Link to Virginia Tech Dendrology Lab

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#1)  Link to Virginia Tech Dendrology Lab

Postby dbhguru » Thu Nov 17, 2016 5:48 pm

Hi All,

 For several years I have wanted to connect NTS to an academic/scientific organization or agency with good standing that can make use of our data for both research and public education. I have feelers out to Harvard University's Harvard Forest Research Center as a home for our data. They have shown interest. In addition, I recently made contact with Virginia Tech's Dendrology Lab. Preliminary discussions with them are encouraging. In addition to storing our data, they would use our measurements to update their popular VTree app. Lots of possibilities. I'm supposed to get a formal reply from Dr. John Seiler next week on whether or not he wants to proceed. If he says yes, a mountainous project will suddenly loom over us.

 As it stands now, our many, many tree measurements serve little purpose among either the scientific or forestry communities. Our measurements may satisfy our individual curiosities and love of tree measuring, but beyond that the data largely languish in the thousands of posts submitted to the NTS BBS. New members join us but remain largely unaware of the mountain of information available to them. However, it is not their fault. The information, as good as it is, remains impossibly scattered. If we can have our NTS data reside in a dendrology database at VA Tech, our efforts over these many years will be vindicated.

  Remember, we define ourselves as a science-based Internet Interest Group engaged in citizen science - albeit with a narrow focus. When webmaster Ed Frank was active, he frequently emphasized our mission and brought us back when we strayed. As a result of our collective efforts, we know more about the maximum dimensions that many species attain and where they are attained than any other group. Yet despite our collective expertise, the sporting tree competitions in the states still largely use outdated measurement methods and contribute to the mountain of mis-information out there. At the national level, things are better. NTS has been the primary supplier of members to the American Forests National Cadre and the continued connection between NTS and the Cadre is fairly well assured since the same individuals who created NTS-WNTS created and manage the Cadre.

 So where do we go from here? We need to begin assembling our data into a common format. Don Bertolette and I will soon supply that format for those of you willing to contribute to the cause. Our hope is that each person who measures trees using NTS methods will begin assembling their data for pooling. We'll have more to say about this in the coming weeks, but I conclude with the point that this is our best opportunity to bring our data to the many potential users who could benefit: researchers, timber professionals, sporting tree hunters, forest historians, etc.

Bob
Robert T. Leverett
Co-founder and Executive Director
Native Native Tree Society
Co-founder and President
Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest

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#2)  Re: Link to Virginia Tech Dendrology Lab

Postby Erik Danielsen » Thu Nov 17, 2016 6:02 pm

Thank you (and Don) for the work you continue to put into this! Both going forward (I hope to have some exciting finds next week in WNY) and looking backwards at the archives of trip reports I'm sure many of us would be willing to review to glean data on rainy days this is exactly the kind of development I've been looking forward to.
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#3)  Re: Link to Virginia Tech Dendrology Lab

Postby Joe » Fri Nov 18, 2016 6:52 am

Bob said, "As it stands now, our many, many tree measurements serve little purpose among either the scientific or forestry communities."

I suggest again, that what's needed is a publishable essay on why this information is important- to both the scientific and forestry communities. An essay or better yet, a full article published in a major publication like Scientific American.

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#4)  Re: Link to Virginia Tech Dendrology Lab

Postby Larry Tucei » Fri Nov 18, 2016 12:52 pm

Bob-  That's great news and it will be great to see it all in one location.  Something published in Scientific American would be nice as Joe stated and maybe we could get in National Geographic as well.  One problem is we all have such a passion for trees, measurements and so on but most of the public just doesn't have the interest that we all do. I share my info as many here do with the Park Service, Forest Service or whoever shows and interest.   I've been wanting to contact my local University's as you did Bob and share my state tree Data with them as well if they show an interest.  Larry
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#5)  Re: Link to Virginia Tech Dendrology Lab

Postby Joe » Fri Nov 18, 2016 2:17 pm

I also think it would be cool to see Bob do a TED talk on old growth. Nobody could do it better than Bob. He's now got a lot of data, along with photos and videos.
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#6)  Re: Link to Virginia Tech Dendrology Lab

Postby dbhguru » Fri Nov 18, 2016 3:28 pm

Larry, Joe, Erik,

  Thanks, Guys. Joe, I've not forgotten your suggestion to write an article on what our kind of measurement data is important. I think a brainstorming session where everyone has a chance to list their reasons would be the right starting point. I'd bet we could come up with some pretty original reasons.

  In communicating with VA Tech's Dendrology people, I gave them a copy of my black birch database, which presently contains 671 measurements spread across 12 states. This database makes the point abundantly clear that traditional sources under-describe the maximum growth attained by this species, and some by a lot.

   VA Tech takes most of their descriptions from a USDA plant database, USFS Silvics of North America, and at least one other source - all ostensibly credible. Here's what these and other sources say about the eastern cottonwood.

USDA Plant Database

Description
Populus deltoides Bartr. ex Marsh., eastern cottonwood, is a fast-growing tree which reaches 80 to l00 feet in height and 3 to 4 feet in diameter.  It is a relatively short-lived tree, seldom surviving for more than 80 years.


USFS Database


GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS:
Eastern cottonwood is a native, deciduous bottomland hardwood [68,121,132,212,225]. Height ranges from 36 to 190 feet (11-57.9 m) [37,47,56,67,120,132,150,151,224]. At maturity (approximately 35 years) [132], diameter at breast height ranges from 10.7 inches to more than 6 feet (27.2-182.9 cm) [7,47,67,132,150,224]. In open areas, eastern cottonwood typically has a large trunk that divides into branches near its base and ascends to form a wide, spreading crown [47,100]. In closed stands, it tends to have a tall, straight, and relatively branch-free bole with a small rounded crown [9]. Life expectancy is approximately 100 to 200 years [9,120,142]. It is dioecious. Female catkins range from 2 to 5.1 inches (5-13 cm) long, and fruit capsules are 0.3 to 0.6 inch (.8-1.5 cm) long [56]. The bark is thick and deeply furrowed with wide, flat ridges [56,199]. The rooting depth averages 100 inches (254 cm) [97], and mature stands can reach 117.6 to 196.8 inches (298.7-499.9 cm) rooting depth [22].


Missouri Botanical Garden


common Name: eastern cottonwood
Type: Tree
Family: Salicaceae
Native Range: Eastern and central United States
Zone: 2 to 9
Height: 50.00 to 80.00 feet
Spread: 35.00 to 60.00 feet
Bloom Time: March to April
Bloom Description: Red (male) and green (female)
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Shade Tree, Rain Garden
Flower: Insignificant
Tolerate: Drought, Air Pollution


USFS Silvics of North America

Growth and Yield- Eastern cottonwood is one of the tallest species east of the Rocky Mountains. Heights of 53 to 58 in (175 to 190 ft) and diameters of 120 to 180 cm (48 to 72 in) have been reported (17), as have age 35 stand volumes exceeding 420.0 m³/ha (30,000 fbm/acre) of sawed lumber (5,10,14,22).

Wikipedia

Populus deltoides is a large tree growing to 20–40 m (65–130 ft) tall and with a trunk up to 1.8 m (5 ft 11 in) diameter, one of the largest North American hardwood trees.

Our NTS measurements confirm heights for the eastern cottonwood into the mid-150s. Most of the tall ones are in the 130s with a few in the 140s.

Bob
Robert T. Leverett
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Native Native Tree Society
Co-founder and President
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#7)  Re: Link to Virginia Tech Dendrology Lab

Postby Joe » Sat Nov 19, 2016 7:26 am

Not understanding the world we live in and all its life forms- makes for bad policies! Policies needed to move our civilization towards sustainability. Just one of many reasons we need to better understand how big trees can get- and how old.

What they always do wrong is make it seem as if they know for sure the variation. They should qualify all such descriptions with "this is the range of values we have so far based on limited analysis".

I see this all the time in forestry- such as the time I heard state officials discussing FIA data- and to 6-7 decimal places- when FIA data comes from one study plot per 6,000 acres- which means they're lucky if the estimates are within 30%, never mind 6 decimal places. When I pointed this out- I saw a lot of blank stares as if they had no idea what I was talking about. Forestry "thinking" and policy making is filled with bad data, bad policies, and bad results- the measurement of the range of sizes for species is just a small example!

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#8)  Re: Link to Virginia Tech Dendrology Lab

Postby dbhguru » Sat Nov 19, 2016 7:28 pm

Joe,

  The limited understanding that many otherwise competent professionals exhibit on maximum tree dimensions is in part explainable by species longevity. White pines can live for 350 years and even longer, although most will probably throw in the towel between 250 and 300 when allowed to live that long. However, people often look at relatively young trees and make judgments from there. Some explanations I have heard claims about the growth of the species that they reach their full height in around 80 years. That is so far from reality so as to make me wonder who exactly is promulgating this mis-information and why. Are they that unobservant?

Bob
Robert T. Leverett
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#9)  Re: Link to Virginia Tech Dendrology Lab

Postby Joe » Sun Nov 20, 2016 11:00 am

Bob,  they don't think the numbers are worthy of proper, scientific investigation. Even though getting the numbers is difficult- given the reality that most of the original forests have been wiped out- that's no excuse for  not at least admitting that their numbers are hardly the last word on how big and old trees can get. All they have to do is say something like, "we don't know how big and old specimens of species can get- but the best information we have so far for each species is....". That would at least show they are thinking like scientists. What's worse however is when they don't use the best methods for measurement. I find it amazing that measuring trees has been so poorly done until NTS (and some others I'm sure) have professionalized these measurements. Meanwhile, physicists have measured accurately such things as "the Planck length" which is 1.616229(38)×10−35 metres- while tree measurers have often been off by 30% or more. No wonder the forests are in bad shape and forest policies are a "disaster" to use one of Trump's favorite put downs.
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#10)  Re: Link to Virginia Tech Dendrology Lab

Postby dbhguru » Sun Nov 20, 2016 12:32 pm

Joe,

   What constantly surprises me is the lack of curiosity on the part of academic, government, and rank and file timber professionals on our old growth and exemplary mature second growth sites here in Massachusetts. I would love to survey the Massachusetts timber community to assess its knowledge on where our old growth sites are located, what's in them, and facts on our big/tall trees, especially for the latter where the statistics on our trees are near or at the top for all New England. I'm not out to embarrass anybody, but I'd just like to know who knows what. For diplomacy's sake, I expect that we might want to keep the results secret.

Bob
Robert T. Leverett
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Native Native Tree Society
Co-founder and President
Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest
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