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The Iberian Peninsula’s Burning Heart—Long-Term Fire History in the Toledo Mountains (Central Spain)

1
Instituto de Historia, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, C/Albasanz 26-28, 28037 Madrid, Spain
2
Departamento de Geografía, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, C/ Francisco Tomás y Valiente 1, 28049 Madrid, Spain
3
Département de Géographie, Université de Montréal, Pavillon 520, Chemin Côte Sainte-Catherine, C. P. 6128, Succursale Centre-ville, Montréal, QC H3C 3J7, Canada
4
Departamento de Geografía, Urbanismo y Ordenación del Territorio, Universidad de Cantabria, Avenida Los Castros 44, 39005 Santander, Spain
5
Institute of Plant Sciences and Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research, University of Bern, Altenbergrain 21, 3013 Bern, Switzerland
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 17 June 2019 / Revised: 3 October 2019 / Accepted: 12 October 2019 / Published: 16 October 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Land-Use and Fire around the World from the Past to the Present)
Long-term fire ecology can help to better understand the major role played by fire in driving vegetation composition and structure over decadal to millennial timescales, along with climate change and human agency, especially in fire-prone areas such as the Mediterranean basin. Investigating past ecosystem dynamics in response to changing fire activity, climate, and land use, and how these landscape drivers interact in the long-term is needed for efficient nature management, protection, and restoration. The Toledo Mountains of central Spain are a mid-elevation mountain complex with scarce current anthropic intervention located on the westernmost edge of the Mediterranean basin. These features provide a perfect setting to study patterns of late Holocene fire activity and landscape transformation. Here, we have combined macroscopic charcoal analysis with palynological data in three peat sequences (El Perro, Brezoso, and Viñuelas mires) to reconstruct fire regimes during recent millennia and their linkages to changes in vegetation, land use, and climatic conditions. During a first phase (5000–3000 cal. BP) characterized by mixed oak woodlands and low anthropogenic impact, climate exerted an evident influence over fire regimes. Later, the data show two phases of increasing human influence dated at 3000–500 cal. BP and 500 cal. BP–present, which translated into significant changes in fire regimes increasingly driven by human activity. These results contribute to prove how fire regimes have changed along with human societies, being more related to land use and less dependent on climatic cycles. View Full-Text
Keywords: fire regimes; paleoecology; fire ecology; Toledo Mountains; paleofire R-package; global charcoal database fire regimes; paleoecology; fire ecology; Toledo Mountains; paleofire R-package; global charcoal database
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Luelmo-Lautenschlaeger, R.; Blarquez, O.; Pérez-Díaz, S.; Morales-Molino, C.; López-Sáez, J.A. The Iberian Peninsula’s Burning Heart—Long-Term Fire History in the Toledo Mountains (Central Spain). Fire 2019, 2, 54.

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