Presence of lakes and wetlands decreases resilience of jack pine ecosystems to late-holocene climatic changes

Elizabeth A. Lynch, Randy Calcote, Sara C. Hotchkiss, Michael Tweiten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations

Abstract

We reconstructed vegetation and fire histories from four sites located on a sandy outwash plain in northwestern Wisconsin (USA) to test whether lakes and wetlands have influenced how vegetation and fire regimes in pine–oak forests responded to late-Holocene climatic changes. Because of positive feedbacks between jack pine (Pinus banksiana Lamb.) and fire, communities with few fire breaks should be more resilient to changing climatic conditions. Pollen and charcoal from lakesediment cores were used to reconstruct vegetation changes at 50- to 100-year intervals and forest fire history at decadal time scales for the past 2500 years. The presence of fire breaks affected both fire regimes and the response of vegetation to climatic changes. Areas with more fire breaks had smaller charcoal peaks and the vegetation was more responsive to climate changes. The vegetation in areas with few fire breaks was more resilient, maintaining higher amounts of jack pine and (or) red pine than the more protected sites. We interpret these findings as evidence that positive feedbacks between fire and jack pine forests stabilized vegetation at sites where fire breaks were absent, and that such sites may be relatively resilient to future climate changes, until jack pine is no longer able to regenerate under the regional climatic conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1331-1343
Number of pages13
JournalCanadian Journal of Forest Research
Volume44
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 13 2014

Keywords

  • Climate change
  • Feedbacks
  • Fire
  • Fire breaks
  • Fire history
  • Jack pine
  • Paleoecology
  • Pinus banksiana
  • Resilience
  • Vegetation stability

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