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After the FiresThe Ecology of Change in Yellowstone National Park$
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Linda L. Wallace

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780300100488

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300100488.001.0001

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Yellowstone Fires and the Physical Landscape

Yellowstone Fires and the Physical Landscape

(p.29) Chapter 3 Yellowstone Fires and the Physical Landscape
After the Fires

Grant A. Meyer

Yale University Press

This chapter discusses the Yellowstone fires and relates these to the physical landscape. Fires such as those of 1988 in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem clearly have major ecological significance through changes in age structure and composition of vegetation, but their impacts on the physical landscape can be equally profound. Both transient and persistent alterations of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems may result from post-fire geomorphic processes. Fire is particularly important as a catalyst of landscape change in mountain regions, where high-severity burns markedly increase the potential for surface runoff, soil erosion, and landslides on steep slopes, resulting in debris flows and floods during intense storms and rapid snowmelt. Such events account for a large proportion of long-term sediment export in many mountain drainage basins.

Keywords:   Yellowstone National Park, physical landscape, vegetation, aquatic ecosystem, snowmelt

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