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Long-term fire and vegetation dynamics of Mediterranean ecosystems: a case study in the peri-Adriatic region

English title Long-term fire and vegetation dynamics of Mediterranean ecosystems: a case study in the peri-Adriatic region
Applicant Tinner Willy
Number 102272
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Institut für Pflanzenwissenschaften Universität Bern
Institution of higher education University of Berne - BE
Main discipline Ecology
Start/End 01.01.2004 - 31.05.2007
Approved amount 176'118.00
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All Disciplines (3)

Agricultural and Forestry Sciences

Keywords (6)

charcoal analysis; climate change; dynamic models; fire history; Mediterranean vegetation; Paleoecology

Lay Summary (English)

Lay summary
This study aims the reconstruction of past environments to better understand the role of fire for past ecosystem dynamics in the Mediterranean region. Sedimentary sequences at two sites in Tuscany (Lago di Massaciuccoli and Lago dell’Accesa) and two sites in Croatia and Sicily (Malo Jezero, Biviere di Gela) were analysed by means of multi-proxy paleoecological (including pollen, charcoal, and diatoms) and multivariate quantitative techniques to investigate the long-term interactions between climate, vegetation, land-use, and the fire regime. Our data provide strong evidences that fire inhibited the expansion of evergreen oak forests (Q. ilex) or even led to their decline during the Holocene. Fire also caused local extinctions of important tree species (e.g. Abies alba) and promoted the expansion of Mediterranean macchia (with many herbaceous taxa). Vegetation and fire regime changes were closely linked to land-use practices and climatic variations. The results of this project complement modern ecological observations about the response of vegetation to fire at species (e.g. Quercus ilex, Abies alba) and community level (e.g. macchia shrublands, biodiversity changes). They imply that Mediterranean vegetation is particularly sensitive to combined effects of fire regime and climatic changes. Our new sedimentary pollen, charcaol and diatom series may prove to be useful for reality checks of modelling results under global-change conditions.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants


Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
134616 Paleo-environmental and modeling insights into Mediterranean fire-vegetation interactions in response to Holocene climate and land use changes 01.12.2011 Project funding (Div. I-III)