The Longleaf Tree-Ring Network: Reviewing and expanding the utility of Pinus palustris Mill. Dendrochronological data

Harley, Grant L.; Therrell, Matthew D.; Maxwell, Justin T.; Bregy, Joshua C.; Heeter, Karen J.; Patterson, Thomas; Rochner, Maegen; Rother, Monica T.; Stambaugh, Michael; Zampieri, Nicole E.; Altman, Jan; Collins-Key, Savannah A.; Gentry, Christopher M.; Guiterman, Christopher; Huffman, Jean M.; Johnson, Daniel J.; King, Daniel J.; Larson, Evan R.; Leland, Caroline; Nguyen, Hung TT; Pederson, Neil; Puhlick, Joshua J.; Rao, Mukund Palat; Rodriguez-Caton, Milagros; Sakulich, John B.; Singh, Neelratan; Tucker, Clay S.; van de Gevel, Saskia L.; Kaiser, April L.; Ahmad, Sarir

The longleaf pine (Pinus palustris Mill.) and related ecosystem is an icon of the southeastern United States (US). Once covering an estimated 37 million ha from Texas to Florida to Virginia, the near-extirpation of, and subsequent restoration efforts for, the species has been well-documented over the past ca. 100 years. Although longleaf pine is one of the longest-lived tree species in the southeastern US—with documented ages of over 400 years—its use has not been reviewed in the field of dendrochronology. In this paper, we review the utility of longleaf pine tree-ring data within the applications of four primary, topical research areas: climatology and paleoclimate reconstruction, fire history, ecology, and archeology/cultural studies. Further, we highlight knowledge gaps in these topical areas, for which we introduce the Longleaf Tree-Ring Network (LTRN). The overarching purpose of the LTRN is to coalesce partners and data to expand the scientific use of longleaf pine tree-ring data across the southeastern US. As a first example of LTRN analytics, we show that the development of seasonwood chronologies (earlywood width, latewood width, and total width) enhances the utility of longleaf pine tree-ring data, indicating the value of these seasonwood metrics for future studies. We find that at 21 sites distributed across the species’ range, latewood width chronologies outperform both their earlywood and total width counterparts in mean correlation coefficient (RBAR = 0.55, 0.46, 0.52, respectively). Strategic plans for increasing the utility of longleaf pine dendrochronology in the southeastern US include [1] saving remnant material (e.g., stumps, logs, and building construction timbers) from decay, extraction, and fire consumption to help extend tree-ring records, and [2] developing new chronologies in LTRN spatial gaps to facilitate broad-scale analyses of longleaf pine ecosystems within the context of the topical groups presented.

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Progress in Physical Geography

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