General information

Module title Introduction to Dendrochronology
Language English
Module lecturer Agata Buchwal
Lecturer's email
Lecturer position adiunkt, PhD
Faculty Faculty of Geographical and Geological Sciences
Semester 2021/2022 (summer)
Duration 40
USOS code ID


Wednesday, 9:00-11:15 AM <OR> Please write an e-mail to the teacher ( if You prefer other timetable for this class, we can certainly disccus that :)

Classroom: room 242 and LAB P09 and L206; Collegium Geographicum (Street: B. Krygowskiego 10);

Module aim (aims)

Do You know that trees and shrubs every year form annual growth rings that can be used to trace for e.g. past climate?The class will provide basic knowledge and skills for student who would like to acquire a quantitative method of annual resolution, a dendrochronology.The student will have a great opportunity to work with the collection of tundra shrubs that are coming from remote Arctic locations (for e.g. Spitsbergen, Greenland, Alaska). The class is designed in three modules: (1) 12 hours of lectures which will provide background knowledge in Dendrochronology and Climate change in the Arctic; (2) 16 hours of lab exercises and preparation of samples, thin-sectioning, capturing of digital images of student’s own micro-slides in the Dendro-Lab; (3) 12 hours of computer lab classes with tree-rings measurements and data analyses. At the end of the class student will be able to: prepare micro-slides with woody samples and take microscope digital images; distinguished basic in tree rings anatomy and measure rings; perform basic tree ring data processing and visualization in R.

Pre-requisites in terms of knowledge, skills and social competences (where relevant)

This subject is offered to students from any discipline from Geo- and Biosciences at any level of studies. The student does not have to be familiar with lab work protocol or R programming language before the class.


  1. INTRO 1 (3h): Introduction to Dendrochronology (1): Tree rings as natural archives
  2. INTRO 2 (3h) : Introduction to Dendrochronology (2): Basic sampling and measurements techniques in Dendrochronology
  3. INTRO 3 (3h): Introduction to Arctic Dendrochronology (1): Climate change and tundra ecosystem responses
  4. INTRO 4 (3h) : Introduction to Arctic Dendrochronology (2): Arctic shrubs ecology
  5. DENDRO-LAB 1 (4h): Thin-sectioning of tundra shrubs: cutting and staining micro-slides (1)
  6. DENDRO-LAB 2 (4h): Thin-sectioning of tundra shrubs: cutting and staining micro-slides (2)
  7. DENDRO-LAB 3 (4h): Thin-sectioning of tundra shrubs: cutting and staining micro-slides (3)
  8. DENDRO-LAB 4 (4h): Capturing digital images of self-prepared micro-slides. Growth rings measuring and cross-dating (1)
  9. COMPUTER LAB 1 (3h): Growth rings measuring and cross-dating (2); Introduction to tree-ring chronology construction techniques (1)
  10. COMPUTER LAB 2 (3h): Tree-ring data processing and visualization techniques in R (1)
  11. COMPUTER LAB 3 (3h): Tree-ring data processing and visualization techniques in R (2)
  12. FINAL CLASS (3h): Presentation of student’s own dendrochronology project

Reading list

Buchwal, A., Rachlewicz, G., Fonti, P., Cherubini, P., Gärtner, H., 2013. Temperture modulates intra-plant growth of Salix polaris from a high Arctic site (Svalbard). Polar Biology 36(9), 1305-1318.

Cook ER, Kairiukstis LA (eds) Methods of dendrochronology applications in the environmental sciences. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht

Gärtner H, Lucchinetti S, Schweingruber FH (2014) New perspectives for wood anatomical analysis in dendrosciences: The GSL1-microtome. Dendrochronologia 32:47-51

Gärtner H, Schweingruber FH (2013) Microscopic Preparation Techniques for Plant Stem Analysis. Verlag Dr. Kessel, Remagen-Oberwinter

Forbes BC, Fauria MM, Zetterberg P (2010) Russian Arctic warming and ‘greening’ are closely tracked by tundra shrub willows. Glob Chang Biol 16:1542-1554. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2486.2009.02047.x

Myers-Smith IH, Elmendorf S, Beck P, Wilmking M, Hallinger M, Blok D, Tape KD, Rayback SA, Macias-Fauria M, Forbes BC, Speed JDM, Boulanger-Lapointe N, Rixen C, Levesque E, Schmidt NM, Baittinger C, Trant A, Hermanutz L, Siegwart Collier L, Dawes M, Lantz T, Weijers S, Jorgensen RH, Buchwal A, Buras A, Naito A, Ravolainen V, Schaepman-Strub G, Wheeler J, Wipf S, Hik D, Guay K, Vellend M. 2015. Climate sensitivity of shrub growth across the tundra biome. Nature Climate Change, 5(9): 887-891.

Myers-Smith IH, Hallinger M, Blok D, Sass-Klaassen U, Rayback SA, Weijers S, Trant A, Tape KD, Naito AT, Wipf S, Rixen C, Dawes MA, Wheeler J, Buchwal A, Baittinger C, Macias-Fauria M, Forbes BC, Lévesque E, Boulanger-Lapointe N, Beil I, Ravolainen V, Wilmking M. (2014) Methods for measuring arctic and alpine shrub growth: A review. Earth-Science Reviews. 140: 1-13. doi:10.1016/j.earscirev.2014.10.004