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Capstone Projects

Tardigrade Abundance in Green Shield Lichens on Different Tree Species

Wed, 04/24/2013 - 18:43
Abstract: Many studies have been done on tardigrades, a microscopic, aquatic organism that feeds on plant cell fluid, bacteria, algae, protozoa, and other small invertebrates. Most of these studies have addressed their ability to survive extreme environments and not their preferred living habitats. Virtually no studies have been done investigating the ecology of tardigrades. This study focuses on which species of tardigrade live on a species of lichen (Common Greenshield Lichen, Flavoparmelia caperata) found on three species of trees; Red Maple (Acer rubrum), Black Cherry (Prunus serotina), and White Pine (Pinus strobus). Five trees of each species were chosen and five samples of the Common Greenshield Lichen were taken from all 25 trees during each of the fall and winter seasons. From every lichen sample processed, five slides were looked at, each containing two drops of the water that the lichen was suspended in for 2 hours. The samples were looked at underneath a compound microscope and a dichotomous key was used to identify tardigrades that were found. Due to the fact that liquid water is less available in winter, samples were taken during the fall and winter to look at the differences in species diversity and abundance. The greatest abundance of tardigrades was found on Red Maple, during both fall and winter. Black Cherry had the lowest abundance of tardigrades during both fall and winter. White Pine had an abundance less than that of Red Maple but greater than that of the Black Cherry. There were more tardigrades found on the lichen in fall than in winter. This implies that they find Red Maple a more suitable habitat than the Black Cherry and White Pine, may be related to acidity of the Black Cherry and White Pine being greater than that of Red Maple. Throughfall and stemflow on the trees may also contribute to habitat preference of the tardigrades.
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Major: Biology
Year: 2013
File Attachments: Capstone Report.docx
Authors: Heather Cooner

New York State Feral Hog (Sus scrofa) Management Plan: Species Eradication and Public Education

Thu, 04/25/2013 - 11:22
Abstract: Feral hogs, also referred to as feral swine, Eurasian or Russian wild boar, and wild pigs, are the same species Sus scofa. They are an aggressive invasive species introduced to the United States in the 1500s and have spread over most of the country in the last few decades (Gipson et al. 1998). Due to their unique life history feral hogs are a persevering ungulate species capable of causing extensive economical and ecological damage while causing a threat to human health and safety. They are considered one of the world’s worst invasive species (Lowe et al. 2000). Extinction of native species and loss of biodiversity due to this widely invasive species has been documented worldwide (Wolf and Conover 2003). This management plan describes the life history of feral hogs, the need for management in New York State, several action plans to address the need for management, and assessment protocol for each action plan. Also included in this plan is a grant request to fund the educational objectives in order to achieve more awareness and cooperation with the public, promoting higher probability of management success.
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Major: Biology
Year: 2013
File Attachments: Feral Hog Management Plan
Authors: William Schmieder Jr.

Compaction of Hiking Trails Located in the Northeastern Area of the Adirondack State Park, New York

Mon, 04/29/2013 - 12:19
Abstract: With continued increases in outdoor recreation in the United States, the physical impact of that use needs to be monitored for its effects. The purpose of this study was to explore whether a relationship exists between traffic numbers and soil strength of trails in the High Peaks Region of New York’s Adirondack state park. Soil strength was used as a measure of compaction because of its ability to indicate certain aspects of soil physical properties like bulk density, and hydrological condition (Mirreh & Ketcheson,1972), which are also soil physical properties that are effected by compaction (Hanna & Al-Kaisi,2009). These physical properties are important factors which influence a soils ability to carry out its biotic and abiotic processes (Kozlowski,1999). Initially the relationship between average soil strength of trails and traffic was insignificant. Upon further analyzing the data we found a significant relationship between on-trail and off-trail soil strength and used this relationship to create on-trail residual soil strengths. This was done to remove the influence that off-trail soil strength was having on the traffic vs. soil strength relationship. With the on/off-trail relationship influence removed, the relationship between on-trail residual soil strength and traffic was significantly improved. Literature discussed showed how the soil strengths collected could be used to infer possible effects on the sites tested. Relations between soil strength and bulk density, root elongation, root penetration, and trail recovery were all reviewed to provide insight on the quality of the soil at sample sites.
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Major: Biology
Year: 2013
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Karl Van Osch

No Known Antidote: Quantification of a deadly toxin, tetrodotoxin, in red efts (Notopthalamus viridescens; Rafinesgue, 1820)

Mon, 04/29/2013 - 17:42
Abstract: Tetrodotoxin (TTX) in found in taxa worldwide including the eft life stage of the eastern newt (Notopthalamus virisdescens). Previous studies have shown that there is variability of TTX concentrations within efts and newts, and it is not known if the presence of TTX in these efts is common among populations. Our objective was to determine the distribution of TTX within the body N. viridescens efts. We hypothesized that the skin would have the highest concentrations of TTX as it is the area of the body that will likely come into contact with a predator. If certain regions of the skin come into contact with a predator more often than others, there may be significant differences in the dorsal, abdominal and pectoral regions of skin. Further, we hypothesized that the ova would have the second highest concentration of TTX as they are vital to reproduction yet vulnerable to predation. Through HPLC analysis we determined the concentrations of TTX within different tissues of N. viridescens efts including the: dorsal, pectoral, and abdominal skin; ovaries; testes; liver; pancreas; and alimentary canal. The concentrations of TTX between the different tissue types are not significantly different, nor were individuals significantly different in concentration of TTX from one another. Toxicity levels were high in comparison to other N. viridescens efts and more similar to the toxicity of highly toxic Taricha newts. The high toxicity of N. viridescens could be contributed to strong predation pressure by the slightly resistant garter snake (Thamnopsis sirtalis) and eastern hognose snake (Heterodon platirhinos).
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Literary Rights: Off
Major: Biology
Year: 2013
Authors: Kimberly M. Forrest

The Conservation and Management of Wolverine (Gulo gulo) Populations in Northern Idaho to Help Prevent Human Caused Extirpation from the Contiguous United States

Thu, 05/02/2013 - 11:21
Abstract: Wolverines (Gulo gulo) were once a thriving species in the North Western United States, but large scale trapping and poison programs in the early 1900s lead to the species near extinction. Since then, populations in the United States have been struggling to maintain a strong presence in Idaho. Its current listing as threatened on the Endangered Species Act prohibits hunting and trapping, but more management is needed to sustain populations. Human development and recreation activities have caused wolverines to disperse from its nature range. Using habitat preservation techniques on current and historical wolverine habitat, increase availability and connectivity will improve dispersal. Close relationship with state officials will provide protection regarding land use, recreation, hunting, trapping and harassment. Public education will teach residents ways they can help prevent wolverine populations from further decline. Extensive research and population monitoring are needed due to the currently declining populations and the low fecundity of the species.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Biology, Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2013
Authors: Danielle E. Ball

Poaching: Does The Local Economy Influence Poaching in New Hampshire

Wed, 04/24/2013 - 17:35
Abstract: Because one of the most commonly cited reasons for poaching is to feed one’s family, I investigated whether economic indicators (unemployment, poverty, median household income) affected poaching in New Hampshire on the county level for years 2005-2011. Economic indicator data was collected through the US Census while poaching data was collected from NH Fish and Game. Violations per capita was calculated by dividing the number of violations in each county by the population of the respective county. As the amount of rural area may influence poaching rate, huntable/fishable area in each county (total county area minus residential and transportation area) was calculated as a metric of ruralness. First, in an effort, to determine which economic indicators to use, I sought to determine if the three economic indicators correlated with each other. Because poverty level correlated with household median income, poverty was excluded from the regression analysis. A multiple regression was conducted with unemployment, household median income, and available huntable fishable area as predictors of violations per capita. Due to Coos being an outlier in each of the categories of interest, Coos was excluded from the statistical analysis. Unemployment (coeff = -0.0048752, p = 0.016), household median income (coeff = -0.0000002, p = 0.008), and huntable and fishable area (coeff = 0.0009837, p = 0.029) were significant factors in predicting violations per capita in NH. Although unemployment, household median income, and huntable fishable area can be possible predictors of poaching, other variables may also influence poaching.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2013
File Attachments: Capstone Paper Final.docx
Authors: Joshua Curtis

Management Plan for American Black Ducks in New England

Wed, 04/24/2013 - 17:38
Abstract: The American black duck was selected as a focal species for this management plan due to its conservation need. At one time the American black duck was the most abundant fresh water duck in the Atlantic Flyway, and particularly in New England where they were year round residents (US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2011). Although relatively stable over the last 15 years, the black duck population experienced a 50% decline from the 1950’s to the 1990’s and are below the desired abundance (Denvers & Collins, 2011). While the reason for black duck population decline is still unclear, researchers hypothesize that loss of wintering and breeding habitat, competition and hybridization with mallards, and overharvesting may be responsible (Denvers & Collins, 2011; US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2011; Black Duck Joint Venture, 2008). This management plan outlines an approach that can be taken to increase the total breeding population of American black ducks from ~ 565,000 breeding individuals to 650,000 breeding individuals, the desired breeding populations (Denvers & Collins, 2011). By increasing preserved breeding habitat, increasing nest success and reducing harvest mortalities in New England, this goal is feasible. A possible course of action is provided to inform the public of our planed actions. Cooperation with state governments and sportsmen within New England is essential in order to reach the desired black duck population. In order for this plan to be deemed successful the American black duck population must increase to at least 650,000 breeding individual.
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Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2013
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Joshua Curtis

Eastern Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris) Management in Upstate New York

Thu, 04/25/2013 - 11:21
Abstract: The eastern wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris), was completely absent from the state of New York for nearly 100 years. With suitable habitat regenerating, the turkeys have migrated back into the state and along with New York State Department of Environmental Conservation trap and transfer efforts, the turkeys have made a full recovery. Although turkeys are now found in all suitable habitats of the state, there population is still at risk. Poult survival is a strong determining factor in the existence of the population. With poult mortality approaching 75% in bad years, every effort needs to be made in order to ensure the poults that survive, reach maturity. Management practices of public operations as well as farmers need to be adjusted to delay mowing of roadside ditches and hay fields until July to protect hens and their nests. By creating suitable nesting habitat, that keeps the eggs and poults safe from the elements and predators, as well as educating the public and landowners about the importance of nesting habitat, poults will have a higher chance of reaching maturity.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2013
Authors: Brad Marshall

New York State Ruffed Grouse (Bonasa umbellus) Management Plan

Thu, 04/25/2013 - 11:24
Abstract: In New York State, Ruffed grouse have been an important bird for many hunters and outdoor enthusiasts. This species’ population has been slowly declining due to the loss of habitat. Ruffed grouse prefer early successional forests with high stem density. This allows them to hide in the cover and shelters them from predators. These early successional forests provide mid staged trees increasing the brood habitat and increasing the survival of young. The goals of this management plan are to increase the total area of early successional forests in New York State and to increase the estimated Ruffed grouse population size. The goals will be achieved by logging and clear cutting allowing young trees and shrubs to begin growth and by monitoring populations to see population trends. Increasing these habitats will improve nesting and brood habitat which may lead to a population increase. Logged areas are preferred areas for male Ruffed grouse to drum, allowing them to possibly attract more mates. The management sites will be monitored to see if tree species incorporated with early successional forests need to be added. Public and private land will be managed to ensure habitat is added not only on public forests to allow possible dispersal and immigration of populations. To ensure future Ruffed grouse populations action needs to be done now or the decrease of their natural habitat will continue to expand.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2013
File Attachments: Ruffed grouse management
Authors: Kyle Keys

Management Plan for Nutria (Myocastor coypus) in Louisiana Marshlands

Thu, 04/25/2013 - 11:25
Abstract: Nutria have been in Louisiana from the late 1800’s and has been destroying the Louisiana marshes since their release in the 1930’s. Nutria are large rodents that feed extensively on marsh grasses and roots. The nutria harvest 25% of their body weight (5.5Kg) each day, however they only consume 10% of the food they harvest. The goal of this management plan is to eradicate the nutria from the Louisiana ecosystem through hunting and trapping with economic incentives. There are two reasons that eradication is the answer to the nutria infestation. The first reason for their eradication is they are an invasive species that has replaced the native muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus). The second reason for their eradication is that they have incredibly high rates of reproduction with relatively low rates of predation. If the nutria is left to exist on its own, the population would soon get out of control and completely destroy Louisiana’s ecosystems. Nutria need to be eradicated in order to save the remaining marshlands and prevent erosion in the Louisiana marshland.
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Literary Rights: Off
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2013
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Stephen Jennings