Natural Resources Professional Masters Projects

Permanent URI for this collection


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 10 of 23
  • Item
    Analysis of the post-wildfire effects on the occupancy of Townsend's solitaire during the breeding season by conducting a single-season single species occupancy modeling
    Darveshi, Shubham (2023)
    California wildfires have nuanced effects on the landscape of the forests and habitat of wildlife. Some species respond positively to ecological changes while some respond negatively to it. Our purpose was to investigate the effects of 2020 North Complex Fire of Sierra Nevada California on the Occupancy of the Townsend’s Solitaire (Myadestes townsendi). Our hypothesis was that this bird species has benefitted from the patches around the recorder sites burned at high severity. So, we conducted a survey in this region and detected the calls of Townsends solitaire over its breeding season from May to July. We found that there is possibly a positive correlation between high severity fire and occupancy of Townsends Solitaire, negative correlation between elevation, burnt state and the occupancy but we did not find sufficient evidence to conclude that this bird benefitted from this particular wildfire as the models having occupancy covariates were having ΔAIC ≤ 2.
  • Item
    Studying the Effects of Large-Scale Solar Farms on Plant Ecosystems in New York State Using NDVI Based Geospatial Analysis
    Gee, Matthew (2023)
    The state of New York launched the 2015 New York State Energy Plan, which details goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by increasing renewable energy generation to 50% by 2030. To meet this energy demand, multiple large-scale solar energy facilities have been proposed for construction by 2030. However, this requires abundant land use for solar site establishment, creating a land use conflict with the surrounding vegetation and the environment. This report details the preliminary effects that solar farms will have on nearby vegetation, such as shading from solar panels. The subsequent study utilizes remote sensing in Google Earth Engine, geospatial applications in QGIS, and statistical analysis in R to analyze satellite imagery over New York State. Sentinel-2 land surface reflectance is processed to calculate normalized difference vegetation index to determine a significant change pre- and post-construction of solar farms. Results indicate that solar farms improve vegetation growth by providing shade and pooling water during the summer growing seasons, yet reduces growth during other months.
  • Item
    From Branch to Bug: Exploring the Ecological Impacts of Woody Residuals on Soil-Dwelling Arthropods
    Canino, Tess (2023)
    This study focuses on the effect that coarse woody residuals left on the ground post-forest thinning have on the biodiversity of soil-dwelling arthropods, as measured by the number of arthropod individuals and the presence of different taxonomic groups. Soil arthropods are vital to forest systems in their composition of the soil food web, which significantly contributes to nutrient cycling within he forest ecosystem. To understand the impacts of woody residuals on soil arthropods, soil samples were taken from treated and untreated sites in mixed forest stands in the Northeast. The number of arthropod individuals, as well as taxa present per treatment site, were measured. Arthropods were organized and summed per treatment type, and the mean numbers of arthropods per treatment were calculated. A Kruskal-Wallis test showed a significant difference in the mean number of arthropods by treatment. In general, plots with treetop material on the ground had the highest mean number of individual arthropods. Pairwise comparisons show that plots with treetop material had a significantly higher mean number of individuals than nearby paired plots devoid of treetop material, and all plots within the treatment where whole trees were removed during harvest. These findings have implications for preserving soil arthropod communities during the process of partial tree harvest. This study highlights the benefit of leaving behind woody residuals during harvest in order to maintain abundance within the soil community, contributing to a healthy forest ecosystem.
  • Item
    Science communication devices and outreach projects on harmful algal blooms in the finger lakes
    Hancock, Adele (2022)
    Harmful algal blooms (HABs) affect all 11 of the Finger Lakes in New York State. The cyanobacteria that make up the majority of HABs biomass produce microcystin, which makes blooming water bodies hazardous to the health of humans and animals that encounter them. However, the Finger Lakes Region is economically reliant on the use of the lakes for tourism- based businesses. Both climate change and current land management practices create conditions that encourage the growth of HABs on the Finger Lakes, leading to lost workdays and reduced capacity to function for businesses supported by lake tourism. This portfolio is a collection of science communication devices and projects - methods of educating the public about the risks and causes of HABs - directed towards residents and visitors of the Finger Lakes. The goal of these materials is to create behavioral changes that prevent HABs in the future. Each is accompanied by a brief description.
  • Item
    Representation of energy justice in sustainability planning
    Rose, Irving (2022)
    The energy transition and its associated sustainability initiatives can mitigate climate change and help meet increasing energy demands. However, energy transitions also can lead to disproportionate, negative effects on underrepresented groups of people. The District of Columbia (hereafter D.C.) has served as a microcosm of the United States' race, class, and identity issues. We employed a text data mining method and compare the count of individual keywords that embody energy justice among sustainability planning categories present in two sustainability plans for the District of Columbia: Sustainable DC (SDC) 1.0, published in 2013 and Sustainable DC 2.0, published in 2019. We also compared energy justice keyword prevalence between plans. We detected disparities in the abundance of individual energy justice keywords; notably, that the terms "justice" and "injustice" each only appeared once in SDC 1.0 and zero times in SDC 2.0. Energy was the most common energy justice keywords in the sustainability plans. SDC 1.0 and SDC 2.0 largely did not differ in energy justice keyword prevalence, indicating a lack of adaptation for promotion of energy justice through time. Energy justice is an important component of sustainability planning; lack of careful inclusion of energy justice in sustainability plans may lead to a delayed just transition.
  • Item
    Preliminary evaluation of wildlife use of slash walls in hardwood stands at the Arnot forest in southeastern New York state
    McGee, Patrick (2022)
    The browsing of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) has caused many issues with the regeneration of hardwood forests in the northeastern US. Constructing perimeter slash walls has been successful for excluding deer and helping tree seedlings regenerate. However, little is understood about slash walls and the role they serve for other taxa. We examined how wildlife interacted with slash walls using infrared-triggered trail cameras. The study was conducted at Cornell University's Arnot Teaching and Research Forest in Van Etten, New York. Camera traps (n= 32) were placed at random locations both facing slash walls and in adjacent control plots for 3 months during April-July 2022. Several species were photographed interacting with slash walls, and sufficient data were recorded for white-tailed deer, red foxes (Vulpes vulpes), and coyotes (Canus latrans). These three species were significantly more likely to be observed near slash walls than at adjacent control plots in open forest stands. The species diversity recorded indicated that slash walls do serve a larger purpose and may have significant conservation implications for wildlife.