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Capstone Projects

The Lawns at Paul Smith’s College: The Effects of Mowing on Root Biomass and Soil Compaction

Mon, 12/07/2020 - 17:41
Abstract: Lawns are a valuable aspect of real estate in the United States. Maintained lawns cover over 163,000 square kilometers of land, yet few people realize the impact mowing can have on the ecosystem. This study will be looking at the impact of mowing on the grassland ecosystem and the terrain grassland ecosystem at Paul Smith’s College, located in Paul Smiths, New York. This study will be testing two different factors that are impacted by constant mowing on campus: soil compaction and root biomass of flora found on the sites. Soil compaction is the compression of soil due to large amounts of pressure placed on the surface soil. This event will be tested by using a soil bulk density test. The root biomass is being investigated by the use of a scale to weigh root given from each area of the study site. The study goal is to find out how the disturbances of mowing affect the grassland ecosystem found at Paul Smith’s College using two different factors: soil compaction, root biomass. The results of the study show the site type that has the greatest soil bulk density and the lowest dry root biomass in G/〖cm〗^3 is the dry slope site on the campus. Keywords: lawn ecology, effect of mowing, soil compaction, root biomass, root depth
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Ecological Restoration
Year: 2020
Authors: Timothy I Murphy

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

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

Vista Wellness: An Educational Community Center for the Glenview Preserve

Fri, 12/14/2018 - 23:29
Abstract: The Glenview Preserve is home to a beautiful open vista of the High Peaks. This land was recently purchased by the Adirondack Land Trust and is looking for ways to sustainably manage the property by utilizing Paul Smith’s College capstone students for recommendations. One viable opportunity the ALT can incorporate, is the addition of a sustainable forum and conference center. With a community-oriented mind, Vista Wellness will provide a multitude of spaces for businesses and individuals to retreat while partaking in recreational activities. Vista Wellness is designed to be low impact with features such as a living roof and LEED certification. Using a promotional commercial and an intricate model, using state of the art construction supplies, we are able to convey the need for this addition to the Glenview property.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Environmental Sciences, Sustainable Communities & Working Landscapes
Year: 2018
Authors: Kimberly Kehr
, Matthew Syke
, Thomas Szabo

The Application of Silvicultural Treatments to Establish and Maintain Early Successional Habitat in the Adirondack Forests of New York State

Sat, 04/29/2017 - 15:12
Abstract: Early successional habitat (ESH) in New York state can be described as young forests comprising trees, shrubs, grasses, and other herbaceous plants that form relatively open canopies with dense understories. ESH has decreased due to nearly ninety percent of the naturally occurring shrublands of North America having been destroyed. The destruction of this habitat is of top concern due to the threatened and endangered species whom rely on these sorts of habitats to thrive. Considering the future climate projections, population models, and theoretical species distribution, responsible stewardship is needed to manage in favor of ESH types. A meta-analysis of various journals and databases was performed to synthesize information into a general management plan for establishing ESH in the Adirondacks. Through combining methods and silvicultural management practices from past plans in the northeastern United States, as well as background knowledge of the area, this management plan has been tailored specifically for an Adirondack forest. These outlined silvicultural treatments may also be extended to a variety of other forest types in the eastern U.S.A. Re-establishing young forests throughout the region is the goal of this plan. In doing so, these practices will enhance the health, resiliency, and biodiversity of the Adirondack region, and New York State by creating critical ESH which the fauna and flora of this region depend upon.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Integrative Studies, Natural Resources Management and Policy
Year: 2017
Authors: Nicole Morin, Ryan Baker, Ora Bice

Wildfire Probability of Paul Smith’s College Lands

Tue, 12/05/2017 - 13:07
Abstract: For centuries, wildfires have been seen as devastating natural disasters burning homes, property and forests. For many years, man has tried to fight these fires to mitigate the damage that they do. In recent years, climate change has increased both the number of fires and the intensity at which they burn. We have developed a GIS model that incorporates factors such as slope, aspect, and land cover to determine what areas of Paul Smith’s College lands are prone to wildfires. Our goal was to find areas within the Paul Smiths College land that have a high probability for an intense wildland fire. We gathered our GIS data from online resources such as Cugir, NYS Clearing House and Earth Explorer. We then reclassified each of the data layers based on criteria determined from other scholarly papers to then use that criteria to develop our model. After running the model, we found twenty-two areas of interest also known as hot spots. We then proceeded to check five of the twenty-two hot spot areas to double-check that the characteristics that our model depicted were true hazardous areas.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Natural Resources Management and Policy
Year: 2017
File Attachments: CapstonePaper.pdf
Authors: Michael Sweet , Joey Morris

Alpine Ecosystems on Ski Area Summits in the Northeast: A Best Management Practices Manual

Mon, 12/01/2014 - 15:19
Abstract: Over the past half a century, anthropogenic climate change has triggered temperatures in the northeastern United States to rise. This increase has led to decreased winter precipitation and a longer annual growing season. Species found in upland/montane habitats on the southern edge of their range limits are particularly threatened by these changes. Warmer temperatures have allowed larger woody plants to advance up mountain slopes, entering the habitat of these fragile species. In the next decade, we will witness a complete disappearance of alpine flora from several locations across the northeast including Whiteface in New York, Sugarloaf in Maine and Mount Mansfield in Vermont. Managers of ski resorts can therefore play an important role in promoting the continued persistence of high-altitude flora and fauna through carefully considered management decisions can also serve to promote the reputation of the ski industry as stewards of mountaintop ecosystems. Doing so will allow for continued study of the species that exist within these communities, the protection of biodiversity, and increased revenue for the resort itself through elevated public image and mountain-top tourism. To help begin these conservation efforts, we have created a best management practice (BMP) manual to guide ski area managers in making these developments. It includes techniques for sustainable slope, soil, vegetation and wildlife management, erosion control, artificial snow production, and ski slope construction and design. Also included are marketing techniques and an overview of the economic viability of the practices outlined in this manual.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Forestry, Natural Resources Management and Policy
Year: 2014
Authors: Pali Gelsomini, Dylan Randall

Is Green Construction Economically Feasible

Fri, 05/09/2014 - 14:12
Abstract: Green construction is a valuable part of our developing world. Building green will help reduce the negative effects of pollution in our atmosphere. It will also help reduce electrical uses throughout the household and allow you to have a reduction in costs to paying electrical bills. Too many, this process is considered to be expensive to build this way. Products that green homes are made of are considered to be expensive. The materials for energy production are also considered expensive. Too address this, a survey was conducted to see the views of individuals and what they believe it costs to have a green home. The survey also asked if people would consider having a green home if they had the option. It is proven having a green home will reduce the costs of a home eventually leading to paying nothing for maintaining a house called a payback period. To build green will mean to pay less over time and maybe eventually lead to getting paid. There are also many government incentives for building green. The government can invest in this building so you may afford a green building. It is well advised to be educated in all aspects of building green such as the tax incentives, payback periods, environmental effects, and how to approach this.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Natural Resources Management and Policy
Year: 2014
File Attachments: final Capstone Draft.docx
Authors: Daniel Hourihan, Zachary Mein

Challenges Associated with Conservation Easements In the Adirondack Park and Recommendations for Improving the Process

Mon, 04/28/2014 - 13:11
Abstract: With conservation easements only becoming popular in the past 40 years, they are at the developmental stage where weaknesses start to become apparent as land starts to change hands from one generation to the next. It is important to find and correct these barriers to ensure these same problems do not occur in the next 40 years. My focus was performing research within the Adirondack State Park of New York. I utilized Semi-Structured Interviews (SSI) along with SSI guides to collect my data while using a sampling technique referred to as a snowball sampling approach. I interviewed two different categories of conservation easement personal. 1. Land owner/manager with conservation easement on property 2.Agency Workers from The Nature Conservancy and the New York State Department of Environmental. I then used emergent themes to reveal the discrepancies or weaknesses in current conservation easements along with their common strengths. From there I used (S.W.O.T) Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats analysis to provide recommendations for policy revising.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Natural Resources Management and Policy
Year: 2014
File Attachments: Capstone Final Draft.docx
Authors: Timothy Kempf

Possible Limiting Soil Macro-Nutrients of Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum) Growth in an Adirondack Hardwood Stand

Mon, 04/28/2014 - 08:46
Abstract: Sugar maple (Acer Saccharum) has been in decline for the past few decades. Several studies have been done throughout parts of Canada and New England to determine what is limiting sugar maple growth. By mimicking one of these studies, I conducted a fertility study to show correlations between soil fertility and three different measures of tree growth. I selected 40 dominant sugar maple trees in a hardwood stand in the Adirondack Park in northern New York to sample. I collected two increment cores from each tree, measured the DBH and calculated basal area at each tree. I also collected mineral soil from the base of each tree that was sampled and tested its chemical properties and macronutrients that are most related to growth. I found weaker correlations between soil fertility and growth than my parent study had found. This may be because I didn’t have enough variation in my samples, measured growth or fertility in a way that wasn’t the most accurate, soil characteristics may not be limiting, or some soil characteristics may be co-limiting growth.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Natural Resources Management and Policy
Year: 2014
File Attachments: Capstone Report
Authors: Kevin Kenealy