Effects of late holocene climate change and human disturbance on the fire ecology and vegetation history of Andros Island, Bahamas [abstract]
Document Type: Conference Paper
Author(s): E. Kjellmark
Publication Year: 1998

Cataloging Information

  • Bahamas
  • Caribbean
  • charcoal
  • cover type conversion
  • disturbance
  • fire frequency
  • habitat conversion
  • hardwoods
  • histories
  • human caused fires
  • lightning
  • lightning caused fires
  • paleoclimatology
  • paleoecology
  • pine forests
  • pollen
  • tropical hardwood hammocks
  • water
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: June 1, 2018
FRAMES Record Number: 39920
Tall Timbers Record Number: 14650
TTRS Location Status: In-file
TTRS Call Number: Fire File (filed under Pine Rockland)
TTRS Abstract Status: Okay, Fair use, Reproduced by permission

This bibliographic record was either created or modified by the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy and is provided without charge to promote research and education in Fire Ecology. The E.V. Komarek Fire Ecology Database is the intellectual property of the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.


Paleoecological methods were used to investigate the role of anthropogenic fire in the development and maintenance of the pinewoods of Andros Island, Bahamas. Fossil pollen and charcoal from a transect of three sediment cores was used to reconstruct the vegetation and fire history of Andros Island over the last 2,900 years. Cores sites were located 1 km, 5 km, and 17 km from the east coast. The timing of events in the lower third of two cores is uncertain due to inconsistencies in the radiocarbon chronology, but the results suggest that Andros experienced unusually dry climate from before 2,900 yr. BP to 1,500 yr. BP, which may correlate with a widespread Caribbean dry period from 3,200 to 1,500 yr. BP. This dry period had a variable effect on the vegetation depending on its proximity to the water table. After 1,500 yr. BP, wetter climate supported tropical hardwoods around the two core sites closer to the coast and pinewoods around the third site. Around 750 to 800 radiocarbon yr. BP, charcoal concentrations and pine pollen peak in the two cores closest to the coast. The core from 5 km inland shows a large increase in pollen from pinewoods vegetation and a 10 X higher charcoal concentration than that from the 1 km inland core. The third core shows little change in charcoal or pine pollen. Around 400 to 500 yr. BP, charcoal concentrations are lower in the two cores closer to the coast, but higher again near the tops of the cores. Although climatic shifts could have caused the charcoal and vegetation changes around the two core sites closer to the coast, they may reflect human arrival on Andros 1,000 to 800 yr. BP, followed by the removal of humans ca. 1530 AD, then recolonization ca. 200 years later. The third, inland core site suggests that pinewoods have been present on Andros Island for at least 2,400 years, well before the arrival of humans. The pinewoods around this site appear to have been maintained by lightning fires burning in from nearby sawgrass flats to the west. The patterns in the 3 cores suggest that pinewoods were present, but less widespread on Andros before human arrival and that the colonization of the island by humans brought about an increase in fire frequency and an expansion of pinewoods vegetation at the expense of tropical hardwoods vegetation.

Kjellmark, E. 1998. Effects of late holocene climate change and human disturbance on the fire ecology and vegetation history of Andros Island, Bahamas [abstract], Pine Rocklands Fire Managers Symposium Proceedings, 1998. Miami, FL. The Nature Conservancy [?] and Dade County Environmentally Endangered Lands Program [?],Dade County, FL [?]. p. 8,