Holocene fire history as a predictor of watershed responses to future wildfires in southwestern British Columbia

Approximately 2.6 million people in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland depend on the Seymour, Capilano and Coquitlam watersheds for clean, fresh drinking water. A key component of maintaining watershed health and resilience is understanding the relationships between climate, fire and vegetation within the Water Supply Area. As the climate warms these relationships will likely change, presenting a challenge for watershed managers. Historical fire behavior, and the speed and magnitude of associated vegetational regime shifts, can act as gauges for the potential changes Vancouver’s watersheds may experience in the coming decades. By studying the pollen, charcoal and macrofossil content of a sediment core from a small, mid-elevation lake within the watershed, mangers can gain insight into Holocene climate-fire-vegetation relationships. The resulting paleoclimate history will provide information about regional fire and vegetation regime shifts during past warm periods to aid in adopting appropriate adaptive management strategies that minimize damage to watershed ecosystems.

Faculty Supervisor:

Karen Kohfeld


Maggie Duncan


Metro Vancouver


Environmental sciences


Administrative and support, waste management and remediation services




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