A chronologically reliable record of 17,000 years of biomass burning in the Lake Victoria area

Temoltzin-Loranca, Yunuén and Gobet, Erika and Vannière, Boris and van Leeuwen, Jacqueline F. N. and Wienhues, Giulia and Szidat, Sönke and Courtney-Mustaphi, Colin and Kishe, Mary and Muschick, Moritz and Seehausen, Ole and Grosjean, Martin and Tinner, Willy. (2023) A chronologically reliable record of 17,000 years of biomass burning in the Lake Victoria area. Quaternary Science Reviews, 301. p. 107915.

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Fire regimes differ across tropical and subtropical biomes depending on multiple parameters whose interactions and levels of importance are poorly understood, particularly at multidecadal and longer time scales. In the catchment of Lake Victoria, savanna, rainforest, and Afromontane vegetation have interspersed over the last 17,000 years, which may have influenced the fire regime and vice versa. However, climate and humans are most often the primary drivers of fire regime changes, and analysing their respective roles is critical for understanding current and future fire regimes. Besides a handful of radiocarbon dates on grassy charcoal, the timescales of published studies of Lake Victoria sediment chronologies rely mostly on dates of bulk sediment, and chronological disagreements persist, mainly due to variation between estimations of the 14 C reservoir effect. Here, we provide independent 14 C chronologies for three Late Glacial and Holocene lacustrine sediment cores from various water depths and compare them with the biostratigraphy to establish a new chronological framework. We present the first continuous sedimentary charcoal records from Lake Victoria; these suggest that fire activity varied substantially during the past 17,000 years. Our new pollen records reveal the long-term vegetation dynamics. The available evidence suggests that before human impact increased during the Iron Age (ca. 2400 yr BP), biomass burning was linked to climate and vegetation reorganizations, such as warming, drying, and the expansion of rainforests and savannas. Our results imply that climate can trigger substantial fire regime changes and that vegetation responses to climate change can co-determine the fire regime. For instance, biomass burning decreased significantly when the rainforest expanded in response to increasing temperatures and moisture availability. Such insights into the long-term linkages between climate, vegetation, and the fire regime may help to refine ecosystem management and conservation strategies in a changing global climate.
Faculties and Departments:05 Faculty of Science > Departement Umweltwissenschaften > Geowissenschaften > Geoökologie (Heiri)
UniBasel Contributors:Courtney-Mustaphi, Colin
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
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Last Modified:04 Jan 2023 09:08
Deposited On:04 Jan 2023 09:08

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