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Clues for dendrochronology from studies of wood structure and function

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Dendrochronological interpretation relies on the existence of relationships between data recorded in the plant, and the environment. Studies of wood structure and function can provide information that will clarify the relationships, including the ranges of conditions over which they are valid, and the probabilities associated with the relationships. Descriptive studies describe patterns. They can summarize short or long time scales, and can document phenotypic, genotypic, community, population, or evolutionary responses. Mechanistic studies attempt to show the causes of the patterns, either through plausible explanations or through duplication of stimuli to show that they cause the expected effect. We need more studies of both types. Our knowledge about physiology of wood formation will benefit especially from research on the stimuli and processes of wood development; on wood patterns in more ecosystems, plant parts, and growth forms; and on which factors within a plant can compensate for, and interact with, other factors. We need more techniques for rapid assessment of plant structure. Process-based models can be used more fully to highlight which areas of structure/function/environment we understand well and which areas we do not. Lastly, we need to continue working in multi-disciplinary groups and becoming cross-trained in a wide range of scientific and technological areas. The more clues we have to the relationships between plant structure function and the environment, and the better the collective knowledge and cross-communication that exists within a research group, the better that group will be at interpreting their dendrochronological data not only to propose the most likely scenarios, but also the range of possible scenarios and their likelihoods.
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Keywords: Tree physiology; dendrochronology; dendroclimatology; ecological wood anatomy; wood quality

Document Type: Miscellaneous

Affiliations: Dept. of Wood Science and Engineering, Oregon State University, Corvallis, USADept. of Plant Sciences, Tel Aviv University, IsraelLaboratory of Wood Biology, Graduate School of Agriculture, Hokkaido University, Sapporo, JapanFormer address: BAUFRITZ GmbH & Co. seit 1896, Erkheim-Allgäu, GermanyCurrent address: 5, Chemin du Moulin, 78270 Lommoye, FranceDendrochronology Laboratory, Mendoza, Argentina

Publication date: 2002-08-01

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