Category: Ecological Research
Title: Fire History and Vegetation Pattern in Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado, USA
Author: Floyd, M.L. , Romme, W.H. , Hanna, D.D.
Subject: Disturbance, Fire history, Pinyon-Juniper, Gambel Oak (Quercus gambelii), Mesa Verde
Abstract: Pinyon–juniper woodlands (Pinus edulis, Juniperus osteosperma, and J. scopulorum) and petran chaparral communities (Quercus gambelii, Amelanchier utahensis, Cercocarpus montanus, and other tall shrub species) cover much of the Colorado Plateau in the southwestern United States. Long-term fire history and successional dynamics are poorly understood in these vegetation types. Therefore, we lack a suitable historical context for interpreting the ecological significance of large fires and dramatic vegetative changes that have occurred recently in these ecosystems. For example, in Mesa Verde National Park, located in southwestern Colorado, four large intense fires in the last 50 years have threatened significant cultural and natural resources and have caused debate over whether Mesa Verde’s fire regime has been significantly altered by human activities in the last century. In this study, we dated prehistoric fires in shrublands dominated by Gambel oak (Quercus gambelii) by aging stems that resprouted after fire...
Source: Ecological Applications
Publisher: Ecological Society of America