Skip to Main Content
U.S. Forest Service
Caring for the land and serving people

United States Department of Agriculture

Home > Search > Publication Information

  1. Share via EmailShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on Twitter
    Dislike this pubLike this pub
    Author(s): Shad K. Mahlum; Lisa A. Eby; Michael K. Young; Chris G. Clancy; Mike Jakober
    Date: 2011
    Source: International Journal of Wildland Fire. 20: 240-247.
    Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
    Station: Rocky Mountain Research Station
    PDF: View PDF  (591.34 KB)


    Wildfire is a common natural disturbance that can influence stream ecosystems. Of particular concern are increases in water temperature during and following fires, but studies of these phenomena are uncommon. We examined effects of wildfires in 2000 on maximum water temperature for a suite of second- to fourth-order streams with a range of burn severities in the Bitterroot River basin, Montana. Despite many sites burning at high severity, there were no apparent increases in maximum water temperature during the fires. One month after fire and in the subsequent year, increases in maximum water temperatures at sites within burns were 1.4-2.2°C greater than those at reference sites, with the greatest differences in July and August. Maximum temperature changes at sites >1.7 km downstream from burns did not differ from those at reference sites. Seven years after the fires, there was no evidence that maximum stream temperatures were returning to pre-fire norms. Temperature increases in these relatively large streams are likely to be long-lasting and exacerbated by climate change. These combined effects may alter the distribution of thermally sensitive aquatic species.

    Publication Notes

    • You may send email to to request a hard copy of this publication.
    • (Please specify exactly which publication you are requesting and your mailing address.)
    • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.


    Mahlum, Shad K.; Eby, Lisa A.; Young, Michael K.; Clancy, Chris G.; Jakober, Mike. 2011. Effects of wildfire on stream temperatures in the Bitterroot River basin, Montana. International Journal of Wildland Fire. 20: 240-247.


    aquatic ecosystems, disturbance, recovery, watershed

    Related Search

    XML: View XML
Show More
Show Fewer
Jump to Top of Page