Date of Completion

2018

Document Type

Honors College Thesis

Department

Environmental Sciences

Type of Thesis

Honors College

First Advisor

Anthony D'Amato

Second Advisor

Jennifer Pontius

Third Advisor

Allan Strong

Keywords

dendrology, tree-ring, climate, response function analysis, dendrochronology, cross dating

Abstract

The impacts of climate change on global ecosystems are becoming increasingly clear. Research consistently shows increasing global temperatures are affecting biodiversity, vegetation dynamics, oceans, and important environmental processes. This study examines how climate has influenced tree growth in northern Vermont over the last 100 years for three tree species, Quercus rubra, Pinus strobus, and Tsuga canadensis, in an attempt to understand how these species might respond to expected future shifts in temperature and precipitation. Increment tree cores for these species were collected in Jericho Research Forest and response function analysis was used to examine how temperature and precipitation patterns have affected their growth in this region of Vermont. The importance of precipitation and temperature in driving past growth varied between species. Precipitation only affected Quercus rubra growth, with strong positive correlations between growth rates and precipitation in June and July. Temperature was more important to the two conifer species examined (Pinus strobus and Tsuga canadensis), with the strongest correlations being negative correlations between growth and June temperature. Tsuga canadensis growth was also negatively correlated with the temperatures in May, July, and August. These results highlight the importance of diverse species forests in conferring resilience to future climate change, as these represent a range of potential climate responses and sensitivities. Findings indicate Pinus strobus and Tsuga canadensis may be most vulnerable to changes in future temperature regimes, particularly shifts towards warmer temperatures, whereas Quercus rubra demonstrated greater moisture sensitivity. Maintaining mixtures of these and other species may be an effective management strategy for ensuring a wide range of climate responses are present across the landscape. Future work on a wider range of sites and species will be critical for expanding the results of this study to the broader landscape of Vermont to inform conservation efforts and identify vulnerable trees species.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Available for download on Thursday, June 13, 2019

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