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Capstone Projects

Lyme Disease in the Adirondacks: Using Domestic Canines as Sentinels for Human Risk

Tue, 12/05/2017 - 14:46
Abstract: Lyme disease (Borrelia burgdorferi) is the most prevalent zoonotic disease in the United States. With an increase of cases every year in new areas, it is crucial that researchers and veterinarians use sentinels, such as canines, to determine the prevalence of Lyme disease in emerging areas where tick density may be low. The main objective of this study was to determine the annual infection rate of Lyme disease in canines in Franklin and Essex County. An immunologic assay was performed to determine percent of canines exposed to Lyme bacteria as well as timing of exposure. Thirty-four random blood samples were collected from a local veterinary office during routine health screenings, and analyzed for Borrelia burgdorferi antibodies. Out of the thirty-four samples, two canines were positive for OspC antibodies (indicator of early infection) and three were positive for OspF (indicator of chronic infection). The annual infection rate for the 2017 year was 5.9%.
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Major: Biology
Year: 2017
Authors: Ashley G. Hodge

Riparian log gardens: examination of vascular plant communities and moss on logs in waterbodies

Tue, 12/05/2017 - 19:51
Abstract: Microsites can play a major part in facilitating plant diversity. Specific physical characteristics of microsites can create favorable conditions for certain species by isolating them from competition or protecting them from herbivory. Plant communities and woody debris can also facilitate the growth of other plants. I examined relationships between moss and vascular plants on log gardens in waterbodies to determine correlations between these organisms. I hypothesized that riparian log gardens, large woody debris in lakes and ponds supporting mats of terrestrial vegetation, serve as sites that may harbor rare species or have high plant species diversity. I also examined the relationship between bryophytes and plant communities based on the idea that bryophytes influence microsite characteristics. Knowing where rare species are harbored and what microsites encourage high diversity are important for preserving species. I surveyed plants on large woody debris in lakes and ponds in the northern Adirondacks and calculated the richness and diversity of the communities in relation to the presence of mosses. I found that logs that supported moss mats had more plants. The mean species richness of the riparian log gardens was 8.6 for all plants and 6.3 for herbaceous species. Some significant positive correlations were found for log area, log hardness, mat area, mat depth, and vascular plant diversity.
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Major: Biology
Year: 2017
Authors: David R. Lampman

Creating a Reliable Surveying Network: Does Adding New Survey Control Points to Paul Smith’s College Campus Enhance its Current Network?

Tue, 12/05/2017 - 18:48
Abstract: The goal of the project was to improve the current geometry of the Paul Smith’s College surveying network. Four new survey control points were added to the current network allowing for new connectivity to old control points. Previously, there was a Westside network and an Eastside network that were not connected and by connecting these two networks, it has expanded the current network further into the campus. Two different methods were used to help identify the new network. A traditional survey method, a closed traverse, was used to connect the old control points to the new control points by utilizing a Nikon DTM-352 series total station. A X90 OPUS GPS unit was used to connect the new control points into a geodetic network. After the data was collected a least squares adjustment was done to the closed traverse to correct for error within the traverse. The GPS data was processed by Topcon Tools utilizing a Continuously Operating Reference System (CORS) to obtain a better level of accuracy for the network it produced. The two different techniques used produced different results in the overall survey networks and supplied different coordinates than what has been previously used by students at the college. These results gained from the project are not of a consistent level of precision and are not recommended for use without conducting more closed traverses to increase precision within the network.
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Major: Forestry, Natural Resources Management and Policy, Surveying Technology
Year: 2017
Authors: Frederick C. Petzoldt, Michael S. Thompson

Creating Universal Use for the Glenview Preserve

Fri, 12/15/2017 - 20:40
Abstract: The Adirondack Land Trust recently purchased 238 acres along Route 86 in Harrietstown. This tract of land is called the Glenview Preserve. The Adirondack Park Agency has already designated a scenic vista of Whiteface Mountain and the High Peaks. Along the back of the property is the Bloomingdale Bog, which is the third largest boreal peatland in New York. Vista like the Glenview Preserve, which doesn’t involve a climb and is also accessible to all. This poses the perfect opportunity to establish universal trails for all to enjoy. Conservation of land is made possible by connections that people make to the land. If there is no connection to nature, it could be destroyed without anyone speaking up. The location of this tract of land makes it ideal for accessible trail since there is no mountain to hike to get the view. Hiking is one of the oldest pastimes of the world. People can experience beauty every season of the year. It strengthens our bodies and minds at no cost. Hiking is a wonderful chance to feel the earth below your feet and get up close and personal with nature. Installing trails would not only open up recreational opportunities such as hiking, running, and bird watching, skiing and snowshoeing but also build community.
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Major: Forestry, Natural Resources Sustainability Studies
Year: 2017
File Attachments: Capstone_Final.docx
Authors: Valerie Hoffman

Tiny houses for families

Tue, 05/02/2017 - 20:54
Abstract: Houses have changed in size and style over the centuries. We looked at tiny houses and research the economic and social benefits and issues with raising a family in a tiny house. We limited the family to four and made our house 800 square feet. We looked at case studies of families who are currently raising a family in a tiny home to find out what they say their problems may be. We found many unexpected benefits in our research. Many families believe that aside from the economic benefits, raising a family in a tiny home forces the family to be close and to communicate with each other. We interviewed a contractor, Harry Gordon, who gave us information in the building of sustainable housing. There was also a survey we conducted from the Paul Smith’s Community. The survey gave us data on the amount of people who were willing to raise a family in a tiny home. In our results, we found that for those willing to try to raise a family in a tiny house, it is very feasible.
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Major: Natural Resources Management and Policy, Natural Resources Sustainability Studies
Year: 2017
Authors: Kimberly Yager, Sandra Esparza

Analysis of Forage Quality in Adirondack Macrophytes: Implications for Waterfowl Nutrition

Fri, 04/29/2016 - 14:48
Abstract: To understand the relative nutritional value of macrophyte food sources for Adirondack waterfowl, the forage quality of four common Adirondack macrophytes were assessed. An analysis of two native pondweeds (Potamogeton) and two invasive watermilfoil (Myriophyllum) was conducted to deduce how invasive and native macrophytes compare in their relative concentrations of nitrogen and mineral content; important indicators of forage quality for waterfowl. Nitrogen content is used as a metric for relative concentration of protein. Macrophyte species were sampled from four Adirondack lakes of the same trophic status to account for effects of lake nutrient characteristics on plant nutrient uptake and synthesis. Total nitrogen was determined with the Kjeldahl procedure using flow injection analysis. Ash (mineral) content was acquired through high-heat burning in a muffle furnace. The invasive watermilfoil species had a higher percentage of nitrogen than the native species. There was no significant difference in the ash content between the species. It is critical to understand the ecological function of these species in relation to wildlife populations. The nutritional value of these aquatic macrophytes may have implications for the fitness and distribution of breeding herbivorous waterfowl in Adirondack lakes. These results may indicate that invasive plants will serve as a viable food source for herbivorous waterfowl as watermilfoil continues to spread across Adirondack aquatic systems.
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Major: Biology
Year: 2016
Authors: Bianca Fournier

Walden Pond: Ecological and Anthropological History Reflected in the Sedimentary Record

Tue, 05/03/2016 - 23:13
Abstract: This study examined environmental changes reflected in the microfossil record of a sediment core taken in August 2015 from Walden Pond, Massachusetts spanning the last 600 years. In particular changes in the eutrophication status, inorganic sediment deposition due to land use, lake water depth and temperature were examined using phytoplankton indicator species—diatoms and chrysophytes— to reconstruct environmental conditions. The study site was a basin shallower and closer to the source of anthropogenic N and P inputs than the site of previous studies at Walden’s deepest basin, allowing for finer detection of changes in water level and organic content of sediment. A gravity corer was used to collect the sediment core to preserve topmost sediment layers for analysis, as more than a decade has passed since the last published study of this kind at Walden Pond by Köster et. al. (2005). Results show a significant increase in indicators of eutrophic lake conditions since European settlement ca. 1630, and especially since the 20th century. However, relative Asterionella formosa and Synedra nana abundances had not changed significantly in the last decade since Köster et. al.’s 2005 study, and have in fact decreased somewhat, suggesting water treatment efforts by the Massachusetts Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) have had some success. Loss on ignition (LOI) of organic content shows a precipitous decline from the mid 19th century from 37% to 22%, representing intensive land clearance and development until the 1970’s when DEP management began. After that point, LOI rose, perhaps due to increased lake productivity, and has fluctuated around 25%. Relative Discostella stelligera abundance, while used in the WAl-3 piston core as a proxy for water depth, could not be used in the WAL-1 gravity core from this study as eutrophication has significantly impacted their abundance. Chrysophyte scale:diatom ratios corroborate an observed trend of increasing abundance in lakes globally since the 20th century, perhaps in response to rising global temperatures over the same period.
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Major: Biology
Year: 2016
File Attachments: Capstone Paper.docx
Authors: Erik Yankowsky

Roots of Paul Smith’s - Interpreting Our Past to Inspire Our Future : A conceptual design for an interpretive trail guide exhibit on Paul Smith’s College campus

Tue, 05/10/2016 - 13:17
Abstract: It is a pivotal time for Paul Smith’s College (PSC) where many of those directly involved with its inception are no long with us. PSC history was shaped by the Adirondack wilderness and together they influence how the college is run today. This project aimed to create the conceptual design for an interpretive trail exhibit on PSC campus. I worked with a professional exhibit designer to develop artistically inspired signage using archival photos to bring to life the heritage and natural history of the Paul Smith’s. Extensive research, input from stakeholders, and professional design guidance were utilized to create the content for six interpretive signs, a conceptual design, two formative evaluations, an estimated budget, and two campus sustainability fund proposals. These signs are meant to engage and inspire the current and future members of the Paul Smith’s College community, to build a deeper appreciation for the heritage that makes us unique.
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Major: Integrative Studies
Year: 2016
Authors: Leanne Ketner