Wildfire Impacts on Yellowstone Streams Topic of AMK Ranch Talk Thursday

July 20, 2012

The impact of wildfires on Yellowstone National Park streams is this week’s topic for the weekly summer lecture series Thursday, July 26, at the University of Wyoming-National Park Service (UW-NPS) Research Center. The center is located at the AMK Ranch in Grand Teton National Park.

UW’s Lusha Tronstad, a research scientist with Wyoming’s Natural Diversity Database, will discuss “The Chemical and Biological Responses of Three Streams to Wildfire in Yellowstone National Park,” at 6:30 p.m. at the AMK Ranch, located north of Leeks Marina. A barbecue, at a cost of $5 per person, will take place at 5:30 p.m. Reservations are not required. For more information, call the UW-NPS Center at (307) 543-2463.

Tronstad and her colleagues collected water and invertebrates from three streams in Yellowstone National Park before 2003 and after wildfires in 2004 and 2005. Tronstad says stream nutrient concentrations were two to 80 times higher after the fires.

“These results suggest that burned watersheds leak nitrogen into streams, and are predicted to increase algae and aquatic invertebrates living in these areas,” Tronstad says.

She will emphasize that wildfire is a natural terrestrial process that can drastically impact aquatic ecosystems and likely cause changes in the availability of invertebrates for young Yellowstone cutthroat trout rearing in these streams.

The UW-NPS Research Center provides a base for university faculty members and government scientists from throughout North America to conduct research in the diverse aquatic and terrestrial environments of Grand Teton National Park and the greater Yellowstone area.

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