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Capstone Projects

An Analysis of Invertebrate Richness with Designated Pollinator-Plots on Paul Smith's College Campus

Thu, 07/07/2022 - 15:35
Abstract: Anthropogenic grasslands, areas which have been manipulated by humanity to be species homogenous and are composed primarily of turf-grass species, have been a key fixture in the American landscape for over a hundred years, but little is known about the ecological impacts of these lawn-scapes. Paul Smith’s College has established meadow restoration zones, also referred to as “Pollinator Plots”, in areas that were previously anthropogenic grasslands to collect data regarding various components of meadow restoration and to document successional changes within the sites over several years. This study is the first assessment of invertebrate assemblages within these pollinator plots. Invertebrate assemblages were examined in two meadow restoration groups which include dry-slope plots and moist flat plots. Reference meadows, meadows that have been established for several years and have not been anthropogenically disturbed, were used as a baseline to which the other meadow groups were compared to. Specimens were collected using sweep nets and pitfall traps. Invertebrates were counted and identified to the lowest taxonomic level. Invertebrate richness was highest in reference sites, which are well-established meadows, and moist-flat locations whereas dry-slope locations had the least overall invertebrate richness. The restoration plots had lower invertebrate richness and abundance overall, however, the differences were not large enough to be statistically significant. The data obtained from this assessment is a baseline that can be compared to in future studies in these plots throughout time. Keywords Invertebrate - Pollinators - Grasslands - Lawns - Meadow – Restoration
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Ecological Restoration
Year: 2021
Authors: Savannah Hoy

Shoot for Sustainability

Mon, 07/18/2022 - 13:50
Abstract: Successfully educating non-hunters and prospective hunters on why it is better to use the woods as a source of food, rather than driving 15 minutes to the grocery store is one of the possible solutions to global carbon and Greenhouse gas problems. Furthermore, taking a non-hunter to the shooting range can give current ethical hunters the opportunity for the ultimate hands-on elevator pitch. After the enjoyable activity, we as current hunters can convey our message to them: Hunting is less popular method to acquire food. However, utilizing fossil fuel emitting vehicles and checkbooks as a tool for food isn't the best option either. It was essential to dictate the importance of hunting to, quite especially, the non-hunters we invited. By doing this we can collectively come together and combat many of the problems that are caused by the factory farming system in the U.S. Switching to a primarily wild game diet when it comes to meat consumption among humans will drastically reduce the presence of factory farms around the world, thus aiding us in becoming more carbon neutral. With less demand for the factory farm model that is currently used by industrial agriculture today, we can dedicate the many invaluable resources dedicated to other important efforts such as the looming global warming threat. Humans of the earth are losing time when it comes to climate change. Global governmental actions to mitigate this awakening dragon should have been implemented since the first industrial revolution over a hundred years ago. For our study we wanted to examine if educating more people on hunting and hunting practices can it lead to a more sustainable future for future generations and the future of our planet.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Environmental Studies, Natural Resources Conservation and Management
Year: 2021
Authors: Ryan Thomas, Adam Bettelli

The Lower St. Regis Lake Shoreline: Understanding the Past, Analyzing the Present, and Recommendations for the Future

Sat, 05/09/2020 - 11:54
Abstract: Continuing shoreline research and restoration planning will help Paul Smith’s College adhere to their own missions and visions including experiential learning, improving students' lives, and maintaining an ecological conscience as a community.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Ecological Restoration, Environmental Sciences
Year: 2020
Authors: Zoe Plant, Thomas Firkins, Julie Capito, and Benjamin Marshall

The Influence of Microtopography on the Spatial Distribution of Peatland Plants

Mon, 04/27/2020 - 13:01
Abstract: Microtopography in peatlands creates structural patterns within the environment that, if understood, could allow for more comprehensive wetland management and restoration plans to be constructed. The objectives of this study are to determine: 1) the spatial scale at which microtopography occurs on in Adirondack peatlands; 2) if hummock size changes in relation to the distance from the forested wetland edge; and 3) if individual plant species respond to, or vary, in relation to microtopography and abiotic factors. To determine the influence of microtopography on peatland plants, data were collected on the surface area and height distributions of hummocks, the distance between hummocks and the abiotic soil characteristics. Plant species richness, and percent cover data were collected on hummocks only. The spatial scale of microtopography was determined to be regularly distributed across the sampling area. There was no significant correlation between the distance from the coniferous-edge and the relative size of hummocks. Plant species richness was found to be higher on hummocks as opposed to hollows. Using a combination of correlation and multiple regression analysis we determined that leather leaf (Chamaedaphne calyculata), lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium), and common cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpa) were correlated to individual abiotic variables. The variability of the percent cover of leather leaf was explained by increasing surface area, lower soil temperatures, and lower pH; the variability of the percent cover of lowbush blueberry was explained by increasing oxidation-reduction potential (ORP) and lower pH; and the variability of the percent cover of common cranberry was explained by lower hummock height alone. Only three of the common plants identified were correlated with the abiotic variables measured. Further research should be done to continue to determine the primary influence of the elevational gradients on the plant species composition and to determine the resilience of these systems to changing climate.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Ecological Restoration
Year: 2020
Authors: Joshua T. Young

Developing a Bird Integrity Index (BII) for Use as an Indicator of Stream Condition in the Northern Adirondack Park

Mon, 04/27/2020 - 12:50
Abstract: The primary goal of this research was to create a Bird Integrity Index (BII) to be used for the ecological integrity analysis of streams and their related riparian zones in the northern Adirondack Park based on frameworks provided by previous research in Oregon. Fifty-eight metrics were tested from avian survey (point count) data along fifteen stream reaches of 0.5km in length. These metrics represented aspects of avian taxonomic richness, dietary preferences, foraging techniques, tolerance or intolerance to human disturbance, and nesting strategies. To evaluate the responsiveness of each metric, they were plotted against an index of stream condition based on sampling of benthic macroinvertebrates according to the outline provided by the stream biomonitoring research unit of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Five of the fifty-eight candidate metrics remained after removing metrics that had an R2 value of less than .2 or were highly correlated. Individual avian metric scores ranged from 0-10 and BII scores were set on a scale of 0-100. While the BII presented here was successful in responding to varying conditions based on disturbance levels (R2= .64), due to multiple unexpected relationships between avian metrics and stream condition, it is proposed that more in-depth and comparative research be completed before an Adirondack specific BII is presented for field usage.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Ecological Restoration
Year: 2020
File Attachments: Jesse Rock Capstone.pdf
Authors: Jesse Rock

Black Ash Seed Management: A Potential Partnership Project

Tue, 05/12/2020 - 09:06
Abstract: The Emerald Ash Borer beetle is currently decimating Black Ash populations, which is making the species increasingly difficult to find. With the Black Ash species becoming increasingly rare, some management plans have been created to protect the remaining populations of this species. The Akwesasne Mohawk Tribe has a management plan in place that is not only trying to protect the remaining Black Ash but is also harvesting their seeds and growing new trees. Partnering with the Akwesasne Mohawk Tribe to grow Black Ash Trees would be a massive step in the fight to keep this species alive. My research will analyze the challenges and possibilities associated with entering into a partnership with the Akwesasne Mohawk Tribe in a joint effort to secure the Black Ash’s future survival.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Environmental Studies
Year: 2020
Authors: Joel Caruso

Financial and Marketing Research for Alumni Campground

Sat, 05/09/2020 - 11:52
Abstract: The purpose of this capstone was to look at the financial plan for the Alumni Campground and make suggestions for marketing. Through interviews, surveys, and other research on the campground, we were able to see who uses the campground and areas of improvement for the physical site and marketing. Our recommendations are to help the campground prosper in the future
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Environmental Studies, Natural Resources Conservation and Management
Year: 2020
File Attachments: Capstone Essay.docx
Authors: Margret Montag, Dallas Olsen

Management Capstone

Mon, 05/06/2019 - 15:38
Abstract: The management capstone planned an event for the Paul Smiths college community to partake in. They conducted interviews of event planners, spoke to different departments within the school, created a budget, and executed the event. Their event was based around earth day and sustainable practices. They were able to track the number of attendees through a sign-in sheet and satisfaction of the event through a survey. The capstone students learned what it takes to plan events, how to execute them, and how to track their impact on the community involved.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Entrepreneurial Business Studies
Year: 2019
Authors: Natalina Bevilacqua
Gabrielle Fronckowiak

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

Product Feasibility Plan:Little ADK

Fri, 04/28/2017 - 10:35
Abstract: Little ADK’s is a take-home wilderness experience for children between the ages of 4-11. This is an oyster mushroom growing kit that will help a child bring the magic and wonders of the Adirondacks back home, outside the Blue Line (the term used to define the Adirondack Park Preserve.). This pod-based garden system allows children, as well as adults, the opportunity to grow their very own Adirondack native plants. Little ADK’s also comes with an informational booklet and an educational coloring book describing the importance and beauty of the Adirondack Park. Little ADK will be marketed to tourist within the Park as well as to native wilderness lovers. Those purchasing the product can feel environmentally conscientious as Little ADK’s donates 10% of profits toward the preservation of the Adirondack Mountains.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Entrepreneurial Business Studies
Year: 2017
Authors: Joshua R. Clemens