Dendrochronological Potential of Bermuda Cedar
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The Bermuda cedar, Juniperus bermudiana, is an endangered species endemic to the Bermuda Islands. Likely speciating from a common ancestor of mainland and Caribbean junipers, the Bermuda cedar thrives in the limestone soil and breaks the salty Atlantic wind for less hardy flora. From the time of its establishment on the isolated archipelago until the 15th century, no mammals treaded beneath the Bermuda cedar canopy. The first human use for Bermuda cedar was to repair ships that had wrecked on the treacherous reefs igniting a craze for the valuable lumber. After multiple waves of deforestation and large shifts in land use, conservation of the Bermuda cedar was always an issue and eventually was prioritized by the late 20th century. By 1950 between 90-95% of Bermuda cedars, already competing with multitudes of introduced species, were defoliated and killed by an outbreak of invasive scale leaf insects that were accidentally introduced. Roughly 1% of Bermuda cedars that lived in the 1930’s are still growing today. As a culturally important forestry product since the 17th century an accurate chronology is vital to tell the story of Churches, historic structures and to reconstruct weather and climate that has impacted the Bermuda Islands over the last centuries. To date there has been no successful attempt to create a chronology from this species for historical timber dating or climate reconstruction. Construction of a regional chronology for the island of Bermuda was attempted with 110 cores, 1 partial section, and 1 full section. Using computer assisted cross-dating with independent radiocarbon testing, a statistically robust regional chronology was not successfully created with the samples provided. While a faint common signal was detected amongst Bermuda cedar across the territory, more compiled cross sections and geochemical analysis are required to produce a statistically robust regional chronology.