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Short-term effects of a large disturbance event on streams in the Stanislaus National Forest, California
I investigated the short-term effects of wildland fire of varying severity on streams. I compared my results to similar studies on western fires to provide a snapshot of post fire stream recovery. Physical variables, algal growth, and benthic macroinvertebrates were compared across high burn (canopy removed), low burn (intact canopy with understory removed), and no burn streams. The high burn stream had the lowest canopy cover and microalgae presence and the highest temperature, increased sandy substrate, macroalgae, and greater invertebrate abundance compared with the low and no burn streams. Results showed increased primary productivity by macroalgae and increased secondary productivity by invertebrates in the high burn stream. Since wildland fires in the west are predicted to become more frequent and intense, this study provides a foundation for understanding short term wildland fire effects and how to better manage these areas.