Yellow-cedar (Chamaecyparis nootkatensis (D. Don) Spach) forests of coastal British Columbia are apparently experiencing decline in a manner similar to that observed in southeastern Alaska. In this pilot study, we collect tree-ring data from live and standing dead yellow-cedar trees from four declining sites on the North Coast of British Columbia. We use this data to compare growth patterns at our sites to those of yellow-cedar trees at non-declining and declining sites in southwestern British Columbia and southeastern Alaska and, in addition, to assess the possibility of reconstructing yellow-cedar population dynamics in declining stands using dendrochronology. We found coherent growth patterns (i.e. marker years and periods of suppression) among yellow-cedar chronologies from non-declining and declining sites across a broad geographic range as well as unique growth patterns between our chronologies from declining sites and those from declining sites in nearby Alaska. Using outer-ring dates of increment cores, we were able to estimate time since death of decade- to century-old standing dead yellow-cedar trees, although the precision of the estimates was influenced by partial cambial mortality and erosion of outer rings. Our results provide baseline dendrochronological information that will be useful for planning future studies that assess growth-climate relations and reconstruct the long-term population dynamics of yellow-cedar in declining stands.
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Vol. 67 • No. 1