Committee Chair

Shaw, Joey

Committee Member

Aborn, David; Hunt, Nyssa


Dept. of Biological and Environmental Sciences


College of Arts and Sciences


University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Place of Publication

Chattanooga (Tenn.)


Species distribution models (SDMs) have become an essential tool in focusing conservation efforts for species with incomplete distribution records. SDMs enable conservation managers to increase field survey efficiency by prioritizing areas to invest time and financial resources. This application is invaluable for historical species which remain suspended between extant and extirpated, having not been documented in many years, but lack sufficient evidence to be determined extirpated. Identifying suitable habitat and previously unknown locations for species of conservation-concern has historically represented an overwhelming and often impractical task, however the development of model-based sampling approaches has made this task more feasible. Here, SDMs are trained using digitized herbarium specimens to identify suitable habitat and therefore, the potential distribution of 16 historical plant species in Tennessee. The ultimate goal of this work is to provide conservation managers with an effective tool for guiding sampling strategies, enabling the rediscovery of Tennessee’s lost plant species.


I would like to acknowledge the members of the Shaw Lab, who have provided me with encouragement and thoughtful feedback throughout my work on this project. A tremendous thank you to Courtney Alley, Caleb Powell, John Shelton, and Dax Ledesma. The completion of this project truly would not have been possible without your steadfast support, collaboration, and comic relief. I would like to thank Dr. Joey Shaw for his advice, guidance, and encouragement throughout this process, and for providing me the opportunity to join him on a project which would ultimately lead me to pursue my Masters Degree. You have always helped me get back on track when I found myself straying, and for that I am grateful. I must acknowledge Nyssa Hunt, as both a committee member and friend, thank you for always finding a way to resolve my ArcGIS frustrations and for always providing snacks. Thank you to Dr. David Aborn for your thoughtful insights and conservation expertise while serving on my committee. Furthermore, for being a wonderful professor, I am grateful to have learned so much across a variety of disciplines from you throughout my undergraduate and graduate careers. I would like to thank Dr. Thomas Wilson, whose passion for ecology, biology, and geospatial sciences have inspired me and encouraged me to grow as a scientist. A heartfelt thank you to Benjamin Jones, who has stood by my side and helped keep me sane through this entire process. Finally, I would like to thank my parents for their unwavering support and guidance throughout my life and my educational career.


M. S.; A thesis submitted to the faculty of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Master of Science.




Angiosperms -- Geographical distribution; Plant conservation; Rare plants




conservation; historical species; MaxEnt; rare plants; species distribution model

Document Type

Masters theses




xii, 173 leaves.





Date Available