Earth, Wetlands, and Fire: Late Holocene fire reconstructions from lowland swamps in Northwestern Belize

Authors: Samantha Krause*, University of Texas - Austin, Timothy Beach, University of Texas at Austin, Sheryl Luzzadder-Beach, Univeristy of Texas at Austin, Luisa Aebersold, University of Texas at Austin, Colin Dolye, University of Texas at Austin, Sara Eshleman, University of Texas at Austin
Topics: Paleoenvironmental Change, Soils, Anthropocene
Keywords: wetlands, tropics, fire, geomorphology, paleoenvironments
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Marshall North, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Here we consider the role that fire history plays within the geomorphology and ecology of tropical forested wetlands within the lowlands of northwestern Belize. By synthesizing micro and macro charcoal records and AMS dated wetland soil chronosequences, we consider anthropogenic forest clearing as well as natural patterns of tropical fire sequences to better understand how these factors control long term development of wetlands. The spatial and temporal patterns of fire variability within these sequences serves to enhance our understanding of both long term anthropogenic impacts as well natural drought cycles within the region. Our study sites are located within the seasonally inundated Rio Bravo fluviokarst system, which drains eastward into the coastal plain of Belize, and is aggrading at a rate of approximately 0.1 cm annually over the Late Holocene, a rate that increased significantly during time periods of human occupation. This research informs not only our current understanding of the development of Late Holocene wetland systems in the tropics, but how these systems may respond to drying and increased pressure as we move forward into the Anthropocene.

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