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Capstone Projects

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.
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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

PSC Alumni Campground Campsite Firewood: Risks and Solutions

Mon, 05/11/2020 - 01:37
Abstract: The purpose of our capstone was to build a woodshed for the PSC Alumni Campground. Camping is one of the most widely participated recreational activities during the year, and has been a recreational activity in the Adirondacks for many generations. People who camp at times find It difficult to locate dry firewood or any firewood at all, so they bring their own firewood with them or continue to search for wood off established trails. Walking off established trails can kill plant vegetation or disrupt natural processes in the forest. My group and I decided a woodshed that holds 3 cords of wood for the Alumni Campground would allow campers to stop searching for firewood out in the forest and prevent campers from bringing their own firewood into the park and risking the spread of any invasive species. The woodshed dimensions were 5ft in width by 12ft long and 7ft at the highest point and 5ft in the back. With a few slight modifications, we spaced the floorboards 6in apart for more ventilation. Overall, due to the pandemic, we were unable to complete the entire woodshed.
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Major: Natural Resources Conservation and Management
Year: 2020
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Mitch Akowicz , Kyle Bond, Josh Campbell, Matt Frye, Alex Purdy

Managing the Declining Population of Northern long-eared bats in New York State

Thu, 05/03/2018 - 08:02
Abstract: White-nose syndrome (Geomyces destructans) is a fungal disease that has caused over 5.5 million bat deaths in eastern North America. The fungus affects any open skin including the bat’s patagium and causes lesions. The fungus consists of microscopic spores which can attach to anything it comes into contact with to spread the disease. The fungus is spread from bat to bat and cave systems as well as facilitated by human tourism. Northern long-eared bats (Myotis septentrionalis) are currently threatened in New York State. The northern long-eared bat is an insectivore and must hibernate when its food source is unavailable. During hibernation the bat’s immune system is suppressed, making it more vulnerable to the effects of white-nose syndrome. The bat will deplete its fat reserve to fight off the disease, which will lead to death if the bat cannot find a food source. White-nose syndrome has decreased the northern long-eared bat population by 90% in New York State. There is no cure for white-nose syndrome, and the northern long-eared bat population continues to decrease in New York State. The northern long-eared bat population is relatively unknown, but estimated to be 20,000 individuals in New York State. Population projections predict that the bat may become extirpated from New York State in the next 5 years. Increasing the survivability of the juvenile bat population to 70% and the adult bat population to 80% would prevent the extirpation of the species. The goal of this management plan is to increase the population of northern long-eared bats in New York to prevent the extirpation of the species from the state and create a sustainable population. This should be done by preventing further human facilitation of the disease, increasing educational resources for the public and gathering more information about the fungus and the northern long-eared bat population in New York.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Bailey Muntz

Glenview Preserve: Sustainable Farming Methods

Thu, 12/13/2018 - 12:05
Abstract: In 2016, the Glenview Preserve was purchased by the Adirondack Land Trust, with a goal to maintain and preserve the two agricultural fields on the property. The farmer that leases the two fields from the Adirondack Land Trust will have to use sustainable farming methods to farm the fields, so that the biodiversity of the fields and also the Bloomingdale Bog are protected. There are three different farming intensities, which are low intensity, medium intensity and high intensity. The farmer should use low intensity farming because if the farmer used high intensity the ecosystems that are present on the Glenview Preserve property would be severely impacted. The farmer will most likely maintain the current fields by mowing the fields with a mowing machine, which has negative impacts on the land such as soil compaction. With the types of soil that the agriculture fields have, it is advised that the current fields remain hay fields and that different grasses and legumes that benefit the farmer’s livestock are grown. The farmer that leases the property from Adirondack Land Trust will have to decide if they will use draft horses, modern haying equipment or a mix of both to harvest the hay fields. No matter which way they choose to harvest the hay fields they will have to be sustainable, be able to develop ways to preserve the grassland bird species and maintain the Adirondack hayscape.
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Major: Natural Resources Conservation and Management
Year: 2018
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Dustin Clark

Management Plan for Pacific Walrus (Odobenus rosmarus divergens) in Alaska, 2017-2027

Fri, 04/28/2017 - 18:06
Abstract: Pacific Walruses are social mammals and travel in herds. Most of the population spends the summer months in the ice pack of the Chukchi Sea; however, mostly adult males use coastal haulouts in the Bering Sea. Walruses use ice to rest between foraging trips, mate, care for their young, and defend themselves against predators. Climate reduced their ability to engage in these behaviors by eliminating the ice pack in their summer season. Walruses feed on bivalves on the sea bottom; however, because of climate change they no longer can reach the bottom. In response to the loss of ice, walruses are resting on land haulouts with as many as 20,000-40,000 individuals. This puts pressure on the benthic material supply. The swim from drifting ice to coastal haulouts can be hundreds of kilometers, which leads to the death of young walruses. Walruses are sensitive to sounds from ships, aircrafts, and tourist underwater and out of water. When walruses are disturbed by these events, they create stampedes by trying to dive into the water. The stampeding event ends in high mortality for calves. In 2007, more than 1,000 walruses were trampled to death in Chukotka, Russia. To prevent human disturbances, management at haulouts needs to occur for 10 years (2017-2027). The goals are to improve demographic knowledge of pacific walruses, minimize stampeding events, and grow and replace native bivalves near land haulouts. This could be accomplished by laws that require aircraft and vessels to maintain the appropriate distance. Creating artificial habitat would result in less use of coastal haulouts which would decrease mortality during stampeding events. It would also provide easier access to bivalves for foraging trips. Bivalves are depleting near land haulouts due to large demand from the high density of walruses, therefore aquaculture is needed to replace their food source. Harvesting more of the adult population would be essential to maintain the population from going over carrying capacity. If the adult population decreases then fewer calves will die in stampedes. These objectives are necessary to ensure the future of walruses and their new habitat.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2017
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Desiree Stumpf

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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Major: Biology
Year: 2015
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Jorge Velazquez

A Management Plan for the Black-Tailed Prairie Dog (Cynomys ludovicianus)

Thu, 04/30/2015 - 22:07
Abstract: Since the turn of the century black-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus) populations have declined as much as 98% throughout North America (Miller et al. 1994). It was once thought that prairie dogs occupied between 80-104 million acres historically, but with the expansion of ranching and agriculture into the prairie dogs native habitat, that number has been reduced to 2.4 million acres in recent years. Black-tailed prairie dogs play a vital role in the prairie and grasslands ecosystems. There are a number of different species of animals that depend on prairie dogs and their activities. It has been thought that over 170 species rely on the prairie dogs for their burrows, for food, and the habitat they create. Most states currently within the range of the black-tailed prairie dog classify the species as a pest or varmint, and no state has adequate regulatory mechanisms in place to assure conservation of this species within its borders. This management plan will propose strategies to adequately regulate the conservation of the black-tailed prairie dog, eventually leading to the partial restoration of the prairie ecosystem.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2015
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Ryan McAuliffe

Reintroduction Feasibility of the Adirondack Wolf

Tue, 05/05/2015 - 11:14
Abstract: Mammalian carnivores are increasingly the focus of reintroduction attempts in areas from which they have been extirpated by historic persecution. The gray wolf (Canis Lupus) has been one of the most successful examples of large carnivore reintroduction around the world. The purpose of the study is to determine whether or not it is possible to successfully reintroduce the gray wolf into the Adirondack Park environment. Static and dynamic spatial geographical models were used to evaluate whether a proposed wolf reintroduction to the Adirondack Park is feasible. Ecological, economic, and sociopolitical aspects are limiting factors that are analyzed to determine if the reintroduction is structurally possible for the park.
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Major: Natural Resources Management and Policy
Year: 2015
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Samuel Burnham , Christopher Broccoli , Zach Long, Tyler Twichell

Optimal Clutch Size of American Kestrels (Falco sparverius) in Northern New York

Mon, 04/28/2014 - 12:08
Abstract: American kestrels readily use nest boxes, which makes them perfect candidates for studies on nesting activity and success. Nesting success is important to understand so that managers can effectively assess the productivity of a breeding population of kestrels. The goal of this study was to determine optimum clutch size for American Kestrels in Northern New York. The hypothesis was that optimum clutch size consisted of four eggs per clutch. The objective was to determine what clutch size is most effective at hatching young. The study was conducted during the months of June 2013 through August 2013 on 150 nest boxes that were established in 2002. The contents of each elevated nest box were observed using a video baby monitor attached to an extendible pole to minimize disturbance. Clutch size data and number of chicks hatched was compiled and analyzed using a Kruskal-Wallis test. This test was used because it allowed data to be separated into different clutch sizes, and determined the significance between the number of eggs in each clutch and the number of chicks hatched. Clutch sizes varied from 1-5 eggs, with occurrences of one and four eggs being most common. The majority of nesting attempts with one egg failed, resulting in a low probability of chicks hatching from one egg clutches. A clutch size of four eggs has the highest probability of successfully hatching chicks and the highest mean number of chicks hatched compared to the other clutch sizes.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2014
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Jennifer Miller

Managing Raccoon (Procyon lotor) Populations in Urban Environments of New York State

Mon, 05/06/2013 - 17:29
Abstract: With the human population growing over time, so has the amount of urban and suburban populations. Urban areas have fragmented the landscape that can attract wild populations into the urban areas. One of these species that has been attracted includes the raccoon (Procyon lotor). In urban areas where resources are abundant, raccoon densities can become very high and they can become very destructive to homes. They are destructive to homes because of their generalist foraging habits and creation of den sites in human’s homes. Raccoons can be particularly dangerous in the spread of epizootics such as rabies, canine distemper, and roundworm. With raccoons in high densities the spread of the epizootics becomes very easy between raccoons which can cause a higher transmission rate to domestic animals or humans. Since population reduction methods have proven to be ineffective in reducing raccoon populations, education to the public to reduce the densities of raccoons may be the most effective. Proper management in maintaining public facilities, feeding wild and domestic animals outdoors, along with precautionary measures to take with your home can help in reducing the amount of negative interactions with raccoons. Also using current or past DEC or animal control data can help determine areas of highest negative interactions with the public to prevent future incidences in occurring.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2013
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Scott M. Collins