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Capstone Projects

Impacts of Minnow Species Composition on Marsh Feeding Ecology: A Look at Minnow Composition in Heron Marsh

Mon, 11/30/2020 - 16:07
Abstract: Minnows play an important role in marsh ecosystems as both predator and prey. The abundance of minnows in water systems makes them important tools for studying the feeding ecology of small prey fish. Minnow traps were set within specific regions and plots located in the Heron Marsh in the Adirondack Park, New York. These traps were baited and checked the next day, and minnows were identified by species then released. Trophic guilds were assigned to each minnow species based on literature and feeding habits. ANOVA tests were conducted to compare minnow species composition from the fall of 2020 in all regions of the marsh. Histograms were used to compare length-frequency over time and sites where minnows frequent. The composition of trophic guilds showed that carnivores were scarce, as creek chub only over 100mm were considered predatory, and they were not as frequent as smaller creek chub. Omnivorous generalist feeders were common but no specific site in the marsh had more omnivorous feeders than other sites. Finally, the abundance of insectivores was high in most sites, and highest in the forest ecology trail site. Length frequency of the two most caught fish, creek chub and finescale dace, were represented with histograms. Creek chub under 100mm were more abundant in every site than individuals larger than 100mm. Similarly, finescale dace 70mm and smaller were more common in every site.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Biology
Year: 2020
Authors: Emily Schmeltz

An Ecological History of the Albany Pine Bush, Albany NY

Mon, 11/30/2020 - 15:45
Abstract: Paleoecology allows us to look backward in time thousands of years to see the long-term ecological history of an area. The main focus was to conduct the first exploratory investigations of the wetland located in the Albany Pine Bush Preserve (APBP) and Stump Pond deposits and the first directly dated ecological history of the pine bush. Irregular fire regimes and land development have caused a massive loss to the pine bush. Between 1940 and 1990 the pine bush has experienced an 81% change in land cover. Despite this, the APBP is home to many rare and endangered species in need of habitat restoration. Three samples (APB1-A, APB1-C, & APB2) were collected from a wetland within the boundaries of the APBP and one sample (Stump-1) was collected from a nearby pond. Cores were analyzed for pollen assemblages to reconstruct the tree community. APB cores revealed that Pinus and Quercus pollen grains made up the majority of all pollen found from Present – 6600 years ago Stump-1 pollen assemblages were dominated by Pinus and Picea indicating that between 6600 and 10,600 years ago the ecosystem transformed into the pitch pine- scrub oak ecosystem we see today. This information can help the APBP justify future preservation and restoration work.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Biology
Year: 2020
File Attachments: Capstone Paper Full.docx
Authors: Skylar Murphy

Soil moisture levels’ impact on variation in microhabitat selection and distribution between shrub species along the riparian zones of the St. Regis River in Northern New York

Sat, 11/28/2020 - 15:42
Abstract: Willows (Salix spp.) are commonly found along riparian zones of northern latitude water bodies and are often used in riparian restoration and bank stabilization. However, not much is known about willows on a species level, especially among thee shrubby species native to North America. This study seeks to better understand the variation in the distribution of three willows (Salix bebbiana, S. discolor, and S. petiolaris) and two other shrub species (Alnus incana and Viburnum nudum) on a species level based on soil moisture. To reach this goal this study analyzes their distribution at several points along the shore of the St. Regis River. The study analyzed vertical distance from the river as a proxy for soil moisture, saturation volume as a proxy for porosity, and bulk density. It was found that soil moisture, as approximated by vertical distance was statistically significantly linked to the distribution of different shrub species. Porosity, bulk density, and distance along the river had no statistically significant relationship. The results supported the hypothesis that willows had the highest soil moisture requirements. The sample sizes were very small and only one willow, a S. petiolaris, was found in the study sites.
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Literary Rights: Off
Major: Forestry
Year: 2020
File Attachments: G.Davis_Capstone_final.docx
Authors: Gregory Davis

Lower St. Regis Lake Survey: A Comparative Study of Fish Population Structure and Function over Time

Thu, 12/13/2018 - 14:24
Abstract: Lake surveys are performed on bodies of water to provide a health analysis of fish populations over time. Lake surveys can be conducted in a variety of ways to attain specific data. Lower St. Regis Lake was surveyed to determine the fish community composition and to understand fish population traits. Using fyke nets placed at six predetermined locations for 24 hours, as well as fishing, we collected data for age, length (mm), weight (g), and parasites present. Data was analyzed in the lab using Excel to form graphs and tables to demonstrate our findings. Catch rates were lower compared to years before and comparing our data to New York State Department of Conservation data found that our length-at-age data was lower for the six-species sampled. Pumpkinseed and yellow perch were the only two species to have over twenty fish sampled. Decreased air temperatures brought in by a cold front during the week of our sampling may have been a reason for our lower number of fish caught. Mesh size is also a bias while using these nets as smaller fish can escape, and predatory fish can prey on smaller fish while in the net. Some species of fish such as black crappie may be more susceptible to capture due to its habit of associating with structure.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Biology, Environmental Sciences, Environmental Studies, Fisheries and Wildlife Science, Natural Resources Conservation and Management
Year: 2018
File Attachments: Capstone_Final.docx
Authors: Deacon Chapin, Jared Chlus, Louis Daversa, Jon Herrman, Robert Visicaro

Antifungal activity of propolis, neem oil, and cedarwood oil against the white-rot fungus Trametes versicolor on American beech

Fri, 12/07/2018 - 16:27
Abstract: Fungi are often considered the most destructive organisms to attack wood that has gone through the milling process, so developing compounds to resist decay are extremely important. Copper chromated arsenic (CCA) was an industry standard until 2003 when its use was restricted due to environmental concerns. Thus, research into environmentally friendly compounds has become more common. This study investigated which compound, propolis extract, neem oil, or cedarwood oil, would best preserve beech wood exposed to Trametes versicolor. Extracts for each of the compounds were prepared using denatured ethanol, and infused into wood blocks using a vacuum pump. Blocks were made of American beech (Fagus grandifolia Ehrh.) and were 10mm x 20mm x 5mm in size. The blocks were subjected to a common white-rot fungal strain, Trametes (= Coriolus) versicolor (L.) Lloyd (1920), for six weeks. Overall, propolis and cedarwood oil treated blocks lost significantly less mass than both neem and control blocks, suggesting they have potential for use as natural wood preservatives, and could be used as cobiocides.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Forestry
Year: 2018
File Attachments: Final Capstone Report.docx
Authors: Adam Milenkowic, Timothy Otis

Coarse Woody Debris Volume Following Conventional and Whole-Tree Harvesting

Tue, 12/04/2018 - 16:50
Abstract: Coarse woody debris (CWD) affects important ecological patterns and processes in the forest, including nutrient cycling, carbon stocks, wildlife habitat, regeneration dynamics, and hydrology. Timber harvesting practices have been shown to affect the abundance and distribution of CWD in forest stands. This study separates timber harvesting practices into two categories: conventional harvesting (CH), where only the main stem of trees and possibly some large branches are harvested, leaving branches, twigs, leaves, buds, and other plant parts to decompose on the forest floor, and whole-tree harvesting (WTH), which removes the entire aboveground portion of trees. I measured post-harvest CWD volume within recent patch clear cuts in Vermont, comparing results between CH and WTH. Conventional harvesting sites contained significantly more (p = 0.04) CWD volume (954ft^3/ac) than WTH sites (422 ft^3/ac). In other words, CH resulted in a post-harvest CWD volume 126% greater than the volume resulting from WTH. The most important difference was a wide discrepancy between treatments in decay class 2, which contained 66% of the total CWD volume. The increased reduction of CWD through WTH, especially when carried out over multiple rotations, may have negative effects on future site productivity, as well as richness and abundance of wildlife. The choice to employ CH or WTH may also affect the carbon balance, regeneration dynamics, and hydrology of forest stands.
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Literary Rights: Off
Major: Forestry
Year: 2018
Authors: William (Bill) Musson

ECTOMYCORRHIZA’S INFLUENCE ON SEEDLING GROWTH

Tue, 12/04/2018 - 14:16
Abstract: Mycorrhizae play an important role in forest ecosystems through their symbiotic relationship with trees and root systems. Of the mycorrhizae, ectomycorrhiza (EM), specifically targets softwood species and some hardwoods. In this experiment, the results of a powdered EM inoculum and red oak (Quercus rubra L.), pitch pine (Pinus rigida Mill.), and red spruce (Picea rubens Sarg.) were evaluated during one growing season. The study compared a control of no EM and treatment with EM in seed grown trees in containers. Difference between heights of the treatment and control were recorded to see if the inoculum impacted seedling growth of the host species. Throughout this capstone the hypothesis states: An ectomycorrhizae (EM) powdered inoculum would influence pitch pine, red spruce, and red oak seedlings height and biomass for the duration of one growing season (April-Late August). Red oak control exceeded treatment in biomass but not height, and pitch pine and red spruce treatment exceeded control in height and biomass.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Forestry
Year: 2018
File Attachments: finalreport_slinger.docx
Authors: Samantha L. Slingerland

Riparian log gardens: examination of vascular plant communities and moss on logs in waterbodies

Tue, 12/05/2017 - 19:51
Abstract: Microsites can play a major part in facilitating plant diversity. Specific physical characteristics of microsites can create favorable conditions for certain species by isolating them from competition or protecting them from herbivory. Plant communities and woody debris can also facilitate the growth of other plants. I examined relationships between moss and vascular plants on log gardens in waterbodies to determine correlations between these organisms. I hypothesized that riparian log gardens, large woody debris in lakes and ponds supporting mats of terrestrial vegetation, serve as sites that may harbor rare species or have high plant species diversity. I also examined the relationship between bryophytes and plant communities based on the idea that bryophytes influence microsite characteristics. Knowing where rare species are harbored and what microsites encourage high diversity are important for preserving species. I surveyed plants on large woody debris in lakes and ponds in the northern Adirondacks and calculated the richness and diversity of the communities in relation to the presence of mosses. I found that logs that supported moss mats had more plants. The mean species richness of the riparian log gardens was 8.6 for all plants and 6.3 for herbaceous species. Some significant positive correlations were found for log area, log hardness, mat area, mat depth, and vascular plant diversity.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Biology
Year: 2017
Authors: David R. Lampman

Lyme Disease in the Adirondacks: Using Domestic Canines as Sentinels for Human Risk

Tue, 12/05/2017 - 14:46
Abstract: Lyme disease (Borrelia burgdorferi) is the most prevalent zoonotic disease in the United States. With an increase of cases every year in new areas, it is crucial that researchers and veterinarians use sentinels, such as canines, to determine the prevalence of Lyme disease in emerging areas where tick density may be low. The main objective of this study was to determine the annual infection rate of Lyme disease in canines in Franklin and Essex County. An immunologic assay was performed to determine percent of canines exposed to Lyme bacteria as well as timing of exposure. Thirty-four random blood samples were collected from a local veterinary office during routine health screenings, and analyzed for Borrelia burgdorferi antibodies. Out of the thirty-four samples, two canines were positive for OspC antibodies (indicator of early infection) and three were positive for OspF (indicator of chronic infection). The annual infection rate for the 2017 year was 5.9%.
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Literary Rights: Off
Major: Biology
Year: 2017
Authors: Ashley G. Hodge

Creating Universal Use for the Glenview Preserve

Fri, 12/15/2017 - 20:40
Abstract: The Adirondack Land Trust recently purchased 238 acres along Route 86 in Harrietstown. This tract of land is called the Glenview Preserve. The Adirondack Park Agency has already designated a scenic vista of Whiteface Mountain and the High Peaks. Along the back of the property is the Bloomingdale Bog, which is the third largest boreal peatland in New York. Vista like the Glenview Preserve, which doesn’t involve a climb and is also accessible to all. This poses the perfect opportunity to establish universal trails for all to enjoy. Conservation of land is made possible by connections that people make to the land. If there is no connection to nature, it could be destroyed without anyone speaking up. The location of this tract of land makes it ideal for accessible trail since there is no mountain to hike to get the view. Hiking is one of the oldest pastimes of the world. People can experience beauty every season of the year. It strengthens our bodies and minds at no cost. Hiking is a wonderful chance to feel the earth below your feet and get up close and personal with nature. Installing trails would not only open up recreational opportunities such as hiking, running, and bird watching, skiing and snowshoeing but also build community.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Forestry, Natural Resources Sustainability Studies
Year: 2017
File Attachments: Capstone_Final.docx
Authors: Valerie Hoffman