The rule of time and chance: Mount St. Helens and its legacy of knowledge.Author(s): Sally Duncan
Source: Science Findings. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. May (34): 1-5
Publication Series: Science Findings
Station: Pacific Northwest Research Station
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DescriptionWhen Mount St. Helens blew in 1980 it took with it some old ideas that have surprised scientists over the intervening 20 years. Traditional wisdom about ecological succession, survival, and disturbance regimes was moved aside by discoveries of the power of time and chance as environmental agents. Theories about recovery and restoration also have been revised in the wake of many unsuccessful attempts to return the area to its former state.
For it seems the nature of living legacies left behind after disturbance plays a far more important role than previously understood. This finding also has important implications for timber management strategies as they relate to other values: what we leave behind may be more important than what we take.
Researchers have further established that the geologic underpinnings of an area dictate many of its ecological responses, an physical processes have their own kind of succession, not unlike those of the ecological realm. The findings from Mount St. Helens, a global beacon of learning, have affected subsequent management of Pacific Northwest forests, and contributed to strip mining recovery projects in Wyoming.
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CitationDuncan, Sally. 2001. The rule of time and chance: Mount St. Helens and its legacy of knowledge. Science Findings. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. May (34): 1-5
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