Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences


Geology and Geography

Committee Chair

Amy Hessl.

Committee Co-Chair

Desta Fekedulgen

Committee Member

Jennifer Miller


Ice storms are recurrent disturbances that alter forest succession and retard tree growth rates throughout North America. Following a 1994 ice storm in Delaware, the Delaware Forest Service established seventy-five study plots to sample four species of trees (southern red oak [Quercus falcate ], white oak [Quercus alba], loblolly pine [ Pinus taeda], and yellow poplar [Liriodendron tulipifera ]) affected by the ice storm. The objectives of this study are to: (1) explore the species-specific growth rates and responses to the ice storm; and (2) determine which of the four species is best suited to provide dendroecological records of past ice storms, using tree-ring measurements of growth reductions from 1994 to 1998. A ground survey was performed to assess the damage to individual trees. The damaged trees were classified into damage class categories based on the percentage of crown limbs broken. Dendrochronology was used to identify the radial growth signature of the ice storm in the tree rings of the four species studied. Overall, yellow poplar was most susceptible to ice storm damage followed by loblolly pine, red oak, and white oak. In general, damage class three trees experienced the greatest reduction in annual radial growth in 1994 followed by damage class two, damage class one, and control plot trees respectively. Yellow poplar had the fastest recovery rate following the storm, followed by white oak, red oak, and loblolly pine respectively. The results of this study suggest that dendrochronology can be a promising method to explore the relationship between ice damage and reduction in tree growth rates at a species-specific level.