Honors Theses and Capstones

Date of Award

Winter 2014

Project Type

Senior Honors Thesis

College or School



Natural Resources and the Environment

Program or Major

Environmental Science; Ecosystems

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

First Advisor

Heidi Asbjornsen

Second Advisor

Rossella Guerrieri


Annual tree rings give us the opportunity to investigate the adaptation of trees to climate and environmental changes over a long period of time. In particular, the physical characteristics of each ring (width and earlywood and late wood differentiation) can be used to reconstruct past environment conditions. Physiological responses of trees will be evaluated for two conifers species, i.e. Longleaf pine and Slash pine, giving the opportunity to compare the two species and understand how each species (Longleaf pine and Slash pine) adapt their water use to thrive in such extreme environments. Growth data will then be related to the intrinsic Water Use Efficiency (iWUE, i.e., ratio of carbon assimilated relative to stomatal conductance), derived by stable carbon isotope composition (d13C) in tree rings, as one of the main tasks included in a NASA-funded project aiming to assess changes in at eleven forested Ameriflux sites across North America spanning a wide range of forest types and climate conditions.