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Capstone Projects

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

The Application of Silvicultural Treatments to Establish and Maintain Early Successional Habitat in the Adirondack Forests of New York State

Sat, 04/29/2017 - 15:12
Abstract: Early successional habitat (ESH) in New York state can be described as young forests comprising trees, shrubs, grasses, and other herbaceous plants that form relatively open canopies with dense understories. ESH has decreased due to nearly ninety percent of the naturally occurring shrublands of North America having been destroyed. The destruction of this habitat is of top concern due to the threatened and endangered species whom rely on these sorts of habitats to thrive. Considering the future climate projections, population models, and theoretical species distribution, responsible stewardship is needed to manage in favor of ESH types. A meta-analysis of various journals and databases was performed to synthesize information into a general management plan for establishing ESH in the Adirondacks. Through combining methods and silvicultural management practices from past plans in the northeastern United States, as well as background knowledge of the area, this management plan has been tailored specifically for an Adirondack forest. These outlined silvicultural treatments may also be extended to a variety of other forest types in the eastern U.S.A. Re-establishing young forests throughout the region is the goal of this plan. In doing so, these practices will enhance the health, resiliency, and biodiversity of the Adirondack region, and New York State by creating critical ESH which the fauna and flora of this region depend upon.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Integrative Studies, Natural Resources Management and Policy
Year: 2017
Authors: Nicole Morin, Ryan Baker, Ora Bice

The Effects of Varying Wavelengths of Light on Diatom Movement

Wed, 05/06/2015 - 16:18
Abstract: Diatoms were studied in order to determine in which wavelength of light they would be most active. It was surmised this knowledge would allow easier testing of future diatom movement hypotheses. This knowledge could, in turn, allow control over diatom movement in order to prevent or circumvent hazardous diatom blooms. Specimens were studied using a Parco scientific microscope in a dark room. They were studied both with and without cover slips to ensure the cover slips did not hinder movement. Sheets of high quality color transparency paper were laid over the microscope light, producing a single, strong color. In the end, the diatoms didn’t move at all, no matter the circumstances. The diatoms could have had no reason for movement or have been restricted by the small amount of water on the microscope slide due to the vast difference between the slide and the diatoms’ natural environment.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Biology
Year: 2015
File Attachments: Diatoms.docx
Authors: Eric Swiecki

Would an underpass/tunnel on Keese Mills Road decrease the percentage of amphibian mortality due to road mortality?

Wed, 04/29/2015 - 18:09
Abstract: Road Mortality has had a huge impact on Amphibian populations worldwide. Several options are available to help maintain and preserve migrating populations across roadways. One method that is looked at during this study is underpass and fencing. In this study, I assessed the need for an underpass and if it could help reduce the amount of amphibian’s mortality by traffic and, if an underpass is necessary, properly predict a location. I also looked at if underpasses alone could reduce the mortality of amphibians. I constructed arrays and pitfall traps to simulate an underpass on Keese Mills Road at Paul Smiths and Santa Clara, Franklin County New York. I predicted that underpass would decrease the amount of amphibian being slayed. I also predicted that certain locations would have more usage then others. The results showed that there was no significant difference between the location of the sites and whether they would be used by the amphibians. The results also showed that there was no correlation between the species that were captured and the species that were killed.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Biology
Year: 2015
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Jorge Velazquez

Downtown Saranac Lake Urban Forest Management Plan

Thu, 05/07/2015 - 16:47
Abstract: Trees and green spaces are important resources to any community. They are public spaces which provide havens of relaxation, play, and mental and physical stimulation. Trees and green spaces have been proven to have a positive impact on the mental and physical wellbeing of area residents. However, the care of these trees and green spaces is often overlooked or not planned for, leading to human/nature conflicts at a fine scale (local level). This is where arborists enter; arborists are individuals trained in the art of caring for trees, and are often involved in every stage of a tree’s life cycle, from planting to removal. But arborists are also teachers, acting as the intermediary between urban trees and the public and providing education to the people. The village of Saranac Lake, New York, is no different. The results of the data collected on Saranac Lake’s downtown street trees and parks were analyzed and compiled into a comprehensive urban tree management plan. A total of 236 trees and shrubs were inventoried and assessed for their health, overall condition, and pruning needs. Also included in the urban tree management plan are observations on the current state of the urban forest, recommendations for the mitigation and correction of any observable problems, and prevention and treatment courses of action for any future insect pests.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Forestry, Parks, Recreation and Facilities Management
Year: 2015
Authors: Michael O'Sullivan, Danielle Rageotte

Implementing an Educational Demonstration Forest with Working Elements of Silviculture, Wildlife, Recreation, and Water in Harrietstown, Adirondack, NY

Tue, 05/05/2015 - 11:15
Abstract: The project being conducted will provide rationale about the importance of working forestry, all while maintaining positive public sentiment within the forest products industry. The project will focus on public education and maintain water quality, wildlife habitat, and recreational opportunities. The public will see developed interpretive areas with signage at points of interest. The designated area is located near the Adirondack Regional Airport, Hunt Road and NYS Route 30, and is comprised of 226 acres. There are varying stands in the tract that range from pure softwood, hardwood and mixed wood stands. After the designated area was selected, a timber cruise was conducted along with note taking and visual analysis of how the area could entice public use and education. Once all the data was gathered, the conclusion drawn was throughout all different forests types in the tract, there were multiple educational opportunities pertaining to water quality and wildlife habitat through use of sustainable forestry methods. The significance of this project is to facilitate public education on how forestry can be sustainable and beneficial. This will be shown through workshops, kiosks, interpretive walks and a menagerie of other proposed ideas.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Forestry
Year: 2015
File Attachments: Capstone_LIB_Upload.docx
Authors: Jeffrey Bigelow, Raymond Desilva, William Lehning, Llewellyn Palmer, Bennett Lohmeyer, Corey Bulson

Investigating Amount of Sample Points Necessary for Accurate Topographic Representation of the Ground Truth

Wed, 04/29/2015 - 18:18
Abstract: Topographic or elevation data has many uses and applications especially when it is converted into a Digital Elevation Model (DEM). Such uses are erosion modeling, surface hydrology, watershed modelling geomorphology, land-sliding, agriculture and ecosystem modeling to list a few examples. This project intends to determine the amount of topographic data points that need to be collected in order to create an accurate model of the ground topography. To accomplish the objective, a topographic survey was conducted on a grid pattern, with a spacing of 7.5 feet between points regularly spaced over one acre. After the data were collected, varying percentages of the total amount of points collected were removed and the resulting digital elevation model (DEM) was compared to the ground truth DEM. When comparing accuracy of interpolated elevation across the entire DEM with a RMSE (root mean square error) it was found that using a subset of 25-30% of the entire data set were needed to create a model that did not significantly differ from the Ground Truth. The change in volume of the elevation surface compared to the Ground Truth results in a linear relationship, as more points are added the closed the change in volume is to zero. The P value derived from the T-test of the mean elevations of the trial DEM’s and the Ground truth, reflect the results from the change in volume, as more points are added the closer to the truth the DEM becomes.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Forestry
Year: 2015
File Attachments: Final_Report_RGM.docx
Authors: Ryan McGowan

Environmental Factors Influencing the Establishment of Moss Species in the Elevator Shaft on Whiteface Mountain: A Descriptive Study

Wed, 12/02/2015 - 15:19
Abstract: The moss species growing in the elevator shaft on Whiteface Mountain have not yet been identified and little is known on the environmental conditions in which they exist. Light, moisture, substrate pH, and temperature play vital roles in the establishment and reproduction of moss. In the summer of 2015 eight moss species, present only in their gametophyte generation, were identified in the shaft. Four of these species are known to exist on the mountain outside of the elevator shaft. Temperature and relative humidity were measured to represent the conditions of the shaft, whereas available light, moisture, and substrate pH were measured with each colony. Temperature and humidity became more stable further into the shaft, similar to that of a cave environment. In addition, temperature peaked during the hours the elevator was in operation. Light, moisture, and substrate pH of each species were not strongly correlated with colony area. Most colonies were found to be growing on a type of sediment, rather than directly on the granite wall of the shaft. The pH of these substrates ranged between 6.68 and 8.99. The influx of tourists on Whiteface between May and October may play a vital role in the establishment of these species. The elevator may provide air circulation within the shaft and the electric lights omit the radiation necessary for the mosses survival. There is a 6 month period with possibly no light source or circulation of air. Further research should document these changes in environmental conditions during this period.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Integrative Studies
Year: 2015
Authors: Danica R. Maloney

Assessing Activities and Policies to Improve Outing Club Participation

Wed, 04/29/2015 - 19:48
Abstract: College outing clubs have proven to be very beneficial for college students of all ages and fields of study. Research shows that outing programs, outdoor education programs, and adventure education programs can have a terrific impact on student’s mental, physical, and spiritual health. This study aims to assess activities and policies that could potentially increase participation in the outing club of Paul Smiths College in the Adirondack Mountains of Upstate New York. The questions this study intends to answer are: 1.) What types of activities will cause an increase in participation? 2.) What types of qualifications & experience should be required of guides and group leaders? and 3.) What can we do to increase organization or professionalism of our program? Using surveys, interviews, and credible sources, this study collected data from successful college outing clubs, the Paul Smith’s student body, and professionals in the field of recreation and summarized it into one collection of results with intentions of exposing ways to increase participation in the program and increase professionalism and organization of the program. Results exposed reoccurring themes regarding expectations for guide training, activities provided through other successful programs, and activities suggested by the student body. The student body survey revealed high support of technical skills seminars to teach students technical backcountry skills in a shorter period of time, and a high demand for high intensity activities such as white water rafting. Many responses supported the fact that in order to increase popularity in a program, the activities need to be demanding enough that individuals aren’t likely to partake in the activity without prior organization and qualified leadership. The results and data found in this study can be used in the future to develop outing club policies and procedures to aid in the success of the program.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Integrative Studies
Year: 2015
File Attachments:
Authors: Richard DeLong

Looking Forward at Outdoor Recreational Opportunities at the Paul Smith’s Visitor Interpretive Center

Wed, 05/06/2015 - 10:57
Abstract: The Paul Smiths College Visitor Interpretation Center (VIC) has been a major contributor to the lives of locals and tourists of the Adirondacks. The VIC provides recreational and educational programs for the surrounding area to enjoy and learn from. It is located about a mile down Route 30 from Paul Smith’s College. The purpose of this research is to look deeper into the VIC viewing is past, present and possible future programing with regards to the art, invasive species, climate change, digital media and recreation. Using surveys, interviews, on site visits, previous related capstones and online resources a study has been done looking into the present and past to what the VIC could possibly unfold for future programing. The purpose of this capstone is to do an analysis of the Visitor Interpretation Center (VIC) in regards to recreation. To begin, we looked into the history of recreation in the Adirondacks as a whole to get some background information. We then did research on what recreational pursuits were offered in the past at the VIC, up to present day. Surveys were conducted and personal observations and interviews were done to get information on the current status of outdoor recreation at the VIC. Using information from the past and present, alongside of a needs assessment of the VIC, our project shows what is most desired for future recreational programing at the VIC. This information will be presented to stakeholders of the VIC for past reflections as well as ideas to move forward.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Recreations, Adventure Travel and Ecotourism
Year: 2015
File Attachments: Full Paper.docx
Authors: Nathanial Casaregola, Steven Farrell