Fire & the Future of Yellowstone

For October 9, 2019          Please spread the word to your friends & neighbors.
Hi WN@TL Fans,
During the Drought of 1988, here in the Midwest our fields of shriveled corn looked akin to pineapple, great rivers shrank, livestock and wildlife suffered, thousands of humans died.
And Yellowstone burned.   
1988 is a while ago: find a 31-year-old to see what three decades can do. It’s a little hard to remember now just how much our national psyche was sickened watching on the nightly news this cherished pristine place in flames day after day after day.
The stream of conversation about climate change was then in its intellectual headwaters, gathering strength although not yet the mighty river of today. But for many of us, the protracted drought at home together with the immolation of Yellowstone gave us pause as to the cause and the effects. 
Would Midwestern agriculture recover, adjust, evolve? In the short run, sure:  by summer 1990 our fields of grain were again green and golden. 
In contrast, a forest takes decades to return to its state before the burn.  And if the climate all the while is changing, how will the forest adjust & adapt as it regenerates over the long run?       
This week (October 9) Professor Monica Turner of the Department of Integrative Biology will be here to to help us peer into “The Uncertain Future of Yellowstone in a Warmer World with More Fire.”
As she writes:
Greater Yellowstone–one of the world’s most iconic and beloved landscapes–faces an uncertain future. Fire is a natural process that has shaped the landscape for thousands of years, and the native species are well adapted to large, severe forest fires. 
However, climate warming is increasing fire activity and starting to transform forests throughout the world. Yellowstone will look different in the decades ahead, but how, when and why will it change?”

Links: (1)

(2) “Fires in the West may be changing the future of forests”:

About the Speaker
Dr. Monica G. Turner is the Eugene P. Odum Professor of Ecology and a Vilas Research Professor in the Department of Integrative Biology, University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has studied fire, vegetation dynamics, nutrient cycling, bark beetle outbreaks, and climate change in Greater Yellowstone for 30 years, including long-term research on the 1988 Yellowstone fires. 
She also studies abrupt change in ecological systems, land-water interactions in Wisconsin landscapes, and spatial dynamics of ecosystem services. She has published ~ 275 scientific papers; authored or edited six books, including a 2nd edition of LANDSCAPE ECOLOGY IN THEORY AND PRACTICE; and is co-editor in chief of ECOSYSTEMS. 
Turner is a past-president of the Ecological Society of America (ESA), a recipient of ESA’s Robert H. MacArthur Award, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. She earned her BS in Biology from Fordham University (Bronx, NY) and her PhD in Ecology from the University of Georgia (Athens, GA).
Next week (October 16Jo Handelsman, director of the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, will be here to speak on “Soil: A Precious Resource Under Threat.”
When Morrill land-grant universities were getting going back in the 1860’s, there were at least two leading schools of thought about wealth from the land.
One school was extractive:  how to find, mine, transport, smelt, forge, mill, cast, and machine metals, from silver and gold to copper and iron.  This wealth was what we might call today ‘One And Done.’  When it’s gone, it’s done gone.  
The other school was regenerative:  how to map, drain, irrigate, fertilize, and cultivate the soil to grow food, feed, and fiber.  This approach led Andrew Draper, president of the University of Illinois from 1894 to 1904, to make a remarkable assertion:  “The wealth of Illinois is in her soil and her strength lies in its intelligent development.”
There are truer words spoken by an Illinoisian about Illinois, but I can’t think of any right now.  This much is clear: in the Midwest as across the world, our soils continue to be the seedbeds of our futures.
Hope to see you soon at Wednesday Nite @ The Lab.

Thanks again!
Tom Zinnen
Biotechnology Center & Division of Extension