I do not mean to imply that gophers will be the main factor in the regeneration of the whole volcanically altered landscape, only that like all organisms, they have an influence, no matter how small. Mount St. Helens, recently reduced to a science fiction caricature of the surface of a planet, is very much a functioning, natural ecosystem in which the rules of the biosphere operate. Careful study of the varying abilities of different plants and animals to exist on the new Mount St. Helens is leading to insights on the varying roles these organisms have in the recovery of the volcano's ecosystems. Some of these insights. especially when combined with studies of undisturbed ecosystems, may help humans, users of various landscapes, approach management problems.
James A. MacMahon is a professor of biology and a member of the Ecology Center at Utah State University.
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