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Capstone Projects

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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Major: Biology
Year: 2017
Authors: Ashley G. Hodge

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.
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Major: Biology
Year: 2017
Authors: David R. Lampman

Creating a Reliable Surveying Network: Does Adding New Survey Control Points to Paul Smith’s College Campus Enhance its Current Network?

Tue, 12/05/2017 - 18:48
Abstract: The goal of the project was to improve the current geometry of the Paul Smith’s College surveying network. Four new survey control points were added to the current network allowing for new connectivity to old control points. Previously, there was a Westside network and an Eastside network that were not connected and by connecting these two networks, it has expanded the current network further into the campus. Two different methods were used to help identify the new network. A traditional survey method, a closed traverse, was used to connect the old control points to the new control points by utilizing a Nikon DTM-352 series total station. A X90 OPUS GPS unit was used to connect the new control points into a geodetic network. After the data was collected a least squares adjustment was done to the closed traverse to correct for error within the traverse. The GPS data was processed by Topcon Tools utilizing a Continuously Operating Reference System (CORS) to obtain a better level of accuracy for the network it produced. The two different techniques used produced different results in the overall survey networks and supplied different coordinates than what has been previously used by students at the college. These results gained from the project are not of a consistent level of precision and are not recommended for use without conducting more closed traverses to increase precision within the network.
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Major: Forestry, Natural Resources Management and Policy, Surveying Technology
Year: 2017
Authors: Frederick C. Petzoldt, Michael S. Thompson

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.
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Major: Forestry, Natural Resources Sustainability Studies
Year: 2017
File Attachments: Capstone_Final.docx
Authors: Valerie Hoffman

Forest Succession's Effect on Soil Physical and Chemical Properties after Agriculture Abandonment

Mon, 12/01/2014 - 11:00
Abstract: Landscapes have been significantly altered by humans and replacing forests with agricultural crops is a major alteration humans have made. This landscape change has affected soils significantly. Agriculture practices can potentially have detrimental effects on soils. However, through the 20th century forest cover drastically increased in the United States through the recruitment of second growth forests as a result of agriculture abandonment. Forests reclaiming farm lands through forest succession can have a significant effect on recoveries in soil physical and chemical properties such as bulk density, soil strength, porosity and fertility. Therefore, the goal of this study was to investigate forest successions effect on soil physical and chemical properties after agriculture abandonment. Three specific hypotheses were tested: 1) Bulk density and soil strength will decrease while micro and macro porosity will increase as forests reclaim farm lands. 2) Soil carbon and available nitrogen will increase over time. 3) Soil pH will decrease and electrical conductivity will increase over time. These hypotheses were explored on abandoned agriculture fields in a chronosequence study on coarse loamy Inceptisols in upstate New York across a 60 year temporal scale. Data showed that total porosity, total carbon and available nitrogen increase while soil pH, bulk density, soil strength and electrical conductivity decline over time. These results support all three hypotheses except for the latter half of hypothesis number three. The findings of this study suggest that although agriculture may disturb soil properties, time coupled with forest succession can result in significant recoveries.
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Major: Forestry
Year: 2014
File Attachments: Final Report.docx
Authors: Nathan Piché

Alpine Ecosystems on Ski Area Summits in the Northeast: A Best Management Practices Manual

Mon, 12/01/2014 - 15:19
Abstract: Over the past half a century, anthropogenic climate change has triggered temperatures in the northeastern United States to rise. This increase has led to decreased winter precipitation and a longer annual growing season. Species found in upland/montane habitats on the southern edge of their range limits are particularly threatened by these changes. Warmer temperatures have allowed larger woody plants to advance up mountain slopes, entering the habitat of these fragile species. In the next decade, we will witness a complete disappearance of alpine flora from several locations across the northeast including Whiteface in New York, Sugarloaf in Maine and Mount Mansfield in Vermont. Managers of ski resorts can therefore play an important role in promoting the continued persistence of high-altitude flora and fauna through carefully considered management decisions can also serve to promote the reputation of the ski industry as stewards of mountaintop ecosystems. Doing so will allow for continued study of the species that exist within these communities, the protection of biodiversity, and increased revenue for the resort itself through elevated public image and mountain-top tourism. To help begin these conservation efforts, we have created a best management practice (BMP) manual to guide ski area managers in making these developments. It includes techniques for sustainable slope, soil, vegetation and wildlife management, erosion control, artificial snow production, and ski slope construction and design. Also included are marketing techniques and an overview of the economic viability of the practices outlined in this manual.
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Major: Forestry, Natural Resources Management and Policy
Year: 2014
Authors: Pali Gelsomini, Dylan Randall

Soil and Vegetation Characteristics of High Elevation Wetlands in the Adirondack Park

Mon, 12/03/2012 - 17:14
Abstract: Wetland ecosystems are finally being understood for their true importance. Wetlands in the past were misunderstood and thought to be disease carrying burdens on our way of life; however this mentality changed during the mid-19thcentury. These ecosystems are important for biodiversity and act as natural water purification systems. This study was undertaken to help understand, the high elevation wetland characteristics. Our goals were to analyze the soils and describe the vegetation in high elevation wetlands. The soil and vegetative surveys helped define the characteristics of these ecosystems and create a better understanding of them. The combination of vegetation species that are wetland indicators were found in each site, the soil pH, and nutrients show that each site had signs of being a wetland community.
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Major: Environmental Sciences, Forestry
Year: 2012
File Attachments: FINAL Capstone Report.doc
Authors: Brandon Ploss, Sean Ayotte

Vegetation colonization of a large sediment deposit from Tropical Storm Irene and the trajectory of the ecosystem

Sun, 12/02/2012 - 20:06
Abstract: Rivers, floodplains and riparian zones are important pieces of all landscapes. Humans have always had a close connection with these ecosystems but commonly that connection has led to anthropogenic disturbance of the natural system. There are very few undisturbed rivers, floodplains, and riparian zones left in the temperate biome. A better understanding of how disturbance, humans, and invasive plants are interacting with reference to rivers, floodplains and riparian zones may help with protection of these sensitive areas. This study analyzed the vegetation which was left and which colonized a large sediment deposit from Tropical Storm Irene, August 28, 2011. The understory vegetation was assessed in four 1 m2 plots based on stem count and percent foliar cover 319, 349 and 394 days after the tropical storm. Overstory trees were also inventoried in order to identify species and make connections between the overstory and new understory. Invasive species accounted for 16.1% of all stems found from day 319 to day 394. There were 5 invasive species found within the plots (garlic mustard, honeysuckle, Japanese knotweed, goutweed, chervil). Garlic mustard and Japanese knotweed increased in foliar cover from day 319 to 394 and may have retarded the growth of native plants and seedlings. Only 9.4% of all stems were found to be tree seedlings. The invasive plants which are colonizing fluvial deposits may be altering the structure and succession of floodplain forests and riparian zones. This invasive plant-covered deposit now provides a seed source for areas downstream as well as prevents native vegetation from growing on the site.
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Major: Forestry
Year: 2012
File Attachments: Capstone Paper.docx
Authors: Hannah Wahlstrom

Forces at Work: An Interpretive Management Plan for Fernow Forest Nature Trail

Mon, 12/03/2012 - 12:23
Abstract: Fernow Forest Nature Trail in the town of Tupper Lake, Franklin County, New York, is a recreation facility with great educational value to tourists and the local community. The cultural and natural resources of the site have been underutilized by the outdated Self-Guided Nature Trail brochure and insufficient signage. A survey was conducted at the trail to obtain pertinent data on visitor preferences regarding popular landmarks along the trail and types of interpretive programming. Recognizing that a greater impact on visitors could be made if interpretation at the site was improved, a thematic interpretive management plan for the Self-guided Nature Trail was developed. The new program, “Forces at Work,” consisted of a revised brochure, a complete map of the trail and amenities, and recommendations for the successful implementation of the new program including the utilization of an on-site interpreter. Future care of the trail was entrusted to Paul Smith’s College’s Forestry Club under the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Adopt-A-Natural Resource program.
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Major: Forestry
Year: 2012
Authors: Lawrence Montague

Influence of Stand Density and Species Proportion on the Productivity of Planted Forests

Mon, 12/03/2012 - 13:24
Abstract: This study examines the influence of stand density and species proportion in mixed species forest plantations through the Forest Vegetation Simulator (FVS), forest growth modeling software. It is hypothesized that a mixed-species stand will be more productive than any monoculture of the same density due to some compatibility between the two chosen species. Trees were “planted” in 5 different densities; 460, 540, 660, 860, and 1100 trees per acre. The ratios of eastern white pine (Pinus strobus) and eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) were then altered using substitutive plot designs and grown for 100 years. The most productive stand was established as a mixed-species plantation with a white pine:eastern hemlock ratio of 60:40. This stand was established with 1100 trees per acre; 660 white pine and 440 eastern hemlock. This translates to 39.6 square feet per tree, or a grid size of about 6.29’x6.29’. This stand, after 100 years of simulated growth, was 1.0038 times more productive than highest producing monoculture of the same density. Although the hypothesis was accepted, the most productive mixed-species stand developed into a white pine monoculture after 100 years of simulation.
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Major: Forestry
Year: 2012
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Tyler J. Dallas