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Capstone Projects

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.
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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.
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Major: Ecological Restoration
Year: 2020
File Attachments: Jesse Rock Capstone.pdf
Authors: Jesse Rock

Ten Year Management Plan on Jaguar (Panthera onca) Populations in Brazil

Sun, 05/03/2020 - 11:27
Abstract: Jaguars (Panthera onca) are the world’s third largest big cat and are found throughout Latin America and small parts of the United States of America. They are solitary, elusive carnivores that serves an ecological role as a keystone species throughout their distribution by maintaining populations of herbivorous species which provides more habitat availability and suitability for other wildlife species. Their populations are going through a decline and now 173000 individuals are currently inhabiting about half of their historical range. The factors that endanger jaguar populations are habitat destruction, illegal hunting, and loss of prey. The increase in ranching and the need for more communities for the growing human population are the reasons for the continuation in habitat destruction and the confrontations between people and jaguars. The goal for this management plan is to increase the jaguar populations by 10-15% within 10 years and maintain the populations throughout the country of Brazil. There are currently 86,800 individual jaguars in Brazil and reaching the goals in maintain populations will require improving their habitat and prey availability while reducing the factors that are the direct cause in their decline. The objectives include focusing conservation efforts on certain age classes to increase the survivability of individuals and the chances of reproduction to add individuals to a population. They also include mitigating human and jaguar conflicts, making environmental protections and wildlife management a bigger priority in the public, politics, and laws, and reducing the rate of habitat fragmentation by 20% throughout the country of Brazil. Some actions to make these objectives successful include conducting further research on the life cycle and natural behaviors on jaguars to support conservation efforts needed to benefit the populations and continuing current methods that are used to reduce human and jaguar conflicts. To monitor the success and failures of this management plan, public surveys for the residents’ perspective on the jaguars will be conducted yearly along with some population counts on the jaguars in each region of Brazil. Jaguars are currently listed as near threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list and due to the population declines and the continuation of factors effecting the populations, they will mostly likely be listed as vulnerable in 30 years. If there is an increase in conservation efforts and a reduction in conflicts between jaguars and human communities, then the jaguars will have a smaller chance of reaching extinction.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2020
File Attachments: Jaguar Management Plan .pdf
Authors: Joshua Staquet

Fifty-year Bicknell’s Thrush (Catharus bicknelli) Management Plan for the Adirondack Park, New York

Fri, 05/01/2020 - 10:40
Abstract: Bicknell’s Thrush (Catharus bicknelli) is a Nearctic-Neotropical migrant passerine found in southeast Canada from the Maritime providences and Quebec down into the Northeastern United States at high elevations of 900 m and above. Their difficult to access habitat and recent acknowledgement of being a distinct species, has resulted in a small body of knowledge and data pertaining to the species. Conservation issues of concern include nest depredation by Eastern red squirrels (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus), montane development, and potential impacts of climate change (i.e. habitat loss and the “Push” hypothesis from Swainson’s Thrush (Catharus ustulatus)). This management plan aims to increase juveniles and breeding populations of Bicknell’s Thrush in the Adirondack Park, New York, by at least 1% yearly, or by at least 50% total through 2070 to allow for the species to subsist. Objectives to reach the goal include increasing juvenile survival by 17% within 15 years and to conserve and increase suitable habitat in the Adirondack Park by silviculture practices such as increasing balsam and spruce-fir habitat (10% by 2040, 20% by 2050, 30% by 2070) and regenerating clear cuts of 5 to 15 years old. To increase the survival of juveniles, Eastern red squirrel populations would be reduced by hiring individuals prior and during Bicknell’s Thrush breeding season to shoot and trap Eastern red squirrels in known Bicknell’s Thrush habitat in the Adirondack Park. Throughout the 50-year management period, a population dynamic study will be initiated for Bicknell’s Thrush along with a population monitoring study for Eastern red squirrels. The studies would be used to determine if management actions have been successful and will be used to collect population dynamics for Bicknell’s Thrush. The studies will collect and provide currently unknown or not well studied data for Bicknell’s Thrush, such as data pertaining to their high natal dispersal and survival rates. Havahart #745 traps will be used to reduce Eastern red squirrel populations. Trapped Eastern red squirrels will be transferred in cages to not allow for escapees and taken to a facility out of public view. The species will then be euthanized by the CO2 method. After inspection, the trapped Eastern red squirrels will be taken to avian rehabilitation facilities to be utilized. To increase suitable habitat for Bicknell’s Thrush, partnerships with timber companies will be created to develop and implement best management practices for the species. Best management practices are even-aged methods, such as the variable-retention and partial-harvest systems, and constant state of afforestation stands of 5 to 15 years old. This action will improve and provide suitable nesting habitat and allow for no net loss of the Bicknell’s Thrush current habitat. Forest interior will be increased, and the creation of edges will increase suitable nesting and foraging habitat. Surveys will be released to the public to strike a balance between Bicknell’s Thrush and human dimensions, along with determine the public’s opinion and knowledge on the species and the management techniques to support the species. Based off the survey, montane activities occurring in Bicknell’s Thrush habitat will be halted during their breeding season to decrease disruption of nests and other behaviors. The species will be proposed to be listed as threatened or endangered to gain protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The species is not well known, and the creation and implementation of a successful management plan will increase Bicknell’s Thrush populations while also gaining beneficial information on the species.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2020
Authors: Falon Cote

Fifty Year Korean Water Deer (Hydropotes inermis argyropus) Management Plan for Chungnam Province, Korea

Fri, 05/01/2020 - 07:22
Abstract: Korean Water Deer (Hydropotes inermis argyropus) are one of the smallest species within the family Cervidae. They are a group of highly selective ruminant feeders, which limits the species ability to withstand environmental changes. Conservation issues of primary concern include poaching, habitat destruction, urbanization, traditional medicine, and disease. Conversion of natural habitat into human-dominated environments puts huge stresses on the water deer’s ability to withstand pressures such as development. This management plan aims to restore Korean Water Deer populations to a self-sustaining status within the Chungnam Province of South Korea. Objectives to obtain this goal include decreasing habitat fragmentation caused by urbanization by 25% within 10 years and decrease mortality of fawns by 20% due to excessive poaching and overhunting within 5 years. To decrease the amount of habitat fragmentation, a program like the Conservation Reserve Program from the Federal Farm Bill, which pays farmers rental payments for land management, will be implemented. In addition to the program, the use of Environmental Impact Assessments or EIA’s will be increased to limit the amount of urbanization that occurs within the Korean peninsula. In order to decrease the level of mortality in water deer fawn, a wildlife enforcement unit will be created in order to decrease the level of poaching that occurs. An active conservation plan will be established for the water deer in both China and Korea. This will pave the way for continued support and conservation of the water deer species. These management actions could increase water deer populations above the carrying capacity of current habitat and reserves but allowing increase will permit wild populations to establish and take hold.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2020
File Attachments: ODonnell_Final_Paper.docx
Authors: Beau O'Donnell

One-Hundred Year Wild Tuatara (Sphenodon punctatus) Management Plan for Te-Ika-Maui, New Zealand

Fri, 05/01/2020 - 04:16
Abstract: Tuataras (Sphenodon punctatus) are the only remaining reptiles in the order Rhynchocephalia, endemic to New Zealand. Previously, tuataras existed across the mainland of New Zealand, but now reside on 32 offshore islands in small dispersed populations. Tuataras live in underground burrows, typically with fairy prions (Pachyptila turtur) and forage nocturnally on invertebrates, small mammals, and birds. Conservation issues of concern include future populations of invasive rats, competition with conspecific species during nesting – nest evacuations, for example - habitat alteration inducing stochastic plasticity, climate change causing increased male to female sex ratios in populations, and hybridization. This management plan aims to reintroduce and restore wild tuatara populations on the North Island of New Zealand to past populations before the introduction of invasive rats. Objectives reaching this goal include increasing habitat availability by 75% and increase public cooperation with conservation efforts by at least 50%. To increase habitat availability, a habitat suitability index will be implemented to assess proper habitat for tuataras on the North Island, New Zealand. After suitable habitat has been identified, artificial burrows will be constructed increasing survivorship of tuataras and decreasing parasitism and competitions with fairy prions. To increase cooperation with the public, surveys will be administered to increase ecological knowledge of tuataras. A land use plan will be applied, allowing for public seminars and town meetings to be incorporated into the plan. Seminars and surveys will help identify lowered scientific knowledge of tuataras as well as increasing the public’s awareness of conservation needs. The course of actions of this management plan could increase tuatara populations to sustainable levels, back to what they once were in the past of New Zealand.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2020
Authors: Koby R. Coplen

Management Plan for the Streamside Salamander (Ambystoma barbouri) in Middle Tennessee

Fri, 05/01/2020 - 02:36
Abstract: Streamside salamanders (Ambystoma barbouri) are cryptic, fossorial salamanders found in the inner and outer basin of middle Tennessee. Streamside salamanders are a sibling species to the better-known small-mouthed salamander (Ambystoma texanum), and once thought to be the same species. A. barbouri are typically found in upland deciduous habitat with significant limestone rock. Each October, they migrate to first and second-order streams to deposit eggs underneath rocks. As of 2004, they are listed as near threatened on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List with a decreasing population, despite actual population numbers being unknown. Primary threats to A. barbouri populations include increased development in the Nashville area, agriculture, and climate change. As the population of Nashville increases, new infrastructure is consistently being created to meet the needs of a growing population. Agricultural runoff causes morphological abnormalities, and half of Tennessee’s land use consists of farmland. Climate change has also directly impacted A. barbouri populations with more frequent drying and flooding events that create casualties during the breeding season. The primary goal of this management plan is to create an increased population trend for A. barbouri populations within middle Tennessee. Objectives to achieve this goal include obtaining an accurate population estimate for A. barbouri, gaining more insight on A. barbouri natural history to make more informed management decisions, raising public concern for the species, and increasing larval survivorship to 10%. As A. barbouri populations are very locally distributed, it is integral a management plan be implemented immediately to change the current trajectory of this species.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2020
Authors: Cassandra McCuen

Twenty-Year Management Plan for Increasing the Population for the Common pochard (Aythya ferina) in the United Kingdom

Thu, 04/30/2020 - 22:34
Abstract: Common pochards (Aythya ferina) are a harvested diving duck that inhabits the United Kingdom and is distributed across all of Europe. Common pochard populations have been declining for 20-30 years. Conservation issues for this duck include fishponds being abandoned due to low economic returns, loss of nesting habitat due to agricultural habitat, nest predation, and lack of bag limits during hunting season. This management plan aims to increase and restore a stable common pochard population for harvest. Objectives to reach this goal include; increasing the egg survival by 6% in 20 years, restore and maintain breeding habitat by 40% in 20 years, and maintain common pochard populations at 52,000 in the United Kingdom. To have success, an egg survival study, a nest site selection study, and a mark and recapture study will be needed, as well as predator control. If the management plan actions are successfully achieved, then common pochard populations will be increased for suitable harvest for future generations.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2020
Authors: Hunter Kroening

Twenty-Year Mauritian Flying Fox (Pteropus niger) Management Plan for Mauritius Island.

Thu, 04/30/2020 - 20:14
Abstract: The Mauritian Flying Fox (Pteropus niger) is the only fruit bat endemic to the island of Mauritius off of Madagascar in the southwestern India Ocean. Known to most of the local fruit farmers on the island as a pest during the growing seasons, many individuals are poached or hunted for other purposes. Mauritian Flying Foxes can be found in colonies all around the island and travel long distances to foraging sites. This fruit bat faces competition and ecological pressures from invasive plant and animal species that now inhabit the island. With this conflict and an increasing negative interactions with humans, the government of Mauritius enacted mass culls to target the populations of flying fox. Because of this and other issues decreasing the overall population numbers, The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List confirmed in 2018 that Mauritian Flying Foxes was an endangered species. The goal of this management plan is to increase the population to a sustainable level with focus on conservation efforts from the year 2020 to 2040. The objectives to achieve this goal include: (1) Conduct research on the biology, ecology, and behavior to determine proper population sizes and distribution of Mauritian flying foxes on the island of Mauritius in order to increase populations, (2) Increase the overall survivorship to 90% for all age classes, (3) Reduce mortality rates from poaching, and (4) Increase fruit farmer cooperation and educational programs for the locals and tourists. Proper management for the Mauritian Flying Fox is vital and with this plan put into action, the population on Mauritius can return to a stable number.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2020
Authors: Kelvey I. McGinnis

Swan Goose (Anser cygnoides) Thirty Year Population Management Plan for Eastern Asia (2020-2050)

Thu, 04/30/2020 - 19:32
Abstract: Swan Geese (Anser cygnoides) are a species of goose found throughout the eastern part of Asia. They are herbivores which mostly feed on plants along the banks and in the water of lakes and wetlands. The primary conservation issues threatening the swan goose populations are over harvesting/illegal hunting, habitat loss due to agricultural development, drought in the summers and rising water levels in the winter. This management plan aims to increase and stabilize the population of swan geese in eastern Asia in the next thirty years. Objectives to achieve this goal include increasing the swan goose hatchling survivorship by 10% in ten years, increasing swan goose nest survivorship by 20% in ten years and to increase the survivorship of juvenile and adult swan geese by 20% in 15 years. To meet these objectives, actions such as: planting vegetation to increase available habitat and cover, creating a dam to help control the water levels, increasing the amount of protected land available, creating signs in areas frequently used by swan geese to increase public awareness, using surveys to determine the level of public knowledge of swan geese and creating more laws protecting them as well as hiring more conservation officers to enforce those laws will be implemented. The swan goose is a key indicator species for a healthy ecosystem and was a popular game species throughout most of its range. With proper management the swan goose populations can increase and stabilize in eastern Asia.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2020
Authors: Shane Lafountain