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Michael R. Coughlan
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Cataloging Information

Fire History
Fire & Traditional Knowledge

NRFSN number: 16974
TTRS number: 31776
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Fire-use and the scale and character of its effects on landscapes remain hotly debated in the paleo- and historical-fire literature. Since the second half of the nineteenth century, anthropology and geography have played important roles in providing theoretical propositions and testable hypotheses for advancing understandings of the ecological role of human–fire-use in landscape histories. This article reviews some of the most salient and persistent theoretical propositions and hypotheses concerning the role of humans in historical fire ecology. The review discusses this history in light of current research agendas, such as those offered by pyrogeography. The review suggests that a more theoretically cognizant historical fire ecology should strive to operationalize transdisciplinary theory capable of addressing the role of human variability in the evolutionary history of landscapes. To facilitate this process, researchers should focus attention on integrating more current human ecology theory into transdisciplinary research agendas.


Coughlan M. 2015. Traditional fire-use, landscape transition, and the legacies of social theory past. Ambio 44(8): 705–717. Published online 2015 Jun 3. doi: 10.1007/s13280-015-0643-y

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