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Capstone Projects

Alpine Ecosystems on Ski Area Summits in the Northeast: A Best Management Practices Manual

Mon, 12/01/2014 - 15:19
Abstract: Over the past half a century, anthropogenic climate change has triggered temperatures in the northeastern United States to rise. This increase has led to decreased winter precipitation and a longer annual growing season. Species found in upland/montane habitats on the southern edge of their range limits are particularly threatened by these changes. Warmer temperatures have allowed larger woody plants to advance up mountain slopes, entering the habitat of these fragile species. In the next decade, we will witness a complete disappearance of alpine flora from several locations across the northeast including Whiteface in New York, Sugarloaf in Maine and Mount Mansfield in Vermont. Managers of ski resorts can therefore play an important role in promoting the continued persistence of high-altitude flora and fauna through carefully considered management decisions can also serve to promote the reputation of the ski industry as stewards of mountaintop ecosystems. Doing so will allow for continued study of the species that exist within these communities, the protection of biodiversity, and increased revenue for the resort itself through elevated public image and mountain-top tourism. To help begin these conservation efforts, we have created a best management practice (BMP) manual to guide ski area managers in making these developments. It includes techniques for sustainable slope, soil, vegetation and wildlife management, erosion control, artificial snow production, and ski slope construction and design. Also included are marketing techniques and an overview of the economic viability of the practices outlined in this manual.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Forestry, Natural Resources Management and Policy
Year: 2014
Authors: Pali Gelsomini, Dylan Randall

Forest Succession's Effect on Soil Physical and Chemical Properties after Agriculture Abandonment

Mon, 12/01/2014 - 11:00
Abstract: Landscapes have been significantly altered by humans and replacing forests with agricultural crops is a major alteration humans have made. This landscape change has affected soils significantly. Agriculture practices can potentially have detrimental effects on soils. However, through the 20th century forest cover drastically increased in the United States through the recruitment of second growth forests as a result of agriculture abandonment. Forests reclaiming farm lands through forest succession can have a significant effect on recoveries in soil physical and chemical properties such as bulk density, soil strength, porosity and fertility. Therefore, the goal of this study was to investigate forest successions effect on soil physical and chemical properties after agriculture abandonment. Three specific hypotheses were tested: 1) Bulk density and soil strength will decrease while micro and macro porosity will increase as forests reclaim farm lands. 2) Soil carbon and available nitrogen will increase over time. 3) Soil pH will decrease and electrical conductivity will increase over time. These hypotheses were explored on abandoned agriculture fields in a chronosequence study on coarse loamy Inceptisols in upstate New York across a 60 year temporal scale. Data showed that total porosity, total carbon and available nitrogen increase while soil pH, bulk density, soil strength and electrical conductivity decline over time. These results support all three hypotheses except for the latter half of hypothesis number three. The findings of this study suggest that although agriculture may disturb soil properties, time coupled with forest succession can result in significant recoveries.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Forestry
Year: 2014
File Attachments: Final Report.docx
Authors: Nathan Piché

Differences in soil fertility along roadsides between state and locally managed roadways in Franklin County, New York

Thu, 05/08/2014 - 20:30
Abstract: Techniques for managing roadways often incorporate use of sodium chloride, or roadsalt. Use of this substance can vary greatly depending on whether state or local municipalities are prescribing management for particular roadways. Roadsalt has the potential to affect the chemical composition of roadside soils. This study sought examine relationships between winter management techniques and soil chemical properties as distance increased from roadsides. Transects were set up perpendicular to 5 roads managed by the State of New York, and 5 roads managed by towns in Franklin County, New York. 10 samples were removed from the soil surface at each transect, every two meters back from each roadside from 2 to 20 meters. pH, conductivity, abundances of Ca, Na, K, Mg, Cl, % Na on CEC, & % Ca on CEC were determined for each sample. Using ANOVA equations pH, % Na, and Cl concentration were found to have significant relationship with distance while %Na, % Ca, and Na concentration had significant relationships with regards to management. It was concluded that Na is displacing large amounts of Ca on exchange near state managed roads, decreasing soil fertility specifically in those areas. Results follow trends found in other studies that cite increasing concentrations of both Na and Cl on watershed scales.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Forestry
Year: 2014
File Attachments: Actually Done.docx
Authors: Dylan Kirk

A Genetic Comparison of Two Populations of American Beech (Fagus grandifolia) Impacted by the Invasive Disease Complex Causing Beech Bark Disease

Mon, 04/28/2014 - 23:35
Abstract: Many mature American beech trees have died due to beech bark disease throughout the northeastern United States. However, there are many pockets of beech trees throughout its native range that show resistance to the disease. This study will be focused on comparing specific genetic markers in a variety of American beech trees which have been categorized by the levels of severity of beech bark disease per individual tree. Leaf and bud samples were taken in October 2013 from 30 individual trees with varying degrees of disease severity. DNA will be purified from these soft tissue samples in order to use PCR and focus on 5 microsatellite locations for a comparison between all individuals being sampled. These loci will help to determine the genetic differences and similarities between American beech trees with and without signs of resistance to beech bark disease. The results of this study will set the stage for a landscape level study in the future, as well as further studies on finding genetic markers for resistance.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Forestry
Year: 2014
File Attachments: Complete Project.docx
Authors: Emily Malick

A Forest Management Plan For Lynn Woods Reservation

Sun, 04/27/2014 - 18:49
Abstract: Lynn Woods Reservation located in Lynn, MA (42°29' N, 70°59’ W) is a 2,200 acre municipal park under the joint management of the Lynn Parks Department and the Lynn Water and Sewer Department. Since 1881, there has been little management on the lands of the reservation. This project developed a forest management plan for the Reservation. A forest inventory took place in January 2014 utilizing SilviaTerra’s Plothound data collection app. Data was then processed in NED-2 and ArcGIS to create final data used in the creation of this plan. The tract was divided into three compartments based on location and access. Multiple stands are inaccessible or do not contain merchantable timber but most of this tract is harvestable. Based on the data collected, suggested silvicultural prescriptions were developed along with other management suggestions for the tract. This plan was submitted to the park ranger, Dan Smalls, for review and final implementation.
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Literary Rights: Off
Major: Forestry
Year: 2014
File Attachments: St_John_Final_Draft.pdf
Authors: M. Dalton St. John

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.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
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

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

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

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

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