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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.
Access: Yes
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.
Access: No
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.
Access: Yes
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.
Access: Yes
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.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2016
Authors: Michael Campbell

A Land Management Plan for the Gottemoeller Family Farm

Thu, 12/06/2012 - 09:58
Abstract: Private landowners own property that is used for a variety of purposes. A management plan can help them realize their goals. This management plan focuses on two main goals. One is to maximize the sustainable out put of black walnut and other quality hardwoods. The other is creation of quail habitat to increase the carrying capacity of bobwhite quail on the farm. Using aerial photos and field visits, the property was divided into ten different management units. Some units have a forestry focus and others have a quail habitat focus or both. A Wildlife Habitat Appraisal Guide was used to evaluate the existing habitat and to identify which elements need to be improved. Peer reviewed research and agency technical expertise were used to identify which practices will improve the limiting elements for quail habitat. A Forest Plan developed by a professional forester with the Missouri Department of Conservation was incorporated into the farm Management Plan.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Environmental Sciences
Year: 2012
Authors: Adam Gottemoeller

The Effect of Temperature and pH on the Growth of Variable-leaf Milfoil (Myriophyllum heterophyllum)

Tue, 12/04/2012 - 18:03
Abstract: A fundamental part of invasion biology is the prediction of the potential spread of nonindigenous species (NIS). This is due to the negative ecological, economic and human-health effects that NIS may cause. Variable-leaf Milfoil (Myriophyllum heterophyllum), a highly invasive NIS to the Northeast, is native to southern U.S. states from Florida to New Mexico, and has since spread to North Dakota and southwestern Quebec without becoming invasive to those areas. Variable-leaf milfoil is invasive to the Adirondacks in northern New York State and is spreading at a rapid pace. This study questions whether temperature and pH have an effect on the growth of Variable-leaf milfoil. In this laboratory experiment, the growth of 80 Variable-leaf Milfoil fragments was examined in warm (33.1275°C) and cold (23.135°C) temperatures, combined with 10 pH treatments. Fragments showed increased growth in cold water when compared to the warm temperature treatment, and no relationship was shown between temperature and pH treatment in relation to growth.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Environmental Sciences
Year: 2012
File Attachments: CapstoneDeliverable.docx
Authors: Claire Baker

The influence of temperature, moon phase and cloud cover on the catchability of bats in the Upper Connecticut River Basin and the Merrimack River Basin

Sun, 12/09/2012 - 15:28
Abstract: Small mammals modify their behavior in response to environmental factors such as weather, temperature, moon phase, visibility and the time of night at which they forage. The goal of my study was to determine how environmental variables such as temperature, moon phase and visibility (cloud cover) affected the efficiency (bat captures/net meter/ hour) of bat mist netting. Mist nets were placed in the months of June, July, August, September and November from 2003 to 2012 using mist netting surveys at 23 Army Corps of Engineers dams and recreation projects in New Hampshire and Vermont. Catch rate of bats was not affected by moon phase (P= 0.317) or cloud cover (P=0.130), but were slightly affected by temperature (P=0.053). These results were consistent with other studies that looked at the effects of moon phase, cloud cover and temperature on bats. Knowing the effects of environmental conditions on catchability could be useful to biologists in determining if it is worthwhile to mist net bats on nights with certain conditions to maximize efficiency of catching bats
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2012
Authors: Jeremy Chamberlain

Can black-capped chickadees learn to associate ultraviolet markers with a food source?

Thu, 12/06/2012 - 07:22
Abstract: Food storing birds, like black-capped chickadees (Poecile atricapillus), have a higher hippocampal volume than other birds, giving them the ability to hide food in small caches and retrieve them hours later with great precision using physical features of the surrounding area as guides. This capacity for learning spatial information may be able to translate to other forms of learning, such as association. Black-capped chickadees are also able to see in the near ultraviolet range (~370nm), theoretically to allow for more vibrant plumage during the breeding season. I hypothesized that black-capped chickadees have the ability to associate an ultraviolet marker with a food source. If they can, perhaps birds can be 'taught' to go towards or away from things like wind turbines, windows, and other hazardous objects. I tested my hypothesis by counting the number of chickadees that landed on two different feeders, one with an ultraviolet marker and food and one with neither. I found that there was no significant trend, either within or between days, that would indicate that the birds learned (χ2 test and Student’s t-test). As a management use, researchers propose that ultraviolet markers on wind turbines could decrease the collision rate of birds with turbine blades.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2012
File Attachments: Eck_Capstone_Final.doc
Authors: Benjamin Eck