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Capstone Projects

Would an underpass/tunnel on Keese Mills Road decrease the percentage of amphibian mortality due to road mortality?

Wed, 04/29/2015 - 18:09
Abstract: Road Mortality has had a huge impact on Amphibian populations worldwide. Several options are available to help maintain and preserve migrating populations across roadways. One method that is looked at during this study is underpass and fencing. In this study, I assessed the need for an underpass and if it could help reduce the amount of amphibian’s mortality by traffic and, if an underpass is necessary, properly predict a location. I also looked at if underpasses alone could reduce the mortality of amphibians. I constructed arrays and pitfall traps to simulate an underpass on Keese Mills Road at Paul Smiths and Santa Clara, Franklin County New York. I predicted that underpass would decrease the amount of amphibian being slayed. I also predicted that certain locations would have more usage then others. The results showed that there was no significant difference between the location of the sites and whether they would be used by the amphibians. The results also showed that there was no correlation between the species that were captured and the species that were killed.
Access: No
Literary Rights: On
Major: Biology
Year: 2015
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Jorge Velazquez

White-tailed Deer Browse Preference: A Comparative Study of the Catskill and Adirondack Mountain Regions, New York State

Tue, 05/05/2015 - 14:23
Abstract: Abundant white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in New York State, United States, affect forest regeneration and stand composition through feeding (browse) pressure. White-tailed deer browse preference of six different hardwood tree species in two mountain ranges, the Catskill and Adirondack Mountains, within New York State were compared in order to determine the extent of browse selection by deer. There were no statistically different browse selection by white-tailed deer within the Catskills or Adirondack study area or between each study site. Visual analysis of the study areas after concluding the study revealed that red maple (Acer rubrum) was the preferred browse species at each study site.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Biology, Natural Resources Management and Policy
Year: 2015
File Attachments: Title, abstract, TOC , Report
Authors: John MacNaught, Blaine Kenyon, Mark Staats, Travis Boucher, Noah Finlayson-Gesten

The Effects of Varying Wavelengths of Light on Diatom Movement

Wed, 05/06/2015 - 16:18
Abstract: Diatoms were studied in order to determine in which wavelength of light they would be most active. It was surmised this knowledge would allow easier testing of future diatom movement hypotheses. This knowledge could, in turn, allow control over diatom movement in order to prevent or circumvent hazardous diatom blooms. Specimens were studied using a Parco scientific microscope in a dark room. They were studied both with and without cover slips to ensure the cover slips did not hinder movement. Sheets of high quality color transparency paper were laid over the microscope light, producing a single, strong color. In the end, the diatoms didn’t move at all, no matter the circumstances. The diatoms could have had no reason for movement or have been restricted by the small amount of water on the microscope slide due to the vast difference between the slide and the diatoms’ natural environment.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Biology
Year: 2015
File Attachments: Diatoms.docx
Authors: Eric Swiecki

Examination of Potentially Ectoparasite-driven Behavior in Burrowing Owls: Tests of Alternative Hypotheses

Thu, 05/07/2015 - 19:06
Abstract: Burrowing Owls (Athene cunicularia) and their nests harbor at least 39 species of arthropods from 21 different families. Among the ectoparasites on Burrowing Owls are fleas, which are primarily Pulex irritans (Family Pulicidae), the human flea. Fleas can number in the hundreds on individual Burrowing Owls. Thus, we hypothesized that flea infestation has shaped Burrowing Owl behavior to avoid the costs of ectoparasitism. As part of experiments using infrared trail cameras deployed at Burrowing Owl nests in southern Idaho ¬¬during 2012-2013, we noticed apparent sunning behavior in both adult and nestling Burrowing Owls. Camera images captured owls lying on the ground with wings outstretched and flat. We only observed this behavior during daylight hours, although cameras were active for 24 h/day. Sunbathing in birds is often associated with ectoparasite reduction, although sunning has not previously been examined in relation to flea infestation. During 2014 we conducted an experiment that included fumigating some nests with a flea removing insecticide and examined the prediction that sunbathing would occur more frequently in control nests where ectoparasites remained. As sunning was not during the coolest parts of the day, it did not appear to function for warming. Also, we ultimately found no difference in the frequency of sunning in fumigated and control nests, and there was no relationship between sunning and abundance of fleas on owls. Thus, the evidence is not consistent with the ectoparasite hypothesis, as owls sunned irrespective of flea load. We also evaluated the alternative hypotheses that sunning was related to thermoregulation, anting, drying or feather degrading bacteria. The first three we were able to reject, and the last will need future research.
Access: No
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Biology
Year: 2015
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Skyler Wysocki

A Global Recovery Plan for the Endangered Blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus)

Tue, 04/28/2015 - 16:11
Abstract: Blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus) are the largest baleen whale species on the planet, and currently the biggest animal in existence. In the early 20th century, blue whales were nearly exterminated by whaling fleets until they received worldwide protection in 1967. Since then, the global populations of blue whales have had difficulty recovering due to their slow population growth rate and existing threats. Most of these populations are below 2,000 individuals with exception of a population off the coast of California, which has shown slight recovery in the past decade. The management of the blue whale depends on solutions that are addressed with long-term considerations, thus management will need to be continued for multiple decades in order to increase these global populations.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2015
Authors: Matthew Fuirst

American Lobster (Homarus americanus) Management in the inshore and offshore waters of Maine

Wed, 04/29/2015 - 14:39
Abstract: The goal of this management plan is to maintain a healthy and sustainable lobster population that can support the pressures of a profitable commercial fishery. The Maine lobster fishery is the second leading industry in Maine with recent annual profits of over 456 million dollars earned by less than the 6,000 commercial lobster fisherman within the state (DMR, 2015). The fishery has had record landings in the last decade and the fishery stock seems to be thriving. With the collapse of the Maine ground fish, shrimp, and scallop fishery many commercial fisherman have fallen back on one of the few fisheries that seems to have a promising future in the state. Some potential threats to the fishery are the increase number of fisherman in the offshore lobster fishery, the falling price per pound of lobster, and the growing risk of the spread of shell disease. To make drastic regulatory changes to the fishery at this time would be met with strong opposition by the stakeholders but increases in funding to expand on research and marketing initiatives to protect the future of the fishery has much more of a likelihood of being supported by the stakeholders of the Maine lobster fishery.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2015
Authors: Brandon Bezio

Introduction of Wood Bison (Bison bison athabascae) into Glacier National Park

Wed, 04/29/2015 - 16:00
Abstract: Wood bison populations have been reduced to only a few herds since the 1900s. These large grazers were once found throughout their range in Canada and Alaska and now there are isolated herds in Canada and only one herd in Alaska. The causes of population decline are over exploitation and habitat loss. Due to successful management practices the wood bison populations have been slowly recovering. The goals of this management plan are to introduce a wood bison herd into the Glacier National Park and to minimize the conflicts between humans and the bison. To achieve the goals of this management plan actions must be taken. The actions that will be used are to translocate individuals to the park, maintain the local ecosystem in the area of introduction, disease prevention, keeping the human and bison conflicts low, educate the local communities and stakeholders about bison, and to manage problem bison that leave the park. Introducing wood bison in Glacier national Park is beneficial because it will establish another wood bison meta-population and aid in the recovery of the wood bison in their native range. With this introduction, the hopes are to create a sustainable herd and to increase the wood bison population in their natural range.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2015
Authors: Dylan Hurst

Recovery Plan for the Reintroduction and Establishment of a Viable Wolverine (Gulo gulo) Population in Colorado

Wed, 04/29/2015 - 18:39
Abstract: After their near or complete elimination from the western United States in the early 1900’s, wolverine (Gulo gulo) began to recolonize small areas of their historic distribution in the northern portion of the Rocky Mountains during the latter part of the century. Though wolverine have not been recorded in the state since 1919 with the exception of a single dispersing male, Colorado still contains a large area of suitable wolverine habitat. Analysis of critical habitat characteristics revealed that Colorado’s wolverine habitat could support 21% of wolverine population capacity in the contiguous United States. This large area has the potential to serve as a core source population of wolverine to supplement periphery sink populations and provide population resiliency in the face of climate change or extreme mortality events. Despite the abundance of suitable habitat, the establishment of a viable wolverine population will require reintroduction, rather than relying upon extreme dispersal events of individuals from established populations. Keeping human-wolverine conflicts to a minimum, protecting potential denning sites from development, increasing and maintaining connectivity between wolverine habitats, and supplementing individuals from other populations to maintain genetic diversity within the relatively isolated habitat in Colorado will be critical for the persistence of this species. The utilization of this management plan can ensure that all ecological, socio-economic, and regulatory factors associated with wolverine reintroduction in Colorado can be effectively addressed to promote the success of wolverine recovery in the contiguous United States.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2015
Authors: Ashley Evans

Reintroduction of the Gray Wolf to Isle Royale National Park

Wed, 04/29/2015 - 18:52
Abstract: The gray wolf (Canis lupus) has a large historical range across the lower 48 states and has recently recolonized the Great Lakes Region in the 1970s due to migration. Wolves crossed an ice bridge to Isle Royale National Park in the 1940s and established a population. For over 50 years scientists have been studying this population, along with the resident moose population, to understand the ecology of a nearly unexploited ecosystem. The wolf population has been dropping in numbers over time, more severely in the last decade. The limited genetic diversity has been shown to lead to back deformities and a reluctance to breed amongst individuals. In May of 2014, the annual report stated only 9 wolves were left with only 2 females remaining. A meeting by the National Park Service concluded to only interfere if the chance of a breeding pair did not exist, in other words, the two females died. The most recent publication of the 2015 Annual Report stated only 3 individuals have been seen on the island. A management plan is critically needed to decide a course of action as to interfere or to let nature take its course. The purpose of this management plan is to propose a goal and set of objectives to achieve reintroduction of a wolf population after the extinction of the current poulation. To maintain a genetically viable population is to maintain sufficient gene flow with multiple breeding pairs within several packs. This can be achieved with a simulation of a “natural migration” by relocating individuals from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to Isle Royale. We can achieve the goal with sufficient funding, communication amongst partners, and current monitoring procedures.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2015
Authors: Kelsey Schumacher

Feral Pig Management for New York 2015-2025

Wed, 04/29/2015 - 20:40
Abstract: A population of feral pigs (Sus scrofa) has established a breeding population in New York State. These pigs have been escaping from hunting preserves throughout the state and have adapted to the habitat well. Feral pigs can cause a lot of property damage and also take out farmers’ fields by erosion or trampling the crops. There is a big problem with feral pigs in the southern United States and have grown in great numbers with great impact on the ecosystems. Feral pigs are an invasive species that have no population controlling predators and can reproduce rapidly. The pigs also compete with native species for food and habitat and can force native species to relocate to find more food. Pigs eat anything from bulbs and roots to eating rodents, frogs and deer. The pigs can also cause erosion of landscapes which can lead to nutrients washing away from the soil. Removal of feral pigs in the south has been ongoing for years without any success and their population is growing rapidly. Therefore, action must be taken now to stop the spread of feral pigs in New York before their population gets out of control. In order to reach this goal of complete eradication, different actions of removal need to be taken. Some of the actions that will be used to remove pigs will be trapping and setting out feeders with toxins in it designed for feral pigs. The other action that will be needed is creating regulations for hunting preserves that prevent pigs from escaping. If nothing is done now then the feral pig populations in New York will keep growing and lead to the same issues as southern states.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2015
File Attachments: Management_Paper3.doc
Authors: Cody Fuller