Dendroecology pp 211-229 | Cite as

Fire History and Fire Regimes Shifts in Patagonian Temperate Forests

Part of the Ecological Studies book series (ECOLSTUD, volume 231)


Fire has been a frequent disturbance in Patagonia. The presence of charcoal in sedimentary records covering the last 44,000 years suggests that natural fires played a significant role in shaping the landscape before the arrival of Native Americans ca. 14,500–12,500 years ago. Dendrochronological studies focused on the reconstruction of fire histories have been conducted in the Patagonian forests on both sides of the Andes Cordillera, beginning in the late 1990s. Here, we review the present knowledge of the history of fires in temperate forests in Patagonia, their main drivers, and discuss the evidence and impacts of burns and reburns on post-fire response, as well as possible mechanisms to shift into alternative stable states. Dendrochronology was extremely useful to develop multi-century fire histories in Araucaria araucana, Pilgerodendron uviferum, Fitzroya cupressoides and Austrocedrus chilensis and mixed Austrocedrus-Nothofagus dombeyi forests in Patagonia. In the case of Araucaria, Austrocedrus and Pilgerodendron forests, dendrochronological reconstructions show diverse and heterogeneous patterns of fire frequency related to changes in human activities and settlement processes over the last centuries. Fire history reconstructions document infrequent events in the Fitzroya wet rainforests, with ca. 800-year old in the Costal Range in South-Central Chile and ca. 1000-year old chronologies in the Argentinean Andes. Climate variability has a significant influence on fire occurrence in these Patagonian forests. Fire events have been strongly associated with low moisture availability linked to El Niño – Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the Southern Annular Mode (SAM), the major climate drivers promoting fire. Future directions and challenges for fire history studies in Patagonian forests are proposed at the end of this chapter.


Fire history Dendropyrochronology Patagonia Araucaria araucana Austrocedrus chilensis Fitzroya cupressoides Nothofagus dombeyi Pilgerodendron uviferum 



We thank the Administración de Parques Nacionales (National Parks Administration of Argentina) and private owners for sampling permissions during the last decades. IAM was supported by the Agencia Nacional de Promoción Científica y Tecnológica de Argentina (grant PICT 2012-1891). AH thanks National Science Foundation (Grant No. 0956552) and National Geographic Society (Grant No.7988-06). MEG thanks the Center for Climate and Resilience Research (CR)2 (CONICYT/FONDAP/15110009) and FONDECYT (Grant No. 1171400). IAM and JP are researchers at CONICET (National Council for Scientific and Technical Research of Argentina).


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© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratorio de Dendrocronología e Historia AmbientalIANIGLA-CONICET, CCT CONICET Mendoza, Av. Ruiz Leal s/n. CC330-M5502IRA MendozaPcia. de MendozaArgentina
  2. 2.Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Universidad Nacional de Cuyo, Padre Contreras 1300. M5502JMA MendozaPcia. de MendozaArgentina
  3. 3.Department of GeographyPortland State UniversityPortlandUSA
  4. 4.Facultad de Ciencias Forestales y Recursos NaturalesLaboratorio Ecología de Bosques, Instituto de Conservación, Biodiversidad y Territorio, Universidad Austral de ChileValdiviaChile
  5. 5.Laboratorio EcotonoINIBIOMA, CONICET-Universidad Nacional del ComahueBarilocheArgentina

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