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Capstone Projects

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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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

Management of the Invasive American Mink (Neovison vison) Populations in the Southern Region of South America (Cape Horn Biosphere)

Tue, 05/03/2016 - 11:24
Abstract: American mink (Neovison vison) are an invasive species in South America, Europe and a few other countries. An invasive predator like the American mink can have negative effects on ecosystem function. In the Cape Horn biosphere, mink have no natural predators and have established themselves as top predator in that ecosystem (Crego 2015). Their populations have steadily increased in the Cape Horn Biosphere Region since their release from mink farms in 1930 (Ibarra et al. 2009). The Cape Horn biosphere is affected by the loss of native fauna such as Magellanic woodpeckers (Campephilus magellanicus), Olive Grass Mouse (Abrothrix olivaceus), and different types of ducks (Anseriforms) due to American mink predation. The Cape Horn Biosphere is a research, education, and conservation land that is used by institutes and universities (Ibarra et al. 2009). There are four objectives to help prevent the further spread of the invasive American mink that include: Educating the general public in the Cape Horn Biosphere region on the negative implications of invasive species, increasing the number of minks trapped by 15% in 1 year, setting environmental laws against the release of mink from fur farms within 5 years, creating a tactile agency to enforce those laws within 5 years. When all objectives are complete there will be a decreasing trend in American mink populations in Southern South America.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2016
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Eleanor Congden

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.
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Major: Forestry
Year: 2016
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Ryan Krzys, Louis Ferrone III

Examination of Potentially Ectoparasite-driven Behavior in Burrowing Owls: Tests of Alternative Hypotheses

Thu, 05/07/2015 - 19:06
Abstract: Burrowing Owls (Athene cunicularia) and their nests harbor at least 39 species of arthropods from 21 different families. Among the ectoparasites on Burrowing Owls are fleas, which are primarily Pulex irritans (Family Pulicidae), the human flea. Fleas can number in the hundreds on individual Burrowing Owls. Thus, we hypothesized that flea infestation has shaped Burrowing Owl behavior to avoid the costs of ectoparasitism. As part of experiments using infrared trail cameras deployed at Burrowing Owl nests in southern Idaho ¬¬during 2012-2013, we noticed apparent sunning behavior in both adult and nestling Burrowing Owls. Camera images captured owls lying on the ground with wings outstretched and flat. We only observed this behavior during daylight hours, although cameras were active for 24 h/day. Sunbathing in birds is often associated with ectoparasite reduction, although sunning has not previously been examined in relation to flea infestation. During 2014 we conducted an experiment that included fumigating some nests with a flea removing insecticide and examined the prediction that sunbathing would occur more frequently in control nests where ectoparasites remained. As sunning was not during the coolest parts of the day, it did not appear to function for warming. Also, we ultimately found no difference in the frequency of sunning in fumigated and control nests, and there was no relationship between sunning and abundance of fleas on owls. Thus, the evidence is not consistent with the ectoparasite hypothesis, as owls sunned irrespective of flea load. We also evaluated the alternative hypotheses that sunning was related to thermoregulation, anting, drying or feather degrading bacteria. The first three we were able to reject, and the last will need future research.
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Major: Biology
Year: 2015
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Skyler Wysocki

Would an underpass/tunnel on Keese Mills Road decrease the percentage of amphibian mortality due to road mortality?

Wed, 04/29/2015 - 18:09
Abstract: Road Mortality has had a huge impact on Amphibian populations worldwide. Several options are available to help maintain and preserve migrating populations across roadways. One method that is looked at during this study is underpass and fencing. In this study, I assessed the need for an underpass and if it could help reduce the amount of amphibian’s mortality by traffic and, if an underpass is necessary, properly predict a location. I also looked at if underpasses alone could reduce the mortality of amphibians. I constructed arrays and pitfall traps to simulate an underpass on Keese Mills Road at Paul Smiths and Santa Clara, Franklin County New York. I predicted that underpass would decrease the amount of amphibian being slayed. I also predicted that certain locations would have more usage then others. The results showed that there was no significant difference between the location of the sites and whether they would be used by the amphibians. The results also showed that there was no correlation between the species that were captured and the species that were killed.
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Major: Biology
Year: 2015
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Jorge Velazquez

Cheese

Tue, 05/05/2015 - 17:05
Abstract: This culminating experience happens in two phases. Throughout the semester, students have been taking on the role of Executive Chef in our Palm Restaurant. They have each created a menu, ordered food supplies, developed budgetary proposal, and assigned duties pertaining to food production and front of house service. Each dinner took on a different food related theme that the students researched and developed. This poster session provides the students to describe their process, their findings, and what they learned from the experience. My theme was based on cheese.
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Major: Culinary Arts and Service Management
Year: 2015
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Lisa McCartney

The Potential Distribution of Invasive Species Parallel to Climate Change at the Paul Smiths College Visitor Interpretive Center

Wed, 05/06/2015 - 13:17
Abstract: Human civilizations have been contributing to global climate change for as long as they have been altering the landscape. Whether it be from deforestation, to the release of carbon dioxide, we have been continually causing a greenhouse effect in the atmosphere. Due to warming temperatures, climate conditions have become more variable in the recent decades. A change of variability in the climate, also means a change in species distribution. As temperatures fluctuate in the Adirondack Park we may begin to see an increase in invasive plant species. Many invasive plant species have the ability to outperform native plants in regards to changing climates and eventually take over an area. The purpose of this study is to determine which plant species are most likely to make their way into the Paul Smiths College Visitor Interpretive Center, parallel to climate change, and what may be done to prevent or mitigate this new, potential alteration to the landscape.
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Major: Environmental Studies
Year: 2015
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Heather Reilly

Interactive Electronic Education at the Paul Smith’s Visitor Interpretive Center

Tue, 05/05/2015 - 16:30
Abstract: The use of electronics in an educational setting is a debated topic, but certain kinds of programs are becoming more prominent. The purpose of this study is to examine how interactive electronic environmental education programs are used to facilitate environmental education, and attempting to determine whether or not the Paul Smith’s College Visitor Interpretive Center (VIC) could make use of them. Through interviews with key members of the Paul Smith’s College and the VIC as well as surveying the general public of both communities it was determined that these forms of educational programs were not in high demand by the users of the VIC, but electronic recreation tools were.
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Major: Environmental Studies
Year: 2015
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Phillip Markwalder

A Management Plan for the Black-Tailed Prairie Dog (Cynomys ludovicianus)

Thu, 04/30/2015 - 22:07
Abstract: Since the turn of the century black-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus) populations have declined as much as 98% throughout North America (Miller et al. 1994). It was once thought that prairie dogs occupied between 80-104 million acres historically, but with the expansion of ranching and agriculture into the prairie dogs native habitat, that number has been reduced to 2.4 million acres in recent years. Black-tailed prairie dogs play a vital role in the prairie and grasslands ecosystems. There are a number of different species of animals that depend on prairie dogs and their activities. It has been thought that over 170 species rely on the prairie dogs for their burrows, for food, and the habitat they create. Most states currently within the range of the black-tailed prairie dog classify the species as a pest or varmint, and no state has adequate regulatory mechanisms in place to assure conservation of this species within its borders. This management plan will propose strategies to adequately regulate the conservation of the black-tailed prairie dog, eventually leading to the partial restoration of the prairie ecosystem.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2015
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Ryan McAuliffe

Northern New England and New York Mountain Lion Recolonization Management Plan

Thu, 04/30/2015 - 12:33
Abstract: Mountain lions (Puma concolor) were a common species found in the United States during the 1800s. Currently there are no breeding populations of mountain lions known to exist in the northeastern section of the United States. This loss of the species was due to human development and over harvesting that was facilitated by bounties. Humans have had a direct contribution to the loss of the species throughout this part of the country. Colonial expansion of farms into wild areas caused a negative connotation to mountain lions when predation occurred on livestock. This is what led to their local extinction. Today mountain lion populations are in great abundance throughout South America, western United States and Canada, and eastern portions of New Brunswick, Canada. Habitat degradation reduced suitable habitat and has pushed mountain lions to new geographic ranges. Ranging males have occurred in eastern United States in search of females and are increasing in quantity. This raises a question to whether breeding populations could be supported in the northeast. Due to state and federally owned land, there is suitable habitat located in the northeast. Help will be needed to facilitate the recolonization of this species. The goals of this management plan are to re-establish population sizes large enough for reproduction and satisfy stakeholders. To meet the goals for this management plan, four objectives must be met (1) Agreements must be made with landowners of property of 100 acres and larger in Northern New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine by 2020 that allows these lands to be protected for mountain lion use, (2) regulation of population numbers will be implemented by hunting harvest quota that will cause declines when population reaches two lions per square mile, (3) current average auction prices for livestock that are killed due to mountain lion predation will be provided to the owners, and (4) mountain lion, along with other large predator education will be provided to children in elementary school. This management plan requires extensive work in monitoring recolonizing mountain lion populations along with aiding with interactions that occur between mountain lions and humans. The overall goal of this plan is to re-establish a breeding mountain lion population within the northeast of the United States.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2015
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Zachary Beauregard