Dendrochronology-based fire history of Pinus nigra forests in Mount Taygetos, Southern Greece

Anastasia Christopoulou, Peter Z. Fulé, Pavlos Andriopoulos, Dimitris Sarris, Margarita Arianoutsou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

31 Scopus citations

Abstract

In the past few decades there is an increasing trend of both fire activity and area burned in many regions of the world. Moreover, there is a worldwide concern regarding the increasing presence of crown fires in forest types that were historically prone to surface fires. Among the recently affected mountainous forest ecosystems are those of Pinus nigra, an ecologically and economically important species that is widely distributed around the Mediterranean Basin. Mount Taygetos, a mountainous landscape in Peloponnese, Greece, that was severely burned in 2007, was selected to carry out the first landscape-scale fire history reconstruction in P. nigra of the eastern Mediterranean. The aims of the study were to investigate whether fire-regime attributes can be reconstructed from fire-scarred trees and also to examine the consistency of fire occurrence and spatial extent through time within the area selected. Partial cross-sections were sampled within the perimeters of the more recent known large fires in the region, those of 2007 and 1998. The overall mean fire interval between 1845 and 2007 was 4.9. years, while for the larger fires this time window was 16.2. years. Even at the individual-sample scale, with the sample mean fire interval equaling 29.5. years, the fire frequency still falls within the range of the ''predictable stand-thinning fire'' regime. The majority of fire scars recorded were dated to the warm and dry season of summer to fall. During the last 165. years of fire reconstruction, neither fire frequency nor percentage of trees scarred by fires varied significantly. Nevertheless, the size of the area burned as well as the type of fire seem to have changed, with the 2007 event being the most extended crown fire encountered so far. Our study has provided additional evidence that P. nigra is indeed a fire-resistant tree species provided that it is exposed to surface fires, even if they are recurrently occurring. Shifts from this pattern may lead to local extirpation of the species, as in the case of severe and extended crown fires.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)132-139
Number of pages8
JournalForest Ecology and Management
Volume293
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2013

Keywords

  • Black pine
  • Dendrochronology
  • Fire regime
  • Mediterranean
  • Pinus nigra

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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