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Capstone Projects

The Lawns at Paul Smith’s College: The Effects of Mowing on Root Biomass and Soil Compaction

Mon, 12/07/2020 - 17:41
Abstract: Lawns are a valuable aspect of real estate in the United States. Maintained lawns cover over 163,000 square kilometers of land, yet few people realize the impact mowing can have on the ecosystem. This study will be looking at the impact of mowing on the grassland ecosystem and the terrain grassland ecosystem at Paul Smith’s College, located in Paul Smiths, New York. This study will be testing two different factors that are impacted by constant mowing on campus: soil compaction and root biomass of flora found on the sites. Soil compaction is the compression of soil due to large amounts of pressure placed on the surface soil. This event will be tested by using a soil bulk density test. The root biomass is being investigated by the use of a scale to weigh root given from each area of the study site. The study goal is to find out how the disturbances of mowing affect the grassland ecosystem found at Paul Smith’s College using two different factors: soil compaction, root biomass. The results of the study show the site type that has the greatest soil bulk density and the lowest dry root biomass in G/〖cm〗^3 is the dry slope site on the campus. Keywords: lawn ecology, effect of mowing, soil compaction, root biomass, root depth
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Ecological Restoration
Year: 2020
Authors: Timothy I Murphy

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

Soil moisture levels’ impact on variation in microhabitat selection and distribution between shrub species along the riparian zones of the St. Regis River in Northern New York

Sat, 11/28/2020 - 15:42
Abstract: Willows (Salix spp.) are commonly found along riparian zones of northern latitude water bodies and are often used in riparian restoration and bank stabilization. However, not much is known about willows on a species level, especially among thee shrubby species native to North America. This study seeks to better understand the variation in the distribution of three willows (Salix bebbiana, S. discolor, and S. petiolaris) and two other shrub species (Alnus incana and Viburnum nudum) on a species level based on soil moisture. To reach this goal this study analyzes their distribution at several points along the shore of the St. Regis River. The study analyzed vertical distance from the river as a proxy for soil moisture, saturation volume as a proxy for porosity, and bulk density. It was found that soil moisture, as approximated by vertical distance was statistically significantly linked to the distribution of different shrub species. Porosity, bulk density, and distance along the river had no statistically significant relationship. The results supported the hypothesis that willows had the highest soil moisture requirements. The sample sizes were very small and only one willow, a S. petiolaris, was found in the study sites.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Forestry
Year: 2020
File Attachments: G.Davis_Capstone_final.docx
Authors: Gregory Davis

Lower St. Regis Lake Survey: A Comparative Study of Fish Population Structure and Function over Time

Thu, 12/13/2018 - 14:24
Abstract: Lake surveys are performed on bodies of water to provide a health analysis of fish populations over time. Lake surveys can be conducted in a variety of ways to attain specific data. Lower St. Regis Lake was surveyed to determine the fish community composition and to understand fish population traits. Using fyke nets placed at six predetermined locations for 24 hours, as well as fishing, we collected data for age, length (mm), weight (g), and parasites present. Data was analyzed in the lab using Excel to form graphs and tables to demonstrate our findings. Catch rates were lower compared to years before and comparing our data to New York State Department of Conservation data found that our length-at-age data was lower for the six-species sampled. Pumpkinseed and yellow perch were the only two species to have over twenty fish sampled. Decreased air temperatures brought in by a cold front during the week of our sampling may have been a reason for our lower number of fish caught. Mesh size is also a bias while using these nets as smaller fish can escape, and predatory fish can prey on smaller fish while in the net. Some species of fish such as black crappie may be more susceptible to capture due to its habit of associating with structure.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Biology, Environmental Sciences, Environmental Studies, Fisheries and Wildlife Science, Natural Resources Conservation and Management
Year: 2018
File Attachments: Capstone_Final.docx
Authors: Deacon Chapin, Jared Chlus, Louis Daversa, Jon Herrman, Robert Visicaro

Paul Smith’s College Shoreline Restoration Conservation Plan

Fri, 12/14/2018 - 12:24
Abstract: A restoration plan was created for the Lower St Regis Lake shoreline of Paul Smith's College. To date, about 140 students have participated by way of studies and course work in surveys and assessments, which clearly indicate a much reduced level of biological diversity, ecosystem function, and human uses compared to other sites. The plan is designed based upon field assessments and with the intentions of using the shoreline as an on-site case study of experiential education – a tradition of at the core of Paul Smith’s College. The aim of the restoration plan is to increase biodiversity, ecosystem function, aesthetics, educational studies, and shoreline use.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Ecological Restoration
Year: 2018
Authors: Hunter Gaudette
, Joseph Hollner
, Jonathan Meadows
, Ryan Morr
, Sara Savoia, Cassandra Schrader

Wetland X: Wetland Mitigation Plan Amendment

Mon, 12/03/2018 - 17:56
Abstract: Wetland X is a wetland that is located in Western New York and has been converted to agricultural land. The goal of this study was to create a restoration plan for Wetland X that meets Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) standards. The study took place during June 2018 with the final plan being completed in August of 2018 and the data analysis report being completed in the fall of 2018. The focus of the study was on the woody vegetation of the site to document the species present and the density of vegetation on the site. Vegetation was sampled on four plots located at different areas of the site to provide the best representation of the sites overall conditions. The areas were sampled using zigzag transects and grid transect patterns; with one area being sampled using the zigzag pattern, two using the grid pattern and one using both transect methods as a comparison of the two methods. Sampling of the site found that an amendment was needed for Wetland X to ensure that the landowner remained in compliance with the Food Security Act Standards. The restoration plan focuses on planting and management techniques for the site that will allow proper growth of desired vegetation species and the eradication of the invasive species. The created restoration plan amendment has been implemented and will be completed by June of 2019 with five years of monitoring following completion.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Ecological Restoration
Year: 2018
File Attachments: Pratt_Capstone_2018.docx
Authors: Thomas Pratt

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

Antifungal activity of propolis, neem oil, and cedarwood oil against the white-rot fungus Trametes versicolor on American beech

Fri, 12/07/2018 - 16:27
Abstract: Fungi are often considered the most destructive organisms to attack wood that has gone through the milling process, so developing compounds to resist decay are extremely important. Copper chromated arsenic (CCA) was an industry standard until 2003 when its use was restricted due to environmental concerns. Thus, research into environmentally friendly compounds has become more common. This study investigated which compound, propolis extract, neem oil, or cedarwood oil, would best preserve beech wood exposed to Trametes versicolor. Extracts for each of the compounds were prepared using denatured ethanol, and infused into wood blocks using a vacuum pump. Blocks were made of American beech (Fagus grandifolia Ehrh.) and were 10mm x 20mm x 5mm in size. The blocks were subjected to a common white-rot fungal strain, Trametes (= Coriolus) versicolor (L.) Lloyd (1920), for six weeks. Overall, propolis and cedarwood oil treated blocks lost significantly less mass than both neem and control blocks, suggesting they have potential for use as natural wood preservatives, and could be used as cobiocides.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Forestry
Year: 2018
File Attachments: Final Capstone Report.docx
Authors: Adam Milenkowic, Timothy Otis

Coarse Woody Debris Volume Following Conventional and Whole-Tree Harvesting

Tue, 12/04/2018 - 16:50
Abstract: Coarse woody debris (CWD) affects important ecological patterns and processes in the forest, including nutrient cycling, carbon stocks, wildlife habitat, regeneration dynamics, and hydrology. Timber harvesting practices have been shown to affect the abundance and distribution of CWD in forest stands. This study separates timber harvesting practices into two categories: conventional harvesting (CH), where only the main stem of trees and possibly some large branches are harvested, leaving branches, twigs, leaves, buds, and other plant parts to decompose on the forest floor, and whole-tree harvesting (WTH), which removes the entire aboveground portion of trees. I measured post-harvest CWD volume within recent patch clear cuts in Vermont, comparing results between CH and WTH. Conventional harvesting sites contained significantly more (p = 0.04) CWD volume (954ft^3/ac) than WTH sites (422 ft^3/ac). In other words, CH resulted in a post-harvest CWD volume 126% greater than the volume resulting from WTH. The most important difference was a wide discrepancy between treatments in decay class 2, which contained 66% of the total CWD volume. The increased reduction of CWD through WTH, especially when carried out over multiple rotations, may have negative effects on future site productivity, as well as richness and abundance of wildlife. The choice to employ CH or WTH may also affect the carbon balance, regeneration dynamics, and hydrology of forest stands.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Forestry
Year: 2018
Authors: William (Bill) Musson

ECTOMYCORRHIZA’S INFLUENCE ON SEEDLING GROWTH

Tue, 12/04/2018 - 14:16
Abstract: Mycorrhizae play an important role in forest ecosystems through their symbiotic relationship with trees and root systems. Of the mycorrhizae, ectomycorrhiza (EM), specifically targets softwood species and some hardwoods. In this experiment, the results of a powdered EM inoculum and red oak (Quercus rubra L.), pitch pine (Pinus rigida Mill.), and red spruce (Picea rubens Sarg.) were evaluated during one growing season. The study compared a control of no EM and treatment with EM in seed grown trees in containers. Difference between heights of the treatment and control were recorded to see if the inoculum impacted seedling growth of the host species. Throughout this capstone the hypothesis states: An ectomycorrhizae (EM) powdered inoculum would influence pitch pine, red spruce, and red oak seedlings height and biomass for the duration of one growing season (April-Late August). Red oak control exceeded treatment in biomass but not height, and pitch pine and red spruce treatment exceeded control in height and biomass.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Forestry
Year: 2018
File Attachments: finalreport_slinger.docx
Authors: Samantha L. Slingerland