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Capstone Projects

White-tailed Deer Browse Preference: A Comparative Study of the Catskill and Adirondack Mountain Regions, New York State

Tue, 05/05/2015 - 14:23
Abstract: Abundant white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in New York State, United States, affect forest regeneration and stand composition through feeding (browse) pressure. White-tailed deer browse preference of six different hardwood tree species in two mountain ranges, the Catskill and Adirondack Mountains, within New York State were compared in order to determine the extent of browse selection by deer. There were no statistically different browse selection by white-tailed deer within the Catskills or Adirondack study area or between each study site. Visual analysis of the study areas after concluding the study revealed that red maple (Acer rubrum) was the preferred browse species at each study site.
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Major: Biology, Natural Resources Management and Policy
Year: 2015
File Attachments: Title, abstract, TOC , Report
Authors: John MacNaught, Blaine Kenyon, Mark Staats, Travis Boucher, Noah Finlayson-Gesten

Interpreter's Guide to the Finger Lakes Trail

Wed, 04/29/2015 - 21:44
Abstract: Guidebooks help hikers to navigate trail systems and gain a better understanding of their surroundings. Many types of guides exist for popular long distance hiking trails such as the Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail, and the Continental Divide Trail. The Finger Lakes Trail (FLT) runs 558 miles across the base of New York State, yet has very little associated literature. I hiked a 52 mile section of the Finger Lakes Trail from Ellicottville to Portageville in western New York. Using observations from the trail and related literature, I wrote an interpretive guide for this section. My FLT interpretive guide covers topics related to planning and packing for a multiday backpacking trip, natural history of western New York forests, the story of the development of the FLT system, and backpacking ethics. This work will help satisfy the human need to acquire knowledge and potentially enrich the experience of FLT hikers.
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Major: Environmental Sciences
Year: 2015
Authors: Jennifer Maguder

Effects of Reduced Turbidity and Suspended Sediment Concentrations on Macroinvertebrate Communities at a Restored Reach on Warner Creek

Fri, 05/01/2015 - 18:21
Abstract: A segment of Warner Creek, a tributary to the Stony Clove Creek in the Catskill Mountains of New York, was restored in 2013 to reduce concentrations of suspended sediment and turbidity caused by a localized mud boil erosion of a large clay bank. Before restoration, impaired water-quality from fine sediments may have adversely affected intolerant species of macroinvertebrates and their communities. This study compared macroinvertebrate assemblages from before (2011) and after (2014) restoration to determine if the restoration reduced concentrations of suspended sediment and turbidity sufficiently to improve the health of their macroinvertebrate communities. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) kick-sample methods were used to collect four replicate benthic invertebrate samples from Warner Creek and from a reference site on the Stony Clove Creek during August of 2011 and August of 2014. Four replicates of 100 specimens were identified to the family level from each replicate. The NYSDEC Bioassessment Profile scores and selected macroinvertebrate community metrics and turbidity and suspended sediment concentrations from a USGS stream gage downstream of the restoration both pre and post restoration were evaluated to test hypotheses that water quality and the health of macro-invertebrate assemblages differed post-restoration. Although some families at Warner Creek with low tolerance values were found to have increased post-restoration, it was also found that others with moderate tolerance values decreased. These types of fluctuations were seen in both years at both Warner Creek and the reference site, which makes it impossible to definitively say the impact restoration had on the macroinvertebrate assemblages one year post restoration. At this time it is obvious from the stream gage data that restoration significantly decreased turbidity and suspended sediment concentrations (SSC). Further collection of invertebrates and stream gage comparison is necessary to see if restoration does eventually impact the assemblage of invertebrates.    
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Major: Environmental Sciences
Year: 2015
File Attachments: Final Capstone.docx
Authors: Noel Deyette

Best Management Practices for Cultivating Cold-Weather Shiitake Strains in the Adirondack North Country

Fri, 05/01/2015 - 09:55
Abstract: Shiitake (Lentinula edodes) cultivation has become an important tool for private woodlot owners to diversify their income and manage their woodlots more efficiently and sustainably. Through the art and science of mushroom cultivation three strains of shiitake have been created for varying climates: Wide Range (WR), Warm Weather (WW), and Cold Weather (CW). This study proposes that CW strains would be most ideal for the Adirondack North Country because growing conditions now and in the future are nearly optimal. CW strains have a shorter fruiting period (spring and fall) than the WR and WW; therefore, the mushroom production potential of the CW is underutilized. In order to get maximum production of their logs, most growers use a method called shocking to induce fruiting with WR and WW; however, research has shown that shocking does not trigger fruiting in the CW strains; rather, CW strains respond to temperature fluctuations. Taking this into account, we’ve introduced a hybrid approach of growing CW shiitake, which combines outdoor and indoor cultivation techniques to best imitate that temperature fluctuation. Growing CW shiitake using a hybrid approach can be the best choice for small-scale growers who wish to extend their growing season into the winter months, thus opening new market opportunities. By conducting interviews with shiitake growers in similar climates and compiling and analyzing literature from other professionals, we have gathered data on log harvesting, laying yard conditions, moisture management, and lighting conditions and developed a best management practices guide for small-scale shiitake grower/woodlot owners in a northern Adirondack climate. Ultimately, growers could diversify their sources of income, provide incentive to manage their woodlots and most importantly learn how to effectively utilize CW strains through the winter months.
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Major: Environmental Studies, Forestry
Year: 2015
Authors: Brittney E. Bell, Evan M. White

Predicting the amount of usable lumber contained in American beech (Fagus grandifolia) logs infected with beech bark disease based on exterior defects.

Wed, 12/02/2015 - 10:09
Abstract: Beech Bark disease has had many effects on the hardwood forests of the northeastern United States. Many studies have been done in regards to the changes caused by the disease affecting the ecology, species composition of the forest, abundance of American beech (Fagus grandifolia), and physiology of individual trees. However, American beech is a dense, strong species that machines and bends well, and has uses in the form of flooring, handles, and some furniture. This study examines how the severity of beech bark disease affects the amount of usable lumber that can be recovered from American beech sawlogs. To do this, American beech sawlogs with varying degrees of beech bark disease infection were harvested, bucked and scaled. These logs were rated according to their degree of beech bark disease infection based on exterior defects such as raised or sunken cankers, fissures and evidence of scale insect. These logs were then sawn into lumber form and rescaled to find a percentage of usable lumber that resulted from the gross scale taken prior to sawing. There was not a definitive relationship between degree of infection, and lumber yield. This study will be useful to the stakeholders of the lumber industry to aid in predicting whether or not a log infected with beech bark disease can be economically used for lumber.
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Major: Forestry
Year: 2015
Authors: Alex Cote, Zachary Smith

Vermont Maple Forest Products LLC. Forest Management and Business Plan

Wed, 12/02/2015 - 17:52
Abstract: Maple syrup production is an extremely important aspect of the American economy in the northeast, generating around 132 million dollars in revenue annually across its U.S production range (United States Department of Agriculture, 2014). At the current rate of production U.S producers are presently only tapping 0.4% of the maples which may be available (Farrell & Chabot, 2012). Vermont has the greatest number of its trees tapped, with 2.94% of available trees currently in production. The low percentage of tappable maple trees in production has been seen as a short coming in the industry. However, this does create the possibility for entry into the industry. Vermont Maple Forest Products LLC is in current maple production and desires to produce on an industrial scale. Simon Boulet and Claude Deschenes (2005) found that the highest degrees of profit are generated when a producer is considered a medium(5,000-19,000 taps)-large (>19,000 taps) supplier. At this point costs per tap are reduced and sap yeilds increase. Vermont Maple Forest Products currently has the land available for potentially over 28,000 taps. To achieve this goal a business plan and forest management plan was developed and will be implemented across the tract with the goal of maple syrup production.
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Major: Forestry
Year: 2015
Authors: Adam D Allen

Acidic Deposition in Adirondack Lakes: Episodic Acidification and Equilibrium

Tue, 05/05/2015 - 10:06
Abstract: Acid deposition has been a historic problem in the Adirondacks. Though after original mitigation attempts were deemed successful, funding for many acid deposition-monitoring programs in the area has been cut or eliminated, and much of the data that has been collected is now old and outdated. Newer data on this issue needed to be collected to determine if there truly has been recovery of Adirondack lakes. Through this observational experiment the pH levels of 18 different lakes scattered around the Adirondacks during winter were examined. The pH levels of the snow around the lakes were examined to determine the levels of acid shock. This data was compared to the historic data available and created a preliminary finding. This comparison helped determine that Adirondack water bodies could possibly be coming to a form of equilibrium as the pH levels are possibly returning to a resemblance of pre-disturbance conditions, which suggests recent legislation may have had measurable successes in the goal of reducing the acidification of Adirondack freshwater ecosystems.
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Major: Integrative Studies, Natural Resources Management and Policy
Year: 2015
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Timothy Johnston, Andrew Olcott

Comparison of Industry Standard 5/16” Maple Sap Tubing Versus 3/16” Maple Sap Tubing Regarding Overall Yields for the 2014-2015 Maple Syrup Season at Paul Smiths College Visitor Interpretation Center, Paul Smiths, New York.

Wed, 04/29/2015 - 20:17
Abstract: Obtaining the highest yields during a growing season has long been the utmost interest by maple syrup producers across the northeast. Methods have been introduced such as different tubing sizes starting at 7/16” tubing to the industry standard 5/16” tubing, however recently the newest tubing on the market is 3/16” tubing. Theoretically the new 3/16” tubing would provide the highest overall yields in comparison to 5/16” tubing by increasing the amount of vacuum present under a natural gravity system. The study of examining the flow of maple sap between two tubing types consists of two sugar bushes located at the Paul Smiths College Visitor Interpretation Center in Paul Smiths, New York in the Adirondack Park. The two sugar bushes were constructed on similar landscapes providing the same of the following I.) Slope, II.) Size of trees, III.) Growing conditions, and IV.) Number of taps. Measurements of canopy cover and tree diameter were also compared to determine the overall health of both plots. The analysis showed that both canopy cover and tree diameter were less in 3/16” tubing however more sap still was produced in 3/16” tubing. The test compared 5/16” tubing versus 3/16” tubing in regards to overall seasonal yields. The overall seasonal yields for both 3/16” and 5/16” were measured in gallons from two separate locations. 3/16” tubing yielded more overall, ending with a total volume collected of 324.75 gallons of sap, while the standard 5/16” tubing yielded 296.5 gallons.
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Major: Natural Resources Management and Policy
Year: 2015
Authors: Joshua Brewer

A More Sustainable Computer

Tue, 05/05/2015 - 09:36
Abstract: The idea of a more sustainable computer has been looked at before by Fitzpatrick et al (2009). The project relooks at the idea and expands on it, discussing the production of a sustainable computer by larger companies for everyday household use. By putting together a computer in a compact oak casing, with minimal wiring, plastic and metal use, the project shows how you can make a budget friendly sustainable computer. An important part about sustainability is reusability. The availability of part reuse and recycling is also looked into to be able to make the most out of what has to be used. The results show a way in which it is possible to make a budget friendly, design for environment (DFE) computer that could be sold for everyday household use.
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Major: Natural Resources Management and Policy
Year: 2015
File Attachments: CAPSTONE.docx
Authors: William Ruger

Tiny Houses: A Step Toward Conserving Natural Resources

Tue, 05/05/2015 - 13:45
Abstract: This project examines the potential to downsize America’s current living style in efforts to conserve natural resources and adapt to the changing world. The average home has increased to an excessive size over the years. As a result, abundant amounts of timber are desired, pollution is produced, and homeowners are buried in financial debt. A possible relief to these issues is the tiny home . Many tiny house advocates allegedly stated these structures require fewer materials to construct, lessening the need for natural resources. To confirm these ideas, a study was implemented through extensive research on small living, followed by a survey and the construction of a tiny house model. The results showed many American’s with large homes cannot justify the need for the excess space. Therefore, downsized to a tiny house may be a good choice for many citizens. These structures proved to require fewer materials at a more cost efficient price. So if the tiny house is both livable and affordable, what does this mean for the future of the tiny house?
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Major: Natural Resources Management and Policy
Year: 2015
File Attachments: Capstone NRS 495
Authors: Tim Baker, Falon Neske