The Mystery Under Tree Bark: Deciphering How Trees Grow in Different Environments


Scientists use tree-rings to study various aspects of the growth of a tree during its lifetime. In interpreting the patterns of tree-rings and the growth of a tree, we look at the long-term patterns of growth to infer what might have caused a change in the growth of a tree. We can make inferences about the structure of a forest based on how wide or narrow the tree-rings are from a tree.

Through this Data Nugget, students will build upon prior knowledge of what resources plants need to grow and will learn how and why plant growth can vary in time and space. The students will explain the relationship between tree-rings and tree growth, and they will apply their understanding of plant growth to determine the environment in which a tree was growing using tree-rings.

Information about the Author:

Chad King is a graduate student in Forestry working with Rose-Marie Muzika who extensively uses the Missouri Tree-Ring Lab in his research.

For his dissertation work, Chad is investigating the history of the history of fire in the Missouri Ozarks using techniques in dendrochronology (the study of tree-rings).

Related Resources:

To learn more about how and why scientists use Tree Rings to study the life of trees, check out the video Chad created for his 5th Grader students at Benton Elementary