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Capstone Projects

Environmental Values Represented in Successful Green Building; LEED vs. Passive House

Mon, 04/28/2014 - 12:02
Abstract: In a society struggling to synchronize human development with environmental quality, the construction sector is often the target of sustainability initiatives. The purpose of this research is to investigate the environmental values and themes that influenced the design process of two successful green building projects. The two buildings at the focus of the study are new residential construction in the state of Maine; one with LEED Platinum certification and one with Passive House certification. Both buildings were found to exemplify themes of energy performance, practicality, and bioregionalism and included a collaborative design effort. A better understanding of these themes and values that guided these project teams to construct paradigm-shifting structures can help form a model for mainstream applications of a sustainable built environment.
Access: No
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Environmental Studies
Year: 2014
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Heather Coleates

Forest Succession's Effect on Soil Physical and Chemical Properties after Agriculture Abandonment

Mon, 12/01/2014 - 11:00
Abstract: Landscapes have been significantly altered by humans and replacing forests with agricultural crops is a major alteration humans have made. This landscape change has affected soils significantly. Agriculture practices can potentially have detrimental effects on soils. However, through the 20th century forest cover drastically increased in the United States through the recruitment of second growth forests as a result of agriculture abandonment. Forests reclaiming farm lands through forest succession can have a significant effect on recoveries in soil physical and chemical properties such as bulk density, soil strength, porosity and fertility. Therefore, the goal of this study was to investigate forest successions effect on soil physical and chemical properties after agriculture abandonment. Three specific hypotheses were tested: 1) Bulk density and soil strength will decrease while micro and macro porosity will increase as forests reclaim farm lands. 2) Soil carbon and available nitrogen will increase over time. 3) Soil pH will decrease and electrical conductivity will increase over time. These hypotheses were explored on abandoned agriculture fields in a chronosequence study on coarse loamy Inceptisols in upstate New York across a 60 year temporal scale. Data showed that total porosity, total carbon and available nitrogen increase while soil pH, bulk density, soil strength and electrical conductivity decline over time. These results support all three hypotheses except for the latter half of hypothesis number three. The findings of this study suggest that although agriculture may disturb soil properties, time coupled with forest succession can result in significant recoveries.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Forestry
Year: 2014
File Attachments: Final Report.docx
Authors: Nathan Piché

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

A Forest Management Plan For Lynn Woods Reservation

Sun, 04/27/2014 - 18:49
Abstract: Lynn Woods Reservation located in Lynn, MA (42°29' N, 70°59’ W) is a 2,200 acre municipal park under the joint management of the Lynn Parks Department and the Lynn Water and Sewer Department. Since 1881, there has been little management on the lands of the reservation. This project developed a forest management plan for the Reservation. A forest inventory took place in January 2014 utilizing SilviaTerra’s Plothound data collection app. Data was then processed in NED-2 and ArcGIS to create final data used in the creation of this plan. The tract was divided into three compartments based on location and access. Multiple stands are inaccessible or do not contain merchantable timber but most of this tract is harvestable. Based on the data collected, suggested silvicultural prescriptions were developed along with other management suggestions for the tract. This plan was submitted to the park ranger, Dan Smalls, for review and final implementation.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Forestry
Year: 2014
File Attachments: St_John_Final_Draft.pdf
Authors: M. Dalton St. John

A Genetic Comparison of Two Populations of American Beech (Fagus grandifolia) Impacted by the Invasive Disease Complex Causing Beech Bark Disease

Mon, 04/28/2014 - 23:35
Abstract: Many mature American beech trees have died due to beech bark disease throughout the northeastern United States. However, there are many pockets of beech trees throughout its native range that show resistance to the disease. This study will be focused on comparing specific genetic markers in a variety of American beech trees which have been categorized by the levels of severity of beech bark disease per individual tree. Leaf and bud samples were taken in October 2013 from 30 individual trees with varying degrees of disease severity. DNA will be purified from these soft tissue samples in order to use PCR and focus on 5 microsatellite locations for a comparison between all individuals being sampled. These loci will help to determine the genetic differences and similarities between American beech trees with and without signs of resistance to beech bark disease. The results of this study will set the stage for a landscape level study in the future, as well as further studies on finding genetic markers for resistance.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Forestry
Year: 2014
File Attachments: Complete Project.docx
Authors: Emily Malick

Differences in soil fertility along roadsides between state and locally managed roadways in Franklin County, New York

Thu, 05/08/2014 - 20:30
Abstract: Techniques for managing roadways often incorporate use of sodium chloride, or roadsalt. Use of this substance can vary greatly depending on whether state or local municipalities are prescribing management for particular roadways. Roadsalt has the potential to affect the chemical composition of roadside soils. This study sought examine relationships between winter management techniques and soil chemical properties as distance increased from roadsides. Transects were set up perpendicular to 5 roads managed by the State of New York, and 5 roads managed by towns in Franklin County, New York. 10 samples were removed from the soil surface at each transect, every two meters back from each roadside from 2 to 20 meters. pH, conductivity, abundances of Ca, Na, K, Mg, Cl, % Na on CEC, & % Ca on CEC were determined for each sample. Using ANOVA equations pH, % Na, and Cl concentration were found to have significant relationship with distance while %Na, % Ca, and Na concentration had significant relationships with regards to management. It was concluded that Na is displacing large amounts of Ca on exchange near state managed roads, decreasing soil fertility specifically in those areas. Results follow trends found in other studies that cite increasing concentrations of both Na and Cl on watershed scales.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Forestry
Year: 2014
File Attachments: Actually Done.docx
Authors: Dylan Kirk

The Effects on Soil Caused by Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata) in a Northern Hardwood Forest in the Northern Adirondack Mountains

Mon, 12/02/2013 - 10:54
Abstract: Plant invasions are thought to be among the worst causes of biological extinction and biodiversity loss in the modern world. With the United States spending upward of thirty four million dollars a year in attempts to control and repair the damages caused by invasive plants, not only are we feeling the biological effects, but we financially cannot afford to keep combating these invasive species (Barto and Cipollini, 2009). Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) can invade multiple types of sites whether the soil is sandy or if a site has been disturbed. This invasive species will take over the understory and alter soil chemistry (Morris, McClain, Anderson and McConnaughay, 2012). This study aimed to look at how garlic mustard is affecting soils in the northern Adirondack Mountains in New York State. Although currently scattered and not very prevalent, there have already been changes to the soil chemistry. This study was conducted by setting up multiple plots within areas where garlic mustard was present and gathering soil to be used to test for nutrient values. It was found in this study that calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, potassium, sodium, aluminum and soil pH values changed due to the presence of garlic mustard.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Biology, Forestry
Year: 2013
File Attachments: Capstone Final.docx
Authors: Kyle Dash

An Educational Assessment of a Nature Center

Wed, 12/04/2013 - 15:18
Abstract: Currently, there is a strong focus on public environmental education. However, it is not known how environmental education programs relate to the New York State Curricula or to the North American Association for Environmental Education’s (NAAEE) education goals for school-aged children. The purpose of this qualitative, relationship study is to determine how and to what extent a nature center’s educational programs relate to New York State Curricula and the North American Association for Environmental Education’s education goals for school aged children. Data will be collected through a content analysis approach. The information gathered from the content analysis will then be compared against each other to see where there are gaps in the nature center’s educational goals and how they might ameliorate them. This information can be used by the nature center to format their educational programs in a way that is more conducive with both the New York State Curricula and the NAAEE educational goals.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Environmental Studies
Year: 2013
Authors: Jacqueline McCabe

Paul Smith's College & International Learning: A Small Scale Assessment of Student Perceived Personal & Academic Gains

Mon, 04/22/2013 - 22:16
Abstract: Many students who participate in a study abroad experience during their college or university career experience positive gains on personal and academic levels. This growth can be gained directly from the sojourn while it is taking place, and/or upon individual reflection of the experience once the student returns home. Currently, Paul Smith’s College (PSC) students are able to participate in a variety of international experiences, including short-term (minimum of ten days) tours, faculty-led service learning practicums and semester-long study abroad programs, personally organized by individual students. Since there has been no central Paul Smith's College entity that examines how students may be making gains from these experiences, there exists an unmet need to discover how students believe they have benefited from study abroad. This study used grounded theory methodology and mixed qualitative research methods to investigate whether PSC students benefited personally and academically from their individual international learning experiences. This research has revealed the majority of students interviewed believed themselves to have been positively affected on both levels. These students are also more open to continuing traveling, either for personal enjoyment or career advancement. This perceived growth occurred despite, and perhaps, as a result of having experienced culture shock during their sojourns or upon their return to the U.S.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Environmental Studies
Year: 2013
File Attachments: Mckenney_FinalCapstone.docx
Authors: Sarah McKenney

Determining Habitat Suitability for Ruffed Grouse (Bonasa umbellus) in Five Forest Harvest Method Plots on the Paul Smith’s Visitors Interpretation Center Land to Promote Long Term Suitable Habitat.

Sun, 04/28/2013 - 11:42
Abstract: Ruffed grouse (Bonansa umbellus) populations are in a steady decline due to the loss of early successional forests. Our study focused on the suitability of ruffed grouse habitat which is considered an area with adequate food and cover in. We used a habitat suitability index designed for ruffed grouse in Colorado that included average height of woody stems, percent conifers, density of mature yellow birch, and total equivalent stem density as the variables that indicate whether an area has suitable cover and food for ruffed grouse. Using the habitat suitability index we measured the vegetation in five forest harvest methods including: single tree selection, two-age cut, shelter-wood cut, clear-cut, and a control plot to determine if a habitat suitability index developed in Colorado can be used to assess habitat suitability for ruffed grouse in New York. These plots are located in the Adirondacks in Northern New York State at the Paul Smith’s College Visitors Interpretation Center (VIC). Our results suggested that 14 years after harvest a single tree selection harvest method has the highest overall habitat suitability (0.95) for ruffed grouse. This is different from other studies we found that indicated clear-cut was the most suitable forest harvest method for ruffed grouse. We also projected the change in habitat suitability for height of woody stems over time for the clear-cut based on the yearly growth rate of 0.656 feet. Based on our findings from the study we made recommendations to land owners and land managers to develop and promote short term and long term suitable habitat for ruffed grouse. These recommendations included using a variety of forestry practices that included: single tree selection, shelterwood, and clear-cut because ruffed grouse require a variety of different cover types and habitat over their lifetime.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science, Forestry
Year: 2013
File Attachments: Final_Draft.doc
Authors: Jeremy Anna, Jake Baulch