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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.
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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

An Assessment of Heavy Metal Concentrations in Adirondack Waterfowl

Thu, 04/28/2016 - 22:53
Abstract: We analyzed heavy metal concentrations in waterfowl liver and breast tissue from ducks harvested within the Adirondack Park from October 3 to November 13, 2015. Interspecific, intersex, and feeding behavior variation in heavy metal concentrations were assessed. Waterfowl from two feeding behavior groups (diving and dabbling) were harvested from the watershed within a 50 mile radius of Paul Smith’s, New York. Harvested waterfowl species included mallard (Anas platyrhynchos), American black duck (Anas rubripes), common merganser (Mergus merganser), ring-necked duck (Aythya collaris), bufflehead (Bucephala albeola), and hooded merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus). Legal harvest of these species during regulated New York State duck hunting season allows for permissible use of internal organs for heavy metal determination. Dry weight (mg/kg) of digested liver and breast tissue samples were analyzed using atomic absorption spectroscopy. Due to unknown laboratory error, absolute concentration values were inaccurate, thus, rendering accurate analyses unfeasible. However, relative observable trends were able to be assessed given our data’s high precision. Analyte concentrations were significantly greater in liver tissues and there were significant differences between species. Variation in mercury, lead, bismuth, cadmium, chromium, and zinc concentrations in waterfowl serve as an indicator of the presence, cycling, bioaccumulation, and temporal trends of these metals in northeastern aquatic habitats.
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Major: Environmental Sciences, Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2016
File Attachments: Final2.docx
Authors: Brandon Snavely, Lewis Lolya

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

A Paleolimnological study of precipitation variability in the Adirondacks over the last thousand years

Mon, 12/02/2013 - 20:40
Abstract: At present, most regional climate models anticipate wetter conditions by the end of this century, but a few models anticipate drier conditions. This study uses foresight to test these models, as well as describe the relationship between the dominant climate system in the region and past precipitation in the Adirondacks. Precipitation was inferred from diatom assemblages observed along a lake sediment core extending into the 1000 years. This study shows that abrupt, extreme wet events were common during the last 1000 years, and a relationship between the dominant climate system (North Atlantic Oscillation) and precipitation was irregular during the cool Little Ice Age but negatively associated during the warm Medieval Climate Anomaly. With temperatures in the Northeast projected to increase by 2-5 degrees C by 2100 AD, our study suggests the region may become more arid rather than wetter, opposite of what models currently suggest.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Biology, Environmental Sciences
Year: 2013
File Attachments: regalado.serwatka.docx
Authors: Sean A. Regalado, W. Martin Serwatka

Evaluating the Recovery of Lakes from Acid Deposition in the Adirondack Park

Mon, 12/02/2013 - 22:49
Abstract: Acid rain has been an environmental problem since the 1980’s and has been a core issue in the Adirondack Park located in the northern part of New York State. Acid rain is created by acidic gases from anthropogenic uses that mix in the atmosphere with precipitation and forms acid deposition. Acid Rain lowers the pH of water which has detrimental effects on the biota living within lakes. There is a general consensus that the chemistry of lake water is recovering from acid deposition, however, there have not been sufficient studies on the state of recovery from acid rain in the Adirondack Park or much of the United States. This study will investigate if lake recovery is indeed happening in the Adirondack Park. This study analyzed the water chemistry of lakes using data collected from the Adirondack Lake Survey Corporation (ALSC) and New York State Department of Conservation (DEC). The object of this study is to find a trend in the water chemistry and combine it with DEC data to evaluate the present condition of lakes within the park. The results showed that there are not significant correlations of the data besides SO42- concentrations, which have been approving in the park in the last 20 years.
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Major: Environmental Sciences
Year: 2013
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Timothy Grossman, Ryan Kish

Alternative Management Methods for Acid Deposition in Lakes

Fri, 04/26/2013 - 18:09
Abstract: Acid deposition has been causing the acidification of lakes in the Northeast United States for decades. The result is lake ecosystems with abnormally low pH that stresses the organisms that live there. Management plans in place in the Adirondack Park have been working to remediate acidified lakes for the past few decades. Limestone (CaCO3) has been the generally accepted method for managing these lakes, in an attempt restore the lakes pre-impacted conditions. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of liming in reversing the effects of acidification, and to identify effective alternatives. Five alternatives were tested against limestone: Sodium carbonate (Na2CO3), Sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3), Sodium acetate (CH3COONa), Magnesium carbonate (MgCO3), and Potassium carbonate (K2CO3). Double End-Point Titration tests were performed on all of the compounds, using both distilled water and lake water, to determine the relative alkalinity of each compound. Alkalinity is the measure of the ability of a solution to neutralize acid, also known as its "buffering capacity." Lake water was used in the titration tests in an attempt to mimic in-situ testing. The results of the titrations showed limestone proving to be the most effective in the lake water tests, with Magnesium carbonate and Potassium carbonate ranked closely behind. While limestone has proven to be an effective management method, its reliability is dependent upon the characteristics of the lake catchment, making it important to continue to look for alternative solutions.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Environmental Sciences
Year: 2013
Authors: Derek Scott

Draft Horse Sustainability Presentations: The effectiveness of presentations on draft animal power at the Adirondack Rural Skills and Homesteading Festival

Fri, 12/06/2013 - 12:53
Abstract: Paul Smith’s College has been putting on draft horse presentations for the public for many years but until now it was unknown how effective these were in education of the audience in topics of the interest. During the 2013 Adirondack Rural Skills and Homesteading Festival, a series of demonstrations and presentations were conducted for the public. Surveys of those in attendance have now given us information on how far people are traveling, what their prior experience is, what they want to learn, and how they want to learn it. From this information we wish to gauge attendees’ response to draft animals and their uses.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Forestry, Natural Resources Management and Policy, Recreations, Adventure Travel and Ecotourism
Year: 2013
Authors: Alexandria Barner, Jacob Shultz

Green Roof Technologies in Adirondack Wilderness Areas

Fri, 04/26/2013 - 11:01
Abstract: Wilderness is qualified by two main characteristics: naturalness and solitude. To enhance these characteristics, many things are excluded from wilderness areas including roads, motorized vehicles and human-made structures of any kind. However some argue there needs to be greater consideration to structures that are a regional legacy and hold considerable historical significance. The Adirondack lean-to is a well-known entity associated with the Adirondack Park but much debate exists over whether or not such structures should be allowed in wilderness areas. The addition of green roofs to lean-tos can possibly mediate the humanness of these structures and produce a three-fold benefit. First, green roofs increase the naturalness of the lean-to. Second, they provide a model for naturalness and sustainability. Third, green roofs on lean-tos provide an additional benefit by lowering, however modestly, the impact of these structures on the natural environment. This qualitative study conducted a series of interviews to examine the feasibility and gauge the receptivity of stakeholders to this idea. Identified themes included the maintenance required to keep up the roofs, the cost and labor of installation and their longevity. Additional themes included the perceived lack of benefits, cultural and historical significance as well as the possibility of green-roofed lean-tos to provide an educational benefit. The data suggest that the benefits associated with green roofs on lean-tos may outweigh the cost of their installation. The naturalness of the green roof on the lean-t may thus offset the “unnaturalness” of the structures themselves to the degree that lean-tos may be perceived as more conforming to wilderness areas. This study concludes that further research is needed into the technical aspects of green roof construction including the amount of maintenance required and the use of wilderness compliant materials. The interest in green-roofed lean-tos appears to exist and with additional technical data it may be possible to take the next step.
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Major: Recreations, Adventure Travel and Ecotourism
Year: 2013
Authors: Alison Liedkie

A Study of Adaptive Skiing and Snowboarding Accomodations

Mon, 04/22/2013 - 20:05
Abstract: The purpose of this study was to observe, analyze and numerically evaluate a total of six ski resorts based on their degree of facilitation for people with both physical and cognitive disabilities that wish to participate in adaptive skiing and snowboarding. The outcome of this study was to discover themes that are common among different resorts. This study had a focus on ski resorts located in the Northeast, specifically New York and Vermont. The Adaptive Sports Center (ASC) located at Crested Butte Mountain Resort, Colorado is a nationally recognized organization, and was held as the standard for this study. The operational techniques and strategies being used at the ASC at Crested Butte were evaluated alongside those in New York and Vermont to further understand the degree of facilitation currently provided for this user group. The resorts located in New York State that were observed are Whiteface Mountain and Gore Mountain. The resort locations in the State of Vermont were the Smuggler’s Notch Adaptive Program at Smuggler’s Notch Resort, Killington Resort at Pico Mountain, and Sugarbush Resort, which both operate under Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports. The outcome of this study can be used by program directors at ski resorts that offer adaptive program in order to better accommodate for adaptive skiers and snowboarders.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Recreations, Adventure Travel and Ecotourism
Year: 2013
File Attachments: final capstone.doc
Authors: Daniel Lewis