Fire history reconstruction in grassland ecosystems: amount of charcoal reflects local area burned

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dc.contributor.author Leys, Bérangère
dc.contributor.author Brewer, Simon C.
dc.contributor.author McConaghy, Scott
dc.contributor.author Mueller, Joshua
dc.contributor.author McLauchlan, Kendra K.
dc.date.accessioned 2018-12-03T20:52:23Z
dc.date.available 2018-12-03T20:52:23Z
dc.date.issued 2015-11-04
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/2097/39357
dc.description Citation: Leys, B., Brewer, S. C., McConaghy, S., Mueller, J., & McLauchlan, K. K. (2015). Fire history reconstruction in grassland ecosystems: amount of charcoal reflects local area burned. Environmental Research Letters, 10(11), 114009. https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/10/11/114009
dc.description.abstract Fire is one of the most prevalent disturbances in the Earth system, and its past characteristics can be reconstructed using charcoal particles preserved in depositional environments. Although researchers know that fires produce charcoal particles, interpretation of the quantity or composition of charcoal particles in terms of fire source remains poorly understood. In this study, we used a unique four-year dataset of charcoal deposited in traps from a native tallgrass prairie in mid-North America to test which environmental factors were linked to charcoal measurements on three spatial scales. We investigated small and large charcoal particles commonly used as a proxy of fire activity at different spatial scales, and charcoal morphotypes representing different types of fuel. We found that small (125–250 μ m) and large (250 μ m–1 mm) particles of charcoal are well-correlated (Spearman correlation = 0.88) and likely reflect the same spatial scale of fire activity in a system with both herbaceous and woody fuels. There was no significant relationship between charcoal pieces and fire parameters <500 m from the traps. Moreover, local area burned (<5 km distance radius from traps) explained the total charcoal amount, and regional burning (200 km radius distance from traps) explained the ratio of non arboreal to total charcoal (NA/ T ratio). Charcoal variables, including total charcoal count and NA/ T ratio, did not correlate with other fire parameters, vegetation cover, landscape, or climate variables. Thus, in long-term studies that involve fire history reconstructions, total charcoal particles, even of a small size (125–250 μ m), could be an indicator of local area burned. Further studies may determine relationships among amount of charcoal recorded, fire intensity, vegetation cover, and climatic parameters.
dc.relation.uri http://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/10/11/114009
dc.rights Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0)
dc.rights.uri https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/deed.en_US
dc.title Fire history reconstruction in grassland ecosystems: amount of charcoal reflects local area burned
dc.type Text
dc.date.published 2015
dc.citation.doi 10.1088/1748-9326/10/11/114009
dc.citation.issn 1748-9326
dc.citation.issue 11
dc.citation.jtitle Environmental Research Letters
dc.citation.volume 10
dc.citation Leys, B., Brewer, S. C., McConaghy, S., Mueller, J., & McLauchlan, K. K. (2015). Fire history reconstruction in grassland ecosystems: amount of charcoal reflects local area burned. Environmental Research Letters, 10(11), 114009. https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/10/11/114009
dc.description.version Article:Version of Record (VOR)


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