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Faculty for Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences

Department Soil Ecology - Prof. Dr. Eva Lehndorff

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Knappenberg, A; Amelung, W; Conze, N; Sirocko, F; Lehndorff, E: Fire–vegetation relationships during the last glacial cycle in a low mountain range (Eifel, Germany), Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 562, 110140 (2021), doi:10.1016/j.palaeo.2020.110140
Lake sediments can provide useful archives to reconstruct past vegetation changes or fire history. To comprehend how vegetation and fire history have correlated during the last 130,000 years, we used two lake sediment records with known patterns of pollen and botanical macro remains and supplemented this data by analyses of ligninderived phenols as markers for local vegetation inputs and by benzene polycarboxylic acids (BPCAs) as markers for total fire residue inputs (black carbon, BC). The two sediment archives originated from two maar lakes in the Eifel, which is part of the low mountain ranges in central Germany. A lignin-derived phenol index showed woody angiosperms and gymnosperms as fire fuel in the periods with the highest BC amounts. We recorded 3 g BC per kg sediment for phases covered by forest, while BC contents during colder and drier climates were much smaller (≤0.2 g BC per kg sediment), confirming the hypothesis that fires mostly occurred during humid periods in which forest were established. Both records pointed to forested phases with strong fire activity from 48,000–60,000 years before the year 2000 (b2k). Furthermore, the record reaching back to 130,000 years showed a strong fire activity at about 28,000–30,000 yr b2k, and was free of vegetation macro remains and fire markers from 60,000–118,000 yr b2k. All paleobotanical and chemical biomarker results documented the next oldest forested and fire interval, from 118,000 to 130,000 yr b2k, which includes the Eemian of the last interglacial. Thus, nearly all forested phases were accompanied by fire peaks. Overall, biomarker analyses confirmed that analyses of pollen and botanical macro remains. Fire events were highest during warm and humid forested phases.
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