Monday May 8, 2023


Most people assume that wildfire harms aquatic ecosystems and fisheries. But such assumptions are being challenged by new research. There is no doubt that under some conditions, especially immediately after a high-severity blaze, aquatic ecosystems can suffer temporary degradation. But increasingly, we are beginning to understand that wildfires are a crucial positive influence on aquatic ecosystems.


Fire influences on fish can generally be broken down into three categories: short-term, delayed response, and long-term effects. The short-term impacts would usually be considered neutral or negative, while the long-term effects, on the whole, would be regarded as a positive influence. Rieman et al. report no known examples of stream fish extirpation due to wildfire.

When a watershed burns, the loss of plant cover and subsequent changes in sediment flow, changes in water temperature, changes in debris flow, and the release of nutrients into the system often alter streams.

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