Ecology And Environment

Yellowstone Forest Fires Ecological Aspects

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Ecologists who study the forest fires of Yellowstone National Forest have discovered the most populous tree that grows in the forest is the lodgepole pine. Through a process known as carbon dating, which is studying older trees and discovering how often large forest fires have occurred. have Ecologists discovered that Yellowstone has a major forest fire approximately one time in every one hundred years large fires are traceable as far back as the 1700s.

The importance of the lodgepole pine and the ecology of Yellowstone is the manner in which the lodgepole pine pollinates. The lodgepole pine produces serotinous pinecone, a resin that holds the seeds tight within the cone, the seed can also stay on the top of the cone for as long as 30 to 50 years (Krantz, 2008). Scientists discovered the only way the lodgepole pine disburses its seeds is through extreme heat. Therefore, since the lodgepole pine is so important to Yellowstone's vegetation forest fires help replenish its most dominant tree.

Ecologists studying the vegetation growth after the major fire at Yellowstone in 1988 discovered that within a year almost ninety-five percent of the chard lodgepole pine began to germinate. They also noted allowing nature to work alone without human intervention was more successful. After a major fire at Yellowstone in 1953, the forest service sent bulldozers to clear the scorched area, as a result, the land did not recover properly, and parts still lay barren (Krantz, 2008). Ecologist realized after the fact that by scraping the topsoil from the burnt area the land was no longer fertile. The reality of their action is it may take 200 years for that area of the forest to recover the nutrients needed to rejuvenate the vegetation where man tried to help, but in turn did more damage than good.

Ecologists believe lightening strikes, and other natural causes of forest fires are a way to replenish the natural balance of the forest. When man tries to control Yellowstone, or any other forest from over growth, nature is disturbed and the consequences is worse than what man perceives to be over growth of vegetation. A Forest fire is necessary, or as the saying goes a fact of nature. Without forest fires, rebirth of Yellowstone would not be possible. However, with human intervention, the problems Yellowstone has faced in the past, and could face in the future may be harmful if man does not pay attention to the natural order of its plant life.


Krantz, Laura, (September 14, 2008), National Parks and Recreation,

Yellowstone: Evolution Of A National Treasure Yellowstone Fires:

Ecological Blessings in Disguise. Retrieved January 28, 2009. From:

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