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Document Type

Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem Report

First Page

123

Last Page

125

Abstract

Our studies following the 1988 Yellowstone fires demonstrated that succession was surprisingly more variable in space and time than even current theory would have suggested, and that initial spatial patterns of disturbance may persist to produce long­lasting changes in vegetation. Our focus now is on explaining the spatial and temporal patterns of succession and understanding how these patterns influence ecosystem function. The most interesting new questions revolve around the degree to which the spatial variation in postfire vegetation in particular, the six orders of magnitude variation in pine sapling density, ranging from 0 to greater than 500,000 saplings/ha controls the spatial variability in ecosystem processes across the landscape. In our current research, we are conducting studies in both Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks to answer four major questions:

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