Dendrochronology and ecology of central-western New York, 1448-1902
Dendrochronology in eastern New York State, USA, was established from timbers used in European settlement and development of the Hudson and Mohawk River Valleys starting in the mid-17th century. The abundant primary forests were the source, and timbers were used locally and exported via the rivers. West of the Hudson River Valley, successful settlement was more precarious from human conflict until the late 18th - early 19th century, and the oldest dated buildings are located along major waterways and the canals developed in the early 1800s. Timber trade from the Adirondack Mountains was also established in the early 1800s, and railroads were built across the state in the mid-1800s. The timber trade and agricultural development took out the primary forests by ca. 1850 and timber import became a major factor. These processes radically altered the ecology and regional climate across the state, especially in the early 1800s. Here we offer three historic tree-ring chronologies of oak (Quercus sp. L.), 1448-1872, eastern white pine (Pinus strobus L.) 1536-1852, and eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis (L.) Carr), 1506-1902, from over 30 structures in west-central New York built in the late 18th to early 20th century. Comparison of the site chronologies show significant changes in climate over time, especially from rapid deforestation and the changing landscape. Similarities in chronologies from buildings outside of the region indicate an early and rapid expansion of export, and the presence of timbers of non-native species illustrate a necessary import starting around 1850. These findings are used to assess sources, the timber trade, and changes in the ecology of west-central New York over time.