Using annual tree rings to assess post-fire physiological tradeoffs

Ryan Salladay – Pitterman Lab

Positions: 1 intern

Tentative dates: June – September 2021 (flexible)

Project Location: Coastal Biology Building UCSC

Project Background: You might be familiar with annual growth rings on trees and how they can be used to infer previous climates and environmental conditions. Our lab group is interested in determining physiological tradeoffs in trees following wildfire. We do this by analyzing tree rings that formed immediately after fire scars dating back to 400 years ago. In those tree rings we can use microscopy to assess xylem (water transporting cells) anatomy. For example, tree rings with large xylem cells might prioritize collecting water more rapidly to recover from fire more quickly. Alternately, tree rings with small xylem cells are likely prioritizing safety from future drought stress.

Intern duties: The intern will receive mentoring and guidance to collect data, analyze data, and present results relating to anatomical traits following fire. The intern will use a microscope to take images of annual tree rings and use imaging software to measure anatomical traits. The intern will also have the opportunity to assist in related lab projects and get experience using common plant physiology methods including leaf water potential, hydraulic conductivity, functional staining, and leaf area.

Intern qualifications: We are looking for an enthusiastic intern who is eager to learn and conduct research in a lab setting. Attention to detail and basic computer skills are necessary for quality microscopy and image analysis research. Experience with compound light microscopes and ImageJ is welcome, but not required.

Do you recommend the intern(s) volunteer in your lab during Spring quarter?
Volunteering in the Spring quarter is a great opportunity to become familiar with the project, but is not necessary.

UC Santa Cruz Land Acknowledgement

“The land from which we base our work is the unceded territory of the Awaswas-speaking Uypi Tribe. The Amah Mutsun Tribal Band, comprised of the descendants of indigenous people taken to missions Santa Cruz and San Juan Bautista during Spanish colonization of the Central Coast, is today working hard to restore traditional stewardship practices on these lands and heal from historical trauma.”