Indigenous fire management and cross-scale fire-climate relationships in the Southwest United States from 1500 to 1900 CE

Christopher I. Roos, Christopher H. Guiterman, Ellis Q. Margolis, Thomas W. Swetnam, Nicholas C. Laluk, Kerry F. Thompson, Chris Toya, Calvin A. Farris, Peter Z. Fulé, Jose M. Iniguez, J. Mark Kaib, Christopher D. O’Connor, Lionel Whitehair

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations

Abstract

Prior research suggests that Indigenous fire management buffers climate influences on wildfires, but it is unclear whether these benefits accrue across geographic scales. We use a network of 4824 fire-scarred trees in Southwest United States dry forests to analyze up to 400 years of fire-climate relationships at local, landscape, and regional scales for traditional territories of three different Indigenous cultures. Comparison of fire-year and prior climate conditions for periods of intensive cultural use and less-intensive use indicates that Indigenous fire management weakened fire-climate relationships at local and landscape scales. This effect did not scale up across the entire region because land use was spatially and temporally heterogeneous at that scale. Restoring or emulating Indigenous fire practices could buffer climate impacts at local scales but would need to be repeatedly implemented at broad scales for broader regional benefits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbereabq3221
JournalScience Advances
Volume8
Issue number49
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 7 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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