After logging in with the login link in the top right, click here to upload your Capstone

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.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
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.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Biology
Year: 2016
File Attachments: Capstone Paper.docx
Authors: Erik Yankowsky

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

Recovery and Management Plan for the Houston Toad (Bufo houstonensis) in Bastrop County, Texas

Tue, 05/03/2016 - 11:24
Abstract: The Houston toad (Bufo houstonensis) was the first amphibian listed under the Endangered Species Act in 1973 and has been extirpated from 3 of 12 counties of its historical range throughout Texas. The driving factor of Houston toad declines is habitat loss, primarily via fragmentation and destruction from expansion of cities. The Lost Pine Ecoregion in Bastrop County, Texas holds the largest remaining populations in the Bastrop County State Park and the Griffith League Ranch. The proposed recovery plan is designed to accurately assess the current population sizes within the Griffith League Ranch and Bastrop State Park and increase the survivorship of adults and juveniles within the populations. Issues involving invasive species, predation, cattle grazing, and public awareness of Houston toads and actions to resolve the issues are addressed throughout the management plan. The success of this management plan is critical to increase Houston toad populations within its native range and decrease potential of extinction.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2016
File Attachments: KFitchette_Final.docx
Authors: Kayla Fitchette

Management of the Invasive American Mink (Neovison vison) Populations in the Southern Region of South America (Cape Horn Biosphere)

Tue, 05/03/2016 - 11:24
Abstract: American mink (Neovison vison) are an invasive species in South America, Europe and a few other countries. An invasive predator like the American mink can have negative effects on ecosystem function. In the Cape Horn biosphere, mink have no natural predators and have established themselves as top predator in that ecosystem (Crego 2015). Their populations have steadily increased in the Cape Horn Biosphere Region since their release from mink farms in 1930 (Ibarra et al. 2009). The Cape Horn biosphere is affected by the loss of native fauna such as Magellanic woodpeckers (Campephilus magellanicus), Olive Grass Mouse (Abrothrix olivaceus), and different types of ducks (Anseriforms) due to American mink predation. The Cape Horn Biosphere is a research, education, and conservation land that is used by institutes and universities (Ibarra et al. 2009). There are four objectives to help prevent the further spread of the invasive American mink that include: Educating the general public in the Cape Horn Biosphere region on the negative implications of invasive species, increasing the number of minks trapped by 15% in 1 year, setting environmental laws against the release of mink from fur farms within 5 years, creating a tactile agency to enforce those laws within 5 years. When all objectives are complete there will be a decreasing trend in American mink populations in Southern South America.
Access: No
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2016
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Eleanor Congden

Florida Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens) Management Plan in Southern Florida

Tue, 05/03/2016 - 11:24
Abstract: Florida scrub-jays are large songbirds endemic to Florida. They are extremely habitat-specific, sedentary, and territorial. Florida scrub-jays were listed as a threatened species in 1987. Since then their populations have declined by approximately 50% due to fragmentation and degradation of xeric oak-scrub habitat throughout Florida. Majority of this destruction is because of residential housing, commercial development, and fire suppression. Conservation of remaining habitat and long term management of the land with prescribed burns is vital for increasing Florida scrub-jay populations.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2016
File Attachments: Final Management Plan.docx
Authors: Ashley Gocha

Managing and Conserving the Grey-Headed Flying Fox (Pteropus poliocephalus)

Tue, 05/03/2016 - 11:25
Abstract: The grey-headed flying fox is one of the largest bats in the world and currently the largest bat in Australia. This species is nomadic and distributed along the forested areas of the south-eastern coast of Australia Queensland to Victoria respectively. Grey-headed flying foxes are an endemic specialist that are of key importance in Australia’s declining coastal forest ecosystems. A recent increase in population decline of at least 30% over the last 3 generations can be attributed to mass die offs from extreme heat events and multiple anthropogenic sources including habitat loss from increased urbanization (Department of the Environment 2016). In order to see a healthy population in the future both human and species dimensions need to be addressed through scientific help and political means. I propose a rigorous course of action requiring public, government and scientific help by increasing adult survivorship, increasing native trees, and creation of a positive association between bats, humans and their ecosystem.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2016
File Attachments: Final Managment Plan.docx
Authors: Zoe Stewart

Wildlife Habitat Conservation and Recovery Plan of Spotted-tailed Quoll (Dasyurus maculatus) in Eastern Australia Mainland

Tue, 05/03/2016 - 11:29
Abstract: In Eastern Australia, spotted-tailed quoll have been an important marsupial for tourist attractions and ecological control over small invasive species. This species’ population has been slowly declining due to anthropogenic threats to their habitat (Figure 1). Spotted-tailed quoll prefer moist forests such as rain forests or eucalyptus forests that provide abundant amount of food resources and available shelter opportunities. The goals of this management plan are to increase spotted-tailed quoll populations through decreasing anthropogenic threats such as housing construction, agricultural land uses, carrion removal, and road networks. The goals will be achieved by reducing quoll mortality by roadways, illegal killing, and translocation of the species to suitable habitat elsewhere in Australia. Decreasing human-quoll conflicts on roadways, farmlands and in construction areas will improve the chance of quoll population increase. The management sites will be monitored to oversee effects of the management strategies and allow managers to develop a better plan or further extend the following plan to be successful. In addition, the public and private landowners will be vital to increasing the quoll populations through participation of protecting the quolls from further decline through proper carrion removal from roadways and farmlands, conservation of suitable habitat, and awareness of the native species. To ensure future spotted-tailed quoll populations persist, actions need to be done now or the continuation of habitat degradation and human-quoll conflicts will increase.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2016
Authors: Bridget Parks

Management Plan for Giant Anteaters (Myrmecophaga tridactyla) in Emas National Park

Tue, 05/03/2016 - 14:09
Abstract: Throughout their range, giant anteaters are an unmanaged species and population estimates are broad, if available. This plan suggests using prescribed burns to control the spread of invasive grasses, reducing the buildup of wildfire fuel and restoring more favorable habitat. Also the construction of underpasses at large highways, will reduce the amount of road collisions and increase gene flow through dispersal. Giant anteaters are extremely vulnerable to population declines because it takes so long for them to reach sexual maturity and they only produce one offspring each year.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2016
File Attachments: Final Management Plan.docx
Authors: Alex Roberts