Stream ecosystem responses to fire: the first ten years

Royer, T.V. and Robinson, C.T.

After the Fires: The Ecology of Change in Yellowstone National Park


This chapter describes stream ecosystem responses to fire. The fundamental importance of disturbance in stream ecosystem dynamics and, in particular, of maintaining a heterogeneous or patchy habitat templet in both space and time is widely accepted. The findings demonstrate an integral relationship over time between a stream and its catchment following such large-scale disturbances as wildfire. Individual streams varied considerably in the magnitude and timing of response depending on such factors as stream size, proportion of the catchment burned, and localized differences in precipitation, geology, and topography. Temporally, major physical changes in streams that occurred from 1995 to 1997 were especially noteworthy. The physical environment of streams in some burned watersheds, such as parts of Cache Creek, changed more in those three years than in the first six post-fire years.

Patrick Cross2004