Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Harkess, Richard L.

Committee Member

Fox, Amelia A. A.

Committee Member

Bi, Guihong

Committee Member

Rodgers, John C.

Committee Member

Byrd, Jr. John D.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Graduate Thesis - Open Access


Plant and Soil Sciences (Horticulture)

Degree Name

Master of Science


College of Agriculture and Life Sciences


Department of Plant and Soil Sciences


Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) is a primary larval food source for the monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus). Planting more butterfly weed may stimulate declining monarch populations. To that end, a habitat suitability map was created for Mississippi in GIS using soil pH, soil texture, and land cover. Herbarium data were derived from the Southeast Regional Network of Expertise and Collections (SERNEC) database. Environmental data were from the USDA National Resource Conservation Service geospatial data gateway. Frequency analysis was used to assign scores to environmental variables of SERNEC occurrences using a suitability index. Global positioning systems (GPS) locations of butterfly weed were collected to validate the model. The most suitable model with 78.9% of GPS points in medium to high suitability was a weighted sum overlay with land cover 50%, soil pH 25%, and soil texture 25%. The suitability map may enable conservationists to identify suitable sites for butterfly weed in Mississippi.



habitat suitability||danaus plexippus||monarch butterfly||monarch||habitat models||habitat modeling||habitat||geographic information systems||gis||asclepias tuberosa||asclepias||milkweed||butterfly weed