High-resolution macroscopic charcoal and pollen analysis were used to reconstruct an 11??000-year-long record of fire and vegetation history from Beaver Lake, Oregon, the first complete Holocene paleoecological record from the floor of the Willamette Valley. In the early Holocene (ca 11??000-7500 calendar years before present [cal??yr??BP]), warmer, drier summers than at present led to the establishment of xeric woodland of Quercus, Corylus, and Pseudotsuga near the site. Disturbances (i.e., floods, fires) were common at this time and as a result Alnus rubra grew nearby. High fire frequency occurred in the early Holocene from ca 11??200-9300??cal??yr??BP. Riparian forest and wet prairie developed in the middle Holocene (ca 7500??cal??yr??BP), likely the result of a decrease in the frequency of flooding and a shift to effectively cooler, wetter conditions than before. The vegetation at Beaver Lake remained generally unchanged into the late Holocene (from 4000??cal??yr??BP to present), with the exception of land clearance associated with Euro-American settlement of the valley (ca 160??cal??yr BP). Middle-to-late Holocene increases in fire frequency, coupled with abrupt shifts in fire-episode magnitude and charcoal composition, likely indicate the influence anthropogenic burning near the site. The paleoecological record from Beaver Lake, and in particular the general increase in fire frequency over the last 8500??years, differs significantly from other low-elevation sites in the Pacific Northwest, which suggests that local controls (e.g., shifts in vegetation structure, intensification of human land-use), rather than regional climatic controls, more strongly influenced its environmental history. ?? 2010 Elsevier Ltd.
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An 11??000-year-long record of fire and vegetation history at Beaver Lake, Oregon, central Willamette Valley