Improving Tree Age Estimates Derived from Increment Cores: A Case Study of Red Pine
Accurate tree ages are critical to a range of forestry and ecological studies. However, ring counts from increment cores, if not corrected for the years between the root collar and coring height, can produce sizeable age errors. The magnitude of errors is influenced by both the height
at which the core is extracted and the growth rate. We destructively sampled saplings and small trees of red pine (Pinus resinosa Ait.) and combined within- and between-tree cross-dating to determine accurate rings counts
and radial growth rates for 11 stem sections of each sample. We developed regression models to estimate age adjustment as a function of coring height and radial growth rate. We compared candidate models using corrected Akaike's information criterion scores, and we evaluated model performance
by jackknife permutations. Application of our best-fit equations clearly improved age estimates: compared with unadjusted ring counts, our adjusted age estimates had normally distributed errors centered near 0, lower standard deviations, and a narrower range of values. Thus, these equations
can be used to adjust ages of cored, mature trees occurring in these same settings. The methods used here may be applied to other shade-intolerant or mid-tolerant species where improved tree establishment dates are needed.