Fire, Climate, and Social-Ecological Systems in the Ancient Southwest: Alluvial Geoarchaeology and Applied Historical Ecology

Persistent Link:
http://hdl.handle.net/10150/194504
Title:
Fire, Climate, and Social-Ecological Systems in the Ancient Southwest: Alluvial Geoarchaeology and Applied Historical Ecology
Author:
Roos, Christopher Izaak
Issue Date:
2008
Publisher:
The University of Arizona.
Rights:
Copyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Abstract:
Although human land use in the industrial and post-industrial world has had demonstrable impacts on global climate, human land use may also improve or reduce the resilience of ecosystems to anthropogenic and natural climate change. This dissertation tests the hypothesis that low severity anthropogenic burning by prehistoric and protohistoric indigenous societies in the ponderosa pine forests of east-central Arizona improved the resilience of these forests to low frequency climate change. I use sedimentary charcoal, phosphorus, stable carbon isotopes, and palynology to reconstruct changes in fire regimes over the last 1000 years from seven radiocarbon dated alluvial sequences in five watersheds across a gradient of indigenous land use and occupation histories. Paleoecological evidence from occupied watersheds is consistent with small-scale, agricultural burning by Ancestral Pueblo villagers (between AD 1150-1325/1400) and anthropogenic burning by Western Apaches to promote wild pant foods (ca. AD 1550-1900) in addition to naturally frequent, low severity landscape fires. Statistical reconstructions of climate driven fire activity from tree-ring records of annual precipitation indicate that Southwestern forests were vulnerable to increased fire severity and shifts to alternative stable states between AD 1300-1650. In watersheds that were unoccupied or depopulated by AD 1325, paleoecological and sedimentological evidence is consistent with an increase in fire severity, whereas areas occupied and burned by indigenous people until AD 1400 did not yield evidence of increased fire severity. These results suggest that anthropogenic burning by small-scale societies may have improved the resilience of Southwestern forests to climate driven environmental changes.
Type:
text; Electronic Dissertation
Keywords:
fire history; historical ecology; Western Apache; Ancestral Pueblo; climate change
Degree Name:
PhD
Degree Level:
doctoral
Degree Program:
Anthropology; Graduate College
Degree Grantor:
University of Arizona
Advisor:
Holliday, Vance T; Mills, Barbara J
Committee Chair:
Holliday, Vance T; Mills, Barbara J

Full metadata record

DC FieldValue Language
dc.language.isoENen_US
dc.titleFire, Climate, and Social-Ecological Systems in the Ancient Southwest: Alluvial Geoarchaeology and Applied Historical Ecologyen_US
dc.creatorRoos, Christopher Izaaken_US
dc.contributor.authorRoos, Christopher Izaaken_US
dc.date.issued2008en_US
dc.publisherThe University of Arizona.en_US
dc.rightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.en_US
dc.description.abstractAlthough human land use in the industrial and post-industrial world has had demonstrable impacts on global climate, human land use may also improve or reduce the resilience of ecosystems to anthropogenic and natural climate change. This dissertation tests the hypothesis that low severity anthropogenic burning by prehistoric and protohistoric indigenous societies in the ponderosa pine forests of east-central Arizona improved the resilience of these forests to low frequency climate change. I use sedimentary charcoal, phosphorus, stable carbon isotopes, and palynology to reconstruct changes in fire regimes over the last 1000 years from seven radiocarbon dated alluvial sequences in five watersheds across a gradient of indigenous land use and occupation histories. Paleoecological evidence from occupied watersheds is consistent with small-scale, agricultural burning by Ancestral Pueblo villagers (between AD 1150-1325/1400) and anthropogenic burning by Western Apaches to promote wild pant foods (ca. AD 1550-1900) in addition to naturally frequent, low severity landscape fires. Statistical reconstructions of climate driven fire activity from tree-ring records of annual precipitation indicate that Southwestern forests were vulnerable to increased fire severity and shifts to alternative stable states between AD 1300-1650. In watersheds that were unoccupied or depopulated by AD 1325, paleoecological and sedimentological evidence is consistent with an increase in fire severity, whereas areas occupied and burned by indigenous people until AD 1400 did not yield evidence of increased fire severity. These results suggest that anthropogenic burning by small-scale societies may have improved the resilience of Southwestern forests to climate driven environmental changes.en_US
dc.typetexten_US
dc.typeElectronic Dissertationen_US
dc.subjectfire historyen_US
dc.subjecthistorical ecologyen_US
dc.subjectWestern Apacheen_US
dc.subjectAncestral Puebloen_US
dc.subjectclimate changeen_US
thesis.degree.namePhDen_US
thesis.degree.leveldoctoralen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineAnthropologyen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineGraduate Collegeen_US
thesis.degree.grantorUniversity of Arizonaen_US
dc.contributor.advisorHolliday, Vance Ten_US
dc.contributor.advisorMills, Barbara Jen_US
dc.contributor.chairHolliday, Vance Ten_US
dc.contributor.chairMills, Barbara Jen_US
dc.contributor.committeememberSchiffer, Michael Brianen_US
dc.contributor.committeememberDean, Jeffrey S.en_US
dc.contributor.committeememberSwetnam, Thomas W.en_US
dc.identifier.proquest2939en_US
dc.identifier.oclc659749578en_US
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