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Capstone Projects

An Ecological History of the Albany Pine Bush, Albany NY

Mon, 11/30/2020 - 15:45
Abstract: Paleoecology allows us to look backward in time thousands of years to see the long-term ecological history of an area. The main focus was to conduct the first exploratory investigations of the wetland located in the Albany Pine Bush Preserve (APBP) and Stump Pond deposits and the first directly dated ecological history of the pine bush. Irregular fire regimes and land development have caused a massive loss to the pine bush. Between 1940 and 1990 the pine bush has experienced an 81% change in land cover. Despite this, the APBP is home to many rare and endangered species in need of habitat restoration. Three samples (APB1-A, APB1-C, & APB2) were collected from a wetland within the boundaries of the APBP and one sample (Stump-1) was collected from a nearby pond. Cores were analyzed for pollen assemblages to reconstruct the tree community. APB cores revealed that Pinus and Quercus pollen grains made up the majority of all pollen found from Present – 6600 years ago Stump-1 pollen assemblages were dominated by Pinus and Picea indicating that between 6600 and 10,600 years ago the ecosystem transformed into the pitch pine- scrub oak ecosystem we see today. This information can help the APBP justify future preservation and restoration work.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Biology
Year: 2020
File Attachments: Capstone Paper Full.docx
Authors: Skylar Murphy

Impacts of Minnow Species Composition on Marsh Feeding Ecology: A Look at Minnow Composition in Heron Marsh

Mon, 11/30/2020 - 16:07
Abstract: Minnows play an important role in marsh ecosystems as both predator and prey. The abundance of minnows in water systems makes them important tools for studying the feeding ecology of small prey fish. Minnow traps were set within specific regions and plots located in the Heron Marsh in the Adirondack Park, New York. These traps were baited and checked the next day, and minnows were identified by species then released. Trophic guilds were assigned to each minnow species based on literature and feeding habits. ANOVA tests were conducted to compare minnow species composition from the fall of 2020 in all regions of the marsh. Histograms were used to compare length-frequency over time and sites where minnows frequent. The composition of trophic guilds showed that carnivores were scarce, as creek chub only over 100mm were considered predatory, and they were not as frequent as smaller creek chub. Omnivorous generalist feeders were common but no specific site in the marsh had more omnivorous feeders than other sites. Finally, the abundance of insectivores was high in most sites, and highest in the forest ecology trail site. Length frequency of the two most caught fish, creek chub and finescale dace, were represented with histograms. Creek chub under 100mm were more abundant in every site than individuals larger than 100mm. Similarly, finescale dace 70mm and smaller were more common in every site.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Biology
Year: 2020
Authors: Emily Schmeltz

Cultural eutrophication of Lower Saint Regis Lake using diatoms and organic content as indicators of eutrophication.

Tue, 04/28/2020 - 12:06
Abstract: Cultural eutrophication can greatly affect water quality, leading to algae blooms and can affect fish communities. Throughout the history of Paul Smith’s Hotel and College, development along Lower St. Regis lake has led to increases in eutrophic conditions, which has detrimental effects on water quality. In this study, a sediment core from Lower St. Regis Lake was analyzed to determine when past eutrophication events occurred. This was accomplished using species counts of diatoms from every 1.0 cm of sediment. The relative abundance of diatom species such as Tabellaria flocculosa, Asterionella formosa, and Fragilaria crotonensis were used as indicators of more eutrophic conditions. Loss on ignition (LOI) was also used to measure the organic content in the sediment at increments of 0.5 cm. The higher percent lost on ignition indicates higher productivity in the lake and more eutrophic conditions. Some samples from the sediment core were also dated using lead-210 to create a timeline that could be compared to known dates of events occurring along the lake that could have affected the trophic status of Lower St. Regis Lake. There was a sudden spike in the relative abundance of F. crotonensis and an increase in organic content at a depth of 20 cm in the core, indicating that conditions became more eutrophic. Based on the lead-210 dates, this spike in F. crotonensis and organic content occurred between 1898 and 1908, when development around the lake was increasing and Paul Smith’s Hotel added indoor plumbing with poor wastewater treatment practices.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Biology
Year: 2020
File Attachments: Capstone_0.docx
Authors: Lydia Harvey

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.
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Literary Rights: Off
Major: Forestry
Year: 2020
File Attachments: G.Davis_Capstone_final.docx
Authors: Gregory Davis

Creating a Positive Camping Experience for an Autistic Individual

Sat, 05/09/2020 - 12:29
Abstract: Most people on the Autism Spectrum Disorder have unusual genetics than most people that cause them to react and only think about certain things rather than what’s most important to them during the present moment. This includes a comfortable daily human lifestyle based on traditions such as living with people who make them happy in a house with lots of typical human civilization supplies and a routine that helps them function well every day. However, a lot of people with autism obsess over technology and therefore are glued to it instead of being more appealing to basic life skills that are important to their mental, physical, emotional, body health, and the health of others and the planet. However, this can cause a huge distraction to them since they’ll forget what to do next based on being proactive in terms of emotional and body health and asking questions with other distracting thoughts inside them. This includes food, clothing, medicine, toiletries, household appliances, their community, the world, and how to treat others well. As a result, they have a hard time adapting to the change of environments overtime without time to prepare for a transition. This makes them feel very depressed due to non-consistent memory and sudden change without expectations, creating friends since they have a hard time finding the right people to hang with based on qualities and interests. Therefore, they’ll probably never talk to others since they can’t observe body language. Also, they might react to the types of foods that they will be eating, and this will make them very emotional since they have food allergies and dietary restrictions that others might not know about and how to accommodate them in various types of environments. However, nature can really heal them by clearing their mind from all the distractions in the human world in terms of slowing down by what they smell, see, hear, and therefore they’ll be prepared for any challenge or change coming to them in the long run. This includes practicing mindfulness, good life skills, and being more sustainable in terms of the health of living things.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Integrative Studies
Year: 2020
File Attachments: Capstone Project.docx
Authors: Ben Malina

A Comparative Look at Low-Impact versus High-Impact Camping Techniques

Fri, 05/08/2020 - 19:36
Abstract: For as long as there has been people inhabiting the area that is now known as the Adirondack Park, there have been people establishing camping techniques there. These techniques have evolved over time, from the primitive style of the Haudenosaunee Natives of almost 1,000 years ago to the creation of the Adirondack Lean-to, and finally the Great Camps of the 19th century, some of which are still standing tall and in use to this day. The early American residents of the Adirondacks made the local economy thrive off of camping, guiding, hunting, and trapping. While many people of the time saw the Adirondack Park from a capitol viewpoint, it soon became promoted for its natural beauty and wonder, which helped the area be seen and used with a more thoughtful perspective in mind. The aesthetic influences of the Adirondack camping styles can be seen around the country today and is a cornerstone of the modern Adirondack tourist economy. One major factor of camping in the Adirondack Park is low-impact camping. This idea prevents damages to the environment from any impacts created whilst camping. By following these guidelines, campers are able to properly appreciate and enjoy their time in the great outdoors. Keywords: Leave No Trace, Low-Impact Camping, Camping, Adirondack Park
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Literary Rights: Off
Major: Integrative Studies, Natural Resources Conservation and Management
Year: 2020
Authors: Hayden Uresk, Jon Templin

A Model for the Development of a Community Center for Psychology in a Rural Setting

Fri, 05/08/2020 - 10:31
Abstract: The current research proposes the development of a Center for “Psychology and Wellness” in rural communities. This research examines the importance of mental health resources for communities in general. In addition, it explores the need for a centralized hub for psychological resources where collaborations between local providers, academic institutions, and community organizations can be actualized. Special emphasis will be placed on the unique psychological needs of rural communities. This research will explore the rationale for such a model and identify specific stakeholders and community links within the North Country region of New York state. In addition, specific activities, potential collaborations, and educational training opportunities will be discussed. Finally, expected benefits, possible challenges, and next steps will be discussed.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Integrative Studies
Year: 2020
Authors: Dijon Bell
Kenneth Cornog
Abigail Cowan
Deven Rogers

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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Literary Rights: On
Major: Forestry, Natural Resources Management and Policy
Year: 2014
Authors: Pali Gelsomini, Dylan Randall

Forest Succession's Effect on Soil Physical and Chemical Properties after Agriculture Abandonment

Mon, 12/01/2014 - 11:00
Abstract: Landscapes have been significantly altered by humans and replacing forests with agricultural crops is a major alteration humans have made. This landscape change has affected soils significantly. Agriculture practices can potentially have detrimental effects on soils. However, through the 20th century forest cover drastically increased in the United States through the recruitment of second growth forests as a result of agriculture abandonment. Forests reclaiming farm lands through forest succession can have a significant effect on recoveries in soil physical and chemical properties such as bulk density, soil strength, porosity and fertility. Therefore, the goal of this study was to investigate forest successions effect on soil physical and chemical properties after agriculture abandonment. Three specific hypotheses were tested: 1) Bulk density and soil strength will decrease while micro and macro porosity will increase as forests reclaim farm lands. 2) Soil carbon and available nitrogen will increase over time. 3) Soil pH will decrease and electrical conductivity will increase over time. These hypotheses were explored on abandoned agriculture fields in a chronosequence study on coarse loamy Inceptisols in upstate New York across a 60 year temporal scale. Data showed that total porosity, total carbon and available nitrogen increase while soil pH, bulk density, soil strength and electrical conductivity decline over time. These results support all three hypotheses except for the latter half of hypothesis number three. The findings of this study suggest that although agriculture may disturb soil properties, time coupled with forest succession can result in significant recoveries.
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Literary Rights: Off
Major: Forestry
Year: 2014
File Attachments: Final Report.docx
Authors: Nathan Piché

Differences in soil fertility along roadsides between state and locally managed roadways in Franklin County, New York

Thu, 05/08/2014 - 20:30
Abstract: Techniques for managing roadways often incorporate use of sodium chloride, or roadsalt. Use of this substance can vary greatly depending on whether state or local municipalities are prescribing management for particular roadways. Roadsalt has the potential to affect the chemical composition of roadside soils. This study sought examine relationships between winter management techniques and soil chemical properties as distance increased from roadsides. Transects were set up perpendicular to 5 roads managed by the State of New York, and 5 roads managed by towns in Franklin County, New York. 10 samples were removed from the soil surface at each transect, every two meters back from each roadside from 2 to 20 meters. pH, conductivity, abundances of Ca, Na, K, Mg, Cl, % Na on CEC, & % Ca on CEC were determined for each sample. Using ANOVA equations pH, % Na, and Cl concentration were found to have significant relationship with distance while %Na, % Ca, and Na concentration had significant relationships with regards to management. It was concluded that Na is displacing large amounts of Ca on exchange near state managed roads, decreasing soil fertility specifically in those areas. Results follow trends found in other studies that cite increasing concentrations of both Na and Cl on watershed scales.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Forestry
Year: 2014
File Attachments: Actually Done.docx
Authors: Dylan Kirk