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Capstone Projects

Managing the Declining Population of Northern long-eared bats in New York State

Thu, 05/03/2018 - 08:02
Abstract: White-nose syndrome (Geomyces destructans) is a fungal disease that has caused over 5.5 million bat deaths in eastern North America. The fungus affects any open skin including the bat’s patagium and causes lesions. The fungus consists of microscopic spores which can attach to anything it comes into contact with to spread the disease. The fungus is spread from bat to bat and cave systems as well as facilitated by human tourism. Northern long-eared bats (Myotis septentrionalis) are currently threatened in New York State. The northern long-eared bat is an insectivore and must hibernate when its food source is unavailable. During hibernation the bat’s immune system is suppressed, making it more vulnerable to the effects of white-nose syndrome. The bat will deplete its fat reserve to fight off the disease, which will lead to death if the bat cannot find a food source. White-nose syndrome has decreased the northern long-eared bat population by 90% in New York State. There is no cure for white-nose syndrome, and the northern long-eared bat population continues to decrease in New York State. The northern long-eared bat population is relatively unknown, but estimated to be 20,000 individuals in New York State. Population projections predict that the bat may become extirpated from New York State in the next 5 years. Increasing the survivability of the juvenile bat population to 70% and the adult bat population to 80% would prevent the extirpation of the species. The goal of this management plan is to increase the population of northern long-eared bats in New York to prevent the extirpation of the species from the state and create a sustainable population. This should be done by preventing further human facilitation of the disease, increasing educational resources for the public and gathering more information about the fungus and the northern long-eared bat population in New York.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2018
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Bailey Muntz

Glenview Preserve: Sustainable Farming Methods

Thu, 12/13/2018 - 12:05
Abstract: In 2016, the Glenview Preserve was purchased by the Adirondack Land Trust, with a goal to maintain and preserve the two agricultural fields on the property. The farmer that leases the two fields from the Adirondack Land Trust will have to use sustainable farming methods to farm the fields, so that the biodiversity of the fields and also the Bloomingdale Bog are protected. There are three different farming intensities, which are low intensity, medium intensity and high intensity. The farmer should use low intensity farming because if the farmer used high intensity the ecosystems that are present on the Glenview Preserve property would be severely impacted. The farmer will most likely maintain the current fields by mowing the fields with a mowing machine, which has negative impacts on the land such as soil compaction. With the types of soil that the agriculture fields have, it is advised that the current fields remain hay fields and that different grasses and legumes that benefit the farmer’s livestock are grown. The farmer that leases the property from Adirondack Land Trust will have to decide if they will use draft horses, modern haying equipment or a mix of both to harvest the hay fields. No matter which way they choose to harvest the hay fields they will have to be sustainable, be able to develop ways to preserve the grassland bird species and maintain the Adirondack hayscape.
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Major: Natural Resources Conservation and Management
Year: 2018
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Dustin Clark

Management Plan for Pacific Walrus (Odobenus rosmarus divergens) in Alaska, 2017-2027

Fri, 04/28/2017 - 18:06
Abstract: Pacific Walruses are social mammals and travel in herds. Most of the population spends the summer months in the ice pack of the Chukchi Sea; however, mostly adult males use coastal haulouts in the Bering Sea. Walruses use ice to rest between foraging trips, mate, care for their young, and defend themselves against predators. Climate reduced their ability to engage in these behaviors by eliminating the ice pack in their summer season. Walruses feed on bivalves on the sea bottom; however, because of climate change they no longer can reach the bottom. In response to the loss of ice, walruses are resting on land haulouts with as many as 20,000-40,000 individuals. This puts pressure on the benthic material supply. The swim from drifting ice to coastal haulouts can be hundreds of kilometers, which leads to the death of young walruses. Walruses are sensitive to sounds from ships, aircrafts, and tourist underwater and out of water. When walruses are disturbed by these events, they create stampedes by trying to dive into the water. The stampeding event ends in high mortality for calves. In 2007, more than 1,000 walruses were trampled to death in Chukotka, Russia. To prevent human disturbances, management at haulouts needs to occur for 10 years (2017-2027). The goals are to improve demographic knowledge of pacific walruses, minimize stampeding events, and grow and replace native bivalves near land haulouts. This could be accomplished by laws that require aircraft and vessels to maintain the appropriate distance. Creating artificial habitat would result in less use of coastal haulouts which would decrease mortality during stampeding events. It would also provide easier access to bivalves for foraging trips. Bivalves are depleting near land haulouts due to large demand from the high density of walruses, therefore aquaculture is needed to replace their food source. Harvesting more of the adult population would be essential to maintain the population from going over carrying capacity. If the adult population decreases then fewer calves will die in stampedes. These objectives are necessary to ensure the future of walruses and their new habitat.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2017
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Desiree Stumpf

Are Zooplankton As Patchy As Phytoplankton?

Mon, 05/01/2017 - 15:44
Abstract: Phytoplankton and zooplankton form the base of most lake food webs and are the primary sources of energy for higher trophic levels. Recent studies have shown that the horizontal distribution of phytoplankton is not even across the surface of lakes. While the vertical distribution of zooplankton has been well studied, little is known about the horizontal distribution of zooplankton in the surface waters of lakes or the spatial interactions among zooplankton and phytoplankton. The aim of this study was to quantify the spatial distribution of phytoplankton and zooplankton and determine if their spatial distributions are related. We sampled zooplankton and phytoplankton during the day and at night in a 24 point grid in Paul Lake, Michigan in the late spring and early summer of 2016. Phytoplankton and zooplankton were not uniformly distributed horizontally. Instead, there were high density patches of both zooplankton and phytoplankton, and in many instances there was positive autocorrelation. Additionally, zooplankton and phytoplankton concentrations were rarely correlated in space indicating that grazing is likely not a driver of zooplankton or phytoplankton spatial heterogeneity. If the goal of a study is to understand and characterize the entire population of either phytoplankton or zooplankton, we suggest taking multiple samples of the pelagic zone.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2017
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Jonathan Stetler, Cal Buelo

Management Plan of the Ring-Tailed lemurs (Lemur catta) at Beza Mahafaly Special Reserve in Madagascar

Tue, 05/03/2016 - 11:29
Abstract: The need to protect Ring-tailed lemurs is evident. Lemurs are the most threatened group of vertebrates in the world with the IUCN listing 94% of lemur species as threated. This high percentage is in part due to the fact that lemurs only occur naturally in Madagascar so changes to the island effects the whole infraorder (Lemuriformes). Helping to curb illegal activities will protect not just the habitat for Ring-Tailed lemurs but will help the entirety of Madagascar’s Wildlife that has evolved on an island that used to be covered by up to 90% forest. These illegal practices are often protected by armed guards which may require assistance from the Madagascar government for adequate protection of the islands forests
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2016
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Elias Carter

Management of the Invasive American Mink (Neovison vison) Populations in the Southern Region of South America (Cape Horn Biosphere)

Tue, 05/03/2016 - 11:24
Abstract: American mink (Neovison vison) are an invasive species in South America, Europe and a few other countries. An invasive predator like the American mink can have negative effects on ecosystem function. In the Cape Horn biosphere, mink have no natural predators and have established themselves as top predator in that ecosystem (Crego 2015). Their populations have steadily increased in the Cape Horn Biosphere Region since their release from mink farms in 1930 (Ibarra et al. 2009). The Cape Horn biosphere is affected by the loss of native fauna such as Magellanic woodpeckers (Campephilus magellanicus), Olive Grass Mouse (Abrothrix olivaceus), and different types of ducks (Anseriforms) due to American mink predation. The Cape Horn Biosphere is a research, education, and conservation land that is used by institutes and universities (Ibarra et al. 2009). There are four objectives to help prevent the further spread of the invasive American mink that include: Educating the general public in the Cape Horn Biosphere region on the negative implications of invasive species, increasing the number of minks trapped by 15% in 1 year, setting environmental laws against the release of mink from fur farms within 5 years, creating a tactile agency to enforce those laws within 5 years. When all objectives are complete there will be a decreasing trend in American mink populations in Southern South America.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2016
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Eleanor Congden

Northern New England and New York Mountain Lion Recolonization Management Plan

Thu, 04/30/2015 - 12:33
Abstract: Mountain lions (Puma concolor) were a common species found in the United States during the 1800s. Currently there are no breeding populations of mountain lions known to exist in the northeastern section of the United States. This loss of the species was due to human development and over harvesting that was facilitated by bounties. Humans have had a direct contribution to the loss of the species throughout this part of the country. Colonial expansion of farms into wild areas caused a negative connotation to mountain lions when predation occurred on livestock. This is what led to their local extinction. Today mountain lion populations are in great abundance throughout South America, western United States and Canada, and eastern portions of New Brunswick, Canada. Habitat degradation reduced suitable habitat and has pushed mountain lions to new geographic ranges. Ranging males have occurred in eastern United States in search of females and are increasing in quantity. This raises a question to whether breeding populations could be supported in the northeast. Due to state and federally owned land, there is suitable habitat located in the northeast. Help will be needed to facilitate the recolonization of this species. The goals of this management plan are to re-establish population sizes large enough for reproduction and satisfy stakeholders. To meet the goals for this management plan, four objectives must be met (1) Agreements must be made with landowners of property of 100 acres and larger in Northern New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine by 2020 that allows these lands to be protected for mountain lion use, (2) regulation of population numbers will be implemented by hunting harvest quota that will cause declines when population reaches two lions per square mile, (3) current average auction prices for livestock that are killed due to mountain lion predation will be provided to the owners, and (4) mountain lion, along with other large predator education will be provided to children in elementary school. This management plan requires extensive work in monitoring recolonizing mountain lion populations along with aiding with interactions that occur between mountain lions and humans. The overall goal of this plan is to re-establish a breeding mountain lion population within the northeast of the United States.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2015
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Zachary Beauregard

A Management Plan for the Black-Tailed Prairie Dog (Cynomys ludovicianus)

Thu, 04/30/2015 - 22:07
Abstract: Since the turn of the century black-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus) populations have declined as much as 98% throughout North America (Miller et al. 1994). It was once thought that prairie dogs occupied between 80-104 million acres historically, but with the expansion of ranching and agriculture into the prairie dogs native habitat, that number has been reduced to 2.4 million acres in recent years. Black-tailed prairie dogs play a vital role in the prairie and grasslands ecosystems. There are a number of different species of animals that depend on prairie dogs and their activities. It has been thought that over 170 species rely on the prairie dogs for their burrows, for food, and the habitat they create. Most states currently within the range of the black-tailed prairie dog classify the species as a pest or varmint, and no state has adequate regulatory mechanisms in place to assure conservation of this species within its borders. This management plan will propose strategies to adequately regulate the conservation of the black-tailed prairie dog, eventually leading to the partial restoration of the prairie ecosystem.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2015
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Ryan McAuliffe

Optimal Clutch Size of American Kestrels (Falco sparverius) in Northern New York

Mon, 04/28/2014 - 12:08
Abstract: American kestrels readily use nest boxes, which makes them perfect candidates for studies on nesting activity and success. Nesting success is important to understand so that managers can effectively assess the productivity of a breeding population of kestrels. The goal of this study was to determine optimum clutch size for American Kestrels in Northern New York. The hypothesis was that optimum clutch size consisted of four eggs per clutch. The objective was to determine what clutch size is most effective at hatching young. The study was conducted during the months of June 2013 through August 2013 on 150 nest boxes that were established in 2002. The contents of each elevated nest box were observed using a video baby monitor attached to an extendible pole to minimize disturbance. Clutch size data and number of chicks hatched was compiled and analyzed using a Kruskal-Wallis test. This test was used because it allowed data to be separated into different clutch sizes, and determined the significance between the number of eggs in each clutch and the number of chicks hatched. Clutch sizes varied from 1-5 eggs, with occurrences of one and four eggs being most common. The majority of nesting attempts with one egg failed, resulting in a low probability of chicks hatching from one egg clutches. A clutch size of four eggs has the highest probability of successfully hatching chicks and the highest mean number of chicks hatched compared to the other clutch sizes.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2014
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Jennifer Miller

Managing Fisher (Martes pennanti) in Region 7 of Central New York: Opening a trapping season

Fri, 05/02/2014 - 20:40
Abstract: In the late 1800’s fisher were very abundant throughout New York State, but they were nearly trapped to extinction by the 1930s. Few populations survived until 1949 when the trapping season was closed. Today fisher can be found throughout approximately 26,000 square miles of forested habitat in the state; many of these areas have established management plans. Region 7 has not established a population estimate of fisher in the past because there have been few sightings until recently. In 2013, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC) and Cornell documented fishers at 54 of 100 survey locations in Region 7. The goal of this management plan is to maintain a fisher population that is large enough to sustain itself and support annual trapping seasons in Region 7. To support the goal of opening a trapping season, fisher habitat will be improved by limiting fragmentation and increasing connectivity. Fisher harvests will be limited by issuing harvest tags, and monitored by pelt seal records. Opening a trapping season will improve recreational opportunities for trappers, while assisting in maintaining a healthy predator prey ratio.
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Major: Fisheries and Wildlife Science
Year: 2014
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Carter O'Gorman