TROPICAL GEOGRAPHY ›› 2016, Vol. 36 ›› Issue (3): 486-494.doi: 10.13284/j.cnki.rddl.002853

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Holocene Fire History in Relation to Climate Changes and Human Activities in Southern Subtropical China

MA Ting1a,ZHENG Zhuo1,MAN Meiling1a,LI Jie2,PENG Huanhuan3,HAN Aiyan1a,HUANG Kuangyou1   

  1. (1.a.School of Earth Science and Geological Engineering;b.Guangdong Key Laboratory of Geological Process and Mineral Resources Exploration,Guangzhou 510275,China;2.a.The Key Laboratory of Marine Hydrocarbon Resources and Environmental Geology,Ministry of Land and Resources;b.Qingdao Institute of Marine Geology,Qingdao 266071,China;3. Guangdong Province Key Laboratory for Coastal Ocean Variation and Disaster Prediction Technologies,Zhanjiang 524088,China)
  • Online:2016-05-05 Published:2016-05-05

Abstract: Three cores at different elevations were collected from different geographical locations in the mountainous regions of the South China. Micro-charcoal and pollen analyses were conducted to examine regional Holocene fire history and discuss its possible relationship with both Asian monsoon variability and anthropogenic activities. Results showed extremely low micro-charcoal concentrations at the three cores at the period between 8.0 and 3.5 ka B.P., revealing low fire frequency. Meanwhile, high proportions of arboreal pollen demonstrated expansion of subtropical evergreen broadleaf forest. This phase is consistent with the Holocene moisture optimum and abundant precipitation. Furthermore, low population in the early-mid Holocene and no evidence of slash-and-burn cultivation during the Neolithic confirm the charcoal result. After 3.5 ka B.P., the abrupt increase in charcoal concentrations of the cores from lower elevation sites was closely related with a general drying trend towards the late Holocene, which might result from EASM weakening and decreased rainfall. This timing coincided with the Shang-Zhou Bronze period, reflecting also the impact of human activity. The notable decrease of arboreal pollen demonstrates severe damage of forest by fires. After 2.0 ka B.P., the high concentrations of micro-charcoal recorded in the cores of GY1 and LTY, as well as the rapid growth of Poaceae, Dicranopteris and Pinus, demonstrate agriculture development in low-altitude plains and hills, and this period is synchronous with the first population booming and spread of cow plough and iron farm implements. Micro-charcoal and pollen records of core GT-2 at higher elevation (>1 600 m) show a high fire frequency after 0.8 ka B.P., and this period saw severe disturbance of broadleaved forest by the expansion of anthropogenic activities and agriculture development to mountainous regions.

Key words: micro-charcoal, fire events, South China, East Asian monsoon, population, human activity, Holocene