Eighteen stands of bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa Michx.) and trembling aspen (Populus tremuloides Michx.) were sampled and analyzed using dendrochronological methods to study the potential effects on tree growth of emissions from a 132 MW coal-fired generating station. Sixteen stands were sampled within a 16-km radius of the station, and two control stands were sampled outside of the range of influence, at distances > 40 km. All stands showed similar radial growth patterns from 1960–2001, regardless of distance from or direction relative to the generating station, and a number of stands, including the controls, had below average growth after 1970. Both species were significantly affected by climatic factors, showing decreased radial growth with increasing June temperature. The species differed in their growth responses to spring precipitation and temperature in the previous October. One bur oak site displayed marked radial growth decline beginning in the mid-1970s, strongly pronounced following 1977. This decline does not appear to be related to emissions from the station, but is suspected to be a result of poor site conditions (shallow soil developed over calcareous till), confounded by a change in drainage (a road was built adjacent to the stand in 1977, perpendicular to the direction of drainage). The below average growth seen in 1970–2001 across most stands is likely attributable to stand dynamics and age effects.
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