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Capstone Projects

Impacts of Minnow Species Composition on Marsh Feeding Ecology: A Look at Minnow Composition in Heron Marsh

Mon, 11/30/2020 - 16:07
Abstract: Minnows play an important role in marsh ecosystems as both predator and prey. The abundance of minnows in water systems makes them important tools for studying the feeding ecology of small prey fish. Minnow traps were set within specific regions and plots located in the Heron Marsh in the Adirondack Park, New York. These traps were baited and checked the next day, and minnows were identified by species then released. Trophic guilds were assigned to each minnow species based on literature and feeding habits. ANOVA tests were conducted to compare minnow species composition from the fall of 2020 in all regions of the marsh. Histograms were used to compare length-frequency over time and sites where minnows frequent. The composition of trophic guilds showed that carnivores were scarce, as creek chub only over 100mm were considered predatory, and they were not as frequent as smaller creek chub. Omnivorous generalist feeders were common but no specific site in the marsh had more omnivorous feeders than other sites. Finally, the abundance of insectivores was high in most sites, and highest in the forest ecology trail site. Length frequency of the two most caught fish, creek chub and finescale dace, were represented with histograms. Creek chub under 100mm were more abundant in every site than individuals larger than 100mm. Similarly, finescale dace 70mm and smaller were more common in every site.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Biology
Year: 2020
Authors: Emily Schmeltz

The Lawns at Paul Smith’s College: The Effects of Mowing on Root Biomass and Soil Compaction

Mon, 12/07/2020 - 17:41
Abstract: Lawns are a valuable aspect of real estate in the United States. Maintained lawns cover over 163,000 square kilometers of land, yet few people realize the impact mowing can have on the ecosystem. This study will be looking at the impact of mowing on the grassland ecosystem and the terrain grassland ecosystem at Paul Smith’s College, located in Paul Smiths, New York. This study will be testing two different factors that are impacted by constant mowing on campus: soil compaction and root biomass of flora found on the sites. Soil compaction is the compression of soil due to large amounts of pressure placed on the surface soil. This event will be tested by using a soil bulk density test. The root biomass is being investigated by the use of a scale to weigh root given from each area of the study site. The study goal is to find out how the disturbances of mowing affect the grassland ecosystem found at Paul Smith’s College using two different factors: soil compaction, root biomass. The results of the study show the site type that has the greatest soil bulk density and the lowest dry root biomass in G/〖cm〗^3 is the dry slope site on the campus. Keywords: lawn ecology, effect of mowing, soil compaction, root biomass, root depth
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Ecological Restoration
Year: 2020
Authors: Timothy I Murphy

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

Youth Board of Directors: Developing a Sustainable Youth Leadership Program for UNESCO's Champlain-Adirondack Biosphere Network

Fri, 12/11/2020 - 10:36
Abstract: The Man and Biosphere program has been successful but not without its challenges or gaps in capacity, specifically relating to youth involvement within the program. Youth-Adult Partnerships provide valuable growth opportunities for both adults and youth, along with benefits extending beyond the walls of an organization. Youth given agency and support provide significant gains for organizations and adults willing to make space for them in decision-making roles. This study recommends the creation of a Youth Board of Directors within the Champlain-Adirondack Biosphere Network which will directly address programmatic mandates on youth involvement within the Man and Biosphere program, while simultaneously adding capacity to the biosphere.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Parks and Conservation Management
Year: 2020
File Attachments: Cuthell_Capstone_2020.docx
Authors: Samuel K. Cuthell

Paul Smith's College VIC Concert Venue

Fri, 05/15/2020 - 17:38
Abstract: The addition of a concert venue and camping facility at The Paul Smith’s College VIC will add another layer of community enjoyment. The surrounding area does not have a premier concert venue to provide musical enjoyment for visitors and members of the local community. In the College’s Strategic plan, it specifically mentions wanting to “Improve student success and retention through co-curricular activities focused on mind, body and spirit” In the same section it mentions also wanting to “improve campus utilization and net revenues during January and summer terms”. Implementing a concert venue at the VIC would accomplish both of those goals. We believe that this model fits in the strategic goals that the VIC is aiming to accomplish. Supporting the arts at the VIC will achieve visitor connection to musical arts, and connect visitors to other types of outdoor recreation at the VIC. The Paul Smith’s College mission statement and strategic plan includes ensuring facilities that meet the current and future needs of people, implementing strategies to use campus to support community building, contributing regional economics, and to be recognized as important. Specifically, the VIC’s mission statement is, “To connect outdoor recreation, experiential education, and the arts, naturally”. We believe that the addition of a musical venue of proper scale for the region would satisfy the goals of the VIC and our institution by connecting people to nature in a new way but also giving them a concert venue in an amazing setting. Ideally, they could spend the whole day recreating and then finish the day with a concert or performance of some other type such as comedy. With help from the VIC’s Facility Manager Andy Testo, and the Alumni Campground Coordinator Heather Tuttle we have developed the framework of a feasibility plan for future use of the current facilities as a music venue with a supporting campground facility.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Parks and Conservation Management
Year: 2020
Authors: James Rounds, Dan D'Apice

Addressing Overuse: A Hiker Shuttle in the Adirondacks

Fri, 05/15/2020 - 09:21
Abstract: The increase in visitors to the Adirondack State Park in New York State has led to overcrowding and overuse at many of the most popular hiking trails. A common complaint is that there is not enough parking for trailheads and so visitors park alongside the roads which lead to many safety issues. We propose a hiker shuttle for the Saranac Lake area that would not only alleviate the roadside parking issue but would also give more people a chance to explore trails that they might not have heard of before. A shuttle system will allow for better safety conditions for pedestrians and drivers on the roads as well as control trail traffic to prevent trail degradation.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Parks and Conservation Management
Year: 2020
File Attachments: ~$nal draft.docx
Authors: John Kilgannon, Kaitlyn Dudash

Summer Camp at Osgood

Fri, 05/15/2020 - 07:15
Abstract: Camp Osgood is a look at the potential for an outdoor environmental summer camp to be developed in addition to the current property and function of Osgood farm. Looking at why people are drawn to camps both children and adults alike a summer camp at Osgood Farm could be both beneficial on an individual and community level. We found that a summer camp such as Osgood in the location surrounding Saranac Lake could be very beneficial and leave a lasting positive impact and provide opportunities.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Parks and Conservation Management
Year: 2020
Authors: Sam Drake, James Pierpont

A Resource Development Plan for incoming REALM and PACM students during Welcome Week at Alumni Campground through the PSC Guide Service

Fri, 05/15/2020 - 18:51
Abstract: For our Capstone, we are focusing on a feasibility and implementation plan regarding the Welcome Week Treks. We are proposing a four day, three night expedition utilizing the Alumni Campground located on Paul Smith’s Campus. The expedition will be called, “An Intro to the Adirondacks”. The Welcome Week treks will be open to the Recreation, Adventure Education, and Leisure Management (REALM) and Parks and Conservation Management (PACM) students and the expeditions will be run by the Paul Smith’s College Guide Service. During this expedition, students will be hiking, paddling, rock climbing, and utilizing the campus challenge course. The Paul Smith's College experience has been the turning point for many when deciding to attend this institution. From the beginning until the end, Paul Smith’s College strives to give the best experiential learning to their students, and give them the best possible learning experience to give their students the brightest future.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Recreation, Adventure Education and Leisure Management, Parks and Conservation Management
Year: 2020
Authors: Jessica Heroux, Emily Biccum, Sean Malloy

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