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Capstone Projects

Forest Health Assessment: Kate Mountain Farm

Fri, 07/08/2022 - 11:17
Abstract: Disturbances that degrade forested ecosystems can have significant impacts on forest health. These impacts should be of great concern for forest landowners. Natural disturbances such as insect and disease agents, and human caused disturbances such as logging, soil compaction, and pollution can have substantial economic and environmental impacts. It is of great importance for landowners to be given the right knowledge and tools to deal with these disturbances in order to avoid any large-scale losses of timber productivity, degraded water yields, depleted nutrient cycling, and/or decreased biodiversity. Forestland can provide many harvestable natural resources and ecosystem services for very long periods of time if they are managed sustainably and responsibly. This of course entails a forest being composed of healthy thriving trees.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Biology, Environmental Sciences, Forestry
Year: 2021
Authors: Matthew R. Wedge, Erin Reilly

Paleoecological Study of Heart Lake in the High Peaks Region.

Thu, 07/07/2022 - 10:01
Abstract: Paleoecological techniques were used to reconstruct long-term changes in the watershed of Heart Lake in the High Peaks region of the Adirondacks Mountains of New York State. The primary sampling was for diatoms, “glassy” photosynthetic algae, that could provide long-term perspectives on ecological processes. The reconstruction of the chemical and biological history with various diatom species provides evidence of watershed acidification and productivity (aquatic systems health) throughout the past to recent time scales. A UWITECH gravity core was used to sample sediment in two of the deepest holes. As evident with diatom species taxa, Heart Lake may have experienced acidification that was interrupted by the effects of forest fire in the watershed. The lake became more productive in the last few decades following amendments to the Clean Air Act in 1990 and other anthropogenic effects. The disturbances to the watershed contradicted the “heritage” status of Heart Lake with variability in diatomic and fish communities, moving away from pristine and towards disturbed.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Environmental Sciences
Year: 2021
Authors: Abigail Charlebois

The Ecology of Freshwater Sponges in the Headwaters of the St. Regis River

Thu, 07/07/2022 - 11:16
Abstract: Various ecological aspects of the marine sponges are well-known. However, sponges inhabiting freshwaters have been largely ignored despite having widespread distribution and possibly being water quality indicators. Basic information about their abundance, biomass, and preferred habitat remains unclear. Biomass of sponges in the headwaters of the St. Regis River was estimated to determine if they require certain habitat features. Data collection occurred before dormancy in autumn to acquire an accurate estimation of biomass. The average biomass for the entire study was 3.04 dry g/m2. Percent cover was visually estimated and recorded as a second measurement of freshwater sponge abundance. According to this scale, sponges were rare (<5%), occasional (6 to 15%) or present (16 to 25%) across the three study reaches. Freshwater sponges were found in velocities of 0 ft/sec to 2.4 ft/sec. Most freshwater sponges were found on submerged, large cobble (64 – 255 mm) and pebbles (2 - 64 mm). Despite this, percent cover, velocity, substrate type and percent canopy openness had no significant relationship with the biomass of freshwater sponges. Additionally, depth of the water and freshwater sponge biomass had a weak significant relationship. Keywords: freshwater sponges, ecology, distribution, habitat features, biomass
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Environmental Sciences
Year: 2021
Authors: Luz Rodriguez

Black Ash

Mon, 07/18/2022 - 10:19
Abstract: The summary of my project was to find other risks other than the emerald ash borer that are affecting the Black Ash tree species.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Environmental Sciences, Natural Resources Conservation and Management
Year: 2021
Authors: Richard Holton

The Sleeping Kitten Bakery

Thu, 07/07/2022 - 16:20
Abstract: My name is Kelly Brewer and for my Capstone I created The Sleeping Kitten. This is a bakery located in Honolulu, Hawaii that offers a small menu of baked goods, include special Asian treats like mochi and melonpan. We also offer a bento box special, where customers can buy a two-layer bento box with our logo on it and fill it, paying by the pound. Once they empty it, they can wash it and bring it back to refill it! We offer animal-shaped breads that we rotate every few months, and a portion of the profits from those will go towards local animal shelters. We also strive to help the human aspect of the community and donate products we can not sell to food banks.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Integrative Studies
Year: 2021
Authors: Kelly Brewer

What would Paul Smith’s College campus look like with an agriculture business adding to the degrees

Mon, 07/18/2022 - 09:46
Abstract: Proposing Paul Smith's College to add Agriculture Business as a major here on campus for students.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Integrative Studies, Natural Resources Conservation and Management, Sustainable Communities & Working Landscapes
Year: 2021
Authors: Bethany Orvis

Welcome Week Canoe Trip

Mon, 07/18/2022 - 11:24
Abstract: Our capstone group researched the potential benefits of implementing a welcome week canoe trip for incoming students at Paul Smith’s College (PSC). These kinds of outdoor orientation programs have been found to be useful in socializing new students, forming bonds with classmates, and building confidence amongst the participants. This trip would be targeted at new students primarily in the Recreation, Adventure Education and Leisure Management program, and the Parks and Conservation Management program. The research we conducted as well as information we gathered from scholarly articles led us to believe that implementing this trip would be beneficial for new students and would benefit them throughout their college careers.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Integrative Studies, Recreations, Adventure Travel and Ecotourism
Year: 2021
Authors: Logan Hoyt, Denis Dean, Jack Palmer

Amping up the North Country: A Suitability Analysis for Electric Vehicles in the Adirondack Mountains

Mon, 07/18/2022 - 13:57
Abstract: In the last five years there has been a shifting tone surrounding electric vehicles (EVs) in areas of policy making, engineering feats across multiple industries, and large-scale corporate pledges to integrate EVs into their business. This collective shift in perception directly coincides with the rapidly improving EV viability as well as a general shift to renewable energy generation and energy storage systems. The advancement of policy and technology in tandem has made the shift towards EVs a viable possibility. Despite the increasingly compelling use case for an EV dominated future, there are still a number of environmental, social, logistical and economic roadblocks to overcome before this transition occurs. This paper aims to provide a general use case for EVs going forward, while addressing concerns, misconceptions, and issues that have slowed a large scale transition. In addition to analyzing EVs as a whole, this paper will look at the feasibility of the integration of EVs and the infrastructure that accompanies them through the lens of the rural communities that lie within the boundaries of the Adirondack Park. The existing electrical infrastructure and proximity to Canada’s leading network illustrates that the Adirondacks could be a leader in creating a viable rural charging network that addresses the seasonal fluctuations that result as a tourist economy. Keywords: Electric Vehicles, Charging Infrastructure, Renewable Energy, Rural Charging
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Integrative Studies
Year: 2021
Authors: Sean Jackson

The Lower St. Regis Lake Shoreline: Understanding the Past, Analyzing the Present, and Recommendations for the Future

Sat, 05/09/2020 - 11:54
Abstract: Continuing shoreline research and restoration planning will help Paul Smith’s College adhere to their own missions and visions including experiential learning, improving students' lives, and maintaining an ecological conscience as a community.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Ecological Restoration, Environmental Sciences
Year: 2020
Authors: Zoe Plant, Thomas Firkins, Julie Capito, and Benjamin Marshall

Small Mammal Presence and Predation of Boreal Bird Nests in Forested vs. Open Peatlands in the Northern Adirondack Park, NY

Mon, 11/30/2020 - 16:07
Abstract: Recent declines of many boreal birds have been documented in the last decade and area attributed to changing climate and human development. One factor that has not been studied in the critical boreal peatland habitats in the Adirondack Park is the occurrence and influence of small mammals preying on passerine boreal bird nests. The hypotheses tested were (1) small mammals occupy forested peatlands in a higher abundance than open peatlands at the study sites and (2) boreal bird nests in forested peatlands are more likely to be preyed on by small mammals than nests in open peatlands. Baited track tubes were placed on transects within open and forested peatlands and activity was estimated from prints left on contact paper, and artificial nests and eggs were used to compare the difference in nest predation between open and forested peatlands. There was a difference in small mammal activity between forested and open bog at the Paul Smith’s VIC study area, but results were not significant at Shingle Shanty medium bog. 67% of artificial nests in the forested bog at the VIC were destroyed, and only 14% were destroyed in the open bog. At Shingle Shanty, 83% of the nests were destroyed in the forested bog and 0% of artificial nests were damaged in the open bog.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Environmental Sciences
Year: 2020
Authors: Carly Beckstrom