Fire, vegetation, and Ancestral Puebloans: A sediment record from Prater Canyon in Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado, USA

Erin M. Herring, Scott R Anderson, George L. San Miguel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Continuous sediment, charcoal, and pollen records were developed from a ~7-m sediment core from Prater Canyon in Mesa Verde National Park (MEVE), Colorado, USA. Sediment input into the canyon is episodic and is linked to precipitation runoff and vegetation cover. Pollen recovered from the Prater Canyon sediment core reflect the vegetation changes within the MEVE region. During the period recorded, the vegetation of the region surrounding Prater Canyon transitioned from xeric adapted species in an open environment to a more mesic, Pinus edulis-Juniperus osteosperma (piñon-juniper) woodland over the last 1500 years. Two distinct changes in fire frequency occurred. Before 4080 cal. yr BP, fires occurred at a much more frequent rate (2.5-12 fires/200 years) than from 4060 cal. yr BP to present (0-2 fires/200 years). Most importantly, the variations occurring in the charcoal record for the past 2500 years coincide with both shifts in human occupation and climate fluctuations within the region, with burning increasing during Ancestral Puebloan occupation and moist but increasingly dry conditions, and declines in both at the end of the 'Medieval Climate Anomaly' (MCA). The record from Prater Canyon demonstrates the importance of the Ancestral Puebloans in landscape modification during their occupation from ad1 to 1300. Charcoal deposition also increased during the 20th- to 21st-century transition with the highest deposition rates of the core recorded then.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)853-863
Number of pages11
JournalHolocene
Volume24
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - 2014

Fingerprint

canyon
national park
charcoal
vegetation
occupation
sediment
sediment core
pollen
twenty first century
climate
Medieval
vegetation cover
woodland
National Parks
Sediment
Vegetation
runoff
anomaly
Charcoal
Climate

Keywords

  • Ancestral Puebloans
  • climate
  • fire
  • Holocene
  • Mesa Verde National Park
  • pollen

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Ecology
  • Palaeontology
  • Archaeology

Cite this

Fire, vegetation, and Ancestral Puebloans : A sediment record from Prater Canyon in Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado, USA. / Herring, Erin M.; Anderson, Scott R; San Miguel, George L.

In: Holocene, Vol. 24, No. 7, 2014, p. 853-863.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{1c986d7519624e7fa3ee6981c552cc6f,
title = "Fire, vegetation, and Ancestral Puebloans: A sediment record from Prater Canyon in Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado, USA",
abstract = "Continuous sediment, charcoal, and pollen records were developed from a ~7-m sediment core from Prater Canyon in Mesa Verde National Park (MEVE), Colorado, USA. Sediment input into the canyon is episodic and is linked to precipitation runoff and vegetation cover. Pollen recovered from the Prater Canyon sediment core reflect the vegetation changes within the MEVE region. During the period recorded, the vegetation of the region surrounding Prater Canyon transitioned from xeric adapted species in an open environment to a more mesic, Pinus edulis-Juniperus osteosperma (pi{\~n}on-juniper) woodland over the last 1500 years. Two distinct changes in fire frequency occurred. Before 4080 cal. yr BP, fires occurred at a much more frequent rate (2.5-12 fires/200 years) than from 4060 cal. yr BP to present (0-2 fires/200 years). Most importantly, the variations occurring in the charcoal record for the past 2500 years coincide with both shifts in human occupation and climate fluctuations within the region, with burning increasing during Ancestral Puebloan occupation and moist but increasingly dry conditions, and declines in both at the end of the 'Medieval Climate Anomaly' (MCA). The record from Prater Canyon demonstrates the importance of the Ancestral Puebloans in landscape modification during their occupation from ad1 to 1300. Charcoal deposition also increased during the 20th- to 21st-century transition with the highest deposition rates of the core recorded then.",
keywords = "Ancestral Puebloans, climate, fire, Holocene, Mesa Verde National Park, pollen",
author = "Herring, {Erin M.} and Anderson, {Scott R} and {San Miguel}, {George L.}",
year = "2014",
doi = "10.1177/0959683614530440",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "24",
pages = "853--863",
journal = "Holocene",
issn = "0959-6836",
publisher = "SAGE Publications Ltd",
number = "7",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Fire, vegetation, and Ancestral Puebloans

T2 - A sediment record from Prater Canyon in Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado, USA

AU - Herring, Erin M.

AU - Anderson, Scott R

AU - San Miguel, George L.

PY - 2014

Y1 - 2014

N2 - Continuous sediment, charcoal, and pollen records were developed from a ~7-m sediment core from Prater Canyon in Mesa Verde National Park (MEVE), Colorado, USA. Sediment input into the canyon is episodic and is linked to precipitation runoff and vegetation cover. Pollen recovered from the Prater Canyon sediment core reflect the vegetation changes within the MEVE region. During the period recorded, the vegetation of the region surrounding Prater Canyon transitioned from xeric adapted species in an open environment to a more mesic, Pinus edulis-Juniperus osteosperma (piñon-juniper) woodland over the last 1500 years. Two distinct changes in fire frequency occurred. Before 4080 cal. yr BP, fires occurred at a much more frequent rate (2.5-12 fires/200 years) than from 4060 cal. yr BP to present (0-2 fires/200 years). Most importantly, the variations occurring in the charcoal record for the past 2500 years coincide with both shifts in human occupation and climate fluctuations within the region, with burning increasing during Ancestral Puebloan occupation and moist but increasingly dry conditions, and declines in both at the end of the 'Medieval Climate Anomaly' (MCA). The record from Prater Canyon demonstrates the importance of the Ancestral Puebloans in landscape modification during their occupation from ad1 to 1300. Charcoal deposition also increased during the 20th- to 21st-century transition with the highest deposition rates of the core recorded then.

AB - Continuous sediment, charcoal, and pollen records were developed from a ~7-m sediment core from Prater Canyon in Mesa Verde National Park (MEVE), Colorado, USA. Sediment input into the canyon is episodic and is linked to precipitation runoff and vegetation cover. Pollen recovered from the Prater Canyon sediment core reflect the vegetation changes within the MEVE region. During the period recorded, the vegetation of the region surrounding Prater Canyon transitioned from xeric adapted species in an open environment to a more mesic, Pinus edulis-Juniperus osteosperma (piñon-juniper) woodland over the last 1500 years. Two distinct changes in fire frequency occurred. Before 4080 cal. yr BP, fires occurred at a much more frequent rate (2.5-12 fires/200 years) than from 4060 cal. yr BP to present (0-2 fires/200 years). Most importantly, the variations occurring in the charcoal record for the past 2500 years coincide with both shifts in human occupation and climate fluctuations within the region, with burning increasing during Ancestral Puebloan occupation and moist but increasingly dry conditions, and declines in both at the end of the 'Medieval Climate Anomaly' (MCA). The record from Prater Canyon demonstrates the importance of the Ancestral Puebloans in landscape modification during their occupation from ad1 to 1300. Charcoal deposition also increased during the 20th- to 21st-century transition with the highest deposition rates of the core recorded then.

KW - Ancestral Puebloans

KW - climate

KW - fire

KW - Holocene

KW - Mesa Verde National Park

KW - pollen

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84902134489&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84902134489&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1177/0959683614530440

DO - 10.1177/0959683614530440

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:84902134489

VL - 24

SP - 853

EP - 863

JO - Holocene

JF - Holocene

SN - 0959-6836

IS - 7

ER -