Topic: What’s in a Ring? From Wildflowers to Woodrats, Using Tree-Ring Analysis to Help Solve Complex Ecological Problems
Speaker: Laura G. Smith, Adjunct Faculty Member, Biology Department, Frostburg State University
An introduction to the methods and varied applications of dendrochronology, or tree-ring analysis. Two examples of ecological research will be highlighted. Conifer establishment in sub-alpine wildflower meadows in Mt. Rainier National Park can be correlated to particular microtopography and climactic conditions. Pulses of establishment dates, determined through the analysis of tree rings, give clues to the environmental factors associated with tree encroachment on these fragile ecosystems. Local research on a state endangered small mammal, the Allegheny woodrat (Neotoma magister), utilizes tree ring research to examine relationships between woodrat population variation and oak (Quercus) conditions. In order to explore potential interactions between tree condition and woodrat population dynamics, oak cores were collected from known woodrat sites in Garrett, Allegany, and Washington counties. Woodrat population data, annual tree growth, and gypsy moth defoliation is evaluated at each site. Results of this study will direct targeted management of crucial areas for enrichment plantings of mast producing species.
This free program will begin promptly at 7:00 pm; the public is welcome to attend.
Directions: From I-68 take exit 33 (Braddock Rd & Midlothian Rd exit). Follow Braddock Road approximately 1.3 miles to stop sign. Turn left onto Park Avenue. Drive a short distance and turn left, following signs for the Compton Parking Lot.