Nicholls Bayou Studies receives rare tree samples for study


THIBODAUX, La. — The Nicholls Center for Bayou Studies is studying recently discovered samples of cypress trees found near campus that could date back thousands of years.

The Center was invited to two separate cypress forest sites by two community leaders, Jake Giardina and Tommy Rouse. Rouse is clearing a former sugar cane plot for development near Bayou Lafourche adjacent to the Nicholls campus and within a pond he unearthed a cypress forest.

During an excavation closer to the country club, Giardina uncovered cypress trees with root material as deep as 25 feet below the present ground level.

Nicholls Center for Bayou Studies Director Dr. Gary LaFleur said the tree samples give the program a unique opportunity for research.

“This project is not just about aging some old trees, as much more significant is the trees’ relation to the geologic layer at which they were found. That is connected to our understanding the hydrology of the delta lobes (section of land) as they moved over the last 7,000 years, and that is also connected to the sociology of what peoples lived here while these trees lived here,” Dr. LaFleur said. “The Center for Bayou Studies seeks to bring together complex stories such as this, and lead scholarly research that can benefit Nicholls and others.”

Participating in the project were LaFleur, Anthony Giardina, College of Arts and Sciences Dean Dr. John Doucet, biology department head Dr. Quenton Fontenot and undergraduate biology students Jesse Dubose and Ciara Hebert.

LaFleur also reached out to LSU and Clay Tucker, who was recently part of a research group involved in studying an ancient cypress forest off the coast of Alabama. Tucker traveled to Thibodaux to receive samples that could help the team in their analysis of other ancient cypress sites.


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