Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Document Type






First Advisor

Dr. Songlin Fei


Invasion of exotic species is a significant problem in natural ecosystems, reaching epidemic proportions and resulting in significant economic losses. However, insufficient knowledge of explicit spatial distribution of invasive species hinders our ability to prevent and/or mitigate future invasion. In this study, we demonstrate the use of existing voluntary data to survey invasive plant species in Kentucky. We also reconstructed the historical distribution of 16 exotic invasive plants typical to Kentucky using herbarium records. We found that Kentucky is facing a large threat from exotic invasive plants as they are reported throughout most counties. The distribution maps for four of the top 10 most reported invasive species revealed that Kentucky is presently or was previously a front of invasion. The majority of the 16 targeted invasive species were scattered throughout Kentucky with no concentrations within particular regions. Cumulative curves of occupied counties over time fit a “J” shape expansion curve, which indicates the potential for further future invasion. This study demonstrates the usefulness of voluntary data and herbarium data to reconstruct the historical and current distribution of invasive species. Further studies on other invasive species can take advantage of information associated with herbarium specimens to achieve more fruitful results.