Vegetation and fire history since the Late Pleistocene from the Trinity Mountains, northwestern California, USA

Mark L. Daniels, R. Scott Anderson, Cathy Whitlock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


A 267-cm sediment core spanning the past c. 15 200 cal. yr was recovered from Mumbo Lake, in the Trinity Mountains of northwestern California's Klamath Region. Plant macrofossils and pollen detail local and extra-local vegetation history, while high-resolution charcoal analysis provides details on local fire history. For the first c. 3000 years, climate was colder and drier than present, and supported an open, subalpine parkland vegetation, with low fire frequencies and fuel biomass. From c. 12 100 to 9800 cal. yr BP increasing moisture and soil development led to a woodland community with three new pine species invading the basin. Fire frequencies remained low, but individual fires may have been more intense because of increased fuel loads. Between c. 9800 and 7200 cal. yr BP, climate warmed and dried considerably, allowing for the expansion of oak and other chaparral species. Fire frequencies increased in the early Holocene, but low charcoal accumulation rates suggest a frequent, relatively low-intensity fire regime. From c. 7200 to 3800 cal. yr BP, the climate became cooler and moister again. Many conifer species appeared for the first time, although chaparral species maintained a strong presence. The fire record shows a dramatic increase in charcoal accumulation rates as well as an increase in fire frequency. From c. 3800 cal. yr BP to present, more conifer species enter the record, and abundance of chaparral species gradually diminishes to present levels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1062-1071
Number of pages10
Issue number7
StatePublished - Nov 2005


  • California
  • Charcoal
  • Climatic change
  • Fire
  • Holocene
  • Klamath
  • Late Pleistocene
  • Pollen
  • Trinity Mountains
  • Vegetation change

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Archaeology
  • Ecology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Palaeontology


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