To core, or not to core: the impact of coring on tree health and a best-practice framework for collecting dendrochronological information from living trees

E.W.J. Tsen, T. Sitzia, Bruce Webber

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    © 2015 Cambridge Philosophical SocietyTrees are natural repositories of valuable environmental information that is preserved in the growth and structure of their stems, branches and roots. Dendrochronological analyses, based on the counting, crossdating and characterisation of incrementally formed wood rings, offer powerful insights for diverse fields including ecology, climatology and archaeology. The application of this toolset is likely to increase in popularity over coming decades due to advances in the field and a reduction in the cost of analyses. In research settings where the continued value of living trees subject to dendrochronological investigation is important, the use of an increment bore corer to extract trunk tissue is considered the best option to minimise negative impacts on tree health (e.g. stress and fitness). A small and fragmented body of literature, however, reports significant after-effects, and in some cases fatal outcomes, from this sampling technique. As it stands, the literature documenting increment bore coring (IBC) impacts lacks experimental consistency and is poorly replicated, making it difficult for prospective users of the method to assess likely tree responses to coring. This paucity of information has the potential to lead to destructive misuse of the method and also limits its safe implementation in circumstances where the risk of impacts may be appropriate. If IBC is to fulfil its potential as a method of choice across research fields, then we must first address our limited understanding of IBC impacts and provide a framework for its appropriate future use. Firstly, we review the historical context of studies examining the impacts of IBC on trees to identify known patterns, focal issues and biases in existing knowledge. IBC wound responses, particularly those that impact on lumber quality, have been the primary focus of prior studies. No universal treatment was identified that conclusively improved wound healing and few studies have linked wound responses to tree health impa
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)899-924
    JournalBiological Reviews
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


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