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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.
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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 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

Management Capstone

Mon, 05/06/2019 - 15:38
Abstract: The management capstone planned an event for the Paul Smiths college community to partake in. They conducted interviews of event planners, spoke to different departments within the school, created a budget, and executed the event. Their event was based around earth day and sustainable practices. They were able to track the number of attendees through a sign-in sheet and satisfaction of the event through a survey. The capstone students learned what it takes to plan events, how to execute them, and how to track their impact on the community involved.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Entrepreneurial Business Studies
Year: 2019
Authors: Natalina Bevilacqua
Gabrielle Fronckowiak

Effects of Silvicultural Treatments on Wildlife Communities at the Paul Smith's College Forest Research Demonstration Areas

Fri, 05/11/2018 - 16:15
Abstract: Logging has drastically altered North American forest ecosystems for centuries. While extensive studies have been done to determine the impacts of different silvicultural practices on plant communities, minimal research has evaluated the impacts on wildlife communities, particularly in the Adirondack Mountains. Silvicultural practices may significantly impact wildlife communities due to the disturbances it causes, as well as the way it alters the habitat. We monitored winter wildlife communities in the Forest Ecosystem Research Demonstration Area owned by Paul Smith’s College in the Northern Adirondack Park. By analyzing the data collected by trail cameras, tracks and measuring percent browse, we compared the abundance and diversity of wildlife in three silvicultural treatments (i.e., clearcut, group selection, control). We also collected data regarding the physical aspects of the silvicultural treatment plot (i.e. canopy cover and snow depth) to indicate the kind of available habitat. We found that despite there being the highest average relative activity in group selection, there is no significant relationship between average relative activity and harvest treatment type. Using the Shannon-Weiner Diversity Index, we found that the highest diversity was in control/reference. Due to our limited treatment sample size, we did not have conclusive findings in most areas of our study. However, the highest total tracks and relative activity were found in the clearcuts. We suggest that more research be done on this study in order to eventually make forest management plans that properly account for both plant and wildlife species.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Biology, Environmental Sciences, Natural Resources Conservation and Management
Year: 2018
Authors: Jacob Adams, Caitlin De Bellis, Tyler Fisk, Hyla Howe, Mark McHugh, Daniel Sutch

Vista Wellness: An Educational Community Center for the Glenview Preserve

Fri, 12/14/2018 - 23:29
Abstract: The Glenview Preserve is home to a beautiful open vista of the High Peaks. This land was recently purchased by the Adirondack Land Trust and is looking for ways to sustainably manage the property by utilizing Paul Smith’s College capstone students for recommendations. One viable opportunity the ALT can incorporate, is the addition of a sustainable forum and conference center. With a community-oriented mind, Vista Wellness will provide a multitude of spaces for businesses and individuals to retreat while partaking in recreational activities. Vista Wellness is designed to be low impact with features such as a living roof and LEED certification. Using a promotional commercial and an intricate model, using state of the art construction supplies, we are able to convey the need for this addition to the Glenview property.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Environmental Sciences, Sustainable Communities & Working Landscapes
Year: 2018
Authors: Kimberly Kehr
, Matthew Syke
, Thomas Szabo

Influence of Slope on Soil Organic Carbon on Costa Rican Coffee Farms.

Mon, 05/07/2018 - 10:21
Abstract: Soil management is an important factor on agroforestry farms that help with soil fertility and carbon storage. Coffee agroforestry farms in Central Valley Atenas, Costa Rica were analyzed between November 2008 and May 2017. The objective of this study was to see if there is a relationship between mean slope and annual soil organic carbon sequestration (Mg/ha), and mean slope and soil organic carbon storage (Mg/ha), from samples taken on November 2008/May 2009 and November2016/ May 2017. Sample were taken on five farms with twenty 0.05 ha plots. Many coffee farms in the central valley are assembled on steep slopes or sides of mountains. Steep slopes are susceptible to erosion affecting the amount of soil organic carbon sequestration and storage. There was not a significant relationship found between mean slope and loss of carbon sequestration annually in November 2016/ May 2017 (Mg/ha). Mean slope and soil organic carbon storage from November 2016/May 2017 were compared by testing the effects of slope with carbon storage and there was no relationship. Whereas a statistically significant positive relationship was found between mean slope and soil organic carbon storage from November 2008/ May 2009. Additional data was examined to look at annual carbon sequestration loss on conventional and organic farms. However there was not a significant difference between the two. When all farms were compared for their annual carbon sequestration loss, marginally significant difference was found, but reasons for these differences remain a hypothesis. Further research to examine these differences may include practices of the farmers and erosion steeper slopes before erosion implications were taken by the farmers.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Environmental Sciences
Year: 2018
File Attachments: JMcLaughlin_Capstone.docx
Authors: Jessica McLaughlin,