Allgöwer Britta

Holozäne Waldbrandgeschichte im Raum Unterengadin, Münstertal und Schweiz. Nationalpark

Project Number: CH-2330
Project Type: Master
Project Duration: 03/01/2003 - 09/30/2004 project completed
Funding Source: Canton ,
Project Leader: Dr. Britta Allgöwer

e-Mail: britta.allgoewer(at)

related to this project.
for which the project has a relevance.

engineering sciences


Published in: The Holocene 16,6 (2006) pp. 805 - 817

Wildfire history and fire ecology of the Swiss National Park (Central Alps): new evidence from charcoal, pollen and plant macrofossils

Markus Stähli,1 Walter Finsinger,2 Willy Tinner,3 and
Britta Allgöwer,1

1) Department of Geography, University of Zurich, Winterthurerstrasse 190,
CH-8057 Zurich, Switzerland; 2Institute of Environmental Biology, Paleoecology,
2)Laboratory of Paleobotany and Palynology, 3584 CD Utrecht, the Netherlands;
3)Institute of Plant Sciences, Section Palaeoecology, University of Bern,
Altenbergrain 21, CH-3013 Bern, Switzerland)

Received 15 February 2005; revised manuscript accepted 6 February 2006

Abstract: Microscopic (>10 μm) and macroscopic (>200 μm) charcoal particles were analysed in sediments from two mires in subalpine coniferous forests at c. 1800 m a.s.l. in southeastern Switzerland. Pollen and plant macrofossils suggest that since 6000 BC, Pinus mugo ssp. Uncinata (DC) Domin (‘upright mountain pine’) has mostly been the dominant tree species at one of the study sites (Il Fuorn). In contrast, forests dominated by Picea abies (Norway spruce) have formed the vegetation since c. 4000 BC around the mire ‘Fuldera-Palu¨ Lunga’. Mean fire-return intervals (MFI) varied from 250 to >/600 years, depending on forest type, climate and land use. In mountain-pine forests (Il Fuorn), local fires occurred approximately every 250 years, even before the region was agriculturally used (ie, before 3600 BC). About 2000 years ago, intensified human impact as documented by the pollen record resulted in increased fire activity at Fuldera. Post-fire vegetation dynamics suggest that the mountain-pine stands at Il Fuorn had a moderate fire regime with a mix of surface and crown fires. In alpine ecosystems, the impact of fire is generally overshadowed by other disturbance factors such as windthrow, landslides, fungal decay and by climate changes or human land use. Nevertheless, our results show for the first time that natural wildfires exerted a major control on the subalpine coniferous forest ecosystems of the Swiss National Park and its neighbouring areas, eg, by contributing to maintain Pinus mugo ssp. uncinata forests throughout the mid and late Holocene.

Leading questions:
Was there a natural fire regime and what did it look like?

Stähli M 2004: Holozäne Feuergeschichte und Feuerökologie des Schweizerischen Nationalparks. Diplomarbeit, Geogr. Institut Universität Zürich

Stähli, M., Finsinger, W., Tinner, W. and Allgöwer, B. (2006). “Wildfire history and fire ecology of the Swiss National Park (Central Alps): New evidence from charcoal, pollen and plant macrofossils.” The Holocene: 16 (6): 805 – 817

Last update: 1/30/14
Source of data: ProClim- Research InfoSystem (1993-2020)
Update the data of project: CH-2330

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