• Fifteen-year Forest Structure Changes in a Sandstone Pavement Barren

      DellaRocco, Thomas; Straub, Jacob (Scientia Discipulorum: SUNY Plattsburgh, 2016)
      The Altona Flatrock sandstone pavement barren is a rare fire-dependent ecological community geographically located at the narrow overlap of jack pine and pitch pine species ranges. We studied fifteen year post-ice storm plant community change at the Altona Flatrock pine barren in Clinton County, New York. Prior research predicted plant community changes in the barren due to fire exclusion. Our study is the first to examine long-term changes in plant species composition of this pine barren community. In the overstory, pitch pine basal area and density remained similar (i.e., < 20% ) between 1999 and 2014, while density and basal area of red maple increased 67% and 109%, respectively. Jack pine overstory mortality was 100% between 1999 and 2014 in our plots. Few jack pine saplings (12.5 stems/ha) and no pitch pine saplings were present in our plots. However, a great density of red maple saplings (1,950 stems/ha) existed. Ground cover was dominated by huckleberry, Sphagnum spp., and Schreber's big red stem moss. With an absence of fire and the subsequent decreases in jack and pitch pine, this post-ice storm pine barren is developing into a boreal heath barren dominated by huckleberry in the understory with an overstory comprised mostly of red maple. In the absence of fire, or a suitable management alternative, this rare ecological community type may become extirpated from this Region. Further research could focus on successfully regenerating fire dependent pines to provide a more complete understanding of the ecological requirements and traits in this sandstone pavement barrens ecosystem in Clinton County.
    • Presence, Habitat Use, and Prey Selection of Champlain ValleyOwls, New York

      Doud, Gabriella; Moseman, Erin; Straub, Jacob; Garneau, Danielle (Scientia Discipulorum: SUNY Plattsburgh, 2016)
      In this study we examined species-specific owl occupancy and detection, habitat usage and distance to landscape features, as well as food availability of owl species encountered in Clinton County, New York. Through broadcasting owl vocalizations, we were able to identify and determine owl habitat usage using an inexpensive, non-invasive technique. Lunar cycles were also assessed to determine when the owls were most active. Lastly, we hand collected owl pellets to determine what the owls may be eating in Northern New York. Program PRESCENCE was used to assess presence and occupancy across sites. We encountered barred owls (Strix varia) and great horned owls (Bubo virginianus) occurring and co-occurring at 100% of our sites. Detection probabilities for barred owls were 29% and only 4% for great horned owls. Through the use of ArcGIS is was determined that agricultural land-use and forests were the dominate habitat types surrounding the broadcasting sites. Roads and wetlands were reoccurring habitat across sites. We observed that owls were more vocal on nights of high lunar illumination. Through the dissection of owl pellets we concluded that small mammals such as grey squirrels and mice (Peromyscus spp.) were selected prey of a great horned owl. Understanding owl habitat-use patterns is important for habitat conservation purposes in the future as habitat fragmentation and habitat destruction become more persistent across the landscape. We hope to expand our research to other location including residential areas and urban parks to create a better understanding of owl habitat usage in Clinton County.