Ecological - Second Order
Fire & Wildlife
Dr. Dick Hutto, professor of Organismal Biology and Ecology at the University of Montana, took participants of the May 2014 Large Wildland Fires Conference to recently burned sites to discuss fire effects. Hutto was enthused and excited about “the magical biology” occurring on recently burned sites. Magical biology includes regeneration and decay that are critical to ecosystem maintenance and health in dry conifer forests such as those surrounding the Missoula, Montana, area. The first stop was six miles east of Lolo, Montana, in a ponderosa pine-Douglas fir (Pinus ponderosa-Pseudotsuga menziesii) forest that burned in the August 2013 Lolo Complex fire. The next stop was in the same forest type in the Blue Mountain Recreation Area, which burned 11 years earlier in the 2003 Black Mountain fire. Both fires burned with mixed severity, producing mosaics of lightly to severely burned patches, which produced a diversity of postfire plant regeneration and wildlife use.