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Capstone Projects

10-Years Post Hurricane Irene, Infrastructure Repair to Small Communities in the Adirondacks Impacts on Physical and Psychological Recovery

Tue, 05/03/2022 - 13:10
Abstract: Hurricane Irene struck the Adirondack Park in August of 2011, causing extensive damage to the communities of Au Sable Forks, Jay, and Wilmington, in Essex County within the Adirondack Park of New York State. The purpose of this research and report is to assess the efficacy of recovery operations taken post-disaster, analyze possible alternative solutions, encourage the removal of hazardous infrastructure, and bring attention to the mental health impacts of flood disasters. The research was conducted utilizing a survey of the local communities and geospatial analysis using ArcGIS (Geographic Information Systems) and HAZUS (Hazards of the United States) software to illustrate potential future damages, and provide information to plan accordingly.
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Major: Natural Resources Conservation and Management
Year: 2022
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Peter Connelly, Luke Eckert, Hudsen Timon, Hannah Walsh, Erin Bryant, Jacob Speyer

Outdoor Classroom

Mon, 05/02/2022 - 23:33
Abstract: The outdoor experience at Paul Smith’s College is essentially what the identity of the college is. Building an outdoor classroom is an opportunity that could potentially benefit the current school and also be influential on other schools that could follow suite. The implementation of an outdoor learning environment in a collegiate setting allows students to be more engaged in their learning experience while presenting a less formal environment for learning. This would be reciprocated for the instructors as well. Teaching in an environment that is very relaxed benefits both the teacher and the students enhancing their learning experience.
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Major: Natural Resources Conservation and Management
Year: 2022
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Derek William Thompson, Rebecca Durinick, Shannon Mcpheeters, Annie Dehaven

Noble Pen Shell (Pinna nobilis) Management in the Northern Mediterranean Sea

Fri, 07/08/2022 - 10:26
Abstract: The noble pen shell, Pinna nobilis, is a benthic marine invertebrate that resides in shallow seagrass meadows across the Mediterranean Basin. This bivalve is currently listed as critically endangered by the IUCN and faces severe population loss from anthropogenic factors, like pollution, habitat loss, and anchoring, as well as epizootic factors from parasitism. The objectives of this management plan seek to reduce both anthropogenic and epizootic mortality by 20% over 10 years in order to prevent the noble pen shell's extinction. Actions to complete these objectives include creating educational flyers, installing mooring buoys, amending and proposing legislation, restoring habitat, establishing ex-situ populations, researching genetic and antibiotic parasitic resistance, and administering cures.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2021
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Gordon O'Brien

Southern Hognose Snakes (Heterodon simus) in Florida: A 30-year Management Plan

Fri, 07/08/2022 - 10:20
Abstract: The southern hognose snake is a small, heavy-bodied snake tan or reddish in color with darker markings along its body and an upturned nose. They are native to the southeastern United States from North Carolina south to Florida and west into Mississippi. The southern hognose snake faces population decline from invasive species, habitat loss, and human mortality. The objectives listed in this plan will be to increase adult survival by 10%, increase hatchling survival by 11%, and increase suitable habitat by 25%. The actions to achieve these objectives will include use of a flyer to educate public, implementing road signs, locating snake and fire ant nests, use of a natural virus to reduce fire ant populations around nests, controlled burns for longleaf pine forests, and preparing sites and planting seedlings. The southern hognose snake is listed as vulnerable by the IUCN and application of this management plan should increase their populations high enough to no longer be listed as vulnerable in the future.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2021
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Shania Moore

south island kaka managment plan

Mon, 05/04/2020 - 22:29
Abstract: The south island kaka (Nestor meridionalis meridionalis) is a large olive brown parrot endemic to the low to mid elevation forests of New Zealand. Their historic range spanned all 3 large islands and many of the smaller offshore islands as well. Unfortunate in the past century human involvement has caused these birds to be listed by the IUCN. In 1988 they were listed as near threatened with a continual decreasing population leaving them as endanger with less than 1000 individuals left in the wild in 2019 with a thin fragmented forest prone to die back and full of invasive species. To combat this, we have come up with a management plan to restore a 1000 acre plot of land on Stewart Island west of Half Moon Bay where their historic population was estimated to be the most concentrated on the island. To do this we plan on removing invasive white-tailed deer by using the local hunters to decrease their population supplemented with contraceptive bait piles to decrease their fecundity. On this plot we will manage and monitor the growth of this forest to help it develop into an even aged stand that is less prone to die off and with high productivity that is suitable breeding ground for south island kaka. After 50 years of managing for native plant species and trapping and poisoning of invasive mammals such as stoats, rats and bush tailed possum most if not all invasive will be removed. We will then release 100 kaka into the management area. We will monitor their movement and use of the habitat to better protect them from invasive species in hope to increase their survival closer to their historical percentages (90%). Once this is accomplished we will continue to monitor the area until their population becomes stable and no sign of invasive mammals are impacting their survivability.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2020
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Keith Ahrens

PSC Alumni Campground Campsite Firewood: Risks and Solutions

Mon, 05/11/2020 - 01:37
Abstract: The purpose of our capstone was to build a woodshed for the PSC Alumni Campground. Camping is one of the most widely participated recreational activities during the year, and has been a recreational activity in the Adirondacks for many generations. People who camp at times find It difficult to locate dry firewood or any firewood at all, so they bring their own firewood with them or continue to search for wood off established trails. Walking off established trails can kill plant vegetation or disrupt natural processes in the forest. My group and I decided a woodshed that holds 3 cords of wood for the Alumni Campground would allow campers to stop searching for firewood out in the forest and prevent campers from bringing their own firewood into the park and risking the spread of any invasive species. The woodshed dimensions were 5ft in width by 12ft long and 7ft at the highest point and 5ft in the back. With a few slight modifications, we spaced the floorboards 6in apart for more ventilation. Overall, due to the pandemic, we were unable to complete the entire woodshed.
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Major: Natural Resources Conservation and Management
Year: 2020
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Mitch Akowicz , Kyle Bond, Josh Campbell, Matt Frye, Alex Purdy

Managing the Declining Population of Northern long-eared bats in New York State

Thu, 05/03/2018 - 08:02
Abstract: White-nose syndrome (Geomyces destructans) is a fungal disease that has caused over 5.5 million bat deaths in eastern North America. The fungus affects any open skin including the bat’s patagium and causes lesions. The fungus consists of microscopic spores which can attach to anything it comes into contact with to spread the disease. The fungus is spread from bat to bat and cave systems as well as facilitated by human tourism. Northern long-eared bats (Myotis septentrionalis) are currently threatened in New York State. The northern long-eared bat is an insectivore and must hibernate when its food source is unavailable. During hibernation the bat’s immune system is suppressed, making it more vulnerable to the effects of white-nose syndrome. The bat will deplete its fat reserve to fight off the disease, which will lead to death if the bat cannot find a food source. White-nose syndrome has decreased the northern long-eared bat population by 90% in New York State. There is no cure for white-nose syndrome, and the northern long-eared bat population continues to decrease in New York State. The northern long-eared bat population is relatively unknown, but estimated to be 20,000 individuals in New York State. Population projections predict that the bat may become extirpated from New York State in the next 5 years. Increasing the survivability of the juvenile bat population to 70% and the adult bat population to 80% would prevent the extirpation of the species. The goal of this management plan is to increase the population of northern long-eared bats in New York to prevent the extirpation of the species from the state and create a sustainable population. This should be done by preventing further human facilitation of the disease, increasing educational resources for the public and gathering more information about the fungus and the northern long-eared bat population in New York.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Bailey Muntz

Are Zooplankton As Patchy As Phytoplankton?

Mon, 05/01/2017 - 15:44
Abstract: Phytoplankton and zooplankton form the base of most lake food webs and are the primary sources of energy for higher trophic levels. Recent studies have shown that the horizontal distribution of phytoplankton is not even across the surface of lakes. While the vertical distribution of zooplankton has been well studied, little is known about the horizontal distribution of zooplankton in the surface waters of lakes or the spatial interactions among zooplankton and phytoplankton. The aim of this study was to quantify the spatial distribution of phytoplankton and zooplankton and determine if their spatial distributions are related. We sampled zooplankton and phytoplankton during the day and at night in a 24 point grid in Paul Lake, Michigan in the late spring and early summer of 2016. Phytoplankton and zooplankton were not uniformly distributed horizontally. Instead, there were high density patches of both zooplankton and phytoplankton, and in many instances there was positive autocorrelation. Additionally, zooplankton and phytoplankton concentrations were rarely correlated in space indicating that grazing is likely not a driver of zooplankton or phytoplankton spatial heterogeneity. If the goal of a study is to understand and characterize the entire population of either phytoplankton or zooplankton, we suggest taking multiple samples of the pelagic zone.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2017
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Jonathan Stetler, Cal Buelo

Management Plan for Pacific Walrus (Odobenus rosmarus divergens) in Alaska, 2017-2027

Fri, 04/28/2017 - 18:06
Abstract: Pacific Walruses are social mammals and travel in herds. Most of the population spends the summer months in the ice pack of the Chukchi Sea; however, mostly adult males use coastal haulouts in the Bering Sea. Walruses use ice to rest between foraging trips, mate, care for their young, and defend themselves against predators. Climate reduced their ability to engage in these behaviors by eliminating the ice pack in their summer season. Walruses feed on bivalves on the sea bottom; however, because of climate change they no longer can reach the bottom. In response to the loss of ice, walruses are resting on land haulouts with as many as 20,000-40,000 individuals. This puts pressure on the benthic material supply. The swim from drifting ice to coastal haulouts can be hundreds of kilometers, which leads to the death of young walruses. Walruses are sensitive to sounds from ships, aircrafts, and tourist underwater and out of water. When walruses are disturbed by these events, they create stampedes by trying to dive into the water. The stampeding event ends in high mortality for calves. In 2007, more than 1,000 walruses were trampled to death in Chukotka, Russia. To prevent human disturbances, management at haulouts needs to occur for 10 years (2017-2027). The goals are to improve demographic knowledge of pacific walruses, minimize stampeding events, and grow and replace native bivalves near land haulouts. This could be accomplished by laws that require aircraft and vessels to maintain the appropriate distance. Creating artificial habitat would result in less use of coastal haulouts which would decrease mortality during stampeding events. It would also provide easier access to bivalves for foraging trips. Bivalves are depleting near land haulouts due to large demand from the high density of walruses, therefore aquaculture is needed to replace their food source. Harvesting more of the adult population would be essential to maintain the population from going over carrying capacity. If the adult population decreases then fewer calves will die in stampedes. These objectives are necessary to ensure the future of walruses and their new habitat.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2017
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Desiree Stumpf

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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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