Holocene fire activity during low-natural flammability periods reveals scale-dependent cultural human-fire relationships in Europe

Elisabeth Dietze , Martin Theuerkauf , Karolina Bloom , Achim Brauer , Walter Dörfler , Ingo Feeser , Angelica Feurdean , Laura Gedminienė , Thomas Giesecke , Susanne Jahns , Monika Karpińska-Kołaczek , Piotr Kołaczek , Mariusz Lamentowicz , Małgorzata Latałowa , Katarzyna Marcisz , Milena Obremska , Anna Pędziszewska , Anneli Poska , Kira Rehfeld , Migle Stančikaitė , Normunds Stivrins , Joanna Święta-Musznicka , Marta Szal , Jüri Vassiljev , Siim Veski , Agnieszka Wacnik , Dawid Weisbrodt , Julian Wiethold , Boris Vannière , Michał Słowiński


Fire is a natural component of global biogeochemical cycles and closely related to changes in human land use. Whereas climate-fuel relationships seem to drive both global and subcontinental fire regimes, human-induced fires are prominent mainly on a local scale. Furthermore, the basic assumption that relates humans and fire regimes in terms of population densities, suggesting that few human-induced fires should occur in periods and areas of low population density, is currently debated. Here, we analyze human-fire relationships throughout the Holocene and discuss how and to what extent human-driven fires affected the landscape transformation in the Central European Lowlands (CEL). We present sedimentary charcoal composites on three spatial scales and compare them with climate model output and land cover reconstructions from pollen records. Our findings indicate that widespread natural fires only occurred during the early Holocene. Natural conditions (climate and vegetation) limited the extent of wildfires beginning 8500 cal. BP, and diverging subregional charcoal composites suggest that Mesolithic hunter-gatherers maintained a culturally diverse use of fire. Divergence in regional charcoal composites marks the spread of sedentary cultures in the western and eastern CEL. The intensification of human land use during the last millennium drove an increase in fire activity to early-Holocene levels across the CEL. Hence, humans have significantly affected natural fire regimes beyond the local scale – even in periods of low population densities – depending on diverse cultural land-use strategies. We find that humans have strongly affected land-cover- and biogeochemical cycles since Mesolithic times.
Author Elisabeth Dietze
Elisabeth Dietze,,
, Martin Theuerkauf
Martin Theuerkauf,,
, Karolina Bloom
Karolina Bloom,,
, Achim Brauer
Achim Brauer,,
, Walter Dörfler
Walter Dörfler,,
, Ingo Feeser
Ingo Feeser,,
, Angelica Feurdean
Angelica Feurdean,,
, Laura Gedminienė
Laura Gedminienė,,
, Thomas Giesecke
Thomas Giesecke,,
, Susanne Jahns
Susanne Jahns,,
et al.`
Journal seriesQuaternary Science Reviews, ISSN 0277-3791, (A 45 pkt)
Issue year2018
Publication size in sheets0.6
Keywords in EnglishSedimentary charcoal, fire, human impact, Central Europe, land cover, Holocene, Archaeology
URL https://doi.org/10.1016/j.quascirev.2018.10.005
Languageen angielski
Score (nominal)45
ScoreMinisterial score = 45.0, ArticleFromJournal
Ministerial score (2013-2016) = 45.0, ArticleFromJournal
Publication indicators WoS Impact Factor: 2017 = 4.334 (2) - 2017=5.054 (5)
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* presented citation count is obtained through Internet information analysis and it is close to the number calculated by the Publish or Perish system.