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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10204/6018

Title: Evolution of human-driven fire regimes in Africa
Authors: Archibald, S
Staver, C
Levin, SA
Keywords: Human evolution
Human ignition
Savanna
Fire spread model
Human-derived fire regimes
Biogeochemistry
Issue Date: Jan-2012
Publisher: National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Citation: Archibald, S, Staver, C and Levin, SA. 2012. Evolution of human-driven fire regimes in Africa. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol 109(3), pp 847-852
Series/Report no.: Workflow;8020
Abstract: Human ability to manipulate fire and the landscape has increased over evolutionary time, but the impact of this on fire regimes and consequences for biodiversity and biogeochemistry are hotly debated. Reconstructing historical changes in human-derived fire regimes empirically is challenging, but information is available on the timing of key human innovations and on current human impacts on fire; here we incorporate this knowledge into a spatially explicit fire propagation model. We explore how changes in population density, the ability to create fire, and the expansion of agropastoralism altered the extent and seasonal distribution of fire as modern humans arose and spread through Africa. Much emphasis has been placed on the positive effect of population density on ignition frequency, but our model suggests this is less important than changes in fire spread and connectivity that would have occurred as humans learned to light fires in the dry season and to transform the landscape through grazing and cultivation. Different landscapes show different limitations; we show that substantial human impacts on burned area would only have started 4,000 B.P. in open landscapes, whereas they could have altered fire regimes in closed/dissected landscapes by 40,000 B.P. Dry season fires have been the norm for the past 200–300 ky across all landscapes. The annual area burned in Africa probably peaked between 4 and 40 kya. These results agree with recent paleocarbon studies that suggest that the biomass burned today is less than in the recent past in subtropical countries.
Description: Copyright: 2011 National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. This is the post-print version of the work. The definitive version is published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol 109(3), pp 847-852
URI: http://www.pnas.org/content/109/3/847.full.pdf+html
http://hdl.handle.net/10204/6018
ISSN: 0027-8424
Appears in Collections:Human factors
Ecosystems processes & dynamics
Systems biology
General science, engineering & technology

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