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Capstone Projects

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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Major: Biology
Year: 2020
Authors: Emily Schmeltz

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.
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Literary Rights: Off
Major: Biology
Year: 2020
File Attachments: Capstone Paper Full.docx
Authors: Skylar Murphy

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.
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Major: Biology
Year: 2020
File Attachments: Capstone_0.docx
Authors: Lydia Harvey

Generating Visitor and Nordic Ski Revenue at The VIC

Wed, 05/27/2020 - 16:16
Abstract: This project encompasses a comprehensive media and advertising plan to generate revenue for the Nordic ski season at the Paul Smith’s College Visitors Interpretive Center (VIC). The VIC is an environmental education and winter sports center owned and operated by Paul Smith’s College. This plan is designed to be useful in generating Nordic Season revenue for the VIC for years to come.
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Literary Rights: Off
Major: Communication
Year: 2020
Authors: Jill Marie Henderson

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

Ten Year Management Plan on Jaguar (Panthera onca) Populations in Brazil

Sun, 05/03/2020 - 11:27
Abstract: Jaguars (Panthera onca) are the world’s third largest big cat and are found throughout Latin America and small parts of the United States of America. They are solitary, elusive carnivores that serves an ecological role as a keystone species throughout their distribution by maintaining populations of herbivorous species which provides more habitat availability and suitability for other wildlife species. Their populations are going through a decline and now 173000 individuals are currently inhabiting about half of their historical range. The factors that endanger jaguar populations are habitat destruction, illegal hunting, and loss of prey. The increase in ranching and the need for more communities for the growing human population are the reasons for the continuation in habitat destruction and the confrontations between people and jaguars. The goal for this management plan is to increase the jaguar populations by 10-15% within 10 years and maintain the populations throughout the country of Brazil. There are currently 86,800 individual jaguars in Brazil and reaching the goals in maintain populations will require improving their habitat and prey availability while reducing the factors that are the direct cause in their decline. The objectives include focusing conservation efforts on certain age classes to increase the survivability of individuals and the chances of reproduction to add individuals to a population. They also include mitigating human and jaguar conflicts, making environmental protections and wildlife management a bigger priority in the public, politics, and laws, and reducing the rate of habitat fragmentation by 20% throughout the country of Brazil. Some actions to make these objectives successful include conducting further research on the life cycle and natural behaviors on jaguars to support conservation efforts needed to benefit the populations and continuing current methods that are used to reduce human and jaguar conflicts. To monitor the success and failures of this management plan, public surveys for the residents’ perspective on the jaguars will be conducted yearly along with some population counts on the jaguars in each region of Brazil. Jaguars are currently listed as near threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list and due to the population declines and the continuation of factors effecting the populations, they will mostly likely be listed as vulnerable in 30 years. If there is an increase in conservation efforts and a reduction in conflicts between jaguars and human communities, then the jaguars will have a smaller chance of reaching extinction.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2020
File Attachments: Jaguar Management Plan .pdf
Authors: Joshua Staquet

Fifty-year Bicknell’s Thrush (Catharus bicknelli) Management Plan for the Adirondack Park, New York

Fri, 05/01/2020 - 10:40
Abstract: Bicknell’s Thrush (Catharus bicknelli) is a Nearctic-Neotropical migrant passerine found in southeast Canada from the Maritime providences and Quebec down into the Northeastern United States at high elevations of 900 m and above. Their difficult to access habitat and recent acknowledgement of being a distinct species, has resulted in a small body of knowledge and data pertaining to the species. Conservation issues of concern include nest depredation by Eastern red squirrels (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus), montane development, and potential impacts of climate change (i.e. habitat loss and the “Push” hypothesis from Swainson’s Thrush (Catharus ustulatus)). This management plan aims to increase juveniles and breeding populations of Bicknell’s Thrush in the Adirondack Park, New York, by at least 1% yearly, or by at least 50% total through 2070 to allow for the species to subsist. Objectives to reach the goal include increasing juvenile survival by 17% within 15 years and to conserve and increase suitable habitat in the Adirondack Park by silviculture practices such as increasing balsam and spruce-fir habitat (10% by 2040, 20% by 2050, 30% by 2070) and regenerating clear cuts of 5 to 15 years old. To increase the survival of juveniles, Eastern red squirrel populations would be reduced by hiring individuals prior and during Bicknell’s Thrush breeding season to shoot and trap Eastern red squirrels in known Bicknell’s Thrush habitat in the Adirondack Park. Throughout the 50-year management period, a population dynamic study will be initiated for Bicknell’s Thrush along with a population monitoring study for Eastern red squirrels. The studies would be used to determine if management actions have been successful and will be used to collect population dynamics for Bicknell’s Thrush. The studies will collect and provide currently unknown or not well studied data for Bicknell’s Thrush, such as data pertaining to their high natal dispersal and survival rates. Havahart #745 traps will be used to reduce Eastern red squirrel populations. Trapped Eastern red squirrels will be transferred in cages to not allow for escapees and taken to a facility out of public view. The species will then be euthanized by the CO2 method. After inspection, the trapped Eastern red squirrels will be taken to avian rehabilitation facilities to be utilized. To increase suitable habitat for Bicknell’s Thrush, partnerships with timber companies will be created to develop and implement best management practices for the species. Best management practices are even-aged methods, such as the variable-retention and partial-harvest systems, and constant state of afforestation stands of 5 to 15 years old. This action will improve and provide suitable nesting habitat and allow for no net loss of the Bicknell’s Thrush current habitat. Forest interior will be increased, and the creation of edges will increase suitable nesting and foraging habitat. Surveys will be released to the public to strike a balance between Bicknell’s Thrush and human dimensions, along with determine the public’s opinion and knowledge on the species and the management techniques to support the species. Based off the survey, montane activities occurring in Bicknell’s Thrush habitat will be halted during their breeding season to decrease disruption of nests and other behaviors. The species will be proposed to be listed as threatened or endangered to gain protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The species is not well known, and the creation and implementation of a successful management plan will increase Bicknell’s Thrush populations while also gaining beneficial information on the species.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2020
Authors: Falon Cote

Servals (Leptailurus serval) in South Africa’s Cape: A 20-Year Reintroduction and Management Plan

Fri, 05/01/2020 - 07:48
Abstract: Servals (Leptailurus serval) are medium-sized African felids with a range extending from the Mediterranean coast of Morocco to the Cape of South Africa: though, they have been extirpated from the latter. They are prey generalists, preferring a variety of small mammals. Their preferred prey items typically inhabit wetland areas, meaning that servals spend quite a bit of time there as well. Conservation issues for servals include aggressive agriculture and wetland habitat destruction, illegal harvest and poaching for use in traditional medicine and clothing, and the lack of species-specific legislation. This management plan aims to provide a comprehensive action plan to reintroduce a healthy population of 30 individual servals to their previously extirpated range on the Cape of South Africa, and to see a shift in public opinion regarding the importance of small mammals and wetland conservation. Objectives to reach the goal of reintroduction include: selecting and transporting individuals with tactics encouraged and approved by translocation literature; selecting 15 young adults and 15 adults with a 2:1 female to male ratio; increase young adult and adult survivorship by 10% through actively managing for the population’s success for a minimum of 3 generations, with a generation being defined as 18 months; see a 10% increase of species-specific legislation being passed and introduced within the next 5 years; observe a 5% increase in total wetland area by 2030; and to keep stress-induced and autoimmune diseases out of translocated individuals. Objectives to reach the goal of seeing a shift in public opinion include: observe a 10% increase in private lands utilized as wetland conservation or management areas; observe a statistically significant positive change in public opinion about the conservation of wetlands and small mammals; and observe eradication of serval pelts and parts in marketplaces by 2025. Mark recapture studies for the duration of 3 generations will keep tabs on the health and size of the population. Lobbying and advising South Africa’s government and lawmakers should see an introduction and prolonged enforcement of 2 new or altered laws or regulations within the next 5 years. Utilizing education, outreach, and lobbying in combination, a total wetland area in South Africa will increase by 5% by 2030, resulting in more appropriate habitat for both the serval and its prey items. Evidence of a large proportion of environmentally focused citizens should be profound. Ensuring the health of individuals prior to transporting them is vital. This will mitigate disease in the reintroduced population. A key component of the successful management of this species is the public’s opinion about it. Positive public opinion regarding servals, their habitat, and associated prey items should be prevalent. Private game reserves and land reserved for wildlife management are a common sight in South Africa. We must see an increase in private land being utilized for the conservation of servals. The differences in the data collected with each repetition of a survey sent out before and at regular intervals after the start of outreach will be analyzed for statistical significance. Evidence of a significant change in public opinion should be prevalent. Two studies or articles published regarding the presence of serval pelts will be seen in marketplaces within the next 5 years. These studies will show evidence of continued decline in serval pelt trade and usage, both in percent decline and numbers of pelts present. These management actions could allow for a successful, healthy reintroduced population of servals in the Cape of South Africa, as well as a growing public fondness of servals, their habitat preferences, and the species that they prey upon, such as the southern African Vlei Rat (Otomys irroratus).
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2020
Authors: Autumn Tallant

Fifty Year Korean Water Deer (Hydropotes inermis argyropus) Management Plan for Chungnam Province, Korea

Fri, 05/01/2020 - 07:22
Abstract: Korean Water Deer (Hydropotes inermis argyropus) are one of the smallest species within the family Cervidae. They are a group of highly selective ruminant feeders, which limits the species ability to withstand environmental changes. Conservation issues of primary concern include poaching, habitat destruction, urbanization, traditional medicine, and disease. Conversion of natural habitat into human-dominated environments puts huge stresses on the water deer’s ability to withstand pressures such as development. This management plan aims to restore Korean Water Deer populations to a self-sustaining status within the Chungnam Province of South Korea. Objectives to obtain this goal include decreasing habitat fragmentation caused by urbanization by 25% within 10 years and decrease mortality of fawns by 20% due to excessive poaching and overhunting within 5 years. To decrease the amount of habitat fragmentation, a program like the Conservation Reserve Program from the Federal Farm Bill, which pays farmers rental payments for land management, will be implemented. In addition to the program, the use of Environmental Impact Assessments or EIA’s will be increased to limit the amount of urbanization that occurs within the Korean peninsula. In order to decrease the level of mortality in water deer fawn, a wildlife enforcement unit will be created in order to decrease the level of poaching that occurs. An active conservation plan will be established for the water deer in both China and Korea. This will pave the way for continued support and conservation of the water deer species. These management actions could increase water deer populations above the carrying capacity of current habitat and reserves but allowing increase will permit wild populations to establish and take hold.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2020
File Attachments: ODonnell_Final_Paper.docx
Authors: Beau O'Donnell

One-Hundred Year Wild Tuatara (Sphenodon punctatus) Management Plan for Te-Ika-Maui, New Zealand

Fri, 05/01/2020 - 04:16
Abstract: Tuataras (Sphenodon punctatus) are the only remaining reptiles in the order Rhynchocephalia, endemic to New Zealand. Previously, tuataras existed across the mainland of New Zealand, but now reside on 32 offshore islands in small dispersed populations. Tuataras live in underground burrows, typically with fairy prions (Pachyptila turtur) and forage nocturnally on invertebrates, small mammals, and birds. Conservation issues of concern include future populations of invasive rats, competition with conspecific species during nesting – nest evacuations, for example - habitat alteration inducing stochastic plasticity, climate change causing increased male to female sex ratios in populations, and hybridization. This management plan aims to reintroduce and restore wild tuatara populations on the North Island of New Zealand to past populations before the introduction of invasive rats. Objectives reaching this goal include increasing habitat availability by 75% and increase public cooperation with conservation efforts by at least 50%. To increase habitat availability, a habitat suitability index will be implemented to assess proper habitat for tuataras on the North Island, New Zealand. After suitable habitat has been identified, artificial burrows will be constructed increasing survivorship of tuataras and decreasing parasitism and competitions with fairy prions. To increase cooperation with the public, surveys will be administered to increase ecological knowledge of tuataras. A land use plan will be applied, allowing for public seminars and town meetings to be incorporated into the plan. Seminars and surveys will help identify lowered scientific knowledge of tuataras as well as increasing the public’s awareness of conservation needs. The course of actions of this management plan could increase tuatara populations to sustainable levels, back to what they once were in the past of New Zealand.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2020
Authors: Koby R. Coplen