• Trends in Quercus Macrocarpa Vessel Areas and their Implications for Tree-Ring Paleoflood Studies

      St. George, Scott; Nielsen, Erik; Conciatori, France; Tardif, Jacques; Geological Survey of Canada, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada; Manitoba Geological Survey, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada; Centre for Forest Interdisciplinary Research, University of Winnipeg, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada (Tree-Ring Society, 2002)
      Changes in mean earlywood vessel areas in mature Quercus macrocarpa were analyzed to determine possible sources of bias in paleoflood records derived from anatomical tree-ring signatures. Tree-ring cores were collected at intervals along the vertical axis of four Q. macrocarpa in a flood-prone stand near the Red River in Manitoba. The WinCELL PRO image analysis system was used to measure mean vessel areas in each annual ring. Most cores displayed a pronounced juvenile increase in mean vessel area before stabilizing between 40 and 60 years. The lowest samples from several trees contain rings with anomalously small mean vessel areas that are coincident with high-magnitude Red River floods in 1950 and 1997. The anatomical response of Q. macrocarpa appears to be conditional on the relative timing of earlywood development and flooding. Flood signatures are most strongly developed near the tree base and become less evident up the trunk. Most signatures disappear between one and three meters in height. Differences in flood response between trees are likely caused by internal differences rather than hydrological or topographic factors. Paleoflood studies based on samples obtained exclusively at breast height may miss some anatomical flood signatures and underestimate flood frequency relative to earlier intervals.