Oak Ridge National Laboratory


News Release

Media Contact: Fred Strohl (strohlhf@ornl.gov)
Communications and External Relations


Audio Spot: ORNL corporate fellow co-edits book on Mount St. Helens research

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., May 11, 2005 — Twenty-five years after the eruption of Mount St. Helens, a new book describes the thriving re-establishment of plants and animals there.

The book's co-editor, Oak Ridge National Laboratory corporate fellow Virginia Dale, began studying the mountain's terrain days after the 1980 event and has returned many times since. She said the re-establishment of life has been surprising.

"We found that in some places there had been a great deal of survival - for instance under snow packs," Dale said. "In the places where many of the plants and animals had been wiped out, they quickly came back and in an order that was not predicted by ecological theory."

Dale said Mount St. Helens has given scientists insights on plant and animal survival.

"What is most interesting today at Mount St. Helens is the complexity of life that occurs there," Dale said. "By complexity, I mean that there aren't just a list of animals and plants that are there, but there are many ecological interactions."

ORNL is managed by UT-Battelle for the Department of Energy.