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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 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

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 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

Optimal Clutch Size of American Kestrels (Falco sparverius) in Northern New York

Mon, 04/28/2014 - 12:08
Abstract: American kestrels readily use nest boxes, which makes them perfect candidates for studies on nesting activity and success. Nesting success is important to understand so that managers can effectively assess the productivity of a breeding population of kestrels. The goal of this study was to determine optimum clutch size for American Kestrels in Northern New York. The hypothesis was that optimum clutch size consisted of four eggs per clutch. The objective was to determine what clutch size is most effective at hatching young. The study was conducted during the months of June 2013 through August 2013 on 150 nest boxes that were established in 2002. The contents of each elevated nest box were observed using a video baby monitor attached to an extendible pole to minimize disturbance. Clutch size data and number of chicks hatched was compiled and analyzed using a Kruskal-Wallis test. This test was used because it allowed data to be separated into different clutch sizes, and determined the significance between the number of eggs in each clutch and the number of chicks hatched. Clutch sizes varied from 1-5 eggs, with occurrences of one and four eggs being most common. The majority of nesting attempts with one egg failed, resulting in a low probability of chicks hatching from one egg clutches. A clutch size of four eggs has the highest probability of successfully hatching chicks and the highest mean number of chicks hatched compared to the other clutch sizes.
Access: No
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2014
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Jennifer Miller

Management Plan to Prevent Regional Extinction of Little Brown Bat (Myotis lucifugus) in Northeastern United States

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 01:11
Abstract: Since the first record of white-nose syndrome in 2006 outside Schenectady, NY, populations of hibernating bats in the northeastern United States have continued to decline making more susceptible hibernating bat species, such as the little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus), at risk for regional extinction (Frick, et.al, 2010). There have been management plans to control the spread of white-nose syndrome and protect areas not yet inflicted with the disease, but nothing to stop the development of the disease or restore the survival rates on infected populations. The goal of this management plan is to increase the population size and prevent the regional extinction of little brown bats in the northeastern United States. In order to achieve this, summer roosts must be more available to increase fat build up before winter, and then have artificial hibernacula with regulated internal temperatures to deter the growth of the white-nose fungus on hibernating bats.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2014
Authors: Abigail Bradley

Hector's Dolphins, Cephaloryhnchus hectori hectori: A Management Plan to Increase Populations via Increased Protective Legislature

Wed, 04/30/2014 - 22:31
Abstract: Hector's dolphins (Cephalorhynchus hectori) are the only cetacean endemic to New Zealand. The South Island subspecies (C. hectori hectori) has an estimated population size of 7,270 individuals and has been listed as Endangered on the IUCN red list since 2000. The largest threat to Hector's dolphins is gillnet mortalities – it's estimated that 63% of mortalities are caused by fisheries bycatch. The life history of the dolphins indicates that they cannot reproduce quickly enough to replace the individuals lost to bycatch. Current rates of gillnet mortality must be decreased by at least 75% for Hector's dolphins to recover. This plan is designed increase populations of Hector's dolphins by decreasing gillnet mortalities to a sustainable level through legislation. Paramount to this goal are increasing the size and number of protected areas and increasing gillnet restrictions across the range of Hector's dolphins. The offshore distribution of Hector's dolphins depends on the bathymetry of the area, and thus management areas should be evaluated individually to best protect local populations.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2014
Authors: Chelsie LaFountain

Management of residential and migratory Canada goose (Branta canadensis) populations on airports in the Northeastern United States

Wed, 04/30/2014 - 22:47
Abstract: Canada geese (Branta canadensis) are a familiar sight throughout North America, with over one million inhabiting the Northeastern United States alone. The habitat requirements for this species align with human fondness for landscaped lawns, leading to human-goose conflicts. Nowhere are these conflicts more life threatening than in airports, where bird strikes on airplanes are dangerous and costly. The most hazardous bird species to airports are Canada geese, due to their large body size, tendency to fly in tight flocks, and utilization of airports as habitat. Between 1990 and 2012, 1,400 collisions occurred between these geese and planes in North America, causing $116,295,969 worth of damage and multiple human deaths. This management plan describes the most effective methods of preventing Canada geese from utilizing airport property as habitat. Habitat modifications including elimination of water bodies and planting of unpalatable grass species discourage geese from landing to roost or feed. If they do land, a detailed hazing regime is recommended to remove them from the property quickly and safely. All recommended actions are evaluated for ethical and practical viability. With the increasing amount of shared airspace between Canada geese and humans, it is an unacceptable risk to allow geese on airports.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2014
File Attachments: Bjacques_MGMTplan.docx
Authors: Benjamin K. Jacques