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Long-term fire resilience of the Ericaceous Belt, Bale Mountains, Ethiopia
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Number of Authors: 152019 (English)In: Biology Letters, ISSN 1744-9561, E-ISSN 1744-957X, Vol. 15, no 7, article id 20190357Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Fire is the most frequent disturbance in the Ericaceous Belt (ca 3000-1300 m.a.s.l.), one of the most important plant communities of tropical African mountains. Through resprouting after fire, Erica establishes a positive fire feedback under certain burning regimes. However, present-day human activity in the Bale Mountains of Ethiopia includes fire and grating systems that may have a negative impact on the resilience of the ericaceous ecosystem. Current knowledge of Erica-fire relationships is based on studies of modern vegetation, lacking a longer time perspective that can shed light on baseline conditions for the fire feedback. We hypothesite that fire has influenced Erica communities in the Bale Mountains at millennial time-scales. To test this, we (1) identity the tire history ot the Bale Mountains through a pollen and charcoal record from Garba Guracha, a lake at 3950 m.a.s.l., and (2) describe the long-term bidirectional feedback between wildfire and Erica, which may control the ecosystem's resilience. Our results support fire occurrence in the area since ca 14 000 years ago, with particularly intense burning during the early Holocene, 10.8-6.0 cal ka BP. We show that a positive feedback between Erica abundance and fire occurrence was in operation throughout the Lateglacial and Holocene, and interpret the Ericaceous Bolt of the Ethiopian mountains as a long-term fire resilient ecosystem. We propose that controlled burning should be an integral part of landscape management in the Bale Mountains National Park.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. Vol. 15, no 7, article id 20190357
Keywords [en]
Africa, Erica, flammability, fire trap, charcoal, palaeoecology
National Category
Biological Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-173051DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2019.0357ISI: 000479136400027PubMedID: 31337290OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-173051DiVA, id: diva2:1353432
Available from: 2019-09-23 Created: 2019-09-23 Last updated: 2019-09-23Bibliographically approved

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Benito, Blas M.Johansson, Maria U.Lamb, Henry F.Glaser, Bruno
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Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences
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