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UW researchers still monitoring plants, forest stands, seismic activity 20 years after eruption of Mount St. Helens

University of Washington

The following is a list of experts at the University of Washington who can help reporters who are preparing stories to mark the 20th anniversary of the eruption of Mount St. Helens. The first three scientists listed still have active research programs at the mountain.

Plant recovery Roger del Moral Professor of botany 206-543-6341, 206-543-8358 Research overview at Del Moral and his students have an ongoing program of research at Mount St. Helens. Work at Mount St. Helens and other volcanos has caused plant scientist to realize that earlier ideas about vegetation recovery and plant succession were overly simple or needed to be modified. Del Moral can talk about the importance of survivors, "biological hot spots" and landscape effects following the eruption. He also can describe the primary plant succession and rates of development on pumice.

Tree damage and recovery Thomas Hinckley Professor of forest resources 206-543-1588, 206-543-5776 Hinckley and his students continue to make two field trips a year to the Northeast side of the mountain. Hinckley can talk about the immediate and long-term effect of the ash on trees, for example, its contribution to persistent decline of old-growth Pacific silver fir. He can describe the recovery of forests that were in the blast zone but had snow cover. He also can contrast the differences of forests replanted by Weyerhaeuser, those managed by the U.S. Forest Service and those left to recover naturally.

Seismic activity Stephen Malone Research professor of geophysics 206-685-3811, 206-543-7010 Malone has been the seismologist in charge of monitoring Mount St. Helens for more than 20 years. He studies earthquakes at Mount St. Helens and other volcanos such as Mount Rainier.

Ecological rebirth Jerry Franklin Professor of forest resources 805-892-2500 (Franklin is on sabbatical at UC Santa Barbara. Messages can be left for him at this number for the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis) Franklin was among the first scientists on the scene after the blast. Franklin, a forest ecologist, can explain about ecosystem recovery and the "biological legacy" of surviving plants and animals that helped the mountain recover much more quickly than expected.

Insects recolonize in unexpected ways John Edwards Professor of zoology 206-543-8829

Rod Crawford Curatorial associate of arachnids, UW's Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture 206-543-9853


The wind carried far more insects and spiders into the blast-devastated area than had been expected. The classical view of succession begins with plants, followed by insects such as aphids that feed on plants and, finally, by predatory insects. But predatory beetles and spiders were among the first to take up residence in the blast zone. Indeed, "ballooning" spiders were blowing in at the rate of about 1 spider per square meter per day.

Edwards can talk about insects and recolonization.

Crawford oversees the largest collection of spiders in the Pacific Northwest. He can talk about spiders and related organisms found on the pumice plain and surrounding areas. He also has done work on the biology and other aspects of the lava tube caves in the cave basalt lava flow south of Mount St. Helens.

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