Rachel Powers

riparian ecosystem succession following fire disturbance on the north fork flathead river, montana

The wild fire regime in the western U.S. has been increasing both in frequency and severity.  regions that historically have had little interaction with fire are now experiencing severe, stand-replacing fires.  The study of fire disturbance changes, or succession, in riparian systems is poorly understood, particularly the long term changes.  Given the critical resource values of riparian zones as natural buffers that protect freshwater streams, additional data are needed to better understand interactions between fire and riparian ecosystems.

Rachel Powers, a graduate student at the University of Montana, is studying the vegetation and geomorphology on the North Fork of the Flathead River following the Red Bench Fire of 1988.  Her data will lead to a better understanding of the resilience of riparian ecosystems under fire disturbance regimes.