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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.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Biology
Year: 2020
Authors: Emily Schmeltz

Alumni Campground and the relationship with seasonal guests and wildlife

Tue, 12/17/2019 - 00:45
Abstract: For our capstone, we plan to focus on the wildlife and human interaction dynamics within Paul Smith’s College Alumni Campground. The objective of Owen’s section for capstone is too develop a ‘bear-awareness’ program for the Alumni Campground. Katie is looking into establishing a wildlife management plan of the campground correlating with the evidence of determining where there are patterns of travel within the campground of the local wildlife.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Natural Resources Conservation and Management
Year: 2019
File Attachments: Capstone Paper_3.docx
Authors: Owen Murray , Katie Reily

Lower St. Regis Lake Survey: A Comparative Study of Fish Population Structure and Function over Time

Thu, 12/13/2018 - 14:24
Abstract: Lake surveys are performed on bodies of water to provide a health analysis of fish populations over time. Lake surveys can be conducted in a variety of ways to attain specific data. Lower St. Regis Lake was surveyed to determine the fish community composition and to understand fish population traits. Using fyke nets placed at six predetermined locations for 24 hours, as well as fishing, we collected data for age, length (mm), weight (g), and parasites present. Data was analyzed in the lab using Excel to form graphs and tables to demonstrate our findings. Catch rates were lower compared to years before and comparing our data to New York State Department of Conservation data found that our length-at-age data was lower for the six-species sampled. Pumpkinseed and yellow perch were the only two species to have over twenty fish sampled. Decreased air temperatures brought in by a cold front during the week of our sampling may have been a reason for our lower number of fish caught. Mesh size is also a bias while using these nets as smaller fish can escape, and predatory fish can prey on smaller fish while in the net. Some species of fish such as black crappie may be more susceptible to capture due to its habit of associating with structure.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Biology, Environmental Sciences, Environmental Studies, Fisheries and Wildlife Science, Natural Resources Conservation and Management
Year: 2018
File Attachments: Capstone_Final.docx
Authors: Deacon Chapin, Jared Chlus, Louis Daversa, Jon Herrman, Robert Visicaro

Engaging Visitors Of Glenview Preserve With Interpretive Signage

Fri, 12/14/2018 - 11:42
Abstract: Glenview Preserve is a Lowland forest and Field property that boarders the Bloomingdale Bog. Implementing an educational system at the preserve would lead to more public interaction that would guarantee support for the Adirondack Land Trust’s mission objectives. This approach would involve the development of an interpretive day-use site, interpretive programs and signs, and an outdoor education space. For my portion I will be investigating how the Adirondack Land Trust can construct interpretive signage that is weather resistant and provides valuable content. The quality of the content will be evaluated using the National Association of Interpretation principles of POETRY. These signs will promote ALT’s mission objectives by encouraging people to make a difference after their visit through well-constructed and entertaining information. Visitors will donate money to ensure that having an educational system at the preserve is a leading concern of the Adirondack Land Trust’s management plan for Glenview Preserve.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Integrative Studies, Natural Resources Conservation and Management, Recreation, Adventure Education and Leisure Management, Parks and Conservation Management
Year: 2018
Authors: Tiffany Elizabeth Marie Clark

Student of Natural Resources and Conservation Management

Fall 2018 graduate of Paul Smith's College

Conservation Easements

Fri, 12/14/2018 - 23:16
Abstract: The privatization of land through conservation easements serve an important role of protecting biodiversity and ecosystem services across various landscapes. This research investigated the purposes of conservation easements, how they are acquired, and the importance of strong landowner relationships and yearly monitoring. Numerous peer-reviewed articles and websites were analyzed for this research in addition to interviews with three participants, each at different land trusts (Harris Center for Conservation Education, The Nature Conservancy, and the Adirondack Land Trust). However, despite the interviewees working at different organizations, the process of easement acquisition and overall thoughts on conservation easements were very similar. My own experience as a Conservation Easement Monitor was also applied to this research, and two examples of completed monitoring reports from my time at the Harris Center accompany this document. Furthermore, this study suggests the need of individuals becoming involved with conservation easements either through volunteering, interning, or having their property become an easement at participating organizations.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Natural Resources Conservation and Management
Year: 2018
Authors: Nicole DeCarolis

The Glenview Preserve Management Plan

Fri, 12/14/2018 - 19:43
Abstract: Abstract: The 238- acre Glenview Preserve consists of forests and fields located within Harrietstown, NY. The Adirondack Land Trust has purchased this land in order to restore, protect, and improve the land while utilizing it to its maximum potential. Our study investigates the best possible ways to make their goals reality. We will be looking into detail on how we can encourage human activity while still protecting the beautiful land from poor human practices. We will also be discussing the best possible ways to improve the land for wildlife. Here we will go into detail on how to make improvements for both the forest and the bog, these modifications will help make the land more suitable for wildlife. Our final goal will transform this land into a wonderful creation where wildlife can congregate together by using the land in the best way possible.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Natural Resources Conservation and Management
Year: 2018
File Attachments: Capstone .docx
Authors: Brandon Dummitt
Alex Meyer
Robert Lutz

A Comparison of Terrestrial Invertebrate Communities among Impacted, Minimally Impacted, and Reference Sites: Implications for Shoreline Vegetation Restoration

Fri, 12/14/2018 - 12:19
Abstract: The problem that this study attempts to address is the possibility of terrestrial invertebrate communities being negatively impacted by man-made disturbances along shorelines. This is a relevant issue because terrestrial invertebrates play multiple key roles in an ecosystem such as pollinating and serve as a food source for both aquatic and terrestrial organisms. The objective of this study is to provide a preliminary observation of terrestrial invertebrate communities between impacted, minimally impacted, and reference conditions sites so that further research can be conducted and add another aspect to shoreline management and restoration decisions. The impacted and minimally impacted sites that were sampled were located along the shore of Lower Saint Regis Lake on Paul Smith’s College property. The reference condition site sampled in this study was located along the shore of Black Pond on Paul Smith’s College VIC property. Invertebrates were sampled using pitfall traps and sweep nets. The invertebrates were then identified by taxonomic family and preserved in vials of alcohol. The findings of this study may imply that there may be inverse relationship between insect populations and arachnid populations based on impact level. Due to seasonal conditions of the Adirondacks, the results of this study could have been influenced by weather conditions, so a similar study conducted during a different season may produce vastly different results. The information collected in this study can be used to determine shoreline restoration and management decisions in the future.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Natural Resources Conservation and Management
Year: 2018
File Attachments: Final Capstone Report.docx
Authors: Ken Toepper, Isaac Stouffer, Quincie Grube

Glenview Preserve: Sustainable Farming Methods

Thu, 12/13/2018 - 12:05
Abstract: In 2016, the Glenview Preserve was purchased by the Adirondack Land Trust, with a goal to maintain and preserve the two agricultural fields on the property. The farmer that leases the two fields from the Adirondack Land Trust will have to use sustainable farming methods to farm the fields, so that the biodiversity of the fields and also the Bloomingdale Bog are protected. There are three different farming intensities, which are low intensity, medium intensity and high intensity. The farmer should use low intensity farming because if the farmer used high intensity the ecosystems that are present on the Glenview Preserve property would be severely impacted. The farmer will most likely maintain the current fields by mowing the fields with a mowing machine, which has negative impacts on the land such as soil compaction. With the types of soil that the agriculture fields have, it is advised that the current fields remain hay fields and that different grasses and legumes that benefit the farmer’s livestock are grown. The farmer that leases the property from Adirondack Land Trust will have to decide if they will use draft horses, modern haying equipment or a mix of both to harvest the hay fields. No matter which way they choose to harvest the hay fields they will have to be sustainable, be able to develop ways to preserve the grassland bird species and maintain the Adirondack hayscape.
Access: No
Literary Rights: On
Major: Natural Resources Conservation and Management
Year: 2018
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Dustin Clark

Riparian log gardens: examination of vascular plant communities and moss on logs in waterbodies

Tue, 12/05/2017 - 19:51
Abstract: Microsites can play a major part in facilitating plant diversity. Specific physical characteristics of microsites can create favorable conditions for certain species by isolating them from competition or protecting them from herbivory. Plant communities and woody debris can also facilitate the growth of other plants. I examined relationships between moss and vascular plants on log gardens in waterbodies to determine correlations between these organisms. I hypothesized that riparian log gardens, large woody debris in lakes and ponds supporting mats of terrestrial vegetation, serve as sites that may harbor rare species or have high plant species diversity. I also examined the relationship between bryophytes and plant communities based on the idea that bryophytes influence microsite characteristics. Knowing where rare species are harbored and what microsites encourage high diversity are important for preserving species. I surveyed plants on large woody debris in lakes and ponds in the northern Adirondacks and calculated the richness and diversity of the communities in relation to the presence of mosses. I found that logs that supported moss mats had more plants. The mean species richness of the riparian log gardens was 8.6 for all plants and 6.3 for herbaceous species. Some significant positive correlations were found for log area, log hardness, mat area, mat depth, and vascular plant diversity.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Biology
Year: 2017
Authors: David R. Lampman