Photo by Ignacio Peralta, Carson National Forest (2003).

Southwest US pyrogeography

Since 2005, I have been directing interdisciplinary research on the human-fire-climate nexus in the forested uplands of the Southwest US. My first project, the Mogollon Rim Historical Ecology Project (MrHEP), has contributed to three published papers and my PhD dissertation. Funded by a $100k award from the International Arid Lands Consortium (05R-09), this project documented fire-use by Ancestral Pueblo and Western Apache residents of the eastern Mogollon Rim region of east-central Arizona. Fire-use by American Indian residents of the area buffered the ponderosa pine forests from long-term climate drivers of variability in natural fire regimes.

Building on the success of MrHEP, in 2012 I began an interdisciplinary, collaborative project in the Jemez Mountains of northern New Mexico. Supported by a $1.5 million award from the National Science Foundation, the Jemez Fire & Humans in Resilient Ecosystems Project (FHiRE) is a partnership between scientists, managers, and the Pueblo of Jemez to study the long-term inhabitance of ponderosa pine forests by large populations of Jemez farmers. This project is ongoing but some of the outcomes from the project have been published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Liebmann et al. 2016; and Roos et al. 2021), Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B (Swetnam et al. 2016), Nature Sustainability (Roos 2020), the International Journal of WIldland Fire (Roos and Scott 2018), and Fire (Roos et al. 2019; and Roos et al. 2020). In 2017, I edited an issue of Archaeology Southwest Magazine (Roos and Ferguson, eds. 2017) that summarizes our work for the general public.

Great Plains pyrogeography

In north-central Montana, I have been using stratigraphic records of post-fire erosion to reconstruct fire-use associated with coordinated bison hunting using drivelines and jumps. Supported by two NSF awards to María Nieves Zedeño, we document enhanced fire activity that is spatially and temporally coincident with the peak period of driveline use. A paper based on this work was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Roos et al. 2018).

Pyrogeography in Oceania

In the Republic of Fiji, I have been using stratigraphic records of fire, post-fire erosion, and post-fire plant communities to reconstruct the timing and spatial patterns of ancient human impact on Fiji’s main island, Viti Levu. Supported by a collaborative NSF award, we document spatially heterogeneous human impacts spanning more than 1000 years after the initial settlement of the island by Lapita colonists. We have one paper in Journal of Ethnobiology (Roos et al. 2016) with more papers in preparation.

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