Section 2.2: Creating a Timeline
Collate findings to develop a community-specific timeline of significant events (i.e. a mining operation, insect outbreak) that may have impacted the environment.
Constructing a Timeline
Once the research of the impacts is noted and confirmed by students, the information can be organized into a linear timeline of events. For example, if the research data shows there was a decrease in tree growth in 1965, it could be speculated that something happened in the community at that time. Was there a drought? An insect outbreak? Did a mining operation begin? Have students do some digging into the historical record of the community where the tree was sample from and construct a linear timeline like the one in Figure 2. More instructions can be found in our Creating a Timeline Lesson.
In order to effectively and efficiently analyze the data, the MAD Lab and the CLS need a linear timeline (additional example found in our Creating a Timeline Lesson as well as shown in Figure 3 and 4). The following list below shares some resources that can be consulted and act as a start point for students. Encourage students to consult various resources to gather a holistic perspective. Additional ideas/resources, along with student worksheets, are found in our Creating a Timeline Lesson and other brainstorming sheets can be found in the Student Field Book but the majority of the instructions are in the lesson. Once students have completed the table, they can then compile that information in a timeline.
Remember that the timeline is required in order to complete the citizen science portion of the TREE program.
Creating a Timeline Lesson
Collect research on the various impacts on a tree and create a linear timeline. Lessons can be downloaded and adapted from the link or found in the Module PDF: https://bit.ly/3DdJggV
Examples of Timelines
Submitting Your Timeline
After the students have gathered the samples and finished the linear timeline, pack up all your samples with the timeline and mail it back to the Research team. Once we receive the kit received, it will be time for the laboratories to get busy. Tree ring research, or dendrochronology, provides long-term records of past temperature, rainfall, fire, insect outbreaks, landslides, hurricanes, and ice storms. The data collected from this research will expose how the trembling aspen in your area have responded to environmental and human events. The data will then be aligned with the linear timeline and the elemental analysis from the CLS to gain a better understanding of the environmental changes in your forest (see Module 5 and Module 6 for more information). See Figure 5 as an example of how dendrochronology data and elemental analysis can tell the story of a tree’s life.
The top three graphs in Figure 5 show changes in 3 elements of interest while the bottom graph shows how the ring width changes over time, reflecting tree growth. By comparing the three graphs, students and researchers can make connections. Does the spike in tree ring width before 1995 have something to do with the slight increases in nickel and copper? What was happening in the community at this time? Why does zinc and copper continue to increase and the ring width decrease as the tree ages? The TREE program tries to suggest answer these questions.