ItemNon-invasive Monitoring of Nest Boxes(2020-05-05) Johnson, Kaylee; Garneau, DanielleNest boxes are an important wildlife management tool which have proven successful in long-term recoveries of waterfowl and other species. Previous studies have shown that flying sqquirrels (Glaucomys sabrinus and G. volans) communally nest in these boxes in northern New York. We sought to monitor wildlife occupancy in nest boxes using non-invasive technologies including cameras and acoustic devices. Between 2019-2020, nest boxes were monitored at the recently burned Altona Flat Rock Forest in northern New York. GoPro cameras were mounted to telescoping poles to check nest boxes for occupancy and other wildlife sign. Later in the survey, goPros were mounted to the boxes for overnight visual and acoustic sampling. Concurrent acoustic sampling was performed using a smartphone enabled bat detector (Echo Meter Touch 2), as studies have shown flying squirrel vocalizations fall in the detectable range of many bat species. Monitoring revealed sign of wildlife (e.g., nests, debris, scat) in nest boxes erected in the burn site. In addition, acoustic data confirmed the presence of a species of concern in our region, the eastern whip-poor-will (Caprimulgus vociferus) who are known to have strict habitat needs involving open forests and a dense understory to protect nests from predators. This research has offered a window into the potential success wildlife professionals might have using alternative survey methods (e.g., technology) when monitoring sensitive species. ItemExamining the Presence of Microplastic in Wastewater-Derived Soil Amendment(2020-05-05) Koritkowski, Carlee; Garneau, DanielleThere is growing research on the impact of microplastics in terms of uptake in consumer products (e.g., sea salt, bottled/tap water, beer, mussels, fish, and soil amendments). Studies have shown that wastewater effluent and biosolids are potential pathways for microplastics to enter marine, freshwater, and terrestrial environments. Some soil amendments derive from the bacterial mats associated with wastewater processing and are potential pathways of microplastics via soil runoff into surrounding waterbodies. The presence of microplastics in these ecosystems impacts food webs at varying trophic levels and contributes to the persistence of microplastics in the environment. We examined a wastewater-derived soil amendment for microplastics using standard characterization methods. Quantification of microplastics following distilled water hydration of 82g of soil amendment yielded 69 particles. These particulate were primarily fibers (69%) and foams (19%), with lesser films (4%), beads (4%), and fragments (3%). The majority were smaller (125-355um) fiber particles. A standard bag of this soil amendment is 14515g with coverage of 232m2. The average-sized lawn in the United States is approximately 911m2, resulting in the potential to contribute 330,240 particles into soil and ultimately adjacent waterways. Next steps have begun to streamline this process by adopting the wet peroxide oxidation digestion method in an attempt to reduce organic matter. Nile red staining is a recently introduced method that effectively binds to plastic and is visualized using ultraviolet light. Microplastic researchers have developed automated (MP-VAT) software to streamline microplastic quantification and characterization in conjunction with Nile red staining procedures. We aim to incorporate this new approach and evaluate best practices in microplastic quantification and characterization of wastewater-derived soil amendments, as their potential ecosystem consequences are broad. It is important to continue elucidating pathways of these emerging persistent pollutants. ItemCamera trap monitoring of wildlife following a wildfire at the Altona Flat Rock forest(2020-05-05) Jaeger, Tristan; Adams, Matthew; Staats, Lloyd; Garneau, Danielle; Lesser, MarkForest disturbance can drastically alter wildlife habitat (i.e., cover, forage and prey abundance). Response of wildlife to disturbance events, particularly the timing involved in returning to pre-disturbance conditions, are important aspects of overall ecosystem recovery and resilience. Here, we study wildlife occurrence and usage patterns following a disturbance at a sandstone pavement pine barren in northern NY. This site is dominated by Pinus banksiana (Jack Pine) with an understory largely comprised of Vaccinium angustifolium (Low-bush Blueberry) and Gaylussacia baccata (Huckleberry) serving as a major wildlife resource and fuel for this fire-dependent system. In July 2018, ~220ha of this forest was burned in a wildfire. In fall 2018, eight game cameras were installed along transects traversing a gradient of burn severity as well as an adjacent unburned reference area. Annual and seasonal abundances, and diel wildlife activity were characterized using the camTrap package in R Studio. Over the course of the study, overall species richness in the unburned and burned areas were differed (n= 15 and n= 13 respectively), though total occurrences were higher in the unburned (n = 361) than in the burned area (n = 480). Common species captured on the barren include Odocoileus virginianus (White-tailed Deer), Lepus americanus (Snowshoe Hare), and Tamiasciurus hudsonicus (Red Squirrel) which more prevalent in the unburned, while Canis latrans (Coyote) were more common in the burned area. Seasonal trends in wildlife abundance show a clear benefit to being in the unburned area in fall through winter 2018 as it provides resources and hiding cover. In spring, wildlife increased activity within the regenerating burn which remained in high use until summer-fall 2019. Interestingly, Coyote’s use of burned and unburned areas tracks that of their Snowshoe Hare prey and is most pronounced in the burn during spring. At the barren, Snowshoe Hare and Coyote behave nocturnally as compared the diurnal activity of White-tailed Deer. In the unburned area, Coyote appear to shift activity to capture the morning peak of Deer. Further long-term monitoring will elucidate how wildfire affects wildlife community composition, abundance, and distribution on the Altona Flat Rock sandstone pavement barren. ItemImpacts on the growth of Sweet Corn (Zea Mays) exposed to plastic weed fabric and soil amendment with and without earthworms(2020-05-05) Lee, Linh; Gomez, Isabel; Garneau, DanielleAgricultural practices, such as farm field application of sewer sludge or use of plastic weed fabrics may impact yield of crop plants. Numerous studies have documented the presence of microplastics in wastewater treatment plant effluent and sludge and have noted negative impacts on terrestrial and aquatic organisms. Plastic mulch and weed fabrics are increasingly more common in small-scale farming and over time will degrade into finer microplastic particulate. Both plastic sources have the potential to leach residues into soils and adjacent waterbodies, with potential impacts on both plants and wildlife. Earthworm bioturbation has the potential to redistribute microplastics even deeper into the soils as they consume and lay castings. We established a greenhouse experiment to examine the effects of farming-associated plastics on Sweet Corn (Zea mays) in the presence of Red Worms (Eisenia foetida). We sowed 4 corn seeds per pot across 5 treatments (control, macroplastic, microplastic, amendment 1mm, amendment 355um) with 6 replicates per treatment and lined and covered the pots with screening. Once plants were established (13 days), two Red Worms were introduced to three pots across all treatments. Plant height was measured weekly and upon harvest, stem diameter, leaf abundance, and weights were obtained. Preliminary results suggest that the amendment hastened the date of first germination (6 days post-planting). All plants germinated in 1mm amendment and macroplastic, whereas minimum (88%) germination was observed in 355um amendment and microplastic treatments. There was a statistical difference in the height of Sweet Corn after a week with the tallest plants deriving from the 1mm amendment treatment (p = 0.037, F = 2.643, df = 119). This study serves to help elucidate the complex interactions of microplastic and soil-dwelling organisms on yield of crop plants. Our results will inform farmers and land managers about avoiding techniques that will potentially increase plastics inputs into ecosystems. ItemNatural History Interpretation of Rugar Woods(2019-05) Gray, Stephanie; Krech, Jennifer; Domenico, JoshuaRugar Woods Interpretive Nature Trail is a <1mile loop in the woods behind the SUNY Plattsburgh fieldhouse. The trail meanders along a stream and provides natural history learning opportunities in the form of 23 interpretive signs, each with interactive QR codes to learn more with online supplemental materials. This nature trail is a collaboration of SUNY Plattsburgh students and faculty and was made possible by funding from a student-subsidized Green Fee granted through the Campus Committee For Environmental Responsibility and the Lake Champlain Basin Program's Champlain Valley Natural Heritage Program.