Poster: A Paleoecological Test of the Fire Hypotheses in Serpentine Vegetation
Mark Nejako, Towson University; Dr. William Hilgartner, Friends School of Baltimore & Johns Hopkins University

Historical documents suggest that fire has been a key factor in shaping and maintaining the serpentine grassland community at Soldiers Delight. Currently, there are no paleoecological records to substantiate the importance of fire. In this study, a sediment core was extracted from a selected site within Soldiers Delight. The core was analyzed for charcoal, seeds and pollen, and provided an estimated age of < 200 years. Charcoal provides a record of fire frequency, seeds a record of local vegetation and pollen a record of regional vegetation. Surface samples were also analyzed for charcoal content. Results show Pinus virginiana moving into the depositional site around 50 years ago, but being present in the region over the past 150 years. No charcoal was found in the core. Its absence suggests that fire at the depositional site has not occurred during the past 150 years, even though fire may have occurred at nearby sites


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