Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, 569 Dabney Hall, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996 U.S.A. Introduction Fire suppression in the southern Appalachians is widely considered responsible for decreased regeneration in oak ( Quercus) and fire-adapted species such as table mountain pine (Pinus rigida) and pitch pine (Pinus pungens) (Barden & Woods 1976; Harmon 1982; Abrams 1992). How fire-adapted species survived in the southern Appalachian highlands in pre-Columbian times is an enigma; lightning-set fires are very infrequent (Harmon 1982; Bratton & Meier 1995) in this region of high annual precipitation. Barden and Woods (1976), Harmon (1982), and Abrams (1992) have speculated that in preColumbian times, Native American use of fire may have been important in the eastern deciduous forest region, but no published studies have documented that the use of fire by prehistoric Native Americans affected the composition of southern Appalachian vegetation. We evaluated the importance of pre-Columbian human impacts on vegetation of the southern Appalachian highlands by comparing the fossil pollen and charcoalparticle record preserved in peat deposited during the past 3900 calendar years in Horse Cove Bog, Highlands, North Carolina, with the archaeological record. We examined the implications of our findings for conserving biodiversity and maintaining
Conservation Biology – Wiley
Published: Aug 12, 1997
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