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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

Developing a Bird Integrity Index (BII) for Use as an Indicator of Stream Condition in the Northern Adirondack Park

Mon, 04/27/2020 - 12:50
Abstract: The primary goal of this research was to create a Bird Integrity Index (BII) to be used for the ecological integrity analysis of streams and their related riparian zones in the northern Adirondack Park based on frameworks provided by previous research in Oregon. Fifty-eight metrics were tested from avian survey (point count) data along fifteen stream reaches of 0.5km in length. These metrics represented aspects of avian taxonomic richness, dietary preferences, foraging techniques, tolerance or intolerance to human disturbance, and nesting strategies. To evaluate the responsiveness of each metric, they were plotted against an index of stream condition based on sampling of benthic macroinvertebrates according to the outline provided by the stream biomonitoring research unit of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Five of the fifty-eight candidate metrics remained after removing metrics that had an R2 value of less than .2 or were highly correlated. Individual avian metric scores ranged from 0-10 and BII scores were set on a scale of 0-100. While the BII presented here was successful in responding to varying conditions based on disturbance levels (R2= .64), due to multiple unexpected relationships between avian metrics and stream condition, it is proposed that more in-depth and comparative research be completed before an Adirondack specific BII is presented for field usage.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Ecological Restoration
Year: 2020
File Attachments: Jesse Rock Capstone.pdf
Authors: Jesse Rock

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.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Environmental Sciences
Year: 2018
File Attachments: JMcLaughlin_Capstone.docx
Authors: Jessica McLaughlin,

Drying Firewood in the Adirondacks: Development and Evaluation of Four Firewood Drying Systems for Use with the Solar Kiln at Paul Smith's College

Fri, 05/11/2018 - 05:59
Abstract: Four firewood drying system designs have been constructed for future use in the solar kiln drying process. A series of test were compared looking at structure and movement limitations to ensure the structure can withstand placement in the solar kiln. The comparison for each design was made in terms of key performance indicators such as air flow and circulation between the pieces of firewood. Proper moisture content in seasoned firewood is between 15-20%, while green wood when a tree is harvested is between 30-50%. Specific requirements were discussed in more detail, these being overall building, stacking, and drying rates with the over encompassing issue of mobility restraints. Moisture content levels were checked and measured by a moisture meter every day since the beginning of mid-April. All designs were created with respect to the solar kiln that is at Paul Smith's College for future use in promotional and fundraiser events.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Forestry
Year: 2018
Authors: Nico Petrella, Grant Putnam

Recommendations for Extending the Winter Use of Dillon’s Sawmill at Paul Smith’s College

Thu, 05/10/2018 - 17:35
Abstract: This paper proposes a three-phase plan to update the Dillon’s Sawmill at Paul Smith’s College in the northern Adirondacks of New York State for extending winter use. The current issues are excessive airflow, hydraulic warmup time and potential damage, and safety of students and workers. Solutions were researched and compiled into a logical three phase plan. The first phase will be immediately within one year of proposal approval. Phase I will include installation of an added structure over log deck, two overhead doors, vinyl strip door, and two Wolverine Heaters. The second phase is from years one to five. This phase will include the installation of Ecofoil insulation in the walls and under the new roof. Phase III is the final phase and is from five to ten years after the update has begun. During this phase, closed cell spray foam insulation will be applied over the existing Ecofoil and an outdoor wood boiler will be installed. The total estimated cost for the updates to Dillon’s Sawmill is $57,264.70.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Forestry
Year: 2018
File Attachments: CAPSTONE_Ray_DeYoung.docx
Authors: Emily DeYoung, Heather Ray

Improvements and Operation of the Solar Lumber Kiln at Paul Smith’s College

Thu, 05/10/2018 - 14:45
Abstract: This paper aims to discuss improvements and operation of the solar lumber kiln in operation at Paul Smith’s College. It discusses what solar kilns are, the functions of a solar kiln, the types of solar kilns, and the basic principles of how each type operates. By understanding the functions and workings of a solar kiln, improvements for operation can be made to the existing kiln to increase effectiveness and efficiency. Subjects to be examined include preparation of wood for solar kiln drying, air flow within the kiln, the solar collector portion of Paul Smith’s College’s kiln, methods to make the kiln more air tight, and damages and malfunctions that have occurred within the first year of operation. Proposed improvements for both the operation of the kiln and preparation of lumber prior to drying in the kiln are provided, along with operating and construction information from Wood-Mizer, the company that designed Paul Smith’s College’s solar lumber kiln.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Forestry
Year: 2018
Authors: Wyatt Blanchard, Timothy Volo

The effects of different users on tree height measurements in two mixed hardwood stands in northern New York: A comparison of three measuring instruments.

Tue, 05/08/2018 - 20:23
Abstract: Height measurement in the forestry industry is one of the most important measurements that is needed for forest inventories but also one the most difficult to accurately obtain. There are many different types of tools that industry professionals use to measure tree heights. Those tools that are used vary greatly in price and quality which is considered by companies when deciding what tool to purchase. There has been little information on these different instruments and how accurate they are considering their price. This study looked at the Suunto Clinometer, Nikon Forestry Pro Rangefinder and the HagLof Vertex IV Hypsometer. These instruments were tested in different stand conditions that these tools would be used in. This study was done to help give more information to professionals about these measuring instruments and what instrument is better to use when considering their cost. The hypsometer was found to be the most accurate in both sites. The clinometer and range finder were found to be less accurate.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Forestry
Year: 2018
Authors: Leland Helms, Scott Sidney, Kyle Tallman

A Comparison of Macro-Invertebrate Communities in Different Substrates among Impacted and Minimally-Impacted Sites on Lower St. Regis Lake and Benchmark Sites on Black Pond

Wed, 05/03/2017 - 21:34
Abstract: Many shorelines today have been impacted by human activities which has resulted in changes in macro-aquatic invertebrate communities. Ecological restoration can be used in efforts to bring macro-aquatic invertebrates back into shorelines. However, data is needed to better understand how macro-aquatic invertebrates can be used in these efforts as indicator species to determine community structure health and function. This project compared the macro-aquatic invertebrate communities in impacted and minimally impacted sites located on Lower St. Regis Lake and benchmark sites located on Black Pond. The two objectives to this project were to 1) compare the species richness among impact levels and 2) compare the density among impact levels. Each impacted level has three sites and at each site ten samples were taken in a systematic way which resulted in 90 total samples. Samples were taken to the lab to be sorted and for macro-aquatic invertebrates could be identified to the family level. The macro-aquatic invertebrate community was different among each impact level. The overall family diversity was greater at the benchmark sites than the minimally impacted and impacted sites. Dominate substrate type that had a greater presence of different families were sites that had organic matter. The findings of this study create a more knowledge base which can be useful for future ecological restoration efforts on the impacted and minimally impacted areas located on Lower St. Regis Lake and to educate the public on the impacts on macro-aquatic invertebrates and their communities.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Biology
Year: 2017
Authors: Amber St. Andrew