Fire history in Andean Araucaria-Nothofagus forests: Coupled influences of past human land-use and climate on fire regimes in north-west Patagonia

Mauro E. González, ARIEL ANDRES MUÑOZ NAVARRO, Álvaro González-Reyes, Duncan A. Christie, Jason Sibold

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Historical fire regimes are critical for understanding the potential effects of changing climate and human land-use on forest landscapes. Fire is a major disturbance process affecting the Andean Araucaria forest landscape in north-west Patagonia. The main goals of this study were to reconstruct the fire history of the Andean Araucaria-Nothofagus forests and to evaluate the coupled influences of climate and humans on fire regimes. Reconstructions of past fires indicated that the Araucaria forest landscape has been shaped by widespread, stand-replacing fires favoured by regional interannual climate variability related to major tropical and extratropical climate drivers in the southern hemisphere. Summer precipitation and streamflow reconstructions tended to be below average during fire years. Fire events were significantly related to positive phases of the Southern Annular Mode and to warm and dry summers following El Niño events. Although Euro-Chilean settlement (1883-1960) resulted in widespread burning, cattle ranching by Pehuenche Native Americans during the 18th and 19th centuries also appears to have changed the fire regime. In the context of climate change, two recent widespread wildfires (2002 and 2015) affecting Araucaria forests appear to be novel and an early indication of a climate change driven shift in fire regimes in north-west Patagonia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)649-660
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Wildland Fire
Volume29
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2020
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • climate variability
  • dendroecology
  • El Niño Southern Oscillation
  • Native Americans
  • Southern Annular Mode
  • tree-rings

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