After logging in with the login link in the top right, click here to upload your Capstone

Capstone Projects

25 Year Bengal Fox (Vulpes bengalensis) Management Plan for Karnataka, India

Tue, 04/26/2022 - 11:18
Abstract: Bengal foxes (Vulpes bengalensis) are a small canid endemic to India and adjacent regions. They are opportunistic omnivores, consuming a wide variety of food-items which may vary in abundance seasonally and/or spatially. Conservation issues of primary concern include habitat loss, habitat degradation, poaching, and outbreaks of enzootic diseases. Space needed to accommodate the growing human population as well as increases in agricultural and industrial output has led to encroachment of humans onto Bengal fox habitat. This management plan aims to increase Bengal fox populations within Karnataka, India to ~10,000 individuals to allow grazing and development practices to continue. Objectives to reach this goal include estimating and mapping habitat suitability in Karnataka, performing a mark-recapture study to gain information on population dynamics, providing public education on Bengal fox conservation to residents and ecotourists, and increasing the survivorship of pup and juvenile age classes. To estimate habitat suitability, vegetation will need to be surveyed throughout Karnataka using a series of randomly generated plots. Measurements of habitat suitability will be compiled in a map utilizing ArcGIS which will help locate areas with potentially high Bengal fox densities. A mark-recapture study will be executed to gain knowledge on survivorship of the Bengal fox population in Karnataka. A Cormack-Jolly-Seber Model will be utilized to interpret survivorship of the Bengal fox population following the mark-recapture study. Data on current Bengal fox population dynamics is lacking from the literature and is necessary for the needs of this management plan as well as future studies on Bengal foxes. Public education of Bengal fox conservation will take place in public schools and various ecotourist destinations to help identify uncertainties and biases in knowledge. The distribution of surveys will evaluate public awareness and perceptions of Bengal fox conservation needs in Karnataka after public education initiatives have been implemented for multiple years. Community support and involvement will be crucial in minimizing poaching events and overgrazing of Karnataka’s grasslands. Survivorship of pup and juvenile age classes will be increased through the restoration of habitat, discontinuation of overgrazing, and declaration of Karnataka as a “Closed Area”. Local communities will qualify for incentives gained from revenues of localized protected areas to discontinue harmful grazing practices and allow habitat restoration to occur on their lands. By declaring Karnataka, a “Closed Area”, hunting of local wildlife species would be banned but development projects and overgrazing practices could continue. Therefore, public support of this management plan must be gained for conservation to be successful. Implementation of this management plan will potentially raise the Bengal fox population of Karnataka, India to ~10,000 individuals for the benefit of their ecosystem and the local ecotourism industry.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2022
Authors: Damon M. Emerson

Oyster Insight: Assessing Long-term Sustainability and Feasibility of Artificial Oyster Reef Projects

Fri, 04/29/2022 - 10:45
Abstract: The United States loses >80,000 acres of coastal wetlands annually, along with their ability to retain sediment and treat wastewater. The federal government spends a combined total of $650 million/year to combat coastal wetland loss, along with property damage and loss. Additionally, native oyster reefs have declined ~85% globally across their historical range. Relatively recent efforts are underway by coastal managers to restore oyster reefs to areas with significant coastal wetland loss, due to their natural ability to attenuate wave action, passively and actively filter wastewater, and support biodiversity and habitat for benthic organisms. This research aims to assess the sustainability and feasibility of artificial oyster reef projects to attain long-term management goals utilizing prominent case studies using this method, and understanding public valuation of coastal wetlands and oysters.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Natural Resources Conservation and Management
Year: 2022
Authors: Evan George

How Race and Income affect the Housing Market within the Tri-Lakes Area

Thu, 04/28/2022 - 21:18
Abstract: Race and income are crucial factors within a housing market. Within the Adirondacks, these variables play a significant role more than ever. Within the three towns in the heart of the Adirondacks known as the Tri-Lakes area, this research seeks to collect and analyze data around these two demographics. This study collects the data necessary spanning years prior within the Tri-Lake area, then analyzes it by using critical theories around Racial Infrastructure and Rural Decline. Within the study, it is found that there is no concrete relationship between the data and these theories. The results yielded more questions with the recommendation of the continuation of this study to solve the question on how income and race factor into the declining housing markets within the Adirondack Park.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Natural Resources Conservation and Management
Year: 2022
Authors: Ethan Billman & Lucas Machowski

“Affordable Housing and Sustainable Living”

Mon, 05/02/2022 - 12:15
Abstract: Sustainable and Affordable Housing and the Adirondacks Sustainable living has long been looked at as a costly goal for most Americans. Living in the Adirondack Park it is often believed to already be a more expensive lifestyle, this paired with the average household income being nearly $20,000 less than that of the average income of New York and US households, it is easy to believe that sustainable living is not feasible in the Adirondacks as affordable housing (Jones 2019) (Shrider 2021). The thought process of sustainable housing being unobtainable at affordable prices is implemented inside of the publics brain. This notion leads people to not seek out or even explore the possibility of sustainable housing in more places than just the Adirondacks. This brings up the question is it possible to live sustainably in the Adirondacks while maintaining the label of affordable housing. This question could end the myth and help express the focus of our study. The focus of our study is to shed light on the expenses of a sustainable household in the Adirondack Park and the problems with the current affordable housing crisis. Housing itself additionally has a harmful impact on the environment through heating, electricity, appliance use and so on. The literature used within this study is gathered from online and physical publicly accessible services. The focused upon topics consist of comparisons between energy sources, traditional and energy efficient appliances, building costs, and some smaller costs of living. An additional case study was looked into and thoroughly explored to understand the steps taken and motivation behind building a semi-autonomous, net zero home in the Adirondack Park.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Natural Resources Conservation and Management
Year: 2022
Authors: Tony R. Karbowski, Natural Resource and Conservation Management Major, Benjamin E. Poitras, Natural Resource and Conservation Management Major

Wildlife and Environmentally Friendly Tiny Home Village Communities

Mon, 05/02/2022 - 15:49
Abstract: Tiny home villages are on the rise across the country and the world. This is because of their affordability, designs, ability to move easily, and the positive environmental aspects that they have. There are several studies that show how this type of living is more beneficial for people in a lower income bracket, those suffering from homeless, and for mental health. However, this study looks at ways for tiny home villages to be more efficiently laid out in order to minimize the environmental and wildlife impacts that could occur from the addition of homes to an area. Any area that has any human interaction and introduction of outside material will have an impact on the wildlife pathways and grazing patterns, however, some styles of villages can have a significantly better outcome on wildlife in the surrounding area. By adjusting the ways the villages for tiny homes are set up, it can reduce the impact that it has on the wildlife areas where they are put.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Natural Resources Conservation and Management
Year: 2022
Authors: Awinita T. Stasilli

Can Sustainable Living Be Affordable

Mon, 05/02/2022 - 13:50
Abstract: This capstone encapsulates the topic of affordable sustainable living. We debunk different myths that surround sustainably living whether it is too expensive for middle-class families to achieve. We took a look at the social demographics of multiple cities and towns throughout the Adirondacks and we also compared the average annual income of these places to determine if it was the lack of income that was retraining people from perusing a sustainable lifestyle or if it was another factor. We then took a look at a specific case study that was an example of the pinnacle of what a sustainable lifestyle could look like and we wanted to see how middle class families could achieve this level of affordable sustainable living.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Natural Resources Conservation and Management
Year: 2022
Authors: Benjamin E. Poitras, Tony Karbowski

Outdoor Classroom

Mon, 05/02/2022 - 23:33
Abstract: The outdoor experience at Paul Smith’s College is essentially what the identity of the college is. Building an outdoor classroom is an opportunity that could potentially benefit the current school and also be influential on other schools that could follow suite. The implementation of an outdoor learning environment in a collegiate setting allows students to be more engaged in their learning experience while presenting a less formal environment for learning. This would be reciprocated for the instructors as well. Teaching in an environment that is very relaxed benefits both the teacher and the students enhancing their learning experience.
Access: No
Literary Rights: On
Major: Natural Resources Conservation and Management
Year: 2022
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Derek William Thompson, Rebecca Durinick, Shannon Mcpheeters, Annie Dehaven

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

Ten Year Management Plan on Jaguar (Panthera onca) Populations in Brazil

Sun, 05/03/2020 - 11:27
Abstract: Jaguars (Panthera onca) are the world’s third largest big cat and are found throughout Latin America and small parts of the United States of America. They are solitary, elusive carnivores that serves an ecological role as a keystone species throughout their distribution by maintaining populations of herbivorous species which provides more habitat availability and suitability for other wildlife species. Their populations are going through a decline and now 173000 individuals are currently inhabiting about half of their historical range. The factors that endanger jaguar populations are habitat destruction, illegal hunting, and loss of prey. The increase in ranching and the need for more communities for the growing human population are the reasons for the continuation in habitat destruction and the confrontations between people and jaguars. The goal for this management plan is to increase the jaguar populations by 10-15% within 10 years and maintain the populations throughout the country of Brazil. There are currently 86,800 individual jaguars in Brazil and reaching the goals in maintain populations will require improving their habitat and prey availability while reducing the factors that are the direct cause in their decline. The objectives include focusing conservation efforts on certain age classes to increase the survivability of individuals and the chances of reproduction to add individuals to a population. They also include mitigating human and jaguar conflicts, making environmental protections and wildlife management a bigger priority in the public, politics, and laws, and reducing the rate of habitat fragmentation by 20% throughout the country of Brazil. Some actions to make these objectives successful include conducting further research on the life cycle and natural behaviors on jaguars to support conservation efforts needed to benefit the populations and continuing current methods that are used to reduce human and jaguar conflicts. To monitor the success and failures of this management plan, public surveys for the residents’ perspective on the jaguars will be conducted yearly along with some population counts on the jaguars in each region of Brazil. Jaguars are currently listed as near threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list and due to the population declines and the continuation of factors effecting the populations, they will mostly likely be listed as vulnerable in 30 years. If there is an increase in conservation efforts and a reduction in conflicts between jaguars and human communities, then the jaguars will have a smaller chance of reaching extinction.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2020
File Attachments: Jaguar Management Plan .pdf
Authors: Joshua Staquet

Fifty-year Bicknell’s Thrush (Catharus bicknelli) Management Plan for the Adirondack Park, New York

Fri, 05/01/2020 - 10:40
Abstract: Bicknell’s Thrush (Catharus bicknelli) is a Nearctic-Neotropical migrant passerine found in southeast Canada from the Maritime providences and Quebec down into the Northeastern United States at high elevations of 900 m and above. Their difficult to access habitat and recent acknowledgement of being a distinct species, has resulted in a small body of knowledge and data pertaining to the species. Conservation issues of concern include nest depredation by Eastern red squirrels (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus), montane development, and potential impacts of climate change (i.e. habitat loss and the “Push” hypothesis from Swainson’s Thrush (Catharus ustulatus)). This management plan aims to increase juveniles and breeding populations of Bicknell’s Thrush in the Adirondack Park, New York, by at least 1% yearly, or by at least 50% total through 2070 to allow for the species to subsist. Objectives to reach the goal include increasing juvenile survival by 17% within 15 years and to conserve and increase suitable habitat in the Adirondack Park by silviculture practices such as increasing balsam and spruce-fir habitat (10% by 2040, 20% by 2050, 30% by 2070) and regenerating clear cuts of 5 to 15 years old. To increase the survival of juveniles, Eastern red squirrel populations would be reduced by hiring individuals prior and during Bicknell’s Thrush breeding season to shoot and trap Eastern red squirrels in known Bicknell’s Thrush habitat in the Adirondack Park. Throughout the 50-year management period, a population dynamic study will be initiated for Bicknell’s Thrush along with a population monitoring study for Eastern red squirrels. The studies would be used to determine if management actions have been successful and will be used to collect population dynamics for Bicknell’s Thrush. The studies will collect and provide currently unknown or not well studied data for Bicknell’s Thrush, such as data pertaining to their high natal dispersal and survival rates. Havahart #745 traps will be used to reduce Eastern red squirrel populations. Trapped Eastern red squirrels will be transferred in cages to not allow for escapees and taken to a facility out of public view. The species will then be euthanized by the CO2 method. After inspection, the trapped Eastern red squirrels will be taken to avian rehabilitation facilities to be utilized. To increase suitable habitat for Bicknell’s Thrush, partnerships with timber companies will be created to develop and implement best management practices for the species. Best management practices are even-aged methods, such as the variable-retention and partial-harvest systems, and constant state of afforestation stands of 5 to 15 years old. This action will improve and provide suitable nesting habitat and allow for no net loss of the Bicknell’s Thrush current habitat. Forest interior will be increased, and the creation of edges will increase suitable nesting and foraging habitat. Surveys will be released to the public to strike a balance between Bicknell’s Thrush and human dimensions, along with determine the public’s opinion and knowledge on the species and the management techniques to support the species. Based off the survey, montane activities occurring in Bicknell’s Thrush habitat will be halted during their breeding season to decrease disruption of nests and other behaviors. The species will be proposed to be listed as threatened or endangered to gain protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The species is not well known, and the creation and implementation of a successful management plan will increase Bicknell’s Thrush populations while also gaining beneficial information on the species.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2020
Authors: Falon Cote