Changing Planet: Survival of Trees
Trees contain some of nature's most accurate evidence of the past. Their growth layers, appearing as rings in the cross section of the tree trunk, record evidence of floods, droughts, insect attacks, lightning strikes, earthquakes and even changes of carbon dioxide levels that occurred during the lifespan of the tree. Subtle changes in the thickness of the rings over time indicate changes in length of, or water availability during, the growing season.
Analyzing growth periods from the past lends insight into how carbon dioxide levels and climate might have affected tree populations. Testing trees on a genomic level furthers understanding of tree evolution and their reactions to the variables of carbon dioxide level and temperature. Finally, laboratory testing of plants and trees in controlled climate conditions rounds out the picture of how these valuable, living resources will fare in a future that includes a warming climate.
Click on the video at the left to watch the NBC Learn video - Changing Planet: Survival of Trees.
Lesson plan: Changing Planet: Survival of Trees
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