Dendrochronology of Seaside Juniper: a recently discovered rare tree species.

Authors: Dustin Gleaves*, Western Washington University, Aquila Flower, Western Washington University
Topics: Biogeography, Environmental Science, Paleoenvironmental Change
Keywords: dendrochronology, botany, modeling, tree ring, silviculture, Salish Sea, ecology
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Grand Ballroom C, Astor, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Seaside Juniper (Juniperus maritima) is a recently discovered species of Juniper tree endemic to the Pacific Northwest. Prior to discovery in 2007, Seaside Juniper was treated as Rocky Mountain Juniper (J. scopulorum) due to cryptic speciation. Although climate is a well known primary determinant of forest health, the effects of fluctuating climatic conditions on the growth and regeneration of Seaside Juniper have never been studied. Dendrochronology uses the measurement of annual tree ring widths as a proxy for periodic climate conditions. If successful, this study will produce a model of climate conditions over the lifespan of the sampled trees, potentially prior to instrumental measurements. No dendrochronological study of Seaside Juniper is available in published literature and no existing chronology is available from the International Tree Ring Databank, the primary public database of tree ring chronologies. Due to this lack of study, it is unknown if individual Seaside Junipers crossdate, defined as expressing consistent patterns of annual growth between individuals, which would indicate non-random climatic response, a crucial requirement of dendrochronological study. Prior studies have succeeded in correlating precipitation and temperature with the closely related Utah Juniper (J. osteosperma) and Rocky Mountain Juniper growth, which indicates a potential for climate sensitivity in Seaside Juniper. If Seaside Juniper expresses climate sensitivity, this represents a yet unutilized resource of dendrochronological records that could be used to elucidate long-term climate trends in the Salish Sea region.

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