Environmental change in Garry oak (Quercus garryana) ecosystems: the evolution of an eco-cultural landscape
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Marlow G. Pellatt; Ze'ev Gedalof
Publication Year: 2014

Cataloging Information

  • British Columbia
  • British Columbia
  • Canada
  • eco-cultural landscapes
  • ecological restoration
  • ecosystem dynamics
  • environmental change
  • fire management
  • forest management
  • Garry oak
  • Garry oak
  • hardwood forests
  • indigenous people land practices
  • paleoecology
  • paleoecology
  • Quercus garryana
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: June 11, 2019
FRAMES Record Number: 53118
Tall Timbers Record Number: 30429
TTRS Location Status: Not in file
TTRS Call Number: Available
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.


Globally, colonialism resulted in the suppression of aboriginal land management practices, abetted by the concept of terra nullius, 'belonging to no one'; the belief that aboriginal people had little influence on or ownership of the land. Until recently, this ideology was entrenched in resource management and policy. Traditional ecological knowledge, historical ecology, archaeology, and palaeoecological research have shown these assumptions to be wrong. In this paper we take a multidisciplinary approach (biogeography, paleoecology, dendrochronology, and bioclimatic envelope modeling) to better understand the role of climate and fire in the formation of eco-cultural landscapes. We synthesize results from pollen and charcoal analysis in Garry oak ecosystems that indicate there were continuous and frequent prewww.springerlink.comscribed burning events, with more severe fires occurring every 26-41 years in southwest British Columbia throughout the Anthropocene (~ last 250 years) that substantially altered forest structure and composition. These results are consistent with stand age reconstructions in BC and Washington with Garry oak establishment beginning ~ 1850 AD, corresponding with modern fire exclusion, aboriginal population decline, and end of the Little Ice Age. Douglas-fir recruitment has been continuous since ~ 1900, with succession of oak woodland to closed conifer forest at most sites. These findings indicate that the structure of many Garry oak ecosystems have been profoundly influenced by eco-cultural practices. Overwhelming evidence indicates that in many cases these ecosystems are dependent on prescribed fire for their open structure. In the absence of aboriginal land-management practices, active management will be necessary to maintain Garry oak woodland. © The Authors 2014. This article is published with open access at

Pellatt, M. G., and Z. Gedalof. 2014. Environmental change in Garry oak (Quercus garryana) ecosystems: the evolution of an eco-cultural landscape. Biodiversity and Conservation, v. 23, no. 8, p. 2053-2067. 10.1007/s10531-014-0703-9.