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Capstone Projects

Forest Structure and Composition in the Smitty Creek Watershed

Wed, 12/14/2016 - 09:56
Abstract: The 2016 Smitty Creek CFI (Continuous Forest Inventory) study addressed the issue of creating a reliable and repeatable inventory design to examine general forestry trends and their relationships with the watershed itself. Identifying these trends and their consequences is important when considering factors linked to climate change, such as carbon storage and allocation. The objective of this project were as follows: establish 10 new CFI plots, monitor and record for signs of disease and insects, tree mortality, and overstory wildlife habitat, accurately estimate forest carbon sequestration, record understory composition in a 1/50th acre area around each plot center, and suggest methods and reasons for application in Paul Smith’s College CFI capstone projects. The study was conducted within the Smitty Creek watershed in Paul Smiths, NY with the plots falling on a transect that runs north and south. At each plot, trees within the radius were assigned numbered aluminum tags, trees were measured at diameter at breast height, and other features, such as snags, were recorded. Upon completing the project, 10 CFI plots had been created and their locations were recorded, several diseases and forest health concerns were identified, as well as, tree mortality and wildlife habitat considerations, carbon sequestration for the watershed was modeled over the next century, and a CFI project was designed for the Paul Smith’s College land compartments. The Smitty Creek watershed CFI project is repeatable and has an accurate baseline of information for future studies, and the Paul Smith’s College land compartments CFI plot design is ready for implementation.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Environmental Sciences, Fisheries and Wildlife Science, Forestry
Year: 2016
Authors: Gregg Slezak, Leonard Johnson, William O'Reilly, Jake Weber, Charlie Ulrich, Collin Perkins McCraw, Jake Harm, Nick Georgelas

Rooted Education: learning from aquaponics

Sat, 04/30/2016 - 15:02
Abstract: Aquaponics is the integration of soil-less agriculture (hydroponics) within closed-loop aquaculture systems to reduce the toxic accumulation of nutrient waste from aquatic animals. Bacteria naturally establish to purify water by oxidizing the ammonia secreted by fish, which reduces the toxicity of effluent while creating a usable nitrogen source for plants. The conversion of ammonia and nitrite into nitrate by living bacteria communities is called a biological filter, or biofiltration (FAO 2014). Aquaponics would not be possible without biofiltration; the slightest amount of ammonia would be fatally toxic to fish, and plants wouldn't receive the nitrates they need to grow. There are unique opportunities offered by an aquaponics system to learn about ecological and human communities. 1.1. Aquaponics enables users to grow fish and agricultural plants with limited space and resource use (water, soil, and time). This enables an aquaponics user to invest less physical energy and time into expanding sustainable food resources for their household use. 1.2. A small aquaponics system could promote cultural values of self-sufficiency, energy consciousness, and connection to food systems. It could inspire individual efforts to produce food for one’s household, to build healthier and more resilient systems, and a greater appreciation for farming. Therefore, this project aims to actualize a mobile and functional aquaponics system for the educational benefit of the Paul Smith's College community. I will provide the background knowledge needed to maintain an aquaponics system, as well as describe the general concept of aquaponics design.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Environmental Sciences, Natural Resources Sustainability Studies
Year: 2016
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Brian Jason Kohan

Growth of Black Spruce and Tamarack in Response to Abiotic Variables

Tue, 05/03/2016 - 12:46
Abstract: The growth of black spruce (Picea mariana) and tamarack (Larix laricina) was examined in relation to the potential influences of pH, dissolved oxygen, conductivity, water temperature, proportion of canopy closure and depth to ground water in a northern Adirondack peatland ecosystem. 42 plots were constructed in a sphagnum dominated wetland and sampled for the above abiotic variables throughout the summer and fall of 2015. Heights, ages and periodic annual increment of 26 tamarack and 23 black spruce samples were determined in February and March of 2016. An age to height ratio and periodic annual increment for each species was then regressed against the above abiotic variable data in order to determine any influence of these data on growth rates of the conspecifics. Results show that depth to water table and increased exposure to light had a significantly positive relationship with the age to height ratio of tamarack. Periodic annual increment of tamarack had a significant positive relationship with decreasing light exposure. Black spruce’s age to height ratio had a significant positive relationship with dissolved oxygen (mg/L).
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Literary Rights: Off
Major: Forestry
Year: 2016
Authors: Robert DeSotle

A Comparison Study of Adirondack Region Clearcutting Implementation to that of Paul Smith’s College VIC FERDA Plots

Mon, 05/02/2016 - 10:44
Abstract: The students of Paul Smith’s College have a unique opportunity to explore the parameters of silviculture and forestry practices. Gaining the base knowledge of silvicultural systems while also, properly implementing timber harvesting methods in order to achieve the specific goals and objectives of these systems is tremendously useful for implementation in future years. This study investigated the silvicultural prescriptions of the Forest Ecosystem Research and Demonstration Area (FERDA) plots on Paul Smith’s College lands, in Paul Smiths, New York. Comparing the inventory of the two clearcut sites upon these lands to that of other harvests within the Adirondack Park can supply further knowledge on what can be expected after a specific silvicultural system. Clearcutting has the greatest effect on forest succession by removing the forest cover and allowing light to reach what was once a shaded forest floor. Comparing experimental five acre clearcuts to that of larger commercial clearcuts in the same region can further our understanding of regeneration composition after such timber harvesting operations occur. The variance between the age of the FERDA plot harvests and the age of the harvests completed on Landvest timberlands resulted in varying data. However, if four to eight more years was given for pseudo FERDA plots to mature, it is believed that these harvests would be similar in composition and structure.
Access: No
Literary Rights: On
Major: Forestry
Year: 2016
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Ryan Krzys, Louis Ferrone III

Mycoremediation Potential of Pleurotus ostreatus in Logging Operations

Mon, 05/02/2016 - 10:43
Abstract: The unintentional spillage of diesel and hydraulic fluid is an unfortunate part of forestry operations and the traditional cleanup methods can be costly. Many studies have shown that white rot fungi (WRF) are capable of breaking down a wide variety of environmental pollutants, including diesel fuel. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the ability of a WRF, Pluerotus ostreatus, to breakdown hydraulic fluid. Soil and sawdust were mixed at a 1:1 ratio and jars had, 0%, 3%, 5% and 10% of their volume added in hydraulic fluid. All jars were fully colonized within two weeks and after 30 days the concentration of residual hydrocarbon was analyzed with an extraction. The results showed that the maximum degradation of hydraulic fluid occurred at 5%. In addition sawdust spawn was dehydrated at different temperatures, in order to assess possible field application. The only dehydration test that grew was the air dried sample.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Forestry
Year: 2016
Authors: Peter Murphy, Kirklyn Denis

Silvicultural Analysis of Northern Hardwood Regeneration at the Paul Smith’s College FERDA Plots

Mon, 05/02/2016 - 10:20
Abstract: In the northeastern forests most regeneration comes from natural regeneration that occurs after a disturbance. The Forest Ecosystem Research Demonstration Area (FERDA) plots located on the Paul Smith’s College VIC in the Adirondack Park are set up as an experiment to test different harvest methods in northern hardwood forests and see the results of each. We analyzed tree and sapling size class inventory data from clearcut, single-tree selection, and control treatments to compare regeneration present 14 years after the first harvests occurred. The clearcut treatments were the only treatments analyzed where American beech (Fagus grandifolia) was not the most abundant tree regeneration present. Both single-tree selection and control treatments were dominated by American beech with few other species present. Our results suggest that creating larger canopy openings, may allow species other than American beech, such as red maple (Acer rubrum) and yellow birch (Betula alleghaniensis) to become the most abundant species present.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Forestry
Year: 2016
File Attachments: Capstone.pdf
Authors: Zachary McLellan, Justin Saville

Outward Bound semester: Skills to last a life time

Wed, 12/14/2016 - 10:44
Abstract: The focus of this study will examine the level at which an Outward Bound semester fosters personal growth, connection with nature, and hard skills. This particular Outward Bound semester course traveled from the Florida Keys then on to Costa Rica and Panama in Central America. The course focused on the water elements of sailing, surfing, whitewater rafting, scuba diving, and sea kayaking. Methods used include personal journal reflections, peer and instructors oral and written responses. The researcher was an active participant in the immersive experience and kept a journal of the entire experience trying to gather as much information about the course itself and reflecting on the research process throughout. This research indicated that this experience developed personal character and a connection with nature. These skills have an impact deeper than an isolated course with Outward Bound but can be transferred to daily life.
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Literary Rights: Off
Major: Recreations, Adventure Travel and Ecotourism, Recreation, Adventure Education and Leisure Management, Parks, Recreation and Facilities Management
Year: 2016
Authors: Sam Annable

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.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Environmental Sciences, Forestry
Year: 2012
File Attachments: FINAL Capstone Report.doc
Authors: Brandon Ploss, Sean Ayotte

Distribution of Native & Non-native Ground Flora in Upstate New York in Relation to Nearby Forest Roads

Fri, 12/07/2012 - 17:26
Abstract: Plant distribution and diversity are affected by disturbances in forested landscapes. Disturbances such as forest roads including skid trails and haul roads are among those which affect plants. The introduction and spread of invasive species is a big concern with these types of roads because of the damage these species cause to the ecosystem. The goal of this study is to determine the effect these forest roads have on distribution and diversity of plants relative to the distance from the road. I wanted to find out how non-native and invasive species were distributed, as well as native protected species. Transects in two separate regions were set up perpendicular to the roads at the sites chosen, and each transect contained 16 – 1m x 1m plots in which all plants were surveyed. This study showed that distance away from forest roads does not appear to significantly affect the number of plant species, distribution of native or non-native plants, or distribution of protected species in New York. Based on the findings in this study, forest managers may not need to be overly concerned with the effects of forest roads on plant populations, but they should consider management of invasive species since Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii) was found well beyond the disturbed area in this study. Since it was found near the forest interior, it may be causing damage to the ecosystem.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Forestry
Year: 2012
File Attachments: capstone_complete.docx
Authors: Travis Lowe

Evaluation of Current Old Growth Classification System Applied to Northern Hardwood Forests of Western New York State

Fri, 12/07/2012 - 17:08
Abstract: A study of four old growth stands in Western New York was conducted to document the ecological complexities and characteristics of these isolated pockets of protected forests. These stands were compared to stands in a study, Selected Nova Scotia old-growth forests: Age, ecology, structure, scoring (Stewart et.al, 2003). Using techniques and sampling of Stewart et al., data included estimated age structure, species composition, basal area, density, coarse woody debris, volumes, heights, and snags. All of the stands were uneven-aged, as were the stands in the comparison study. All stands displayed low varying basal area ranges and lower stand density than those stands in Stewart et al. The comparison study had basal areas ranging from 32.5 to 55.5 m^2/ha, but the collected basal area of this study ranged from 14.5 to 29 m^2/ha. Volumes of dead wood ranged from 2 to 60 m^2/ha, which again was significantly less than dead wood volumes in Stewart et al. Most of the dead wood volume was derived from coarse woody debris, with few snags throughout the stands. Six attributes were rated on a 100 point system according to age, primal value, diameters, lengths of dead wood, canopy structure and understory structure. The scores of this study ranged from 52 to 70, which were significantly less than the scores in the comparison study. The Nova Scotia stands were dominated by softwood species and were larger in acreage. The western New York stands were dominated mostly by hardwood species and were smaller in acreage. Due to these differences, the western New York stands fell short of the Nova Scotia stands in two important criteria: ‘Primal Forest Value’ and ‘Bole Length of Snags and CWD.’ The protocols of Stewart et al. were generally adequate for evaluating the old growth characteristics. However, this study suggests that some of the criteria could be adapted to capture characteristics found in smaller, isolated pockets of hardwood dominated old growth forests.
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Literary Rights: Off
Major: Forestry
Year: 2012
Authors: Catherine Veress