Fire History of Coastal California


Wildcat Lake, located on an ancient landslide, is along the coast north of San Francisco 

coast pond

Struggling to get the Livingstone corer down in Coast Trail Pond at Point Reyes National Seashore (PORE)  

shutter ridge

Locating the raft in the center of Shutter Ridge Pond near PORE headquarters 

Much of R. Scott Anderson's research, and that of his graduate students, concerns projects in California. Here, as elsewhere, they are interested in the relationship between climate change, vegetation history and ecosystem disturbance.

In southern California, they are studying sites within the Transverse and Peninsular Ranges. In the mid-coastal regions, they have projects north and south of San Francisco in Point Reyes National Seashore, and at Laguna de las Trancas north of Santa Cruz.

Point Reyes National Seashore (PORE) is a spectacular place, located immediately north of San Francisco. The research team visited PORE in May of 2002 to core several small wetlands for their fire and vegetation study. Although managed by the National Park Service, it's usage varies from wilderness areas to working dairy farms. The work here seeks to determine the different fire histories determined from sites in coastal sage scrub, upland mixed conifer & hardwood forests, and from open grassland.

Wildcat Lake is one of a small number of landslide lakes along the coast north of San Francisco. Sediments from this lake were originally studied by Emily Russell (1983, Madroño 30, 1-11). Dr. Anderson and his research team took a core in the deepest portion of the lake in 1998 as part of a study of the history of fire in the National Seashore.

Coast Trail Pond is located in coastal sage scrub. The pond is really a wetland, which dries out during the long Mediterranean-climate summer. The site was originally studied by Rypins et al (1989, Quaternary Research 32, 72-87). Dr. Anderson's work in this site was to determine a high-resolution fire history of the vegetation type.

Shutter Ridge Pond is located in the oak grassland, near the Park headquarters. This site is located on a ridge of sediment that has been "pushed up" between two major faults of the San Andreas fault system. The depression the forms the pond probably dries up during the summer dry season.