October 9 – General Meeting

After the blaze: tracking long-term ecosystem responses to the 1988 Yellowstone Fires

Our guest speaker for the October program will be Dr. Hayley Lanier; she studied the effects of the Yellowstone fires on the area’s communities. The 1988 Yellowstone fires were the largest historically recorded fires in the region.  Scorching more than 1/3 of the Greater Yellowstone Area, these fires were particularly extreme due to an exceptionally dry summer and a build-up of fuel from decades of fire suppression. Immediately after the fires, researchers from the University of Wyoming began studying the impacts of these fires on the small mammals, insects, and habitat structure.  In regular intervals covering the subsequent 27 years, we have worked to study communities in these burned habitats to examine how habitat changes resulting from the fires relate to shifts in species distributions, abundance, and animal movement, and what the long-term implications of such a massive fire season are for the region. In a summer where huge forest fires dominate the headlines, it is even more important for us to understand what decades of fire research are telling us about how these ecosystems will be changing in the future.

In addition to being a new board member for Murie Audubon, Hayley has been an assistant professor of Zoology & Physiology at the University of Wyoming at Casper College since 2013, where she teaches courses in evolution, ornithology, mammalogy, and conservation biology. Her research on the ecology and evolution of mammals has taken her from the farthest islands and mountains of Alaska, to the cloud forests of Guatemala and Costa Rica, to the backcountry of Wyoming.

Come and hear more about this ongoing study on Friday, October 9, 2015, at 7 PM at the Oil & Gas Conservation Commission Building at 2211 King Blvd.  As always, the program is free and open to the public!!

The November program will be “Wolverines and other Nongame Mammals of Wyoming”, presented by Nichole Bjornlie.