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Capstone Projects

The Lawns at Paul Smith’s College: The Effects of Mowing on Root Biomass and Soil Compaction

Mon, 12/07/2020 - 17:41
Abstract: Lawns are a valuable aspect of real estate in the United States. Maintained lawns cover over 163,000 square kilometers of land, yet few people realize the impact mowing can have on the ecosystem. This study will be looking at the impact of mowing on the grassland ecosystem and the terrain grassland ecosystem at Paul Smith’s College, located in Paul Smiths, New York. This study will be testing two different factors that are impacted by constant mowing on campus: soil compaction and root biomass of flora found on the sites. Soil compaction is the compression of soil due to large amounts of pressure placed on the surface soil. This event will be tested by using a soil bulk density test. The root biomass is being investigated by the use of a scale to weigh root given from each area of the study site. The study goal is to find out how the disturbances of mowing affect the grassland ecosystem found at Paul Smith’s College using two different factors: soil compaction, root biomass. The results of the study show the site type that has the greatest soil bulk density and the lowest dry root biomass in G/〖cm〗^3 is the dry slope site on the campus. Keywords: lawn ecology, effect of mowing, soil compaction, root biomass, root depth
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Ecological Restoration
Year: 2020
Authors: Timothy I Murphy

The Lower St. Regis Lake Shoreline: Understanding the Past, Analyzing the Present, and Recommendations for the Future

Sat, 05/09/2020 - 11:54
Abstract: Continuing shoreline research and restoration planning will help Paul Smith’s College adhere to their own missions and visions including experiential learning, improving students' lives, and maintaining an ecological conscience as a community.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Ecological Restoration, Environmental Sciences
Year: 2020
Authors: Zoe Plant, Thomas Firkins, Julie Capito, and Benjamin Marshall

The Influence of Microtopography on the Spatial Distribution of Peatland Plants

Mon, 04/27/2020 - 13:01
Abstract: Microtopography in peatlands creates structural patterns within the environment that, if understood, could allow for more comprehensive wetland management and restoration plans to be constructed. The objectives of this study are to determine: 1) the spatial scale at which microtopography occurs on in Adirondack peatlands; 2) if hummock size changes in relation to the distance from the forested wetland edge; and 3) if individual plant species respond to, or vary, in relation to microtopography and abiotic factors. To determine the influence of microtopography on peatland plants, data were collected on the surface area and height distributions of hummocks, the distance between hummocks and the abiotic soil characteristics. Plant species richness, and percent cover data were collected on hummocks only. The spatial scale of microtopography was determined to be regularly distributed across the sampling area. There was no significant correlation between the distance from the coniferous-edge and the relative size of hummocks. Plant species richness was found to be higher on hummocks as opposed to hollows. Using a combination of correlation and multiple regression analysis we determined that leather leaf (Chamaedaphne calyculata), lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium), and common cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpa) were correlated to individual abiotic variables. The variability of the percent cover of leather leaf was explained by increasing surface area, lower soil temperatures, and lower pH; the variability of the percent cover of lowbush blueberry was explained by increasing oxidation-reduction potential (ORP) and lower pH; and the variability of the percent cover of common cranberry was explained by lower hummock height alone. Only three of the common plants identified were correlated with the abiotic variables measured. Further research should be done to continue to determine the primary influence of the elevational gradients on the plant species composition and to determine the resilience of these systems to changing climate.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Ecological Restoration
Year: 2020
Authors: Joshua T. Young

Developing a Bird Integrity Index (BII) for Use as an Indicator of Stream Condition in the Northern Adirondack Park

Mon, 04/27/2020 - 12:50
Abstract: The primary goal of this research was to create a Bird Integrity Index (BII) to be used for the ecological integrity analysis of streams and their related riparian zones in the northern Adirondack Park based on frameworks provided by previous research in Oregon. Fifty-eight metrics were tested from avian survey (point count) data along fifteen stream reaches of 0.5km in length. These metrics represented aspects of avian taxonomic richness, dietary preferences, foraging techniques, tolerance or intolerance to human disturbance, and nesting strategies. To evaluate the responsiveness of each metric, they were plotted against an index of stream condition based on sampling of benthic macroinvertebrates according to the outline provided by the stream biomonitoring research unit of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Five of the fifty-eight candidate metrics remained after removing metrics that had an R2 value of less than .2 or were highly correlated. Individual avian metric scores ranged from 0-10 and BII scores were set on a scale of 0-100. While the BII presented here was successful in responding to varying conditions based on disturbance levels (R2= .64), due to multiple unexpected relationships between avian metrics and stream condition, it is proposed that more in-depth and comparative research be completed before an Adirondack specific BII is presented for field usage.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Ecological Restoration
Year: 2020
File Attachments: Jesse Rock Capstone.pdf
Authors: Jesse Rock

Alumni Campground Lean-to Design Analysis

Sat, 05/09/2020 - 11:32
Abstract: When thinking about the Adirondacks, lean-tos are among the first that come to mind. The Adirondack lean-to has, for most of the parks history, been a staple for back country shelters. The design of the lean-to is the most important part about them. Traditionally built with full round logs to have three walls and one open side with an overhang from the roof. Notches in the logs at each corner of the lean-to allow for the structure to be more ridged then if notches were not used. The goal behind this project is to look at the design of the Adirondack lean-to and see what about it could be simplified to make plans for an easier to build and construct lean-to.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Natural Resources Conservation and Management, Sustainable Communities & Working Landscapes
Year: 2020
Authors: Michael J Gaulin

Youth Board of Directors: Developing a Sustainable Youth Leadership Program for UNESCO's Champlain-Adirondack Biosphere Network

Fri, 12/11/2020 - 10:36
Abstract: The Man and Biosphere program has been successful but not without its challenges or gaps in capacity, specifically relating to youth involvement within the program. Youth-Adult Partnerships provide valuable growth opportunities for both adults and youth, along with benefits extending beyond the walls of an organization. Youth given agency and support provide significant gains for organizations and adults willing to make space for them in decision-making roles. This study recommends the creation of a Youth Board of Directors within the Champlain-Adirondack Biosphere Network which will directly address programmatic mandates on youth involvement within the Man and Biosphere program, while simultaneously adding capacity to the biosphere.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Parks and Conservation Management
Year: 2020
File Attachments: Cuthell_Capstone_2020.docx
Authors: Samuel K. Cuthell

Paul Smith's College VIC Concert Venue

Fri, 05/15/2020 - 17:38
Abstract: The addition of a concert venue and camping facility at The Paul Smith’s College VIC will add another layer of community enjoyment. The surrounding area does not have a premier concert venue to provide musical enjoyment for visitors and members of the local community. In the College’s Strategic plan, it specifically mentions wanting to “Improve student success and retention through co-curricular activities focused on mind, body and spirit” In the same section it mentions also wanting to “improve campus utilization and net revenues during January and summer terms”. Implementing a concert venue at the VIC would accomplish both of those goals. We believe that this model fits in the strategic goals that the VIC is aiming to accomplish. Supporting the arts at the VIC will achieve visitor connection to musical arts, and connect visitors to other types of outdoor recreation at the VIC. The Paul Smith’s College mission statement and strategic plan includes ensuring facilities that meet the current and future needs of people, implementing strategies to use campus to support community building, contributing regional economics, and to be recognized as important. Specifically, the VIC’s mission statement is, “To connect outdoor recreation, experiential education, and the arts, naturally”. We believe that the addition of a musical venue of proper scale for the region would satisfy the goals of the VIC and our institution by connecting people to nature in a new way but also giving them a concert venue in an amazing setting. Ideally, they could spend the whole day recreating and then finish the day with a concert or performance of some other type such as comedy. With help from the VIC’s Facility Manager Andy Testo, and the Alumni Campground Coordinator Heather Tuttle we have developed the framework of a feasibility plan for future use of the current facilities as a music venue with a supporting campground facility.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Parks and Conservation Management
Year: 2020
Authors: James Rounds, Dan D'Apice

Addressing Overuse: A Hiker Shuttle in the Adirondacks

Fri, 05/15/2020 - 09:21
Abstract: The increase in visitors to the Adirondack State Park in New York State has led to overcrowding and overuse at many of the most popular hiking trails. A common complaint is that there is not enough parking for trailheads and so visitors park alongside the roads which lead to many safety issues. We propose a hiker shuttle for the Saranac Lake area that would not only alleviate the roadside parking issue but would also give more people a chance to explore trails that they might not have heard of before. A shuttle system will allow for better safety conditions for pedestrians and drivers on the roads as well as control trail traffic to prevent trail degradation.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Parks and Conservation Management
Year: 2020
File Attachments: ~$nal draft.docx
Authors: John Kilgannon, Kaitlyn Dudash

Summer Camp at Osgood

Fri, 05/15/2020 - 07:15
Abstract: Camp Osgood is a look at the potential for an outdoor environmental summer camp to be developed in addition to the current property and function of Osgood farm. Looking at why people are drawn to camps both children and adults alike a summer camp at Osgood Farm could be both beneficial on an individual and community level. We found that a summer camp such as Osgood in the location surrounding Saranac Lake could be very beneficial and leave a lasting positive impact and provide opportunities.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Parks and Conservation Management
Year: 2020
Authors: Sam Drake, James Pierpont

Risk Management in the Front Country Setting

Tue, 05/12/2020 - 09:34
Abstract: This paper is a proposal for a risk management plan for the Adirondack Watershed Institute's Front-Country Steward Program that was created in the summer of 2019. Research as well as interviews, surveys, and personal experiences were used in order to create a baseline for this plan.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Parks and Conservation Management
Year: 2020
Authors: Stephanie Tyski