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Holocene vegetation, climate, and fire history of the Hudson Highlands, southeastern New York, USA.

Record Type: Research Project

Project Start Date: July 1, 1991

Project End Date: Aug. 1, 1992

Principal Investigator: Terryanne Maenza-Gmelch

Description: Holocene vegetation, climate, and fire history of the Hudson Highlands, lower Hudson Valley, south eastern New York, are inferred from AMS radiocarbon-dated pollen, plant-macrofossil and charcoal records from Sutherland (41°23'29''N, 74°02'16''W) and Spruce Ponds (41°14'22''N, 74°12'15"W).

Expanding Quercus-dominated forests were invaded by Pinus strobus at 10 175 radiocarbon years before present (BP), followed by Tsuga canadensis at 9645, Fagus grandifolia at 8100, Carya at 6200, and Castanea dentata at 3600 BP; ages are averaged over two sites. Large Quercus pollen percentage and influx values are associated with continuous charcoal influx throughout the record, suggesting that fire may have played an important role in the development and maintenance of Quercus in the forest.

At Sutherland Pond, a temporary decrease in fire at approximately 9500 BP apparently was a factor enabling expansion of Tsuga canadensis populations. Onset of Euroamerican agricultural practices in the region (approximately AD 1700) is well documented by rises in pollen of Ambrosia, Gramineae and Tubuliflorae and presence of Rumex and Plantago. Domestic/industrial use of Quercus, Pinus and Tsuga canadensis is also recorded by decreased percentages of these trees. Increased charcoal influx during Euroamerican settlement, particularly at Spruce Pond, may be explained by fire in connection with land clearance, wood-related industries (charcoal, iron and brick manufacturing), and operation of railroads (track fires).

Keyword: Climate Change, Earth Science, Herbaceous Plants, Paleoecological, Plants, Research, Woody Plants (Trees and Shrubs)