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Capstone Projects

A Comparison of Winter Wildlife Use of Minimally, Moderately and Highly Impacted Shorelines on Lower St. Regis Lake and Black Pond in the Adirondack Park, NY

Wed, 05/09/2018 - 10:51
Abstract: Continued development and human interference with freshwater shorelines creates a degraded environment and can negatively affect native wildlife along impacted areas. Throughout the Adirondack Park, shorelines have experienced substantial degradation with the development of lakeside summer homes. There tends to be a strong preference for the aesthetics that lakes offer, as well as the numerous recreational opportunities they provide. The increased human use of shorelines and the development of anthropogenic structures has directly resulted in the degradation of shorelines in the Adirondack Park. Likewise, the Paul Smith’s College shoreline along Lower St. Regis Lake has been subjected to degradation throughout the history of the campus. This highly impacted site was selected, alongside minimally and moderately impacted sites in the surrounding areas as representatives for different impact levels. Shoreline degradation includes a decline in the health and presence of natural vegetation, creating a decrease in available food source for native wildlife. The removal of natural vegetation creates a decline in shoreline stability with the removal of root systems, allowing for greater amounts of erosion to occur. Additionally, degradation decreases available canopy cover and increases exposure of wildlife to predation. The objective of this study was to determine the difference in wildlife activity and diversity between three levels of shoreline impacts: minimal, moderate, and high. It was expected that the minimally and moderately impacted shoreline sites would show a greater diversity and abundance of wildlife than highly impacted shorelines. Trail camera data was analyzed at three sites for each treatment on Paul Smith’s College property, along both the Lower St. Regis Lake and Black Pond. Although we detected no significant differences in either activity or diversity across the treatments, there was higher relative activity and diversity in moderately impacted shorelines than minimally or highly impacted. However, wildlife species that are more rare and/or area-sensitive, such as the fisher (Martes pennanti) and American marten (Martes americana), were only detected in the minimally impacted shorelines of Black Pond. A restoration of the highly impacted shoreline to reflect minimally and non-impacted shorelines of the surrounding region would allow for opportunities to improve habitat for native wildlife species.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Biology, Ecological Restoration, Environmental Sciences
Year: 2018
File Attachments: Shoreline Restoration
Authors: Tessa White, Caroline Matuck, Kasey Lane, Rosemary Bloodnick, Kyle Pasanen, Annalee Kraai

Effects of Silvicultural Treatments on Wildlife Communities at the Paul Smith's College Forest Research Demonstration Areas

Fri, 05/11/2018 - 16:15
Abstract: Logging has drastically altered North American forest ecosystems for centuries. While extensive studies have been done to determine the impacts of different silvicultural practices on plant communities, minimal research has evaluated the impacts on wildlife communities, particularly in the Adirondack Mountains. Silvicultural practices may significantly impact wildlife communities due to the disturbances it causes, as well as the way it alters the habitat. We monitored winter wildlife communities in the Forest Ecosystem Research Demonstration Area owned by Paul Smith’s College in the Northern Adirondack Park. By analyzing the data collected by trail cameras, tracks and measuring percent browse, we compared the abundance and diversity of wildlife in three silvicultural treatments (i.e., clearcut, group selection, control). We also collected data regarding the physical aspects of the silvicultural treatment plot (i.e. canopy cover and snow depth) to indicate the kind of available habitat. We found that despite there being the highest average relative activity in group selection, there is no significant relationship between average relative activity and harvest treatment type. Using the Shannon-Weiner Diversity Index, we found that the highest diversity was in control/reference. Due to our limited treatment sample size, we did not have conclusive findings in most areas of our study. However, the highest total tracks and relative activity were found in the clearcuts. We suggest that more research be done on this study in order to eventually make forest management plans that properly account for both plant and wildlife species.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Biology, Environmental Sciences, Natural Resources Conservation and Management
Year: 2018
Authors: Jacob Adams, Caitlin De Bellis, Tyler Fisk, Hyla Howe, Mark McHugh, Daniel Sutch

Management plan of honey badger (Mellivora capensis) populations in Karnataka, India

Fri, 04/27/2018 - 11:56
Abstract: Honey badgers (Mellivora capensis) are known for their thick skin and fearless behavior. Honey badgers have a large distribution throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, Arabia, Iran and western India. Honey badgers are commonly found in open woodlands, desert, high mountains and coastal shrubs. Their diet consists of scorpions, Hottentotta rugiscutis, Heterometrus swammerdami, Hottentotta tamulus, and Lychas tricarinatus; small rodents: lesser bandicoot rat (Bandicota bengalensis), Indian bush rat (Golunda ellioti), soft-furred rat (Millardia meltada), little Indian field mouse (Mus booduga), house mouse (Mus musculus), Sahyadris forest rat (Rattus satarae), Nilgiri long-tailed tree mouse (Vandeleuria nilagirica), jungle palm squirrel (Funambulus tristriatus), Malabar spiny dormouse (Platacanthomys lasiurus), Etruscan shrew (Suncus etruscus), and the Asian house shrew (Suncus murinus); and herpetofauna, Brook’s gecko (Hemidactylus brookii), bark gecko (Hemidactylus leschenaultia), brahminy skink (Mabuya carinata), Indian rat snake (Ptyas mucosa), and the banded racer (Argyrogena fasciolatus). Honey badgers are mustelids that burrow into the banks of streams, rock cavities, and thick brush along with the spaces naturally formed by tree roots. Ecological concerns threatening honey badger populations include deforestation, lack of space, and disease. Sociocultural and economic threats to honey badgers include bush meat trade, medicinal uses, illegal fur trade and apiarist’s defending their hives from honey badgers. All of these issues have been documented in Sub-Saharan Africa, where the majority of research for this species has been done. The scope of this management plan focuses in Karnataka, India, these threats, are relevant and current concerns to honey badger populations in Karnataka. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species has the honey badger listed as a species of least concern, this listing is given due to the absence of information on this species. The goal of this management plan is to increase and stabilize honey badger populations in Karnataka in order to make the honey badger a flagship species for the state (2018-2048). Objectives of this goal include: increase protected honey badger habitat, by 10% in ten years, increase understanding of honey badger ecology in Karnataka in eight years publishing four, peer reviewed scientific articles, evaluate 85% of honey badger populations in Karnataka in five years, and having a honey badger acceptance rate of 70% by human populations in thirty years. Honey badgers are an elusive and unique species who have increased acclaim due to the use of social media websites. With proper management this species can have sustainable and sizable populations for the state of Karnataka.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
File Attachments: Management_Plan_Woods
Authors: Alaina Woods

2018 Management Plan for Fossas (Cryptoprocta ferox) in Madagascar

Mon, 04/30/2018 - 11:28
Abstract: Fossas (Cryptoprocta ferox) are an endemic species to Madagascar with features resembling members of Felidae, Herpestidae, and Viveridae. They are widely distributed throughout the island and are located in rainforests, dry forests, and mountainous terrain. As the top-predators of Madagascar, fossas are opportunistic hunters and will feed on the most abundant prey in an area, which are usually the various lemur species inhabiting Madagascar. Fossas are often overlooked in terms of research for their lemur counterparts, resulting in a lack of information pertaining to the species. Fossas are listed as vulnerable on the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List and under Appendix II of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). The species has declined by 30% over the last 21 years and are projected to mirror that decline over the next 21 years. The fossas’ decline is primarily linked to habitat destruction and fragmentation and hunting of the species. Invasive species are likely also contributing by transmitting foreign pathogens to fossas, but more research in this area is required. Madagascan forests are continuing to decline annually as more are cleared to make room for agricultural practices. Local Madagascans hunt fossas due to their negative view in local culture, to protect their fowl and livestock, and as a source of bushmeat in some areas. Of Madagascar’s 46 protected areas, many of them contain established populations of fossas. However, these populations are too small or fragmented and will not remain viable into the future. Fossas can be successful if their habitat is preserved and their negative perception by Madagascan villagers is altered. Their top-predator status, unique morphology and taxonomy, and endemic nature make them a valuable species worth restoring to sustainable population levels and protecting for future generations. This management plan has two goals; (1) Establish fossas as a valuable wildlife species among wildlife stakeholders and (2) improve the negative ecological conditions facing fossas to foster population growth. Both goals require multiple objectives to be met to be completed and thus ensure the survival of the species. Educational programs will improve fossas’ negative perception and negative interactions between fossas and Madagascans will be decreased to lessen the numbers harmed or killed by locals. Ecotourism focusing on fossas will be established to increase awareness and funding for conservation. Protected areas of fossa habitat will be enlarged or connected to better suit their needs. Fossa food availability will be increased indirectly by increasing the size of their protected habitat. Invasive species populations of felines and canines will be decreased. Further research on fossa ecology is necessary to improve understanding of fossas and their demographics and improve management practices in the future. If fossas’ habitat requirements are met and protected and their negative view in the eyes of Madagascans is reversed, the species’ decline will be reversed and the population will become sustainable into the future.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
File Attachments: Notoris_2018_04_25.docx
Authors: John Notoris

Management plan for wild ring-necked pheasant (Phasianus colchicus) populations in Wyoming County, New York

Wed, 05/02/2018 - 18:51
Abstract: Ring-necked pheasants (Phasianus colchicus) are an upland game species found throughout much of the United States, including western New York. Pheasant population numbers throughout the state have decreased since their peak in the 1960s and 1970s, and continue to decline. Their diet is focused on small invertebrates as well as seeds, grains, roots, and berries. Their habitat consists primarily of small overgrown farm fields with abundant edge habitat and hedgerows for escape, thermal, and nesting cover. Much is known about the biology of this species but population numbers continue to decrease throughout New York despite current management actions. The decline of this species has been due to the loss of cover from monocultures and increased predation by red fox (Vulpes vulpes), coyote (Canis latrans), skunk (Mephitidae), raccoon (Procyon lotor), and avian predators such as the red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis). Ring-necked pheasants are a primary game species in areas of New York that help contribute monetary funds to assist with the states conservation needs. Currently, the majority of hunters in the state rely on the introduction of pen-raised pheasants for a successful hunt. The goal of this management plan is to maintain a self-sustained wild ring-necked pheasant population for sporting, aesthetic, biologic, and scientific value in the town of Middlebury, Wyoming County, NY. This goal requires multiple objectives and actions to ensure success of the species in the Middlebury study area. Management plan objectives include: 1) increase available pheasant habitat on private lands by 10% in ten years, 2) increase the wild pheasant populations in the town of Middlebury by 15% in 10 years (2018-2028), and 3) control pheasant predator populations (coyote, red fox, red-tailed hawks, raccoons and skunks) in the town of Middlebury by decreasing them by 15% in the next ten years (2018-2028). Pheasant populations are important to ecosystem health by providing seed dispersal for many plant species as well as being an important prey species. Being that pheasants are a game species, they provide a source of monetary value to conservation funds that can be used for the conservation of other species. More habitat and predation studies need to be conducted in the town of Middlebury as well as the rest of the county to better inform managers on the needs of the species. If the conservation needs of the ring-necked pheasant are addressed correctly, a self-sustained wild population will be possible.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
Authors: Dakotta Loft

Population Management for Invasive Cane Toads (Rhinella marina) in Florida

Wed, 05/02/2018 - 20:59
Abstract: Cane toads (Rhinella marina) are a relatively large species of anuran that are historically native to South America through Central America and as far north as extreme Southwestern Texas. This range has been artificially expanded by humans to numerous areas of the globe, usually as a form of biological pest control, the most infamous of which is the release of a population of cane toads in Australia in the 1930’s that failed and has wreaked havoc on the native ecosystems and residents of the country ever since with no evidence of stopping. Cane toads were also inadvertently released into Florida in the 1950’s when a population escaped from the Miami airport, and was supplemented by subsequent releases from pet owners. The main concern with cane toads is their particularly potent toxin that they release when threatened which has led to many cases of pet death and emergency vet visits for curious dogs in Florida and the decline of some entire species of predator in Australia. However the detrimental effects can also come in other forms as cane toads can be hosts for “the parasite spill back” phenomenon, in which an invading species such as cane toads can be the perfect breeding ground for a parasite and then through expanding range and increasing population numbers disseminate it to other related species. As of now cane toads are mostly a problem for pet owners in Florida and do not seem to be much threat to the natural ecosystems as they are limited in movement by Florida’s tall grass ecosystems. This threat should not be ignored however, as cane toads are highly adaptable and in Australia the invading population has adapted to habitats in which they are not usually encountered. The goal of this management plan is to use the lessons of Australia and what little research has been done in the United States to reduce the population of, and prevent or limit the spread of cane toads further into urban areas and prevent potential degradation of natural habitat by 2028. This includes the education and training of the public to help get the highest numbers of individuals captured, along with education for pet owners on what to do should your pet become poisoned and the best ways to prevent this. Should this plan be successful it will help to prevent a potentially disastrous situation resembling the one that has occurred in Australia while the cane toad is still very limited in its movements and vulnerable to large scale elimination efforts.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
Authors: Christopher Rappleyea

Wildlife Management Plan for Amur Leopards (Panthera pardus orientalis) in the Primorski Krai Region of Northeast Russia

Wed, 05/02/2018 - 21:21
Abstract: The Amur leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis) is an endangered subspecies of leopard that inhabits the far eastern regions of Asia. It is also locally known as the far-eastern leopard, Manchurian leopard, or Korean leopard. These large carnivores are solitary animals that prefer habitat of mixed coniferous and deciduous woods with rocky outcrops, cliffs, and fallen timber. They are elusive mammals that are especially adapted to living in the snowy winters in Russia and populations are declining at an alarming rate. Habitat loss is the leading cause of population decline in the species, but other factors include disease, poaching, retaliatory killings, a decrease in prey bases, leopard-human conflict, and other unnatural causes. Understanding these issues and background of Amur leopards is difficult because there is a lack of data regarding the species’ reproduction, immigration and emigration, population, and habitat use. This management plan aims to increase the population of Amur leopards in Primorski Krai to numbers that are economically, ecologically, and culturally appreciated. Several techniques like fully understanding the species with camera traps, habitat conservation, education and incentive programs, stabilizing prey species, and reducing human-leopard conflicts may be used to help accomplish this goal. Many of the actions and objectives involve the patience and support of researchers and conservationists, as the collection of data regarding the Amur leopard is extremely time consuming. The recovery and success of this leopard depends on the cooperation of public and private organizations as well as stakeholder support. Through the implementation of this management plan, the recovery and long term success of the Amur leopard will be ensured.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
File Attachments: AmurLeopard_FinalDraft.docx
Authors: Hannah Poljacik

Management Plan for Feral Cats in Oahu, Hawaii

Wed, 05/02/2018 - 21:26
Abstract: Feral cat (Felis catus) populations are increasing rapidly due to their reproduction frequency and size. On average, four kittens are found per litter two times a year. Feral cats are opportunistic hunters. The diet of feral cats consists of 70% mammals, 16% birds, and 3% reptiles/amphibians. In a closed system, the feral cats range will occupy most areas of the closed system due to their ability to be generalists. On the island of Oahu, Hawaii, feral cat ranges overlap 1.3 million humans. The population of feral cats has been estimated to be 16,000 on Oahu. Recent attempts to decrease the populations due to sociocultural, economic, and ecological issues has resulted in the use of TNR (Trap, Neuter, and Release) programs. A short-term result would be a decrease in populations, however, these programs do not promote the protection of native wildlife that occupy the island of Oahu. There are currently no effective management plans that create an effort to manage for the wildlife populations where there is an overabundance of feral cats, while providing a humane strategy of eradication to please the public. The goal of this management plan is to decrease the population of feral cats on the island of Oahu to protect the native wildlife which inhabits Oahu. The objectives that are required to obtain this goal include decreasing the survivorship of weaning cats by 42% by using drop fall traps and hunting, increasing the eradication rate by 6.6% every year from the shelter or shelters by creating an adoption program and euthanasia protocol, and increasing awareness of feral cat problems via survey in 1 year and passing legislation that regulates feral cat feeding, abandonment, and introduction in to the wild. When implemented, this plan will decrease feral cat populations on Oahu which will decrease the predation on native small mammals, birds, and reptiles/amphibians.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
File Attachments: FeralCatsOahu.docx
Authors: Sean Dudenhoeffer

Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus) Management Plan for Southern Spain

Wed, 05/02/2018 - 22:58
Abstract: Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus) are a large cat predator species that are genetically different from their sister taxa, Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx). Their distribution includes Portugal and Spain, but most of the populations are established in the Iberian Peninsula of southwest Spain. This is a territorial species that only interact with one another for a short time during the breeding season. Only two breeding populations are remaining in the Iberian Peninsula, Sierra Morena and Doñana, which operate on a source-sink dynamic to the smaller metapopulations. Iberian lynx have a preference for Mediterranean scrubland and a diet that comprises mostly European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) and some small mammals. The species is currently listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and is categorized as greatest regional and global concern. Habitat destruction to promote agriculture and illegal take by humans are major contributors to the decline of species population densities. Disease outbreak in European rabbit populations causing a decline in prey densities and an outbreak of feline leukemia in the breeding populations has contributed to their inability to persist as well. The goal of this management plan is to increase Iberian lynx populations and create a positive relationship between the species and citizens of Spain. These goals can be achieved through a series of objectives and actions which include: habitat restoration, captive breeding programs, stricter enforcement of laws, livestock compensation programs, and increase public awareness. With the cooperation from public, political, and conservation managers the establishment of a self-sustaining Iberian lynx population in Southern Spain may be possible.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
Authors: Mikayla Krahl

A Sustainable Management Plan of Saiga antelope (Saiga tatarica) in Kazahkstan

Wed, 05/02/2018 - 23:45
Abstract: Saiga antelope (Saiga tatarica) are a remnant of the last ice age, and are a charismatic symbol of people who live in the vast steppes and arid plains of Eurasia. Once existing in masses comparable to ungulates of African savannah, Saiga populations in the past few decades have witnessed a dramatic decline due to a host of environmental and anthropogenic factors. At the turn of the century numbers were one million, and at present numbers around 18,000 individuals. Poaching, diseases, harsh winters, rampant predation by wolves and pet dogs, and human caused mortality forces preventing Saiga populations from rebounding. These issues are in what is moving Saiga toward extinction. To stop this impending ecological disaster from happening, a management plan must be created in order to save an emblematic and historic species from annihilation. Kazakhstan currently holds the largest number of surviving Saiga herds and individuals, and has the most potential for a managed rejuvenation of the population, which is currently still in decline. Measures must be taken to reduce predation and poaching, and allow for more recruitment of claves into the breeding population, which in addition to increasing the population will also offset the gross sex ratio of males to females that currently is precarious enough that a potential reproductive collapse is not impossible. Measures reducing human impacts must also be taken to ensure the end of poaching and hunting of Saiga, sale of their parts, and cooperation between the managers and the Kazakhstani government via a council that will oversee the entire management implementation, as well as advocate for Saiga any legal or legislative situation. With enough funding and support, and with the completion of the societal and ecological objectives, it may be possible to accomplish our overall goal to increase Saiga populations, returning them to sustainable levels.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
Authors: Owen Denton