Avalanche of change

August 05, 2004

When Mount St. Helens erupted in 1980, it set off an enormous avalanche, spewed out deadly hot steam, and buried a vast area with volcanic rock and ash, violently shattering its 123-year 'slumber.' Ecologists used this once in a life-time chance to discover how ecosystems respond to such a natural disturbance.

The symposium "Ecological Recovery After the 1980 Eruptions of Mount St. Helens" will reveal how the surrounding landscape, including forests, soils, steams, lakes, fish, amphibians, birds, and mammals have fared in the ensuing two decades.

"The eruption highlights the importance of factors such as chance events, life history characteristics, and timing and confirms the surprising resilience of nature," says symposia organizer Virginia Dale (Oak Ridge National Laboratory).

Dale will kick off the session with her presentation "Is succession successful? Synthesis and management implications of ecological recovery at Mount St. Helens." She will provide an overview of survival, colonization, and community development among the six disturbance zones the eruption generated: pyroclastic flows, debris avalanche, mudflows, blown-down trees, scorched vegetation, and ash deposition.

Frederick Swanson (US Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station) will focus on the most intense aspects of the eruption, such as landslides and 800 degree Celsius heat of pyroclastic flows and the ways in which they altered the landscape. His talk "Geological and ecological settings of Mount St. Helens before and after May 18, 1980" will describe the link between the reshaped geophysical landscape and the plants and animals living on it.

The session will also delve under the surface in "Life in the changing belowground during succession on Mount St. Helens," which will be presented by Michael Allen (University of California-Riverside). Allen will highlight the dynamic interactions between plants, fungi, and animals as they collectively drive the changes occurring on this disturbed landscape.

Other speakers in the session will address the status of plants in the area's old growth forests as well as the roles of insects, mammals, and birds in reconstructing the environment post-eruption.

The dramatic transformation of Spirit Lake as well as the eruption's consequences on fish and amphibians will be addressed by Charlie Crisafulli (US Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station). Among his findings: river fishes, that originally suffered high mortality have rebounded remarkably in many cases and several amphibians species have colonized new ponds that the blast created.

For more information about this session and other ESA Annual Meeting activities visit the ESA meeting homepage at: http://www.esa.org/portland. The theme for the meeting is "Lessons of Lewis and Clark: Ecological Exploration of Inhabited Landscapes." Close to 4,000 scientists are expected to attend.
-end-


Ecological Society of America

Related Amphibians Articles from Brightsurf:

In the Cerrado, topography explains the genetic diversity of amphibians more than land cover
Study shows that a tree frog endemic to a mountainous region of the Brazilian savanna is unable to disperse and find genetically closer mates when the terrain is rugged, potentially endangering survival of the species

Earliest example of a rapid-fire tongue found in 'weird and wonderful' extinct amphibians
Fossils of bizarre, armored amphibians known as albanerpetontids provide the oldest evidence of a slingshot-style tongue, a new Science study shows.

A species identified in 2016 as an ancient form of chameleon was misidentified at that time, say researchers
A species identified in 2016 as an ancient form of chameleon was misidentified at that time, say researchers, many of whom were part of the original 2016 report.

Venom glands similar to those of snakes are found for first time in amphibians
Brazilian researchers discover that caecilians, limbless amphibians resembling worms or snakes that emerged some 150 million years before the latter, can probably inject venom into their prey while biting.

Climate crisis ages fish, amphibians and reptiles
Climatic conditions are changing at an unprecedented rate, affecting mainly fish, amphibians and reptiles, ectothermic animals that are unable to generate their own internal heat.

Dehydration increases amphibian vulnerability to climate change
Amphibians have few options to avoid the underappreciated one-two punch of climate change, according to a new study from Simon Fraser University researchers and others.

First evidence of snake-like venom glands found in amphibians
Caecilians are limbless amphibians that can be easily mistaken for snakes.

'Fang'tastic: researchers report amphibians with snake-like dental glands
Utah State University biologist Edmund 'Butch' Brodie, Jr. and colleagues from Brazil's Butantan Institute describe oral glands in a family of terrestrial caecilians, serpent-like amphibians related to frogs and salamanders.

Microplastics affect the survival of amphibians and invertebrates in river ecosystems
In collaboration with the National Museum of Natural Sciences (CSIC) in Madrid, the UPV/EHU's Stream Ecology research group has conducted two parallel studies to look at how the larvae of one freshwater amphibian and one invertebrate evolved during 15 days' exposure to microplastics at different concentrations.

Zoology: Biofluorescence may be widespread among amphibians
Biofluorescence, where organisms emit a fluorescent glow after absorbing light energy, may be widespread in amphibians including salamanders and frogs, according to a study in Scientific Reports.

Read More: Amphibians News and Amphibians Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.