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Capstone Projects

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.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Biology
Year: 2020
File Attachments: Capstone_0.docx
Authors: Lydia Harvey

Developing a Bird Integrity Index (BII) for Use as an Indicator of Stream Condition in the Northern Adirondack Park

Mon, 04/27/2020 - 12:50
Abstract: The primary goal of this research was to create a Bird Integrity Index (BII) to be used for the ecological integrity analysis of streams and their related riparian zones in the northern Adirondack Park based on frameworks provided by previous research in Oregon. Fifty-eight metrics were tested from avian survey (point count) data along fifteen stream reaches of 0.5km in length. These metrics represented aspects of avian taxonomic richness, dietary preferences, foraging techniques, tolerance or intolerance to human disturbance, and nesting strategies. To evaluate the responsiveness of each metric, they were plotted against an index of stream condition based on sampling of benthic macroinvertebrates according to the outline provided by the stream biomonitoring research unit of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Five of the fifty-eight candidate metrics remained after removing metrics that had an R2 value of less than .2 or were highly correlated. Individual avian metric scores ranged from 0-10 and BII scores were set on a scale of 0-100. While the BII presented here was successful in responding to varying conditions based on disturbance levels (R2= .64), due to multiple unexpected relationships between avian metrics and stream condition, it is proposed that more in-depth and comparative research be completed before an Adirondack specific BII is presented for field usage.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Ecological Restoration
Year: 2020
File Attachments: Jesse Rock Capstone.pdf
Authors: Jesse Rock

The Influence of Microtopography on the Spatial Distribution of Peatland Plants

Mon, 04/27/2020 - 13:01
Abstract: Microtopography in peatlands creates structural patterns within the environment that, if understood, could allow for more comprehensive wetland management and restoration plans to be constructed. The objectives of this study are to determine: 1) the spatial scale at which microtopography occurs on in Adirondack peatlands; 2) if hummock size changes in relation to the distance from the forested wetland edge; and 3) if individual plant species respond to, or vary, in relation to microtopography and abiotic factors. To determine the influence of microtopography on peatland plants, data were collected on the surface area and height distributions of hummocks, the distance between hummocks and the abiotic soil characteristics. Plant species richness, and percent cover data were collected on hummocks only. The spatial scale of microtopography was determined to be regularly distributed across the sampling area. There was no significant correlation between the distance from the coniferous-edge and the relative size of hummocks. Plant species richness was found to be higher on hummocks as opposed to hollows. Using a combination of correlation and multiple regression analysis we determined that leather leaf (Chamaedaphne calyculata), lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium), and common cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpa) were correlated to individual abiotic variables. The variability of the percent cover of leather leaf was explained by increasing surface area, lower soil temperatures, and lower pH; the variability of the percent cover of lowbush blueberry was explained by increasing oxidation-reduction potential (ORP) and lower pH; and the variability of the percent cover of common cranberry was explained by lower hummock height alone. Only three of the common plants identified were correlated with the abiotic variables measured. Further research should be done to continue to determine the primary influence of the elevational gradients on the plant species composition and to determine the resilience of these systems to changing climate.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Ecological Restoration
Year: 2020
Authors: Joshua T. Young

The Lower St. Regis Lake Shoreline: Understanding the Past, Analyzing the Present, and Recommendations for the Future

Sat, 05/09/2020 - 11:54
Abstract: Continuing shoreline research and restoration planning will help Paul Smith’s College adhere to their own missions and visions including experiential learning, improving students' lives, and maintaining an ecological conscience as a community.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Ecological Restoration, Environmental Sciences
Year: 2020
Authors: Zoe Plant, Thomas Firkins, Julie Capito, and Benjamin Marshall

Risk Management in the Front Country Setting

Tue, 05/12/2020 - 09:34
Abstract: This paper is a proposal for a risk management plan for the Adirondack Watershed Institute's Front-Country Steward Program that was created in the summer of 2019. Research as well as interviews, surveys, and personal experiences were used in order to create a baseline for this plan.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Parks and Conservation Management
Year: 2020
Authors: Stephanie Tyski

Summer Camp at Osgood

Fri, 05/15/2020 - 07:15
Abstract: Camp Osgood is a look at the potential for an outdoor environmental summer camp to be developed in addition to the current property and function of Osgood farm. Looking at why people are drawn to camps both children and adults alike a summer camp at Osgood Farm could be both beneficial on an individual and community level. We found that a summer camp such as Osgood in the location surrounding Saranac Lake could be very beneficial and leave a lasting positive impact and provide opportunities.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Parks and Conservation Management
Year: 2020
Authors: Sam Drake, James Pierpont

Addressing Overuse: A Hiker Shuttle in the Adirondacks

Fri, 05/15/2020 - 09:21
Abstract: The increase in visitors to the Adirondack State Park in New York State has led to overcrowding and overuse at many of the most popular hiking trails. A common complaint is that there is not enough parking for trailheads and so visitors park alongside the roads which lead to many safety issues. We propose a hiker shuttle for the Saranac Lake area that would not only alleviate the roadside parking issue but would also give more people a chance to explore trails that they might not have heard of before. A shuttle system will allow for better safety conditions for pedestrians and drivers on the roads as well as control trail traffic to prevent trail degradation.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Parks and Conservation Management
Year: 2020
File Attachments: ~$nal draft.docx
Authors: John Kilgannon, Kaitlyn Dudash

Paul Smith's College VIC Concert Venue

Fri, 05/15/2020 - 17:38
Abstract: The addition of a concert venue and camping facility at The Paul Smith’s College VIC will add another layer of community enjoyment. The surrounding area does not have a premier concert venue to provide musical enjoyment for visitors and members of the local community. In the College’s Strategic plan, it specifically mentions wanting to “Improve student success and retention through co-curricular activities focused on mind, body and spirit” In the same section it mentions also wanting to “improve campus utilization and net revenues during January and summer terms”. Implementing a concert venue at the VIC would accomplish both of those goals. We believe that this model fits in the strategic goals that the VIC is aiming to accomplish. Supporting the arts at the VIC will achieve visitor connection to musical arts, and connect visitors to other types of outdoor recreation at the VIC. The Paul Smith’s College mission statement and strategic plan includes ensuring facilities that meet the current and future needs of people, implementing strategies to use campus to support community building, contributing regional economics, and to be recognized as important. Specifically, the VIC’s mission statement is, “To connect outdoor recreation, experiential education, and the arts, naturally”. We believe that the addition of a musical venue of proper scale for the region would satisfy the goals of the VIC and our institution by connecting people to nature in a new way but also giving them a concert venue in an amazing setting. Ideally, they could spend the whole day recreating and then finish the day with a concert or performance of some other type such as comedy. With help from the VIC’s Facility Manager Andy Testo, and the Alumni Campground Coordinator Heather Tuttle we have developed the framework of a feasibility plan for future use of the current facilities as a music venue with a supporting campground facility.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Parks and Conservation Management
Year: 2020
Authors: James Rounds, Dan D'Apice

A Resource Development Plan for incoming REALM and PACM students during Welcome Week at Alumni Campground through the PSC Guide Service

Fri, 05/15/2020 - 18:51
Abstract: For our Capstone, we are focusing on a feasibility and implementation plan regarding the Welcome Week Treks. We are proposing a four day, three night expedition utilizing the Alumni Campground located on Paul Smith’s Campus. The expedition will be called, “An Intro to the Adirondacks”. The Welcome Week treks will be open to the Recreation, Adventure Education, and Leisure Management (REALM) and Parks and Conservation Management (PACM) students and the expeditions will be run by the Paul Smith’s College Guide Service. During this expedition, students will be hiking, paddling, rock climbing, and utilizing the campus challenge course. The Paul Smith's College experience has been the turning point for many when deciding to attend this institution. From the beginning until the end, Paul Smith’s College strives to give the best experiential learning to their students, and give them the best possible learning experience to give their students the brightest future.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Recreation, Adventure Education and Leisure Management, Parks and Conservation Management
Year: 2020
Authors: Jessica Heroux, Emily Biccum, Sean Malloy

What Are the Differences in Trichome Density and Morphology Between Arabidopsis Lyrata Subsp. Lyrata Populations When Grown in A Northern Common Garden, Outside of Their Geographic Distribution?

Tue, 04/30/2019 - 15:23
Abstract: Trichomes are diverse among plants. There is evidence suggesting that environmental factors may influence these structures and their densities. Other evidence shows that weather may influence genetics and gene expression. Arabidopsis lyrata subsp. lyrata is a wild flower that is native to North America and Europe and has been extensively studied. Literature regarding Arabidopsis states that within the family and genus, there is evidence suggesting that trichomes can be either non-branched, twice branched or thrice branched. This study’s purpose was to analyze how trichome density, and morphology in Arabidopsis lyrata subsp. lyrata differs between populations when grown outside of the natural distribution limit. Four populations of Arabidopsis lyrata subsp. lyrata were studied based on latitude. After analyzing the outcomes, unexpectedly there are no major differences between the north and south populations; however, there are differences between the four populations. Based on the data gathered, it was determined that the population, North2 (07G) must be genetically different from the other three populations. The four populations were grown together in a common garden; thus, all variables were the same. The environment did not influence trichome density or morphology within the North2 population, therefore the structures were genetically pre-determined.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Biology
Year: 2019
File Attachments: Scarabaggio_A.docx
Authors: Amber My Scarabaggio