A team of researchers from the Department of Ecology and Conservation Biology and the Department of Geography at Texas A&M University recently published research on tree growth in Biogeosciences.
Study contributors included Ajinkya Desphande, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Ecology and Conservation Biology, Thomas W. Boutton, Ph.D., Regents Professor and Sid Kyle Endowed Chair in Biogeochemistry; Ayumi Hyodo, Ph.D., research assistant professor; and Georgianne W. Moore, Ph.D., professor in Ecology and Conservation Biology and Charles W. Lafon, Ph.D. professor and assistant department head in the Department of Geography at Texas A&M University.
Deshpande and team used tree ring chronologies and stable isotopes of carbon in wood to understand how hydrology and climate affect the growth of trees in a bottomland hardwood forest.
“Bottomland hardwood forests, which are interspersed along the gulf coast, support unique floral biodiversity and have the potential to store floodwaters during major storm events and alleviate flooding risk in urban areas such as the Houston metropolis,” Deshpande said. “However, if optimum forest productivity and health is damaged during extreme droughts and floods, these important ecosystem services may be lost.”
Results indicated more favorable growing conditions and lower stress in trees growing under wetter hydrological conditions. Deshpande and colleagues concluded that management and conservation strategies dependent on site-specific conditions are critical for the health of these wetland forests under a rapidly changing hydroclimate.
“This study provides the first dendrochronological baseline for this region and a better understanding of favorable conditions for the growth and health of these forests, which can assist in management decisions such as streamflow regulation and conservation plans,” the article states.
Deshpande recently defended his thesis and will graduate from the doctoral program in Ecosystem Science and Management in December.