Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences


Geology and Geography

Committee Chair

Amy E. Hessl.

Committee Co-Chair

Rick Landenberger

Committee Member

Richard Thomas


The annual variability observed in tree-ring records has been used to reconstruct climate conditions at the local, regional, and global scales. Dendrochronology, the study of tree rings, has typically focused on locations where trees are limited by a single climatic variable (i.e. temperature or moisture availability) at the limits of their range. Individual trees, however, may be limited by one or more variables well within their ecological range. This can occur when individuals are located on ecologically extreme sites where soil moisture and chemistry or increased evapotranspiration impede a tree's ability to grow.;This study examines factors affecting radial growth of eastern redcedar (Juniperus virginiana) from Smoke Hole Canyon, West Virginia. The three study sites (BBS, EAR, and TNC) are well within the distribution of J. virginiana, but are typically drier and rockier than other locations in close proximity. Tree-ring series were analyzed for their response and sensitivity to climate. The presence of strip-bark was also recorded. Strip-bark has been observed in other long-lived species of the Cupressaceae family and is thought to increase longevity in species such as J. virginiana. Radial tree growth at each site was positively correlated with March temperature, May precipitation, and June PDSI. May temperature, however, was negatively correlated with growth. Soil chemistry was also related to metrics of tree sensitivity (series intercorrelation, mean sensitivity, and standard deviation), but no strong relationships were observed. Strip-bark trees at BBS were more responsive to climatic variability than whole-bark trees, suggesting strip-bark may play a role in climate sensitivity. The results demonstrate that site-specific conditions do not influence tree sensitivity, but do suggest that further analysis would be useful to determine how biotic and abiotic factors interact at the local scale.