The world is dynamic across all scales of space and time. Events now unfolding in the global environment are responses to trends, inter-annual- to millennial-scale oscillations, feedbacks, and sudden extreme events within the Earth’s climate and geologic systems, not to mention the profound influences of humans; essentially the “ratchet of events” that has brought us to today. Shakespeare’s language captures the reality of global climate and environmental change. “[W]hat’s past is prologue” wraps the present in a shroud of determinism and destiny; the future cannot escape the influence of the past. As the stage is set for future changes, it is critical to understand how the patterns we see today reflect the past so that we may better understand what to expect in the future.

Our research employs paleoecological techniques to gain insight into environmental changes that have taken place over recent centuries to over 10,000 years ago. What we learn improves our understanding of how the Earth’s environment changes over time and can be used to inform planning, conservation, and natural resource management efforts.

Projects 

TREES Lab personnel are conducting research across the United States and around the world. The grid below includes a complete list of the research programs and individual projects TREES Lab faculty, staff, and students hav conducted. We are in the process of developing individual pages for each project to disseminate the inforamtion produced through these projects.

  • Dr. Evan Larson was invited to participate in research on growth response of ancient bristlecone pine (Pinus longaeva) at upper- and lower-treeline conducted by Dr. Matt Salzer and Dr. Malcolm Hughes of the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research and Dr. Andy Bunn of Western Washington University. This work included the development of a new collection of a pinyon pine (Pinus monophylla) chronology that formed the basis of Tom Wilding's MS thesis, as well as the collection of cores from foxtail pine (Pinus balforiana) that lead to additional research. The work conducted by TREES Lab students included analysis of pinyon pine and foxtail pine cores.

    Funding source: National Science Foundation Paleo Perspectives on Climate Change (P2C2) Program (Grants ATM-090227 and ATM-1203749) awarded to Matt Salzer and colleagues, Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, University of Arizona

    Publications

    • Salzer, M.W., Larson, E.R., Bunn, A.G., and Hughes, M.K. 2014. Climate response in near-treeline bristlecone pine. Environmental Research Letters 9:114007.

    Presentations

    • Evan R. Larson and Matthew W. Salzer. 2015. Climate response and chronology characteristics of foxtail pine vary over short distances from tree line. Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers, April 20–25, Chicago, Illinois.
    • Andrew G. Bunn, Matthew W. Salzer, Evan R. Larson, Stuart B. Weiss, Malcolm K. Hughes. 2014. The role of microtopography in explaining abrupt growth thresholds of Bristlecone Pine in the White Mountains of California, USA. American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, December 15–19, San Francisco, California.
    • Andrew G. Bunn, Matthew W. Salzer, Evan R. Larson, Stuart Weiss, Malcolm K. Hughes. 2014. Thresholds in growth of bristlecone pine with small changes in elevation in the White Mountains of California, USA. MTNCLIM 2014: Mountain Climate Research Conference, September 15–18, Midway, Utah.
    • Malcolm K. Hughes, Matthew W. Salzer, Andy G. Bunn, and Evan R. Larson. 2014. Spatio-temporal variations in tree-ring/climate links in millennia-long bristlecone pine chronologies. 9th International Conference on Dendrochronology, January 13–17, Melbourne, Australia.
    • Thomas Wilding, Evan R. Larson, and Matthew Salzer. 2013. Refining climatic interpretations of lower forest border bristlecone pine tree-ring chronologies over recent millennia. Second American Dendrochronology Conference, May 13–17, Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, University of Arizona, Tucson.
    • Evan R. Larson, Thomas Wilding, and Matthew Salzer. 2012. Refining climatic interpretations of lower forest border bristlecone pine tree-ring chronologies over recent millennia. American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, December 3–7, San Francisco, California.
  • We are establishing construction dates for historical structures in southwest Wisconsin and Michigan in order to create a more complete understanding of the cultural history of the Great Lakes Region while using the wood in these strucutures to develop new sources of proxy-data.

    Funding sources: Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey, University of Wisconsin Water Resources Institute, UW-Platteville PACCE, UW-Platteville TREES Lab

    Publications

    • Larson, E.R., and Rawling III, J.E. 2016. Developing new sources of proxy climate data from historical structures in the Lake Michigan-Huron basin. Journal of Great Lakes Research 42: 328–335.
    • Larson, E.R. 2014. Dendrochronological dating of Berry Tavern, southwest Wisconsin. Tree-Ring, Earth, and Environmental Sciences Laboratory Report #2014-01, University of Wisconsin-Platteville. 9 pages.

    Presentations

    • Evan R. Larson, J. Elmo Rawling III, and Sara Allen. 2015. Developing new sources of proxy climate data from historical structures in the Lake Michigan-Huron Basin. North-Central Section of the Geological Society of America Annual Meeting, May 19–20, Madison, Wisconsin.
    • J. Elmo Rawling III, Evan R. Larson, and Sara Allen. 2015. New chronologies from the Great Lakes cutover: Dendroecology of a mid-1800s pier in the old harbor of the Kalamazoo River along the southeast shores of Lake Michigan. Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers, April 20–25, Chicago, Illinois.
    • Jamie Jefferson* and Evan R. Larson. 2015. The story of land and people through the lens of tree rings: Dendroarchaeology of the Gratiot House, southwest Wisconsin. Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers, April 20–25, Chicago, Illinois.
    • Jamie Jefferson*, Evan R. Larson, Lane Johnson, and James Hibbard. 2014. Tales of people and the land told through tree rings: Historical dendroarchaeology of the Gratiot House. Wisconsin History Symposium, April 5, Platteville, Wisconsin.
  • Ben Gultch, a UW-Platteville geography major, used a GIS to develop a county-wide reconstruction of depth-to-bedrock based on well drilling records developed over the past five decades. This information was done by contract for the Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey and was used, among other things, to examine the potential history of the upper Mississippi River draining through the Great Lakes to the North Atlantic rather than through the Gulf of Mexico.

    Funding source: Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey

    Media

  • Students at UW-Platteville helped develop a web-based GIS package describing the geological features of Devil's Lake State Park that was then converted to an smartphone ap available through the Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey.

    Funding source: Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey, UW-Platteville PACCE

    Media

  • Students working with visiting lecturer and TREES Lab research specialist Lane Johnson to engage with the family of J. William Trygg, obtain, digitize, and georeference the hand-drawn maps created by Trygg as part of land claims work he conducted with American Indian groups across the upper Great Lakes Region.

    Funding source: UW-Platteville PACCE program

    Publications

    • Digital library of georeferenced maps stored on servers at UW-Platteville, available on request pending approval from the J. William Trygg family of Ely, Minnesota.
  • The Driftless Charcoal project is in the early stages of developing Holocene-scale records of fire and vegetation history for the Driftless Area, primarily from sediments deposited in oxbow lakes created by the regions many meandering streams.

    Funding sources: UW-Platteville TREES Lab, UW-Platteville College of Liberal Arts and Education

    Presentations (* indicates undergraduate student)

    • Ciara Miller*, Adam Donaldson*, Micah Darling*, Caleb Cizauskas*, Rebecca Hempe*, Christopher Underwood, and Evan Larson. 2017. Exploring the presence of fire as a key ecological process on Upper Midwest landscapes from past millennia to the present. 14th Annual Research in the Rotunda, April 12, Madison, Wisconsin.
    • John Eads, Christopher A. Underwood, and Evan R. Larson. 2015. A virtual journey exploring potential sites for developing a paleoecological record for the Driftless Area of Wisconsin. Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers, April 20–25, Chicago, Illinois.
  • Since the last Ice Age, shoreline elevations of the Great Lakes were influenced by post-glacial isostatic rebound, changing outlet elevation, and climate change. The Dune Undergraduate Geomorphology and Geochronology (DUGG) project focuses on how these processes influence eolian systems along the Wisconsin shoreline of Lake Michigan. Unlike the eastern side of the Lake, large dunes are rare along the Wisconsin shoreline except for a few areas of the Door Peninsula. Students from across the country work with Dr. Rawling and colleagues from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the UW-Extension Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey for eight weeks during the summer. Methods employed for this student-driven undergraduate research includes ground penetrating radar, optical dating and laser diffraction particle-size analysis. The DUGG project is funded by National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduate program.

    Funding source: National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduate award #0850525

    Press

    • Hear more about DUGG in a broadcast by Jeff Strobel on Madison's WORT 89.9 FM Listen here

    Publications

    • Rawling 3rd J.E. and Hanson P.R. in press: Geomorphology and Geochronology of dunes formed on sandy bay barriers on the Door Peninsula of Wisconsin, USA: The importance of increased sediment supply as lake levels fell following the Nipissing and Algoma phases. Geological Society of America Special Paper 508, 65-83.

    Presentations (* indicates undergraduate student)

    • Branecky*, C., Chavez, N., Oien*, R., Ruiz, J., Rawling 3rd, J.E. Hanson, P.R. and Hart, D.J. 2011. Geomorphology, OSL ages and volume estimates of a Nipissing Beach ridge/dune complex near Kangaroo Lake, Door Peninsula, WI. Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs 42, no. 5.
    • Hobbs, D., Neumann*, C., O’Brien*, M., Targos*, C., Rawling 3rd, J.E., Hanson, P.R. and Hart, D. 2011. Geomorphology and OSL dating of Lake Michigan’s Nipissing shoreline features, Europe Lake, Door Peninsula, Wisconsin. Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs 42, no. 5.
    • Rawling 3rd, J.E., Hanson, P.R. and Hart, D.J., 2011. Late Holocene shoreline development and eolian activity in three bays of the Door Peninsula, Wisconsin, USA. Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs 42, no. 5.
    • Ruiz, J., Chavez, N., Rawling, J.E., 3rd, Hanson, P.R. and Hart, D.J. 2011. Geomorphology, OSL ages and volume estimates of a Nipissing Beach ridge/dune complex near Kangaroo Lake, Door Peninsula, WI. Abstracts and Proceedings of the Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans Science National Meeting.
    • Rawling, 3rd J.E. Hanson, P.R., Young A.R., and Hart D.J. 2010. Geomorphology, Stratigraphy and Holocene Age Estimates from Whitefish Dunes State Park, Door Peninsula, Wisconsin. Association of American Geographers East Lakes Meeting, Grand Rapids, MI.
    • *Beal, I., *Burich B., *Grabos, N., *Meskel, B., *Wycech, J., *Hanson, M., *Grazia, E., *Flinner, N., Rawling 3rd, J.E., Hanson, P.R. 2010. Holocene OSL Age Estimates of Parabolic Dunes on the Western Shore of Lake Michigan, Door Peninsula, WI, USA. Geological Society of America Annual Meeting, Denver, CO
    • *Flinner, N., *Grazia, E., *Hanson, M., *Wycech, J., *Meskel, B., *Grabos, N., *Burich B., *Beal, I., Rawling 3rd, J.E., Hart, D.J. 2010. Geomorphology of Parabolic Dunes Along the Western Shore of Lake Michigan, Door Peninsula, WI, USA: Insights From Ground Penetrating Radar, LiDAR, and Particle Size Analysis. Geological Society of America Annual Meeting, Denver, CO
    • Rawling, 3rd J.E. Hanson, P.R. Young A.R., Attig, J.W., Hart, D.J., and Carson, E.C. 2009. Introducing the Dune Undergraduate Geomorphology and Geochronology (DUGG) NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates Site at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville and University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Geological Society of America Annual Meeting, Portland, OR.
  • If you have used an earthworm for fishing bait, picked a worm out of your garden, or noticed a worm crawling across a sidewalk after it rains you have been in the presence of an invasive species. The Great Lakes Region has no native earthworm species as a result of the last Ice Age, during which much of the region was hidden beneath up to a mile of ice and the rest was frozen in permafrost. The earthworms that are now nearly ubiquitous in the Great Lakes Region are of European origin and have followed in the wake of European settlement and agriculture. Known to be beneficial in agricultural ecosystems, it has only recently been realized that the invasions of European earthworms into previously worm-free hardwood forests of the Great Lakes are profoundly influencing nutrient cycles, understory plant diversity, and the patterns of spread among invasive plant species. This project is investigating the effects of invasive earthworms on overstory forest dynamics, through the proxy of tree rings, with potential implications for the forest managers throughout the Great Lakes Region.

    Funding sources: Wisconsin Alliance for Minority Participation (WiscAMP); UW-Platteville Pioneer Undergraduate Research Fellowship, UW-Platteville Scholarly Activity Improvement Fund

    Press and Media

    Publications

    • Larson, E.R., Kipfmueller, K.F., Hale, C.M., Frelich, L.E., and Reich, P.B. 2010. Tree rings detect earthworm invasions and their effects in northern hardwood forests. Biological Invasions 12:1053–1066. DOI 10.1007/s10530-009-9523-3

    Presentations (*indicates undergraduate student)

    • Evan R. Larson. 2015. The profound impacts of invasive earthworms on hardwood forests in Wisconsin. Ralph Nuzum Lecture Series, Kickapoo Valley Reserve, June 25, La Farge, Wisconsin.
    • Evan R. Larson. 2014. Developing a new application in tree-ring research to study invasive earthworm impacts. Faculty and Staff Research Day, University of Wisconsin-Platteville, September 30, Platteville, Wisconsin.
    • Evan R. Larson. 2013. Ecological upheaval from the ground up: A tree-ring perspective on invasive earthworm impacts in Great Lakes forest ecosystems. University of Missouri Geography Department Colloquium, November 14, Columbia, Missouri.
    • Evan R. Larson, Thomas Wilding, Kurt F. Kipfmueller, Ryan Hueffmeier, Cindy Hale, Lee Frelich, Peter Reich. 2013. Invasive earthworms alter climate-tree growth relationships. Invited Plenary Lecture, Second American Dendrochronology Conference, May 13–17, Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, University of Arizona, Tucson.
    • McKaylee Duquain*, Giselle Varrientos*, Brennan Waupoose*, Gabriel Brownell*, Sara Allen*, Thomas Wilding, Evan R. Larson. 2013. Invasive earthworms effect on northern hardwood forest productivity. Second American Dendrochronology Conference, May 13–17, Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, University of Arizona, Tucson.
    • Evan R. Larson. 2013. Invasive earthworms as ecosystem engineers: Using tree-rings to track earthworm impacts on forests in the Great Lakes Region of North America. Department of Earth Sciences lecture series, Willamette University, February 26, Salem, Oregon.
    • Evan R. Larson. 2013. The role of invasive earthworms as ecosystem engineers and the associated implications for tree-ring research in the Great Lakes Region of North America. Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, February 21, Tucson, Arizona.
    • Brennan Waupoose* and Evan R. Larson. 2012. Invasive Earthworms Increase Tree Sensitivity to Drought. Annual Meeting of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society, November 1–3, Anchorage, Alaska.
    • Brennan Waupoose*, Giselle Varrientos*, Sara Allen*, Gabriel Brownell*, McKaylee Duquain*, Thomas Wilding, and Evan R. Larson. 2012. Invasive earthworms cause dramatic changes in hardwood forests. WiscAMP Annual Meeting, October 19, Madison, Wisconsin.
    • Giselle Varrientos* and Brennan Waupoose*, McKaylee Duquain*, Gabriel Brownell*, Sara Allen*, Thomas Wilding, and Evan R. Larson. 2012. Using tree rings to study the effects of invasive earthworms on tree growth. Annual Meeting of the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science, October 11–14, Seattle, Washington.
    • Sara Allen*, Melissa Gormley, Evan R. Larson. 2012. The effects of invasive earthworms on the Menominee Forest of Northern Wisconsin. UW-Platteville College of Liberal Arts and Education Undergraduate Research and Creative Endeavors, April 25, Platteville, Wisconsin.
    • Nicholas Flinner* and Evan R. Larson. 2012. Tracking earthworm invasion fronts at Bay Lake Camp, Minnesota. UW-Platteville College of Liberal Arts and Education Undergraduate Research and Creative Endeavors, April 25, Platteville, Wisconsin.
    • Leon Fowler* and Evan R. Larson. 2012. Assessing the impacts of invasive earthworms on tree growth in the Menominee Forest. Geoscience Alliance Conference, March 17–18, Salish Kootenai College, Pablo, Montana.
    • Henry Dodge*, Steven G. LaBarge*, Sara Allen*, Leon Fowler*, Brody Knaak*, and Evan R. Larson. 2012. Invasive Earthworm Impacts on tree growth in the Menominee Forest of Northern Wisconsin. 9th Annual Posters in the Rotunda: A Celebration of Undergraduate Research, March 7, Madison, Wisconsin.
    • Brody Knaak*, Sara Allen*, Henry Dodge*, Leon Fowler*, Steven G. LaBarge*, and Evan R. Larson. 2012 Exploring the potential effects of invasive earthworms on growth rates in sugar maple (Acer saccharum) trees in the Menominee Forest of northern Wisconsin. Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers, February 24–28, New York, New York.
    • Sara Allen*, Henry Dodge*, Leon Fowler*, Brody Knaak*, Steven G. LaBarge*, and Evan R. Larson. 2011. Invasive Earthworm Impacts on tree growth in the Menominee Forest of Northern Wisconsin. Biolief 2011: 2nd World Conference on Biological Invasions and Ecosystem Functioning, November 21–24, Mar del Plata, Argentina.
    • J. Elmo Rawling III, Brooke Burich*, Kristy Stanley, and Evan R. Larson. Impact of Earthworms on Soil Particle Size Distribution in Sandy Soils, Door Peninsula, Wisconsin. 2011. West Lakes Association of American Geographers Conference, November 10–12, DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois.
    • Evan R. Larson, Sara Allen*, Henry Dodge*, Leon Fowler*, and Brody Knaak*. 2011. Examining the ecological effects of invasive earthworms on the Menominee Forest: Results from the field. College of the Menominee Nation Sustainable Development Institute, July 14, Keshena, Wisconsin.
    • Evan R. Larson. 2010. Enhancing minority participation through collaborative research: Examining the ecological effects of invasive earthworms on the Menominee Forest. College of the Menominee Nation Sustainable Development Institute, December 8, Keshena, Wisconsin.
    • Evan R. Larson, Kurt F. Kipfmueller, Cindy M. Hale, Lee E. Frelich, Peter B. Reich. 2010. Using tree rings to detect earthworm invasions and their ecological effects in a mixed hardwood forest, northern Minnesota. Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting, April 14–18, Washington, D.C.
  • This project established a collaborative relationship between Peter Brewer of the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research at the University of Arizona with software engineering students at UW-Platteville to help redesign the data entry module of the FHAES software.

    Funding sources: UW-Platteville PACCE program

    Publications (* indicates undergraduate student)

    • Beatty, A.*, Bodendein, C.*, Hartmann, K.*, Goble, S.*, Tian, K., Larson, E.R. 2013. Data entry module for the Fire History Exploration and Analysis System (FHAES) Software. Published by the Fire Research and Management Exchange System (FRAMES) of the Wildland Fire Science Partnership.
    • Software available via the interagency working group FRAMES: www.frames.gov/fhaes

    Presentations (* indicates undergraduate student)

    • Chinmay Shah*, Jake Lokkesmoe*, Josh Brogan*, Kun Tian, Evan R. Larson, and Peter Brewer. 2014. Fire History Analysis and Exploration System (FHAES). University of Wisconsin-Platteville Pioneer Academic Center for Community Engagement (PACCE) Poster Day, April 23, Platteville, Wisconsin.
    • Evan R. Larson, Kun Tian, and Henri D. Grissino-Mayer. 2014. Interdisciplinary collaborations for reengineering fire history and tree-ring software. Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers, April 8–12, Tampa, Florida.
  • The Great Lakes Fire History project is establishing tree-ring based fire history chronologies at sites across the upper Great Lakes to advance understanding of the historical role of surface fires in the pine forests of the region and how people influenced these processes.

    Our sites for this project currently include:

    • Castle Mound Pine Forests State Natural Area near Black River Falls, Wisconsin
    • University of Minnesota Cloquet Forestry Center
    • Crooked Lake of Crow Wing County, Minnesota
    • Minnesota Point Science and Natural Area, Minnesota
    • Quetico Provincial Park, Ontario
    • Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness

    Funding sources: Quetico Provincial Park, Lakes State Fire Science Consortium, UW-Platteville PACCE, UW-Platteville Pioneer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (x 2)

    Press

    Publications (* indicates undergraduate student)

    • Larson, E.R. and Green, M.A.* 2017. Fire history at the confluence of the Driftless Area and Central Sand Plains of Wisconsin: A case study from Castle Mound Pine Forest State Natural Area. Natural Areas Journal 37: 309–321.

    Presentations (* indicates undergraduate student)

    • Adam Donaldson* and Evan R Larson. 2017. The historical role of people in influencing the fire regime of an old-growth red pine stand in northern Minnesota. Annual meeting of the American Association of Geographers, April 4–9, Boston, Massachusetts.
    • Adam J Donaldson*, Anna R Schulz*, Ciara L Miller*, Daniel T Brumm*, Jonathan Ley*, Kalina M Hildebrandt*, Katelyn S Grgich*, Lucas C Harding*, Micah J Darling*, Narisha N Reddy*, Trevor A Zenk*, and Evan R. Larson. 2016. A history of fire, forests and people at Camp 8 Pines of the University of Minnesota Cloquet Forestry Center. Webinar given to the Forest Manager and Staff of the Cloquet Forestry Center, December 17, Platteville, Wisconsin.
    • Martha Green* and Evan R. Larson. 2015. Fire history of Castle Mound Pine Forest State Natural Area: Fire history at the edge of the Driftless Area in central Wisconsin. Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers, April 20–25, Chicago, Illinois.
    • Martha Green* and Evan R. Larson. 2015. Fire history and successional dynamics at Castle Mound Pine Forest State Natural Area: Implications for Restoration. Midwest Fire Conference: Keeping Fire Working for the Land, February 17–19, Dubuque, Iowa.
    • Martha Green* and Evan R. Larson. 2014. Castle Mound Pine Forest State Natural Area: Fire history and ecology. Connections in Nature Student Research Symposium, Riveredge Nature Center, November 8, Saukville, Wisconsin.
    • Mattea Allert*, Samantha Alvarez*, Ethan DeWitte*, Katherine Gokey*, Martha Green*, Joshua Riley*, Brittany Rogness*, Michelle Seefeld*, Elizabeth Tanner*, and Evan R. Larson.2014. Castle Mound Pine Forest State Natural Area: Fire History and Ecology. University of Wisconsin-Platteville Pioneer Academic Center for Community Engagement (PACCE) Poster Day, April 23, Platteville, Wisconsin.
  • The Great Lakes Hemlock Project has updated six eastern hemlock tree-ring chronologies and developed the first tree-ring-based reconstruction of Lake Superior annual evaporation, highlighting an opportunity to greatly expand understanding of the mechanisms that drive lake level change in the Great Lakes.

    Funding sources: Wisconsin Alliance for Minority Participation (WiscAMP), UW-Platteville TREES Lab; UW-Platteville Scholarly Activity Improvement Fund; UW-Platteville PACCE

    Presentations

    • Evan R. Larson, J. Elmo Rawling III, and Sara Allen. 2015. Developing new sources of proxy climate data from historical structures in the Lake Michigan-Huron Basin. North-Central Section of the Geological Society of America Annual Meeting, May 19–20, Madison, Wisconsin.
    • Gabriel Brownell* and Evan R. Larson. 2015. The Great Lakes Hemlock Project: Improving estimates of regional summer temperatures over the past 400 years to inform reconstructions of Lake Michigan lake level variability. Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers, April 20–25, Chicago, Illinois.
    • J. Elmo Rawling III, Evan R. Larson, and Sara Allen. 2015. New chronologies from the Great Lakes cutover: Dendroecology of a mid-1800s pier in the old harbor of the Kalamazoo River along the southeast shores of Lake Michigan. Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers, April 20–25, Chicago, Illinois.
    • Gabriel Brownell* and Evan R. Larson. 2014. A 400-year summer temperature reconstruction for northern Wisconsin and Michigan. Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers, April 8–12, Tampa, Florida.
    • Gabriel Brownell* and Evan R. Larson. 2013. A 400-year record of northern Wisconsin and Michigan July temperatures derived from the rings of ancient eastern hemlock trees. Connections in Nature Student Research Symposium, November 9, Riveredge Nature Center, Saukville, Wisconsin.
    • Gabriel Brownell*, Brennan Waupoose*, Giselle Varrientos*, McKaylee Duquain*, and Evan R. Larson. 2013. Updating the Presque Isle River hemlock chronology, Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. Second American Dendrochronology Conference, May 13–17, Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, University of Arizona, Tucson.
    • Gabriel Brownell*, McKaylee Duquain*, Giselle Varrientos*, Brennan Waupoose*, Sara Allen*, Thomas Wilding, and Evan R. Larson. 2012. Updating the Presque River Isle Hemlock Chronology, Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. WiscAMP Annual Meeting, October 19, Madison, Wisconsin.
  • This project investigated growth patterns and forest productivity at sites across the forest-tundra ecotone in northern Manitoba to contribute to a larger project assessing arctic landscape evolution in response to climate change.

    Funding Sources: National Science Foundation ROA supplement to DEB-074323; UW-Platteville Scholarly Activity Improvement Fund

    Presentations (* indicates undergraduate student)

    • Charles Umbanhowar, Evan R. Larson, William Hobbs, Mark Edlund, Philip Camill, and Christoph Geiss. 2014. Multi-scale responses to changing climate in lake and terrestrial ecosystems over the past 200 years at treeline in northern Manitoba. American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, December 15–19, San Francisco, California.
    • Evan R. Larson. 2013. Shifting states in climate, tree growth, and ecosystem dynamics at arctic and alpine treelines. Climate, People, and Environment Program (CPEP) seminar series, UW-Madison Nelson Institute Center for Climatic Research, March 25, Madison, Wisconsin.
    • Rebecca Trewartha,* Sharri Valosek,* and Evan R. Larson. 2010. Dynamics of two white spruce stands in contrasting upland and lowland settings within the arctic treeline ecotone. Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting, April 14–18, Washington, D.C.
  • The structure and composition of forests around the world are changing in rapid and unprecedented ways. Human activities, such as logging and expansion of the urban-wildland interface, have resulted in highly fragmented landscapes in areas that were once covered with relatively continuous tracts of forest. The close links between landscape structure, disturbance regimes, and successional processes suggest that modern fragmented landscapes are likely operating outside of their historical ranges of variability, yet the long time scales on which the dynamics of forest communities operate make this difficult to assess. Additionally, landscape structure, legacy effects, and seed source availability and proximity also represent important determinants of vegetation change. Understanding how forest communities will change in the future is key information needed in the development of long-term management plans for these ecologically and economically critical systems. This project is using the naturally fragmented landscape of Granlandet Reserve in northern Sweden as an analog to explore the long-term and unintended consequences of changing landscape structure.

    Funding sources: J. William Fulbright Fellowship; Mid Sweden University; UW-Platteville Scholarly Activity Improvement Fund

    Presentations (* indicates undergraduate student)

    • Evan R. Larson. 2014. A world in pieces: Fragmentation and the fundamental influence of landscape structure on forest ecosystems. Department of Geography, Environment and Society Coffee Hour, February 7, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
    • Evan R. Larson. 2013. Fragments: The fundamental influence of landscape structure on forest ecosystems. UW-Platteville College of Liberal Arts and Education Faculty Forum lecture series, November 7, Platteville, Wisconsin.
    • Evan R. Larson, Julia Rauchfuss, Bengt-Gunnar Jonsson. 2013. Seeking the natural: Shifting climate and human influences on the fire regimes of mid Sweden. Second American Dendrochronology Conference, May 13–17, Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, University of Arizona, Tucson.
    • Sarah Scott*, Christopher Underwood, and Evan R. Larson. 2013. The fundamental influence of landscape structure on boreal forest dynamics, northern Sweden. Second American Dendrochronology Conference, May 13–17, Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, University of Arizona, Tucson.
    • Evan R. Larson and Bengt Gunnar Jonsson. 2012. The fundamental influence of landscape structure on boreal forest communities. Gothenburg University Laboratory for Dendrochronology seminar series, March 15, Gothenburg, Sweden.
  • Students at UW-Platteville, through class projects in advanded biogeography courses and independent research, combined tree-ring data, historical records, repeat photography, and GIS analyses to develop a multi-proxy environmental history of the 70-acre Memorial Park, a green space on campus. The students collaborated closely with grounds managers and faculty from the Department of Reclamation and Environmental Restoration to inform the development of an oak savanna restoration project and then worked to assess changes in forest structure and composition following an EF-2 tornado in 2014.

    Funding sources: UW-Platteville PACCE program

    Media

    Presentations (* indicates undergraduate student)

    • Jessica Kleckner* and Evan R. Larson. 2015. Historical ecology of an oak savanna in Memorial Park on the University of Wisconsin-Platteville campus. Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers, April 20–25, Chicago, Illinois.
    • Kyle Alvis*, Jason Blatz*, Gabriel Brownell*, Matthew Comparone*, Joshua Delveaux*, Martha Green*, Ben Mathhys*, and Evan R. Larson. 2014. Memorial Park Historical Land Cover Analysis. University of Wisconsin-Platteville Pioneer Academic Center for Community Engagement (PACCE) Poster Day, April 23, Platteville, Wisconsin.
    • Kyle Alvis*, Jason Blatz*, Gabriel Brownell*, Matthew Comparone*, Joshua Delveaux*, Martha Green
  • The global climate system varies at all scales of space and time, and only by understanding the past can we develop a better understanding of how climate may change in the future. This project is focused on developing long tree-ring chronologies from whitebark pine and limber pine growing at high elevations in the rugged Eagle Cap Wilderness of eastern Oregon to explore past climate variations in this region. Thus far a 900-year limber pine chronology and a 1,100-year whitebark pine chronology have been developed. Additional sampling is planned in the near future.

    In the summer of 2009, Dr. Larson helped film a documentary about one tree in particular; Dielman’s Monarch, an ancient limber pine growing on the slopes of Cusick Mountain, has likely been growinghttp://www.opb.org/television/programs/ofg/segment/old-tree/ on that spot for over 2,000 years. You can watch the 10 minute film online.

    Funding sources: The United States Environmental Protection Agency STAR Fellowship program, UW-Platteville Scholarly Activity Improvement Fund.

    Press and media

    Publications

    • Larson, E.R. and Kipfmueller, K.F. 2012. Ecological disaster or the limits of observation? Reconciling modern declines with the long-term dynamics of whitebark pine communities. Geography Compass 6: 189–214.
    • Larson, E.R. 2012. Influences of blister rust and mountain pine beetle on whitebark pine. Nutcracker Notes 22: 14–15.
    • Larson, E.R. 2011. Influences of the biophysical environment on blister rust and mountain pine beetle, and their interactions, in whitebark pine forests. Journal of Biogeography 38: 453–470.
    • Campbell, E.M., Keane, R.E., Larson, E.R., Murray, M.P., Schoettle, A.W., Wong, C. 2011. Disturbance Ecology of High-Elevation Five-Needle Pine Ecosystems in Western North America. Pages 154–163 in R. E. Keane, D. F. Tomback, M. P. Murray, and C. M. Smith, editors. Proceedings: The Future of High-Elevation Five-Needle White Pines in Western North America. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station RMRS-P-63, June 28–30, 2010, Missoula, Montana.
    • Larson, E.R. and Kipfmueller, K.F. 2010. Patterns in whitebark pine regeneration and their relationships to biophysical site characteristics in southwest Montana, central Idaho, and Oregon, U.S.A. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 40: 476–487.
    • Larson, E.R., van de Gevel, S.L., and Grissino-Mayer, H.D. 2009. Fire regime comparisons of three whitebark pine communities, Montana, USA. Écoscience 16: 282–298.

    Presentations

    • Evan R. Larson. 2014. Tree-ring perspectives on climate change. Fried Green Tomatoes University, March 11, Galena, Illinois.
    • Sara Allen and Evan R. Larson. 2013. The relative influence of climate and fire on subalpine forest productivity in the Wallowa Mountains, northeast Oregon. Second American Dendrochronology Conference, May 13–17, Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, University of Arizona, Tucson.
    • Evan R. Larson. 2013. The Importance of History, Geography, and Perspective: Ecological Uncertainty at the Intersection of Climate Change, Global Change, and Human Perception. UW-Oshkosh Geography Department Geiger Lecture, March 29, Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
    • Evan R. Larson. 2013. Ecological uncertainty at the intersection of climate change, global change, and human perception. UW-Madison Department of Geography Yi-Fu seminar series, March 26, Madison, Wisconsin.
    • Evan R. Larson. 2013. Shifting states in climate, tree growth, and ecosystem dynamics at arctic and alpine treelines. Climate, People, and Environment Program (CPEP) seminar series, UW-Madison Nelson Institute Center for Climatic Research, March 25, Madison, Wisconsin.
    • Evan R. Larson. 2013. Framing the Conversation: Long-term Perspectives on Climate as Shown in Tree Rings. PLATO (Participatory Learning and Teaching Organization) Pathways to a Sustainable Planet lecture series, March 4, Madison, Wisconsin.
    • Evan R. Larson. 2012. Ecological disaster or the limits of observation? Reconciling modern declines with the long-term dynamics of whitebark pine. Humboldt State University Biological Sciences Seminar Series, May 4, Arcata, California.
    • Evan R. Larson. 2012. The tales trees tell: Using tree rings to study environmental change. Milaca Public Library, April 26, Milaca, Minnesota.
    • Evan R. Larson and Kurt F. Kipfmueller. 2011. Disturbance-Mediated Adaptation: Mountain Pine Beetles and the Fate of Whitebark Pine. Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting, April 12–16, Seattle, Washington.
    • Evan R. Larson, Saskia van de Gevel, Henri D. Grissino-Mayer, and Kurt F. Kipfmueller. 2010. Spatial and temporal variability in fire regimes and the effects of fire suppression in whitebark pine forests. High-Five Symposium: The Future of High-Elevation Five-Needle White Pines in Western North America, June 28–30, Missoula, Montana.
    • Evan R. Larson and Kurt F. Kipfmueller. 2010. Implications of natural regeneration for restoration in whitebark pine forests. High-Five Symposium: The Future of High-Elevation Five-Needle White Pines in Western North America, June 28–30, Missoula, Montana.
    • Elizabeth M. Campbell, Robert E. Keane, Evan R. Larson, Michael P. Murray, Anna W. Schoettle, and Carmen Wong. 2010. Disturbance ecology of ‘high-five pine’ ecosystems in western North America. Plenary talk, High-Five Symposium: The Future of High-Elevation Five-Needle White Pines in Western North America, June 28–30, Missoula, Montana.
    • Allison Hudack* and Evan R. Larson. 2010. Reconstructing climate using the rings of ancient whitebark pine trees from the Eagle Cap Wilderness, Eastern Oregon. Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting, April 14–18, Washington, D.C.
  • This project developed tree-ring chronologies from living and remnant longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) at multiple sites in north-central Florida to reconstruct hydrologic conditions including streamflow and depth to groundwater.

    Funding sources: Suwanee River Water Management District, St Johns River Water Management District

    Publications

    • Larson, E.R. 2017. Developing tree-ring records from remnant longleaf pine stumps in Goethe State Forest to improve hydrologic reconstructions in North-Central Florida, Final Report for Suwanee River Water Management District Contract #16/17-076. 15 pages.
    • Harley, G., Maxwell, J, Larson, E.R., Grissino-Mayer, H.D., Henderson, J., and Huffman, J. 2017. Suwannee River flow variability 1550–2005 CE reconstructed from a multispecies tree-ring network. Journal of Hydrology 544: 438–451.
    • Crockett, K., Martin, J.B., Grissino-Mayer, H.D., Larson, E.R., Mirti, T. 2010. Assessment of tree rings as a hydrologic record in a humid subtropical environment. Journal of the American Water Resources Association 46: 919–931.

    Presentations (* indicates undergraduate student)

    • Grant L. Harley, Justin T. Maxwell, Evan Larson, Henri D. Grissino-Mayer, Joseph Henderson, and Jean Huffman. Suwannee River flow variability 1550–2005 CE reconstructed from a multispecies tree-ring network. The Third American Dendrochronological Conference, March 28–April 1, Mendoza, Argentina.
    • Thomas Wilding, Nicholas Flinner, Thomas Mirti, and Evan Larson. 2013. New multi-century earlywood and latewood tree-ring chronologies refine understanding of climate-growth relationships at the southern range margin of longleaf pine (Pinus palustris R. Mills). Second American Dendrochronology Conference, May 13–17, Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, University of Arizona, Tucson.
    • Nicholas Flinner*, Thomas Wilding*, Evan R. Larson, and Tom Mirti. 2012. Developing tree-ring chronologies from old-growth longleaf pine in a subtropical climate. University of Wisconsin Undergraduate Research Symposium, April 26, UW-Parkside, Wisconsin.
    • Nicholas Flinner*, Thomas Wilding*, Evan R. Larson, Tom Mirti. 2012. Developing old-growth longleaf chronologies in a subtropical climate. Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers, February 24–28, New York, New York.
  • We used the growth rings of living and dead Pinus sylvestris to develop earlywood, latewood, and total ring-width chronologies that were used to estimate summer precipitation for the Swedish High Coast over the past four hundred years.

    Funding sources: J. William Fulbright Fellowship, UW-Platteville Scholarly Activity Improvement Fund

    Presentations (* indicates undergraduate student)

    • Yingyue Yang, Julia Hjalmarsson, Evan R. Larson, and Bengt Gunnar Jonsson. 2014. Forest fires under human or climate control? – A case study from central Sweden. Forest Landscape Mosaics: Disturbance, Restoration and Management at Times of Global Change, August 11–14, Tartu, Estonia.
    • Steven LaBarge*, Evan R. Larson, and Bengt-Gunnar Jonsson. 2014. Developing moisture-sensitive tree-ring chronologies from shingle field Scots pine communities in the Swedish High Coast. University of Wisconsin-Platteville Undergraduate Research and Creative Endeavors Symposium, April 23, Platteville, Wisconsin.
    • Steven LaBarge*, Evan R. Larson, and Bengt-Gunnar Jonsson. 2014. Developing moisture-sensitive tree-ring chronologies from shingle field Scots pine communities in the Swedish High Coast. Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers, April 8–12, Tampa, Florida.
  • The White River Badlands of South Dakota have some of the fasted documented modern erosion rates in North America that result in characteristically rugged terrain. These processes are also responsible for vast exposures of Quaternary sediment that provide an opportunity to investigate the long-term evolution of these common arid and semi-arid landscapes. Dr. Rawling’s projects here have focused on eolian systems including cliff-top deposits, sand dunes and loess. These deposits have been intermittently active throughout the last 15,000 years and are dated with radiocarbon and optical age estimates. The White River Badlands were also significant dust sources in the Pleistocene, and the focus of current research is investigating the genesis of dust there.

    Funding source: American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund

    Publications (* indicates undergraduate student)

    • Burkhart, P.A., Livingston, J., Rawling 3rd J.E., Hanson, P.R., Mahan, S., Benton, R., Heffron, E.*, Jahn, M., Anderson, T., and Page B. 2008: Late Pleistocene through Holocene Landscape Evolution of the White River Badlands, South Dakota. Geological Society of America Field Guide 10, 217-233.
  • In 1964 the United States Wilderness Act defined wilderness as “an area where the earth and community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.” This definition has guided management decisions pertaining to some of the most spectacular landscapes in North America yet is based on an incomplete and potentially problematic ignorance of the long-term legacies of past cultural and land-use practices that resonate in vegetation communities to this day. This project reconstructed the fire history of a network of sites across the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) of northern Minnesota and supplemented these data with absolutely dated scars on 243 culturally-modified trees across the same area to assess the potential impacts of Ojibwe land use on the historical fire regimes and modern vegetation patterns of the study area. This research will update and increase the spatial and temporal resolution of the ground-breaking fire history research conducted in the BWCAW by Miron ‘Bud’ Heinselman in the 1960s and 1970s. The results of this work will advance the debate over the extent and magnitude of human influences on landscapes that are often considered pristine or natural, address the important question of the meaning and usefulness of the concept of an ecological baseline in the management of North American forest systems, and advance innovative thinking around the concept of wilderness in order to help transform the ecological basis and implications of wilderness management as defined under the 1964 Wilderness Act.

    Funding sources: National Science Foundation Geography and Spatial Sciences and Archaeology programs through awards #1560919 and #1359868

    Press

    • Keep your Eyes Peeled: A Guide to Identifying BarkPeeled Pine in the Border Lakes Region of Minnesota and Ontario, pdf

    Publications

    • Johnson, L.B., Johnson, L.R., Larson, E.R., and Kipfmueller, K.F. In press. Culturally-modified red pine, birch-bark canoes, and the fur trade on Lake Saganaga, Minnesota, USA. Historical Archaeology Journal.
    • Larson, E. R. 2017. Seeking wilderness: Tree rings, history, and the meaning of wilderness in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. Minnesota Conservation Volunteer 80: 22–30. pdf
    • Kipfmueller, K.F., Elliott, G.P., Larson, E.R., and Salzer, M.W. 2010. An assessment of the dendroclimatic characteristics of three conifer species in northern Minnesota. Tree-Ring Research 66: 113–126.

    Presentations

    • Evan R. Larson. 2017. People, fire, and pines: Reconsidering wilderness in the Border Lakes Region of Minnesota and Ontario. Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences Lecture Series, Indiana State University, May 5, Terre Haute, Indiana
    • Evan R. Larson. 2017. Drought, water, people, and fire: Environmental history of the Great Lakes Region through the rings of trees. Department of Geoscience Colloquium Series, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, April 13, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
    • Evan R. Larson. 2017. People, fire, and pines: Reconsidering wilderness in the Border Lakes Region of Minnesota and Ontario. Archaeology Brown Bag Lecture, University of Wisconsin-Madison, February 3, Madison, Wisconsin.
    • Evan R. Larson. 2016. People, fire and nature: The idea of wilderness and creation of place. Ox-Bow School of Art Visiting Faculty Seminar Series, July 29, Saugatuck, Michigan.
    • Evan R. Larson. 2016. Water, people, and the land: An environmental narrative of northern Minnesota. Crooked Lake Association Healthy Lakes Meeting, May 7, Deerwood, Minnesota.
    • Evan R. Larson. 2016. History of the land through tree rings. Bois Forte Heritage Center, April 21, Bois Forte Reservation, Minnesota.
    • Evan R. Larson, Kurt F. Kipfmueller, and Lane Johnson. 2016. Fire history, climate, and Ojibwe land use over the past 400 years in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness of Northern Minnesota. Lake States Fire Science Consortium Webinar Series, March 17.
      Webinar available: http://carmenconnect.osu.edu/p7uih249iog/
    • Evan R. Larson, Lane Johnson, and Kurt F. Kipfmueller. 2017. People, fire and pine in the Great Lakes Region. Annual meeting of the American Association of Geographers, April 4–9, Boston, Massachusetts.
    • Kalina Hildebrandt*, Evan R. Larson, and Thomas Wilding. 2017. The many faces of peels: Defining a normalized language for describing culturally-modified trees in the Great Lakes Region. Annual meeting of the American Association of Geographers, April 4–9, Boston, Massachusetts.
    • Kurt F. Kipfmueller, Evan R. Larson, and Lane Johnson. 2017. Fire, climate, and people in the Border Lakes Region of northern Minnesota: A new perspective. Annual meeting of the American Association of Geographers, April 4–9, Boston, Massachusetts.
    • Thomas Wilding, Evan R. Larson, Kalina Hildebrandt*, Lane Johnson, and Kurt F. Kipfmueller. 2017. A new network of crossdated culturally-modified trees in the Border Lakes Region of Minnesota. Annual meeting of the American Association of Geographers, April 4–9, Boston, Massachusetts.
    • Mara P. Larson and Evan R. Larson. 2017. The Fur Trade at Fish Stake Narrows. Westview Elementary Science Fair. February 9, Platteville, Wisconsin.
    • Evan R. Larson. 2016. People, fire, and the concept of wilderness. University of Wisconsin-Platteville Biology Brown Bag seminar, November 15, Platteville, Wisconsin.
    • Kurt F. Kipfmueller, Evan R. Larson, Lane Johnson, Ben Mathys, Elizabeth Schneider, and Scott Weyenberg. 2016. Revisiting fire history in the Border Lakes Region: An overview of fire history, climate, and Ojibwe land use over the last 400 years. The Heart of the Continent Partnership 1st Science Symposium, March 10–11, International Falls, Minnesota.
    • Evan R. Larson, Lane Johnson, and Kurt Kipfmueller. Identifying and preserving Heritage Forest Stands through tree-ring records: Culturally-modified trees in the BWCA Wilderness. University of Minnesota Sustainable Forests Education Cooperative Forest and Wildlife Research Review, January 12, Cloquet Forestry Center, Minnesota.
    • Elizabeth A. Schneider, Kurt F. Kipfmueller, Evan R. Larson, E.R., Lane B. Johnson, and Ben J. Matthys. 2016. Developing a more complete understanding of fire, people, and landscape interactions in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. American Association of Geographers Conference. March 29–April 2, San Francisco, California.
    • Evan R. Larson, Lane B. Johnson, Ben Matthys, Kurt Kipfmueller, and Elizabeth Schneider. 2015. Fire and people in the forests of the Boundary Waters. Superior National Forest Research Slam!, November 10, Duluth, Minnesota.
    • Ben Matthys, Evan R. Larson, Kurt F. Kipfmueller, and Lane B. Johnson. 2015. Spatial patterns in fire interval frequencies in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and their relationship to historical landuse. Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers, April 20–25, Chicago, Illinois.
    • Elizabeth E. Tanner*, Nicholas Harnish*, Lane B. Johnson, Kurt F. Kipfmueller, Evan R. Larson, Ben Matthys. 2015. Fire history, composition, and age structure of two red pine stands along the Border Route of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers, April 20–25, Chicago, Illinois.
    • Lane B. Johnson, Lee R. Johnson, Kurt F. Kipfmueller, and Evan R. Larson. 2015. Bark-peeled pine, fire and the fur trade: New tree-ring records from Lake Saganaga in Minnesota's Boundary Waters Wilderness. Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers, April 20–25, Chicago, Illinois.
  • In 1964 the United States Wilderness Act defined wilderness as “an area where the earth and community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.” This definition has guided management decisions pertaining to some of the most spectacular landscapes in North America yet is based on an incomplete and potentially problematic ignorance of the long-term legacies of past cultural and land-use practices that resonate in vegetation communities to this day. This project will reconstruct the fire history of a network of sites across the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) of northern Minnesota to assess the potential impacts of Ojibwe land use on the historical fire regimes and modern vegetation patterns of the study area. This research will update and increase the spatial and temporal resolution of the ground-breaking fire history research conducted in the BWCAW by Miron ‘Bud’ Heinselman in the 1960s and 1970s. The results of this work will advance the debate over the extent and magnitude of human influences on landscapes that are often considered pristine or natural, address the important question of the meaning and usefulness of the concept of an ecological baseline in the management of North American forest systems, and advance innovative thinking around the concept of wilderness in order to help transform the ecological basis and implications of wilderness management as defined under the 1964 Wilderness Act. The structure of this research will merge research, education, and mentoring activities through a fully-integrated approach to enhance undergraduate learning and prepare graduate students for future academic careers. The team of investigators and collaborations built through this project will enhance the research infrastructure at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, a Title III institution and Emerging Research Institution while providing critical information to managers that will aid in long-term planning and management of the BWCAW.

    The use of fire by Native American groups to manipulate their surroundings may have augmented fire frequencies in many areas that are now considered pristine, or natural. If Native Americans historically augmented fire frequencies beyond that which would occur from lightning ignitions alone, then vegetation patterns in areas that are now managed as wilderness or natural areas may be partly a legacy of human activity. The lack of human influence dictated by wilderness designation may ultimately result in the loss of some of the forest communities that first led to the preservation of these unique areas. Understanding the relative impact of Native American fire use is critically important as management agencies shift to active management strategies designed to mitigate external pressures such as invasive species and climate change. The investigators conducting this project will cooperate with USDA Forest Service archaeologists to identify 30 island sites that are dominated by red pine and within water bodies with known Ojibwe settlements, encampments, or that were along major travel routes and 30 red pine-dominated island sites in water bodies with little or no evidence of frequent use and employ dendroecological techniques to reconstruct the fire history of each site. A suite of univariate and multivariate techniques will be used to characterize and compare the two categories of sites in terms of fire regimes (fire frequency, fire synchrony, and fire-climate relationships) and vegetation patterns (forest age structure, composition, and canopy structure). Any observed differences will be examined in the context of landscape characteristics such as topography, slope, aspect, ignition potential and isolation. Systematic differences in the fire history and vegetation patterns of the groups will provide quantitative evidence of the legacies of Ojibwe land use in a modern wilderness, with direct implications for defining the concept and management of wilderness.

  • The Driftless Oaks project supported 46 undergraduate students and engaged over 250 private landholders in a 2-year research effort that collected tree-ring samples from over 400 oak trees across southwest Wisconsin. The project resulted in a new 300-year record of drought for the region.

    Funding source: University of Wisconsin Water Resources Institute and National Institute of Water Resources; UW-Platteville PACCE

    Press

    Publications

    • Allen, S. and Larson, E.R. 2014. The Driftless Oaks: An environmental history of southwest Wisconsin. Wisconsin Natural Resources 38: 6–7.

    Presentations

    • Evan R. Larson. 2017. Drought, water, people, and fire: Environmental history of the Great Lakes Region through the rings of trees. Department of Geoscience Colloquium Series, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, April 13, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
    • Evan R. Larson. 2017. Drought in the Driftless. University of Wisconsin-Platteville Biology Brown Bag seminar, April 18, Platteville, Wisconsin.
    • Evan R. Larson and Sara Allen. 2015. The Driftless Oaks Project: A reception for landowners. University of Wisconsin-Platteville Tree-Ring, Earth, and Environmental Sciences Laboratory, May 5, 2015, Platteville, Wisconsin.
    • Jaime A. Teutschmann*, Sara Allen, and Evan R. Larson. 2015. Ring anomalies in the Driftless Oaks: A proxy for extraordinary events? Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers, April 20–25, Chicago, Illinois.
    • Sara Allen and Evan R. Larson. 2015. The Good Oak: Establishing the long-term range of variability in drought conditions for southwest Wisconsin using oak tree chronologies. Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers, April 20–25, Chicago, Illinois.
    • Evan R. Larson. 2015. The Good Oak: Stories of Midwestern drought and hydrologic change through tree rings. Department of Geography Colloquium, Northern Illinois University, March 6, DeKalb, Illinois.
    • Sara Allen and Evan R. Larson. 2014. Establishing the long-term range of variability in drought conditions for southwest Wisconsin using oak tree chronologies. Connections in Nature Student Research Symposium, Riveredge Nature Center, November 8, Saukville, Wisconsin.
    • Sara Allen and Evan R. Larson. 2014. Establishing the long-term range of variability in drought conditions for southwest Wisconsin. Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers, April 8–12, Tampa, Florida.
    • Sara Allen and Evan R. Larson. 2013. Establishing the long-term range of variability in drought conditions for southwest Wisconsin using oak tree-ring chronologies. Connections in Nature Student Research Symposium, November 9, Riveredge Nature Center, Saukville, Wisconsin.
  • The Driftless Cedar Project is building on the highly successful Driftless Oaks project to develop a multi-species reconstruction of groundwater resources for central and southwestern Wisconsin that may extend over the past 500 years ore more.

    Press

  • Students in the TREES Lab have developed tree-ring collections at multiple sites in Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, and Maine to update existing chronologies developed at these sites in the 1970s and 1980s. The updated chronologies are being used to develop more robust climate reconstructions.

    Funding source: Wisconsin Alliance for Minority Partipication (WiscAMP), UW-Platteville Scholarly Activity Improvement Fund

    Publications (* indicates undergraduate student)

    • Larson, E.R., Allen, S.*, Flinner, N.L.*, LaBarge, S.G.*, and Wilding, T.C.* 2013. The need and means to update chronologies in a dynamic environment. Tree-Ring Research 69: 21–27.

    Presentations (* indicates undergraduate student)

    • Cassie Jorgenson*, Jaime Teutschmann*, Gabriel Brownell*, Steven LaBarge*, Sara Allen, J. Elmo Rawling 3rd, and Evan R. Larson. 2014. Undergraduate research in the Tree-Ring, Earth, and Environmental Sciences Laboratory (TREES Lab) at UW-Platteville. Posters in the Rotunda, March 12, Madison, Wisconsin.
    • Gabriel Brownell*, Brennan Waupoose*, Giselle Varrientos*, McKaylee Duquain*, and Evan R. Larson. 2013. Updating the Presque Isle River hemlock chronology, Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. Second American Dendrochronology Conference, May 13–17, Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, University of Arizona, Tucson.
    • Ben Gultch*, Thomas Wilding, and Evan R Larson. 2013. Updating the eastern white pine chronology from Devil’s Lake State Park, Wisconsin. Second American Dendrochronology Conference, May 13–17, Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, University of Arizona, Tucson.
    • Gabriel Brownell*, McKaylee Duquain*, Giselle Varrientos*, Brennan Waupoose*, Sara Allen*, Thomas Wilding, and Evan R. Larson. 2012. Updating the Presque River Isle Hemlock Chronology, Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. WiscAMP Annual Meeting, October 19, Madison, Wisconsin.
    • Sara A. Allen*, Thomas C. Wilding*, Nicholas L. Flinner*, Colleen C. Smith*, James A. Markham*, Steven G. LaBarge*, and Evan R. Larson. 2011. On the trail of ancient trees: Dendrochronology in the North Maine Woods. Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting, April 12–16, Seattle, Washington.
  • Dr. Larson returned to his alma-mater to assist his undergraduate advisor and her students on a project reconstructing the environmental history of the Zena Forest property that had recently been acquired by Willamette University.

    Funding source: Willamette University Department of Environmental and Earth Sciences

    Publications (* indicates undergraduate student)

    • Copes-Gerbitz, K.*, Arabas, K.B., Larson, E.R., and Gildehaus, S.* 2017. Informing conservation through a multi-proxy land-use history reconstruction of Willamette University at Zena Forest, Willamette Valley, Oregon. Northwest Science 91: 160–185.
    • Gildehaus, S.*, Copes-Gerbitz, K.*, Arabas, K.B., and Larson, E.R. 2015. The dendroclimatological potential of Willamette Valley Quercus garryana and insights on the uncertainty of past Pacific Decadal Oscillation variability. Tree-Ring Research 71: 13–23.

    Presentations (* indicates undergraduate student)

    • Kelsey Copes-Gerbitz*, Karen B. Arabas, Stevie Gildehaus*, and Evan R. Larson. 2013. Multi-proxy land use history reconstruction of Zena Forest, Oregon. Second American Dendrochronology Conference, May 13–17, Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, University of Arizona, Tucson.
    • Stevie Gildehaus*, Kelsey Copes-Gerbitz*, Karen B. Arabas, Evan R. Larson. 2013. The dendroclimatological potential of Willamette Valley Quercus garryana. Second American Dendrochronology Conference, May 13–17, Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, University of Arizona, Tucson.