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Eastern Hemlock

Latin name:
Tsuga canadensis

Extracted from a waterfront pier near Wilmington, Delaware, the tree used to make this portion of the pier
actually came from a forest located in central Pennsylvania. The outermost tree ring dates to the late 1830s.

Giant Sequoia

Latin name:
Sequoiadendron giganteum

A close up of numerous fire scars on a giant sequoia cross section from Sequoia National Park in California, dating back well prior to A.D. 1000. Look closely! Can you find the sad bearded face cradled by his hands, as if he was crying?

Douglas-fir

Latin name:
Pseudotsuga menziesii

This photo shows the tree rings from a beam extracted many years ago from a pueblo in northeastern Arizona. The section shows many false rings and many micro-rings, suggesting this tree may have been growing in a marginal environment.

Ponderosa Pine

Latin name:
Pinus ponderosa

Close up of tree rings of a ponderosa pine collected at El Malpais National Monument in New Mexico, USA, showing tree rings centered around A.D. 1400. Notice the variability in ring widths indicative of sensitivity to year-to-year variation in precipitation.

Douglas-fir

Latin name:
Pseudotsuga menziesii

Perhaps my most requested image of tree rings, obtained from a small Douglas-fir growing in the Zuni Mountains of west-central New Mexico by my colleagues Rex Adams and Chris Baisan. Not very old, but has some of the most beautiful rings of all my displays!

White Oak

Latin name:
Quercus alba

Oak cores from the Hoskins House in Greensboro, North Carolina, site of a famous battle during the Revolutionary War. The house was built from trees cut in 1811 to 1813, not cut and built in the 1780s as the historical agency had hoped.

Ponderosa Pine

Latin name:
Pinus ponderosa

This ponderosa pine once grew at El Morro National Monument in New Mexico, USA, and was cut many years ago. Once you get up close to the stump, you can see a very old scar from a fire many hundreds of years ago that scarred the tree when it only about 12 years old!

Bahamian Pine

Latin name:
Pinus caribaea var. bahamensis

We collected many cross sections of Bahamian pines that had been cut for an industrial park on the island of Abaco, but the rings are very difficult to date! Many false rings, and the pine appears to terminate tree growth during the dry season.

Longleaf Pine

Latin name:
Pinus palustris

This cross section was one of many that came from an old crib dam across a creek that was exposed after a modern dam broke in Hope Mills, North Carolina in 2003. Such sections from old-growth longleaf pines are very rare and provide information on climate back to AD 1500!

White Oak

Latin name:
Quercus alba

Sometimes you don't have to look far to find beauty in wood, and sometimes it may not be a living tree! After an oak tree was cut a year or two before this section was obtained, decay fungi had already set in, beginning to break the wood down to its basic elements.

Southwestern White Pine

Latin name:
Pinus strobiformis

I collected this fire-scarred pine on Mt. Graham in southern Arizona in fall 1991, and it remains one of the best examples of how we can determine the season of fire by looking at the position of the scar within the ring.

Bristlecone Pine

Latin name:
Pinus longaeva

Bristlecone pines have become one of the best proxy records for those who study the history of volcanic eruptions because the cool temperatures caused by these eruptions create "frost rings" that form when the cells implode from the cold.

Eastern Redcedar

Latin name:
Juniperus virginiana

Many well-preserved eastern redcedar sections have been recovered from prehistoric sites in eastern Tennessee, and they have more than enough rings to date, but we don't have a long enough living-tree reference chronology to overlap with them!

Red Oak

Latin name:
Quercus rubra

Oak is by far the most common genus we find in the many historic structures we date using tree rings in the Southeastern U.S. The genus has good ring variability and rarely has problem rings. This section came from a historic tavern in Lexington, Virginia.

Sugar Maple

Latin name:
Acer saccharum

Maple, birch, beech, and basswood are all examples of hardwood species that form diffuse porous wood, meaning that the ring contains many small-diameter vessels all through the ring. Identifying the ring boundary on this wood type is a challenge to tree-ring scientists.

Live Oak

Latin name:
Quercus virginiana

Live oak is an example of an evergreen oak, which is not common within this genus. As such, the wood is semi-ring porous and the rings are very difficult to see and date. Ring growth is also very erratic, not forming the concentric around the tree that we require.

Douglas-fir

Latin name:
Pseudotsuga menziesii

These cores were collected on Mt. Graham in southern Arizona and show a major suppression event beginning in 1685 when missing rings became evident, followed by many micro-rings. This suppression was caused by a major wildfire in 1685!

Ponderosa Pine

Latin name:
Pinus ponderosa

I find it amazing what trees can record in their tree rings! Here we see a cross section of a pine that was damaged by a major flood in the year 1945 in the Chiricahua Mountains of southern Arizona. Notice the reaction wood that formed afterward.

Pignut Hickory

Latin name:
Carya glabra

Sometimes gray-scale imagery helps define tree rings when measuring. Although classified as "ring porous" species, the rather ill-defined tree rings in hickory tree species form large earlywood vessels and smaller latewoood vessels.

Subalpine Fir

Latin name:
Abies lasiocarpa

Decay has set in on the tree rings of this dead and downed subalpine fir that once grew on Apex Mountain in British Columbia, Canada, but the tree rings can still be measured and crossdated despite this!

White Fir

Latin name:
Abies concolor

We found a beautiful fire scar on this white fir that was used to build a cabin in the Valles Caldera of New Mexico. Thought to have been built in the early 1900s, we instead found the cabin was built form white fir and Douglas-fir trees cut in 1941.

Overcup Oak

Latin name:
Quercus lyrata

These oak cores were collected in northeastern Arkansas to investigate a change in the hydrologic regime of a wildlife refuge beginning in the 1990s. We found that trees at this site experienced a major disturbance event in the 1960s.

Western Juniper

Latin name:
Juniperus occidentalis

Near Frederick Butte in central Oregon, we discovered an unusual stand of western junipers that had the most unusual lobate growth forms we had ever seen. This site yielded a drought-sensitive chronology dating back to the AD 800s!

West Indies Pine

Latin name:
Pinus occidentalis

Above 3000 meters on the highest peak in the Carribean, we found an entire forest of these pines, many with fire scars, living on a steep rocky slope. The forest looked more like the dry ponderosa pine forests of the western U.S.

Whitebark Pine

Latin name:
Pinus albicaulis

Whitebark pines growing in the northern Rockies of the western U.S. can grow to be over 1,000 years old, but the species is slowly being decimated by the introduced white pine blister rust. Many of these ancient trees are now dead with ghostly white trunks.

Shagbark Hickory

Latin name:
Carya ovata

Curiously, tree-ring scientists rarely analyze some of the more common hardwood species in the eastern U.S., such as this hickory, perhaps because such forest interior trees may contain a weak climate signal necessary for crossdating.

Virginia Pine

Latin name:
Pinus virginiana

Blue stain found in many sections of dead pines (both in the western and eastern U.S.) is caused by a fungus carried by a pine beetle. The fungus spreads into the phloem and sapwood of living and dead pines, sometimes creating stunning patterns!

Pinyon Pine

Latin name:
Pinus edulis

Burned sections of pinyon pine are commonly found in archaeological sites in the southwestern U.S. These sections can be carefully broken or surfaced with a razor to reveal the ring structure inside to assist in dating the years of construction of the site.

Red Spruce

Latin name:
Picea rubens

Conifers in the highest elevations of the Appalachians of the eastern U.S., such as this red spruce, don't experience wildfires very often, but when fires do occur, they can create numerous fire scars even in this fire-intolerant species. Notice the growth release!

White Spruce

Latin name:
Picea glauca

This tree was located in the Canadian Rockies on the toe slope of an active avalanche path. The scar was created by a debris flow or snow avalanche which struck the tree, killing a section of the living tissue. The avalanche can therefore be dated to its exact year!

Engelmann Spruce

Latin name:
Picea engelmannii

I worked considerably in the spruce-fir forests of southern Arizona in my earliest years in dendrochronology, and learned that trees with limited sensitivity can provide a vast amount of information on the history of these forests.

Ponderosa Pine

Latin name:
Pinus ponderosa

The lava flows of El Malpais National Monument in New Mexico contain vast amounts of remnant wood, mostly ponderosa pines such as this sample, and the tree rings on these samples go back nearly 2000 years! Notice the year AD 1400 on this section.

Chestnut Oak

Latin name:
Quercus montana

In the southeastern U.S., hardwood species are often scarred by wildfire. Most often, this also will cause considerable decay in the sample, but this oak had several well preserved fire scars, suggesting fire was common in these drier, lower elevation sites.

Ponderosa Pine

Latin name:
Pinus ponderosa

I originally sampled this stump in 1991 for its fire scars, located in El Malpais National Monument of New Mexico. I found it again 20 years later and was happy you could still see the tree rings and fire scars clearly! It had originally been logged in the 1930s!

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Helpful Databases for Dendrochronology 

The International Tree-Ring Data Bank

One of the premier paleoclimatic databases in the world, the ITRDB contains measurements and tree-ring chronologies from over 1500 sites around the world, from over 100 tree species. This site will allow you to easily access and download one or more of these data sets. You can search by site name, tree species, contributor, chronology type, and geographic coordinates. Information is also provided to help you contribute your own tree-ring data sets, which we strongly encourage!

 


The Bibliography of Dendrochronology

Containing over 13,300 citations for articles, books, theses, and book chapters  relevant to dendrochronology, this database was created by Henri D. Grissino-Mayer of the Department of Geography, University of Tennessee, and placed online by Michele Kaennel Dobbertin of the Forest Ecosystems and Ecological Risks Section, Swiss Federal Institute of Forest, Snow and Landscape Research. You can search by author, keywords, species, site information, and language.

 


Digital Collaboratory for Cultural Dendrochronology

The DCCD is a digital repository and interactive library of tree-ring data. Its content is developed through research of, among others: archaeological sites (including old landscapes), ship wrecks, buildings, furniture, paintings, sculptures and musical instruments. The DCCD is based on the Tree-Ring Data Standard (TRiDaS) and allows for conversion of other widely-used data formats. It contains digital tree-ring measurement series and average chronologies, as well as their descriptive and interpretative metadata. It allows contributors to control and manage access to their data.

 


The Plant List

Finally, we have one location to go to to look up Latin binomials of tree species, along with proper authorities, as well as those troublesome synonyms that confuse dendrochronologists. Brought to you by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and Missouri Botanical Garden, the list contains over 1,000,000 species names! I spend much of my time trying to find the correct species used in a study when someone reports the species incorrectly.

 


The Dendrochronology Species Database

First published in 1993 by Henri D. Grissino-Mayer in the Tree-Ring Bulletin, this database provides information about key tree and shrub species used in tree-ring research. Common names, Latin names and authority, and synonymy are provided. The searchable database was placed online with the help of Michele Kaennel Dobbertin of the Forest Ecosystems and Ecological Risks Section, Swiss Federal Institute of Forest, Snow and Landscape Research.

 


Multilingual Glossary of Dendrochronology

Developed by Michèle Kaennel Dobbertin of the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL in Birmensdorf, the glossary contains definitions (and much more!) of 351 terms in English, German, French, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese. It is adapted from the Multilingual Glossary of Dendrochronology (1995, Haupt Verlag in Berne, Switzerland). Users will most certainly like the scanned images of the 120 original figures.

 


The International Multiproxy Paleofire Database

The purpose of the IMPD is to "create a broadly-accessible online database of fire history derived from paleoenvironmental proxy data, which will enhance our understanding of the relationships between fire and climate (drought in particular) and provide a basis for long-term fire predictions." Much of the data is derived from fire event series, using fire-scar chronologies from multiple sites in North and South America. Also contained in the IMPD are tree-ring based data sets that provide information on stand development.

 


Euro Catalog: Database of European Chronologies

This catalog provides information on metadata for important tree-ring data sets that are archived by numerous laboratories throughout Europe. Note that the actual tree-ring data are not provided, but instead you should contact the individuals or laboratories listed and ask them whether you can access their data. You can search for one or more tree species, data held by certain laboratories, or search data by historical periods.

 


Bibliography of Canadian Tree-Ring Research

This is a searchable bibliography created and archived by Dr. Dan Smith of the University of Victoria Tree-Ring Laboratory for the Canadian Dendrochronology Research Group. You can search by author, year (equals, before, and after), article title, source, and keywords. The results also supply an abstract is one is available. An awesome bibliography and one that is certainly invaluable to our field.

 


Inside Wood

I believe this could be one of the most useful plant anatomy or wood science web sites for both education and research that has ever been developed. The Inside Wood site will have broad research appeal to scientists (wood anatomists, botanists, and biologists, to name a few), to land resource and conservation managers, to K-12 and university students, and to the general public. The comprehensive inclusion of internationally accepted definitions and criteria for identifying wood samples is extremely helpful and simultaneously educational.

 


The Wood Database

Created by Eric Meier, this database provides extensive information on wood characteristics of many different tree species from around the world. Searchable by Latin binomial or common names, the database features metrics on important wood properties (such as specific gravity, which I use extensively), visual properties (color, grain, texture), and economic uses. the photographs of wood samples for the many tree species are nothing short of spectacular, and include the "end grain" photo, or the one featuring tree rings in transverse view.

 


The Gymnosperm Database

Created and developed by Chris J. Earle, this database allows you to choose among the different families, such as Pinaceae, then view the information for each taxon using the numerous descriptive fields, such as common names, description, range, oldest, and dendrochronology.

 


Online Climate Data from the NCDC

The National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, North Carolina, provides an immense amount of climate data readily accessible and ready for downloading. Data are provided for individual stations and for broader regions.

 


European Climate Assessment and Dataset Project

Initiated by the European Climate Support Network and supported by the Network of European Meteorological Services EUMETNET, this extensive database has received data from 54 participants from 53 countries and the ECA dataset contains 10,748 series of observations at 2,896 meteorological stations throughout Europe and the Mediterranean.

 


The Global Plant Checklist

This plant checklist is my primary database for obtaining information on vascular plants. It contains information for 160,000 plants, including authority, citations, database source, geographic location, and synonymy. The best database I've found for vascular plant names.

 


Links for Palaeobotanists

These comprehensive web pages were developed by Klaus-Peter Kelber of the Mineralogisches Institut, Universität Würzburg. Well-organized into seven separate pages, this site provides information relevant to dendrochronologists, such as Palaeoclimate, Plant Anatomy, Palynology, Teaching Documents, Permineralized Plants and Petrified Forests, and Systematics, Taxonomy and Cladistics.

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