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Capstone Projects

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
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Major: Biology
Year: 2016
File Attachments: Capstone Paper.docx
Authors: Erik Yankowsky

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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Literary Rights: Off
Major: Biology
Year: 2016
Authors: Bianca Fournier

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

Management and Conservation of Black Footed Cats in Southern Africa

Fri, 05/06/2016 - 15:19
Abstract: The black-footed Cat (Felis nigripes) is endemic to southern Africa and is the smallest sub-Saharan cat. The Population as it is now is less than 10,000 breeding pairs in the wild. Human influence on the cat’s habitat and food sources have been the main cause for the decline of its population. Farmers are setting traps for larger predators that are killing the Black Footed cat unintentionally, while at the same time farmer’s pest control are killing off part of their food sources. Through regulation and control these methods could be phased out and replaced with better options. If the survivorship of adult black-footed cats could be raised by 5% over 10 years the population would go from declining to a steady increase (fig 2). This increase in population would help the species get to a point where it could be removed from the INCU Red List.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2016
Authors: Melissa Harris
Fri, 05/06/2016 - 15:19
Abstract: The black-footed Cat (Felis nigripes) is endemic to southern Africa and is the smallest sub-Saharan cat. The Population as it is now is less than 10,000 breeding pairs in the wild. Human influence on the cat’s habitat and food sources have been the main cause for the decline of its population. Farmers are setting traps for larger predators that are killing the Black Footed cat unintentionally, while at the same time farmer’s pest control are killing off part of their food sources. Through regulation and control these methods could be phased out and replaced with better options. If the survivorship of adult black-footed cats could be raised by 5% over 10 years the population would go from declining to a steady increase (fig 2). This increase in population would help the species get to a point where it could be removed from the INCU Red List.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2016
Authors: Melissa Harris

Management of an Alaskan Breeding subspecies of Bar-tailed Godwit (Limosa lapponica baueri)

Fri, 05/06/2016 - 13:48
Abstract: Avian species with extremely long distance seasonal migration routes presents interesting challenges when developing a management plan. The migration bar-tailed godwit (Limosa lapponica baueri) takes it to New Zealand and Australia as the wintering grounds, spring migration staging grounds in the coastal regions of the Yellow Sea, and the northern and western shores of Alaska for breeding. Godwits, as with other large shorebirds that breed in arctic and subarctic uplands, have high annual adult survival and low reproductive success. This makes the adult life stage the most important in terms of management strategies. Adult survival faces many threats, but most of all the increased harvest rates, rapid decrease in habitat within the staging grounds and threats from the onset of climate change. Governments must enforce existing legislation to prevent the harvest of godwits in their staging grounds and protect adults traveling to the breeding grounds in Alaska.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2016
Authors: Joseph Faryniarz

Conservation and Management of the Pine Barrens Treefrog (Hyla andersonii) in New Jersey

Fri, 05/06/2016 - 08:54
Abstract: The Pine Barrens Treefrog (Hyla andersonii) is a medium-sized frog found in 3 disjunct populations on the east coast of the United States. The three populations are found in the sandhills of North and South Carolina, Florida panhandle and the main hub of the three populations is in southern New Jersey. They inhabit many wetland areas, including Atlantic white-cedar swamps, pitch pine lowlands and herbaceous wetlands. Preferred breeding habitat is very acidic ponds surrounded by early-successional vegetation, wetlands and seepage bogs with a high vegetative cover along edge of ponds. The IUCN has this species listed as near threatened due to its distribution being less than 20,000 km2. New Jersey currently has them listed as threatened due to critical habitat loss and degradation due to development. Populations seem to be relatively stable for the short term but their populations could decline 30%-50% in the long term. Compounding these issues management of this species may be ineffective due to a lack of knowledge on non-breeding distributions of adults from breeding ponds as well as survival rates at each of its life stages. This plan proposes 5 objectives to help stabilize the population in New Jersey Pine Barrens. These objectives include: conserving and restoring critical habitat and improving ecological knowledge.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2016
Authors: Brandan Aschmutat

Management Plan for Roseate Spoonbills (Platalea ajaja) in the Everglades National Park

Thu, 05/05/2016 - 14:04
Abstract: This is a management plan for the roseate spoonbill (Platalea ajaja) in the Everglades National Park.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2016
Authors: Michael Campbell

Species Recovery Plan for the Fiji Banded Iguana (Brachylophus bulabula)

Tue, 05/03/2016 - 23:15
Abstract: Fiji banded iguanas (Brachylophus bulabula) are one of three species of small, herbivorous arboreal iguanids endemic to the central islands of Fiji (IUCN 2012). Diurnally they occupy the mesic forest canopy, making them difficult to observe. Little is known about their population status on most of the central islands, with exception of Makogai and Makodroga, where approximately 6000 individuals exist (IUCN 2012). Fiji banded iguanas have experienced a population decline of over 50% in the past four decades due to a combination of factors. Approximately 40% of Fiji’s native forests have been converted to agriculture and hardwood plantations, significantly decreasing mesic forest habitat that Fiji banded iguanas occupy (IUCN 2012). Predation from invasive mammals such has feral cats (Felis catus) has contributed to the Fiji banded iguana’s decline. Feral goats (Capra aegagrus hircus) outcompete them for their native food resources and prevent forest regeneration. If no action is taken, iguana populations are projected to decline by at least 30% in the next four decades (IUCN 2012). This recovery plan proposes five management objectives which are designed to increase our knowledge about life history and population status, provide legislative protection with the designation of a national park, eradicate invasive mammals to decrease predation and competition, and increase forest regeneration. If these objectives are achieved, I predict that the population will have at minimum stabilized, and at best increased among the central islands of Fiji.
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Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2016
Authors: Brittany Peck

A Global Management Plan for the Bristle-thighed Curlew (Numenius tahitiensis)

Tue, 05/03/2016 - 15:44
Abstract: In the past three centuries, shorebird populations have declined ubiquitously across the North American landscape as over harvesting and habitat conversion became common practice. The bristle-thighed curlew (Numenius tahitiensis) is a large bodied shorebird whose global population is threatened with future declines. The small breeding population of approximately 3,500 pairs is faced with unnatural mortality from introduced predators, human development, climate change induced habitat alteration, and over harvesting. Compounding these problems is a general lack of information regarding key biological characteristics of the specie’s life history, including population densities on wintering islands, key migration routes, existence of stopover sites, and survivorship of certain life stages. The primary focus of current day management of the bristle-thighed curlew is to promote the survivorship of adults and increase suitable habitats for curlews on their wintering grounds. This management plan aims to gain an understanding of the the biology of bristle-thighed curlew and propose methods to stabilize their global population. The success of the species depends heavily international cooperation, intensive research, and the conservation and management of key habitats.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2016
File Attachments: Final Managment Plan.docx
Authors: Lewis M. Lolya