VOICES IN THE TREES: SEEKING COMMON STORIES FROM TREE RINGS IN A REMOTE COLLABORATION
Tree cores were obtained from Western Hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla), Mountain Hemlock (Tsuga mertensiana), Yellow Cedar (Callitropsis nootkatensis), and Red Cedar (Thuja plicata) in the regions around the Tlingit villages of Kake, Hoonah, Angoon, and Klawock. Three ring-width (RW) chronologies were developed and compared with climatic variables recorded by nearby meteorological stations. The oldest series date back over 400 years and the red cedar was a new species not previously analyzed by the WTRL. Various marker years were noted that corresponded to volcanic eruptions and cooling, and intervals of tight growth and growth release and trends in the records were noted. The climate response was done using correlation analyses with monthly observational temperature and precipitation records and WTRL students assembled maps and figures outlining the results. Online meetings discussed the findings prompting questions about the logging history of the region, changes in land use, and climate. This collaborative approach allowed both groups to learn more of the the forest resources of the region, its land use history, and laid the groundwork for future collaboration. Wooster students learned about Tlingit culture and history as well as traditional resources of southeast Alaska. Both the Alaskan and Wooster students acquired new skills in the field and laboratory that could be transferred to future educational and career opportunities.