Fire history and human activities during the last 3300cal yr BP in Spain's Central Pyrenees: The case of the Estany de Burg

Marie Claude Bal, Albert Pelachs, Ramon Perez-Obiol, Ramon Julia, Raquel Cunill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

58 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The study of macroscopic charcoal particles from peat bogs has led to a better understanding of climate, vegetation and fire history, and human impacts. To determine the relationship between human activities and the role of fire events in vegetation change during the last 3300. cal yr BP, we present the results of a multi-proxy approach based on the analysis of sediment characteristics, sedimentary charcoal, organic matter and pollen, as well as historical sources. This multi-proxy research permits high resolution palaeoenvironmental and fire history reconstruction of a mountain area located in the southern central Pyrenees (Spain). In the Pyrenees, fire is typically attributed to human activities since the beginning of the Bronze Age and may be correlated with slash-and-burn cultivation, metallurgy and pasturing activities. The data indicate a good linkage between high fire signals and Poaceae and Cerealia pollen, which reveals the impact of agro-pastoral practices. This study also shows two periods, 2900-2650. cal yr BP and 1850-1550. cal yr BP, for which higher frequencies of fire occurred, suggested by high arboreal pollen (AP) concentrations, and confirming the need for arboreal biomass to sustain fires. From the beginning of the Middle Ages, it seems that a change occurred in the anthropogenic use of fire, from a tool for agro-pastoral forest clearance to a means of maintaining open spaces. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)179-190
JournalPalaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology
Volume300
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2011

Keywords

  • Fire
  • Historical sources
  • Human activities
  • Organic matter
  • Pollen analysis
  • Sedimentary charcoal

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