, Volume 23, Issue 3, pp 665-671
Date: 06 Jan 2009

Expeditious building of ring-porous earlywood vessel chronologies without loosing signal information

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Chronologies of earlywood vessel size of ring-porous trees contain valuable ecological information, but long preparation procedures limit their application in ecological studies. Recent and fast techniques for wood surface preparation combined with automated image analysis are reducing the work needed to build chronologies, but might also entail measurement inaccuracy. In this study, we aim to evaluate the effect of a possible efficiency-accuracy trade-off on ecological signal strength. To this end, we compare measurements of mean vessel area from two recent and fast procedures carried out on sanded wood surfaces with a reference procedure based on an accurate survey from thin sections. Measurements were performed on increment cores of 15 sessile oaks (Quercus petraea (Mattuschka) Liebl.) for the period 1956–2006. Dissimilarities in results with the reference procedure were quantified and evaluated. Our data show that the workload can be reduced by more than 20-fold when using the highly automated procedure. Signal weakening caused by measurement errors is negligible for vessels >6,000 μm2 and can be easily compensated by increasing the sample size. Manual correction of misrecognized vessels hardly reduced this error further. The new procedures constitute a major step towards an efficient and accurate analysis of earlywood vessel chronologies of ring-porous tree species.