A Burning Story: The Role of Fire in the History of Life

  title={A Burning Story: The Role of Fire in the History of Life},
  author={Juli G. Pausas and Jon E. Keeley},
Ecologists, biogeographers, and paleobotanists have long thought that climate and soils controlled the distribution of ecosystems, with the role of fire getting only limited appreciation. Here we review evidence from different disciplines demonstrating that wildfire appeared concomitant with the origin of terrestrial plants and played an important role throughout the history of life. The importance of fire has waxed and waned in association with changes in climate and paleoatmospheric… 
Fire and plant evolution
Throughout much of the history of ecological science, wildfires were viewed as disasters that destroyed ecosystems. Currently, however, most scientists and managers have overcome this shortsighted
Baptism by fire: the pivotal role of ancient conflagrations in evolution of the Earth's flora
Fire became a defining feature of the Earth’s processes as soon as land plants evolved 420 million years ago and has played a major role in shaping the composition and physiognomy of many ecosystems
Fire patterns of South Eastern Queensland in a global context: A review
Fire is an important driver in ecosystem evolution, composition, structure and distribution, and is vital for maintaining ecosystems of the Great Sandy Region (GSR). Charcoal records for the area
Fire in the Earth System
What is known and what is needed to develop a holistic understanding of the role of fire in the Earth system are reviewed, particularly in view of the pervasive impact of fires and the likelihood that they will become increasingly difficult to control as climate changes.
Landscape in motion: revisiting the role of key disturbances in the preservation of mountain ecosystems
  • R. Canals
  • Environmental Science
    Cuadernos de Investigación Geográfica
  • 2019
The history of the planet is an ever-changing story. Nowadays, managers of the natural environment face the challenge of dealing with a dynamic landscape that is at a turning point due to the global
Human Pyrogeography: A New Synergy of Fire, Climate and People is Reshaping Ecosystems across the Globe
Climate and fire have shaped global ecosystems for millennia. Today human influence on both of these components is causing changes to ecosystems at a scale and pace not previously seen. This article
Ecology and evolution of pine life histories
  • J. Keeley
  • Environmental Science
    Annals of Forest Science
  • 2012
The different pathways of pine life history adaptation are laid out and a brief overview of pine evolution and the very significant role that fire has played is given.
Traditional fire-use, landscape transition, and the legacies of social theory past
It is suggested that a more theoretically cognizant historical fire ecology should strive to operationalize transdisciplinary theory capable of addressing the role of human variability in the evolutionary history of landscapes.
The human dimension of fire regimes on Earth
An historical framework is provided to promote understanding of the development and diversification of fire regimes, covering the pre-human period, human domestication of fire, and the subsequent transition from subsistence agriculture to industrial economies.


After the fires: the ecology of change in Yellowstone National Park.
The ravaging fires in Yellowstone National Park in 1988 caused grave concern among scientists about the possible short- and longterm repercussions. This book provides the first comprehensive
The effects of humans and climatic variation on fire history in northern Patagonia, Argentina, were examined by dating fire scars on 458 trees at 21 sites in rain forests of Fitzroya cupressoides and
Dynamics of an Anthropogenic Fire Regime
Human interaction with fire and vegetation occurs at many levels of human population density and cultural development, from subsistence cultures to highly technological societies. The dynamics of
The Demise of Fire and “Mesophication” of Forests in the Eastern United States
ABSTRACT A diverse array of fire-adapted plant communities once covered the eastern United States. European settlement greatly altered fire regimes, often increasing fire occurrence (e.g., in
The diversification of Paleozoic fire systems and fluctuations in atmospheric oxygen concentration.
  • A. Scott, I. Glasspool
  • Environmental Science, Geography
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
  • 2006
Trends in charcoal abundance and fire system diversification conform well to changes in atmospheric oxygen concentration, as predicted by modeling, and indicate oxygen levels are a significant control on long-term fire occurrence.
The “fire stick farming” hypothesis: Australian Aboriginal foraging strategies, biodiversity, and anthropogenic fire mosaics
This work combines ethnographic observations of contemporary Aboriginal hunting and burning with satellite image analysis of anthropogenic and natural landscape structure to demonstrate the processes through which Aboriginal burning shapes arid-zone vegetational diversity.
Fire ecology of the Carboniferous tropical zone
Fire persistence traits of plants along a productivity and disturbance gradient in mediterranean shrublands of south‐east Australia
Aim To understand changes in fire persistence traits of plants along a latitudinal gradient, considering the interactions between productivity, community (fuel) structure and fire regime. Location A
The purpose of this paper is to promote a broad and flexible perspective on ecological restoration of Southwestern (U.S.) ponderosa pine forests. Ponderosa pine forests in the region have been