Dendromastecology of five oak species in the Bent Creek Experimental Forest, Asheville, North Carolina

Authors: Thomas Patterson*, University of Southern Mississippi, Cathryn H. Greenberg, USDA Forest Service
Topics: Physical Geography, Biogeography
Keywords: tree ring, southeast, masting, forest ecology
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Tree-ring research frequently investigates the relationship between annual ring growth and a suite of environmental variables such as climate, fire, or insect damage. Rarely do data exist for annual endogenous variables, such as seed production, yet understanding how within-tree processes influence tree rings could improve our understanding of the subtle variations in ring width. Annual seed production, known as mast, can vary considerably among species and locations, and our current understanding of the impact of mast on tree rings is limited. In this study we examined the relationship between tree rings, annual climate, and acorn mast for five eastern oak species in the Bent Creek Experimental Forest. Acorn production at the Bent Creek Experimental Forest, a 2,500ha watershed within the Pisgah National Forest in western North Carolina, has been measured annually since 1992 for five oak species that include Q. alba, Q velutina, Q. rubra, Q. coccinea, and Q. montana. We examined tree-ring growth from the 290 trees in the long-term mast study to understand the interactions between external and internal modulators of ring growth. We were able to reveal a suite of interactions between climate variables, mast, and ring growth that expose interesting trade offs between canopy production and cambial growth allocation. We detected exceptional differences in mast production within and between species that do not always influence traditional tree-ring/climate relationships. Our findings contribute to the small but growing field of dendromastecology, and support the notion of “whole-tree” analyses.

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