Lake Uddjaur in northern Sweden was formed as a consequence of non-uniform glacio-isostatic uplift in which a forested valley was gradually flooded and high elevation areas became islands. We hypothesized that small islands in Lake Uddjaur burnt through lightning strike more frequently when they were part of a large forested area compared to when they became true islands, and that this reduction in fire impact has enhanced the domination of late successional species and humus accumulation. Fire history and vegetation dynamics were studied by analysis of macroscopic charcoal (> 0.5 mm) and pollen in humus profiles from two islands. According to a model of isostatic uplift, the islands became gradually isolated from the mainland between ca. 2000 to 1000 BP, i.e. during the same time that fire impact declined. Prior to that, both islands were part of a Pinus-Betula forest landscape affected by fires from ca. 5800 to ca. 1500 BP. Thereafter fire influence ceased and the islands became more strongly characterized by late successional species, e.g. Picea. This change was associated with substantial humus accumulation. The decreased fire influence on these islands contrasts with the regional increase in fire influence during the last 1000 yr. Long-term influence of wildfire is important in vegetation dynamics and humus accumulation and, thus, post-glacial isostatic land uplift can indirectly have a substantial influence on ecosystem development. Consequently, this effect should be further considered in long-time ecosystem studies of areas with large, non-uniform land uplift such as those found in northern Fennoscandia and eastern Canada.
Abbreviations: BP = Radiocarbon based age expressed as Before Present = before 1950.