Long-term drought sensitivity of trees in second-growth forests in a humid region
Classical field methods of reconstructing drought using tree rings in humid, temperate regions typically target old trees from drought-prone sites. This approach limits investigators to a handful of species and excludes large amounts of data that might be useful, especially for coverage gaps in large-scale networks. By sampling in more “typical” forests, network density and species diversity would increase in ways that could potentially improve reconstructions. Ten nonclassical tree-ring chronologies derived from randomly selected trees, trees from logged forests, or both were compared to more classical chronologies and an independent regional drought reconstruction to determine their usefulness for dendrohydroclimatic research. We find that nonclassical chronologies are significantly correlated to classical chronologies and reconstructed drought over the last 2–3 centuries. While nonclassical chronologies have spectral properties similar to those from classical dendroclimatic collections, they do lack spectral power at lower frequencies that are present in the drought reconstruction. Importantly, our results show that tree growth is strongly dependent on moisture availability, even for small, randomly selected trees in cut forests. These results indicate that there could be more data available in areas with few current tree-ring collections for studying climate history and that drought plays an important role in humid forests.