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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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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

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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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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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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Major: Environmental Sciences
Year: 2015
Authors: Robert Frank

Environmental Factors Influencing the Establishment of Moss Species in the Elevator Shaft on Whiteface Mountain: A Descriptive Study

Wed, 12/02/2015 - 15:19
Abstract: The moss species growing in the elevator shaft on Whiteface Mountain have not yet been identified and little is known on the environmental conditions in which they exist. Light, moisture, substrate pH, and temperature play vital roles in the establishment and reproduction of moss. In the summer of 2015 eight moss species, present only in their gametophyte generation, were identified in the shaft. Four of these species are known to exist on the mountain outside of the elevator shaft. Temperature and relative humidity were measured to represent the conditions of the shaft, whereas available light, moisture, and substrate pH were measured with each colony. Temperature and humidity became more stable further into the shaft, similar to that of a cave environment. In addition, temperature peaked during the hours the elevator was in operation. Light, moisture, and substrate pH of each species were not strongly correlated with colony area. Most colonies were found to be growing on a type of sediment, rather than directly on the granite wall of the shaft. The pH of these substrates ranged between 6.68 and 8.99. The influx of tourists on Whiteface between May and October may play a vital role in the establishment of these species. The elevator may provide air circulation within the shaft and the electric lights omit the radiation necessary for the mosses survival. There is a 6 month period with possibly no light source or circulation of air. Further research should document these changes in environmental conditions during this period.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Integrative Studies
Year: 2015
Authors: Danica R. Maloney

Assessing Activities and Policies to Improve Outing Club Participation

Wed, 04/29/2015 - 19:48
Abstract: College outing clubs have proven to be very beneficial for college students of all ages and fields of study. Research shows that outing programs, outdoor education programs, and adventure education programs can have a terrific impact on student’s mental, physical, and spiritual health. This study aims to assess activities and policies that could potentially increase participation in the outing club of Paul Smiths College in the Adirondack Mountains of Upstate New York. The questions this study intends to answer are: 1.) What types of activities will cause an increase in participation? 2.) What types of qualifications & experience should be required of guides and group leaders? and 3.) What can we do to increase organization or professionalism of our program? Using surveys, interviews, and credible sources, this study collected data from successful college outing clubs, the Paul Smith’s student body, and professionals in the field of recreation and summarized it into one collection of results with intentions of exposing ways to increase participation in the program and increase professionalism and organization of the program. Results exposed reoccurring themes regarding expectations for guide training, activities provided through other successful programs, and activities suggested by the student body. The student body survey revealed high support of technical skills seminars to teach students technical backcountry skills in a shorter period of time, and a high demand for high intensity activities such as white water rafting. Many responses supported the fact that in order to increase popularity in a program, the activities need to be demanding enough that individuals aren’t likely to partake in the activity without prior organization and qualified leadership. The results and data found in this study can be used in the future to develop outing club policies and procedures to aid in the success of the program.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Integrative Studies
Year: 2015
File Attachments:
Authors: Richard DeLong

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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Literary Rights: On
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

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.
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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.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Environmental Sciences
Year: 2012
File Attachments: CapstoneDeliverable.docx
Authors: Claire Baker