Björklund J., von Arx G., Fonti P., Stridbeck P., De Mil T., Neycken A., Seftigen K. [2021] The utility of bulk wood density for tree-ring research. Dendrochronologia 69, 125880. doi : 10.1016/j.dendro.2021.125880

Abstract :

Bulk wood density measurements are recognized for their utility in ecology, industry, and biomass estimations..
In tree-ring research, microdensitometric techniques are widely used, but their ability to determine the correct central tendency has been questioned. Though rarely used, it may be possible to use bulk wood density as a tool to check the accuracy of and even correct microdensitometric measurements. Since measuring bulk wood density in parallel with X-ray densitometry is quickly and easily done, we suspect that its omission is largely due to a lack of awareness of the procedure and/or its importance. In this study, we describe a simple protocol for measuring bulk wood density tailored for tree-ring researchers and demonstrate a few possible applications. To implement real-world examples of the applications, we used a sample of existing X-ray and Blue Intensity (BI) measurements from 127 living and dead Pinus sylvestris trees from northern Sweden to produce new measurements of bulk wood density.
We can confirm that the central tendency in this sample material is offset using X-ray densitometry and that the diagnosis and correction of X-ray density is easily done using bulk wood density in linear transfer functions. However, this approach was not suitable for our BI measurements due to heavy discoloration. Nevertheless, we were able to use bulk wood density to diagnose and improve the use of deltaBI (latewood BI – earlywood BI) with regard to its overall trends and multi-centennial variability in a dendroclimatological application. Moreover, we experimented with percent of latewood width, scaled with bulk wood density, as a time- and cost-effective proxy for annual ring density. Although our reconstruction only explains about half of the variation in ring density, it is most likely superior to using fixed literature values of density in allometric equations aimed at biomass estimations. With this study, we hope to raise new awareness regarding the versatility and importance of bulk wood density for dendrochronology by demonstrating its simplicity, relevance, and applicability.

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