Age-related morphology of montane populations of shortleaf pine (Pinus echinata) and longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) in the Uwharrie Mountains, North Carolina, USA

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
John M. Cline (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Paul Knapp

Abstract: I present a study that attempts to quantify the relationship between morphological characteristics and tree age in the montane variant of common southeastern U.S. species of pine trees in the Uwharrie Mountains of North Carolina, USA. I collected one 5.15 mm diameter increment core from each of 60 shortleaf pine trees and 45 longleaf pine trees. I crossdated and estimated the pith of each sample using established dendrochronological laboratory methods. In addition, I visually assessed and measured each tree for the following morphological characteristics: diameter at breast height (DBH), the height of the lowest living branch, bark thickness, and stem sinuosity. Natural breaks in tree age were determined using the k-means algorithm that separated tree age into three groups within each species. I ran several iterations of multiple regression to test if each morphological characteristic can accurately predict tree age in each species and tested for the strength and direction of relationships between tree age and each morphological characteristic between species, within species, and within age classes using nonparametric Spearman’s rank-order correlation analysis. While age-morphology relationships are poorly defined for each species when analyzed both together and separately, stronger relationships emerge when tested by age class. Height of the lowest living branch and DBH are positively correlated with shortleaf tree age (p < 0.05). Sinuosity is positively correlated with both species tree age (p < 0.05). Within age classes, longleaf tree age is positively correlated with DBH in the first age class and bark thickness in the third age class. These findings suggest that it may be difficult to assess shortleaf and longleaf pine tree age accurately via external morphological indicators.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2021
Dendrochronology, Forestry, Morphology
Shortleaf pine $z North Carolina $z Uwharrie Mountains
Longleaf pine $z North Carolina $z Uwharrie Mountains
Trees $x Age $z North Carolina $z Uwharrie Mountains

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