Committee Chair

Craddock, James Hill

Committee Member

Sisco, Paul; Spratt, Henry


Dept. of Biology, Geology, and Environmental Science


College of Arts and Sciences


University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Place of Publication

Chattanooga (Tenn.)


The ongoing effort by the American Chestnut Foundation to breed and reintroduce a blight resistant, locally adapted variety of American chestnut (Castanea dentata) requires a broad genetic base. To ensure adequate genetic diversity, genetic resources must be collected from throughout the native range of the species. Finding and breeding surviving C. dentata stump sprouts is problematic due to the relatively short life span of blooming stems and their often remote forest habitat. To facilitate more efficient location of surviving trees in the southeastern U.S., we used a Geographic Information System (GIS) to overlay soil, topography, and satellite imagery for the generation of predictive, site-specific, chestnut-range maps, as well as a geo-referenced attribute database. We implemented a combination of conservation procedures including both in situ efforts to promote favorable habitat conditions for survivors and ex situ techniques such as traditional breeding, grafting, and orchard repositories. From 2002 to 2004 our efforts resulted in the location of 14 surviving, seed-bearing, C. dentata in Tennessee. We bred these wild trees using C. dentata and hybrid pollens resulting in the capture of native southern germplasm into the national breeding program. In 2004 we also located and graft-propagated 18 different non-blooming C. dentata trees for inclusion in the breeding orchards. The winter of 2004-2005 was marked by the establishment of the first complete backcross family orchards in Tennessee, which were planted with progeny from our 2002 and 2003 gene-conservation efforts.


I wish to thank all those who helped me complete my Master of Science degree in Environmental Science. I am very grateful to Dr. J. Hill Craddock, the chairperson of my thesis committee, for his willingness to teach me and his friendship. I thank Dr. Paul Sisco for being on my thesis committee and for all of his help, advice, and time. I also thank Dr. Henry Spratt for being on my thesis committee and for his helpful insight. I am thankful to my brother Stephen Alexander for his priceless help and encouragement throughout graduate school and my chestnut research.


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.




American chestnut; Geographic information systems; Conservation biology


Natural Resources and Conservation

Document Type

Masters theses




viii, 100 leaves



Call Number

LB2369.2 .A438 2005