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Capstone Projects

Analysis of Forage Quality in Adirondack Macrophytes: Implications for Waterfowl Nutrition

Fri, 04/29/2016 - 14:48
Abstract: To understand the relative nutritional value of macrophyte food sources for Adirondack waterfowl, the forage quality of four common Adirondack macrophytes were assessed. An analysis of two native pondweeds (Potamogeton) and two invasive watermilfoil (Myriophyllum) was conducted to deduce how invasive and native macrophytes compare in their relative concentrations of nitrogen and mineral content; important indicators of forage quality for waterfowl. Nitrogen content is used as a metric for relative concentration of protein. Macrophyte species were sampled from four Adirondack lakes of the same trophic status to account for effects of lake nutrient characteristics on plant nutrient uptake and synthesis. Total nitrogen was determined with the Kjeldahl procedure using flow injection analysis. Ash (mineral) content was acquired through high-heat burning in a muffle furnace. The invasive watermilfoil species had a higher percentage of nitrogen than the native species. There was no significant difference in the ash content between the species. It is critical to understand the ecological function of these species in relation to wildlife populations. The nutritional value of these aquatic macrophytes may have implications for the fitness and distribution of breeding herbivorous waterfowl in Adirondack lakes. These results may indicate that invasive plants will serve as a viable food source for herbivorous waterfowl as watermilfoil continues to spread across Adirondack aquatic systems.
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Major: Biology
Year: 2016
Authors: Bianca Fournier

Walden Pond: Ecological and Anthropological History Reflected in the Sedimentary Record

Tue, 05/03/2016 - 23:13
Abstract: This study examined environmental changes reflected in the microfossil record of a sediment core taken in August 2015 from Walden Pond, Massachusetts spanning the last 600 years. In particular changes in the eutrophication status, inorganic sediment deposition due to land use, lake water depth and temperature were examined using phytoplankton indicator species—diatoms and chrysophytes— to reconstruct environmental conditions. The study site was a basin shallower and closer to the source of anthropogenic N and P inputs than the site of previous studies at Walden’s deepest basin, allowing for finer detection of changes in water level and organic content of sediment. A gravity corer was used to collect the sediment core to preserve topmost sediment layers for analysis, as more than a decade has passed since the last published study of this kind at Walden Pond by Köster et. al. (2005). Results show a significant increase in indicators of eutrophic lake conditions since European settlement ca. 1630, and especially since the 20th century. However, relative Asterionella formosa and Synedra nana abundances had not changed significantly in the last decade since Köster et. al.’s 2005 study, and have in fact decreased somewhat, suggesting water treatment efforts by the Massachusetts Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) have had some success. Loss on ignition (LOI) of organic content shows a precipitous decline from the mid 19th century from 37% to 22%, representing intensive land clearance and development until the 1970’s when DEP management began. After that point, LOI rose, perhaps due to increased lake productivity, and has fluctuated around 25%. Relative Discostella stelligera abundance, while used in the WAl-3 piston core as a proxy for water depth, could not be used in the WAL-1 gravity core from this study as eutrophication has significantly impacted their abundance. Chrysophyte scale:diatom ratios corroborate an observed trend of increasing abundance in lakes globally since the 20th century, perhaps in response to rising global temperatures over the same period.
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Literary Rights: Off
Major: Biology
Year: 2016
File Attachments: Capstone Paper.docx
Authors: Erik Yankowsky

My Awesome Capstone

Mon, 04/11/2016 - 15:19
Abstract: THIS IS MY CAPSTONE! PLEASE PRESERVE IT FOR POSTERITY.
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Major: Communication
Year: 2016
File Attachments: Press Capstone 2016.docx
Authors: Meggan Press

Global Cuisine; Italy

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.
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Literary Rights: Off
Major: Environmental Sciences, Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2016
File Attachments: Final2.docx
Authors: Brandon Snavely, Lewis Lolya

Rooted Education: learning from aquaponics

Sat, 04/30/2016 - 15:02
Abstract: Aquaponics is the integration of soil-less agriculture (hydroponics) within closed-loop aquaculture systems to reduce the toxic accumulation of nutrient waste from aquatic animals. Bacteria naturally establish to purify water by oxidizing the ammonia secreted by fish, which reduces the toxicity of effluent while creating a usable nitrogen source for plants. The conversion of ammonia and nitrite into nitrate by living bacteria communities is called a biological filter, or biofiltration (FAO 2014). Aquaponics would not be possible without biofiltration; the slightest amount of ammonia would be fatally toxic to fish, and plants wouldn't receive the nitrates they need to grow. There are unique opportunities offered by an aquaponics system to learn about ecological and human communities. 1.1. Aquaponics enables users to grow fish and agricultural plants with limited space and resource use (water, soil, and time). This enables an aquaponics user to invest less physical energy and time into expanding sustainable food resources for their household use. 1.2. A small aquaponics system could promote cultural values of self-sufficiency, energy consciousness, and connection to food systems. It could inspire individual efforts to produce food for one’s household, to build healthier and more resilient systems, and a greater appreciation for farming. Therefore, this project aims to actualize a mobile and functional aquaponics system for the educational benefit of the Paul Smith's College community. I will provide the background knowledge needed to maintain an aquaponics system, as well as describe the general concept of aquaponics design.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Environmental Sciences, Natural Resources Sustainability Studies
Year: 2016
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Brian Jason Kohan

Offal's and Less Popular Cuts

Thu, 04/24/2014 - 09:39
Abstract: The research question I develop and base my capstone project was based around the trend and concept of nose to tail dinning. I wanted to find out if using offal’s and second cuts of meat and could these items be suited for a family restaurant. I will also try to see if using offal’s and cross utilizing ingredients throughout the menu to cut down on waste, be cost effective and appeal to the guest. My menu will reflect the proper cuts of meat as well as providing the least waste. My methods will revolve around the practical use of my time given the restraints of my question as well as see if the theme can be practical within industry standards.
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Major: Culinary Arts and Service Management
Year: 2014
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Chad Blinebry

Vermont VS Canadian, A study of the differences between Vermont and Canadian syrup

Thu, 04/24/2014 - 20:07
Abstract: The research question for this capstone is one that I have long pondered. Can someone taste the difference between Vermont and Canadian syrup? The inspiration to use this as my capstone question came on the first day of class when chef Pino gave us an example of a capstone question, it was “Can you tell the difference between grade A light maple syrup and grade B?” upon hearing this I decided to use this capstone as a chance to test my long standing theories. As the question implies the menu uses entirely maple syrup based dishes with an even balance between the two types. There are two chicken based dishes that were used for the tasting. By using two identical dishes I hoped to better allow the tasters to make the call as to whether or not the two syrups are noticeably different. The menu also includes pork, beef and a pasta dish that all feature Maple syrup or sugar as a major part of the recipe. The questions to the patrons are designed to tell me if people could taste any difference between the two dishes and if there was any reasons other than the maple flavor that could have accounted for this. Also, if they could taste a difference between the two plates, could they distinguish which one is from where?
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Culinary Arts and Service Management
Year: 2014
Authors: Ryan Gingras

Grass Fed vs. Grain Fed Beef

Fri, 04/25/2014 - 08:29
Abstract: Popular in the media today are chefs that boast only the best ingredients, but can the consumer even tell? The question being tested is this, can the average American taste the difference between grass fed beef and commercial beef, with the grass fed being more expensive? This concept is beneficial to explore for two main reasons. Number one, if there is a noticeable difference; culinary professionals will want to use the best ingredients they can find because people can taste the quality. Number two, if the guest can’t tell the difference between two cuts of meat that vary significantly in price, why would chefs waste money on it? To test this theory I will be providing a sample of plates with same cut of beef however one raised on grass and the other on corn and grain. There will be a simple and short survey asking the guest to vote on their favorite dish and why they liked it. With this information, gathered from random people with varying age and gender, it will provide evidence for or against the use of grass fed beef in our restaurants today.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Culinary Arts and Service Management
Year: 2014
Authors: Brandon Horner

A Maple Comparison By Tyler Sheridan

Fri, 04/25/2014 - 13:56
Abstract: Being in the northeast especially during this time of year allows you to witness some of the rarest and yet oldest tradition to the area, the time of year where the tree are struck and harvested for the sugary liquid as they begin to wake up for the spring and summer seasons. Sugaring season is in full swing running from the first thaw to the sprouting of tree buds, smoke stacks bellow from pockets of forest as farmers scramble to collect every drop while it still runs. With a tradition that dates back to the Northeast back to the time of Eastern settlers and Native America’s it’s only been of late that the production of syrup has come short to the consumer demand. Hence the introduction of artificial maple syrup, brands like: Aunt Jemima, Kellogg’s, and Log Cabin the market has been saturated with corn syrup imitation at a lower price point. This competition in the market has led to people come up with a preference to one over the other with equal group on both sides. However they all agree that one taste different than the other, does this make artificial maple syrup an imitator or a substitute. It is said that Maple Syrup is the only flavor that cannot be recreated in an artificial manner, which would give substance to the statements of the syrup tasting differently. I am curious to know if there truth behind the whole debate. To solve the question I will put three plates of breakfast themed dishes. Each course will feature two identical plates per course, one using real syrup, the other featuring artificial syrup, I will ask a panel of culinary and maple based experters to find out which plate they think has a better maple flavor and appropriate texture. All of this done without telling them which plate contains the real and which has the imitation. If the panel states that each plate has the same level of maple flavor than it would debunk the speculations of different tasting syrups. However If the panel states that the two plates taste differently than I could conclude the imitation has a different taste than the real.
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Literary Rights: Off
Major: Culinary Arts and Service Management
Year: 2014
Authors: Tyler Sheridan