Missing Pieces: What Do We Still Need to Know about Fire and Aquatic Ecosystems?

Monday, August 18, 2014: 4:00 PM
2104A (Centre des congrès de Québec // Québec City Convention Centre)
Robert E. Gresswell , Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center, U.S. Geological Survey, Bozeman, MT
Prediction in the biological systems is difficult, primarily because context plays a major role in the expression of any observed state at a given point and changes in state through time. In fact, spatial and temporal scales are elements of context that are especially important for understanding biological systems.  Factors that influence distribution and abundance of aquatic organisms following disturbance fire are being investigated at a variety of spatial and temporal scales.  For example, broad generalizations about fire are possible through understanding of physical, chemical, and biological characteristics of a watershed and long-term climate, but it is more difficult to predict the occurrence of fire at specific location in a watershed at any point in time.  Following fire, watershed characteristics combine with postfire vegetation patterns and local weather events to influence the probability and magnitude of change.  Because effects are greatest at spatial scales of 102-103 m and temporal scales of 101-102, least mobile organisms are most vulnerable to change.  Response is influenced by anthropogenic activities that alter network connectivity and community composition.  Although it is possible to define general management strategies to ameliorate the effects of fire on aquatic communities, site specific or even watershed specific predictions remain elusive.