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Capstone Projects

Effects of Silvicultural Treatments on Wildlife Communities at the Paul Smith's College Forest Research Demonstration Areas

Fri, 05/11/2018 - 16:15
Abstract: Logging has drastically altered North American forest ecosystems for centuries. While extensive studies have been done to determine the impacts of different silvicultural practices on plant communities, minimal research has evaluated the impacts on wildlife communities, particularly in the Adirondack Mountains. Silvicultural practices may significantly impact wildlife communities due to the disturbances it causes, as well as the way it alters the habitat. We monitored winter wildlife communities in the Forest Ecosystem Research Demonstration Area owned by Paul Smith’s College in the Northern Adirondack Park. By analyzing the data collected by trail cameras, tracks and measuring percent browse, we compared the abundance and diversity of wildlife in three silvicultural treatments (i.e., clearcut, group selection, control). We also collected data regarding the physical aspects of the silvicultural treatment plot (i.e. canopy cover and snow depth) to indicate the kind of available habitat. We found that despite there being the highest average relative activity in group selection, there is no significant relationship between average relative activity and harvest treatment type. Using the Shannon-Weiner Diversity Index, we found that the highest diversity was in control/reference. Due to our limited treatment sample size, we did not have conclusive findings in most areas of our study. However, the highest total tracks and relative activity were found in the clearcuts. We suggest that more research be done on this study in order to eventually make forest management plans that properly account for both plant and wildlife species.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Biology, Environmental Sciences, Natural Resources Conservation and Management
Year: 2018
Authors: Jacob Adams, Caitlin De Bellis, Tyler Fisk, Hyla Howe, Mark McHugh, Daniel Sutch

Vista Wellness: An Educational Community Center for the Glenview Preserve

Fri, 12/14/2018 - 23:29
Abstract: The Glenview Preserve is home to a beautiful open vista of the High Peaks. This land was recently purchased by the Adirondack Land Trust and is looking for ways to sustainably manage the property by utilizing Paul Smith’s College capstone students for recommendations. One viable opportunity the ALT can incorporate, is the addition of a sustainable forum and conference center. With a community-oriented mind, Vista Wellness will provide a multitude of spaces for businesses and individuals to retreat while partaking in recreational activities. Vista Wellness is designed to be low impact with features such as a living roof and LEED certification. Using a promotional commercial and an intricate model, using state of the art construction supplies, we are able to convey the need for this addition to the Glenview property.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Environmental Sciences, Sustainable Communities & Working Landscapes
Year: 2018
Authors: Kimberly Kehr
, Matthew Syke
, Thomas Szabo

Influence of Slope on Soil Organic Carbon on Costa Rican Coffee Farms.

Mon, 05/07/2018 - 10:21
Abstract: Soil management is an important factor on agroforestry farms that help with soil fertility and carbon storage. Coffee agroforestry farms in Central Valley Atenas, Costa Rica were analyzed between November 2008 and May 2017. The objective of this study was to see if there is a relationship between mean slope and annual soil organic carbon sequestration (Mg/ha), and mean slope and soil organic carbon storage (Mg/ha), from samples taken on November 2008/May 2009 and November2016/ May 2017. Sample were taken on five farms with twenty 0.05 ha plots. Many coffee farms in the central valley are assembled on steep slopes or sides of mountains. Steep slopes are susceptible to erosion affecting the amount of soil organic carbon sequestration and storage. There was not a significant relationship found between mean slope and loss of carbon sequestration annually in November 2016/ May 2017 (Mg/ha). Mean slope and soil organic carbon storage from November 2016/May 2017 were compared by testing the effects of slope with carbon storage and there was no relationship. Whereas a statistically significant positive relationship was found between mean slope and soil organic carbon storage from November 2008/ May 2009. Additional data was examined to look at annual carbon sequestration loss on conventional and organic farms. However there was not a significant difference between the two. When all farms were compared for their annual carbon sequestration loss, marginally significant difference was found, but reasons for these differences remain a hypothesis. Further research to examine these differences may include practices of the farmers and erosion steeper slopes before erosion implications were taken by the farmers.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Environmental Sciences
Year: 2018
File Attachments: JMcLaughlin_Capstone.docx
Authors: Jessica McLaughlin,

Assessing the Use of Backpack Electrofishing to Index Age-0 Fish Abundance in Woody Structure Adjacent to the Lakeshore

Fri, 12/14/2018 - 10:50
Abstract: The preservation and monitoring of age-0 fishes and their habitat is imperative to the overall health of a lake and its fishery. The effectiveness of backpack electrofishing at capturing age-0 fishes along shorelines with coarse woody structure was assessed by attempting to correlate electrofishing catch rates with known population sizes. A 60x2m controlled study area along the shoreline of Lower St. Regis lake was selected and blocked off through use of a net encompassing the perimeter. Known population sizes were stocked into the net and a three-pass electrofishing depletion was conducted within the study area. Results indicated that there was no significant correlation between the known population size and the population estimate generated through electrofishing (p = 0.172). The lack of correlation may have been due to failure of the block net encompassing the study area.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
File Attachments: Full Report
Authors: Justin Rozema

Special Topic: An Investigation of Long Term Monitoring of Fishes in Two Aquatic Ecosystems

Fri, 05/11/2018 - 10:06
Abstract: Lower St. Regis Lake Abstract Long-term ecological research is important in understanding how fish communities change over time. The objective of this study was to determine how fish communities in Lower St. Regis Lake have changed. From 2004 - 2017 fisheries students at Paul Smith’s College have conducted lake surveys on Lower St. Regis Lake using standardized sampling protocols. This study showed shifts in fish community composition, changes in size structure, and variable body condition. As Lower St. Regis Lake changes, continued long-term ecological research will provide an opportunity for students monitor and study factors that may be effecting fish populations and communities. Smitty Creek Abstract Long term ecological monitoring of streams provides an effective means to evaluate changing habitat conditions on fish population dynamics. Our objective was to use long-term data from four tributaries in Smitty Creek Watershed to explore the relationship of age-0 brook trout densities to regional weather conditions. Catch data of age 0 brook trout was collected during the fall from 2004 to 2017. Average monthly precipitation and temperature data was taken from the Lake Clear regional weather station. Of four streams, Little Aldo showed correlation of age-0 brook trout with the precipitation and temperature data. Future work should include improved instrumentation within the reaches and the use of site-specific data.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
File Attachments: Final Capstone West St. Cyr
Authors: Taylor West, Joe St. Cyr

Management Plan to Increase Nesting Success of Northern Pintails (Anas acuta) in the Prairie Pothole Region of North Dakota

Mon, 05/07/2018 - 17:36
Abstract: Once one of the most abundant ducks in North America, northern pintails have significantly declined since the 1960s when populations reached about 10 million. Over the past 40 years they have declined 78%, or about 2.4% per year between 1966 and 2015, due to expanding agricultural activity in their prairie pothole breeding grounds. In 2009 that the pintail population was estimated at 3.2 million, which is substantially below the 5.6 million population goal set by the North American Waterfowl Management Plan. The northern pintail population is substantially impacted by drought; and a loss of grasslands and wetland habitat in the prairie pothole region. Without proper breeding habitat pintails migrate further north to the Artic lowland tundra, where wetland conditions are more stable. However, when large numbers breed in these regions fewer young are produced. As a result, the prairies are where the fate of the pintail population lies. Throughout North America the northern pintail is listed as a migratory bird species where it is protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and receives some management under the North American Waterfowl Management Plan. In North Dakota, the northern pintail is listed as a level II species of concern and there it receives management under the State Wildlife Action Plan, but because it is only a level II species it does not receive the management until all actions are covered for level I species. However, due to the species large geographic range and large worldwide population estimate it is listed as a species of Least Concern with a declining population on the International Union for Conservation of Species (IUCN) Red List of threatened species. The goals of this plan are to increase the abundance and distribution of northern pintails in North Dakota over the next 10 years and to provide information that leads to greater public involvement for the management of the species in North Dakota. The objectives to achieve these goals include: mitigation of agricultural impacts on nests, reductions of egg, hatchling, and hen predation via predator exclusion, increase in nesting habitat via Farm Bill practices and State Wildlife Grants, and the education of the public about the nesting requirements of northern pintails and the potential impacts of agriculture as well management practices to avoid these impacts. Based on population modeling, egg, hatchling, and hen survival is the key factor to focus on when managing for this species. An increase of about 50% nest success (eggs) and reduced predation rate on hatchlings and hens should result in a positive population trend, yielding a population of 6.7 million in 10 years, with a greater than 50% increase being more favorable to the overall goals and objectives. Northern pintails are a game species that needs management action in breeding areas to ensure their survival and growth for the enjoyment of current and future generations.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
Authors: Joseph K Roberts

Managing Raccoons (Procyon lotor) to Benefit Allegheny Woodrats (Neotoma magister) in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

Thu, 05/03/2018 - 10:45
Abstract: Raccoons (Procyon lotor) are a generalist species whose populations are on the rise throughout the United States. Raccoons are well known for carrying rabies, mange, and many other diseases that can be transmitted to other species. However, it’s the lesser known raccoon round worm (Baylisascaris procyonis) that is having a dramatic effect in the Northeastern United States. The adult worms reside in the small intestine of the raccoon and the eggs are passed in its feces which is then transferred to a new host. The round worms are not fatal to raccoons but can be to other species. One of those species, the Allegheny woodrat (Neotoma magister) collects the feces of other animals to eat the seeds out of it, meaning when they collect raccoon feces they are susceptible to contracting raccoon round worm. The Alleghany woodrat is endangered in New York state and threatened in New Jersey (Sheldon 2004). Therefore, it has become necessary to manage raccoons, the host of the round worm, in a way that will benefit the Allegheny wood rat. This includes decreasing raccoon populations, deworming raccoons, and getting the public more involved with the management of raccoons. If all of this were completed then the Allegheny wood rat would be much more stable and possibly able to recolonize the habitat it’s been extirpated from.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
File Attachments: Davies 5.3.18.docx
Authors: Liam Davies

Management of Sierra Nevada Red Foxes (Vulpes vulpes necator) in the Sierra Nevada and Cascade Mountains

Thu, 05/03/2018 - 10:32
Abstract: Sierra Nevada red foxes (Vulpes vulpes necator) are one of three subspecies of montane red fox that exist from 1,200 m to 3,600 m in elevation throughout the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges. California and Oregon are thought to contain the 7 remaining populations of SNRF, with other potential populations existing in these states as well as Nevada. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species has lowland red fox species (Vulpes vulpes) listed as a species of least concern, leaving this subspecies neglected with respect to management. It is estimated that fewer than 50 individuals exist in the wild, leaving extinction as a possible outcome in the near future. With current population estimations being based upon camera sightings and genetic evidence, a need for management is imperative. Depletion of high elevation heterogeneous habitat, competition, predation, disease, and climate change act as potential threats to the remaining populations of Sierra Nevada red foxes. A scarce amount of data has been produced regarding their distribution, ecology, and behavior, making it difficult to develop a detailed plan to revive their species. They are a native species, however, that possess much value. Their extinction could lead to an ecological imbalance with respect to predators, prey, and the native flora that inhabit mountainous ecosystems. Their revival may lead to incorporation into local zoos and the dissolving of the red fox trapping ban in California, offering room for economic growth. Indigenous people of California, Oregon, and possibly Nevada may also gain aesthetic pleasure by viewing these foxes in nature if populations were to increase. Further regulation from these three states would provide rules and guidelines regarding the well-being of these foxes should their populations exhibit this increase. With these concepts in mind, the goals are to educate the people of California, Oregon, and Nevada on the current state of Sierra Nevada red foxes while striving to produce healthy and stable populations. Obtaining more accurate estimations of their total population by camera trapping and scat sampling will be essential for this claim. Radio tracking efforts will also help to fill in the ecological data gaps that exist. Gaining knowledge on diseases, restoring alpine habitat by mitigating overgrazing and conducting controlled burns, and eliminating coyotes will aid in the production of healthy and stable populations. This management plan focuses on a combination of these objectives and corresponding actions in order to meet the overall goals in an efficient and timely manner.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
File Attachments: Nardelli_5_2.docx
Authors: Dave Nardelli

Management plan for the: Jackson's mongoose (Bdeogale jacksoni)

Thu, 05/03/2018 - 10:26
Abstract: Jackson’s mongoose (Bdeogale jacksoni) is in the Herpestidae family. Like the bushy-tailed mongoose (Bdeogale crassicauda) and the black footed mongoose (Bdeogale nigripes) they are located within a small geographic region in South eastern Africa. This family of mongooses are all listed on the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), but the Jackson’s mongoose is listed as near threatened, more of a concern than other members of its family. The Jackson’s mongoose is an omnivorous predator that preys upon small mammals and rodents as well as fruiting plants. This species is nocturnal and very elusive, there are only few reported pictures of this species. This cause of this species’ decline is due to the loss of forest habitat throughout its natural range. The range of this species is in small national parks located in Kenya and Tanzania. The lack of knowledge about this species is part of the reason this species is in decline. The goal of this management plan is to conduct research on this species of mongoose to discover an accurate population size. The goals and objectives of this management plan will aim to establish a sustainable population of this species by managing their habitat. If the proper courses of action are performed throughout this management plan a sustainable population of the Jackson’s mongoose is attainable.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
File Attachments: Final_paper.docx
Authors: Seamus McArdle

Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron (Nyctanassa voilacea) Management Plan for Coastal New Jersey Salt Marshes

Thu, 05/03/2018 - 10:25
Abstract: The yellow-crowned night-heron (Nyctanassa voilacea) is a species of heron that mostly inhabits coastal salt marshes and swamps. They often breed in communal rookeries close to developed areas which often leads to negative human impacts. They range from New Jersey south along the coast down to Florida and Bermuda. Their populations are stable throughout most of their range but they are currently listed as threatened in New Jersey. Their diet is comprised mostly of crustaceans and occasionally small fish. In the late 1800s, this species was hunted almost to extinction because its plumage was used for hats and other clothing. The species made a recovery when the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (16 U.S.C. §§ 703–712) was passed but now population numbers have been declining since the 1970s when human development increased in coastal areas. They are experiencing habitat loss due to human development. The goal of this plan is to increase populations to a sustainable breeding level throughout their range within the state of New Jersey. More biological information about this species is required to further understand the life cycle and behavior of these birds as well as aid in adaptive management strategies. A public education pamphlet will be made and distributed to households, sporting goods shops, bait and tackle shops, and to tourists in the area of interest. There will be habitat restoration projects to ensure proper roosting habitat in already protected areas including state parks and wildlife management areas. If these objectives are successfully achieved and human impact is minimized than the Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron will be able to sustain a healthy breeding population in New Jersey salt marshes.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
File Attachments: Cartwright_Final_Plan.docx
Authors: Adam Cartwright