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Capstone Projects

Presence and Abundance of Microplastics within Flowing Waters of Private, Wilderness, and Other Forest Preserve Lands of the Northern Adirondack Park

Mon, 04/28/2014 - 16:26
Abstract: Microplastic sampling was conducted at thirteen locations throughout the water bodies of the Northern Adirondack Region. Plastics were found at all thirteen sites, which were categorized by the impact level of human development. Any particle less than 5mm can be defined as a microplastic particle. Microscopic plastics can be found in a variety of chemical cleaners, clothing fabrics, and concrete solutions. Storm water drainage systems and wastewater treatment plants are confirmed sources of microplastic pollution, which carry pollutants into our rivers, lakes, and streams. Ingestion of microplastic particles can lead to many distinctive threats, including biological and physical abnormalities, while possibly leading to bioaccumulation and biomagnification throughout the food web. Future practices for management and prevention of microplastic pollutants in the Adirondacks is critical for environmental protection, while also portraying a worldly view of an overlooked human induced issue.
Access: Yes
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Major: Environmental Sciences, Natural Resources Management and Policy
Year: 2014
Authors: Patrick Colern, Sinjin Larson

Optimal Clutch Size of American Kestrels (Falco sparverius) in Northern New York

Mon, 04/28/2014 - 12:08
Abstract: American kestrels readily use nest boxes, which makes them perfect candidates for studies on nesting activity and success. Nesting success is important to understand so that managers can effectively assess the productivity of a breeding population of kestrels. The goal of this study was to determine optimum clutch size for American Kestrels in Northern New York. The hypothesis was that optimum clutch size consisted of four eggs per clutch. The objective was to determine what clutch size is most effective at hatching young. The study was conducted during the months of June 2013 through August 2013 on 150 nest boxes that were established in 2002. The contents of each elevated nest box were observed using a video baby monitor attached to an extendible pole to minimize disturbance. Clutch size data and number of chicks hatched was compiled and analyzed using a Kruskal-Wallis test. This test was used because it allowed data to be separated into different clutch sizes, and determined the significance between the number of eggs in each clutch and the number of chicks hatched. Clutch sizes varied from 1-5 eggs, with occurrences of one and four eggs being most common. The majority of nesting attempts with one egg failed, resulting in a low probability of chicks hatching from one egg clutches. A clutch size of four eggs has the highest probability of successfully hatching chicks and the highest mean number of chicks hatched compared to the other clutch sizes.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2014
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Jennifer Miller

Evaluation of the First 10 Years of Long-Term Ecological Monitoring of Fishes and Physical Habitat with Regional Temperature and Precipitation Regimes in the Smitty Creek Watershed with Recommendations for Future Efforts

Mon, 04/28/2014 - 13:39
Abstract: Long-term ecological monitoring of freshwater ecosystems is a relatively recent trend in the scientific community. Trends in such monitoring data help fisheries biologists in determining best management practices to ensure the sustainability and longevity of these commonly used natural resources. Ten years of standard physical habitat and fish capture data has been collected from the Smitty Creek Watershed (upstate New York) from 2004 to 2013. The goals of this study were (I) to determine if there were significant changes in stream reach hydromorphology between 2004 and 2013 and (II) to detect any long-term trends between local precipitation and temperature regimes and fish catches in Smitty Creek. A one-way analysis of variance was conducted to determine significant changes in stream reach widths between 2004 and 2013. Total catches of the most common fishes found in the sampling reaches and age-0 brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) were related to yearly and monthly precipitation and temperature regimes using Pearson correlation matrices with a ~95% confidence interval. Correlation matrices were also used to assess species catches versus species to determine if certain species catches are related. All four mean stream reach widths increased to some extent from 2004 to 2013. Both Little Aldo Creek and Aldo Creek mean stream widths increased significantly, while Middle Smitty and Lower Smitty only increased marginally (Table 1). Smaller streams increased significantly more than larger ones; suggesting that smaller streams are more susceptible to hydro-geometrical changes during high flow events than larger streams. Over 60 statistically significant relationships were found between fish catches and various temperature and precipitation variables. The most intriguing findings were that overall brook trout catches and age-0 brook trout catches were highly negatively correlated with December lowest temperatures and highly positively correlated with January total precipitation. Suggesting that brook trout recruitment in the Smitty Creek Watershed is sensitive to winter precipitation and temperature regimes. Cold winters with high snowfall may stabilize these small streams, providing safe and suitable habitat for the early life history stages of brook trout. Overall, the results of this study provide a comprehensive analysis and outline of the major trends and relationships found in the Smitty Creek Watershed. In addition, it provides numerous recommendations for future research and analysis of these trends and relationships.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2014
Authors: Nathan T. Mills

Temporal Variation in Relative Abundance of Aquatic Macro-Invertebrates and its Implications for Water Quality Assessments

Mon, 04/28/2014 - 16:06
Abstract: Macro invertebrate sampling is widely used to assess the water quality of streams. Sampling can be performed throughout the year depending on the geographical location. In this study a repeated sampling of rivers and streams in the St. Lawrence River basin located in northern New York State was carried out to determine if seasonal changes affect aquatic invertebrate relative abundance within macro invertebrate communities. This relationship was compared to water quality assessments to determine the most accurate time for sampling. By assessing the changes in relative abundance of macro invertebrates we can determine if those changes affect the measures used to infer water quality. By comparing changes in the inferred water quality to the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) assessments, an appropriate sampling window was determined. Kick sampling methods following the DEC’s protocols were used to collect aquatic invertebrates throughout the scale of eight months in six rivers throughout the northern Adirondacks. Currently the DEC recommendation for sampling is June through September. The findings of this study illustrate that June and July is not an appropriate time for sampling in the northern Adirondacks. The most stable time to sample for aquatic macro-invertebrates, according to the 2013 sampling events is August through October.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2014
File Attachments: Powells_Capstone.docx
Authors: Jason R. Powell

Management Plan to Prevent Regional Extinction of Little Brown Bat (Myotis lucifugus) in Northeastern United States

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 01:11
Abstract: Since the first record of white-nose syndrome in 2006 outside Schenectady, NY, populations of hibernating bats in the northeastern United States have continued to decline making more susceptible hibernating bat species, such as the little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus), at risk for regional extinction (Frick, et.al, 2010). There have been management plans to control the spread of white-nose syndrome and protect areas not yet inflicted with the disease, but nothing to stop the development of the disease or restore the survival rates on infected populations. The goal of this management plan is to increase the population size and prevent the regional extinction of little brown bats in the northeastern United States. In order to achieve this, summer roosts must be more available to increase fat build up before winter, and then have artificial hibernacula with regulated internal temperatures to deter the growth of the white-nose fungus on hibernating bats.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2014
Authors: Abigail Bradley

A Management Plan for Black Rhinos (Diceros bicornis) in South Africa

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 21:10
Abstract: The black rhinoceros population has decreased by more than 50% in recent decades. The cause for this has been the severe pressure of poaching for their horns. Asian and middle-eastern countries use rhino horn still today for medicinal and ceremonial purposes. There have been many attempts to protect the black rhino from poaching; however, no continuous plans have been implemented. The goal of this management plan is to create a legal market for the sale of rhino horn. By dealing with this economic issue on a larger scale, we can directly involve the foreign countries who desire rhino horn. This will be more cost effective than trying to track and catch poachers. Legally dehorning rhinos will create an ongoing and sustainable supply of rhino horn. By removing the economic need for poachers, we should see an increase and expansion of black rhino populations across Africa.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2014
File Attachments: black rhino management plan
Authors: Thaddeus E. Mapes

Snowshoe hare (Lepus americanus) increase activity below the thermoneutral zone

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 21:43
Abstract: Species store body fat, enter states of torpor or hibernation, and avoid cold temperatures by tunneling beneath snow and creating dens in order to survive winter. Snowshoe hare (Lepus americanus) do not employ these strategies. We hypothesized that hare will increase in foraging activity as ambient temperatures drop below their thermoneutral zone (-10°C) in order to fuel the increased metabolic rate associated with low ambient temperatures. Each hare was outfitted with an activity collar to determine when the hare was moving and when the hare was at rest, a stopwatch was used to time the duration of each activity bout, and temperature was taken at 3 points in the hour long observation period. Temperatures were averaged across each observation period and time of observation period was analyzed as hours before and after sunset. A break-point regression analysis determined at which temperature the slope of the line representing activity changed from no slope to a negative slope. A multivariate regression determined, at temperatures below and within the thermoneutral zone which factor, temperature or time of day, affected activity. When ambient temperatures were within hare thermoneutral zone temperature did not affect activity. While hares increased activity below the thermoneutral zone (break-point at -10.4°C, r^2=.6931, P<0.05, slope -132.52). -10.4°C represents a physiological threshold below which metabolic rate increases and hare activity is strongly tied to ambient temperature. The lack of energy-stores and the inefficiency of using movement to generate heat leads us to conclude that the increase in activity is associated with foraging.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2014
File Attachments: Capstone_4-27.docx
Authors: John Neddermeyer

Hector's Dolphins, Cephaloryhnchus hectori hectori: A Management Plan to Increase Populations via Increased Protective Legislature

Wed, 04/30/2014 - 22:31
Abstract: Hector's dolphins (Cephalorhynchus hectori) are the only cetacean endemic to New Zealand. The South Island subspecies (C. hectori hectori) has an estimated population size of 7,270 individuals and has been listed as Endangered on the IUCN red list since 2000. The largest threat to Hector's dolphins is gillnet mortalities – it's estimated that 63% of mortalities are caused by fisheries bycatch. The life history of the dolphins indicates that they cannot reproduce quickly enough to replace the individuals lost to bycatch. Current rates of gillnet mortality must be decreased by at least 75% for Hector's dolphins to recover. This plan is designed increase populations of Hector's dolphins by decreasing gillnet mortalities to a sustainable level through legislation. Paramount to this goal are increasing the size and number of protected areas and increasing gillnet restrictions across the range of Hector's dolphins. The offshore distribution of Hector's dolphins depends on the bathymetry of the area, and thus management areas should be evaluated individually to best protect local populations.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2014
Authors: Chelsie LaFountain

Management Plan to Increase and Protect the Population of Bearded Vultures (Gypaetus barbatus) in the Drakensberg Mountains of South Africa

Wed, 04/30/2014 - 22:35
Abstract: Lammergeiers (Gypaetus barbatus) are a long-lived vulture species native to Europe, Asia, and Africa. They were highly persecuted in the 1800s and early 1900s to the point of near extinction. The only population in South Africa is comprised of roughly 500 individuals in the Drakensberg Mountains. Trophy hunting and secondary poisoning using baits imperils this population. They are also being driven further into the mountains because of human population and commercial expansion around the mountains, a growing destination for tourists. Lammergeiers are most vulnerable as chicks. My management goal is to protect and increase the population of lammergeiers living within the Drakensberg Mountains. By rescuing second hatched chicks from the nests and hand raising them before being released as juveniles we will ensure a higher chance of survival for them during their most sensitive life stages. This action coupled with the removal of poisoned baits in their habitat and stricter regulations preventing more bait placement will increase recruitment rates and adult survival. If successful, this plan would show an increase in population density within 5 years of its institution.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2014
File Attachments: Management_FINAL.docx
Authors: Leslie Fortier

Management of residential and migratory Canada goose (Branta canadensis) populations on airports in the Northeastern United States

Wed, 04/30/2014 - 22:47
Abstract: Canada geese (Branta canadensis) are a familiar sight throughout North America, with over one million inhabiting the Northeastern United States alone. The habitat requirements for this species align with human fondness for landscaped lawns, leading to human-goose conflicts. Nowhere are these conflicts more life threatening than in airports, where bird strikes on airplanes are dangerous and costly. The most hazardous bird species to airports are Canada geese, due to their large body size, tendency to fly in tight flocks, and utilization of airports as habitat. Between 1990 and 2012, 1,400 collisions occurred between these geese and planes in North America, causing $116,295,969 worth of damage and multiple human deaths. This management plan describes the most effective methods of preventing Canada geese from utilizing airport property as habitat. Habitat modifications including elimination of water bodies and planting of unpalatable grass species discourage geese from landing to roost or feed. If they do land, a detailed hazing regime is recommended to remove them from the property quickly and safely. All recommended actions are evaluated for ethical and practical viability. With the increasing amount of shared airspace between Canada geese and humans, it is an unacceptable risk to allow geese on airports.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2014
File Attachments: Bjacques_MGMTplan.docx
Authors: Benjamin K. Jacques