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Wood-anatomical responses to an environmental gradient were studied in trees of northwestern and southeastern Nebraska and northwestern Arkansas to determine between- and within-site variation and differential sensitivity of diverse anatomical patterns. These data were then used as a tool to try to reconstruct paleo-environments, using wood-fossil assemblages from the Crookston Bridge Member of the Valentine Formation. No significant within-site variation was found in living trees, but great differences in environmental sensitivity were detected among the anatomical types. Responses displayed by the fossils do not match those of my modern study areas.