Committee Chair

Shaw, Joey

Committee Member

Wilson, Thomas P.; Carroll, Andrew D.


Dept. of Biology, Geology, and Environmental Science


College of Arts and Sciences


University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Place of Publication

Chattanooga (Tenn.)


Geographic Information Systems (GIS) allow for herbarium data to be used for new scientific research and also for the greater efficiency of the traditional uses of herbaria. My research uses the resources of both the herbarium at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UCHT) and partnering herbaria of the Southeastern Regional Network of Expertise and Collections (SERNEC) to examine methods of incorporating new GIS technology into a functional infrastructure in order to enhance botanical research. Evaluations were performed on database and georeferencing software for use in the development of a pilot, GIS-enabled website used to query herbaria specimen information. Using this newly created database infrastructure, two ecological studies were performed using improved SERNEC datasets. In the first study, three common wetland invasive plant species were chosen and analyzed via two different methods to determine the historic rate and pattern of spread as well as to identify periods of invasiveness. Performance of these methods varied in scale with a general, areacorrected approach covering the entire southeastern United States and an associate species-corrected method covering smaller, regional areas of dense historical specimen collection. Results showed positive spread over time for these three species across both methods; however, periods of invasiveness did not coincide between the two methods. The use of two different methods and the subsequent comparison of results show the importance of sampling bias correction, scale selection, and adequate sample sizes for spatiotemporal analyses of plant distributions using herbarium records. The second study describes the spread of Baccharis halimifolia L. into new physiographic areas of the southeast using SERNEC records in GIS. Results were compared against distribution descriptions in the taxonomic literature. The dataset strongly complimented the existing distributions described in the taxonomic literature and, therefore, supports the concept that recent range expansion into previously unoccupied physiographic areas has truly occurred for this species, rather than being an artifact of collection bias. The two studies mentioned above have been submitted for publication in peer reviewed, scientific journals and are arguments for the use of herbarium data within GIS software. It is of note that similar techniques will be fundamental to future botanical research in the southeast.


I wish to express sincere appreciation to the many people in the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences who have assisted me in obtaining my Master's degree. Special thanks is due to my major advisor and thesis committee members (Dr.Joey T. Shaw, Mr. Andrew D. Carroll and Dr. Thomas P. Wilson) who have displayed their commitment to my education through their generous guidance and patience. Financial support for this project was provided through a USGS National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII) research grant and scholarships awarded by the southeast chapter of the Geospatial Information and Technology Association (GITA). Original idea and subsequent advice towards examining the spread of Baccharis halimifolia into new physiographic provinces was provided by Dr. L. Dwayne Estes at Austin Peay State University. Research support was provided by Dr. Mark ScholT (UTC) in regards to guidance on statistical analyses and SAS PROCs. Assistance in specimen data collection was provided by SERNEC collaborators, especially Drs. Zack Murrell (APSU), B. Eugene Wofford (UTK), Alan Weakley and Carol Ann McCormick (UNC), and Wendy Zomlefer (UGA). For assistance in issues related to plant taxonomy, appreciation is extended to Mr. Stacy Huskins. Support during conferences and GIS-related career advice was graciously given by Mr. Charles Marlin (GIT A) and Dr. Gary Litchford (UTC). It is difficult to overstate my gratitude to Ms. Mary Kathryn Petrovic for her unwavering encouragement and cooperation during my graduate student career. In addition to my brother Andy and sister Sarah, I am indebted to the many colleagues and friends who have given guidance and friendship in the past several years: Justin Conley, Dr. Carl Friese, Dr. Donald Geiger, David Hall, David Herr, Chris Lanka, Andrea Litt, Amy Mahon, Ben Miles, Johnny O' Donnell, Patrick and Leah Wensink, and Shaun Westfall.


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.




Botanical specimens--Collection and preservation; Geographic information systems


Environmental Monitoring

Document Type

Masters theses




xiv, 106 leaves



Call Number

LB2369.2 .M544 2008