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Capstone Projects

Forest Structure and Composition in the Smitty Creek Watershed

Wed, 12/14/2016 - 09:56
Abstract: The 2016 Smitty Creek CFI (Continuous Forest Inventory) study addressed the issue of creating a reliable and repeatable inventory design to examine general forestry trends and their relationships with the watershed itself. Identifying these trends and their consequences is important when considering factors linked to climate change, such as carbon storage and allocation. The objective of this project were as follows: establish 10 new CFI plots, monitor and record for signs of disease and insects, tree mortality, and overstory wildlife habitat, accurately estimate forest carbon sequestration, record understory composition in a 1/50th acre area around each plot center, and suggest methods and reasons for application in Paul Smith’s College CFI capstone projects. The study was conducted within the Smitty Creek watershed in Paul Smiths, NY with the plots falling on a transect that runs north and south. At each plot, trees within the radius were assigned numbered aluminum tags, trees were measured at diameter at breast height, and other features, such as snags, were recorded. Upon completing the project, 10 CFI plots had been created and their locations were recorded, several diseases and forest health concerns were identified, as well as, tree mortality and wildlife habitat considerations, carbon sequestration for the watershed was modeled over the next century, and a CFI project was designed for the Paul Smith’s College land compartments. The Smitty Creek watershed CFI project is repeatable and has an accurate baseline of information for future studies, and the Paul Smith’s College land compartments CFI plot design is ready for implementation.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Environmental Sciences, Fisheries and Wildlife Science, Forestry
Year: 2016
Authors: Gregg Slezak, Leonard Johnson, William O'Reilly, Jake Weber, Charlie Ulrich, Collin Perkins McCraw, Jake Harm, Nick Georgelas

Rooted Education: learning from aquaponics

Sat, 04/30/2016 - 15:02
Abstract: Aquaponics is the integration of soil-less agriculture (hydroponics) within closed-loop aquaculture systems to reduce the toxic accumulation of nutrient waste from aquatic animals. Bacteria naturally establish to purify water by oxidizing the ammonia secreted by fish, which reduces the toxicity of effluent while creating a usable nitrogen source for plants. The conversion of ammonia and nitrite into nitrate by living bacteria communities is called a biological filter, or biofiltration (FAO 2014). Aquaponics would not be possible without biofiltration; the slightest amount of ammonia would be fatally toxic to fish, and plants wouldn't receive the nitrates they need to grow. There are unique opportunities offered by an aquaponics system to learn about ecological and human communities. 1.1. Aquaponics enables users to grow fish and agricultural plants with limited space and resource use (water, soil, and time). This enables an aquaponics user to invest less physical energy and time into expanding sustainable food resources for their household use. 1.2. A small aquaponics system could promote cultural values of self-sufficiency, energy consciousness, and connection to food systems. It could inspire individual efforts to produce food for one’s household, to build healthier and more resilient systems, and a greater appreciation for farming. Therefore, this project aims to actualize a mobile and functional aquaponics system for the educational benefit of the Paul Smith's College community. I will provide the background knowledge needed to maintain an aquaponics system, as well as describe the general concept of aquaponics design.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Environmental Sciences, Natural Resources Sustainability Studies
Year: 2016
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Brian Jason Kohan

Management and Conservation of Black Footed Cats in Southern Africa

Fri, 05/06/2016 - 15:19
Abstract: The black-footed Cat (Felis nigripes) is endemic to southern Africa and is the smallest sub-Saharan cat. The Population as it is now is less than 10,000 breeding pairs in the wild. Human influence on the cat’s habitat and food sources have been the main cause for the decline of its population. Farmers are setting traps for larger predators that are killing the Black Footed cat unintentionally, while at the same time farmer’s pest control are killing off part of their food sources. Through regulation and control these methods could be phased out and replaced with better options. If the survivorship of adult black-footed cats could be raised by 5% over 10 years the population would go from declining to a steady increase (fig 2). This increase in population would help the species get to a point where it could be removed from the INCU Red List.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2016
Authors: Melissa Harris
Fri, 05/06/2016 - 15:19
Abstract: The black-footed Cat (Felis nigripes) is endemic to southern Africa and is the smallest sub-Saharan cat. The Population as it is now is less than 10,000 breeding pairs in the wild. Human influence on the cat’s habitat and food sources have been the main cause for the decline of its population. Farmers are setting traps for larger predators that are killing the Black Footed cat unintentionally, while at the same time farmer’s pest control are killing off part of their food sources. Through regulation and control these methods could be phased out and replaced with better options. If the survivorship of adult black-footed cats could be raised by 5% over 10 years the population would go from declining to a steady increase (fig 2). This increase in population would help the species get to a point where it could be removed from the INCU Red List.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2016
Authors: Melissa Harris

Conservation and Management of the Pine Barrens Treefrog (Hyla andersonii) in New Jersey

Fri, 05/06/2016 - 08:54
Abstract: The Pine Barrens Treefrog (Hyla andersonii) is a medium-sized frog found in 3 disjunct populations on the east coast of the United States. The three populations are found in the sandhills of North and South Carolina, Florida panhandle and the main hub of the three populations is in southern New Jersey. They inhabit many wetland areas, including Atlantic white-cedar swamps, pitch pine lowlands and herbaceous wetlands. Preferred breeding habitat is very acidic ponds surrounded by early-successional vegetation, wetlands and seepage bogs with a high vegetative cover along edge of ponds. The IUCN has this species listed as near threatened due to its distribution being less than 20,000 km2. New Jersey currently has them listed as threatened due to critical habitat loss and degradation due to development. Populations seem to be relatively stable for the short term but their populations could decline 30%-50% in the long term. Compounding these issues management of this species may be ineffective due to a lack of knowledge on non-breeding distributions of adults from breeding ponds as well as survival rates at each of its life stages. This plan proposes 5 objectives to help stabilize the population in New Jersey Pine Barrens. These objectives include: conserving and restoring critical habitat and improving ecological knowledge.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2016
Authors: Brandan Aschmutat

Management Plan for Roseate Spoonbills (Platalea ajaja) in the Everglades National Park

Thu, 05/05/2016 - 14:04
Abstract: This is a management plan for the roseate spoonbill (Platalea ajaja) in the Everglades National Park.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2016
Authors: Michael Campbell

Analysis of common water sampling techniques used to assess lake trophic state

Sat, 12/05/2015 - 00:21
Abstract: Volunteer lake management programs (VLMPs) across the country employ different surface water sampling techniques to establish long-term trends in nutrient availability and trophic state. The three most common techniques are a surface grab (SG), 2m integrated tube sampler (IT), and a discrete sampler, such as a Van Dorn or Kemmerer bottle deployed to a depth of 1.5m (DD). These various sampling techniques vary not only in depth, but also in cost and ease of use. The objectives of my study are to 1) determine if there is a statistical difference in chlorophyll-a (chl-a) and total phosphorus (TP) concentration obtained between the three different sampling techniques, 2) determine if the treatment effect (sampling device) varies over time, 3) determine which method has the least amount of variability, and 4) determine if sampling technique ultimately influences trophic state classification. The study was conducted on Upper St. Regis Lake, Paul Smiths, New York. I collected 10 samples from the lake using the three different techniques during the months of June – August, 2015. I found a significant difference in chlorophyll-a concentration between sampling techniques during June and July, and during the month of July for TP. The three sampling techniques yielded similar variability for chlorophyll-a but significantly different variability for TP. Ultimately, the trophic status rating for Upper St. Regis was not effected by sampling technique. My study suggests that VLMP should utilize a SG or IT rather than a costly DD sampler.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Environmental Sciences
Year: 2015
Authors: Hunter Favreau

Trophic status of Lake Placid over the past 2740 + 30 years inferred by sub-fossil diatom analysis.

Thu, 04/30/2015 - 11:07
Abstract: The hypothesis of this study was that human activity in the Lake Placid watershed would cause changes in the lakes trophic status. Trophic status was inferred by changes in diatom assemblages over time. This analysis shows that an unusual increase in Asterionella and Tabellaria has occurred within the past 200 years. Both of these species are indicators of higher trophic status, so their increase in numbers indicates a recent increase in trophic status (Stager 2001, Rawson 1956, Stevenson et al, 1982). Loss on ignition tests were used to determine the organic content of samples from two cores. These tests showed that organic content has varied in the past, however changes observed in the upper 20 cm of the record for Lake Placid and Wolf Lake suggest that human activity impacted the lake. The data collected in this study supports the hypothesis that human settlement in the Lake Placid watershed has changed its trophic status.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Environmental Sciences
Year: 2015
Authors: Alex Garrigan-Piela

Limnological Report of Marvin (Potters) Pond

Thu, 04/30/2015 - 09:51
Abstract: Long term data of limnological conditions is crucial to understand lentic freshwater ecosystems. Marvin (Potters) pond is a 2.04 hectare kettle pond located in Franklin County, New York in the Northern Adirondack Park. There have been numerous short studies of the pond over the past 30 years but the pond has never been intently monitored to date. The pond is assumed to be meromictic by the NYSDEC. The objectives of this study are to 1) calculate the morphometry of the pond and its watershed; 2) the determination of the trophic status of the pond; 3) to document the chemical composition of the pond, particularly as it relates to acidity and acid neutralizing capacity; 4) to document the annual dynamics of temperature and dissolved oxygen. Evidence from profile data on dissolved oxygen and total iron suggests that the pond is monomictic with the capability to be meromictic under certain climatic conditions. The mixing period of the pond occurred in the month of November. The morphometry of Marvin pond was found to have a conical cross sectional area and large depth for the surface area of the pond. The trophic state of Marvin pond was found to be eutrophic for chlorophyll-a and total phosphorus concentrations but mesotrophic for the secchi disk reading. The acidity of the pond was found to be high with a low buffering capacity.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Environmental Sciences
Year: 2015
Authors: Robert Frank

Management Plan for Reintroduction of elk (Cervus canadensis) to the Adirondack Park, New York

Fri, 05/08/2015 - 22:08
Abstract: Elk were extirpated from their historic eastern range, which entailed most states and parts of Canada east of the Mississippi River, by the late 1800’s. In the western United States elk (Cervus canadensis) are experiencing encroachment and habitat loss due to current land management practices. Overgrazing by cattle and encroachment through development and natural gas drilling are the main causes of habitat loss for elk. Many eastern states such as Tennessee, Michigan, and Pennsylvania have reintroduced elk herds to protected areas of their respective states to ensure that these anthropogenic causes of habitat loss will not affect the elk. The Adirondacks of New York offer a large expanse of land where elk could thrive in their historic range. The proposed plan would be to reintroduce 100 elk to the western region of the Adirondack Park in parts of Franklin and St. Lawrence Counties. Before the individuals would be reintroduced, forest management through the use of clear-cutting and patch burning would be implemented to promote the suitable amount of foraging habitat. To assess the population growth of the elk, individuals will be fitted with VHF radio collars to be able to conduct aerial surveys. To assess habitat alteration, vegetation surveys will be conducted to determine the amount of understory vegetation occurring in each cut and burnt patch. This management plan will be successful when the elk population has grown to a level at which they can be hunted sustainably. Hunting will be monitored by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. This management effort would successfully reintroduce a once native species to its historic range providing ecological stability, as well as economic and social benefits.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2015
File Attachments: Final Draft.docx
Authors: Kyle Nellis