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Charcoal-inferred Holocene fire and vegetation history linked to drought periods in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Wannes Hubau UGent, Jan Van den Bulcke UGent, Joris Van Acker UGent and Hans Beeckman (2015) GLOBAL CHANGE BIOLOGY. 21(6). p.2296-2308
abstract
The impact of Holocene drought events on the presumably stable Central African rainforest remains largely unexplored, in particular the significance of fire. High-quality sedimentary archives are scarce, and palynological records mostly integrate over large regional scales subject to different fire regimes. Here, we demonstrate a direct temporal link between Holocene droughts, palaeofire and vegetation change within present-day Central African rainforest, using records of identified charcoal fragments extracted from soil in the southern Mayumbe forest (Democratic Republic of Congo). We find three distinct periods of local palaeofire occurrence: 7.8-6.8ka BP, 2.3-1.5ka BP, 0.8ka BP - present. These periods are linked to well-known Holocene drought anomalies: the 8.2ka BP event, the 3rd millennium BP rainforest crisis and the Mediaeval Climate Anomaly. During and after these Holocene droughts, the Central African rainforest landscape was characterized by a fragmented pattern with fire-prone open patches. Some fires occurred during the drought anomalies although most fires seem to lag behind them, which suggests that the open patches remained fire-prone after the actual climate anomalies. Charcoal identifications indicate that mature rainforest patches did persist through the Early to Mid-Holocene climatic transition, the subsequent Holocene thermal optimum and the third millennium BP rainforest crisis, until 0.8ka BP. However, disturbance and fragmentation were probably more prominent near the boundary of the southern Mayumbe forest. Furthermore, the dominance of pioneer and woodland savanna taxa in younger charcoal assemblages indicates that rainforest regeneration was hampered by increasingly severe drought conditions after 0.8ka BP. These results support the notion of a dynamic forest ecosystem at multicentury time scales across the Central African rainforest.
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
year
type
journalArticle (original)
publication status
published
subject
keyword
wood anatomy, vegetation history, EQUATORIAL EAST-AFRICA, RAIN-FOREST FRAGMENTATION, SOUTHERN CAMEROON, CLIMATIC CHANGES, BP, SITES, PALEOENVIRONMENTS, IDENTIFICATION, VARIABILITY, ARCHAEOLOGY, palaeoenvironment, palaeobotany, fire, Central Africa, charcoal analysis
journal title
GLOBAL CHANGE BIOLOGY
Glob. Change Biol.
volume
21
issue
6
pages
2296 - 2308
Web of Science type
Article
Web of Science id
000353977500017
JCR category
ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES
JCR impact factor
8.444 (2015)
JCR rank
4/225 (2015)
JCR quartile
1 (2015)
ISSN
1354-1013
DOI
10.1111/gcb.12844
language
English
UGent publication?
yes
classification
A1
copyright statement
I have transferred the copyright for this publication to the publisher
id
6870042
handle
http://hdl.handle.net/1854/LU-6870042
date created
2015-07-09 11:16:49
date last changed
2016-12-19 15:39:08
@article{6870042,
  abstract     = {The impact of Holocene drought events on the presumably stable Central African rainforest remains largely unexplored, in particular the significance of fire. High-quality sedimentary archives are scarce, and palynological records mostly integrate over large regional scales subject to different fire regimes. Here, we demonstrate a direct temporal link between Holocene droughts, palaeofire and vegetation change within present-day Central African rainforest, using records of identified charcoal fragments extracted from soil in the southern Mayumbe forest (Democratic Republic of Congo). We find three distinct periods of local palaeofire occurrence: 7.8-6.8ka BP, 2.3-1.5ka BP, 0.8ka BP - present. These periods are linked to well-known Holocene drought anomalies: the 8.2ka BP event, the 3rd millennium BP rainforest crisis and the Mediaeval Climate Anomaly. During and after these Holocene droughts, the Central African rainforest landscape was characterized by a fragmented pattern with fire-prone open patches. Some fires occurred during the drought anomalies although most fires seem to lag behind them, which suggests that the open patches remained fire-prone after the actual climate anomalies. Charcoal identifications indicate that mature rainforest patches did persist through the Early to Mid-Holocene climatic transition, the subsequent Holocene thermal optimum and the third millennium BP rainforest crisis, until 0.8ka BP. However, disturbance and fragmentation were probably more prominent near the boundary of the southern Mayumbe forest. Furthermore, the dominance of pioneer and woodland savanna taxa in younger charcoal assemblages indicates that rainforest regeneration was hampered by increasingly severe drought conditions after 0.8ka BP. These results support the notion of a dynamic forest ecosystem at multicentury time scales across the Central African rainforest.},
  author       = {Hubau, Wannes and Van den Bulcke, Jan and Van Acker, Joris and Beeckman, Hans},
  issn         = {1354-1013},
  journal      = {GLOBAL CHANGE BIOLOGY},
  keyword      = {wood anatomy,vegetation history,EQUATORIAL EAST-AFRICA,RAIN-FOREST FRAGMENTATION,SOUTHERN CAMEROON,CLIMATIC CHANGES,BP,SITES,PALEOENVIRONMENTS,IDENTIFICATION,VARIABILITY,ARCHAEOLOGY,palaeoenvironment,palaeobotany,fire,Central Africa,charcoal analysis},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {6},
  pages        = {2296--2308},
  title        = {Charcoal-inferred Holocene fire and vegetation history linked to drought periods in the Democratic Republic of Congo},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/gcb.12844},
  volume       = {21},
  year         = {2015},
}

Chicago
Hubau, Wannes, Jan Van den Bulcke, Joris Van Acker, and Hans Beeckman. 2015. “Charcoal-inferred Holocene Fire and Vegetation History Linked to Drought Periods in the Democratic Republic of Congo.” Global Change Biology 21 (6): 2296–2308.
APA
Hubau, W., Van den Bulcke, J., Van Acker, J., & Beeckman, H. (2015). Charcoal-inferred Holocene fire and vegetation history linked to drought periods in the Democratic Republic of Congo. GLOBAL CHANGE BIOLOGY, 21(6), 2296–2308.
Vancouver
1.
Hubau W, Van den Bulcke J, Van Acker J, Beeckman H. Charcoal-inferred Holocene fire and vegetation history linked to drought periods in the Democratic Republic of Congo. GLOBAL CHANGE BIOLOGY. 2015;21(6):2296–308.
MLA
Hubau, Wannes, Jan Van den Bulcke, Joris Van Acker, et al. “Charcoal-inferred Holocene Fire and Vegetation History Linked to Drought Periods in the Democratic Republic of Congo.” GLOBAL CHANGE BIOLOGY 21.6 (2015): 2296–2308. Print.