Date of Award

Summer 2022

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Biological, Environmental, and Earth Sciences

Committee Chair

Dr. Thomas Patterson

Committee Chair School

Biological, Environmental, and Earth Sciences

Committee Member 2

Dr. Franklin Heitmuller

Committee Member 2 School

Biological, Environmental, and Earth Sciences

Committee Member 3

Dr. Clay Tucker


My thesis examines the ecological impact of tropical cyclone (TCs) storm surge on coastal slash pine (Pinus elliottii var. elliottii Engelm) communities along the Gulf of Mexico in the southern United States (U.S.). Previous research has shown slash pine radial growth trends can be examined to identify long and short-term growth changes associated with TC passage, providing insight into overall stand health and resiliency through time. However, this previous research encompasses just one site in Mississippi. My thesis expands the spatial footprint of TC-surge impact on slash pine radial growth with the addition of three new sites.

I examined seasonally resolved tree-ring data from two sites in Alabama and one in Florida and discovered differences in geography and seasonality to suppressions and recovery. The Weeks Bay, Fairhope, Alabama site was the most responsive to storm-surge suppressions, and this was perhaps due to lack of dune protection and proximity to a concave coastline. Latewood growth recorded the highest percentage of suppressions associated with storm surge and was generally the quickest growth metric to recover to normal growing conditions. TCs are predicted to become larger and more powerful in the 21st century, and it will be necessary to consider the negative impacts that these storms can have on coastal pine savannas while constructing plans to protect and preserve these unique environments.