Event Title

Long-Term Perspectives on Aspen-Fire Dynamics

Presenter Information

Vachel Carter

Location

Eccles Conference Center

Event Website

http://www.restoringthewest.org/

Abstract

In the US Rocky Mountains, aspen is considered a keystone species that supports communities of high biological and genetic diversity. Generally, aspen communites can be characterized as either stable or seral, each supporting distinct regimes. While multiple possible aspen regimes have been postulated, they are based on limited,observational tree-ring-based studies. New datasets are necessary to elucidate how aspen vegetation dynamics and fire regimes will respond to directional climate change that has the potential to reorganize vegetation communities and promotes shifts in fire regimes over longer time scales. Paleoecological reconstructions provide fundamental information of baseline environmental conditions that contributes to a fuller understanding of the broad-scale, long-term patterns of past disturbance and vegetation changes in aspen-dominated systems. Specifically, lake sediment studies relying on pollen and charcoal provide information about past vegetation composition and fire histories in many conifer-dominated systems. However, information specific to aspen ecosystems are underrepresented in environmental reconstructions, despite their ecological significance. Our objective is twofold: 1) Using pollen records, how can we distinguish stable from seral aspen communities in long-term ecological reconstructions? and 2) By combining pollen and charcoal records, can we determine the possible role of fire in promoting, maintaining, or inhibiting aspen- dominated communities? We examine paleoecological data from several subalpine lakes in the central Rockies to help us understand climate-mediated aspen- re dynamics over centennial to millennial timescales.

Comments

Vachel Carter, Department of Geography, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT 84112, email: vachel.carter@ gmail.com. Co-authors: Jesse L. Morris, R. Justin DeRose, Andrea Brunelle, Johnny Israelsen

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Oct 28th, 9:30 AM Oct 28th, 10:00 AM

Long-Term Perspectives on Aspen-Fire Dynamics

Eccles Conference Center

In the US Rocky Mountains, aspen is considered a keystone species that supports communities of high biological and genetic diversity. Generally, aspen communites can be characterized as either stable or seral, each supporting distinct regimes. While multiple possible aspen regimes have been postulated, they are based on limited,observational tree-ring-based studies. New datasets are necessary to elucidate how aspen vegetation dynamics and fire regimes will respond to directional climate change that has the potential to reorganize vegetation communities and promotes shifts in fire regimes over longer time scales. Paleoecological reconstructions provide fundamental information of baseline environmental conditions that contributes to a fuller understanding of the broad-scale, long-term patterns of past disturbance and vegetation changes in aspen-dominated systems. Specifically, lake sediment studies relying on pollen and charcoal provide information about past vegetation composition and fire histories in many conifer-dominated systems. However, information specific to aspen ecosystems are underrepresented in environmental reconstructions, despite their ecological significance. Our objective is twofold: 1) Using pollen records, how can we distinguish stable from seral aspen communities in long-term ecological reconstructions? and 2) By combining pollen and charcoal records, can we determine the possible role of fire in promoting, maintaining, or inhibiting aspen- dominated communities? We examine paleoecological data from several subalpine lakes in the central Rockies to help us understand climate-mediated aspen- re dynamics over centennial to millennial timescales.

http://digitalcommons.usu.edu/rtw/2015/Posters/19