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Capstone Projects

A Comparison of Macro-Invertebrate Communities in Different Substrates among Impacted and Minimally-Impacted Sites on Lower St. Regis Lake and Benchmark Sites on Black Pond

Wed, 05/03/2017 - 21:34
Abstract: Many shorelines today have been impacted by human activities which has resulted in changes in macro-aquatic invertebrate communities. Ecological restoration can be used in efforts to bring macro-aquatic invertebrates back into shorelines. However, data is needed to better understand how macro-aquatic invertebrates can be used in these efforts as indicator species to determine community structure health and function. This project compared the macro-aquatic invertebrate communities in impacted and minimally impacted sites located on Lower St. Regis Lake and benchmark sites located on Black Pond. The two objectives to this project were to 1) compare the species richness among impact levels and 2) compare the density among impact levels. Each impacted level has three sites and at each site ten samples were taken in a systematic way which resulted in 90 total samples. Samples were taken to the lab to be sorted and for macro-aquatic invertebrates could be identified to the family level. The macro-aquatic invertebrate community was different among each impact level. The overall family diversity was greater at the benchmark sites than the minimally impacted and impacted sites. Dominate substrate type that had a greater presence of different families were sites that had organic matter. The findings of this study create a more knowledge base which can be useful for future ecological restoration efforts on the impacted and minimally impacted areas located on Lower St. Regis Lake and to educate the public on the impacts on macro-aquatic invertebrates and their communities.
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Major: Biology
Year: 2017
Authors: Amber St. Andrew

Comparison of Cyprinid Composition and Abundance in Relation to Microhabitat Characteristics within Heron Marsh, in the Adirondack Park, NY

Mon, 04/24/2017 - 15:47
Abstract: Cyprinids are susceptible to local, watershed, and regional extirpation within the United States. Habitat alterations, non-indigenous species introductions, changes in water quality, and anthropogenic barriers have resulted in a decrease in overall cyprinid biodiversity. The objectives of this study are (1) to establish baseline water quality characteristics among sites in summer and fall, 2016, (2) to compare minnow densities to percent macrophyte cover among trap sites for common species, and (3) to compare 2016 minnow densities by species and combined with 2014 and 2012 density estimates. Heron Marsh is a shallow marsh located with the Adirondack Park, NY, that supports a wide variety of fishes in the Cyprinidae family. Baseline water quality was collected using an YSI meter, cyprinid densities were estimated using galvanized steel minnow traps, and macrophyte cover data was estimated using a 21-point grid system for trap sites within the marsh. Water quality monitoring will help assess changes in the marsh over time due to global warming. More minnow trap sites must be established to determine if there is a relationship between macrophyte cover and cyprinid abundance. This will allow the statistical power of our tests to become robust to assumptions that were otherwise violated. Cyprinid biodiversity and abundance were highest amongst the upper region of the marsh for most years. This suggests that the upper region of the marsh may be a sanctuary or refuge for certain cyprinid species.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2017
File Attachments: Kuryla_Capstone paper.docx
Authors: Jake E Kuryla

Wildlife Habitat Conservation and Management of Invasive North American Beavers (Castor canadensis) in Southern Patagonia from 2017-2037

Tue, 04/25/2017 - 13:40
Abstract: Importing the incisor-toothed ecosystem engineers from Canada to the southernmost tip of South America seemed like an innovative idea in 1946. Since this early introduction by the Argentine Navy, this species has grown exponentially (5,000 times their initial population) to 35,000 and 50,000 in Tierra del Fuego. Their density (0.2–5.8 colonies/km2) in this geographic region is even higher than North America (0.08-1-4 colonies/km2). North American beaver (Castor canadensis) are notorious hydrologists and modify their habitat to construct dams, canals, and dens. This species presents ecological, economical, and socio-cultural detriments. These factors have the potential to migrate to northern territories with the beaver due to climatic conditions favoring the species propagation. This population’s exponential growth is deemed larger than predicted due to the lag in local inhabitants noticing the rodents’ presence. To address beaver management, Chile and Argentina are working together under a bi-national agreement. Their goal is to restore Southern Patagonian ecosystems with total eradication of invasive beavers. The 2017-2037 Southern Patagonian Beaver Management Plan identifies the following goals: 1) Decrease the population of North American beavers (Castor canadensis) in S. Patagonia. 2) Define beaver-absent areas near invaded territories that have the potential to become occupied by this plastic species in the near future due to similar habitat criteria. 3) Education, information, and outreach on S. Patagonia beaver management is improved. 4) Zoonotic implications of beaver are monitored, investigated and managed. Objectives for each of these goals are included within the management plan. Wildlife biologists, trappers, and public input are essential to this management plan. Surveys issued to trappers and citizens aid in monitoring of zoonotic diseases related to beavers as well as determine public opinion of this species. Trapping will continue to be integral in beaver management.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2017
Authors: Emily Hill

Management Plan to Increase Gould’s Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo mexicana) Population in New Mexico

Wed, 04/26/2017 - 20:57
Abstract: Gould’s wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo mexicana) are the largest subspecies of wild turkey in United States, but are also the most geographically restricted. In New Mexico, Gould’s populations occur in the Peloncillo, Animas and San Luis mountain ranges located in Hidalgo County, southwest New Mexico. This subspecies faces threats of habitat loss by several factors that including severe wildfires, competition with livestock grazing, lack of sustaining water sources. Gould’s wild turkeys are a popular United States subspecies for avid hunters seeking the completion of the Royal or Grand Slam wild turkey hunts. With the proper management, New Mexico could provide an increase of habitat for the Gould’s wild turkey. The overall goal of this management plan is to increase and maintain the Gould’s wild turkey population in southwest New Mexico to maximize hunting and recreational viewing opportunities. Objectives to be taken to achieve this goal includes: 1. Improvement and maintain the occupied and potential turkey habitat in their native range within 10 years. 2. Obtain suitable habitats through conservation easements within 5 years. 3. Increase and maintain a sustainable population within 10 years. 4. Gain landowner and volunteer participation through outreach and funding through partnerships with organizations within 10 years. The increase of Gould’s wild turkey populations will positively affect hunting and viewing opportunities and economics from higher populations of Gould’s wild turkey. This management plan will be implemented for the next 10 years, starting in 2018 and ending in 2028. Once this plan is complete, we will then assess the actions and implement further management needs for the future.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2017
File Attachments: Final.docx
Authors: Austin Cartwright

Preventing the Spread of Eurasian Boar (Sus scrofa) into New York State

Thu, 04/27/2017 - 09:28
Abstract: Eurasian boars (Sus scrofa) pose a large threat as they are destructive in their feeding habits. According to the USDA, roughly 5 million wild Eurasian boar live inside the United States, and are currently found in 31 states. This species is responsible for $1.5 billion dollars in crop destruction, property damage, and management efforts annually. Eurasian boars are an exotic invasive species originating from Eurasia, and were introduced to the United States during the 1500s for meat and hunting purposes. This species survives and successfully breeds in a large range of habitats, and outcompete native fauna. The goal of this management plan is to prevent Eurasian boar populations from becoming established in New York State. Preventing the spread of this species is important because they are not native to New York, and can become an economic burden to farmers and local residents. There is currently no known breeding populations inside of New York, but Eurasian boars have come into New York in the past and are likely to return. The following objectives will be enacted to achieve the overall goal for preventing the spread of this species: (1) Educate the public on the dangers and negative impacts from Eurasian boars (2) Update and maintain current legal policies that prevent the importation, sale, trade, or ownership of Eurasian boar (3) Establish response teams that would eradicate wild Eurasian boar populations. This management plan will be implemented for the next 10 years (2017-2027). Once completed, the successfulness of this management plan will be reviewed and reassessed.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2017
Authors: Nick Masucci

Recovery Plan for the Wood Turtle (Glyptemys insculpta) in Connecticut

Thu, 04/27/2017 - 10:16
Abstract: Since European colonization began in North America, turtle populations have declined across the entire continent, due to habitat conversion and overharvesting. Wood turtles (Glyptemys insculpta) are medium-sized freshwater turtles, and the most terrestrial of North American turtles, though they still require year-round flowing streams. They are found throughout southern Canada, the Great Lakes region, and the northeastern United States south to Virginia. Wild adults attain sexual maturity at 10-14 and have been known to reach 50 years of age. Their populations have survived the impacts of human development until recent history, when automobiles and the expansion of road systems caused far greater adult mortality. This species is considered rare, but widespread, and is threatened with extinction due to small local population size, and components of their life history strategy. Like many turtles, wood turtle populations exhibit a Type 3 survivorship curve, with high nest and hatchling mortality, and low adult mortality. Their small disjunct breeding populations experience unnaturally high adult mortality from road crossings, illegal collection, agricultural mortality, subsidized depredation, and possibly forestry and dam practices. These problems are compounded by a lack of information regarding the species’s ecology. Currently there is no accurate population estimate, though the Canadian government estimates near or above 10,000 individuals range-wide. The focus of current management is to promote the survivorship of adult wood turtles, since adult survivorship is more essential to healthy populations than that of nests or juveniles. Emphasis is placed on reducing mortality from road crossings through fencing and underpasses, and reducing illegal collection. In areas where human development is less, collection may be the only serious threat. This management plan presents a comprehensive research plan that focuses on understanding the ecology of wood turtles, and outlines adaptive management strategies to increase survivorship. The goal of this plan is to ensure that a comprehensive and adaptive strategy is in place to reestablish the long-term stability of wood turtle populations in Connecticut.
Access: Yes
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2017
Authors: Andrew Thomas Bowe

Management Plan for Red-throated loons (Gavia stellata) in North America

Thu, 04/27/2017 - 10:44
Abstract: Red-throated loons (Gavia stellata) are an indicator species for aquatic ecosystems and environmental impacts. Although red-throated loons are listed as a species of least concern, their population is overall declining and not much is understood as to why this is occurring. Their population in Europe, Asia, and Russia are declining, but the North American population has remained stable for the last 40 years. From 1977-1993, the red-throated loon population in Alaska declined by 53% due to the 1985 T/V Exxon oil spill in the North Pacific Ocean. The current issue with red-throated loons is that there is no current data on their behavior, demographics and environmental threats, which makes it difficult to determine what best management practices are needed in order to maintain their population in North America. This management plan is designed to maintain the stable red-throated loon population, increase the understanding of their behavior, increase the public awareness on their ecological role, and monitor environmental impacts that affect red-throated loons for duration of 10 years. This will be done through a series of objectives such as: increasing first year survival rates and nesting success; maintaining the annual adult survival rate at its current rate; educating fish market industries, oil and gas industries, and the general public on the ecological role of red-throated loons; conducting behavioral studies and monitoring concentrations of contaminants that affect red-throated loons.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2017
Authors: Timothy Flannery

Management plan for the rusty patched bumble bee (Bombus affinis) in Indiana (2017-2027)

Thu, 04/27/2017 - 11:30
Abstract: The rusty patched bumble bee (Bombus affinis) used to be widely distributed throughout much of the Midwest and Northeast United States. However, B. affinis has experienced precipitous declines over the last two decades in part due to habitat loss, climate change, pathogens, and agricultural pesticides. Loss of crop pollination by insect pollinators like B. affinis, which supports large portions of our agricultural industry, presents an imminent threat to our economy and culture by reducing the diversity and security of crops produced nationally. Because recent political turmoil obfuscates federal responses to wildlife conservation, including enforcing the recently acquired endangered species status of B. affinis, state-level management plans may become integral for protecting endangered species. The state of Indiana has historically had large populations of B. affinis and is one of few states with such historical populations that also have counties with documented occurrences of B. affinis between 2000 and 2015. This management plan aims to stabilize B. affinis populations in the state of Indiana by 2027. Surveys will determine the extent to which B. affinis occur in counties with recent occurrence records by 2020, and long-term studies will aim to inform adaptive aspects of the plan and bridge gaps in knowledge about the ecology of B. affinis by 2027. Habitat management is addressed through creation or maintenance of spatially and temporally diverse floral resources by 2027 that will bolster the ability of queens to found colonies, and for colonies to produce more workers and queens throughout their whole cycle. Lastly, the lead state agency will propose legislation that bans the use of harmful neonicotinoids statewide by 2022 in order to increase queen reproductive success. The rusty patched bumble bee represents a culturally and financially significant species of conservation concern; this management plan details state-level actions that will stabilize B. affinis populations by 2027 independent of federal action.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2017
Authors: Eric W. Juers

Management Plan for Saker Falcons (Falco cherrug) in Ukraine

Thu, 04/27/2017 - 11:31
Abstract: The Saker falcon (Falco cherrug) is a critical species in Ukraine’s dry grassland ecosystem. It is a large falcon that varies in coloration, ranging from dark brown to a light cream color. It is sexually dimorphic only by size, with the female being larger than the male. This falcon preys primarily on small mammals and medium-sized game birds within the grassland ecosystem. This raptor species was nearly extirpated from Ukraine due to heavy pesticide use and nest robbing. At the beginning of the 20th century an estimated 120-140 pairs of Saker falcons resided in Ukraine. The population has increased slowly since protection was enacted in 2001, and in 2010 the population reached 400 estimated pairs. The population has remained steady since it reached this level. However, the Saker falcon still remains endangered in Ukraine. The current threats of the Saker falcons in Ukraine include lack of nesting habitat, which prevents population from increasing, loss of grassland habitat for hunting, and a lowered availability of prey species such as the European ground squirrel (Spermophilus citellus). Prey availability has decreased due to loss of grassland habitat. This management plan outlines actions to increase the Saker falcon population by 70% from 2018 to 2038. This will be accomplished by increasing nesting habitat, improving grassland habitat in order to increase the European ground squirrel population, and enacting polices that will regulate the illegal taking of eyesses (a young bird taken from the nest before it has fledged) and wild juvenile Saker falcons for use in falconry. The projected population increase from these actions will allow for the delisting of Saker falcons in Ukraine by 2038.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2017
File Attachments: Management Plan_Final.docx
Authors: Joshua Pfautz

Management Plan for Coyotes (Canis latrans) on Long Island, New York from 2017 to 2032

Thu, 04/27/2017 - 12:15
Abstract: Prior to 1995, coyotes were absent from Long Island and New York City. Since that time, coyotes have been migrating across NYC and Long Island but have been removed due to human complaints. Yet, the establishment of a coyote population will occur on Long Island by year 2027. Because coyotes are generalist species, theoretically, their range will extend throughout Long Island. The impact of coyotes on the ecology on Long Island is not known but is predicted to decrease small mammal, feral and free-roaming cat, and white-tailed deer populations. Citizens on Long Island have not experienced the presence of an apex predator historically. It is projected with the inhabitance of coyotes, negative perceptions and human-coyote conflicts will arise. The goals of this management plan are to determine biological and sociocultural carrying capacity of coyotes on Long Island, mitigate human-wildlife interactions with the establishment of a coyote population on Long Island, and determine the effects of coyotes on Long Island fauna by the year 2032. Objectives include monitoring the establishing coyote population on Long Island, maintaining the population once it reaches carrying capacity, educating the public by the year 2022, and monitoring small mammal population sizes, feral and free-ranging cat population sizes, and white-tailed deer population demographics on Long Island by year 2032.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2017
File Attachments: Ruhle_Management_Plan.pdf
Authors: Taylor Ruhle