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Capstone Projects

The Lower St. Regis Lake Shoreline: Understanding the Past, Analyzing the Present, and Recommendations for the Future

Sat, 05/09/2020 - 11:54
Abstract: Continuing shoreline research and restoration planning will help Paul Smith’s College adhere to their own missions and visions including experiential learning, improving students' lives, and maintaining an ecological conscience as a community.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Ecological Restoration, Environmental Sciences
Year: 2020
Authors: Zoe Plant, Thomas Firkins, Julie Capito, and Benjamin Marshall

Black Ash Seed Management: A Potential Partnership Project

Tue, 05/12/2020 - 09:06
Abstract: The Emerald Ash Borer beetle is currently decimating Black Ash populations, which is making the species increasingly difficult to find. With the Black Ash species becoming increasingly rare, some management plans have been created to protect the remaining populations of this species. The Akwesasne Mohawk Tribe has a management plan in place that is not only trying to protect the remaining Black Ash but is also harvesting their seeds and growing new trees. Partnering with the Akwesasne Mohawk Tribe to grow Black Ash Trees would be a massive step in the fight to keep this species alive. My research will analyze the challenges and possibilities associated with entering into a partnership with the Akwesasne Mohawk Tribe in a joint effort to secure the Black Ash’s future survival.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Environmental Studies
Year: 2020
Authors: Joel Caruso

Birding within the Alumni Campground

Mon, 05/18/2020 - 13:48
Abstract: With birdwatchers forming the largest group of tourist, they become potential candidates for improving the well-being of local communities by educating locals about the biodiversity of bird species and creating local and national incentives for successful protection and preservation of natural areas (Asefa, 2015). With this, there is potential for economic growth and visitor diversity to increase within the Alumni Campground in Paul Smith's, NY through bird-watching activities. This project will research the bird species found within the Alumni Campground to give visitors an understanding of the birding opportunities found during their camping experience. My research uses a hands-on approach for determining bird species (field research), rather than using citizen science experiments that rely on outside sources for determining bird species.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Natural Resources Conservation and Management
Year: 2020
Authors: Kara Coon

Creating the Paul Smith's College Alumni Birding Trail

Sun, 05/10/2020 - 13:37
Abstract: The Paul Smith’s Alumni Campground is a rustic retreat for Paul Smith’s College alumni and families. While the campground holds some guests throughout the seasons it is no secret that there are some things lacking. I took it upon myself to find a way to bring excitement to this campground while not drifting from the rustic natural setting. Creating a birding trail is something that not only fits the Paul Smith’s learning experience but also is a large attraction worldwide. With graduates in fish and wildlife to natural resource’s including on campus classes in ornithology this would be a perfect fit.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Natural Resources Conservation and Management
Year: 2020
File Attachments: final capstone paper.docx
Authors: Justin Gillen

A Land Ethic for the Anthropocene: Analyzing and expanding Leopold's Land Ethic

Thu, 05/07/2020 - 13:13
Abstract: Aldo Leopold’s Land Ethic has been revered in the environmental community since its creation in 1949 in Leopold’s, A Land Ethic. Leopold defines a land ethic as follows; “a thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of biotic communities and it is wrong when it tends otherwise”. Although this has been largely the definition accepted for generations, there are many criticisms about his Land Ethic specifically around the eco-centric views he presents within his essay. This project was put forth to expand and reanalyze Leopold’s claims to get a better working definition of a Land Ethic. Through interviews and surveys I was able to put together a cohesive ideas of local community members to get a working land ethic for Anthropocene we currently find ourselves. Keywords: Aldo Leopold, Land Ethic, Anthropocene
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Natural Resources Conservation and Management
Year: 2020
File Attachments: captone final.docx
Authors: Matthew John Merritt

Effects of Silvicultural Treatments on Wildlife Communities at the Paul Smith's College Forest Research Demonstration Areas

Fri, 05/11/2018 - 16:15
Abstract: Logging has drastically altered North American forest ecosystems for centuries. While extensive studies have been done to determine the impacts of different silvicultural practices on plant communities, minimal research has evaluated the impacts on wildlife communities, particularly in the Adirondack Mountains. Silvicultural practices may significantly impact wildlife communities due to the disturbances it causes, as well as the way it alters the habitat. We monitored winter wildlife communities in the Forest Ecosystem Research Demonstration Area owned by Paul Smith’s College in the Northern Adirondack Park. By analyzing the data collected by trail cameras, tracks and measuring percent browse, we compared the abundance and diversity of wildlife in three silvicultural treatments (i.e., clearcut, group selection, control). We also collected data regarding the physical aspects of the silvicultural treatment plot (i.e. canopy cover and snow depth) to indicate the kind of available habitat. We found that despite there being the highest average relative activity in group selection, there is no significant relationship between average relative activity and harvest treatment type. Using the Shannon-Weiner Diversity Index, we found that the highest diversity was in control/reference. Due to our limited treatment sample size, we did not have conclusive findings in most areas of our study. However, the highest total tracks and relative activity were found in the clearcuts. We suggest that more research be done on this study in order to eventually make forest management plans that properly account for both plant and wildlife species.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Biology, Environmental Sciences, Natural Resources Conservation and Management
Year: 2018
Authors: Jacob Adams, Caitlin De Bellis, Tyler Fisk, Hyla Howe, Mark McHugh, Daniel Sutch

Vista Wellness: An Educational Community Center for the Glenview Preserve

Fri, 12/14/2018 - 23:29
Abstract: The Glenview Preserve is home to a beautiful open vista of the High Peaks. This land was recently purchased by the Adirondack Land Trust and is looking for ways to sustainably manage the property by utilizing Paul Smith’s College capstone students for recommendations. One viable opportunity the ALT can incorporate, is the addition of a sustainable forum and conference center. With a community-oriented mind, Vista Wellness will provide a multitude of spaces for businesses and individuals to retreat while partaking in recreational activities. Vista Wellness is designed to be low impact with features such as a living roof and LEED certification. Using a promotional commercial and an intricate model, using state of the art construction supplies, we are able to convey the need for this addition to the Glenview property.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Environmental Sciences, Sustainable Communities & Working Landscapes
Year: 2018
Authors: Kimberly Kehr
, Matthew Syke
, Thomas Szabo

Influence of Slope on Soil Organic Carbon on Costa Rican Coffee Farms.

Mon, 05/07/2018 - 10:21
Abstract: Soil management is an important factor on agroforestry farms that help with soil fertility and carbon storage. Coffee agroforestry farms in Central Valley Atenas, Costa Rica were analyzed between November 2008 and May 2017. The objective of this study was to see if there is a relationship between mean slope and annual soil organic carbon sequestration (Mg/ha), and mean slope and soil organic carbon storage (Mg/ha), from samples taken on November 2008/May 2009 and November2016/ May 2017. Sample were taken on five farms with twenty 0.05 ha plots. Many coffee farms in the central valley are assembled on steep slopes or sides of mountains. Steep slopes are susceptible to erosion affecting the amount of soil organic carbon sequestration and storage. There was not a significant relationship found between mean slope and loss of carbon sequestration annually in November 2016/ May 2017 (Mg/ha). Mean slope and soil organic carbon storage from November 2016/May 2017 were compared by testing the effects of slope with carbon storage and there was no relationship. Whereas a statistically significant positive relationship was found between mean slope and soil organic carbon storage from November 2008/ May 2009. Additional data was examined to look at annual carbon sequestration loss on conventional and organic farms. However there was not a significant difference between the two. When all farms were compared for their annual carbon sequestration loss, marginally significant difference was found, but reasons for these differences remain a hypothesis. Further research to examine these differences may include practices of the farmers and erosion steeper slopes before erosion implications were taken by the farmers.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Environmental Sciences
Year: 2018
File Attachments: JMcLaughlin_Capstone.docx
Authors: Jessica McLaughlin,

Engaging Visitors Of Glenview Preserve With Interpretive Signage

Fri, 12/14/2018 - 11:42
Abstract: Glenview Preserve is a Lowland forest and Field property that boarders the Bloomingdale Bog. Implementing an educational system at the preserve would lead to more public interaction that would guarantee support for the Adirondack Land Trust’s mission objectives. This approach would involve the development of an interpretive day-use site, interpretive programs and signs, and an outdoor education space. For my portion I will be investigating how the Adirondack Land Trust can construct interpretive signage that is weather resistant and provides valuable content. The quality of the content will be evaluated using the National Association of Interpretation principles of POETRY. These signs will promote ALT’s mission objectives by encouraging people to make a difference after their visit through well-constructed and entertaining information. Visitors will donate money to ensure that having an educational system at the preserve is a leading concern of the Adirondack Land Trust’s management plan for Glenview Preserve.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Integrative Studies, Natural Resources Conservation and Management, Recreation, Adventure Education and Leisure Management, Parks and Conservation Management
Year: 2018
Authors: Tiffany Elizabeth Marie Clark

Student of Natural Resources and Conservation Management

Fall 2018 graduate of Paul Smith's College

Conservation Easements

Fri, 12/14/2018 - 23:16
Abstract: The privatization of land through conservation easements serve an important role of protecting biodiversity and ecosystem services across various landscapes. This research investigated the purposes of conservation easements, how they are acquired, and the importance of strong landowner relationships and yearly monitoring. Numerous peer-reviewed articles and websites were analyzed for this research in addition to interviews with three participants, each at different land trusts (Harris Center for Conservation Education, The Nature Conservancy, and the Adirondack Land Trust). However, despite the interviewees working at different organizations, the process of easement acquisition and overall thoughts on conservation easements were very similar. My own experience as a Conservation Easement Monitor was also applied to this research, and two examples of completed monitoring reports from my time at the Harris Center accompany this document. Furthermore, this study suggests the need of individuals becoming involved with conservation easements either through volunteering, interning, or having their property become an easement at participating organizations.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Natural Resources Conservation and Management
Year: 2018
Authors: Nicole DeCarolis