Piñon, drought, and rising carbon dioxide

Photo: Susannah Tysor

Piñon (Pinus edulis) are a foundation species in the large piñon-juniper ecosystems of the southwestern United States. Since the onset of drier and warmer weather in the mid-1990s, many piñon have died. When I looked at piñon tree rings, however, I found that many piñon grew faster in recent decades, even through the drought. With Amy Whipple and George Koch, I’m using tree rings and carbon isotopes to investigate whether the recent higher growth is due to increasing carbon dioxide levels and how carbon dioxide interacts with drought to influence the trees’ growth and survival.

Selected presentations on this work from:

  • the 2008 Ecological Society of America meeting [poster pdf]
  • the 2009 Ecological Society of America meeting [poster pdf]
  • the 2009 Ecological Society of America Millennium Meeting [poster pdf]
  • the 2010 Ecological Society of America meeting [poster pdf]