Tree Ring Research in the Daniel Boone Naitonal Forest



Dendroecology of Non-Leucobalanus Trees in a Managed Forest: A Baseline Dataset for Forest Management in an Altered Climate

- Funding through the Southern Research Station of the U.S. Forest Service


The proposed project will use tree-ring analysis to reconstruct stand history and climatic response of non-Leucobalanus (white oak) species in the Cold Hill Area of the London District of the Daniel Boone National Forest (DBNF), complementing work in-progress by Dr. Stacy Clark, U.S.F.S research forester. It will supplement the silvicultural research project "Silvicultural Approaches and Operational Dimensions to Sustain Oak Ecosystems and Improve Forest Health on the Daniel Boone National Forest" currently being conducted under Title IV of the Healthy Forest Restoration Act (HFRA) by the USDA Forest Service, Southern Research Station and the Northeastern Research Station. The first goal of the study is to reveal stand history, age structure, growth trends and successional patterns in response to natural disturbances and current forest management designed to improve forest health in the DBNF. The second goal is to reveal the climatic response of each non-Leucobalanus species. This will help forecast which species may perform better in a future climate that is likely to be much different than the climate of the 20th century. As most tree ring research is conducted in unmanaged forests, a larger questions this research will address is: "Is it reasonable to think that managed forests would respond to changes in disturbance regimes or climatic change in the same way as unmanaged forests?

In combination with Dr. Clark's Leucobalanus tree-ring collection, we will investigate the stand- and species-level climate response. This type of analysis will be relatively straightforward, in terms of methodology, and yet quite different than most tree-ring studies. Overall, this study will create a baseline for several important species in the DBNF. Such information can be used to help managers anticipate future environmental impacts in this region

coring a scarlet oak (image courtesy of Dr. Stacy Clark)

Research Objectives:


  • Analyze stand history of all non-Leucobalanus species through species recruitment patterns and their response to past forest management. This will be revealed by examination of species composition, annual growth rates, age structure and growth releases through time (Lorimer and Frelich, 1989).

  • Examine the climatic response of all species to climate. Growth of many eastern U.S. species is limited by drought (Cook, 1991). New research suggests winter temperatures may also significantly reduce radial growth of many species in eastern forests (Pederson et al., 2004). It is not clear whether winter temperatures limit radial growth in the Cumberland Plateau region.

  • Create a database that can be used as a baseline for future investigations of the impacts of the oak woodland treatment in ten years time.

a new friend, Agkistrodon contortrix (image courtesy of Dr. Stacy Clark)

Ian coring a Carya glabra

Doug coring a Magnolia macrophylla