• Field and Molecular Survey of Northern and Southern Flying Squirrels in Northern New York

      Waldron, Alexis; Bliss, Amanda; Thone, Gretchen (2014)
      In northern New York, there are 2 sympatric species of flying squirrel, the northern (Glaucomys sabrinus) and southern (Glaucomys volans). Recent research suggests that the boundaries between the northern and the southern flying squirrels have been shifting northward, in part due to climate change affecting resource availability. As a result, northern New York would now be the southern terminus for northern, and the northern terminus for the southern flying squirrels. The goal of our research is to develop a molecular survey of the two species that can be compared to morphological measurements made in the field to better confirm species in our area. As weather permits, we are establishing an arboreally mounted trapline and recovering scat, hair, and other tissue samples for DNA extraction, polymerization chain reaction (PCR), and restriction digests to determine species. The molecular assay has been optimized; however the harsh winter has limited our trapping success for tissue collection in the field. Determining frequency of capture will assist in predicting where the boundary of these species lies in Clinton County.
    • Georeference Inventory of SUNY Plattsburgh's Taxidermy Collection

      Garneau, Danielle; Van Splinter, Jessica (2014)
      In the midst of global climate change, invasive species, habitat loss/fragmentation, and pollution, which leads to local extirpation and extinction, taxidermy collections are essential in educating the public on the importance of natural history. Documentation of where specimens are collected is critical to understanding mammal range shifts in this time of global change. The goal of this inventory was to georeference SUNY Plattsburgh's taxidermy collection to assess whether there were some regional hotspots of collection that might be sources of sampling in the future. Georeferencing included noting species name, collection site, morphological measurements, as well as other information on the voucher specimen tag and importing that into GIS. Approximately, half of all the voucher specimens in the collection were unmarked, 35% were collected from Clinton County (19% Plattsburgh), and 10% from Essex County (3% Lewis). All specimens documented were collected from New York State. Several unique specimens were documented including a bobcat (Lynx rufus), black bear (Ursus americanus), fisher (Martes pennan), red (Vulpes vulpes) and gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteous). Small mammals, including deer mice and white-footed mice (Peromyscus spp., 15%), red squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonious, 10%), and snowshoe hare (Lepus americanus, 8%) were among the most abundant voucher species. The importance of continued sampling in these same voucher collection sites, might prove helpful when tracking range expansions as climate changes over the next century. SUNY Plattsburgh's snowshoe hare voucher specimens correspond to the southern edge of the historic range of the species and span the border of that range across four counties (e.g., Clinton, Essex, Warren, Ulster). Future implications for this information may include documentation of shifts in their southern range boarder as local conditions change in response to anthropogenic effects.
    • History of Wilcox Dock and the Georgia Pacific Paper Company

      Garneau, Danielle; Ramsdell, Connor; Hastings, Emily (2016)
    • Impacts on the growth of Sweet Corn (Zea Mays) exposed to plastic weed fabric and soil amendment with and without earthworms

      Lee, Linh; Gomez, Isabel; Garneau, Danielle (2020-05-05)
      Agricultural 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.
    • Imperial Dam

      Garneau, Danielle; Hilling, Tom; Tanner, Sam; Beers, Chris (2016)
    • Inventory of Small and Large Mammal Diversity in a Fragmented Landscape: A Baseline for Investigating Ecological Impacts of Human Disturbance

      Burgess, Michael; Garneau, Danielle; Wantuch, Joseph (2015)
      Systematic study of biological diversity is a prerequisite for understanding the ecological effects of climate instability and human disturbance. Our study is part of the Rugar Woods All Taxa Biological Inventory (ATBI) project, which seeks to document the biodiversity of Rugar Woods. We performed a field survey to inventory small and large mammals within Rugar Woods, a 50-acre, temperate, mixed forest. We collected five replicate measurements of both track and stride length and width, as well as photo-documented and georeferenced each track. All observations of sign were inventoried in a database and spatially explored with the iNaturalist application. We recorded ten mammal species, from five families. The most frequently recorded species were weasels (Mustelidae), including long-tailed weasel, fisher, river otter, and mink. We recorded a red fox (Canidae), white-footed mouse (Rodentia), beaver (Rodentia), and grey squirrel (Rodentia), a raccoon (Procyonidae), and white-tailed deer (Cervidae). Mammal tracks were commonly recorded on the ice of the Saranac River where domestic dog tracks were infrequent, and open space likely facilitated animal movement. A majority of tracks were recorded from riparian emergent and scrub-shrub habitats. These habitats are ecologically productive, and are thus integral components of the predator-prey food web. Because of the impending removal of the Imperial Dam, our data provide an important baseline for studying the cascading ecological effects of dam removal. Additionally, the documented mammal species are an essential part of the forest community, and their presence in a fragmented urban forest is encouraging. Finally, many are also disease vectors (e.g., Lyme disease and rabies), thus understanding their habitat use patterns is vital for ecological epidemiology.
    • Investigation of the Northern Range Expansion of the Virginia Opossum (Didelphis virginians)

      Garneau, Danielle; Gervich, Curt; Romanowicz, Ed; Appling, Leslie (2014)
      The Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana) has a very wide geographic range and is found throughout the south and northeastern United States, as far south as Central America and recently a few sightings have been noted in southern Canada. Low temperatures play a significant role in defining the opossum distribution, as they do not forage when temperatures are below 24.8°F. In parts of the opossum range, where they are forced to endure this temperature minimum, many experience increased mortality rates as a result of frostbite due to their small body size and hairless ears and tail. It may also be possible for them to persist in the northern extreme of their range by metabolizing body fat stores during cold winter months. Opossums found further north typically have a thick layer of underfur, which serves a thermoregulatory function. Because the opossum does not hibernate, it must forage year-round; however, this is difficult during the cold winters of upstate, New York. Typically the opossums stop foraging in temperatures less than 24.8°F, and avoid foraging in temperatures below 32°F . The goal of this study was to assess the progression of the northern migration of the opossum using a combination of qualitative roadkill and live sighting survey responses (i.e., bus drivers, mail collectors, Fed Ex drivers, hunters and trappers) and climate trends derived from long-term regional weather station records. We do not predict that sustainable Virginia opossum populations currently reside in high density within our region. Largely, this is because Clinton County is at the northern extent of their range in United States and their thermoregulatory needs cannot be met in these rural habitats. However, warming climate and increases in anthropogenic food sources may be making their northern migration possible in the near future.
    • Lyon Mountain: A Timeline of the History of a Small Mining Town

      Garneau, Danielle; Moll, Emily; Thomas, Brandi (2016)
    • Micro-plastic Bioaccumulation in Yellow Perch (Perca flavescens) of Lake Champlain

      Mason, Sherri; Garneau, Danielle; Moseman, Erin (2015)
      Micro-plastics are discharged into watersheds through wastewater treatment plant effluent and onward into waterbodies. Studies have shown that micro-plastics are bioaccumulating within aquatic organisms found in both fresh and salt water. Students at SUNY Fredonia are jointly working with SUNY Plattsburgh to identify and quantify micro-plastics from within fish digestive tracks from the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain. Dr. Sherri Mason's team at Fredonia has identified dark fibers as the most abundant micro-plastic in fish digestive tracts (> 85%), with yellow perch (Perca flavescens), being the most frequent species containng plastics (94.4%). SUNY Plattsburgh sampled eight yellow perch caught ice fishing in Monty's Bay, Lake Champlain. Digestive tract samples were digested in a wet-peroxide solution then left to dry for further examination. All fish sampled contained microfibers within their digestive tracts, 75% of individuals contained fibers present while 25% had foam-like plastics. These samples will be further examined by Dr. Sherri Mason's lab for further confirmation on type, color, and polymer. In the future SUNY Plattsburgh plans to examine micro-plastics in zooplankton and cormorants to represent a trophic dynamic bioaccumulation of micro-plastics in Lake Champlain.
    • Micro-plastic Pollution: A Comparative Survey of Wastewater Effluent in New York

      Garneau, Danielle; Mason, Sherri; Chaskey, Elizabeth; Hirsch, Taylor; Drake, Todd; Ehmann, Karyn; Chu, Yvonne (2014)
      Micro-plastics are hypothesized to be discharged into the waterways through wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) effluent. Students from SUNY Fredonia, jointly with students from SUNY Plattsburgh, have conducted a survey of regional plastic pollution at WWTPs in Chautauqua County, NY (Dunkirk and Fredonia) and Clinton County, NY (Peru and Plattsburgh) to explore this hypothesis. Samples of wastewater treatment effluent were collected using sieve arrays and materials were analyzed in the lab for any suspect micro-plastics. The suspect micro-plastics were placed into sample containers for future analysis. Preliminary results of this survey suggest suspect particles were present and discharged at rates of 109,556, 81,911, and 1,061,953 particles per day from Plattsburgh, Fredonia, and Dunkirk, respectively. Continued monitoring and dissemination of micro-plastic results to sewer facilities, may result in mitigation to reduce the amount of plastic discharge. These micro-plastics have become ubiquitous freshwater and marine pollutants, that are negatively impacting survival and fitness of aquatic species. Technological improvements to older facilities are likely to reduce micro-plastic waste and harm to the ecosystem.
    • Microplastic Bioaccumulation in invertebrates, fish, and cormorants in Lake Champlain

      Garneau, Danielle; Hammer, Chad; VanBrocklin, Hope (2016)
      It is estimated in the United States that 8 trillion microbeads enter our waterways daily. Microplastics are typically discharged into local watersheds through wastewater treatment plant effluent and marine debris, with as much as 1600 synthetic fibers emanating from washing a single piece of clothing. In this project, we assessed microplastic load within Dreissena polymorpha (zebra mussels), Gammarus fasciatus (amphipods), fish, and Phalacrocorax auritus (double-crested cormorants) digestive tracts. Specimens were processed using KOH bath, followed by wet peroxide oxidation digests. Bioaccumulated microplastics were characterized based on type (e.g., fragment, pellet/bead, fiber, film, foam) and size. Results suggest that the majority of microplastics combined for all organisms investigated were fibers (67%), fragments (19%), films (10%), and pellets/beads (4%). No microplastics were observed in zebra mussels. Amphipods contained fibers (50%), fragments (25%), and films (25%). Species-specific trends were observed among fish, specifically Osmerus mordax (rainbow smelt), Cottus cognatus (slimy sculpin), and Micropterus salmoides (large-mouth bass) are primarily consuming fibers. Bluegill sunfish (Lepomis macrochirus) and rainbow smelt were the only species to consume pellets/beads (40%) and films (16%), respectively. Double-crested cormorants contained primarily fibers (78%), as well as films (19%), with minor contributions of pellets/beads and foam. Spatial distribution of microplastic load was greater in rainbow smelt at the most northern and southern sampling sites on Lake Champlain. In freshwater systems, microplastics absorb chemical pollutants and release plasticizers (e.g., carcinogens, neurotoxins, endocrine disruptors) into tissues, with the potential for fitness consequences in wildlife and humans.
    • Microplastic Biomagnification in Invertebrates, Fish, and Cormorants in Lake Champlain

      Garneau, Danielle; Stewart, James; Walrath, Joshua; Putnam, Alex; Hammer, Chad; VanBrocklin, Hope; Buksa, Brandon; Clune, Alexis (2018)
      The goal of this research was to determine whether microplastics (MP) are uptaken by invertebrates, fish, and Phalacrocorax auritus (double-crested cormorants) resident to Lake Champlain. We did so by quantifying and characterizing (e.g., fragment, fiber, film, foam, pellet) plastic particulate.Wet peroxide oxidation digests were performed on digestive tracts of 506 lake organisms, specifically invertebrates (n = 301), 15 species of fish (n = 190), and Phalacrocorax auritus (double-crested cormorants) (n = 15). Our research indicated that fibers were the were the most common (80.1%) type of particulate found in all organisms, followed by fragments (9.64%), films (6.36%), foam (3.01%), and pellets (Amia calva) contained the greatest average number of plastic particulate (n = 29.67), followed by lake trout (Salvelinus hamaycush) (n = 21.42), and northern pike (Esox lucius) (n = 20.1). Among digested fish, stomachs contained the greatest mean number of MPs (n=5.62), followed by the esophagus (n=5.36) and intestines (n=4.8). These findings suggest biomagnification and/or direct ingestion is occurring in Lake Champlain organisms, as invertebrates, fish, and double-crested cormorants contained on average 0.36, 6.08, and 22.93 microplastic particles.
    • Microplastic Biomagnification in Invertebrates, Fish, and Cormorants in Lake Champlain

      Garneau, Danielle; Putnam, Alexandra; Clune, Alexis; Buksa, Brandon; Hammer, Chad; VanBrockin, Hope (2017)
      Microplastics are plastic particles that are microplastics, which are pellets commonly found in personal care products, and secondary microplastics, which are degraded plastics. Microplastics have made their way into waterbodies by passing through wastewater treatment plants, as marine debris, via mechanical- and photo-degradation of plastic, and release of pre-production raw materials. Microplastics are known to absorb other pollutants and are hydrophobic particles that can biomagnify up the food web. When ingested by fish, particulates embed within the digestive tract and leach into tissues, posing a potential concern for human consumption. The goal of this research was to determine whether microplastics biomagnify within invertebrates, fish, andPhalacrocorax auritus (Double-crested Cormorant) resident to Lake Champlain. We did so by quantifying and characterizing (e.g., fragment, fiber, film, foam, pellet) particulates. We performed wet peroxide oxidation digests on digestive tracts of (n = 438) lake organisms, specifically invertebrates (n = 258), 14 species of fish (n = 165), and Double-crested Cormorants (n = 15). Our research indicated that fibers were the most-abundant particulates in all organisms (n = 764), followed by fragments (n = 123), films (n = 40), pellets (n = 13), foam (n = 9). Microplastics were separated using stacked mesh sieves, with preliminary results showing a particulate size-distribution of: 1 mm, n = 86; less than 1 mm but 355 µm, n = 144; and less than 355 µm but 125 µm, n = 232. These findings illustrate biomagnification in Lake Champlain organisms, as invertebrates, fish, and Double-crested Cormorants contained on average 0.05, 3.6, and 22.93 microplastic particles. Results from this research serve to inform residents of the Lake Champlain watershed, anglers, non-profit lake organizations, as well as public health and government officials of the risks microplastics pose to aquatic biota and ultimately humans.
    • Microplastic Pollution: A Survey of Wastewater Effluent in Plattsburgh, NY

      Garneau, Danielle; Buksa, Brandon; Niekrewicz, Thomas (2016)
      Microplastic pollution in freshwater ecosystems is an emerging topic in aquatic pollution science. Primary microplastics were designed to be small (e.g., microbeads, pre-production plastic nurdles) and secondary microplastics result from photo and mechanical degradation. Origin of microplastics are often associated with consumer use of personal care items (e.g., facial cleansers and toothpastes) which are too small to be captured with current wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) technologies. Ongoing research cites dangers resulting in their propensity to absorb harmful chemicals and bioaccumulate up the food chain. We surveyed WWTP post-treatment effluent (N = 11) from the city of Plattsburgh, NY wastewater treatment plant in fall 2015. Effluent samples were collected and digested using wet peroxide oxidation methods, followed by characterization based on type and size. The majority of microplastics in wastewater effluent were identified as fibers (51%), as compared to similar proportions of pellets/beads (12%), films (15%), fragment (18%), and lesser films (4%). The largest (>=1mm) and smallest (<=125µm) were predominantly fibers (87%) and (44%), respectively. Diversity of microplastic type (e.g., film, fragment, foam) increased with decreasing particle size. On high and low flow rate days, more bead/pellet and films were collected respectively. Microplastics have been an emerging concern in aquatic life as they can absorb harmful chemicals and bioaccumulate up the food chain. This research from Lake Champlain can serve as a basis for further microplastic studies in the Lake Champlain watershed.
    • Microplastic Pollution: A Survey of Wastewater Effluent in the Lake Champlain Basin

      Garneau, Danielle; Moriarty, Melissa; Lee, Erin; Brown, Sadie; Buksa, Brandon; Niekrewicz, Thomas; Barnes, Jason; Chaskey, Elizabeth (2018)
      Microplastic is defined as particulatefragments, fibers, films, foams, pellets, and beads. Microplastic pollution was first documented in the 1970s and interest has grown from initial characterization, to effects within marine and freshwater food chains, ultimately impacting human health. Due to their small size, porosity, and density variation, microplastics often escape wastewater treatment processing (WWTP). Commencing in 2015, we surveyed WWTP post-treatment effluent (N = 59) from the city of Plattsburgh, NY and beginning in fall 2016 from St Albans, VT (N = 29), Ticonderoga, NY (N = 23), and Burlington, VT (N = 9). Effluent samples were collected and digested using wet peroxide oxidation methods, followed by microscopic characterization based on type and size. Plant specifications yielded varied microplastic trends in quantity and type, specifically Plattsburgh largely emitted fibers and fragments, St. Albans emitted a majority of foam, Ticonderoga emitted mostly fibers, and Burlington emitted a majority of fragments. Estimated microplastics released per day ranged from St. Albans (30,268), Plattsburgh (14,105), Burlington (16,843), to Ticonderoga (7,841). Microplastics are an emerging concern for aquatic life as they can biomagnify and adsorb harmful chemicals which bioaccumulate up the food chain. They have been found to impair feeding and reduce survival in many aquatic species. This research further documents wastewater treatment plants as a significant source of microplastics entering Lake Champlain and serves as a basis for further microplastic studies in the Lake Champlain watershed. As plants are not designed to capture these small particulate, consumer behavior must evolve to reduce this pollution threat.
    • Monitoring the Efficacy of Biological Control Agent Ladybird Beetles to Manage Scale Insects

      Garneau, Danielle; Goldman, Jessica (2015)
      There are multiple methods in which pests, or nuisance species, can be removed from infected target plants. One approach is via biological control, which is when a living organism is used to control or manage a pest, parasite or other species. Biological control was applied during this experiment involving a fern, ladybird beetles and scale insect. Crown fern (Aglaomorpha coronans) located in the greenhouse on SUNY Plattsburgh campus is infected with scale insects. Fourteen of its fronds are contaminated with scale insects. This fern was exposed to the Harlequin ladybird beetle (Harmonia axyridis succinea) to test their merit as a biocontrol agent. The fern was place in a netted area with dimensions of 1.3m x 1.2m x 0.9m in the greenhouse at SUNY Plattsburgh. Population counts of scale insects were taken weekly and ladybird beetles were added as harvested from local homes. Results demonstrate that starting with week 1, the addition of predatory beetles resulted in a dramatic decline in pest scale insects. These predators are effective biological control agents for brown scale insects, but care must be taken as they are invasive species that have disrupted the native Coccinellid complex.
    • Natural History Interpretation of Rugar Woods

      Gray, Stephanie; Krech, Jennifer; Domenico, Joshua (2019-05)
      Rugar 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.
    • Non-invasive Monitoring of Nest Boxes

      Johnson, Kaylee; Garneau, Danielle (2020-05-05)
      Nest 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.
    • Observing white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) behavior in Northwestern Vermont Using Trail Cameras

      Garneau, Danielle; Cole, Brittany (2016)
      Trail cameras are an increasingly popular and reliable non-invasive technique in wildlife ecology surveys. They have proven to be reliable, cost-efficient, and critical tools for gaining understanding of common and elusive species in a cost-effective manner. The purpose of this study was to observe white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) behavior (e.g., foraging, yard preference, social group) in rural, urban, and agricultural edge sites in northwestern Vermont with the use of trail cameras. I predicted in colder temperatures and deeper snow, white-tailed deer (Ododoileus virginianus) would decrease daily activities and increase group size, as well as prefer densely forested areas for protection. I also predicted white-tailed deer to be most active in dawn/dusk hours. Species richness was greatest in camera observations at the rural (n = 6), agricultural edge (n = 5), and urban sites (n = 3). White-tailed deer were observed three times as often in spring 2016 as compared to fall 2015. Predators were observed at all sites and included eastern coyote (Canis latrans) and red (Vulpes vulpes) and gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus). Camera data suggest that deer were observed more often in urban and agricultural edge habitat in the fall, whereas more observations occurred in rural habitats in the spring. Patterns in diel activity show that white-tailed deer were most active at dusk, dawn, and during crepuscular hours equally at the agricultural edge, urban, and rural sites, respectively. Habitat-specific thermal properties were observed as white-tailed deer were observed most often at temperatures between (31 - 40°F) at agricultural edge and urban, and (11 - 20°F) at rural sites. Habitat-specific behavioral changes were noted such that at the agricultural edge and urban site, the white-tailed deer displayed vigilance, foraging, and walking proportionally throughout the study, whereas at the rural site walking and foraging were the most common behaviors. White-tailed deer are common to New England forests and serve as excellent species for study using non-invasive techniques, such as game cameras. Landscape- and stand-level habitat characteristics appear to influence white-tailed deer behavior as one considers moderation of temperature, diel movement, and grouping.