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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.
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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

Management Plan of the Ring-Tailed lemurs (Lemur catta) at Beza Mahafaly Special Reserve in Madagascar

Tue, 05/03/2016 - 11:29
Abstract: The need to protect Ring-tailed lemurs is evident. Lemurs are the most threatened group of vertebrates in the world with the IUCN listing 94% of lemur species as threated. This high percentage is in part due to the fact that lemurs only occur naturally in Madagascar so changes to the island effects the whole infraorder (Lemuriformes). Helping to curb illegal activities will protect not just the habitat for Ring-Tailed lemurs but will help the entirety of Madagascar’s Wildlife that has evolved on an island that used to be covered by up to 90% forest. These illegal practices are often protected by armed guards which may require assistance from the Madagascar government for adequate protection of the islands forests
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2016
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Elias Carter

Alpine Ecosystems on Ski Area Summits in the Northeast: A Best Management Practices Manual

Mon, 12/01/2014 - 15:19
Abstract: Over the past half a century, anthropogenic climate change has triggered temperatures in the northeastern United States to rise. This increase has led to decreased winter precipitation and a longer annual growing season. Species found in upland/montane habitats on the southern edge of their range limits are particularly threatened by these changes. Warmer temperatures have allowed larger woody plants to advance up mountain slopes, entering the habitat of these fragile species. In the next decade, we will witness a complete disappearance of alpine flora from several locations across the northeast including Whiteface in New York, Sugarloaf in Maine and Mount Mansfield in Vermont. Managers of ski resorts can therefore play an important role in promoting the continued persistence of high-altitude flora and fauna through carefully considered management decisions can also serve to promote the reputation of the ski industry as stewards of mountaintop ecosystems. Doing so will allow for continued study of the species that exist within these communities, the protection of biodiversity, and increased revenue for the resort itself through elevated public image and mountain-top tourism. To help begin these conservation efforts, we have created a best management practice (BMP) manual to guide ski area managers in making these developments. It includes techniques for sustainable slope, soil, vegetation and wildlife management, erosion control, artificial snow production, and ski slope construction and design. Also included are marketing techniques and an overview of the economic viability of the practices outlined in this manual.
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Major: Forestry, Natural Resources Management and Policy
Year: 2014
Authors: Pali Gelsomini, Dylan Randall

Monitoring the Zebra Mussel Invasion Front: Use of New Technology

Thu, 02/09/2012 - 15:39
Abstract: Zebra mussels are invasive mollusks that are affecting the well-being of the water bodies in the United States. This study uses environmental DNA (eDNA) is a sensitive early detection system that may be useful in monitoring their spread. The purpose of this study is to determine the effectiveness of eDNA technology in identifying infested water bodies, to determine if zebra mussel DNA is in the Adirondack water bodies not known to be infested, if the water chemistry of these water bodies is favorable for zebra mussel establishment, and if the eDNA technology is transferable to an institution like Paul Smith’s College. Eighteen lakes, all in New York State were sampled, fifteen of which are located in the Adirondack Park. DNA was extracted from water and plankton samples and species specific primers were used for PCR amplification to determine if zebra mussel DNA was present. Of seven samples taken from sites known to be infested, five of these tested positive for zebra mussel eDNA. Four lakes not known to be infested within the Park also tested positive for zebra mussel eDNA. Based on zebra mussel risk parameters (water chemistry) applied to 1,469 Adirondack water bodies, less than 3% are at risk of zebra mussel establishment. However it is possible that established populations could occur at microsites that may have locally high levels of calcium and higher pH.
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Literary Rights: Off
Major: Biology, Environmental Sciences, Environmental Studies, Fisheries and Wildlife Science, Forestry, Natural Resources Management and Policy
Year: 2011
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Alexandria Bevilacqua, John Bishop, Charles Cain, Tyler Clark, Seth Crevison, Robert Culyer, Ryan Deibler, Brian DeMeo, Jonathan Eckert, Kirsten Goranowski, Joelle Guisti, Alan Jancef, Korinna Marino, Michelle Melagrano, KaitlynNedo, Joseph Nelson, Aaron Palmieri, Cole Reagan, John Scahill, JohnathanStrassheim, Scott Travis, Sarah Van Nostrand and Sarah Vella

Promoting Conservation of Biodiversity in the Adirondack Park Through Understanding and Engaging Stakeholders

Thu, 02/09/2012 - 11:31
Abstract: Anthropogenic disturbance of natural environments has led to the widespread loss of native biodiversity and degradation of ecosystems. It is increasingly recognized that addressing this “biodiversity crisis” entails understanding the societal drivers of unsustainable patterns of use. Conservation psychology is a new discipline that specifically focuses on understanding the linkages between human behavior and action and promoting a healthy and sustainable relationship between humans and nature. In this project, we employed principles of conservation psychology with the goal of improving the efficacy and efficiency of conservation of biodiversity in the Adirondack Park (AP). To meet this goal we employed three specific strategies. The first of these strategies was the use of surveys to assess the values, attitudes, and actions different stakeholders have in regards to conservation of biodiversity in the AP. These surveys were disseminated via both direct mailings and online, and included 30 questions. Our second strategy was to use discourse analysis to create a dictionary of terms and phrases employed in a positive, neutral, and negative light in regard to conservation of biodiversity. This entailed analysis of 30 emic accounts derived from opinion articles written by stakeholders in the AP, as well as analysis of a number of etic accounts drawn from online sources. Our third strategy was to use conservation psychology literature to assess ways in which the presentation of information and peer-dynamics influenced the responses of stakeholders towards conservation of biodiversity. Using the combination of these three strategies, we were able to provide a holistic understanding of how different stakeholders in the AP perceive and act towards biodiversity conservation; identify language that can be used to illicit a more positive response from these stakeholders; and identify specific tools based on principles of psychology that can encourage more active and effective engagement in conservation of biodiversity by different stakeholders. Our research findings will allow groups focusing on promoting conservation of biodiversity in the AP to be more effective and efficient in their work in the future.
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Major: Environmental Sciences, Fisheries and Wildlife Science, Forestry, Natural Resources Management and Policy, Recreations, Adventure Travel and Ecotourism
Year: 2011
Authors: Christopher Critelli, John Ghanime, Derek Johnson, Samantha Lambert, Justin Luyk, Matthew Parker, Robert Vite, Heather Mason, Jesse Warner, Ethan Lennox, Sarah Robbiano, David Mathis, David A. Patrick

Refining Karner blue butterfly (Lycaeides melissa samuelis) restoration efforts by comparing captive rearing and release methods used in the Albany Pine Bush

Mon, 12/05/2011 - 18:36
Abstract: With this research, the release efforts of the endangered Karner blue butterfly (Lycaeides melissa samuelis) of the Albany Pine Bush (APB) in New York State at two different stages of the butterfly’s life cycle were compared. Survival success rates were determined and environmental factors were measured to assess captive rearing methods and improve restoration efforts in the APB Preserve. Captive rearing efforts have been used in the past in this area, releasing Karner blue butterfly pupae into the wild; however, this year in 2011, pupae were allowed to eclose from their chrysalides in the lab and were released into the wild as adult butterflies. The analysis of the information gathered showed that the release of Karner blue butterflies in the adult stage offered a greater survival rate over release in the pupal stage. The average daily maximum temperatures increased each year during the summers of 2009-2011. Information from this research is important to help prevent the extirpation of this species from the Albany Pine Bush Recovery Unit and may be helpful to organizations such as the US Fish and Wildlife Services and the Nature Conservancy.
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Literary Rights: Off
Major: Environmental Sciences
Year: 2011
File Attachments: CapstoneFINAL.doc
Authors: Chelsea Sendzik

Using Pellet Counts and Vegetation Analysis to Determine Moose (Alces alces) Densities in Vermont and in the Adirondacks, to Better the Understanding of Moose Densities for New York State DEC

Thu, 12/15/2011 - 14:46
Abstract: Using Pellet Counts and Vegetation Analysis to Determine Moose (Alces alces) Densities in Vermont and in the Adirondacks, to Better the Understanding of Moose Densities for New York State DEC
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2011
Authors: Nicole Bellerose, William Carpenter

Hare Body Mass Index in relationship to habitat type andcover availability at the landscape scale in snowshoe hare in the Northern Adirondacks

Wed, 12/07/2011 - 12:38
Abstract: Snowshoe hares (Lepus americanas) are an important keystone species in environments in which they are present. An important indicator of fitness in many organisms is Body Mass Index (BMI). My question is whether the BMI and relative abundance (hares per unit effort) of snowshoe hares will change under different habitat scenarios as determined by National Land Cover Data. I hypothesized that snowshoe hares would have a higher BMI and greater abundance under areas of higher % conifer and mixed forest. I collected weight, foot length, hare harvest location, and hunt effort data from two hare derbies in the northern Adirondacks. I calculated BMI, relative abundance, and % area of each type of habitat cover and correlated habitat cover with my response variables. I then used principle component analysis to describe the four main configurations of habitat where hare were found and correlated those with BMI and relative abundance. Univariate analysis showed that BMI correlates negatively with % mixed forest and positively with % herbaceous wetland and % developed land. Relative abundance does not correlate with BMI, but relative abundance correlates with herbaceous wetland, grassland, and shrub. Principle component analyses showed that BMI was marginally significantly positively correlated with habitats that were developed, shrub, and mixed forest dominated. Relative abundance was negatively correlated with habitats that were developed, shrub, mixed, and woody wetland dominated. These outcomes are the opposite of my hypothesis. This suggests that hares are energy maximizers and choose habitats where they have the highest quality food over cover from aerial predation.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2011
File Attachments: DeGrave_2011_Capstone.docx
Authors: Caitlin DeGrave

A Study of Cover Type and Habitat Use of Radio Collared White-Tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in South Western New York State

Mon, 12/05/2011 - 18:43
Abstract: Two radio collared male white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) were monitored from late February to early November of 2003 and two collared deer were monitored from late February to early November of 2007 in southwestern New York State. White-tailed deer used deciduous forest the most during the study, occupying deciduous forest 90% of the time in 2003 and between 76% and 85% in 2007. White-tailed deer preferred deciduous forest each season, a high preference for evergreen forest during the spring and moderate preference for summer seasons, and shrub scrub during the fall season. P values of <.0001 were found for all individual and seasonal preferences. White-tailed deer collared in 2003 averaged 266.6 ha (50% kernel) and 95% use of 1167.0 ha (95% kernel). Those collared in 2007 averaged 425.5 ha (50% kernel) and 1626.3 ha (95% kernel). Spring home ranges were 35% smaller than summer, and fall, due to food preference and snow melt on a west facing slope. Summer ranges were driven by water resources and fall by the onset of breeding season activities. Seasonal shifts in mean centers for geographic distribution for spring to summer ranges were shifted by 580 meters, while summer to fall shifts were half of the distance (283 m). Deciduous and evergreen forests are important preferred food and cover resources used by white-tailed deer in this region, with this understanding the management of white-tailed deer populations can be greatly influenced by the management of those resources that white-tailed deer require and prefer.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2011
File Attachments: Capstone_Final.docx
Authors: Joshua M. Matijas

An analysis of social behavior in captive gray wolves and its effects on pack dynamics

Mon, 12/05/2011 - 17:55
Abstract: Animals live in groups for a variety of reasons, including access to certain prey items, defense of territory, and protection of resources. Canids have proved a popular subject for studies in social behavior, and many variables of behavior have been tested, providing an in-depth picture of how these animals typically live. Gray wolves (Canis lupus) in particular have been studied extensively throughout the years, both in the wild and in captivity. This study investigated social behaviors within a captive wolf pack so that an activity budget could be established with aid of an ethogram. A pack hierarchy was also established using tail positions as a guide, and behavior frequency was compared between each gender. Overall, resting behaviors were the most common for the pack under study, and most common for both males and females. This is likely because the study took place during the summer when temperatures were high and the animals didn’t expend much energy. Males and females did not show a significant difference in the proportion of time spent exhibiting each behavior (X2=1), likely because each sex plays a similar role in the pack. While play behaviors comprised only 12% of all recorded, I believe that social play is an important function for providing social cohesion and an outlet for aggression. Since there is still much to be understood about social play in adult wolves, I believe that it should be the focus of future studies. I also believe that this study can provide a framework for future investigations of a similar nature, and that such future studies should also attempt to draw comparisons between wild and captive wolf packs, as they differ in several respects.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2011
File Attachments: equandt_capstonefinal.pdf
Authors: Elizabeth Quandt