Fellows in the News

Human impacts on natural landscapes through urbanization and agricultural expansion have left a deep and enduring imprint on almost every dimension of the natural world. Throughout history, fire has almost always been associated with this human expansion, from field clearance and the burning of fossil fuel biomass to human-induced conflagrations. “The arrival of a fire-wielding species,” observes Stephen J. Pyne, “was a monumental moment in the natural history of Earth” (Pyne, 2010, xvii). These fires, whether anthropogenically sparked or lightning-ignited, have not only shaped where and how humans have settled, but how ecosystems themselves function in fundamental ways. This chapter examines the role of fire in the socio-ecological history of Mediterranean-type ecosystems, with an emphasis on the dynamic interaction between fire and climate, and the efforts of humans to live with and control fire regimes.

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