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Capstone Projects

Opportunities for Collaboration: A study of the participation in student activities and young alumni giving

Thu, 11/29/2012 - 20:23
Abstract: Student activity programs developed in collaboration of student affairs and alumni offices increase young alumni involvement. The successfulness of student activities in cultivating young alumni donors is unknown. The purpose of this study is to determine if the giving behaviors of young alumni can be enhanced by the participation in student activities. Current “involved” students will be queried through focus groups to gather insights as to their intentions of financial giving upon graduation. Recent graduates between the years 2007-2010 will be queried as to their giving behavior towards the college as well as activity engagement during their years at Paul Smith’s college and specifically what that engagement was. Colleges will better understand the benefits of implementing student activity programs.
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Major: Business Management and Entrepreneurial Studies
Year: 2012
Authors: Christine Blakeslee

A MULTI-SCALE EVALUATION OF THE EFFECTS OF FOREST HARVESTING FOR WOODY BIOFUELS ON MAMMALIAN COMMUNITIES IN A NORTHERN HARDWOOD FOREST

Fri, 02/01/2013 - 16:19
Abstract: Forest harvesting and subsequent effects on forest structure have been shown to influence mammalian community assemblages and the abundance of individual species, however less attention has been paid to the implications of how harvested timber is used. This is particularly relevant in the Northern Forest, where a considerable portion of the forest harvesting is used to produce biofuels. Biofuels harvesting typically involves the process of whole-tree chipping which may lead to a dramatic reduction in the amount of woody material in the form of slash and coarse woody debris (CWD) left in harvested stands. The goal of our study was to assess the effects of biofuels harvesting on forest structure and subsequent effects on mammalian community structure and abundance. To address this goal, we focused on a ~35 Ha area of partially-harvested northern hardwood forest in the northern Adirondacks, New York. To sample mammals we used a combination of Sherman traps and track plates established at two scales across stands within this area. Our results showed that the response of small mammals to changes in forest structure is both species and scale specific. At the individual trap scale, CWD, slash, and understory cover were important drivers of the occurrence of individual species of small mammals. At the larger “grid” scale, small mammal relative abundance was driven by canopy cover and the density of woody stems. Our results indicate that the current harvesting practices used for biofuel production in the Adirondacks are unlikely to result in declines in abundance of common small mammal species. However, the retention of some slash post-harvest may be beneficial to some species, thus foresters may want to include slash retention when developing silvicultural prescriptions.
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Major: Environmental Sciences, Fisheries and Wildlife Science, Natural Resources Management and Policy
Year: 2012
Authors: Cody Laxton, Alisha Benack, Danielle Ball, Scott Collins, Sam Forlenza, Richard Franke, Stephanie Korzec, Alec Judge, Connor Langevin, Jonathan Vimislik, Elena Zito

Can black-capped chickadees learn to associate ultraviolet markers with a food source?

Thu, 12/06/2012 - 07:22
Abstract: Food storing birds, like black-capped chickadees (Poecile atricapillus), have a higher hippocampal volume than other birds, giving them the ability to hide food in small caches and retrieve them hours later with great precision using physical features of the surrounding area as guides. This capacity for learning spatial information may be able to translate to other forms of learning, such as association. Black-capped chickadees are also able to see in the near ultraviolet range (~370nm), theoretically to allow for more vibrant plumage during the breeding season. I hypothesized that black-capped chickadees have the ability to associate an ultraviolet marker with a food source. If they can, perhaps birds can be 'taught' to go towards or away from things like wind turbines, windows, and other hazardous objects. I tested my hypothesis by counting the number of chickadees that landed on two different feeders, one with an ultraviolet marker and food and one with neither. I found that there was no significant trend, either within or between days, that would indicate that the birds learned (χ2 test and Student’s t-test). As a management use, researchers propose that ultraviolet markers on wind turbines could decrease the collision rate of birds with turbine blades.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2012
File Attachments: Eck_Capstone_Final.doc
Authors: Benjamin Eck

The influence of temperature, moon phase and cloud cover on the catchability of bats in the Upper Connecticut River Basin and the Merrimack River Basin

Sun, 12/09/2012 - 15:28
Abstract: Small mammals modify their behavior in response to environmental factors such as weather, temperature, moon phase, visibility and the time of night at which they forage. The goal of my study was to determine how environmental variables such as temperature, moon phase and visibility (cloud cover) affected the efficiency (bat captures/net meter/ hour) of bat mist netting. Mist nets were placed in the months of June, July, August, September and November from 2003 to 2012 using mist netting surveys at 23 Army Corps of Engineers dams and recreation projects in New Hampshire and Vermont. Catch rate of bats was not affected by moon phase (P= 0.317) or cloud cover (P=0.130), but were slightly affected by temperature (P=0.053). These results were consistent with other studies that looked at the effects of moon phase, cloud cover and temperature on bats. Knowing the effects of environmental conditions on catchability could be useful to biologists in determining if it is worthwhile to mist net bats on nights with certain conditions to maximize efficiency of catching bats
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2012
Authors: Jeremy Chamberlain

Monitoring the Zebra Mussel Invasion Front: Use of New Technology

Thu, 02/09/2012 - 15:39
Abstract: Zebra mussels are invasive mollusks that are affecting the well-being of the water bodies in the United States. This study uses environmental DNA (eDNA) is a sensitive early detection system that may be useful in monitoring their spread. The purpose of this study is to determine the effectiveness of eDNA technology in identifying infested water bodies, to determine if zebra mussel DNA is in the Adirondack water bodies not known to be infested, if the water chemistry of these water bodies is favorable for zebra mussel establishment, and if the eDNA technology is transferable to an institution like Paul Smith’s College. Eighteen lakes, all in New York State were sampled, fifteen of which are located in the Adirondack Park. DNA was extracted from water and plankton samples and species specific primers were used for PCR amplification to determine if zebra mussel DNA was present. Of seven samples taken from sites known to be infested, five of these tested positive for zebra mussel eDNA. Four lakes not known to be infested within the Park also tested positive for zebra mussel eDNA. Based on zebra mussel risk parameters (water chemistry) applied to 1,469 Adirondack water bodies, less than 3% are at risk of zebra mussel establishment. However it is possible that established populations could occur at microsites that may have locally high levels of calcium and higher pH.
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Major: Biology, Environmental Sciences, Environmental Studies, Fisheries and Wildlife Science, Forestry, Natural Resources Management and Policy
Year: 2011
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Alexandria Bevilacqua, John Bishop, Charles Cain, Tyler Clark, Seth Crevison, Robert Culyer, Ryan Deibler, Brian DeMeo, Jonathan Eckert, Kirsten Goranowski, Joelle Guisti, Alan Jancef, Korinna Marino, Michelle Melagrano, KaitlynNedo, Joseph Nelson, Aaron Palmieri, Cole Reagan, John Scahill, JohnathanStrassheim, Scott Travis, Sarah Van Nostrand and Sarah Vella

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

Assessment of Anion Retention within Variable-Charged Eastern-Central Adirondack Forest Sub-Soils

Mon, 12/05/2011 - 10:20
Abstract: Anthropogenic influences such as acid deposition and road salting have caused shifts in both the pools and fluxes of nutrients within Earth’s biogeochemical cycles. The mobility of ions within forest soils is a very well documented concept; however the significant mechanisms affecting these patterns are poorly understood. One mechanism affecting anion retention is the electrostatic attraction to soil colloid surfaces, which is poorly documented in the Adirondack Park. Soils were sampled from both glacial till and outwash sites with predominantly deciduous canopies. The amount of anion retention was documented through multiple soil ion extractions over a pH gradient from 2 to 9. A loss on ignition procedure was used to understand the relationship between both organic matter or Fe/Al oxides and the overall soil surface charge. The estimated retention of Cl- and NO3- is 252 Kg/Ha and 440 Kg/Ha, respectively. Using hypothetical watersheds, we calculated that it will take 14 years to saturate the subsoil with NO3- and only 7 years to saturate with Cl-. These results suggest that the effects of acid deposition may be seen up to 14 years even after deposition has ceased. The relatively limited retention of Cl- however, may explain increased salinization of freshwater ecosystems.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2011
File Attachments: Capstone Final Paper.docx
Authors: John Mullins

High Ruffed Grouse (Bonasa umbellus) Relative Abundance in a Transitional, Early-Successional Habitat

Mon, 12/05/2011 - 10:34
Abstract: Abstract I recorded and examined ruffed grouse (Bonasa umbellus) flush data across upland hardwoods, lowland coniferous, and transitional habitats within the Adirondack State Park, New York. The flush data was recorded throughout September, 2011. Study site areas were accounted for to establish a flush per hectare rate. Contrary to my hypothesis the transitional habitat produced significantly more flushes (x2, p<0.0001) than the hardwoods and coniferous habitats. Lowland (conifer + transitional) and upland flush per hour rates were compared to a mean central Adirondack rate. I was unable to establish a significant conclusion from this comparison. A habitat suitability index indicated that stem density and the absence of aspen (Populus tremuloides, Populus gradidentata) appeared to be the limiting factors within the hardwoods habitat. Unanimous upland stem density suitability index values (SIV3) of zero resulted in an upland fall to spring cover value (FSCOV) of zero. If stem density was suitable throughout the upland habitat the quality of grouse cover would have increased significantly (FSCOV=0.9). However, aspen would have to be established to create quality grouse habitat with adequate cover and forage. Therefore, I concluded that as the upland forest stand ages and stem density increases, grouse densities are also likely to increase.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2011
File Attachments: Hamer_Matt
Authors: Matt Hamer

Burrow characteristics, nest success, and chick productivity of the black guillemot (Cepphus grylle) on two islands in the Gulf of Maine.

Mon, 12/05/2011 - 13:54
Abstract: Knowledge of the black guillemot Cepphus grylle population, nesting habitat preference, nest success and chick growth in North America is limited as the majority of studies on this species have been conducted in other northern countries such as Ireland and Greenland. Petit Manan Island and Eastern Brothers Island (Gulf of Maine, ME) each offer unique black guillemot nesting habitat from each other. Petit Manan offers predominately debris-like habitat (driftwood, buoys, etc.) and Eastern Brothers offers traditional rock-cliff habitat. I investigated the influence of burrow characteristics on nest success and chick growth on both islands. Burrow measurements were particle size of nest substrate, nest depth, nest cup diameter, light penetration, and neighbor distance. Nest success was scored by number of eggs hatched and chick growth was measured through body mass indices (mass/wing chord). Nest cup diameters were significantly larger in debris than in rock burrows which were typically tight crevices. No other characteristics were statistically significant different between debris or rock burrows. Consequently, nest success and chick growth was not affected by type of burrow.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2011
File Attachments: Capstone FINAL.docx
Authors: Chelsea DiAntonio

An analysis of social behavior in captive gray wolves and its effects on pack dynamics

Mon, 12/05/2011 - 17:55
Abstract: Animals live in groups for a variety of reasons, including access to certain prey items, defense of territory, and protection of resources. Canids have proved a popular subject for studies in social behavior, and many variables of behavior have been tested, providing an in-depth picture of how these animals typically live. Gray wolves (Canis lupus) in particular have been studied extensively throughout the years, both in the wild and in captivity. This study investigated social behaviors within a captive wolf pack so that an activity budget could be established with aid of an ethogram. A pack hierarchy was also established using tail positions as a guide, and behavior frequency was compared between each gender. Overall, resting behaviors were the most common for the pack under study, and most common for both males and females. This is likely because the study took place during the summer when temperatures were high and the animals didn’t expend much energy. Males and females did not show a significant difference in the proportion of time spent exhibiting each behavior (X2=1), likely because each sex plays a similar role in the pack. While play behaviors comprised only 12% of all recorded, I believe that social play is an important function for providing social cohesion and an outlet for aggression. Since there is still much to be understood about social play in adult wolves, I believe that it should be the focus of future studies. I also believe that this study can provide a framework for future investigations of a similar nature, and that such future studies should also attempt to draw comparisons between wild and captive wolf packs, as they differ in several respects.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2011
File Attachments: equandt_capstonefinal.pdf
Authors: Elizabeth Quandt