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Synopsis of recent dendroclimatological research with longleaf pine (Pinus palustris Mill.) on the coastal plains of North and South Carolina

Authors: Peter Soule*, Appalachian State University, Paul Knapp, University of North Carolina Greensboro, Justin Maxwell, Indiana University, Evan Montpellier, University of Minnesota
Topics: Paleoenvironmental Change, Global Change, Biogeography
Keywords: tree-rings, climate, longleaf pine, tropical cyclone precipitation, microelevation, Carolinas
Session Type: Poster
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


We present primary findings from a series of projects we have recently undertaken that use tree-ring data from longleaf pine (Pinus palustris Mill.) collected on the coastal plains of North and South Carolina. In our initial project we established a strong relationship (r = 0.71, p < 0.01) between latewood width and tropical cyclone precipitation (TCP) and reconstructed TCP to AD 1836. We have extended the reconstruction to AD 1750, and this work identified a 33-year period of exceptionally narrow latewood widths and low TCP values in the 1800s that was unique during the past quarter millennium. We used LiDAR and high-resolution GPS units to investigate the relationship between radial tree growth, TCP, and microelevation. Our findings show that microelevational differences (<1 m) may significantly affect climate/radial growth relationships and the use of high-resolution radar technology may be an effective tool for better understanding the role of microtopography on radial growth patterns. We examined the climate-growth responses of longleaf pine to temperature, precipitation, and drought severity using a longer period of record (1905–2018) than that available for TCP (1953–2018). We compared responses between standardized totalwood, earlywood, and latewood ring-width length and found multiple significant positive relationships in late summer for both volume of precipitation and drought severity. Overall, our results demonstrate that precipitation delivered by landfalling tropical cyclones is an important driver of radial growth in coastal longleaf pine ecosystems and that longleaf pine is an excellent recorder of long-term climatic variability.

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