Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences


Geology and Geography

Committee Chair

Amy Hessl

Committee Member

Steve Kite

Committee Member

Stockton Maxwell

Committee Member

Brenden McNeil

Committee Member

Shikha Sharma


This dissertation is composed of three separate but related manuscripts with the common theme of using historic log buildings from the central Appalachian Mountain region of eastern North America as ecological archives. In Chapter 1, I explore the biases, limitations, and ecological applications of tree-ring data from historic log buildings. European immigrants selected trees from a forested stand based on species, log sizes, and construction locations. Despite this selection bias, ecological information can be gleaned from historic log buildings, which offer a complementary record of past forest ecology and represent a site type that is not often associated with old-growth trees; the upland forest. Chapter 1 was published in Dendrochronologia in 2017. In Chapter 2, my coauthor and I investigate reforestation following the depopulation of Indigenous Peoples in the central Appalachian Mountain region by comparing recruitment, early radial growth, and growth releases of historic logs and old-growth trees. Results from most, but not all, historic log buildings suggest that these trees were felled from second-growth forests supporting the previously hypothesized idea that depopulation of Indigenous Peoples led to forest regrowth on abandoned land. Chapter 2 is currently in press at Journal of Biogeography (10/04/19). In Chapter 3, I use carbon isotopes in tree rings from a historic log building and modern live trees from the same site to demonstrate similar responses of trees to changes in moisture during the pre-industrial (pre-1850 CE) and post-industrial (post-1850 CE) periods. Changes in mean ∆13C from dry to wet years is similar for historic and modern samples suggesting that historic wood archives are a reliable tree-ring isotope source for tracking environmental changes of the past several centuries.

Embargo Reason

Publication Pending