Understanding the evidence for historical fire across eastern forests
Document Type: Conference Paper
Author(s): Charles M. Ruffner
Editor(s): Matthew B. Dickinson
Publication Year: 2006

Cataloging Information

  • archaeological sites
  • deciduous forests
  • dendrochronology
  • ecosystem dynamics
  • European settlement
  • fire management
  • fire regimes
  • fire scar analysis
  • forest management
  • hardwood forests
  • histories
  • land management
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Native Americans
  • New England
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • paleoecology
  • prehistoric fires
  • witness trees
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: March 8, 2021
FRAMES Record Number: 45362
Tall Timbers Record Number: 20854
TTRS Location Status: In-file
TTRS Call Number: A13.88:GTR-NRS-P-1
TTRS Abstract Status: Fair use, Okay, 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.


Evidence for historical fire across the eastern deciduous biome spans several fields, including paleoecology, fire scar analysis, witness tree studies, historical documents and ethnographic sources. In this paper I provide an overview of many of these methods as well as the limitations and examples of each. While the use of any single approach has its cautions and pitfalls, the interpretation of the considerable material available allows a view into the history and effects of fire on eastern oak forests.

Online Link(s):
Ruffner, C. M. 2006. Understanding the evidence for historical fire across eastern forests, in Dickinson, M. B., Fire in eastern oak forests: delivering science to land managers; Proceedings of a Conference. Ohio State University, Columbus, OH. USDA Forest Service, Northern Research Station,Newton Square, PA. p. 40-48,General Technical Report NRS-P-1.