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350 years of fire-climate-human interactions in a Great Lakes sandy outwash plain

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Guyette, Richard; Stambaugh, Michael; Dey, Daniel C.; Marschall, Joseph; Saunders, Jay; Lampereur, John

Year Published



Forests. 7(9): 189. 19 p.


Throughout much of eastern North America, quantitative records of historical fire regimes and interactions with humans are absent. Annual resolution fire scar histories provide data on fire frequency, extent, and severity, but also can be used to understand fire-climate-human interactions. This study used tree-ring dated fire scars from red pines (Pinus resinosa) at four sites in the Northern Sands Ecological Landscapes of Wisconsin to quantify the interactions among fire occurrence and seasonality, drought, and humans. New methods for assessing the influence of human ignitions on fire regimes were developed. A temporal and spatial index of wildland fire was significantly correlated (r = 0.48) with drought indices (Palmer Drought Severity Index, PDSI). Fire intervals varied through time with human activities that included early French Jesuit missions, European trade (fur), diseases, war, and land use. Comparisons of historical fire records suggest that annual climate in this region has a broad influence on the occurrence of fire years in the Great Lakes region.


Guyette, Richard P.; Stambaugh, Michael C.; Dey, Daniel C.; Marschall, Joseph M.; Saunders, Jay; Lampereur, John. 2016. 350 years of fire-climate-human interactions in a Great Lakes sandy outwash plain. Forests. 7(9): 189. 19 p.

Last updated on: August 30, 2016