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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

An Assessment of Heavy Metal Concentrations in Adirondack Waterfowl

Thu, 04/28/2016 - 22:53
Abstract: We analyzed heavy metal concentrations in waterfowl liver and breast tissue from ducks harvested within the Adirondack Park from October 3 to November 13, 2015. Interspecific, intersex, and feeding behavior variation in heavy metal concentrations were assessed. Waterfowl from two feeding behavior groups (diving and dabbling) were harvested from the watershed within a 50 mile radius of Paul Smith’s, New York. Harvested waterfowl species included mallard (Anas platyrhynchos), American black duck (Anas rubripes), common merganser (Mergus merganser), ring-necked duck (Aythya collaris), bufflehead (Bucephala albeola), and hooded merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus). Legal harvest of these species during regulated New York State duck hunting season allows for permissible use of internal organs for heavy metal determination. Dry weight (mg/kg) of digested liver and breast tissue samples were analyzed using atomic absorption spectroscopy. Due to unknown laboratory error, absolute concentration values were inaccurate, thus, rendering accurate analyses unfeasible. However, relative observable trends were able to be assessed given our data’s high precision. Analyte concentrations were significantly greater in liver tissues and there were significant differences between species. Variation in mercury, lead, bismuth, cadmium, chromium, and zinc concentrations in waterfowl serve as an indicator of the presence, cycling, bioaccumulation, and temporal trends of these metals in northeastern aquatic habitats.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Environmental Sciences, Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2016
File Attachments: Final2.docx
Authors: Brandon Snavely, Lewis Lolya

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

Management of an Alaskan Breeding subspecies of Bar-tailed Godwit (Limosa lapponica baueri)

Fri, 05/06/2016 - 13:48
Abstract: Avian species with extremely long distance seasonal migration routes presents interesting challenges when developing a management plan. The migration bar-tailed godwit (Limosa lapponica baueri) takes it to New Zealand and Australia as the wintering grounds, spring migration staging grounds in the coastal regions of the Yellow Sea, and the northern and western shores of Alaska for breeding. Godwits, as with other large shorebirds that breed in arctic and subarctic uplands, have high annual adult survival and low reproductive success. This makes the adult life stage the most important in terms of management strategies. Adult survival faces many threats, but most of all the increased harvest rates, rapid decrease in habitat within the staging grounds and threats from the onset of climate change. Governments must enforce existing legislation to prevent the harvest of godwits in their staging grounds and protect adults traveling to the breeding grounds in Alaska.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2016
Authors: Joseph Faryniarz

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 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

Species Recovery Plan for the Fiji Banded Iguana (Brachylophus bulabula)

Tue, 05/03/2016 - 23:15
Abstract: Fiji banded iguanas (Brachylophus bulabula) are one of three species of small, herbivorous arboreal iguanids endemic to the central islands of Fiji (IUCN 2012). Diurnally they occupy the mesic forest canopy, making them difficult to observe. Little is known about their population status on most of the central islands, with exception of Makogai and Makodroga, where approximately 6000 individuals exist (IUCN 2012). Fiji banded iguanas have experienced a population decline of over 50% in the past four decades due to a combination of factors. Approximately 40% of Fiji’s native forests have been converted to agriculture and hardwood plantations, significantly decreasing mesic forest habitat that Fiji banded iguanas occupy (IUCN 2012). Predation from invasive mammals such has feral cats (Felis catus) has contributed to the Fiji banded iguana’s decline. Feral goats (Capra aegagrus hircus) outcompete them for their native food resources and prevent forest regeneration. If no action is taken, iguana populations are projected to decline by at least 30% in the next four decades (IUCN 2012). This recovery plan proposes five management objectives which are designed to increase our knowledge about life history and population status, provide legislative protection with the designation of a national park, eradicate invasive mammals to decrease predation and competition, and increase forest regeneration. If these objectives are achieved, I predict that the population will have at minimum stabilized, and at best increased among the central islands of Fiji.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2016
Authors: Brittany Peck

A Global Management Plan for the Bristle-thighed Curlew (Numenius tahitiensis)

Tue, 05/03/2016 - 15:44
Abstract: In the past three centuries, shorebird populations have declined ubiquitously across the North American landscape as over harvesting and habitat conversion became common practice. The bristle-thighed curlew (Numenius tahitiensis) is a large bodied shorebird whose global population is threatened with future declines. The small breeding population of approximately 3,500 pairs is faced with unnatural mortality from introduced predators, human development, climate change induced habitat alteration, and over harvesting. Compounding these problems is a general lack of information regarding key biological characteristics of the specie’s life history, including population densities on wintering islands, key migration routes, existence of stopover sites, and survivorship of certain life stages. The primary focus of current day management of the bristle-thighed curlew is to promote the survivorship of adults and increase suitable habitats for curlews on their wintering grounds. This management plan aims to gain an understanding of the the biology of bristle-thighed curlew and propose methods to stabilize their global population. The success of the species depends heavily international cooperation, intensive research, and the conservation and management of key habitats.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2016
File Attachments: Final Managment Plan.docx
Authors: Lewis M. Lolya

Management Plan for Giant Anteaters (Myrmecophaga tridactyla) in Emas National Park

Tue, 05/03/2016 - 14:09
Abstract: Throughout their range, giant anteaters are an unmanaged species and population estimates are broad, if available. This plan suggests using prescribed burns to control the spread of invasive grasses, reducing the buildup of wildfire fuel and restoring more favorable habitat. Also the construction of underpasses at large highways, will reduce the amount of road collisions and increase gene flow through dispersal. Giant anteaters are extremely vulnerable to population declines because it takes so long for them to reach sexual maturity and they only produce one offspring each year.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2016
File Attachments: Final Management Plan.docx
Authors: Alex Roberts