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The changing role of fire in conifer-dominated temperate rainforest through the last 14,000 years

Fletcher, M-S, Bowman, DMJS ORCID: 0000-0003-2215-7685, Whitlock, C, Mariani, M and Stahle, L 2018 , 'The changing role of fire in conifer-dominated temperate rainforest through the last 14,000 years' , Quaternary Science Reviews, vol. 182 , pp. 37-47 , doi: 10.1016/j.quascirev.2017.12.023.

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Abstract

Climate, fire and vegetation dynamics are often tightly coupled through time. Here, we use a 14 kyr sedimentary charcoal and pollen record from Lake Osborne, Tasmania, Australia, to explore how this relationship changes under varying climatic regimes within a temperate rainforest ecosystem. Superposed epoch analysis reveals a significant relationship between fire and vegetation change throughout the Holocene at our site. Our data indicates an initial resilience of the rainforest system to fire under a stable cool and humid climate regime between ca. 12-6 ka. In contrast, fires that occurred after 6 ka, under an increasingly variable climate regime wrought by the onset of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), resulted in a series of changes within the local rainforest vegetation that culminated in the replacement of rainforest by fire-promoted Eucalypt forest. We suggest that an increasingly variable ENSO-influenced climate regime inhibited rainforest recovery from fire because of slower growth, reduced fecundity and increased fire frequency, thus contributing to the eventual collapse of the rainforest system.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Fletcher, M-S and Bowman, DMJS and Whitlock, C and Mariani, M and Stahle, L
Keywords: pollen, charcoal, rainforest, Tasmania, El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), superposed epoch analysis (SEA)
Journal or Publication Title: Quaternary Science Reviews
Publisher: Pergamon-Elsevier Science Ltd
ISSN: 0277-3791
DOI / ID Number: 10.1016/j.quascirev.2017.12.023
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2017 Elsevier Ltd.

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