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Capstone Projects

Developing A Wildlife Teaching Collection

Wed, 12/06/2017 - 13:14
Abstract: Wildlife specimens hold significant scientific and educational value at Paul Smith’s College through the preservation of essential biological information. Specimens allow for the better understanding of the past and present conditions of a species, and are a valuable teaching tool for all-inclusive wildlife education. However important, it is apparent that the accumulation of wildlife specimens is insufficient due to a lack of education surrounding the preservation of specimens and methods pertaining to the development of a specimen collection. In response, the procedural framework surrounding standard specimen preparation practices was analyzed and adjusted in order meet the specific needs of the institution. A comprehensive procedural manual was created with the intention of making specimen preparation a more approachable task for interested students, as well as to ensure continual growth of the wildlife teaching collection at Paul Smith’s College.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Environmental Sciences
Year: 2017
Authors: Jacob McCourt, Benjamin Wrazen

Comparison of Fine and Coarse Organic Matter Among Levels of Shoreline Impact: Implications for Ecological Restoration

Mon, 05/01/2017 - 15:24
Abstract: Human lake shoreline development has been shown to have impacts on the dynamics of the lakeshore. Such dynamics include the riparian and littoral zones interactions; the complexity, abundance, and residence time of large woody debris; organic matter/detritus, and food webs for fish, birds, and macroinvertebrates. Understanding such dynamics, and the impacts of human development, are important when attempting to restore the shoreline through the process of ecological restoration. The objectives of the study were, (1) to compare the amount of organic matter (smaller than sticks, branches, logs, and trees) among three levels of impact (impacted, minimally impacted, and benchmark), (2) to compare the amounts of CPOM and FPOM among the three levels of impact. The field data was collected using a modified design of sediment corer. A total of 63 samples were taken and the results clearly showed that the reference (benchmark) site had a much higher accumulation of organic sediment along the shoreline. Also, the data analysis also showed that there was virtually no measurable FPOM among the impacted and minimally impacted sites, but among the references sites it was more abundant than CPOM, which was opposite from the impacted and minimally impacted sites.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Environmental Sciences
Year: 2017
File Attachments: Final_Morrill.docx
Authors: John Morrill

A Comparison of Leaf Litter in the Aquatic, Terrestrial, and Transitional Zones among Impacted, Minimally Impacted, and Benchmark Conditions of the Shorelines of the Lower St. Regis Lake and Black Pond

Mon, 05/01/2017 - 17:55
Abstract: Human development of shorelines impacts structure and functionality of the shoreline’s ecosystems. Ecological restoration projects can be used to rectify this impact, but first data must be collected to determine the extent of impact human development has had on the shoreline. The objective of this study was to compare the biomass (wet and dry weights) of deciduous and coniferous leaf litter among impacted, minimally impacted, and benchmark shorelines and between terrestrial and aquatic zones. Data was collected among the three impact levels on the Paul Smith’s College property along the shores of Lower St. Regis Lake (impacted and minimally impacted) and Black Pond (benchmark). Deciduous and coniferous leaf litter was collected in the aquatic and terrestrial zones of the shoreline and among the three impact levels using 0.7 m2 terrestrial and 0.25 m2 aquatic quadrats, and then compared using nonparametric statistical tests to determine differences among impact levels and between zones. The results of this study revealed that the relationship between deciduous and coniferous leaf litter was more nuanced than expected. The study supported the current body of scientific knowledge in that shoreline development decreases the overall amount of leaf litter accumulated in the shoreline of lakes. However, should future studies on variation between deciduous and coniferous leaf litter be conducted, the criteria for impact levels should be expanded to ensure the sites used are more comparable in forest type.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Environmental Sciences
Year: 2017
Authors: Hannah Ashdown

Comparison of Cyprinid Composition and Abundance in Relation to Microhabitat Characteristics within Heron Marsh, in the Adirondack Park, NY

Mon, 04/24/2017 - 15:47
Abstract: Cyprinids are susceptible to local, watershed, and regional extirpation within the United States. Habitat alterations, non-indigenous species introductions, changes in water quality, and anthropogenic barriers have resulted in a decrease in overall cyprinid biodiversity. The objectives of this study are (1) to establish baseline water quality characteristics among sites in summer and fall, 2016, (2) to compare minnow densities to percent macrophyte cover among trap sites for common species, and (3) to compare 2016 minnow densities by species and combined with 2014 and 2012 density estimates. Heron Marsh is a shallow marsh located with the Adirondack Park, NY, that supports a wide variety of fishes in the Cyprinidae family. Baseline water quality was collected using an YSI meter, cyprinid densities were estimated using galvanized steel minnow traps, and macrophyte cover data was estimated using a 21-point grid system for trap sites within the marsh. Water quality monitoring will help assess changes in the marsh over time due to global warming. More minnow trap sites must be established to determine if there is a relationship between macrophyte cover and cyprinid abundance. This will allow the statistical power of our tests to become robust to assumptions that were otherwise violated. Cyprinid biodiversity and abundance were highest amongst the upper region of the marsh for most years. This suggests that the upper region of the marsh may be a sanctuary or refuge for certain cyprinid species.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2017
File Attachments: Kuryla_Capstone paper.docx
Authors: Jake E Kuryla

Wildlife Habitat Conservation and Management of Invasive North American Beavers (Castor canadensis) in Southern Patagonia from 2017-2037

Tue, 04/25/2017 - 13:40
Abstract: Importing the incisor-toothed ecosystem engineers from Canada to the southernmost tip of South America seemed like an innovative idea in 1946. Since this early introduction by the Argentine Navy, this species has grown exponentially (5,000 times their initial population) to 35,000 and 50,000 in Tierra del Fuego. Their density (0.2–5.8 colonies/km2) in this geographic region is even higher than North America (0.08-1-4 colonies/km2). North American beaver (Castor canadensis) are notorious hydrologists and modify their habitat to construct dams, canals, and dens. This species presents ecological, economical, and socio-cultural detriments. These factors have the potential to migrate to northern territories with the beaver due to climatic conditions favoring the species propagation. This population’s exponential growth is deemed larger than predicted due to the lag in local inhabitants noticing the rodents’ presence. To address beaver management, Chile and Argentina are working together under a bi-national agreement. Their goal is to restore Southern Patagonian ecosystems with total eradication of invasive beavers. The 2017-2037 Southern Patagonian Beaver Management Plan identifies the following goals: 1) Decrease the population of North American beavers (Castor canadensis) in S. Patagonia. 2) Define beaver-absent areas near invaded territories that have the potential to become occupied by this plastic species in the near future due to similar habitat criteria. 3) Education, information, and outreach on S. Patagonia beaver management is improved. 4) Zoonotic implications of beaver are monitored, investigated and managed. Objectives for each of these goals are included within the management plan. Wildlife biologists, trappers, and public input are essential to this management plan. Surveys issued to trappers and citizens aid in monitoring of zoonotic diseases related to beavers as well as determine public opinion of this species. Trapping will continue to be integral in beaver management.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2017
Authors: Emily Hill

Management Plan for Fearful Owls (Nesasio solomonensis) on the Solomon Islands

Thu, 04/27/2017 - 12:40
Abstract: The fearful owl (Nesasio solomonensis) is a native avian predator endemic to Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. The fearful owl is described as a secretive species with subpopulations found on three islands; Bougainville in Papua New Guinea, as well as Choiseul and Santa Isabel on the Solomon Islands. This species is known to inhabit old growth forests, which have and still are being decimated for logging practices; thus, resulting in forest habitat loss. The main prey species of the fearful owl, the northern common cuscus (Phalanger orientalis) is heavily hunted on the Solomon Islands resulting in reduced food availability. The IUCN listed the fearful owl as Near Threatened in 1988 and then as Vulnerable in 1994, which has remained unchanged. In 2016, overall population estimate of fearful owls is 2,500 - 9,999 individuals. The relisting of this species was due to the excessive habitat loss and decrease of northern common cuscus populations. A lack of knowledge of their ecology exists and until their life history is better understood, management decisions are dependent on using related species such as the barking owl (Ninox connivens) and tawny owl (Strix aluco). To increase fearful owl populations to 6,000 individuals on the Solomon Islands by the year 2043, there needs to be a focus on adult and juvenile survivorship and initiating habitat restoration. This plan aims to achieve this goal by increasing prey populations, preserving primary forests, initiating regrowth of forests, and enhancing educational awareness about habitat loss by educating the local communities. Population models predict that if no action is taken to conserve this species, the fearful owl will be extinct within the next 250 years.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2017
Authors: Nicole Schmidt

Management Plan for the Invasive Reeves’s Muntjac (Muntiacus reevesi) in Southeastern England (2017-2027)

Fri, 04/28/2017 - 18:01
Abstract: Reeves’s Muntjac (Muntiacus reevesi) are an invasive harmful ungulate that brings many issues which include spread of diseases, destruction of understory, and a continuous increasing population when it was introduced into South Eastern England both intentionally and accidentally. Reeves’s Muntjac can reproduce year-round and do not have a rut like other deer species which cause this invasive species to grow in population size even faster. This increase in population size leads to issues with changes in understory composition. Muntjac will overbrowse on a wide variety of species of common ground flora but avoid certain rare species which leads to a change in ground flora. Many trees like common hazel (Corylus avellana), field maple (Acer campestre) and European ash (Fraxinus excelsior) are threatened due to over browsing by Muntjac and coppicing practices had to be stopped. The goal of this management plan is to decrease the increasing population and range of Reeves’s Muntjac in southeast Great Britain but still maintain a population for hunting. To accomplish this, sterilization and shooting will be used to decrease the deer population. The population will have continued to be monitored through line transects of Muntjac scat. The use of a harvest reporting program will give a better idea of numbers of Muntjac harvested annually by hunters to help future managers better monitor the population. These actions are important so we can better manage the populations so they do not get out of control and destroy the native vegetation of Great Britain.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2017
File Attachments: Management Plan 1.docx
Authors: Kyle Martin

Management Plan for Pacific Walrus (Odobenus rosmarus divergens) in Alaska, 2017-2027

Fri, 04/28/2017 - 18:06
Abstract: Pacific Walruses are social mammals and travel in herds. Most of the population spends the summer months in the ice pack of the Chukchi Sea; however, mostly adult males use coastal haulouts in the Bering Sea. Walruses use ice to rest between foraging trips, mate, care for their young, and defend themselves against predators. Climate reduced their ability to engage in these behaviors by eliminating the ice pack in their summer season. Walruses feed on bivalves on the sea bottom; however, because of climate change they no longer can reach the bottom. In response to the loss of ice, walruses are resting on land haulouts with as many as 20,000-40,000 individuals. This puts pressure on the benthic material supply. The swim from drifting ice to coastal haulouts can be hundreds of kilometers, which leads to the death of young walruses. Walruses are sensitive to sounds from ships, aircrafts, and tourist underwater and out of water. When walruses are disturbed by these events, they create stampedes by trying to dive into the water. The stampeding event ends in high mortality for calves. In 2007, more than 1,000 walruses were trampled to death in Chukotka, Russia. To prevent human disturbances, management at haulouts needs to occur for 10 years (2017-2027). The goals are to improve demographic knowledge of pacific walruses, minimize stampeding events, and grow and replace native bivalves near land haulouts. This could be accomplished by laws that require aircraft and vessels to maintain the appropriate distance. Creating artificial habitat would result in less use of coastal haulouts which would decrease mortality during stampeding events. It would also provide easier access to bivalves for foraging trips. Bivalves are depleting near land haulouts due to large demand from the high density of walruses, therefore aquaculture is needed to replace their food source. Harvesting more of the adult population would be essential to maintain the population from going over carrying capacity. If the adult population decreases then fewer calves will die in stampedes. These objectives are necessary to ensure the future of walruses and their new habitat.
Access: No
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2017
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Desiree Stumpf

Spruce grouse (Falcipennis canadensis) management in the northern Adirondacks

Fri, 04/28/2017 - 22:31
Abstract: Spruce grouse (Falcipennis canadensis) are a large game bird that exists in the northern Adirondacks as well as most of Canada and several other states in the U.S. including Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Alaska. With estimated populations of approximately 200, spruce grouse are threatened with becoming extirpated. In the northern Adirondacks, spruce grouse are dependent on coniferous forests that provide adequate cover and food that consists of Jack pine (Pinus banksiana) and black spruce (Picea mariana). These preferred habitats consist of dense middle-aged forests, unfortunately these preferred habitats have declined due to climate change and logging (Potvin 2006). To manage for these types of forests this plan will implement stem exclusion and prescribed fires. These forest management techniques will allow for more understory regeneration that will require several years to achieve. Additionally, translocation of spruce grouse into three counties (St. Lawrence, Franklin, and Essex) of the northern Adirondacks will help increase spruce grouse populations, which will be monitored using radio-tracking. Predator control, such as trapping red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) is expected to increase fledgling survival. The synergistic effect of these management strategies will achieve a sustainable population of spruce grouse in the northern Adirondacks by 2027.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2017
Authors: Ray Coffey

Management Plan for Round Gobies (Neogobius melanostomus) in the Great Lakes

Sat, 04/29/2017 - 08:30
Abstract: Round gobies (Neogobius melanostomus; hereafter goby) are an invasive fish species native to the Black and Caspian Sea. They were introduced in 1990 and have rapidly expanded their population throughout all of the Great Lakes, faster than any previous invader. Round gobies are bottom dwelling fish structurally and functionally similar to a native species, the mottled sculpin (Cottus bairdii). Gobies are much more aggressive, causing high competition for the sculpins. They feed primarily on zebra mussels, but also on the eggs of lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) and smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieu), which are popular native gamefish. There is a possibility of the species spreading into the Mississippi River through tributaries coming out of the lakes, which would introduce them to the largest watershed in the United States. In 2002, the population estimate of round gobies in western Lake Erie alone was 13.27 tonnes/km2 (9.9 billion individuals) which is up to 7 times higher than the biomass estimated of yellow perch (Perca flavenscens). This management plan proposes to decrease the population by 50% by 2023 by reducing introduction into the Great Lakes, isolating the population that currently exists from spreading, educating the public on the species, and capturing fish using a combination of techniques, increasing mortality. Some actions include monitoring ballast water tanks of ships entering the Great Lakes, using electrical barriers to isolate gobies, and using minnow traps baited with liver to capture the fish. No action would result in gobies reaching extremely large numbers in areas where they do not currently exist. If all objectives are successful, the current population of round gobies in the Great Lakes will decrease by 50% by 2032.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2017
File Attachments: MgmtPlan.docx
Authors: Michala Seibert