ABSTRACT

Latewood ring widths of longleaf pine (Pinus palustris Mill.) growing on Carolina bay sand rims on the coastal plains of North Carolina are effective recorders of tropical cycone precipitation (TCP). Longleaf pine are hypothesized to be effective recorders of TCP because of their extensive lateral root structure that is exposed to enhanced soil moisture when TCP events raise the water table to root level, but this hypothesis has not been empirically tested. In this study, we used a combination of North Carolina Phase 1 LiDAR and high-precision georeferenced data to investigate the relationship between radial tree growth, TCP, and microelevation. Our findings suggest that the strength of correlations between latewood ring widths and TCP are positively correlated (p < 0.05) with tree elevation on Carolina bay sand rims, resulting in greater sensistivity of trees at higher elevations. These findings suggest that in some environments, microelevational differences (<1 m) may significantly affect climate/radial growth relationships and the use of high-resolution LiDAR technology may be an effective tool for better understanding the role of microtopography on radial growth patterns.

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