Department

Department of Botany

First Advisor

Dr. Tom Minckley

Description

Pollen and macroscopic charcoal found within lake sediments provide an opportunity to explore vegetation and fire history on time scales beyond what is available from historical or dendrological sources. This temporal breadth can offer great insight into the interactions between climate, vegetation, and fire. Using this approach, we examined the fire and vegetation history of the limber pine forests in the Pine Forest Range, NV. This record spans the past 4,000 years and shows vegetation consisting predominantly of open pine forests and sagebrush, with a slight increase in relative pine abundance near 3,000 cal yr BP. Fire frequency is lowest from 4,000 cal yr BP to ~3,500 cal yr BP with 2-3 fires/ 500 yrs. At ~ 3,500 cal yr BP fire frequency increases with some variability to 4 fires/ 500 yrs. This persists until 1000 cal yr BP when fire frequency rapidly increases to upwards of 5 fires/ 500 years. Our results suggests that vegetation changes may have lagged the initial increase in fire activity, but that later opening of the forest may have been maintained by increasing fire activity.

Comments

Oral Presentation, WSGC

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Fire and Vegetation history of the Pine Forest Range, NV over the past 4,000 years

Pollen and macroscopic charcoal found within lake sediments provide an opportunity to explore vegetation and fire history on time scales beyond what is available from historical or dendrological sources. This temporal breadth can offer great insight into the interactions between climate, vegetation, and fire. Using this approach, we examined the fire and vegetation history of the limber pine forests in the Pine Forest Range, NV. This record spans the past 4,000 years and shows vegetation consisting predominantly of open pine forests and sagebrush, with a slight increase in relative pine abundance near 3,000 cal yr BP. Fire frequency is lowest from 4,000 cal yr BP to ~3,500 cal yr BP with 2-3 fires/ 500 yrs. At ~ 3,500 cal yr BP fire frequency increases with some variability to 4 fires/ 500 yrs. This persists until 1000 cal yr BP when fire frequency rapidly increases to upwards of 5 fires/ 500 years. Our results suggests that vegetation changes may have lagged the initial increase in fire activity, but that later opening of the forest may have been maintained by increasing fire activity.