Mount St. Helens Plays a Central Role in the Field of Volcano Ecology
Volcanoes are broadly distributed around the earth, with more than 1,500 of them currently active and dozens more erupting at any point in time. After eruptions, natural, agricultural, and social systems often areprofoundly disrupted and may remain so for centuries. The formal study of volcano ecology began in 1883 with the eruption of Krakatau in Indonesia. Since then, 404 volcanoes have erupted, but only 76 of these have been the focus of ecological inquiry, and most investigations have been limited in scope.
The breadth and duration of research,35 years and counting,on Mount St. Helens following the 1980 eruption puts this body of integrated research at the fore of volcano ecology. The methods and monitoring protocols developed there are now being adopted at volcanic sites around the world. To further the field of volcano ecology, scientists conducted a massive literature search to determine what is known about ecological responses to volcanism. The extensive bibliographic database, currently for research use only, will provide information on eruption impacts and responses. The identified gaps in knowledge about volcano-ecology interactions are a starting point for developing a research strategy that will lead to new insights and understanding about volcano ecology.
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