Document Type

Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem Report

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Our study addresses the effects of fire­generated landscape patterns, or variability in structure and composition of successional forest communities, on ecosystem processes such as biogeochemical cycling and productivity. Forest fire is a well-studied disturbance, yet little is known about the long-term implications of a fire-generated landscape mosaic for ecosystem processes. In particular, the dynamics of nitrogen turnover, availability, and sequestration following stand­replacing fire in conifer forests, has received surprisingly little research attention, even though nitrogen is thought to be a limiting factor in most coniferous forests (Smithwick et al. in press). Our current work in Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks builds on our previous and continuing long-term studies of the causes and consequences of fire in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (Turner et al. 2003). The fires of 2000 provided new opportunities for studying spatial and temporal variation in ecosystem processes soon after severe disturbances and how these patterns develop and change through time.