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Capstone Projects

Wildfire Probability of Paul Smith’s College Lands

Tue, 12/05/2017 - 13:07
Abstract: For centuries, wildfires have been seen as devastating natural disasters burning homes, property and forests. For many years, man has tried to fight these fires to mitigate the damage that they do. In recent years, climate change has increased both the number of fires and the intensity at which they burn. We have developed a GIS model that incorporates factors such as slope, aspect, and land cover to determine what areas of Paul Smith’s College lands are prone to wildfires. Our goal was to find areas within the Paul Smiths College land that have a high probability for an intense wildland fire. We gathered our GIS data from online resources such as Cugir, NYS Clearing House and Earth Explorer. We then reclassified each of the data layers based on criteria determined from other scholarly papers to then use that criteria to develop our model. After running the model, we found twenty-two areas of interest also known as hot spots. We then proceeded to check five of the twenty-two hot spot areas to double-check that the characteristics that our model depicted were true hazardous areas.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Natural Resources Management and Policy
Year: 2017
File Attachments: CapstonePaper.pdf
Authors: Michael Sweet , Joey Morris

Alpine Ecosystems on Ski Area Summits in the Northeast: A Best Management Practices Manual

Mon, 12/01/2014 - 15:19
Abstract: Over the past half a century, anthropogenic climate change has triggered temperatures in the northeastern United States to rise. This increase has led to decreased winter precipitation and a longer annual growing season. Species found in upland/montane habitats on the southern edge of their range limits are particularly threatened by these changes. Warmer temperatures have allowed larger woody plants to advance up mountain slopes, entering the habitat of these fragile species. In the next decade, we will witness a complete disappearance of alpine flora from several locations across the northeast including Whiteface in New York, Sugarloaf in Maine and Mount Mansfield in Vermont. Managers of ski resorts can therefore play an important role in promoting the continued persistence of high-altitude flora and fauna through carefully considered management decisions can also serve to promote the reputation of the ski industry as stewards of mountaintop ecosystems. Doing so will allow for continued study of the species that exist within these communities, the protection of biodiversity, and increased revenue for the resort itself through elevated public image and mountain-top tourism. To help begin these conservation efforts, we have created a best management practice (BMP) manual to guide ski area managers in making these developments. It includes techniques for sustainable slope, soil, vegetation and wildlife management, erosion control, artificial snow production, and ski slope construction and design. Also included are marketing techniques and an overview of the economic viability of the practices outlined in this manual.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Forestry, Natural Resources Management and Policy
Year: 2014
Authors: Pali Gelsomini, Dylan Randall

The Effects on Soil Caused by Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata) in a Northern Hardwood Forest in the Northern Adirondack Mountains

Mon, 12/02/2013 - 10:54
Abstract: Plant invasions are thought to be among the worst causes of biological extinction and biodiversity loss in the modern world. With the United States spending upward of thirty four million dollars a year in attempts to control and repair the damages caused by invasive plants, not only are we feeling the biological effects, but we financially cannot afford to keep combating these invasive species (Barto and Cipollini, 2009). Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) can invade multiple types of sites whether the soil is sandy or if a site has been disturbed. This invasive species will take over the understory and alter soil chemistry (Morris, McClain, Anderson and McConnaughay, 2012). This study aimed to look at how garlic mustard is affecting soils in the northern Adirondack Mountains in New York State. Although currently scattered and not very prevalent, there have already been changes to the soil chemistry. This study was conducted by setting up multiple plots within areas where garlic mustard was present and gathering soil to be used to test for nutrient values. It was found in this study that calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, potassium, sodium, aluminum and soil pH values changed due to the presence of garlic mustard.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Biology, Forestry
Year: 2013
File Attachments: Capstone Final.docx
Authors: Kyle Dash

A Paleolimnological study of precipitation variability in the Adirondacks over the last thousand years

Mon, 12/02/2013 - 20:40
Abstract: At present, most regional climate models anticipate wetter conditions by the end of this century, but a few models anticipate drier conditions. This study uses foresight to test these models, as well as describe the relationship between the dominant climate system in the region and past precipitation in the Adirondacks. Precipitation was inferred from diatom assemblages observed along a lake sediment core extending into the 1000 years. This study shows that abrupt, extreme wet events were common during the last 1000 years, and a relationship between the dominant climate system (North Atlantic Oscillation) and precipitation was irregular during the cool Little Ice Age but negatively associated during the warm Medieval Climate Anomaly. With temperatures in the Northeast projected to increase by 2-5 degrees C by 2100 AD, our study suggests the region may become more arid rather than wetter, opposite of what models currently suggest.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Biology, Environmental Sciences
Year: 2013
File Attachments: regalado.serwatka.docx
Authors: Sean A. Regalado, W. Martin Serwatka

An Educational Assessment of a Nature Center

Wed, 12/04/2013 - 15:18
Abstract: Currently, there is a strong focus on public environmental education. However, it is not known how environmental education programs relate to the New York State Curricula or to the North American Association for Environmental Education’s (NAAEE) education goals for school-aged children. The purpose of this qualitative, relationship study is to determine how and to what extent a nature center’s educational programs relate to New York State Curricula and the North American Association for Environmental Education’s education goals for school aged children. Data will be collected through a content analysis approach. The information gathered from the content analysis will then be compared against each other to see where there are gaps in the nature center’s educational goals and how they might ameliorate them. This information can be used by the nature center to format their educational programs in a way that is more conducive with both the New York State Curricula and the NAAEE educational goals.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Environmental Studies
Year: 2013
Authors: Jacqueline McCabe

Draft Horse Sustainability Presentations: The effectiveness of presentations on draft animal power at the Adirondack Rural Skills and Homesteading Festival

Fri, 12/06/2013 - 12:53
Abstract: Paul Smith’s College has been putting on draft horse presentations for the public for many years but until now it was unknown how effective these were in education of the audience in topics of the interest. During the 2013 Adirondack Rural Skills and Homesteading Festival, a series of demonstrations and presentations were conducted for the public. Surveys of those in attendance have now given us information on how far people are traveling, what their prior experience is, what they want to learn, and how they want to learn it. From this information we wish to gauge attendees’ response to draft animals and their uses.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Forestry, Natural Resources Management and Policy, Recreations, Adventure Travel and Ecotourism
Year: 2013
Authors: Alexandria Barner, Jacob Shultz

The role of terrestrial leaf litter inputs on drift of aquatic invertebrate shredders

Mon, 12/02/2013 - 13:34
Abstract: This study examined the effect of food availability on active drift entry of aquatic invertebrates by comparing drift density at low and high levels of terrestrial leaf litter input in Alder Brook. An emphasis was placed on the proportion of shredders collected during each sampling, who rely most on coarse particulate organic matter as a food source. In order to quantify food available in the stream channel, leaf packs were collected along three transects and weighed to determine dry biomass per stream area. Invertebrate drift samples were collected at high (leaf abscission) and low levels (late summer) of food abundance using three surber nets spaced evenly across the stream channel. Samples were taken at 3-hr intervals over a 24-hr sampling period. Out of eight sampling periods, drift density at low litter input was found to be greatest just after sunset and through the evening hours. Drift densities were significantly higher during 2 sampling periods and numerically higher for an additional 4 sampling periods. Shredders did not comprise the greatest proportion of the drift at low litter input, only accounting for 0.4% of total drifting invertebrates. The proportion of shredders increased to 36.2% at high litter input.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Natural Resources Management and Policy
Year: 2013
File Attachments: Final_Manuscript_Simek.docx
Authors: Zachary Simek

Food Plots for White-tailed Deer: Effects on the Browse Intensity of Commercial Tree Species in Western New York

Mon, 12/05/2011 - 10:09
Abstract: Throughout North America high densities of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) are creating problems that affect humans as well as the natural environment; such as property damage (ex. deer/car accidents), crop damage due to browse, changes in forest species composition, as well as the creation of alternate stable states throughout the northeastern forests of the U.S. This study examined whether food plots for white-tailed deer are increasing, decreasing or having no effect on the browse intensity of commercial tree species in the northern hardwood/coniferous forests of western New York. Spring and summer browse intensity was determined at six sites throughout Wyoming, Cattaraugus, and Erie counties; three forested sites with food plots and three forested sites without food plots that were similar in species composition. The study found that food plots were causing an increase in browse intensity on commercial tree species to areas immediately adjacent (0-2 meters) to the food plots. However, further analysis that excluded measurements taken for subplots one at both food plot and non-food plot sites showed that non-food plot sites had a significantly greater proportion browsed. The findings suggest that if food plots are used as a management option for white-tails in western New York a buffer zone of at least 2 meters outside the food plot should be incorporated to account for the overflow of deer browse.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Natural Resources Management and Policy
Year: 2011
Authors: Mike Domagalski