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Capstone Projects

Forest Structure and Composition in the Smitty Creek Watershed

Wed, 12/14/2016 - 09:56
Abstract: The 2016 Smitty Creek CFI (Continuous Forest Inventory) study addressed the issue of creating a reliable and repeatable inventory design to examine general forestry trends and their relationships with the watershed itself. Identifying these trends and their consequences is important when considering factors linked to climate change, such as carbon storage and allocation. The objective of this project were as follows: establish 10 new CFI plots, monitor and record for signs of disease and insects, tree mortality, and overstory wildlife habitat, accurately estimate forest carbon sequestration, record understory composition in a 1/50th acre area around each plot center, and suggest methods and reasons for application in Paul Smith’s College CFI capstone projects. The study was conducted within the Smitty Creek watershed in Paul Smiths, NY with the plots falling on a transect that runs north and south. At each plot, trees within the radius were assigned numbered aluminum tags, trees were measured at diameter at breast height, and other features, such as snags, were recorded. Upon completing the project, 10 CFI plots had been created and their locations were recorded, several diseases and forest health concerns were identified, as well as, tree mortality and wildlife habitat considerations, carbon sequestration for the watershed was modeled over the next century, and a CFI project was designed for the Paul Smith’s College land compartments. The Smitty Creek watershed CFI project is repeatable and has an accurate baseline of information for future studies, and the Paul Smith’s College land compartments CFI plot design is ready for implementation.
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Major: Environmental Sciences, Fisheries and Wildlife Science, Forestry
Year: 2016
Authors: Gregg Slezak, Leonard Johnson, William O'Reilly, Jake Weber, Charlie Ulrich, Collin Perkins McCraw, Jake Harm, Nick Georgelas

Management Plan for Roseate Spoonbills (Platalea ajaja) in the Everglades National Park

Thu, 05/05/2016 - 14:04
Abstract: This is a management plan for the roseate spoonbill (Platalea ajaja) in the Everglades National Park.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2016
Authors: Michael Campbell

Conservation and Management of the Pine Barrens Treefrog (Hyla andersonii) in New Jersey

Fri, 05/06/2016 - 08:54
Abstract: The Pine Barrens Treefrog (Hyla andersonii) is a medium-sized frog found in 3 disjunct populations on the east coast of the United States. The three populations are found in the sandhills of North and South Carolina, Florida panhandle and the main hub of the three populations is in southern New Jersey. They inhabit many wetland areas, including Atlantic white-cedar swamps, pitch pine lowlands and herbaceous wetlands. Preferred breeding habitat is very acidic ponds surrounded by early-successional vegetation, wetlands and seepage bogs with a high vegetative cover along edge of ponds. The IUCN has this species listed as near threatened due to its distribution being less than 20,000 km2. New Jersey currently has them listed as threatened due to critical habitat loss and degradation due to development. Populations seem to be relatively stable for the short term but their populations could decline 30%-50% in the long term. Compounding these issues management of this species may be ineffective due to a lack of knowledge on non-breeding distributions of adults from breeding ponds as well as survival rates at each of its life stages. This plan proposes 5 objectives to help stabilize the population in New Jersey Pine Barrens. These objectives include: conserving and restoring critical habitat and improving ecological knowledge.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2016
Authors: Brandan Aschmutat

Management and Conservation of Black Footed Cats in Southern Africa

Fri, 05/06/2016 - 15:19
Abstract: The black-footed Cat (Felis nigripes) is endemic to southern Africa and is the smallest sub-Saharan cat. The Population as it is now is less than 10,000 breeding pairs in the wild. Human influence on the cat’s habitat and food sources have been the main cause for the decline of its population. Farmers are setting traps for larger predators that are killing the Black Footed cat unintentionally, while at the same time farmer’s pest control are killing off part of their food sources. Through regulation and control these methods could be phased out and replaced with better options. If the survivorship of adult black-footed cats could be raised by 5% over 10 years the population would go from declining to a steady increase (fig 2). This increase in population would help the species get to a point where it could be removed from the INCU Red List.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2016
Authors: Melissa Harris
Fri, 05/06/2016 - 15:19
Abstract: The black-footed Cat (Felis nigripes) is endemic to southern Africa and is the smallest sub-Saharan cat. The Population as it is now is less than 10,000 breeding pairs in the wild. Human influence on the cat’s habitat and food sources have been the main cause for the decline of its population. Farmers are setting traps for larger predators that are killing the Black Footed cat unintentionally, while at the same time farmer’s pest control are killing off part of their food sources. Through regulation and control these methods could be phased out and replaced with better options. If the survivorship of adult black-footed cats could be raised by 5% over 10 years the population would go from declining to a steady increase (fig 2). This increase in population would help the species get to a point where it could be removed from the INCU Red List.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2016
Authors: Melissa Harris

Can black-capped chickadees learn to associate ultraviolet markers with a food source?

Thu, 12/06/2012 - 07:22
Abstract: Food storing birds, like black-capped chickadees (Poecile atricapillus), have a higher hippocampal volume than other birds, giving them the ability to hide food in small caches and retrieve them hours later with great precision using physical features of the surrounding area as guides. This capacity for learning spatial information may be able to translate to other forms of learning, such as association. Black-capped chickadees are also able to see in the near ultraviolet range (~370nm), theoretically to allow for more vibrant plumage during the breeding season. I hypothesized that black-capped chickadees have the ability to associate an ultraviolet marker with a food source. If they can, perhaps birds can be 'taught' to go towards or away from things like wind turbines, windows, and other hazardous objects. I tested my hypothesis by counting the number of chickadees that landed on two different feeders, one with an ultraviolet marker and food and one with neither. I found that there was no significant trend, either within or between days, that would indicate that the birds learned (χ2 test and Student’s t-test). As a management use, researchers propose that ultraviolet markers on wind turbines could decrease the collision rate of birds with turbine blades.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2012
File Attachments: Eck_Capstone_Final.doc
Authors: Benjamin Eck

The influence of temperature, moon phase and cloud cover on the catchability of bats in the Upper Connecticut River Basin and the Merrimack River Basin

Sun, 12/09/2012 - 15:28
Abstract: Small mammals modify their behavior in response to environmental factors such as weather, temperature, moon phase, visibility and the time of night at which they forage. The goal of my study was to determine how environmental variables such as temperature, moon phase and visibility (cloud cover) affected the efficiency (bat captures/net meter/ hour) of bat mist netting. Mist nets were placed in the months of June, July, August, September and November from 2003 to 2012 using mist netting surveys at 23 Army Corps of Engineers dams and recreation projects in New Hampshire and Vermont. Catch rate of bats was not affected by moon phase (P= 0.317) or cloud cover (P=0.130), but were slightly affected by temperature (P=0.053). These results were consistent with other studies that looked at the effects of moon phase, cloud cover and temperature on bats. Knowing the effects of environmental conditions on catchability could be useful to biologists in determining if it is worthwhile to mist net bats on nights with certain conditions to maximize efficiency of catching bats
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2012
Authors: Jeremy Chamberlain

Comparative growth study of Eurasian watermilfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum) and Northern watermilfoil (Myriophyllum sibiricum): a look at apical influence

Mon, 04/16/2012 - 18:13
Abstract: Eurasian watermilfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum L) (EWM) is a highly invasive aquatic plant that has infested lakes across North America. EWM grows rapidly to form a dense canopy and outcompetes other species for light through shading. Northern watermilfoil (Myriophyllum sibiricum Komarov) (NWM) is a native, non-invasive, milfoil that occupies similar habitats as EWM. Little research has been done comparing fragment growth in these two species. This study compared fragment growth of EWM to NWM to better understand the invasiveness of EWM. Fragments of both species with and without an apical tip were allowed to grow in laboratory conditions for a duration of 6 weeks. Data were collected weekly on lateral bud growth, rootlet growth, and apical tip growth. On average EWM and NWM developed a similar number of lateral buds, but EWM had longer lateral buds. EWM also had fewer rootlets and longer average apical tip growth than NWM. In natural settings the physiology of EWM may allow it to allocate resources to apical tip and lateral growth in order to build up a dense canopy and outcompete native plants for light. This study further validates that the competitiveness of EWM is directly linked to its ability to form a dense canopy.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2012
File Attachments: MHall.Capstone.4.16.12.docx
Authors: Michael S. Hall

Varyable diets in house mice, Mus musculus, do not influence ability to determine new food sources through olfaction

Wed, 04/18/2012 - 21:35
Abstract: The olfactory system is important in helping mammals to be aware of predators, interact with one another and find food. The olfactory epithelial layer is located throughout the nasal cavity and the olfactory system, and contains many nerve receptors. These nerve receptors are continuously replaced throughout the animal’s life time, and it is evident the nerve receptors are more or less sensitive to different stimuli based on the odors and other chemical cues the olfactory system is regularly exposed to, in the animal’s environment. Gustation, or taste, is also important for animals to be able to learn and identify what food sources are harmful and which are edible. Because the nasal cavity and the opening into the mouth share a small space of the same connecting canal, at the top of the throat and esophagus, they both have the perceived ability to interact and influence each other. In this study two groups of mice were given different diets from each other; one restricted to lab blocks (n=4) and the other provided a more diverse diet (n=5). The ability for the mice to discriminate new possible food sources through olfaction was assessed by comparing their preferences to sniff, spend time at and visit a known food item and a novel food item. Mice groups were then compared to each other to assess how gustatory experiences could alter new food identification through olfaction. Mice in both groups preferred the known food item over the novel item (p=0.019; p=0.005), and there was not a significant difference in responses between the two groups (p=0.126; p=0.336). Data suggest the ability of mice to identify new possible food sources by olfaction could be more dependent on gustatory experiences related to that particular food source, not by how diverse the gustatory experiences of mice had.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2012
Authors: Chantel Perkins

An Evaluation of the Substrate and Vegetative Cover Selection of Nesting Piping Plovers

Fri, 04/20/2012 - 13:11
Abstract: The Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus) is a migratory shorebird that utilizes the coastal regions associated with the Atlantic Ocean for nesting areas. The population of Piping Plovers is considered threatened in this region, and is limited by predation, habitat loss and abandonment. As a means of investigating the factors affecting the success of the species, data concerning the preferred habitat characteristics of breeding plovers could provide valuable insights. This study addresses the topic “What are the preferred substrate and vegetative cover of nesting Piping Plovers?” These aspects were investigated at three County Park beaches on Long Island NY. After the plover chicks hatched and were no longer reliant on or utilizing the nest, the percentage of vegetation and substrate composition were quantified. Random locations on the beach were also sampled in the same manner. Plovers were found on average to nest in areas with a substrate dominated by sand (80%), as well as 9% vegetation. However in some cases Plovers were found to nest in areas significantly different from the nearby matrix. As the preferred habitat/nesting site characteristics of Piping Plovers are determined, these data can be used to identify areas suitable for breeding Piping Plovers and aid in creating restoration zones specifically for their purposes.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2012
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Jordan Talmage