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Capstone Projects

The Conservation and Management of Wolverine (Gulo gulo) Populations in Northern Idaho to Help Prevent Human Caused Extirpation from the Contiguous United States

Thu, 05/02/2013 - 11:21
Abstract: Wolverines (Gulo gulo) were once a thriving species in the North Western United States, but large scale trapping and poison programs in the early 1900s lead to the species near extinction. Since then, populations in the United States have been struggling to maintain a strong presence in Idaho. Its current listing as threatened on the Endangered Species Act prohibits hunting and trapping, but more management is needed to sustain populations. Human development and recreation activities have caused wolverines to disperse from its nature range. Using habitat preservation techniques on current and historical wolverine habitat, increase availability and connectivity will improve dispersal. Close relationship with state officials will provide protection regarding land use, recreation, hunting, trapping and harassment. Public education will teach residents ways they can help prevent wolverine populations from further decline. Extensive research and population monitoring are needed due to the currently declining populations and the low fecundity of the species.
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Major: Biology, Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2013
Authors: Danielle E. Ball

No Known Antidote: Quantification of a deadly toxin, tetrodotoxin, in red efts (Notopthalamus viridescens; Rafinesgue, 1820)

Mon, 04/29/2013 - 17:42
Abstract: Tetrodotoxin (TTX) in found in taxa worldwide including the eft life stage of the eastern newt (Notopthalamus virisdescens). Previous studies have shown that there is variability of TTX concentrations within efts and newts, and it is not known if the presence of TTX in these efts is common among populations. Our objective was to determine the distribution of TTX within the body N. viridescens efts. We hypothesized that the skin would have the highest concentrations of TTX as it is the area of the body that will likely come into contact with a predator. If certain regions of the skin come into contact with a predator more often than others, there may be significant differences in the dorsal, abdominal and pectoral regions of skin. Further, we hypothesized that the ova would have the second highest concentration of TTX as they are vital to reproduction yet vulnerable to predation. Through HPLC analysis we determined the concentrations of TTX within different tissues of N. viridescens efts including the: dorsal, pectoral, and abdominal skin; ovaries; testes; liver; pancreas; and alimentary canal. The concentrations of TTX between the different tissue types are not significantly different, nor were individuals significantly different in concentration of TTX from one another. Toxicity levels were high in comparison to other N. viridescens efts and more similar to the toxicity of highly toxic Taricha newts. The high toxicity of N. viridescens could be contributed to strong predation pressure by the slightly resistant garter snake (Thamnopsis sirtalis) and eastern hognose snake (Heterodon platirhinos).
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Major: Biology
Year: 2013
Authors: Kimberly M. Forrest

Compaction of Hiking Trails Located in the Northeastern Area of the Adirondack State Park, New York

Mon, 04/29/2013 - 12:19
Abstract: With continued increases in outdoor recreation in the United States, the physical impact of that use needs to be monitored for its effects. The purpose of this study was to explore whether a relationship exists between traffic numbers and soil strength of trails in the High Peaks Region of New York’s Adirondack state park. Soil strength was used as a measure of compaction because of its ability to indicate certain aspects of soil physical properties like bulk density, and hydrological condition (Mirreh & Ketcheson,1972), which are also soil physical properties that are effected by compaction (Hanna & Al-Kaisi,2009). These physical properties are important factors which influence a soils ability to carry out its biotic and abiotic processes (Kozlowski,1999). Initially the relationship between average soil strength of trails and traffic was insignificant. Upon further analyzing the data we found a significant relationship between on-trail and off-trail soil strength and used this relationship to create on-trail residual soil strengths. This was done to remove the influence that off-trail soil strength was having on the traffic vs. soil strength relationship. With the on/off-trail relationship influence removed, the relationship between on-trail residual soil strength and traffic was significantly improved. Literature discussed showed how the soil strengths collected could be used to infer possible effects on the sites tested. Relations between soil strength and bulk density, root elongation, root penetration, and trail recovery were all reviewed to provide insight on the quality of the soil at sample sites.
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Major: Biology
Year: 2013
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Karl Van Osch

New York State Feral Hog (Sus scrofa) Management Plan: Species Eradication and Public Education

Thu, 04/25/2013 - 11:22
Abstract: Feral hogs, also referred to as feral swine, Eurasian or Russian wild boar, and wild pigs, are the same species Sus scofa. They are an aggressive invasive species introduced to the United States in the 1500s and have spread over most of the country in the last few decades (Gipson et al. 1998). Due to their unique life history feral hogs are a persevering ungulate species capable of causing extensive economical and ecological damage while causing a threat to human health and safety. They are considered one of the world’s worst invasive species (Lowe et al. 2000). Extinction of native species and loss of biodiversity due to this widely invasive species has been documented worldwide (Wolf and Conover 2003). This management plan describes the life history of feral hogs, the need for management in New York State, several action plans to address the need for management, and assessment protocol for each action plan. Also included in this plan is a grant request to fund the educational objectives in order to achieve more awareness and cooperation with the public, promoting higher probability of management success.
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Major: Biology
Year: 2013
File Attachments: Feral Hog Management Plan
Authors: William Schmieder Jr.

Tardigrade Abundance in Green Shield Lichens on Different Tree Species

Wed, 04/24/2013 - 18:43
Abstract: Many studies have been done on tardigrades, a microscopic, aquatic organism that feeds on plant cell fluid, bacteria, algae, protozoa, and other small invertebrates. Most of these studies have addressed their ability to survive extreme environments and not their preferred living habitats. Virtually no studies have been done investigating the ecology of tardigrades. This study focuses on which species of tardigrade live on a species of lichen (Common Greenshield Lichen, Flavoparmelia caperata) found on three species of trees; Red Maple (Acer rubrum), Black Cherry (Prunus serotina), and White Pine (Pinus strobus). Five trees of each species were chosen and five samples of the Common Greenshield Lichen were taken from all 25 trees during each of the fall and winter seasons. From every lichen sample processed, five slides were looked at, each containing two drops of the water that the lichen was suspended in for 2 hours. The samples were looked at underneath a compound microscope and a dichotomous key was used to identify tardigrades that were found. Due to the fact that liquid water is less available in winter, samples were taken during the fall and winter to look at the differences in species diversity and abundance. The greatest abundance of tardigrades was found on Red Maple, during both fall and winter. Black Cherry had the lowest abundance of tardigrades during both fall and winter. White Pine had an abundance less than that of Red Maple but greater than that of the Black Cherry. There were more tardigrades found on the lichen in fall than in winter. This implies that they find Red Maple a more suitable habitat than the Black Cherry and White Pine, may be related to acidity of the Black Cherry and White Pine being greater than that of Red Maple. Throughfall and stemflow on the trees may also contribute to habitat preference of the tardigrades.
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Major: Biology
Year: 2013
File Attachments: Capstone Report.docx
Authors: Heather Cooner

Paul Smith's College & International Learning: A Small Scale Assessment of Student Perceived Personal & Academic Gains

Mon, 04/22/2013 - 22:16
Abstract: Many students who participate in a study abroad experience during their college or university career experience positive gains on personal and academic levels. This growth can be gained directly from the sojourn while it is taking place, and/or upon individual reflection of the experience once the student returns home. Currently, Paul Smith’s College (PSC) students are able to participate in a variety of international experiences, including short-term (minimum of ten days) tours, faculty-led service learning practicums and semester-long study abroad programs, personally organized by individual students. Since there has been no central Paul Smith's College entity that examines how students may be making gains from these experiences, there exists an unmet need to discover how students believe they have benefited from study abroad. This study used grounded theory methodology and mixed qualitative research methods to investigate whether PSC students benefited personally and academically from their individual international learning experiences. This research has revealed the majority of students interviewed believed themselves to have been positively affected on both levels. These students are also more open to continuing traveling, either for personal enjoyment or career advancement. This perceived growth occurred despite, and perhaps, as a result of having experienced culture shock during their sojourns or upon their return to the U.S.
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Major: Environmental Studies
Year: 2013
File Attachments: Mckenney_FinalCapstone.docx
Authors: Sarah McKenney

Tasmanian Platypus Management Plan

Fri, 12/06/2013 - 01:12
Abstract: Platypuses are an iconic mammal endemic to Australia (Furlan et al. 2010). They are an integral part of biodiversity of freshwater ecosystems. They are the only living representative of a significant lineage of platypus-like animals with a 60 million year fossil history (Grant and Temple-Smith 2003). Platypuses are regularly seen in Tasmania and promote curiosity and interest. They directly benefit ecotourism. A number of businesses including sanctuaries, wildlife tours, restaurants, cafes, caravan parks and motels benefit from their popularity (Gust and Griffiths 2010). Freshwater resources are essential to sustaining human existence and as a result, anthropogenic activities have severely diminished the quality of freshwater ecosystems worldwide. Physical alteration, habitat loss, water withdrawal, pollution, overexploitation, and the introduction of non-native species all have contributed to the decline in freshwater species (Revenga et al 2005).
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2013
File Attachments: final_Pritchard.pdf
Authors: Tori Pritchard

Protecting and Monitoring the Population of Florida Manatees (Trichechus manatus latirostris) in Lee County, Florida

Thu, 05/09/2013 - 10:57
Abstract: The Florida manatee is a subspecies of the species West Indian Manatee. It has been listed as Endangered on the basis of a population that has been in decline since the 1800s in Florida. Although, the exact population of Florida manatees is not currently known, biologists have seen a gradual decrease in contrast to the past. This is due to factors such as: watercraft collisions, cold stress, Red Tide, and other human related mortalities. Manatees are protected by several laws and regulations. These include: the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act, and the Endangered Species Act. The goal of this management plan is to increase the Florida manatee population to a stable population and to maintain the population into the future. The objectives are to: investigate the distribution and status of Florida manatees in Lee County by conducting synoptic surveys twice every year; within five years, increase public awareness and education by 25%; within five years, increase the amount of protected and managed manatee habitat by 15%, and within five years, protect and enhance existing populations by identifying and minimizing causes of manatee injury, mortality, and disturbance by decreasing it by 20%.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2013
Authors: Jordan Shypinka

Increasing and Protecting the Population of Canada Lynx (Lynx canadensis) In the State of Maine

Tue, 05/07/2013 - 12:16
Abstract: Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis) was listed as a “threatened” species on March 24, 2000 (USFWS 2013). Canada lynx (hereby referred to as lynx) are a species known to trappers for their thick, long pelts. These pelts can be sold in the fur trade for on average about $175. They are highly sought after in areas where trapping is legal, but in Maine it is not legal to trap lynx. This management plan is going to work to achieve an increase in the population size of lynx in the state of Maine and to protect areas in Maine where there are current populations of lynx that are reproducing. The lynx is currently a threatened species, the USFWS on the Endangered Species Act, throughout its range due to it being a widely roaming organism. It is listed as a species of least concern according to the IUCN Red List. The goal of this plan is to achieve and maintain a sustainable population of Canada lynx in the state of Maine. The goal is going to be accomplished by three objectives. The first objective is to protect all areas of habitat in western and northeastern Maine with current reproducing populations of lynx for the next 10 years. The second objective is to manage areas of timber to establish more suitable habitat in northern Maine for the next 10 years. The third objective is to reduce the amount of incidentally harvested lynx in western and northeastern Maine by 25% each year for four years.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2013
File Attachments: Brown - Submission2.docx
Authors: Heath A. Brown

Management of Feral Swine (Sus scrofa) in New York: Eradication and Damage Elimination of an Invasive Species

Tue, 05/07/2013 - 10:55
Abstract: Abstract: Feral swine (Sus scrofa) populations have spread across much the United States with invasive-like qualities. Feral swine are prolific breeders and are opportunistic omnivores. These invasive species modify the terrestrial habitats they invade. Feral swine have drastic impacts on the economy and ecology of the areas they inhabit. Populations are now present in New York and without proper management drastic negative effects to the ecosystems and regional economies will occur. This document outlines management objectives and actions to curb the damage of feral swine. Current population levels are currently low enough to for complete eradication, the only way to eliminate devastating damage from feral swine.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2013
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Josh Pierce