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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

An examination of sustainable agricultural practices of small scale dairy farms in the Adirondack North Country of Upstate New York

Mon, 05/01/2017 - 09:14
Abstract: This study examines the sustainable practices of small scale dairy farms in the Adirondack North Country of Upstate New York. The results of this study can assist farmers in developing and implementing sustainable agriculture practices specific for small scale dairy farms in the North Country. Methods for research include farm tours as well as in person interviews with the farmers which will provide an understanding of what farming practices are currently being implemented as well as identifying what potential practices may be implemented. The information that is gathered can also be helpful with legislative processes. It may provide law makers and various agencies with valuable information that can help create guidelines and regulations that support sustainable farming methods as well as assist farmers in understanding their challenges and successes in reaching both economic and environmental sustainability
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Natural Resources Management and Policy
Year: 2016
Authors: Steven Vincent

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.
Access: Yes
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

Tiny Houses: A Step Toward Conserving Natural Resources

Tue, 05/05/2015 - 13:45
Abstract: This project examines the potential to downsize America’s current living style in efforts to conserve natural resources and adapt to the changing world. The average home has increased to an excessive size over the years. As a result, abundant amounts of timber are desired, pollution is produced, and homeowners are buried in financial debt. A possible relief to these issues is the tiny home . Many tiny house advocates allegedly stated these structures require fewer materials to construct, lessening the need for natural resources. To confirm these ideas, a study was implemented through extensive research on small living, followed by a survey and the construction of a tiny house model. The results showed many American’s with large homes cannot justify the need for the excess space. Therefore, downsized to a tiny house may be a good choice for many citizens. These structures proved to require fewer materials at a more cost efficient price. So if the tiny house is both livable and affordable, what does this mean for the future of the tiny house?
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Natural Resources Management and Policy
Year: 2015
File Attachments: Capstone NRS 495
Authors: Tim Baker, Falon Neske

A More Sustainable Computer

Tue, 05/05/2015 - 09:36
Abstract: The idea of a more sustainable computer has been looked at before by Fitzpatrick et al (2009). The project relooks at the idea and expands on it, discussing the production of a sustainable computer by larger companies for everyday household use. By putting together a computer in a compact oak casing, with minimal wiring, plastic and metal use, the project shows how you can make a budget friendly sustainable computer. An important part about sustainability is reusability. The availability of part reuse and recycling is also looked into to be able to make the most out of what has to be used. The results show a way in which it is possible to make a budget friendly, design for environment (DFE) computer that could be sold for everyday household use.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Natural Resources Management and Policy
Year: 2015
File Attachments: CAPSTONE.docx
Authors: William Ruger

Comparison of Industry Standard 5/16” Maple Sap Tubing Versus 3/16” Maple Sap Tubing Regarding Overall Yields for the 2014-2015 Maple Syrup Season at Paul Smiths College Visitor Interpretation Center, Paul Smiths, New York.

Wed, 04/29/2015 - 20:17
Abstract: Obtaining the highest yields during a growing season has long been the utmost interest by maple syrup producers across the northeast. Methods have been introduced such as different tubing sizes starting at 7/16” tubing to the industry standard 5/16” tubing, however recently the newest tubing on the market is 3/16” tubing. Theoretically the new 3/16” tubing would provide the highest overall yields in comparison to 5/16” tubing by increasing the amount of vacuum present under a natural gravity system. The study of examining the flow of maple sap between two tubing types consists of two sugar bushes located at the Paul Smiths College Visitor Interpretation Center in Paul Smiths, New York in the Adirondack Park. The two sugar bushes were constructed on similar landscapes providing the same of the following I.) Slope, II.) Size of trees, III.) Growing conditions, and IV.) Number of taps. Measurements of canopy cover and tree diameter were also compared to determine the overall health of both plots. The analysis showed that both canopy cover and tree diameter were less in 3/16” tubing however more sap still was produced in 3/16” tubing. The test compared 5/16” tubing versus 3/16” tubing in regards to overall seasonal yields. The overall seasonal yields for both 3/16” and 5/16” were measured in gallons from two separate locations. 3/16” tubing yielded more overall, ending with a total volume collected of 324.75 gallons of sap, while the standard 5/16” tubing yielded 296.5 gallons.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Natural Resources Management and Policy
Year: 2015
Authors: Joshua Brewer