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Capstone Projects

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

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

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.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Forestry
Year: 2014
File Attachments: St_John_Final_Draft.pdf
Authors: M. Dalton St. John

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

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.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Forestry
Year: 2014
File Attachments: Actually Done.docx
Authors: Dylan Kirk

Expanding Environmental Education at the VIC through Girl Scouts

Thu, 05/08/2014 - 16:56
Abstract: All too often children today are not getting adequate experiences in nature; television and video games take up most of their free time. This causes a disconnect from environmental education in the classroom and their daily lives. In order for conservation efforts to be successful people must feel some sort of connection with the earth. The best solution for this “nature deficit disorder” is hands on, fun outdoor education. Girl Scouts has always been about bettering the lives of girls and their communities through experiential learning. Since the beginning of the organization there has been badges focused on outdoor skills and environmental education. The Paul Smith’s College Visitor Interpretive Center (VIC) is a valued community resource for wilderness recreation and educational programs. Bringing the two organizations together just makes sense, and everyone will benefit. Scouts will get to earn interesting badges and have meaningful, fun experiences that may otherwise have been unrealistic. The VIC will be able to reach more children and expand their positive influence. Hopefully, with these badges, and other similar projects, kids can obtain a meaningful experience with nature and be inspired to care for the earth.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Parks, Recreation and Facilities Management
Year: 2014
Authors: Brittany Wieder

Recreational Facilities on the Paul Smith's College

Thu, 05/08/2014 - 17:35
Abstract: Paul Smith's College has a variety of recreational facilities on and off of the campus. The location of the college provides a cornucopia of outdoor and indoor activities for students, staff and faculty. This study aimed to discover why people use the recreational facilities and whether or not they are satisfied with their experiences in those facilities. An online survey was given to students, staff and faculty of the college and an inventory of the facilities was done to establish a clear picture of Paul Smith's College's recreational offerings.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Parks, Recreation and Facilities Management
Year: 2014
File Attachments: final draft v.3.doc
Authors: Ian Haines, Richard Tryder, Justin Andrews

Soil and Vegetation Characteristics of High Elevation Wetlands in the Adirondack Park

Mon, 12/03/2012 - 17:14
Abstract: Wetland ecosystems are finally being understood for their true importance. Wetlands in the past were misunderstood and thought to be disease carrying burdens on our way of life; however this mentality changed during the mid-19thcentury. These ecosystems are important for biodiversity and act as natural water purification systems. This study was undertaken to help understand, the high elevation wetland characteristics. Our goals were to analyze the soils and describe the vegetation in high elevation wetlands. The soil and vegetative surveys helped define the characteristics of these ecosystems and create a better understanding of them. The combination of vegetation species that are wetland indicators were found in each site, the soil pH, and nutrients show that each site had signs of being a wetland community.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Environmental Sciences, Forestry
Year: 2012
File Attachments: FINAL Capstone Report.doc
Authors: Brandon Ploss, Sean Ayotte

Vegetation colonization of a large sediment deposit from Tropical Storm Irene and the trajectory of the ecosystem

Sun, 12/02/2012 - 20:06
Abstract: Rivers, floodplains and riparian zones are important pieces of all landscapes. Humans have always had a close connection with these ecosystems but commonly that connection has led to anthropogenic disturbance of the natural system. There are very few undisturbed rivers, floodplains, and riparian zones left in the temperate biome. A better understanding of how disturbance, humans, and invasive plants are interacting with reference to rivers, floodplains and riparian zones may help with protection of these sensitive areas. This study analyzed the vegetation which was left and which colonized a large sediment deposit from Tropical Storm Irene, August 28, 2011. The understory vegetation was assessed in four 1 m2 plots based on stem count and percent foliar cover 319, 349 and 394 days after the tropical storm. Overstory trees were also inventoried in order to identify species and make connections between the overstory and new understory. Invasive species accounted for 16.1% of all stems found from day 319 to day 394. There were 5 invasive species found within the plots (garlic mustard, honeysuckle, Japanese knotweed, goutweed, chervil). Garlic mustard and Japanese knotweed increased in foliar cover from day 319 to 394 and may have retarded the growth of native plants and seedlings. Only 9.4% of all stems were found to be tree seedlings. The invasive plants which are colonizing fluvial deposits may be altering the structure and succession of floodplain forests and riparian zones. This invasive plant-covered deposit now provides a seed source for areas downstream as well as prevents native vegetation from growing on the site.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Forestry
Year: 2012
File Attachments: Capstone Paper.docx
Authors: Hannah Wahlstrom

Forces at Work: An Interpretive Management Plan for Fernow Forest Nature Trail

Mon, 12/03/2012 - 12:23
Abstract: Fernow Forest Nature Trail in the town of Tupper Lake, Franklin County, New York, is a recreation facility with great educational value to tourists and the local community. The cultural and natural resources of the site have been underutilized by the outdated Self-Guided Nature Trail brochure and insufficient signage. A survey was conducted at the trail to obtain pertinent data on visitor preferences regarding popular landmarks along the trail and types of interpretive programming. Recognizing that a greater impact on visitors could be made if interpretation at the site was improved, a thematic interpretive management plan for the Self-guided Nature Trail was developed. The new program, “Forces at Work,” consisted of a revised brochure, a complete map of the trail and amenities, and recommendations for the successful implementation of the new program including the utilization of an on-site interpreter. Future care of the trail was entrusted to Paul Smith’s College’s Forestry Club under the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Adopt-A-Natural Resource program.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Forestry
Year: 2012
Authors: Lawrence Montague