As I work on the collection, I continually ponder the future research direction of the Xylarium. As I think of different issues, such as "How should I outfit the Xylarium lab for specific lines of research?" it is necessary to research the state of each area of research and the technology being used for each.
Which brought me to an excellent video posted by the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow, and Landscape Research Wood Science Laboratory. They demonstrate the latest in microscopic imaging that they use to perform quantitative analysis of anatomical features of wood samples; that is, they want to be able to perform statistical tests of hypotheses, specifically on climate change, and they need to have precise data on the size of tree cells and growth rings from year to year for the periods they are studying.
This is an introduction to how they do it.
G von Arx, A Stritih, K Čufar, A Crivellaro, M Carrer. 2015. Quantitative Wood Anatomy: From Sample to Data for Environmental Research. DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.1.3323.0169
Most of my thoughts around the use of the Xylarium collection have centered around qualitiative techniques, using macrophotography instead of the microphotography and imaging demonstrated in this video. However, depending on what research partners the Xylarium attracts, we may eventually go in this direction.
Time will tell.
How It All Began
“As well as a flourishing library, the school by 1909 had a wood collection containing specimens of nearly all of Pennsylvania’s native trees and large shrubs. For each species, cross sections and radial and tangential sections had been prepared to show the gross appearance of the wood. The next step was the preservation of samples in alcohol and glycerin so that sections suitable for microscopic examination could be cut. These latter sections were to be especially useful in the study of timber physics (wood technology)." E.H. Thomas, “A History of the Pennsylvania State Forestry School, 1903 – 1929.” p. 67