Project Title

Habitat Suitability Analysis of American Chestnut in Kentucky

Presenter Information

Rebecca MoyerFollow

Presenter Hometown

Lancaster

Major

Environmental Studies

Department

Biological Sciences

Degree

Undergraduate

Mentor

Kelly Watson

Mentor Department

Geosciences

Abstract

The Appalachian region is a vast mosaic of nut bearing woodland carpeting coal rich and ancient mountains. The American Chestnut (Castanea denata) reigned supreme in the ancient mosaic, dominating the forest and building the economy of the region. The species was dethroned, to the point of becoming functionally extinct, within a few decades by the airborne fungus (Cryphonectria parasitica). A map was created using Geographic Information Systems software to highlight areas of Kentucky that support the preferred growing conditions of C. dentata. The overlay analysis utilized soil pH, drainage classification, soil type, elevation, land ownership, historic C. dentata range, elevation, and slope data. The map was ground truthed after it was created through an environmental assessment of six sample sites. The assessment included testing soil pH and sand content as well as assessing the tree species present in the area. The sample sites served to determine the accuracy of the mapping process and see if the appropriate restrictions were used while creating the map. The final map product showcases areas within Kentucky that could be used for restoration of the American Chestnut. Most of the areas better suited for restoration efforts of C. dentata are in the eastern half of the state due to the mountainous terrain and the vast amount of federally owned land.

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Habitat Suitability Analysis of American Chestnut in Kentucky

The Appalachian region is a vast mosaic of nut bearing woodland carpeting coal rich and ancient mountains. The American Chestnut (Castanea denata) reigned supreme in the ancient mosaic, dominating the forest and building the economy of the region. The species was dethroned, to the point of becoming functionally extinct, within a few decades by the airborne fungus (Cryphonectria parasitica). A map was created using Geographic Information Systems software to highlight areas of Kentucky that support the preferred growing conditions of C. dentata. The overlay analysis utilized soil pH, drainage classification, soil type, elevation, land ownership, historic C. dentata range, elevation, and slope data. The map was ground truthed after it was created through an environmental assessment of six sample sites. The assessment included testing soil pH and sand content as well as assessing the tree species present in the area. The sample sites served to determine the accuracy of the mapping process and see if the appropriate restrictions were used while creating the map. The final map product showcases areas within Kentucky that could be used for restoration of the American Chestnut. Most of the areas better suited for restoration efforts of C. dentata are in the eastern half of the state due to the mountainous terrain and the vast amount of federally owned land.