ABSTRACT

Forest fires are an important factor shaping Mediterranean ecosystems and determine the distribution of different species. Information about past forest fires can be obtained with pyrodendroecology. Here, we present a fire history for three sites in the mountain forest belt on the island of Corsica in the Mediterranean Basin. The dating of scars from cores, stem discs, and wedges from 101 pine trees (Pinus nigra and Pinus pinaster) allowed the reconstruction of six definite fire events between 1800 and 2017. Additionally, we reconstructed the spatial extent of a large fire event at AD 2000 with remote sensing data. The study sites are affected by different types of fires. The even-aged forest structure at two sites is clear evidence of past lethal fires, whereas the old-growth Pinus nigra forest at the third site represents the final stage of succession under current climate conditions. The current distribution of both pine species can at least partly be regarded as a result of varying fire frequency at different sites. Although Pinus pinaster stands dominate in areas with frequent fires and can even replace Pinus nigra in cases of high fire frequency, Pinus nigra dominates in areas with low fire frequencies.

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