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Capstone Projects

Analysis of common water sampling techniques used to assess lake trophic state

Sat, 12/05/2015 - 00:21
Abstract: Volunteer lake management programs (VLMPs) across the country employ different surface water sampling techniques to establish long-term trends in nutrient availability and trophic state. The three most common techniques are a surface grab (SG), 2m integrated tube sampler (IT), and a discrete sampler, such as a Van Dorn or Kemmerer bottle deployed to a depth of 1.5m (DD). These various sampling techniques vary not only in depth, but also in cost and ease of use. The objectives of my study are to 1) determine if there is a statistical difference in chlorophyll-a (chl-a) and total phosphorus (TP) concentration obtained between the three different sampling techniques, 2) determine if the treatment effect (sampling device) varies over time, 3) determine which method has the least amount of variability, and 4) determine if sampling technique ultimately influences trophic state classification. The study was conducted on Upper St. Regis Lake, Paul Smiths, New York. I collected 10 samples from the lake using the three different techniques during the months of June – August, 2015. I found a significant difference in chlorophyll-a concentration between sampling techniques during June and July, and during the month of July for TP. The three sampling techniques yielded similar variability for chlorophyll-a but significantly different variability for TP. Ultimately, the trophic status rating for Upper St. Regis was not effected by sampling technique. My study suggests that VLMP should utilize a SG or IT rather than a costly DD sampler.
Access: Yes
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Major: Environmental Sciences
Year: 2015
Authors: Hunter Favreau

Interpreter's Guide to the Finger Lakes Trail

Wed, 04/29/2015 - 21:44
Abstract: Guidebooks help hikers to navigate trail systems and gain a better understanding of their surroundings. Many types of guides exist for popular long distance hiking trails such as the Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail, and the Continental Divide Trail. The Finger Lakes Trail (FLT) runs 558 miles across the base of New York State, yet has very little associated literature. I hiked a 52 mile section of the Finger Lakes Trail from Ellicottville to Portageville in western New York. Using observations from the trail and related literature, I wrote an interpretive guide for this section. My FLT interpretive guide covers topics related to planning and packing for a multiday backpacking trip, natural history of western New York forests, the story of the development of the FLT system, and backpacking ethics. This work will help satisfy the human need to acquire knowledge and potentially enrich the experience of FLT hikers.
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Major: Environmental Sciences
Year: 2015
Authors: Jennifer Maguder

Limnological Report of Marvin (Potters) Pond

Thu, 04/30/2015 - 09:51
Abstract: Long term data of limnological conditions is crucial to understand lentic freshwater ecosystems. Marvin (Potters) pond is a 2.04 hectare kettle pond located in Franklin County, New York in the Northern Adirondack Park. There have been numerous short studies of the pond over the past 30 years but the pond has never been intently monitored to date. The pond is assumed to be meromictic by the NYSDEC. The objectives of this study are to 1) calculate the morphometry of the pond and its watershed; 2) the determination of the trophic status of the pond; 3) to document the chemical composition of the pond, particularly as it relates to acidity and acid neutralizing capacity; 4) to document the annual dynamics of temperature and dissolved oxygen. Evidence from profile data on dissolved oxygen and total iron suggests that the pond is monomictic with the capability to be meromictic under certain climatic conditions. The mixing period of the pond occurred in the month of November. The morphometry of Marvin pond was found to have a conical cross sectional area and large depth for the surface area of the pond. The trophic state of Marvin pond was found to be eutrophic for chlorophyll-a and total phosphorus concentrations but mesotrophic for the secchi disk reading. The acidity of the pond was found to be high with a low buffering capacity.
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Major: Environmental Sciences
Year: 2015
Authors: Robert Frank

Trophic status of Lake Placid over the past 2740 + 30 years inferred by sub-fossil diatom analysis.

Thu, 04/30/2015 - 11:07
Abstract: The hypothesis of this study was that human activity in the Lake Placid watershed would cause changes in the lakes trophic status. Trophic status was inferred by changes in diatom assemblages over time. This analysis shows that an unusual increase in Asterionella and Tabellaria has occurred within the past 200 years. Both of these species are indicators of higher trophic status, so their increase in numbers indicates a recent increase in trophic status (Stager 2001, Rawson 1956, Stevenson et al, 1982). Loss on ignition tests were used to determine the organic content of samples from two cores. These tests showed that organic content has varied in the past, however changes observed in the upper 20 cm of the record for Lake Placid and Wolf Lake suggest that human activity impacted the lake. The data collected in this study supports the hypothesis that human settlement in the Lake Placid watershed has changed its trophic status.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Environmental Sciences
Year: 2015
Authors: Alex Garrigan-Piela

Effects of Reduced Turbidity and Suspended Sediment Concentrations on Macroinvertebrate Communities at a Restored Reach on Warner Creek

Fri, 05/01/2015 - 18:21
Abstract: A segment of Warner Creek, a tributary to the Stony Clove Creek in the Catskill Mountains of New York, was restored in 2013 to reduce concentrations of suspended sediment and turbidity caused by a localized mud boil erosion of a large clay bank. Before restoration, impaired water-quality from fine sediments may have adversely affected intolerant species of macroinvertebrates and their communities. This study compared macroinvertebrate assemblages from before (2011) and after (2014) restoration to determine if the restoration reduced concentrations of suspended sediment and turbidity sufficiently to improve the health of their macroinvertebrate communities. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) kick-sample methods were used to collect four replicate benthic invertebrate samples from Warner Creek and from a reference site on the Stony Clove Creek during August of 2011 and August of 2014. Four replicates of 100 specimens were identified to the family level from each replicate. The NYSDEC Bioassessment Profile scores and selected macroinvertebrate community metrics and turbidity and suspended sediment concentrations from a USGS stream gage downstream of the restoration both pre and post restoration were evaluated to test hypotheses that water quality and the health of macro-invertebrate assemblages differed post-restoration. Although some families at Warner Creek with low tolerance values were found to have increased post-restoration, it was also found that others with moderate tolerance values decreased. These types of fluctuations were seen in both years at both Warner Creek and the reference site, which makes it impossible to definitively say the impact restoration had on the macroinvertebrate assemblages one year post restoration. At this time it is obvious from the stream gage data that restoration significantly decreased turbidity and suspended sediment concentrations (SSC). Further collection of invertebrates and stream gage comparison is necessary to see if restoration does eventually impact the assemblage of invertebrates.    
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Literary Rights: Off
Major: Environmental Sciences
Year: 2015
File Attachments: Final Capstone.docx
Authors: Noel Deyette

A Global Recovery Plan for the Endangered Blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus)

Tue, 04/28/2015 - 16:11
Abstract: Blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus) are the largest baleen whale species on the planet, and currently the biggest animal in existence. In the early 20th century, blue whales were nearly exterminated by whaling fleets until they received worldwide protection in 1967. Since then, the global populations of blue whales have had difficulty recovering due to their slow population growth rate and existing threats. Most of these populations are below 2,000 individuals with exception of a population off the coast of California, which has shown slight recovery in the past decade. The management of the blue whale depends on solutions that are addressed with long-term considerations, thus management will need to be continued for multiple decades in order to increase these global populations.
Access: Yes
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2015
Authors: Matthew Fuirst

American Lobster (Homarus americanus) Management in the inshore and offshore waters of Maine

Wed, 04/29/2015 - 14:39
Abstract: The goal of this management plan is to maintain a healthy and sustainable lobster population that can support the pressures of a profitable commercial fishery. The Maine lobster fishery is the second leading industry in Maine with recent annual profits of over 456 million dollars earned by less than the 6,000 commercial lobster fisherman within the state (DMR, 2015). The fishery has had record landings in the last decade and the fishery stock seems to be thriving. With the collapse of the Maine ground fish, shrimp, and scallop fishery many commercial fisherman have fallen back on one of the few fisheries that seems to have a promising future in the state. Some potential threats to the fishery are the increase number of fisherman in the offshore lobster fishery, the falling price per pound of lobster, and the growing risk of the spread of shell disease. To make drastic regulatory changes to the fishery at this time would be met with strong opposition by the stakeholders but increases in funding to expand on research and marketing initiatives to protect the future of the fishery has much more of a likelihood of being supported by the stakeholders of the Maine lobster fishery.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2015
Authors: Brandon Bezio

Introduction of Wood Bison (Bison bison athabascae) into Glacier National Park

Wed, 04/29/2015 - 16:00
Abstract: Wood bison populations have been reduced to only a few herds since the 1900s. These large grazers were once found throughout their range in Canada and Alaska and now there are isolated herds in Canada and only one herd in Alaska. The causes of population decline are over exploitation and habitat loss. Due to successful management practices the wood bison populations have been slowly recovering. The goals of this management plan are to introduce a wood bison herd into the Glacier National Park and to minimize the conflicts between humans and the bison. To achieve the goals of this management plan actions must be taken. The actions that will be used are to translocate individuals to the park, maintain the local ecosystem in the area of introduction, disease prevention, keeping the human and bison conflicts low, educate the local communities and stakeholders about bison, and to manage problem bison that leave the park. Introducing wood bison in Glacier national Park is beneficial because it will establish another wood bison meta-population and aid in the recovery of the wood bison in their native range. With this introduction, the hopes are to create a sustainable herd and to increase the wood bison population in their natural range.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2015
Authors: Dylan Hurst

Recovery Plan for the Reintroduction and Establishment of a Viable Wolverine (Gulo gulo) Population in Colorado

Wed, 04/29/2015 - 18:39
Abstract: After their near or complete elimination from the western United States in the early 1900’s, wolverine (Gulo gulo) began to recolonize small areas of their historic distribution in the northern portion of the Rocky Mountains during the latter part of the century. Though wolverine have not been recorded in the state since 1919 with the exception of a single dispersing male, Colorado still contains a large area of suitable wolverine habitat. Analysis of critical habitat characteristics revealed that Colorado’s wolverine habitat could support 21% of wolverine population capacity in the contiguous United States. This large area has the potential to serve as a core source population of wolverine to supplement periphery sink populations and provide population resiliency in the face of climate change or extreme mortality events. Despite the abundance of suitable habitat, the establishment of a viable wolverine population will require reintroduction, rather than relying upon extreme dispersal events of individuals from established populations. Keeping human-wolverine conflicts to a minimum, protecting potential denning sites from development, increasing and maintaining connectivity between wolverine habitats, and supplementing individuals from other populations to maintain genetic diversity within the relatively isolated habitat in Colorado will be critical for the persistence of this species. The utilization of this management plan can ensure that all ecological, socio-economic, and regulatory factors associated with wolverine reintroduction in Colorado can be effectively addressed to promote the success of wolverine recovery in the contiguous United States.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2015
Authors: Ashley Evans

Reintroduction of the Gray Wolf to Isle Royale National Park

Wed, 04/29/2015 - 18:52
Abstract: The gray wolf (Canis lupus) has a large historical range across the lower 48 states and has recently recolonized the Great Lakes Region in the 1970s due to migration. Wolves crossed an ice bridge to Isle Royale National Park in the 1940s and established a population. For over 50 years scientists have been studying this population, along with the resident moose population, to understand the ecology of a nearly unexploited ecosystem. The wolf population has been dropping in numbers over time, more severely in the last decade. The limited genetic diversity has been shown to lead to back deformities and a reluctance to breed amongst individuals. In May of 2014, the annual report stated only 9 wolves were left with only 2 females remaining. A meeting by the National Park Service concluded to only interfere if the chance of a breeding pair did not exist, in other words, the two females died. The most recent publication of the 2015 Annual Report stated only 3 individuals have been seen on the island. A management plan is critically needed to decide a course of action as to interfere or to let nature take its course. The purpose of this management plan is to propose a goal and set of objectives to achieve reintroduction of a wolf population after the extinction of the current poulation. To maintain a genetically viable population is to maintain sufficient gene flow with multiple breeding pairs within several packs. This can be achieved with a simulation of a “natural migration” by relocating individuals from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to Isle Royale. We can achieve the goal with sufficient funding, communication amongst partners, and current monitoring procedures.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2015
Authors: Kelsey Schumacher