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Capstone Projects

Walden Pond: Ecological and Anthropological History Reflected in the Sedimentary Record

Tue, 05/03/2016 - 23:13
Abstract: This study examined environmental changes reflected in the microfossil record of a sediment core taken in August 2015 from Walden Pond, Massachusetts spanning the last 600 years. In particular changes in the eutrophication status, inorganic sediment deposition due to land use, lake water depth and temperature were examined using phytoplankton indicator species—diatoms and chrysophytes— to reconstruct environmental conditions. The study site was a basin shallower and closer to the source of anthropogenic N and P inputs than the site of previous studies at Walden’s deepest basin, allowing for finer detection of changes in water level and organic content of sediment. A gravity corer was used to collect the sediment core to preserve topmost sediment layers for analysis, as more than a decade has passed since the last published study of this kind at Walden Pond by Köster et. al. (2005). Results show a significant increase in indicators of eutrophic lake conditions since European settlement ca. 1630, and especially since the 20th century. However, relative Asterionella formosa and Synedra nana abundances had not changed significantly in the last decade since Köster et. al.’s 2005 study, and have in fact decreased somewhat, suggesting water treatment efforts by the Massachusetts Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) have had some success. Loss on ignition (LOI) of organic content shows a precipitous decline from the mid 19th century from 37% to 22%, representing intensive land clearance and development until the 1970’s when DEP management began. After that point, LOI rose, perhaps due to increased lake productivity, and has fluctuated around 25%. Relative Discostella stelligera abundance, while used in the WAl-3 piston core as a proxy for water depth, could not be used in the WAL-1 gravity core from this study as eutrophication has significantly impacted their abundance. Chrysophyte scale:diatom ratios corroborate an observed trend of increasing abundance in lakes globally since the 20th century, perhaps in response to rising global temperatures over the same period.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Biology
Year: 2016
File Attachments: Capstone Paper.docx
Authors: Erik Yankowsky

Analysis of Forage Quality in Adirondack Macrophytes: Implications for Waterfowl Nutrition

Fri, 04/29/2016 - 14:48
Abstract: To understand the relative nutritional value of macrophyte food sources for Adirondack waterfowl, the forage quality of four common Adirondack macrophytes were assessed. An analysis of two native pondweeds (Potamogeton) and two invasive watermilfoil (Myriophyllum) was conducted to deduce how invasive and native macrophytes compare in their relative concentrations of nitrogen and mineral content; important indicators of forage quality for waterfowl. Nitrogen content is used as a metric for relative concentration of protein. Macrophyte species were sampled from four Adirondack lakes of the same trophic status to account for effects of lake nutrient characteristics on plant nutrient uptake and synthesis. Total nitrogen was determined with the Kjeldahl procedure using flow injection analysis. Ash (mineral) content was acquired through high-heat burning in a muffle furnace. The invasive watermilfoil species had a higher percentage of nitrogen than the native species. There was no significant difference in the ash content between the species. It is critical to understand the ecological function of these species in relation to wildlife populations. The nutritional value of these aquatic macrophytes may have implications for the fitness and distribution of breeding herbivorous waterfowl in Adirondack lakes. These results may indicate that invasive plants will serve as a viable food source for herbivorous waterfowl as watermilfoil continues to spread across Adirondack aquatic systems.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Biology
Year: 2016
Authors: Bianca Fournier

Roots of Paul Smith’s - Interpreting Our Past to Inspire Our Future : A conceptual design for an interpretive trail guide exhibit on Paul Smith’s College campus

Tue, 05/10/2016 - 13:17
Abstract: It is a pivotal time for Paul Smith’s College (PSC) where many of those directly involved with its inception are no long with us. PSC history was shaped by the Adirondack wilderness and together they influence how the college is run today. This project aimed to create the conceptual design for an interpretive trail exhibit on PSC campus. I worked with a professional exhibit designer to develop artistically inspired signage using archival photos to bring to life the heritage and natural history of the Paul Smith’s. Extensive research, input from stakeholders, and professional design guidance were utilized to create the content for six interpretive signs, a conceptual design, two formative evaluations, an estimated budget, and two campus sustainability fund proposals. These signs are meant to engage and inspire the current and future members of the Paul Smith’s College community, to build a deeper appreciation for the heritage that makes us unique.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Integrative Studies
Year: 2016
Authors: Leanne Ketner

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

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.
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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

Building Families Stronger

Tue, 05/05/2015 - 14:05
Abstract: The purpose of this study is to design a program that can be implemented in local camps to accommodate the needs of individuals in a family group affected by mental illness. The study will explain the importance of educating individuals about mental illness and integrating supportive behaviors. This program is designed to help families cope with the effects mental illness can have on the entire family dynamic. Families are often the strongest support system for dealing with mental illness and educating families is essential for success of the mentally ill. Team building games are used to enhance social behaviors and encourage group bonding, this program uses a recreational therapeutic approach to addressing issues in the lives of those affected by mental illness. To figure out how many people will be most likely be using the therapy program, a survey was created using a series of questions that went with the topic for respondents to answer. In fact the survey established that the majority of people agree on recreational approach to therapy as a means of coping with their illness in real life tasks. Other questions asked was what their favorite activities where, such as paddle sports and hiking. Another question was what disability was so as to get an idea what accommodations would be need and services for patients involved with the program.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science, Natural Resources Environmental Science, Parks, Recreation and Facilities Management
Year: 2015
Authors: Courtney Berg, Douglas Menge, Ashley Beldock

Downtown Saranac Lake Urban Forest Management Plan

Thu, 05/07/2015 - 16:47
Abstract: Trees and green spaces are important resources to any community. They are public spaces which provide havens of relaxation, play, and mental and physical stimulation. Trees and green spaces have been proven to have a positive impact on the mental and physical wellbeing of area residents. However, the care of these trees and green spaces is often overlooked or not planned for, leading to human/nature conflicts at a fine scale (local level). This is where arborists enter; arborists are individuals trained in the art of caring for trees, and are often involved in every stage of a tree’s life cycle, from planting to removal. But arborists are also teachers, acting as the intermediary between urban trees and the public and providing education to the people. The village of Saranac Lake, New York, is no different. The results of the data collected on Saranac Lake’s downtown street trees and parks were analyzed and compiled into a comprehensive urban tree management plan. A total of 236 trees and shrubs were inventoried and assessed for their health, overall condition, and pruning needs. Also included in the urban tree management plan are observations on the current state of the urban forest, recommendations for the mitigation and correction of any observable problems, and prevention and treatment courses of action for any future insect pests.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Forestry, Parks, Recreation and Facilities Management
Year: 2015
Authors: Michael O'Sullivan, Danielle Rageotte

White Pine Blister Rust at Paul Smith’s VIC: Concerns and Recommendations

Tue, 05/05/2015 - 18:34
Abstract: Abstract- Blister rust was reported on the Paul Smith’s VIC property. White pine blister rust is a complex disease pathosystem in which Cronartium ribicola – a rust fungus - infects both eastern white pine (Pinus strobus) and species in the Ribes genus. P. strobus is a disturbance species in the Adirondacks. Ribes spp. are early seral stage plants and readily exploit small gaps in the forest. Both are found on the VIC property. C. ribicola limits white pine regeneration, but isn’t currently considered a serious forest pathogen in the Northeast because its spread is limited by environmental, topographic, climatic, and temporal conditions. Despite these limits, blister rust has moved around the globe and has successfully spread across a wide range in the U.S. Because blister rust exists in a dynamic and interconnected world, there exists the potential for it to increase in virulence and incidence. Historically, management of blister rust has involved removing ribes from the landscape in favor of white pine- a scheme that is too costly and yields little long term benefit for landowners. A gap in the knowledge exists for smaller landowners dealing with blister rust. With this considered, based on a wide body of literature, management plans were designed to fit the VIC’s needs now and in the future.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Integrative Studies
Year: 2015
File Attachments: Riquier capstone.docx
Authors: Adam Riquier

An Examination of the Paul Smith’s Visitor Interpretative Center Trail Conditions and Suggested Sustainable Maintenance Practices

Tue, 05/05/2015 - 10:59
Abstract: The Adirondack Park is a 6.4 million acre state park in Upstate New York. With over 2,000 miles of hike able trails, this region is a popular tourist attraction in the Northeast. Thousands of people visit the Adirondack region to hike each year, which means that the trails within the park are subject to high intensity use. Natural resource management professionals such as the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) are concerned with the quality of trails winding through the region, and also promote awareness of the fragile alpine ecosystems resting atop the 5,000+ ft. tall mountains- which are constantly being degraded by human foot traffic. However, there are smaller and less maintained trails that run through our own backyard here at Paul Smith’s College, at the Visitors Interpretative Center (V.I.C.), with equally as fragile and important ecosystems. These range from bogs to eskers- the home of the rare and interesting Pitcher Plant (Sarracenia purpurea), to wetlands and riverine systems containing native heritage Brook Trout (Salvelinus fontinalis), populations such as the Windfall strain. Currently, there is no formal data documenting the condition of trails within the VIC property, therefore one may never know the true condition of the entire trail system. The Paul Smith’s V.I.C. can greatly benefit from applying recommended management techniques in the future using up to date information gathered in the spring of 2015. This report will provide new data, which will help management professionals examine the feasibility of applying accepted current and future sustainable trail management practices to the trails belonging to Paul Smith’s College.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Integrative Studies
Year: 2015
File Attachments: NEWCAPSTONE.docx
Authors: Loretta Buerkle

Assessing Activities and Policies to Improve Outing Club Participation

Wed, 04/29/2015 - 19:48
Abstract: College outing clubs have proven to be very beneficial for college students of all ages and fields of study. Research shows that outing programs, outdoor education programs, and adventure education programs can have a terrific impact on student’s mental, physical, and spiritual health. This study aims to assess activities and policies that could potentially increase participation in the outing club of Paul Smiths College in the Adirondack Mountains of Upstate New York. The questions this study intends to answer are: 1.) What types of activities will cause an increase in participation? 2.) What types of qualifications & experience should be required of guides and group leaders? and 3.) What can we do to increase organization or professionalism of our program? Using surveys, interviews, and credible sources, this study collected data from successful college outing clubs, the Paul Smith’s student body, and professionals in the field of recreation and summarized it into one collection of results with intentions of exposing ways to increase participation in the program and increase professionalism and organization of the program. Results exposed reoccurring themes regarding expectations for guide training, activities provided through other successful programs, and activities suggested by the student body. The student body survey revealed high support of technical skills seminars to teach students technical backcountry skills in a shorter period of time, and a high demand for high intensity activities such as white water rafting. Many responses supported the fact that in order to increase popularity in a program, the activities need to be demanding enough that individuals aren’t likely to partake in the activity without prior organization and qualified leadership. The results and data found in this study can be used in the future to develop outing club policies and procedures to aid in the success of the program.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Integrative Studies
Year: 2015
File Attachments:
Authors: Richard DeLong