Tree Ring Lab

The Fire Lab has had an active program of tree-ring research since the 1970s. The early research into fire and forest history continues and new research focuses on resin duct defenses and growth responses to fire and other disturbances.

In conjunction with our woodshop, the tree ring lab is fully equipped to prepare and process wood samples, including increment cores and sections of all sizes. We first mount the samples and then sand them to create a polished surface. After crossdating to determine the exact year each ring was produced, we can measure ring widths and other anatomical features using either a large sliding stage micrometer that accommodates sections of a range of sizes or by scanning the sections with a flatbed scanner and using image analysis software.

We also have a core microtome and rotary microtome to obtain cross-sections of samples for light microscopsy slide preparation or when sanding is not desirable.

Archiving tree-ring specimens and data for the future

The wood samples collected by the Fire Lab to reconstruct fire history are unique multi century records of environmental change that cannot be replaced because the old trees they were taken from are disappearing due to ongoing environmental and social change.

Examining tree cores with a microscope
Sanding and preparing tree cookies