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Capstone Projects

A MULTI-SCALE EVALUATION OF THE EFFECTS OF FOREST HARVESTING FOR WOODY BIOFUELS ON MAMMALIAN COMMUNITIES IN A NORTHERN HARDWOOD FOREST

Fri, 02/01/2013 - 16:19
Abstract: Forest harvesting and subsequent effects on forest structure have been shown to influence mammalian community assemblages and the abundance of individual species, however less attention has been paid to the implications of how harvested timber is used. This is particularly relevant in the Northern Forest, where a considerable portion of the forest harvesting is used to produce biofuels. Biofuels harvesting typically involves the process of whole-tree chipping which may lead to a dramatic reduction in the amount of woody material in the form of slash and coarse woody debris (CWD) left in harvested stands. The goal of our study was to assess the effects of biofuels harvesting on forest structure and subsequent effects on mammalian community structure and abundance. To address this goal, we focused on a ~35 Ha area of partially-harvested northern hardwood forest in the northern Adirondacks, New York. To sample mammals we used a combination of Sherman traps and track plates established at two scales across stands within this area. Our results showed that the response of small mammals to changes in forest structure is both species and scale specific. At the individual trap scale, CWD, slash, and understory cover were important drivers of the occurrence of individual species of small mammals. At the larger “grid” scale, small mammal relative abundance was driven by canopy cover and the density of woody stems. Our results indicate that the current harvesting practices used for biofuel production in the Adirondacks are unlikely to result in declines in abundance of common small mammal species. However, the retention of some slash post-harvest may be beneficial to some species, thus foresters may want to include slash retention when developing silvicultural prescriptions.
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Major: Environmental Sciences, Fisheries and Wildlife Science, Natural Resources Management and Policy
Year: 2012
Authors: Cody Laxton, Alisha Benack, Danielle Ball, Scott Collins, Sam Forlenza, Richard Franke, Stephanie Korzec, Alec Judge, Connor Langevin, Jonathan Vimislik, Elena Zito

Managing for increased productivity and size of an American kestrel (Falco sparverius) population in northern New York

Mon, 05/07/2012 - 12:58
Abstract: American kestrel (Falco sparverius) populations have recently declined across most of the eastern states. As a result, managers and concerned citizens alike have installed nest boxes across large areas to increase productivity. Mr. Mark Manske has run one of these nest box programs in northern New York, across parts of St. Lawrence and Franklin counties, over the past ten years. Through the combination of his research and other long term management plans, the ideal future plan was developed. The focus of the new plan is to boost efficiency of resources, ease of expansion and sustain a steady or increasing population of kestrels. GIS software was used to analyze each nest boxes’ characteristics in order to develop a model that may predict areas of possible high productivity. Surveys and public outreach are emphasized to create a broader supporting base and possibly acquire future partners for land use, volunteers and advertising. The continued monitoring of the northern New York kestrel population will ensure the presence of this vital species for generations to come.
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Major: Environmental Sciences, Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2012
File Attachments: Sauca_Final_Submision.docx
Authors: Tonnie Sauca Jr.

New York State Goshawk Management

Wed, 05/02/2012 - 01:29
Abstract: Abstract: Northern Goshawks (Accipiter gentilis) occupy mature coniferous and deciduous stands one of the few raptors that can actually navigate through dense forests at high rates of speed. Mainly due to timber harvesting of older mature forests they are locked in a constant battle for territory and good food. They prey on small animals like squirrels, grouse, rabbit and even some song birds. With the constant battle for habitat our goals for management will revolve more around the land than the actual bird this would include data on landscape parameters like stand type and age, then by looking at the comparative goshawk population and distribution in those areas a preferred stand type will be selected. After the preferred habitat is determined we look to increase the population of goshawks in the Northern U.S. by ten percent through selective harvesting.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2012
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Darrell Vannederynen

Management Plan for Common Loons (Gavia immer) in Maine

Tue, 05/01/2012 - 11:55
Abstract: Common loons (Gavia immer) have been a symbol of remote northern lakes and wilderness. Due to their eerie call, beautiful plumage and their habitat choice of remotes lakes coinciding with people’s choice of remote lakes, the common loon is recognized across North America. Due to shooting mortality by humans, habitat loss due to development of lakes, and many others, loon populations declined throughout much of their range in the twentieth century, increasing human awareness and protection of loons. Today, the world population for the common loon is approximately 607,000-635,000. Current threats to their population include lake shore development, increased human lake recreation, and a daunting rise in mercury levels in lakes due to atmospheric distribution by power plants and other anthropogenic causes. Two goals are consisted for common loons: To increase Common Loon populations in Central, Western, and Northern Maine (focus on 56 lakes throughout the state), and to reduce mercury (Hg) levels in Common Loon populations in Maine. Courses of action include monitoring the current population, capture and band common loons on 56 lakes located in Central Maine, Western Maine, and Northern Maine assess and create better nesting habitat for COLO by implementing the use of nest rafts, reducing human traffic (i.e. jet skis, motor boats etc.), and to reduce mercury levels in those lakes through harsher restrictions on power plants. An assessment protocol for each course of action is included. Implementing the components of this management plan will lead to an increased population of common loon populations in central Maine.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2012
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Nicole Bellerose

Management Plan for Marbled Murrelets (Brachyramphus marmoratus) in the Pacific Northwest

Tue, 05/01/2012 - 11:52
Abstract: Marbled murrelets in North America (Brachyramphus marmoratus) are small seabirds found from the Bering Sea to central California (Ralph et al., 1995). They are unique from other Alcids in that they are dependent upon old-growth forests for nesting sites. Within the southern limits of their range in Washington, Oregon, and California, their breeding distribution is determined by the distribution and accessibility of old-growth and late-successional coniferous forests (Ralph et al., 1995). The majority of nests are found within 60 kilometers of the coast on large diameter, moss-covered limbs (Ralph et al., 1995). The primary threats to marbled murrelets are the loss of nesting habitat and habitat fragmentation caused by humans. In the last decade, over a quarter million acres of old-growth forest in the United States was lost due to logging practices (Perry, 1995). Predation of nests, especially by crows and ravens, increases as fragmentation increases from habitat loss (Nelson and Hamer, 1995). Fisheries by-catch and loss of foraging habitat pose as potential threats, increasing adult mortality (Burkett, 1995). Combined, these factors along with other threats are causing the decline and fragmentation of marbled murrelet populations in the Pacific Northwest. Marbled murrelet populations are declining at a rate of 4 to 6 percent annually (Ralph et al., 1995). This significant decline has caused alarm in the Pacific Northwest and globally. In 1991, the state of California listed the species as endangered due to the extreme loss of old-growth forests (Ralph et al., 1995). In February of 1993, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service listed marbled murrelets as threatened in Washington, Oregon, and California (Ralph et al., 1995). Globally, marbled murrelets are listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List (Ralph et al., 1995). This plan focuses on the most prevalent threats to marbled murrelets presently and to propose actions which may slow or halt the decline of the species in the Pacific Northwest. Specifically, this plan intends to (1) assess and protect the amount of old-growth forest needed to sustain a healthy population of marbled murrelets across Washington, Oregon, and California and (2) to better understand the foraging ecology of marbled murrelets at offshore and inshore sites. These two broad goals represent the imperative need to protect the habitat they depend on and to gain better knowledge of an aspect of the species not well-known, respectively.  
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2012
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Chelsea DiAntonio

Managing the Effects of Windmills on Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) Populations

Mon, 04/30/2012 - 22:12
Abstract: Windmills are an important alternative to green/renewable energy but at what cost to the birds of the environment? Windmills tend to be in placed in locations that tend to be key flying habitat. This is problematic for golden eagle migration and habitat because they tend to be windy open vast of lands. Unfortunately this is identical to the optimum areas of energy intake. Windmills tend to kill about 1.2 golden eagles per windmill per year alone. The overarching goal of this management plan is to sustain the golden eagle population at carrying capacity. The objectives are to decrease the mortality, increase the birth rate, and continue further research on the golden eagle populations. To enforce the objectives, one must provide actions in which to do so. The actions include maintaining and possible expansion of current regulations, prevent further loss of habitat, regulate the windmills in a multitude of ways, create new habitat, reduce nest disturbance, create suitable nest sites, and ways of continuing the research.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2012
Authors: Matthew Parker

Indiana Bat (Myotis sodalis) Current Status and Management Plan for New York State

Mon, 04/30/2012 - 18:31
Abstract: Indiana bats (Myotis sodalis) were added as a Federally Endangered Species in 1967 and this listing continues, including in New York State. They are one of the most particular of hibernating bats in terms of their biological needs, making them more vulnerable to population declines. Current threats mainly include human disturbance at winter hibernacula, habitat degradation, and White-nose Syndrome. The overall goal is to establish a sustainable population that results in the removal of the Indiana bat from endangered species status in New York State. Courses of action include educating the public, especially recreational cavers, on bat conservation issues. Also, estimating populations at summer roosts and winter hibernacula and developing ways to protect, manage, and regulate these habitats, and gain a better understanding of the fundamental issues related to White-nose Syndrome. An assessment protocol for each course of action is included. A population model simulates population increase once a percentage of individuals are treated for White-nose Syndrome. The results of this model indicate that 75% effectiveness of this treatment will have the greatest effect on increasing population size of Indiana bats. Implementation of the components of this management plan will lead to an eventual recovery of Indiana bat populations.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2012
Authors: Heather A. Mason

Management Plan for Eastern Coyotes in New York State

Mon, 04/30/2012 - 12:10
Abstract: While the presence of coyotes is valuable for maintaining healthy ecosystems, their arrival in the northeast has also led to conflicts with the public and various stakeholders. In particular, they have had detrimental effects upon the livestock industry, and there is widespread misunderstanding among the public regarding the behavior and ecology of this predator. We have therefore proposed a management plan for coyotes throughout Upstate New York that will address the conflicts that have arisen due to the increase in coyote populations throughout the region. In addition, this plan calls for an investigation of population dynamics and how they are affected by human control measures such as hunting. We will conduct radio-tracking studies that focus upon breeding pairs and transient animals in areas of heavy and light harvest in order to determine the effects of hunting on local population. In order to mitigate conflicts with livestock, we implement a program that utilizes both lethal and preventative non-lethal control methods. We will also create educational programs in residential areas that experience a high level of coyote related conflicts, so that the public can find ways to effectively prevent problems from occurring. Since coyotes are widespread throughout the state, and may successfully thrive in a wide variety of habitats, it is essential that sound management practices be implemented in order to foster coexistence in an increasingly human-altered landscape.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2012
Authors: Elizabeth Quandt

Black Bear (Ursus americanus) Management in the Central - Western Range of New York State

Mon, 04/30/2012 - 11:41
Abstract: Due to land use changes and the reforestation of former farmland within New York State; black bear (Ursus americanus) habitat is improving, especially in the western and central New York. In New York state three black bear ranges have existed, the northern Adirondack range, and the Allegany and Catskill ranges comprising he larger Southern range. The Allegany and Catskill ranges have merged within the last ten years resulting in the formation of the Western – Central Black Bear range. Expansion into more heavily populated areas has increased nuisance risks to home owners and car-bear collisions along highways and other areas of heavy traffic. There is an increasing need to manage black bear populations in the state and management practices need to take ecological, economic, and socio cultural influences into consideration, that meet human and ecological needs. Future black bear expansion was developed with GIS procedures quantifying the amount of forest cover in current and potential bear ranges in northwest and north central New York. Through public education of black bear nuisance prevention strategies, publically acceptable means of management, increase in hunter harvest, and mandatory harvest reporting with monetary fines, black bear populations can remain stable with minimal human conflict throughout New York State.
Access: Yes
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2012
File Attachments: BBManagementPlan.docx
Authors: Joshua M. Matijas

Bringing the American Black Duck (Anas rubripes) population back in the Northeastern U.S.

Mon, 04/30/2012 - 10:28
Abstract: The population of American Black Ducks (Anas rubripes) in the Atlantic Flyway, which is also the only flyway that they are found in in substantial numbers, began a steady decline during the 1950's, with a stabilization occurring in the mid-1980's. Using known literature based on the subject, a management plan has been drawn up to potentially return the population of American Black Ducks to densities reminiscent to their numbers prior to their 1950's decline. using methods ranging from habitat purchase and restoration, to placing more harvest restrictions on Black Ducks while at the same time allowing for more liberal take of the Mallard (Anas platyrynchos) in the Atlantic Flyway, Black Ducks will have the resources needed to gain a foothold for a steady climb back up in the population so that outdoors people of all kinds can enjoy this duck for generations to come.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2012
File Attachments: Final assignment A.docx
Authors: Jesse Warner