Date of Award


Degree Name

Physical and Applied Science


College of Science

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Ralph Oberly

Second Advisor

Michael Little

Third Advisor

Thomas Jones


The field of environmental science can directly benefit from a society driven by advances in technology. The loss of the American chestnut (Castanea denata) has had a significant negative environmental and economic impact throughout the Appalachian region. However, using an integrated approach utilizing recent advances in science and technology, we may be able to promote the re-introduction of a very similar species within this region. Using GigaPan as a tool for site assessment and data storage, and previous methods of biological field surveying within the critical detritus layer of the forest floor, we will assess the status of forest ecosystems currently retaining native C. dentata sprouts, and systems absent of C. dentata. Once this process is complete, we will gain knowledge on developing a protocol to implement plantings of the newly acquired hybrid American chestnut (Castanea denata x mollissima). If followed through properly, this work could provide background research towards the introduction of a keystone resource in forest ecosystems that will affect many different levels of ecosystem functionality.


American chestnut - Environmental aspects.

Forest ecology - Appalachian Region.