Branching into the Past: Using Dendrochronology and Pinus echinata to Examine Drought in East Texas
With a rapidly changing climate, it is more important than ever to understand climate conditions of the past in order to anticipate the climate conditions of the future. This study focuses on the information tree cores can uncover about past climate through the field of dendrochronology. Dendrochronology takes advantage of the fact that most trees produce annual rings with yearly variation in the width due to limiting factors such as rainfall and temperature. This work investigates the ability of Pinus echinata (shortleaf pine) from East Texas to act as proxy data for drought in the region. Thirty-three tree core samples were taken at the Sam Houston State University Center for Biological Field Studies and processed using standard dendrochronology methods. The master chronology created was then compared to the average Palmer Drought Severity Index for each growing season. No statistical correlation was found between the two, but a six-year moving average revealed that the growth of the trees was influenced by land management practices through time.