Ring Research Tells More About Trees Than Age


Students of Scott Abella, Ph.D., at the University of Nevada Las Vegas are processing more than 100 tree core samples taken from Metroparks in the Oak Openings Region as part of a research project.

Core samples taken from live trees, along with cross sections from dead trees and stumps, were collected from Oak Openings Preserve, Wildwood Preserve, Secor and other Metroparks property in the region.

The purpose of this research project is threefold:

  1. Evaluate overall health of oak woodlands and savannas
  2. Determine how Metroparks restoration actions affect oak growth
  3. Provide educational opportunities to interpret historic events that can be linked to growth patterns in the samples (such as droughts, fires and tornadoes)

Dr. Abella, owner and ecologist at Natural Resource Conservation, LLC, in Nevada and an assistant professor at the university, has conducted research in the Metroparks for more than 15 years, starting as a student and now as a consultant.

The students pictured are enrolled in an undergraduate research course about dendrochronology, the science of studying tree rings to answer ecological questions.

Photo above: Students aging core samples collected from living oak trees

 Close-up of a core sample collected from a living tree. Collecting the samples does not harm the tree.

A truckload of “cookies” harvested from dead trees and stumps by Jason Diver, of the Metroparks natural resources staff, who assisted with the project. Each “cookie” is cataloged with location and year of death.

Students sanding “cookies” (full tree cross sections) so their growth rings can be counted.

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