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Capstone Projects

Promoting Conservation of Biodiversity in the Adirondack Park Through Understanding and Engaging Stakeholders

Thu, 02/09/2012 - 11:31
Abstract: Anthropogenic disturbance of natural environments has led to the widespread loss of native biodiversity and degradation of ecosystems. It is increasingly recognized that addressing this “biodiversity crisis” entails understanding the societal drivers of unsustainable patterns of use. Conservation psychology is a new discipline that specifically focuses on understanding the linkages between human behavior and action and promoting a healthy and sustainable relationship between humans and nature. In this project, we employed principles of conservation psychology with the goal of improving the efficacy and efficiency of conservation of biodiversity in the Adirondack Park (AP). To meet this goal we employed three specific strategies. The first of these strategies was the use of surveys to assess the values, attitudes, and actions different stakeholders have in regards to conservation of biodiversity in the AP. These surveys were disseminated via both direct mailings and online, and included 30 questions. Our second strategy was to use discourse analysis to create a dictionary of terms and phrases employed in a positive, neutral, and negative light in regard to conservation of biodiversity. This entailed analysis of 30 emic accounts derived from opinion articles written by stakeholders in the AP, as well as analysis of a number of etic accounts drawn from online sources. Our third strategy was to use conservation psychology literature to assess ways in which the presentation of information and peer-dynamics influenced the responses of stakeholders towards conservation of biodiversity. Using the combination of these three strategies, we were able to provide a holistic understanding of how different stakeholders in the AP perceive and act towards biodiversity conservation; identify language that can be used to illicit a more positive response from these stakeholders; and identify specific tools based on principles of psychology that can encourage more active and effective engagement in conservation of biodiversity by different stakeholders. Our research findings will allow groups focusing on promoting conservation of biodiversity in the AP to be more effective and efficient in their work in the future.
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Major: Environmental Sciences, Fisheries and Wildlife Science, Forestry, Natural Resources Management and Policy, Recreations, Adventure Travel and Ecotourism
Year: 2011
Authors: Christopher Critelli, John Ghanime, Derek Johnson, Samantha Lambert, Justin Luyk, Matthew Parker, Robert Vite, Heather Mason, Jesse Warner, Ethan Lennox, Sarah Robbiano, David Mathis, David A. Patrick

Removal of Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii) in a Hardwood Forest in Northwest Connecticut

Mon, 12/05/2011 - 09:57
Abstract: Japanese barberry is an invasive shrub that has overtaken and invaded the forest land of New England. Once established, Japanese barberry grows into dense populations that affect forest regeneration, and availability of different nutrients in the soil. This study focused on determining the most time efficient way to remove Japanese barberry from an area. The amount of time it took to complete each removal method was compared with how effective each method was. The effectiveness of each method was based upon how many stems were removed, and how many stems sprouted after a treatment occurred. Four methods were used which included; root severing, cutting stems, burning stems and a herbicide foliar application. It was found that digging stems took a large amount of time, while stem cutting and burning took a moderate amount of time, and the use of herbicide took a small amount of time. It was found that root severing was the least effective method, producing a high amount of new stems and taking the longest time. Herbicide treatment of stems was the most effective method, producing no new stems after treatment and taking a short amount of time to complete. Out of all the methods, two methods had equal expenses. This study has determined the most efficient and least effective way to remove Japanese barberry from a typical New England hardwood stand.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Forestry
Year: 2011
File Attachments: Capstone Paper.docx
Authors: Douglas Palmer

An Investigation of Soil Nutrient Concentrations and its Relations to the Possible Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum) Decline in the Paul Smith’s College Sugar Bush

Mon, 12/05/2011 - 11:50
Abstract: Sugar maple (Acer saccharum) is an abundant tree specie that can be found almost everywhere in New England. Sugar maples can be used as timber logs, but they are primarily a great source for producing maple syrup. These trees are a vast source of income for a lot of people. Paul Smith’s College annually produces range from $25,000-$30,000 from the syrup production at their sugar bush. There are currently 1400 taps out in the sugar bush. The purpose of this study is to determine if sugar maples are on a decline in the Paul Smith’s College Sugar Bush. There have been many tests and studies done on variables that affect sugar maple growth. Many different variables such as the effects of climate, nutrient concentrations, light, ozone, oxidative stress, elevated CO2, precipitation, other trees, invasive species and mycorrhizal fungi were studied to determine how they affect soil nutrient concentrations, which ultimately affects the ability of sugar maple to survive and thrive. These studies have shown that sugar maples in New England are on a steady decline. All of the studies I have found have focused on the big picture in regard to sugar maple decline, and none on the local level, like the Paul Smith’s College Sugar Bush. The purpose of my study is to determine whether or not the sugar maples in the sugar bush are on a decline and if they are will that information influence the college’s management plan for its sugar bush. This project collected and developed data that helped determine whether sugar maples in the sugar bush are on a decline. With this new information the college will be able to determine what they would like to do with the sugar bush in the future years to come.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Forestry
Year: 2011
Authors: Mark Bouquin

Effects of Forest Cover Type on Carbon Sequestration Rates

Mon, 12/05/2011 - 14:42
Abstract: Climate change and mitigation of climate change are common dilemmas faced by the majority of people within the United States. At the heart of climate mitigation techniques are forestry practices aimed to promote increased carbon sequestration. Forests are effective at sequestering carbon because they act as carbon sinks for the majority of their life. The purpose of this study was to examine the effect that Northeastern forest cover types have on the rate of carbon sequestration. This was done by examining the major forest cover types: northern hardwoods, mixed woods, and conifer forest cover types within Vermont and New Hampshire. This study entailed timber sampling to determine the amount of above ground carbon, increment boring to determine growth rates, soil samples to calculate subsurface carbon, and forest floor samples to determine accumulated carbon in the forest floor. During the study it was found that the conifer stands exhibited the highest rate of carbon sequestration, attributed greatly to the high growth rates and high stocking densities that characterized these stands. In addition, the majority of carbon within all the stands was found to be within the forest soils, which indicates particular attention should be given to this area when managing for carbon sequestration. In conclusion, some suggested management techniques for increasing carbon sequestration rates could include extending the rotation age to capitalize on the entire accelerated growth stage of the trees, and promoting multiple age classes within the stands which would allow for less intensive harvest regimes.
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Literary Rights: Off
Major: Forestry
Year: 2011
Authors: Charles Dana Hazen

Searching for the Emerald Ash Borer (Agrilus planipennis) in an Un-Infested Area While Interpreting the Effects of Educational Outreach to the Private Landowner

Mon, 12/05/2011 - 16:04
Abstract: Nonnative invasive insect pests can alter the habitat and transform the ecosystems they have invaded, leading to ecological and economical problems. The emerald ash borer (EAB) is an invasive insect that constricts nutrient and water transport in the cambium of ash trees. The EAB has no known eradication method to stop its potential spread across the landscape. The purpose of this study is twofold: 1) to educate the landowner about EAB and 2) to look for EAB in an un-infested area. Survey questionnaires were given before and after the study. The pre-study questions measured landowners’ background knowledge of EAB. The post-project questions gave insight to how the study helped the landowner learn more. A sentinel (girdled) tree survey was conducted at each of four study sites with two purple sticky traps installed and monitored bi-weekly. No emerald ash borers were found, but the public outreach component was successful. Landowners play an important role in being aware of invasive species and alerting natural resource professionals. The landowners gained knowledge about EAB. EAB outreach helped give land management advice to landowners, pertaining to the threat of EAB. The landowners felt confident in helping inform other members of the public and help identify EAB infestations. Keywords: Emerald ash borer (EAB), public outreach, Questionnaire, Sentinel/Girdled tree, purple sticky trap, Identifying Emerald ash borer, Questions Analysis, Educate the landowner, invasive, nonnative, pest
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Forestry
Year: 2011
File Attachments: capstone_final_proj.docx
Authors: Richard A. Silvestro

Forest Habitat Management for Creating Self Sustaining Populations of Ruffed Grouse on Tug Hill Plateau.

Mon, 12/05/2011 - 16:38
Abstract: The ruffed grouse (Bonasa umbellus) is a perhaps the most popular game bird in the northeast. According to locals, the populations of ruffed grouse in the Tug Hill Plateau region located in upstate New York have been on a steady downhill trend over the past several years. This study was focused on habitat, and meant to gain insight on what current habitat exists on Tug Hill Plateau. Two separate study areas were utilized during this project. The first was named the River Road Covert study area, and is part of the Lookout State Forest, located in Lewis county New York. The second was named the Montague Covert study area, and is located in Montague New York, on parker road 10 miles from Montague Inn. Within each study area habitats were classified by cover type. Using fixed plot habitat survey methods, and aerial photo interpretation each study area was subdivided into first quadrants and then stands. A transect style flush count was then implemented in each study area in order to determine which stand possessed the specific cover type most preferred by local populations of ruffed grouse. During the flush count, a more specific data collection pertaining to habitat was taken in areas where grouse were flushed, and consideration was given to the time of year the survey took place in regards to the seasonal habitat preferences of this species. The purpose of this study is to identify what habitats within each study area were most highly favored by grouse, and which habitats were less likely to be utilized given their current condition. After completion of the data analysis researched recommendations were made as to how to manage the less favorable areas for the scarce early successional habitat which ruffed grouse were found to typically associate with.  
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Forestry
Year: 2011
File Attachments: Capstone Report , Appendix A , Appendix B
Authors: Keith F McDonald

Silvicultural techniques for white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) habitat management

Tue, 12/06/2011 - 09:25
Abstract: White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virgianus) habitat is most commonly managed through forestry activities such as timber management. Sound silvicultural prescriptions and management scheduling can increase the lands carrying capacity of white-tailed deer through increased food availability and cover habitat. Biologists claim that white-tailed deer will eat an average of six to seven pounds of food daily, which makes food management a key factor when increasing deer densities. This study examined what silvicultural techniques are best used for increasing deer inhabitance on a family farm in west central Vermont. Currently, the study area is occupied by a large percentage of undesirable stand structures and plant species occupancy. Some of these stands were created through old pasture succession. The focal point of this study was to prescribe management tactics to better the habitat for white-tailed deer. Forest inventory through point sampling was used to make silvicultural prescriptions for six different stands within 163 acres of farm forest. Combinations of two-age and uneven-age treatments were suggested for the study area to increase species diversity and structural diversity. Uneven-age small group selections and single tree selections were recommended for the forest interior to promote cover habitat, and small patch cuts were recommended for bordering forest stands to promote a woody browse food source.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Forestry
Year: 2011
File Attachments: capstone
Authors: Tyler Pelland

Ecological Education toward Environmental Responsibility: Envisioning and Implementing an Interpretive Trail System for an Adirondack Summer Camp

Tue, 12/06/2011 - 13:44
Abstract: In an age when children are increasingly cut off from the natural world, summer camps have the power to influence these formative years in a fundamental way. Summer camps, especially organized residential summer camps, have an inherent advantage over the school setting because the audience views itself as non-captive. Because grades and tests do not exist in the camp setting, environmental education is free to continue at its own pace, based on the interests and desires of the campers. The purpose of this project was to build, partly and also find and produce the most effective way in which to utilize an existing recreational trail as an educational resource at a summer camp in the Adirondacks. In determining the most effective format toward this purpose, an interpretive guide book was chosen. The goal was to fit this book into, and expand on, the core philosophy and values of the camp. It is meant to serve as a starting point, a tool to pique interest and obtain a broad understanding and appreciation for the local ecosystem, which will hopefully lead to a “land ethic” in the future.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Forestry
Year: 2011
Authors: Tucker Culpepper

Food Plots for White-tailed Deer: Effects on the Browse Intensity of Commercial Tree Species in Western New York

Mon, 12/05/2011 - 10:09
Abstract: Throughout North America high densities of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) are creating problems that affect humans as well as the natural environment; such as property damage (ex. deer/car accidents), crop damage due to browse, changes in forest species composition, as well as the creation of alternate stable states throughout the northeastern forests of the U.S. This study examined whether food plots for white-tailed deer are increasing, decreasing or having no effect on the browse intensity of commercial tree species in the northern hardwood/coniferous forests of western New York. Spring and summer browse intensity was determined at six sites throughout Wyoming, Cattaraugus, and Erie counties; three forested sites with food plots and three forested sites without food plots that were similar in species composition. The study found that food plots were causing an increase in browse intensity on commercial tree species to areas immediately adjacent (0-2 meters) to the food plots. However, further analysis that excluded measurements taken for subplots one at both food plot and non-food plot sites showed that non-food plot sites had a significantly greater proportion browsed. The findings suggest that if food plots are used as a management option for white-tails in western New York a buffer zone of at least 2 meters outside the food plot should be incorporated to account for the overflow of deer browse.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Natural Resources Management and Policy
Year: 2011
Authors: Mike Domagalski

Designing a Multiple-Use Winter Recreation Trail System at the Paul Smith’s College Visitor Interpretive Center

Mon, 12/12/2011 - 10:13
Abstract: The purpose of this study is to investigate the interests and conflicts that arise between snowshoers, dogsledders, skijorers and cross country skiers. This study will be guided by interviews as well information from prior research performed on these types of users. Data will be collected by using interviews to determine the interests and conflicts of these users. This project will help give VIC managers recommendations andto provide information for a revised version of the winter trails map. The study and research that was done on user interests and conflicts to provide a higher level of enjoyment and safety for winter recreation trail users of the VIC for current and future generations. Results were collected by identifying recreational users of cross country skiing, snowshoeing, dog sledding and skijoring. Managers of recreational areas were also interviewed. The Paul Smith’s VIC would meet the needs of cross country skiers and snowshoers. The majority of the trails are suitable for cross country skiing and all of the trails would be suitable for the snowshoers depending on the type of snowshoer (secluded or controlled users). Dog-sledding and skijoring would not be suitable for the VIC due to the number of conflicts that are brought up when you bring dogs into the picture. Very few trails remain suitable for these two activities as well.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Natural Resources Management and Policy
Year: 2011
File Attachments: Capstone.docx
Authors: Matthew Piper