Invasion of Norway spruce diversifies the fire regime in boreal European forests
Article first published online: 7 JAN 2011
© 2011 The Authors. Journal of Ecology © 2011 British Ecological Society
Journal of Ecology
Volume 99, Issue 2, pages 395–403, March 2011
How to Cite
Ohlson, M., Brown, K. J., Birks, H. J. B., Grytnes, J.-A., Hörnberg, G., Niklasson, M., Seppä, H. and Bradshaw, R. H. W. (2011), Invasion of Norway spruce diversifies the fire regime in boreal European forests. Journal of Ecology, 99: 395–403. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2745.2010.01780.x
- Issue published online: 15 FEB 2011
- Article first published online: 7 JAN 2011
- Received 12 March 2010; accepted 1 December 2010 Handling Editor: Frank Gilliam
- climate change;
- forest history;
- palaeoecology and land-use history;
- Picea abies;
- species invasion;
- spruce forest;
- wildfire activity
1. Global wildfire activity and biomass burning have varied substantially during the Holocene in both time and space. At the regional to continental scale, macroclimate is considered to be the predominant control regulating wildfire activity. By contrast, the role of forest tree composition is often considered as a subsidiary factor in studies addressing temporal variation in regional wildfire activity.
2. Here, we assemble a spatially comprehensive data set of 75 macroscopic charcoal records that reflect local burning and forest landscapes that are spread over a substantial part of the European boreal forest, spanning both oceanic and continental climates.
3. We show that the late-Holocene invasion of Norway spruce Picea abies, a new forest dominant in northern Europe, significantly reduced wildfire activity, thus altering forest disturbance dynamics at a subcontinental scale.
4. Synthesis. Our findings show that a biotic change in the local forest ecosystem altered the fire regime largely independent of regional climate change, illustrating that forest composition is an important parameter that must be considered when modelling future fire risk and carbon dynamics in boreal forests.