DENDROCHRONOLOGIA, vol.69, 2021 (SCI-Expanded)
Forests in the Mediterranean basin frequently experience fires due to both anthropogenic and natural causes. There are concerns that the fire season will prolong in the Mediterranean basin, the fire frequency will increase with ongoing climate change, moreover, the fire regimes will shift from surface fires to local crown fires. Here, we aim to improve our understanding of the fire regime components of black pine forests in Turkey by 1) reconstructing a high-resolution fire chronology based on tree rings, 2) revealing the seasonality of fires, 3) investigating the relationship between fire and climate, and 4) comparing our reconstruction results with documentary data from forest management units. We collected 62 fire-scarred trees from three sites in Kutahya and developed a 368 year-long (1652-2019) composite fire chronology using dendrochronological methods. We found that at two sites major fire years coincided with dry years. Two major fire years (1853 and 1879) were common to all sites and two additional fire years (1822 and 1894) were found at two sites. Our results show a sharp decline in fire frequency after the beginning of the 20th century at all sites that can be attributed to increased fire suppression efforts and forest management activities in the 20th century. Our results suggest that the spread of fires has been actively suppressed since the first forest protection law in Turkey. Yet, tree-ring based and documentary data corroboration shows that seasonality did not change over the past +350 years.