Presettlement analogs for Quaternary fire regimes in eastern North America
- Cite this article as:
- Clark, J.S., Hussey, T. & Royall, P.D. J Paleolimnol (1996) 16: 79. doi:10.1007/BF00173273
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We present a method for identifying analogs for past fire regimes and use it to assess similarity between late Quaternary fire regimes in northern Wisconsin and central New York and a reference set of charcoal series from just prior to presettlement time. The analog method is based on comparisons of distributions of charcoal accumulation rates from annually laminated sediments using a Kolmogorov-Smirnov two-sample D statistic (D). D is a nonparametric statistic expressing the difference between distributions that does not require assumptions concerning the shape of the distributions (e.g. normality, homoscedasticity) and it summarizes differences in a single index. Our study consists of (i) mapping D values obtained by comparisons between pairs of ‘reference’ charcoal series from the immediate presettlement (calibration) and (ii) identifying possible presettlement analogs from this reference set for Late Quaternary charcoal distributions. Our calibration analysis identified geographic transitions in charcoal transition that were much steeper than apparent from pollen data. Otherwise, geographic patterns in presettlement charcoal and pollen are comparable, including a group of oak/hardwood forest sites in Wisconsin, central Ontario, and New York having similar values, and another group of mostly northern hardwood/hemlock sites in Pennsylvania and Maine. Application to charcoal series dated after 11 000 yr BP at Wisconsin and New York suggests that fire regimes may have been different from those occurring at any of our reference sites. Differences in seasonality of climates and different fuel structures are a possible explanation.