The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

The LTRS


Classes in Dendrochronology at
the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Science

We offer three courses in Dendrochronology through the Department of Geography on a rotating basis. An Introduction to Dendrochronology course (Geography 432) is offered every other fall semester and is open to both undergraduate and graduate students. This course counts 4 hours of class credit because one two-hour laboratory exercise is conducted on a weekly basis. Alternating every other fall semester, we offer a 3-hour Seminar in Dendrochronology (see picture below) as Geography 632, open only to graduate students. The seminar emphasizes open discussion on recent topics and important papers and requires original research be conducted, resulting in a manuscript suitable for publication. Lastly, every other spring semester, we offer Geography 533, Topics in Dendrochronology, a 3-hour course that emphasizes current topics critical to the research of our laboratory and graduate students. Instruction in all three classes is highly visual, just like the science itself, and benefits from the use of PowerPoint lectures that cover a wide variety of topics relevant to Dendrochronology.

Students practice creating skeleton plots from Engelmann spruce in the first Seminar in Dendrochronology ever offered at the University of Tennessee (Fall 2002).

Classroom instruction benefits greatly from a $20,000 instructional equipment grant awarded to the Department of Geography and the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Science that allowed us to purchase 14 new stereozoom boom-arm microscopes and 26 new increment borers in various lengths. This equipment supplements the 12 microscopes and 80 increment borers available to students conducting research in our laboratory facilities. We feel we are now the best equipped teaching and research laboratory in the United States dedicated solely to tree-ring research.

Students practice creating skeleton plots in the first formal course in Dendrochronology ever offered at the University of Tennessee (Spring 2001).

A historic moment (see figure above) — the first course in dendrochronology at the University of Tennessee, Geography 432, was offered during the Spring Semester of 2001 (January-May). The fifteen graduate students enrolled in this course were taught the history of tree-ring science, principles and techniques in dendrochronology, and applications of dendrochronology. Laboratory sessions included exercises on creating skeleton plots (right), techniques in graphical and statistical crossdating, and anomalous ring recognition.

Lisa Boulton (right), George Smith (center), and Alan Jolly (left) practice creating skeleton plots from Engelmann spruce collected in southern Arizona.

In Fall 2002, we offered our first seminar course in Dendrochronology, Geography 632, and saw an enrollment of 11 graduate students (topmost and bottom pictures). This course offered weekly discussions on recently published papers that focused on research topics considered vital in understanding global change. Each student was required to undertake an original research project, beginning with core collection and processing, and laboratory analysis and interpretation, resulting in a research paper in near-publication format. In addition, we offered several hands-on laboratory exercises that emphasized topics ranging from the creation of skeleton plots to interpreting the output from the COFECHA software.


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Knoxville, Tennessee 37996 | 865-974-1000
The flagship campus of the University of Tennessee System