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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 Plan of the Ring-Tailed lemurs (Lemur catta) at Beza Mahafaly Special Reserve in Madagascar

Tue, 05/03/2016 - 11:29
Abstract: The need to protect Ring-tailed lemurs is evident. Lemurs are the most threatened group of vertebrates in the world with the IUCN listing 94% of lemur species as threated. This high percentage is in part due to the fact that lemurs only occur naturally in Madagascar so changes to the island effects the whole infraorder (Lemuriformes). Helping to curb illegal activities will protect not just the habitat for Ring-Tailed lemurs but will help the entirety of Madagascar’s Wildlife that has evolved on an island that used to be covered by up to 90% forest. These illegal practices are often protected by armed guards which may require assistance from the Madagascar government for adequate protection of the islands forests
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2016
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Elias Carter

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

Compaction of Hiking Trails Located in the Northeastern Area of the Adirondack State Park, New York

Mon, 04/29/2013 - 12:19
Abstract: With continued increases in outdoor recreation in the United States, the physical impact of that use needs to be monitored for its effects. The purpose of this study was to explore whether a relationship exists between traffic numbers and soil strength of trails in the High Peaks Region of New York’s Adirondack state park. Soil strength was used as a measure of compaction because of its ability to indicate certain aspects of soil physical properties like bulk density, and hydrological condition (Mirreh & Ketcheson,1972), which are also soil physical properties that are effected by compaction (Hanna & Al-Kaisi,2009). These physical properties are important factors which influence a soils ability to carry out its biotic and abiotic processes (Kozlowski,1999). Initially the relationship between average soil strength of trails and traffic was insignificant. Upon further analyzing the data we found a significant relationship between on-trail and off-trail soil strength and used this relationship to create on-trail residual soil strengths. This was done to remove the influence that off-trail soil strength was having on the traffic vs. soil strength relationship. With the on/off-trail relationship influence removed, the relationship between on-trail residual soil strength and traffic was significantly improved. Literature discussed showed how the soil strengths collected could be used to infer possible effects on the sites tested. Relations between soil strength and bulk density, root elongation, root penetration, and trail recovery were all reviewed to provide insight on the quality of the soil at sample sites.
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Major: Biology
Year: 2013
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Karl Van Osch

Sous Vide Cooking

Mon, 12/02/2013 - 08:49
Abstract: In the present time, Chefs in restaurants that serve all types of cuisines are looking for different and new ways to manipulate flavors and textures. Some Chefs have found that the sous vide cooking technique is a great way to do just that. Most cuisines are fairly easy to change for the better, but Italian is more difficult since the dishes are typically the same in every Italian restaurant. The purpose of this qualitative, exploratory study is to determine how the sous vide cooking technique can be used in high end Italian cuisine to make the flavors superior to traditional ways of cooking. Data will be collected through a taste testing with product evaluation sheets. The evaluations collected will be thoroughly analyzed to determine which way of cooking is preferred by the culinary and baking students, and also the Chefs at Paul Smith’s College. The result of this study will give Chefs that are cooking Italian cuisine a new way to manipulate the flavors and textures for the better.
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Major: Culinary Arts and Service Management
Year: 2013
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Sabrina Tessitore

Organic vs. Inorganic- Perceptions A Study of the Perceived Flavor Differences between Organically and Inorganically Produced Foods Based on the Label “Organic”

Mon, 04/22/2013 - 11:43
Abstract: This research project is a study based on ideas of Jenny Wan-chen Lee and Mitsuru Shimizu’s study (You Taste What You See: Do Organic Labels Bias Taste Perceptions?) This study was specifically focused on culinary students to see if they would be more or less influenced by the label “organic.” It is also a psychological food study on the label organic and the way that such claims affect the consumer’s view on the quality of the product, specifically culinary students. This is done through a blind taste testing study where 24 culinary students and 24 non-culinary students were asked to try same product, but were told that one of the two unlabeled products was “organic” and the other “inorganic.” This study also goes into the qualifications a product must meet in order to be considered USDA certified organic. However, there is a pre-conceived notion that organic food equals a higher quality flavor and the purpose of this study is to see if that pre-conceived notion will affect the way these students can identify differences between two products when they are the same product. The hypothesis is that the culinary students will be less influenced by the label and judge the flavors more critically than those who are untrained in the culinary field.
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Major: Culinary Arts and Service Management
Year: 2013
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Thomas Stile

The Utilization of Preservation Techniques in Restaurants: A study of consumer perception on the availability of preserved local products during off-seasons in restaurants

Mon, 04/22/2013 - 21:59
Abstract: The availability of local food has an impact on a consumer’s restaurant choice. Restaurants could generate additional income by providing locally grown food during off seasons. Restaurateurs could generate income by attracting guests that are interested in consuming locally grown foods, by providing them in their restaurant during the off-season. The purpose of this study is to determine to what extent in-house preservation of local products would benefit restaurants. This is a qualitative, exploratory relationship study, focused on how and to what extent the availability of preserved local products will affect a consumer’s selection of a restaurant. Data was collected through the administration of surveys to residents of Suffolk County, New York. The participants were asked their opinion on the ideas of preserved local food, and the role it plays in their dining choices. Data from the surveys was coded, based upon common responses, to analyze the participant feedback. These coded responses were compiled to present the findings. This study is helpful to people looking into opening a restaurant, and current owners of restaurants, by determining if the year-round offering of local products has financial benefit to their business.
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Major: Culinary Arts and Service Management
Year: 2013
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Preston Hulse

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

Management Plan for American Black Ducks in New England

Wed, 04/24/2013 - 17:38
Abstract: The American black duck was selected as a focal species for this management plan due to its conservation need. At one time the American black duck was the most abundant fresh water duck in the Atlantic Flyway, and particularly in New England where they were year round residents (US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2011). Although relatively stable over the last 15 years, the black duck population experienced a 50% decline from the 1950’s to the 1990’s and are below the desired abundance (Denvers & Collins, 2011). While the reason for black duck population decline is still unclear, researchers hypothesize that loss of wintering and breeding habitat, competition and hybridization with mallards, and overharvesting may be responsible (Denvers & Collins, 2011; US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2011; Black Duck Joint Venture, 2008). This management plan outlines an approach that can be taken to increase the total breeding population of American black ducks from ~ 565,000 breeding individuals to 650,000 breeding individuals, the desired breeding populations (Denvers & Collins, 2011). By increasing preserved breeding habitat, increasing nest success and reducing harvest mortalities in New England, this goal is feasible. A possible course of action is provided to inform the public of our planed actions. Cooperation with state governments and sportsmen within New England is essential in order to reach the desired black duck population. In order for this plan to be deemed successful the American black duck population must increase to at least 650,000 breeding individual.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2013
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Joshua Curtis