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Capstone Projects

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

An analysis of social behavior in captive gray wolves and its effects on pack dynamics

Mon, 12/05/2011 - 17:55
Abstract: Animals live in groups for a variety of reasons, including access to certain prey items, defense of territory, and protection of resources. Canids have proved a popular subject for studies in social behavior, and many variables of behavior have been tested, providing an in-depth picture of how these animals typically live. Gray wolves (Canis lupus) in particular have been studied extensively throughout the years, both in the wild and in captivity. This study investigated social behaviors within a captive wolf pack so that an activity budget could be established with aid of an ethogram. A pack hierarchy was also established using tail positions as a guide, and behavior frequency was compared between each gender. Overall, resting behaviors were the most common for the pack under study, and most common for both males and females. This is likely because the study took place during the summer when temperatures were high and the animals didn’t expend much energy. Males and females did not show a significant difference in the proportion of time spent exhibiting each behavior (X2=1), likely because each sex plays a similar role in the pack. While play behaviors comprised only 12% of all recorded, I believe that social play is an important function for providing social cohesion and an outlet for aggression. Since there is still much to be understood about social play in adult wolves, I believe that it should be the focus of future studies. I also believe that this study can provide a framework for future investigations of a similar nature, and that such future studies should also attempt to draw comparisons between wild and captive wolf packs, as they differ in several respects.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2011
File Attachments: equandt_capstonefinal.pdf
Authors: Elizabeth Quandt

Hare Body Mass Index in relationship to habitat type andcover availability at the landscape scale in snowshoe hare in the Northern Adirondacks

Wed, 12/07/2011 - 12:38
Abstract: Snowshoe hares (Lepus americanas) are an important keystone species in environments in which they are present. An important indicator of fitness in many organisms is Body Mass Index (BMI). My question is whether the BMI and relative abundance (hares per unit effort) of snowshoe hares will change under different habitat scenarios as determined by National Land Cover Data. I hypothesized that snowshoe hares would have a higher BMI and greater abundance under areas of higher % conifer and mixed forest. I collected weight, foot length, hare harvest location, and hunt effort data from two hare derbies in the northern Adirondacks. I calculated BMI, relative abundance, and % area of each type of habitat cover and correlated habitat cover with my response variables. I then used principle component analysis to describe the four main configurations of habitat where hare were found and correlated those with BMI and relative abundance. Univariate analysis showed that BMI correlates negatively with % mixed forest and positively with % herbaceous wetland and % developed land. Relative abundance does not correlate with BMI, but relative abundance correlates with herbaceous wetland, grassland, and shrub. Principle component analyses showed that BMI was marginally significantly positively correlated with habitats that were developed, shrub, and mixed forest dominated. Relative abundance was negatively correlated with habitats that were developed, shrub, mixed, and woody wetland dominated. These outcomes are the opposite of my hypothesis. This suggests that hares are energy maximizers and choose habitats where they have the highest quality food over cover from aerial predation.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2011
File Attachments: DeGrave_2011_Capstone.docx
Authors: Caitlin DeGrave

Using Pellet Counts and Vegetation Analysis to Determine Moose (Alces alces) Densities in Vermont and in the Adirondacks, to Better the Understanding of Moose Densities for New York State DEC

Thu, 12/15/2011 - 14:46
Abstract: Using Pellet Counts and Vegetation Analysis to Determine Moose (Alces alces) Densities in Vermont and in the Adirondacks, to Better the Understanding of Moose Densities for New York State DEC
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2011
Authors: Nicole Bellerose, William Carpenter

Food Plots for White-tailed Deer: Effects on the Browse Intensity of Commercial Tree Species in Western New York

Mon, 12/05/2011 - 10:09
Abstract: Throughout North America high densities of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) are creating problems that affect humans as well as the natural environment; such as property damage (ex. deer/car accidents), crop damage due to browse, changes in forest species composition, as well as the creation of alternate stable states throughout the northeastern forests of the U.S. This study examined whether food plots for white-tailed deer are increasing, decreasing or having no effect on the browse intensity of commercial tree species in the northern hardwood/coniferous forests of western New York. Spring and summer browse intensity was determined at six sites throughout Wyoming, Cattaraugus, and Erie counties; three forested sites with food plots and three forested sites without food plots that were similar in species composition. The study found that food plots were causing an increase in browse intensity on commercial tree species to areas immediately adjacent (0-2 meters) to the food plots. However, further analysis that excluded measurements taken for subplots one at both food plot and non-food plot sites showed that non-food plot sites had a significantly greater proportion browsed. The findings suggest that if food plots are used as a management option for white-tails in western New York a buffer zone of at least 2 meters outside the food plot should be incorporated to account for the overflow of deer browse.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Natural Resources Management and Policy
Year: 2011
Authors: Mike Domagalski