them the focus of objectives. NJ biologists do not know why gray fox populations are declining in NJ. Due to this lack of knowledge, early stages of the management plan will focus on those possible factors causing the decline. The information gained from research above will provide a focus on factors that are effecting the population thus guiding the future management of gray fox in NJ. If the management plan is successful, ecological stress will be reduced, keeping small mammal populations stable, increasing seed dispersal rates, and increasing available harvest numbers for both trappers and hunters.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
Authors: Austin Damminger

Management Plan for Timber Rattlesnakes (Crotalus horridus) in Southwestern Wisconsin

Thu, 05/03/2018 - 00:47
Abstract: Timber rattlesnakes (Crotalus horridus), also formally known as canebrake rattlesnakes, are native to the United States and were once widespread throughout the entire country, including southern Canada where it is now extirpated. Currently, timber rattlesnakes are found primarily within eastern United States. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List states populations are steadily declining as a response to bounty hunting, pet trade, habitat degradation because of human interference, and public perception. As a result of their large geographic range and large population across the United States, they are listed as a species of Least Concern with a declining population on the IUCN Red List. In the state of Wisconsin over the past 40 years timber rattlesnakes have been subjected to habitat loss from timber harvesting, bounty hunting, climate change, and human interaction with increasing human population. As a result of population decline, genetic isolation of this species has caused small populations to drift and decline. Currently, this species is currently state protected in efforts to reduce intentional take. Diet is 91% small mammals, 9% birds, other reptiles, and amphibians. In the active season during the summer months timber rattlesnakes in various habitats will habit in mixed deciduous forests with exposed rocky outcroppings, and bluff prairies relying on coarse woody debris for foraging. During winter, this species occupies underground surfaces with crevices that provide retreats for overwintering. The goal of this plan is to increase current populations and decrease genetic isolation within their current, historical range in southwestern Wisconsin over the next 30 years from 2018-2048. The objectives to achieve this goal include: determine current populations, maintain suitable habitat, and increase public outreach to decrease intentional take. Based on a population model, increasing juvenile survival to make it to an adult is necessary to restore a population. If this plan is successful, population sizes should increase to a sustaining level within 30 years from 2018-2048 allowing them to contribute to their environment as a keystone species.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
File Attachments: miller_mgmt_plan.docx
Authors: Jaclyn Miller