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First Spatial Reconstruction of Past Fires in Temperate Europe Suggests Large Variability of Fire Sizes and an Important Role of Human-Related Ignitions

Zin, Ewa and Kuberski, Lukasz and Drobyshev, Igor and Niklasson, Mats (2022). First Spatial Reconstruction of Past Fires in Temperate Europe Suggests Large Variability of Fire Sizes and an Important Role of Human-Related Ignitions. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution. 10 , 768464
[Research article]

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Abstract

The spatial component of past forest fires in temperate Europe has been little studied, despite the value of such data in quantifying human and natural factors driving fire activity and associated forest dynamics. Changes in fire regimes reported across a range of ecosystems call for a better understanding of variability in historic fires and may help define reference points that can be relied upon when discussing climate change effects. We provide the first dendrochronological reconstruction of historical fire sizes in Central Europe and analyze the minimum extent of fires during the last four centuries in a 9.2 km(2) (920 ha) conifer-dominated section of Bialowieza Forest, one of the largest continuous lowland forests of the subcontinent. We recorded 82 fires between 1666 and 1946, using 275 sample trees, while 92% of fires (76 out of 82) spread beyond the studied area. Fires varied considerably in size, from events recorded at only one site (1-200 ha) to fires recorded in more than half of the studied area, thus exceeding 500 ha in size. The fire cycle was 11 years over the whole study period, with three distinct periods revealed by the regime shift analysis. In the years 1670-1750, the fire cycle averaged 12 years. It shortened to 7 years between 1755-1840 and increased to 22 years over the 1845-1955 period. In comparison with present day data, the reconstructed fire density of 3.2 fires per 100 km(2) (10 000 ha) and year exceeded lightning ignition density by one to two orders of magnitude, suggesting a significant contribution of human-related ignitions. Our results highlight the important role of fire disturbance in Bialowieza Forest and provide critical baseline information to design biological conservation strategies for European forests.

Authors/Creators:Zin, Ewa and Kuberski, Lukasz and Drobyshev, Igor and Niklasson, Mats
Title:First Spatial Reconstruction of Past Fires in Temperate Europe Suggests Large Variability of Fire Sizes and an Important Role of Human-Related Ignitions
Series Name/Journal:Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution
Year of publishing :2022
Volume:10
Article number:768464
Number of Pages:14
Publisher:FRONTIERS MEDIA SA
ISSN:2296-701X
Language:English
Publication Type:Research article
Article category:Scientific peer reviewed
Version:Published version
Copyright:Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0
Full Text Status:Public
Subjects:(A) Swedish standard research categories 2011 > 1 Natural sciences > 106 Biological Sciences (Medical to be 3 and Agricultural to be 4) > Ecology
Keywords:dendrochronological reconstruction, disturbance regime, fire history, land use history, lowland forests, Pinus sylvestris
URN:NBN:urn:nbn:se:slu:epsilon-p-116752
Permanent URL:
http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:slu:epsilon-p-116752
Additional ID:
Type of IDID
DOI10.3389/fevo.2022.768464
Web of Science (WoS)000775349500001
ID Code:27613
Faculty:S - Faculty of Forest Sciences
Department:(S) > Southern Swedish Forest Research Centre
Deposited By: SLUpub Connector
Deposited On:25 Apr 2022 16:25
Metadata Last Modified:25 Apr 2022 16:31

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