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Capstone Projects

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

A Comparative Look at Low-Impact versus High-Impact Camping Techniques

Fri, 05/08/2020 - 19:36
Abstract: For as long as there has been people inhabiting the area that is now known as the Adirondack Park, there have been people establishing camping techniques there. These techniques have evolved over time, from the primitive style of the Haudenosaunee Natives of almost 1,000 years ago to the creation of the Adirondack Lean-to, and finally the Great Camps of the 19th century, some of which are still standing tall and in use to this day. The early American residents of the Adirondacks made the local economy thrive off of camping, guiding, hunting, and trapping. While many people of the time saw the Adirondack Park from a capitol viewpoint, it soon became promoted for its natural beauty and wonder, which helped the area be seen and used with a more thoughtful perspective in mind. The aesthetic influences of the Adirondack camping styles can be seen around the country today and is a cornerstone of the modern Adirondack tourist economy. One major factor of camping in the Adirondack Park is low-impact camping. This idea prevents damages to the environment from any impacts created whilst camping. By following these guidelines, campers are able to properly appreciate and enjoy their time in the great outdoors. Keywords: Leave No Trace, Low-Impact Camping, Camping, Adirondack Park
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Integrative Studies, Natural Resources Conservation and Management
Year: 2020
Authors: Hayden Uresk, Jon Templin

Birding within the Alumni Campground

Mon, 05/18/2020 - 13:48
Abstract: With birdwatchers forming the largest group of tourist, they become potential candidates for improving the well-being of local communities by educating locals about the biodiversity of bird species and creating local and national incentives for successful protection and preservation of natural areas (Asefa, 2015). With this, there is potential for economic growth and visitor diversity to increase within the Alumni Campground in Paul Smith's, NY through bird-watching activities. This project will research the bird species found within the Alumni Campground to give visitors an understanding of the birding opportunities found during their camping experience. My research uses a hands-on approach for determining bird species (field research), rather than using citizen science experiments that rely on outside sources for determining bird species.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Natural Resources Conservation and Management
Year: 2020
Authors: Kara Coon

PSC Alumni Campground Campsite Firewood: Risks and Solutions

Mon, 05/11/2020 - 01:37
Abstract: The purpose of our capstone was to build a woodshed for the PSC Alumni Campground. Camping is one of the most widely participated recreational activities during the year, and has been a recreational activity in the Adirondacks for many generations. People who camp at times find It difficult to locate dry firewood or any firewood at all, so they bring their own firewood with them or continue to search for wood off established trails. Walking off established trails can kill plant vegetation or disrupt natural processes in the forest. My group and I decided a woodshed that holds 3 cords of wood for the Alumni Campground would allow campers to stop searching for firewood out in the forest and prevent campers from bringing their own firewood into the park and risking the spread of any invasive species. The woodshed dimensions were 5ft in width by 12ft long and 7ft at the highest point and 5ft in the back. With a few slight modifications, we spaced the floorboards 6in apart for more ventilation. Overall, due to the pandemic, we were unable to complete the entire woodshed.
Access: No
Literary Rights: On
Major: Natural Resources Conservation and Management
Year: 2020
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Mitch Akowicz , Kyle Bond, Josh Campbell, Matt Frye, Alex Purdy

Creating the Paul Smith's College Alumni Birding Trail

Sun, 05/10/2020 - 13:37
Abstract: The Paul Smith’s Alumni Campground is a rustic retreat for Paul Smith’s College alumni and families. While the campground holds some guests throughout the seasons it is no secret that there are some things lacking. I took it upon myself to find a way to bring excitement to this campground while not drifting from the rustic natural setting. Creating a birding trail is something that not only fits the Paul Smith’s learning experience but also is a large attraction worldwide. With graduates in fish and wildlife to natural resource’s including on campus classes in ornithology this would be a perfect fit.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Natural Resources Conservation and Management
Year: 2020
File Attachments: final capstone paper.docx
Authors: Justin Gillen

Alumni Campground Lean-to Design Analysis

Sat, 05/09/2020 - 11:32
Abstract: When thinking about the Adirondacks, lean-tos are among the first that come to mind. The Adirondack lean-to has, for most of the parks history, been a staple for back country shelters. The design of the lean-to is the most important part about them. Traditionally built with full round logs to have three walls and one open side with an overhang from the roof. Notches in the logs at each corner of the lean-to allow for the structure to be more ridged then if notches were not used. The goal behind this project is to look at the design of the Adirondack lean-to and see what about it could be simplified to make plans for an easier to build and construct lean-to.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Natural Resources Conservation and Management, Sustainable Communities & Working Landscapes
Year: 2020
Authors: Michael J Gaulin