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Capstone Projects

Would an underpass/tunnel on Keese Mills Road decrease the percentage of amphibian mortality due to road mortality?

Wed, 04/29/2015 - 18:09
Abstract: Road Mortality has had a huge impact on Amphibian populations worldwide. Several options are available to help maintain and preserve migrating populations across roadways. One method that is looked at during this study is underpass and fencing. In this study, I assessed the need for an underpass and if it could help reduce the amount of amphibian’s mortality by traffic and, if an underpass is necessary, properly predict a location. I also looked at if underpasses alone could reduce the mortality of amphibians. I constructed arrays and pitfall traps to simulate an underpass on Keese Mills Road at Paul Smiths and Santa Clara, Franklin County New York. I predicted that underpass would decrease the amount of amphibian being slayed. I also predicted that certain locations would have more usage then others. The results showed that there was no significant difference between the location of the sites and whether they would be used by the amphibians. The results also showed that there was no correlation between the species that were captured and the species that were killed.
Access: No
Literary Rights: On
Major: Biology
Year: 2015
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Jorge Velazquez

Examination of Potentially Ectoparasite-driven Behavior in Burrowing Owls: Tests of Alternative Hypotheses

Thu, 05/07/2015 - 19:06
Abstract: Burrowing Owls (Athene cunicularia) and their nests harbor at least 39 species of arthropods from 21 different families. Among the ectoparasites on Burrowing Owls are fleas, which are primarily Pulex irritans (Family Pulicidae), the human flea. Fleas can number in the hundreds on individual Burrowing Owls. Thus, we hypothesized that flea infestation has shaped Burrowing Owl behavior to avoid the costs of ectoparasitism. As part of experiments using infrared trail cameras deployed at Burrowing Owl nests in southern Idaho ¬¬during 2012-2013, we noticed apparent sunning behavior in both adult and nestling Burrowing Owls. Camera images captured owls lying on the ground with wings outstretched and flat. We only observed this behavior during daylight hours, although cameras were active for 24 h/day. Sunbathing in birds is often associated with ectoparasite reduction, although sunning has not previously been examined in relation to flea infestation. During 2014 we conducted an experiment that included fumigating some nests with a flea removing insecticide and examined the prediction that sunbathing would occur more frequently in control nests where ectoparasites remained. As sunning was not during the coolest parts of the day, it did not appear to function for warming. Also, we ultimately found no difference in the frequency of sunning in fumigated and control nests, and there was no relationship between sunning and abundance of fleas on owls. Thus, the evidence is not consistent with the ectoparasite hypothesis, as owls sunned irrespective of flea load. We also evaluated the alternative hypotheses that sunning was related to thermoregulation, anting, drying or feather degrading bacteria. The first three we were able to reject, and the last will need future research.
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Literary Rights: Off
Major: Biology
Year: 2015
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Skyler Wysocki

Northern New England and New York Mountain Lion Recolonization Management Plan

Thu, 04/30/2015 - 12:33
Abstract: Mountain lions (Puma concolor) were a common species found in the United States during the 1800s. Currently there are no breeding populations of mountain lions known to exist in the northeastern section of the United States. This loss of the species was due to human development and over harvesting that was facilitated by bounties. Humans have had a direct contribution to the loss of the species throughout this part of the country. Colonial expansion of farms into wild areas caused a negative connotation to mountain lions when predation occurred on livestock. This is what led to their local extinction. Today mountain lion populations are in great abundance throughout South America, western United States and Canada, and eastern portions of New Brunswick, Canada. Habitat degradation reduced suitable habitat and has pushed mountain lions to new geographic ranges. Ranging males have occurred in eastern United States in search of females and are increasing in quantity. This raises a question to whether breeding populations could be supported in the northeast. Due to state and federally owned land, there is suitable habitat located in the northeast. Help will be needed to facilitate the recolonization of this species. The goals of this management plan are to re-establish population sizes large enough for reproduction and satisfy stakeholders. To meet the goals for this management plan, four objectives must be met (1) Agreements must be made with landowners of property of 100 acres and larger in Northern New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine by 2020 that allows these lands to be protected for mountain lion use, (2) regulation of population numbers will be implemented by hunting harvest quota that will cause declines when population reaches two lions per square mile, (3) current average auction prices for livestock that are killed due to mountain lion predation will be provided to the owners, and (4) mountain lion, along with other large predator education will be provided to children in elementary school. This management plan requires extensive work in monitoring recolonizing mountain lion populations along with aiding with interactions that occur between mountain lions and humans. The overall goal of this plan is to re-establish a breeding mountain lion population within the northeast of the United States.
Access: No
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2015
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Zachary Beauregard

A Management Plan for the Black-Tailed Prairie Dog (Cynomys ludovicianus)

Thu, 04/30/2015 - 22:07
Abstract: Since the turn of the century black-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus) populations have declined as much as 98% throughout North America (Miller et al. 1994). It was once thought that prairie dogs occupied between 80-104 million acres historically, but with the expansion of ranching and agriculture into the prairie dogs native habitat, that number has been reduced to 2.4 million acres in recent years. Black-tailed prairie dogs play a vital role in the prairie and grasslands ecosystems. There are a number of different species of animals that depend on prairie dogs and their activities. It has been thought that over 170 species rely on the prairie dogs for their burrows, for food, and the habitat they create. Most states currently within the range of the black-tailed prairie dog classify the species as a pest or varmint, and no state has adequate regulatory mechanisms in place to assure conservation of this species within its borders. This management plan will propose strategies to adequately regulate the conservation of the black-tailed prairie dog, eventually leading to the partial restoration of the prairie ecosystem.
Access: No
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2015
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Ryan McAuliffe