USF St. Petersburg campus Faculty Publications


Utilizing fossilized charcoal to augment the Everglades National Park Fire History Geodatabase

SelectedWorks Author Profiles:

Joseph M. Smoak

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Everglades National Park (ENP) has been documenting fire events since 1948, and these data have been incorporated into an ESRI geodatabase. According to this geodatabase, 757,078 ha of wetlands burned from 1948 to 2011. 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 that have no documented fire events. We examined fossil charcoal in soil cores and found evidence that fires did indeed occur in some of these areas. Sites of known fires were used to validate the fossil charcoal method. The abundance of fossil charcoal in soil cores from six locations in ENP was measured. Two of the cores were taken from areas with well-documented fire events and four cores where taken from areas with no documented fire events. Three of the cores were dated using 210Pb geochronology. The initial goal was to determine if fires had gone undetected or undocumented in the geodatabase with the ultimate goal being to demonstrate the usefulness of this approach to augment the geodatabase and therefore enhance our understanding of fire ecology in ENP.