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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

Soil and Vegetation Characteristics of High Elevation Wetlands in the Adirondack Park

Mon, 12/03/2012 - 17:14
Abstract: Wetland ecosystems are finally being understood for their true importance. Wetlands in the past were misunderstood and thought to be disease carrying burdens on our way of life; however this mentality changed during the mid-19thcentury. These ecosystems are important for biodiversity and act as natural water purification systems. This study was undertaken to help understand, the high elevation wetland characteristics. Our goals were to analyze the soils and describe the vegetation in high elevation wetlands. The soil and vegetative surveys helped define the characteristics of these ecosystems and create a better understanding of them. The combination of vegetation species that are wetland indicators were found in each site, the soil pH, and nutrients show that each site had signs of being a wetland community.
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Major: Environmental Sciences, Forestry
Year: 2012
File Attachments: FINAL Capstone Report.doc
Authors: Brandon Ploss, Sean Ayotte

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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Literary Rights: Off
Major: Environmental Sciences, Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2012
File Attachments: Sauca_Final_Submision.docx
Authors: Tonnie Sauca Jr.

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

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

Eastern Mud Turtle (Kinosternon subrubrum) Recovery Plan for Long Island, New York

Tue, 05/01/2012 - 12:05
Abstract: The Eastern Mud Turtle is a rapidly decreasing reptile in the most northeastern part of its range, Long Island, New York. They get their name from the behavior of digging through mud to hibernate. The biggest threats to them are road mortality, nest predation, and loss of habitat. They are slow to mature and therefore depend on high levels of adult survivorship to maintain populations. It takes 5-8 years for a female to mature. Then there is a high risk of the eggs being eaten and the females being hit by cars because they make annual movements to nest. Not many eastern mud turtles have been documented in New York. The goal of this management plan for the eastern mud turtle is to decrease the mortality drastically. Key components include decreasing road mortality, increasing the survival of juveniles, and getting the public more aware and involved. If these are addressed properly, then the eastern mud turtle population is should increase.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2012
File Attachments: Full management plan.docx
Authors: Elena Zito

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

Implementation of an Antler Restriction Program for White-tailed deer in New York State’s Wildlife Management Unit 4F

Mon, 04/30/2012 - 16:03
Abstract: White-tailed deer are one of North America’s most popular big game species. Big game hunting provides a great amount of revenue for the state of New York. This reason alone makes its important to keep hunters in New York State satisfied. The problem arises when half of the hunting population wants to implement antler restriction programs and the other half do not. This management plan is designed to keep both types of hunters satisfied. The goal is to implement an antler restriction program in wildlife management unit 4F, which is located in central New York. The antler restriction that would be implemented would be based off of responses to a survey from resident hunters. The three options include an antler restriction that requires there to be three points that measure at least one inch in length on one side, one plan that requires at least two points on one side, or a plan that would take no action at all. The management plan would be implemented the following season and would be monitored for the next 5 years.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2012
Authors: Joseph Nelson

Management plan for nuisance urban American crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) population control

Mon, 04/30/2012 - 12:54
Abstract: High population densities can be a problem for both humans and animals. American crows (Corvus brachyrhynchos) occur in extremely high densities in urban settings across the United States. These populations increase the transmission rate of diseases such as West Nile Virus, damage businesses and structures near roost sites, and cause disturbances in the form of noise. For these reasons decreasing the size of urban roosts benefits both crows and humans. This management plan outlines an approach that can be taken to reduce nuisance American crow populations in urban settings. Using non-lethal methods such as pyrotechnic displays, exploders, handheld lasers, tape-recorded distress calls, and habitat modification this plan provides a course of action to disperse urban crow roosts. Extensive public relations are needed for this type of plan due to the disturbance the methods will cause in urban areas. A course of action is provided to inform the public of our actions and to enlist volunteers to help carry out the methods. For this plan to be considered successful a 75% reduction in urban crow population size must be seen along with consistent total population estimates that do not go above 110% or below 90% of the original population size.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2012
File Attachments: Mgmt Plan 4-11.doc
Authors: Benjamin Eck