old trees

Williams extracts a core from a massive red oak. Specimens up to 400 years old can be found in isolated spots, but it is the last 80-some years the scientists are mainly after. Those are the years covered by modern instrumental record, and the rings can be closely correlated with those to paint a picture of how trees have fared under known conditions year to year. This will allow the team to project how they are likely to react under future scenarios.

How Will Shifting Climate Change U.S. Forests?

One foggy spring morning just after a hard rain, Park Williams was tromping through the woods deep in Arkansas’ Ozark Mountains. Toiling down a steep slope, he supposedly was keeping a simultaneous eye out for rattlesnakes, copperheads, poison ivy and big old trees. Williams seemed mostly focused on the trees, though; attention to the other stuff was just slowing him down. Williams studies how forests react to changes in climate, and the Ozarks’ deeply dissected hills and hollers—what some might refer to as typical hillbilly country—are a kind of ground zero for this.

by |March 15, 2016
mongol-empire

Climate and Conquest: How Did Genghis Khan Rise?

Eight hundred years ago, relatively small armies of mounted warriors suddenly exploded outward from the cold, arid high-elevation grasslands of Mongolia and reshaped world geography, culture and history in ways that still resound today. How did they do it?

by |May 13, 2013
A large, Y-shaped black oak in eastern NY State. Photo: N. Pederson

I’ll Go on a Cross-Date if You Show Me Some Rings

Ever since I’ve started learning to cross-date tree core samples, I’ve learned I have a type. I prefer my tree cores to be black oaks, middle-aged, with some nice big rings to show me. Alright, fine, I can deal with some smaller rings every now and then. As long as they’re some nice marker rings. Unfortunately, the trees don’t seem to be trying to impress me.

by |March 28, 2013
Microsnails on the Honest Abe - can you find the 28 microsnails? Image: D. Douglas

‘Are You Using This Idea for Your Thesis Research?’ [UPDATE]

“Are you using this idea for your thesis research?”

I heard this as I stood in front of a classroom full of old-growth forest ecology students. The question had come from Neil Pederson, who was sitting directly in front of me. He was asking this question because I had just spent the past 12 minutes discussing the intricacies of land snail biology and ecology that would make them great organisms to use for ecological modeling in regards to disturbance.

by |February 28, 2013
Tromping in the midst of the 'Jurassic Park' of the Palmaghatt Ravine. Photo: D. Martin

Dipping your feet in the water (A first year’s experience with fieldwork)

My feet are soaking wet and I’m playing a game of Marco Polo, but I’m nowhere near a pool. It’s my second day on the job. It’s my second week of college. I have no idea what to expect.

by |September 21, 2012
Glade and Jacob in front of 512 year old tuliptree, aka tulip-poplar. Photo: N. Pederson

Epic Wetness in Greater NYC, and What Broadleaf Trees Have to Say About It

2012 is turning out to be an exceptional year in the eastern US. Starting out with what was essentially a #YearWithoutaWinter, followed by a heat wave in March, a hot summer, Macoun and Cortland apples coming in 2-3 weeks early, and the continuation of a severe drought in the Southern US that expanded into the Midwest… read more

by |September 6, 2012
View from the Murgul Mountains, Turkey (N. Pederson)

Finally – Some true Turkish Delight! Discovery of some tasty oaks

After a few days of mild frustration, the sampling of potentially old umbrella pine lifted our spirits and put us in a good frame of mind to conduct our last day of research in the temperate rainforest region of northeastern Turkey. We headed out of Borçka and met with a forest officer in charge of forests… read more

by |June 17, 2012
A particularly sinuous chinkapin oak in eastern Kentucky. Photo: N. Pederson

Charismatic Megaflora: What do Old Trees Look Like?

Charismatic megaflora? What kind of a tree might that be? As with many things, one person’s charismatic megaflora is another person’s tree. For myself, a tree that would draw and hold my attention as a younger person/student is very different than my current definition of a charismatic tree.

by |March 18, 2012