Biology Ph.D. Dissertations


A Multiscale Spatial Analysis of Oak Openings Plant Diversity with Implications for Conservation and Management

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Biological Sciences

First Advisor

Karen V. Root

Second Advisor

Enrique Gomezdelcampo (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

Helen J. Michaels (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Jeffrey G. Miner (Committee Member)

Fifth Advisor

Robert K. Vincent (Committee Member)


Oak savannas of the Midwestern U.S. are among the most imperiled North American plant communities. The 478-km2 Oak Openings region of Northwestern Ohio is one of the few landscape-scale savanna systems remaining in the Midwest. Despite conversion of large portions of the Oak Openings for human land uses, the region still supports high levels of floristic diversity. However, regional patterns of Oak Openings plant diversity within the modern landscape are not well understood. My research objectives were 1) to determine the current extent and distribution of Oak Openings plant communities, 2) to quantify multiscale patterns of plant species richness within the context of the surrounding landscape, and 3) to build predictive species distribution models of rare plants to evaluate regional patterns in habitat suitability. First, using multi-seasonal Landsat images, I determined that