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April 19, 2024

Title:  Going to Extremes to Uncover the Secrets of Dinosaur's Ponderosa Pine 

Date:  April 24, 2024, at 2:00 pm Eastern/11:00 am Pacific 

Speaker:  Becky Brice, Geographer, USGS Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center

Small and isolated old-growth stands of Ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) growing in riparian corridors with no apparent seed source are unusual. The isolated P. ponderosa along the banks of the Yampa and Green rivers in Dinosaur National Monument are unstudied so their vulnerability to climate change is uncertain. Because the age, location and establishment of these trees is poorly understood the importance of the P. ponderosa species to Dinosaur N.M. ecosystems, cultural history and scientific inquiry may also be underestimated. Disjunct aging riparian P. ponderosa are at risk of disappearing with warming temperatures, insects, dessication, or age-related mortality. Further, shifts in streamflow regimes driven by changes in consumptive use and climate could threaten the viability of young streamside P. ponderosa living in already difficult conditions for the species. Because so little is known about Dinosaur’s riparian P. ponderosa a critical first step is to document and understand its current distribution in the park. This presentation will discuss what it takes to sample and study these solitary river sentinels using traditional dendrochronological techniques in non-tradition ways, share what has been learned so far in the study, as well as where we plan to go next. 

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