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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

Global Cuisine; Italy

Silvicultural Analysis of Northern Hardwood Regeneration at the Paul Smith’s College FERDA Plots

Mon, 05/02/2016 - 10:20
Abstract: In the northeastern forests most regeneration comes from natural regeneration that occurs after a disturbance. The Forest Ecosystem Research Demonstration Area (FERDA) plots located on the Paul Smith’s College VIC in the Adirondack Park are set up as an experiment to test different harvest methods in northern hardwood forests and see the results of each. We analyzed tree and sapling size class inventory data from clearcut, single-tree selection, and control treatments to compare regeneration present 14 years after the first harvests occurred. The clearcut treatments were the only treatments analyzed where American beech (Fagus grandifolia) was not the most abundant tree regeneration present. Both single-tree selection and control treatments were dominated by American beech with few other species present. Our results suggest that creating larger canopy openings, may allow species other than American beech, such as red maple (Acer rubrum) and yellow birch (Betula alleghaniensis) to become the most abundant species present.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Forestry
Year: 2016
File Attachments: Capstone.pdf
Authors: Zachary McLellan, Justin Saville

Mycoremediation Potential of Pleurotus ostreatus in Logging Operations

Mon, 05/02/2016 - 10:43
Abstract: The unintentional spillage of diesel and hydraulic fluid is an unfortunate part of forestry operations and the traditional cleanup methods can be costly. Many studies have shown that white rot fungi (WRF) are capable of breaking down a wide variety of environmental pollutants, including diesel fuel. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the ability of a WRF, Pluerotus ostreatus, to breakdown hydraulic fluid. Soil and sawdust were mixed at a 1:1 ratio and jars had, 0%, 3%, 5% and 10% of their volume added in hydraulic fluid. All jars were fully colonized within two weeks and after 30 days the concentration of residual hydrocarbon was analyzed with an extraction. The results showed that the maximum degradation of hydraulic fluid occurred at 5%. In addition sawdust spawn was dehydrated at different temperatures, in order to assess possible field application. The only dehydration test that grew was the air dried sample.
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Major: Forestry
Year: 2016
Authors: Peter Murphy, Kirklyn Denis

Growth of Black Spruce and Tamarack in Response to Abiotic Variables

Tue, 05/03/2016 - 12:46
Abstract: The growth of black spruce (Picea mariana) and tamarack (Larix laricina) was examined in relation to the potential influences of pH, dissolved oxygen, conductivity, water temperature, proportion of canopy closure and depth to ground water in a northern Adirondack peatland ecosystem. 42 plots were constructed in a sphagnum dominated wetland and sampled for the above abiotic variables throughout the summer and fall of 2015. Heights, ages and periodic annual increment of 26 tamarack and 23 black spruce samples were determined in February and March of 2016. An age to height ratio and periodic annual increment for each species was then regressed against the above abiotic variable data in order to determine any influence of these data on growth rates of the conspecifics. Results show that depth to water table and increased exposure to light had a significantly positive relationship with the age to height ratio of tamarack. Periodic annual increment of tamarack had a significant positive relationship with decreasing light exposure. Black spruce’s age to height ratio had a significant positive relationship with dissolved oxygen (mg/L).
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Major: Forestry
Year: 2016
Authors: Robert DeSotle

Roots of Paul Smith’s - Interpreting Our Past to Inspire Our Future : A conceptual design for an interpretive trail guide exhibit on Paul Smith’s College campus

Tue, 05/10/2016 - 13:17
Abstract: It is a pivotal time for Paul Smith’s College (PSC) where many of those directly involved with its inception are no long with us. PSC history was shaped by the Adirondack wilderness and together they influence how the college is run today. This project aimed to create the conceptual design for an interpretive trail exhibit on PSC campus. I worked with a professional exhibit designer to develop artistically inspired signage using archival photos to bring to life the heritage and natural history of the Paul Smith’s. Extensive research, input from stakeholders, and professional design guidance were utilized to create the content for six interpretive signs, a conceptual design, two formative evaluations, an estimated budget, and two campus sustainability fund proposals. These signs are meant to engage and inspire the current and future members of the Paul Smith’s College community, to build a deeper appreciation for the heritage that makes us unique.
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Major: Integrative Studies
Year: 2016
Authors: Leanne Ketner

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.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Culinary Arts and Service Management
Year: 2014
Authors: Tyler Sheridan