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“Rising from the Ashes: Gatlinburg Fire and Plant Recovery” Topic for Friday, September 21

Mali Hubert, a doctoral student in the UT Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, will present “Rising from the Ashes: The Gatlinburg Fire and Plant Recovery” at the next UT Science Forum Friday, September 21.

Fire is one of the most powerful disturbances of natural ecosystems because it can reshape communities. In the southern Appalachian region of the United States, fires are a re-emerging, yet still largely historical dimension of the landscape, illustrated by the persistence of fire-dependent species. While many aspects of wildfire effects have been elucidated in the western United States, effects of wildfire in the eastern United States remain unclear. Wildfire disturbances in the southern Appalachians are considered rare, so opportunities to study fire effects are limited and gaps exist in our knowledge of the ecological outcomes of large wildfires in the region.

Hubert is investigating understory plant communities affected by the 2016 Chimney Tops 2 fire at 20 plot sites in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to determine vegetation successional stages as the landscape recovers from fire, as well as the susceptibility of site locations to species dominance over time. The data collected from this study will help to establish how the plant communities in southern Appalachian Mountains respond to fire events in the face of a warming planet where wildfires are becoming an increasing occurrence.

The UT Science Forum takes place Friday, September 21 from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. in the Thompson-Boling Arena Cafe, Room A (located at 1600 Phillip Fulmer Way). Guests are encouraged to bring their lunch or purchase it from the Arena. Each presentation is followed by a Q&A. The event is free and open to the public

We have temporary parking passes available for our guests who do not have UT parking passes. An RSVP is required for the pass. To request a pass, please email Amanda Womac. If you would like to receive a permit by US mail in advance of the meeting, please send an email before 10 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 18  and include your mailing address.

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