Ecological Studies Volume 84, 1990, pp 117-134

Interactions of Anthropogenic Activities, Fire, and Rain Forests in the Amazon Basin

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Evidence from soil charcoal studies indicates that fires have occurred since the Holocene in both Amazonian tropical rain forests (Saldarriaga and West 1986; Sanford et al. 1985) and Asian rain forests (Goldammer and Seibert 1989). However, it is likely that fire was an extremely rare event, because fire return intervals are many centuries in duration. The rarity of fire in this ecosystem is also reflected by the few apparent evolutionary relationships between rain forest vegetation and fire (i.e., the contribution of fire in shaping the structure and function of this ecosystem is not yet clear).