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Individual Highlight

Dendroecological Studies in the Interior West States

Photo of Cores from a 100-year old ponderosa pine tree. USDA Forest ServiceCores from a 100-year old ponderosa pine tree. USDA Forest ServiceSnapshot : Scientists produce tree ring data in digital format and make progress on data development for growth studies to analyze regional patterns of climate, disturbance, and other ecosystem-scale processes.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Shaw, John D. DeRose, R. Justin
Research Location : Interior West
Research Station : Rocky Mountain Research Station (RMRS)
Year : 2015
Highlight ID : 775


In 2009, the Interior West Forest Inventory and Analysis (IW-FIA) Program started a project to inventory and archive approximately 11,000 increment cores collected in most of the Interior West states during periodic inventories of the 1980s and 1990s. About 90 percent of the cores found in storage were salvageable ( complete and with verifiable plot and species data attached). The IW-FIA program worked with the dendroecology lab at Utah State University to process all salvageable samples to current dendrochrological standards and produce the tree ring data in digital format.

There were two primary goals for use of the resulting data: (1) to provide a plot-linked database of radial growth that could be used for growth model development, model validation, and other biometric analyses, and (2) to develop a gridded dendroecological database that could be used to analyze regional patterns of climate, disturbance, and other ecosystem-scale processes. While goal (1) can be accomplished using well-known, traditional modeling methods, goal (2) is more exploratory in nature and requires novel analysis methods. In addition, the analyses anticipated for goal (2) would also require extensive cross-dating of core dates and development of ancillary data.

Data development for growth studies is in progress. The highest priority for analysis is woodland species because broadly applicable diameter models are either lacking or based on small datasets. Yield models are lacking altogether. In addition, the slow growth of woodland species, coupled with multi-stem form, presents a challenge to accurate remeasurement and estimation of periodic growth. Diameter growth across the range of pinyon sites varies considerably, but the data have shown properties that should allow a hybridized approach to growth estimation using a combination of measurements and models.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • Texas Forest Service
  • University of Alaska Fairbanks
  • University of Utah
  • Utah State University