This summer, fires cut our field season short and threatened some of the vegetation plots we installed. While these possible impacts to our research were a concern, they were overshadowed by our concern to for lives, property, and livelihoods of the communities impacted.
Since the fires subsided, I was able to assess the impacts of the fire to the study. Some sites were highly impacted, others remained untouched. Many of the fences remained in place but will need reinforcing. The sites that were impacted by fire can no longer be included in the study in the same way. The plants may grow differently in the burned areas compared to unburned areas. I may use these sites to study the impacts of grazing on a fire-impacted landscape.
The natural world is always changing. It's one of the exciting and challenging facets of studying ecology.