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.
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