Dendrochronological methods have been in use for more than 100 years, providing us a record of climate, human activities (archaeology), floods, fire, mudslides and other geological and biological events. More recently, dendrochemisty has been used to assess the time frames of the onset and existence of environmental contamination. This article assesses the scientific status of dendrochronology and dendrochemistry with respect to the admissibility of expert testimony and Daubert legal criteria. The purpose of this article is to identify the crucial scientific aspects of dendrochronology and dendrochemistry that address the Daubert criteria and Rule 702 as amended in 2000. To clarify terminology, dendrochronology is the precise and reliable assignment of the year of formation of tree rings. Dendroecology is the use of dendrochronology to understand ecological and environmental processes (Schweingruber, 1996). Dendrochemistry is a subdiscipline of dendrochronology that analyzes and interprets the wood chemistry of precisely dated tree rings. Forensic dendrochemistry applies dendrochemistry to resolve environmental disputes and generally deal with questions regarding the timing and/or the source of environmental incidents. One significant application of forensic dendrochemistry to expert testimony is to address issues of anthropogenic contamination. Forensic dendroecology is a similar term to forensic dendrochemistry, but forensic dendrochemistry will be used in this discussion as the latter term emphasizes the use of chemical detection methods. Because dendrochemistry is based on the foundation of dendrochronology, both the former specialty and the latter broader discipline will be discussed. ?? Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.
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Use of dendrochronology and dendrochemistry in environmental forensics: Does it meet the Daubert criteria?