Late-Quaternary paleoclimate information in the mid-latitudes of South America is primarily derived from pollen records in lake cores1. A series of lake cores from the ~39° to ~45°S provide high-resolution paleoenvironmental records which can be used for the detailed reconstruction of past regimes, and links between human and fire activity1. The cores have been dated through radiocarbon analysis and have records as long as ~15 kyr BP. Pollen taxa and associated past ecosystem changes have already been examined2. The University of Venice has access to the suite of Andean lake cores archived at Montana State University (LINK), and the proposed work will build on the previous studies. The southern Andes currently have strong west-to-east gradients in climate, vegetation, and fire regimes1. Frequent fires occur in the eastern steppe, while infrequent fires occur in the Andean rainforests, which are only 80 km to the west3. European settlement is associated with large fires for forest clearance for rangeland in the steppes and near the steppe/rainforest boundary around ~1850 AD3. The Andean sites provide a parallel to the New Zealand and Central Asian measurements, where fires are associated with large-scale settlement and/or the rise of pastoralism.
1. Whitlock et al. (2006) Quaternary Research, 66 (2) 197-201
2. Mouillot et al. (2005) Global Change Biology, 11 (3) 398-420
3. Jarosz-Wilkolazka et al. (2003) Chemosphere 52 (3) 541-547