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Capstone Projects

Managing the Declining Population of Northern long-eared bats in New York State

Thu, 05/03/2018 - 08:02
Abstract: White-nose syndrome (Geomyces destructans) is a fungal disease that has caused over 5.5 million bat deaths in eastern North America. The fungus affects any open skin including the bat’s patagium and causes lesions. The fungus consists of microscopic spores which can attach to anything it comes into contact with to spread the disease. The fungus is spread from bat to bat and cave systems as well as facilitated by human tourism. Northern long-eared bats (Myotis septentrionalis) are currently threatened in New York State. The northern long-eared bat is an insectivore and must hibernate when its food source is unavailable. During hibernation the bat’s immune system is suppressed, making it more vulnerable to the effects of white-nose syndrome. The bat will deplete its fat reserve to fight off the disease, which will lead to death if the bat cannot find a food source. White-nose syndrome has decreased the northern long-eared bat population by 90% in New York State. There is no cure for white-nose syndrome, and the northern long-eared bat population continues to decrease in New York State. The northern long-eared bat population is relatively unknown, but estimated to be 20,000 individuals in New York State. Population projections predict that the bat may become extirpated from New York State in the next 5 years. Increasing the survivability of the juvenile bat population to 70% and the adult bat population to 80% would prevent the extirpation of the species. The goal of this management plan is to increase the population of northern long-eared bats in New York to prevent the extirpation of the species from the state and create a sustainable population. This should be done by preventing further human facilitation of the disease, increasing educational resources for the public and gathering more information about the fungus and the northern long-eared bat population in New York.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Bailey Muntz

Do customers prefer the taste of homemade or mass produced cheese in baked products?

Fri, 05/05/2017 - 20:48
Abstract: To get results from the public, I put together a blind tasting of three different products showcasing cheeses in an assortment. Each of the products looked the same, with the same components; the only difference were the cheeses used to accompany the breads.
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Major: Baking Arts and Service Management
Year: 2017
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Jessica Churchill

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.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2017
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Desiree Stumpf

Are Zooplankton As Patchy As Phytoplankton?

Mon, 05/01/2017 - 15:44
Abstract: Phytoplankton and zooplankton form the base of most lake food webs and are the primary sources of energy for higher trophic levels. Recent studies have shown that the horizontal distribution of phytoplankton is not even across the surface of lakes. While the vertical distribution of zooplankton has been well studied, little is known about the horizontal distribution of zooplankton in the surface waters of lakes or the spatial interactions among zooplankton and phytoplankton. The aim of this study was to quantify the spatial distribution of phytoplankton and zooplankton and determine if their spatial distributions are related. We sampled zooplankton and phytoplankton during the day and at night in a 24 point grid in Paul Lake, Michigan in the late spring and early summer of 2016. Phytoplankton and zooplankton were not uniformly distributed horizontally. Instead, there were high density patches of both zooplankton and phytoplankton, and in many instances there was positive autocorrelation. Additionally, zooplankton and phytoplankton concentrations were rarely correlated in space indicating that grazing is likely not a driver of zooplankton or phytoplankton spatial heterogeneity. If the goal of a study is to understand and characterize the entire population of either phytoplankton or zooplankton, we suggest taking multiple samples of the pelagic zone.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2017
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Jonathan Stetler, Cal Buelo

Rooted Education: learning from aquaponics

Sat, 04/30/2016 - 15:02
Abstract: Aquaponics is the integration of soil-less agriculture (hydroponics) within closed-loop aquaculture systems to reduce the toxic accumulation of nutrient waste from aquatic animals. Bacteria naturally establish to purify water by oxidizing the ammonia secreted by fish, which reduces the toxicity of effluent while creating a usable nitrogen source for plants. The conversion of ammonia and nitrite into nitrate by living bacteria communities is called a biological filter, or biofiltration (FAO 2014). Aquaponics would not be possible without biofiltration; the slightest amount of ammonia would be fatally toxic to fish, and plants wouldn't receive the nitrates they need to grow. There are unique opportunities offered by an aquaponics system to learn about ecological and human communities. 1.1. Aquaponics enables users to grow fish and agricultural plants with limited space and resource use (water, soil, and time). This enables an aquaponics user to invest less physical energy and time into expanding sustainable food resources for their household use. 1.2. A small aquaponics system could promote cultural values of self-sufficiency, energy consciousness, and connection to food systems. It could inspire individual efforts to produce food for one’s household, to build healthier and more resilient systems, and a greater appreciation for farming. Therefore, this project aims to actualize a mobile and functional aquaponics system for the educational benefit of the Paul Smith's College community. I will provide the background knowledge needed to maintain an aquaponics system, as well as describe the general concept of aquaponics design.
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Major: Environmental Sciences, Natural Resources Sustainability Studies
Year: 2016
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Brian Jason Kohan

Management of the Invasive American Mink (Neovison vison) Populations in the Southern Region of South America (Cape Horn Biosphere)

Tue, 05/03/2016 - 11:24
Abstract: American mink (Neovison vison) are an invasive species in South America, Europe and a few other countries. An invasive predator like the American mink can have negative effects on ecosystem function. In the Cape Horn biosphere, mink have no natural predators and have established themselves as top predator in that ecosystem (Crego 2015). Their populations have steadily increased in the Cape Horn Biosphere Region since their release from mink farms in 1930 (Ibarra et al. 2009). The Cape Horn biosphere is affected by the loss of native fauna such as Magellanic woodpeckers (Campephilus magellanicus), Olive Grass Mouse (Abrothrix olivaceus), and different types of ducks (Anseriforms) due to American mink predation. The Cape Horn Biosphere is a research, education, and conservation land that is used by institutes and universities (Ibarra et al. 2009). There are four objectives to help prevent the further spread of the invasive American mink that include: Educating the general public in the Cape Horn Biosphere region on the negative implications of invasive species, increasing the number of minks trapped by 15% in 1 year, setting environmental laws against the release of mink from fur farms within 5 years, creating a tactile agency to enforce those laws within 5 years. When all objectives are complete there will be a decreasing trend in American mink populations in Southern South America.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2016
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Eleanor Congden

A Comparison Study of Adirondack Region Clearcutting Implementation to that of Paul Smith’s College VIC FERDA Plots

Mon, 05/02/2016 - 10:44
Abstract: The students of Paul Smith’s College have a unique opportunity to explore the parameters of silviculture and forestry practices. Gaining the base knowledge of silvicultural systems while also, properly implementing timber harvesting methods in order to achieve the specific goals and objectives of these systems is tremendously useful for implementation in future years. This study investigated the silvicultural prescriptions of the Forest Ecosystem Research and Demonstration Area (FERDA) plots on Paul Smith’s College lands, in Paul Smiths, New York. Comparing the inventory of the two clearcut sites upon these lands to that of other harvests within the Adirondack Park can supply further knowledge on what can be expected after a specific silvicultural system. Clearcutting has the greatest effect on forest succession by removing the forest cover and allowing light to reach what was once a shaded forest floor. Comparing experimental five acre clearcuts to that of larger commercial clearcuts in the same region can further our understanding of regeneration composition after such timber harvesting operations occur. The variance between the age of the FERDA plot harvests and the age of the harvests completed on Landvest timberlands resulted in varying data. However, if four to eight more years was given for pseudo FERDA plots to mature, it is believed that these harvests would be similar in composition and structure.
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Major: Forestry
Year: 2016
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Ryan Krzys, Louis Ferrone III

Would an underpass/tunnel on Keese Mills Road decrease the percentage of amphibian mortality due to road mortality?

Wed, 04/29/2015 - 18:09
Abstract: Road Mortality has had a huge impact on Amphibian populations worldwide. Several options are available to help maintain and preserve migrating populations across roadways. One method that is looked at during this study is underpass and fencing. In this study, I assessed the need for an underpass and if it could help reduce the amount of amphibian’s mortality by traffic and, if an underpass is necessary, properly predict a location. I also looked at if underpasses alone could reduce the mortality of amphibians. I constructed arrays and pitfall traps to simulate an underpass on Keese Mills Road at Paul Smiths and Santa Clara, Franklin County New York. I predicted that underpass would decrease the amount of amphibian being slayed. I also predicted that certain locations would have more usage then others. The results showed that there was no significant difference between the location of the sites and whether they would be used by the amphibians. The results also showed that there was no correlation between the species that were captured and the species that were killed.
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Major: Biology
Year: 2015
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Jorge Velazquez

Examination of Potentially Ectoparasite-driven Behavior in Burrowing Owls: Tests of Alternative Hypotheses

Thu, 05/07/2015 - 19:06
Abstract: Burrowing Owls (Athene cunicularia) and their nests harbor at least 39 species of arthropods from 21 different families. Among the ectoparasites on Burrowing Owls are fleas, which are primarily Pulex irritans (Family Pulicidae), the human flea. Fleas can number in the hundreds on individual Burrowing Owls. Thus, we hypothesized that flea infestation has shaped Burrowing Owl behavior to avoid the costs of ectoparasitism. As part of experiments using infrared trail cameras deployed at Burrowing Owl nests in southern Idaho ¬¬during 2012-2013, we noticed apparent sunning behavior in both adult and nestling Burrowing Owls. Camera images captured owls lying on the ground with wings outstretched and flat. We only observed this behavior during daylight hours, although cameras were active for 24 h/day. Sunbathing in birds is often associated with ectoparasite reduction, although sunning has not previously been examined in relation to flea infestation. During 2014 we conducted an experiment that included fumigating some nests with a flea removing insecticide and examined the prediction that sunbathing would occur more frequently in control nests where ectoparasites remained. As sunning was not during the coolest parts of the day, it did not appear to function for warming. Also, we ultimately found no difference in the frequency of sunning in fumigated and control nests, and there was no relationship between sunning and abundance of fleas on owls. Thus, the evidence is not consistent with the ectoparasite hypothesis, as owls sunned irrespective of flea load. We also evaluated the alternative hypotheses that sunning was related to thermoregulation, anting, drying or feather degrading bacteria. The first three we were able to reject, and the last will need future research.
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Major: Biology
Year: 2015
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Skyler Wysocki

Cheese

Tue, 05/05/2015 - 17:05
Abstract: This culminating experience happens in two phases. Throughout the semester, students have been taking on the role of Executive Chef in our Palm Restaurant. They have each created a menu, ordered food supplies, developed budgetary proposal, and assigned duties pertaining to food production and front of house service. Each dinner took on a different food related theme that the students researched and developed. This poster session provides the students to describe their process, their findings, and what they learned from the experience. My theme was based on cheese.
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Major: Culinary Arts and Service Management
Year: 2015
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Lisa McCartney