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Dendro-anatomical Approach to Evaluate Disturbance-Induced Features and Mortality in Whitebark Pine (Pinus albicaulis Engelm.), Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, Wyoming, USA

Authors: Savannah A. Collins-Key*, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, April L. Kaiser, University of Idaho, Georg von Arx, Swiss Federal Institute for Forest Snow and Landscape Research WSL, Matthew F. Bekker, Brigham Young University, Sanjaya Bhandari, Indiana State University, Cody L. Dems, Pennsylvania State University, Sara J. Germain, Utah State University, William C. Wittenbraker, University of Kentucky
Topics: Paleoenvironmental Change, Biogeography, Quantitative Methods
Keywords: dendrochronology, wood anatomy, climate, whitebark pine, resin ducts
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Tree rings have long served as a critical proxy for ecological, climatological, and disturbance data, providing intricate glimpses into past environmental variability. The quantification of wood anatomical features (‘dendroanatomy’) can provide an avenue for dendrochronologists to investigate tree growth at a greater fundamental and explicit level, and presents an innovative application of dendrochronological methods. Our study applied this methodology to analyze samples of whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis Engelm)—in particular, distinct features exhibited as a result of an external disturbance. Core samples were taken from fourteen (14) whitebark pine in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem of Wyoming, in July 2018; of the trees sampled, half (7) had recently died. Cellular features were measured in the program Root Xylem Analysis System (ROXAS), we evaluated the images for discrete disturbance-induced features. These discrete features include resin ducts (constitutive and traumatic), blue rings, frost rings, compression wood, and high-wind events (HWEs). Traumatic resin ducts (TRDs) were assessed using the classification system used in DeRose et al. (2017), who determined that less-traumatic TRDs are encountered in Pinus spp., and instead focused on a combination of the tangential arrangement, high frequency of appearance, seasonal position, and grouping of resin ducts. A preliminary analysis found live and dead trees alike had significantly lower hydraulic conductivity and ring width (i.e. growth) during years of an extreme climate disturbance. To expand on the influence of disturbances on growth and mortality, we employed superposed epoch analysis to quantify the association between disturbance-induced features and tree growth and mortality.

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