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Using Fossilized Charcoal to Corroborate the Everglades Fire History Geodatabase

August 4, 2017

Fire in The Everglades National Park (ENP) has historically been influential in shaping the Everglades ecosystem. As a result, ENP has been documenting fire events since 1948, and these data have been incorporated into an Esri geodatabase. The main type of vegetation that has burned is comprised of palustrine and estuarine wetlands. However, there are areas in ENP that are comprised of these wetlands but have no documented fire events. Consequently, the completeness of the data in this geodatabase is questionable. For further information regarding fire data in the geodatabase, please refer to USGS Open-File Report 2015-1034, https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20151034.

To test the completeness of the data in the geodatabase sediment cores were collected in ENP from areas with documented and no documented historic fire events. Each core was examined for the presence or absence of charcoal particles and 210Pb dating was conducted on three of the six cores. The abundance of fossil charcoal in sediment cores was used as a historic fire proxy. From this examination, evidence was found of historic fire events in sediments cores that were taken from areas with no documented fire events.

Tiling-Range, G., Smith, T.J., Foster, A.M., Smoak, J.M., and Breithaupt, J.L., 2019, Utilizing fossilized charcoal to augment the Everglades National Park Fire History Geodatabase: Journal of Environmental Management, v. 249, article no. 109360, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2019.109360.

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