A blog highlighting undergraduate research in the LeRoy Lab at Evergreen


Data Collection in Newly Created Watersheds at MSH

When Mount St. Helens erupted, it resulted in a massive landslide that buried existing forests, streams, and watersheds. Since the eruption, five (5) novel watersheds have developed on the Pumice Plain. These streams on the north face of MSH have been our team’s main interest. 

Undergraduates, faculty and collaborators have been able to conduct studies on environmental variation and biotic communities across these watersheds to address in-stream primary succession because of the unique ecosystem the eruption of MSH created.

We are especially interested in how riparian plants influence stream channel dynamics, increase shade, and input organic matter to these newly developing streams. Stay tuned for more about how willow sex differences and a wandering weevil alter in-stream ecosystem function!


Stream gauges in all five watersheds help us track water flow and sediment movement- even through the dark and deep snow of winter.  Photo by Carri LeRoy
Tricky work of trying to keep our light loggers facing upwards in the middle of each streams – strap them to big rocks! Photo by Carri LeRoy

Field work involves a lot of hiking!

A group selfie after a long field trip! Wrapping up our field work in late summer 2018! Photo by Carri LeRoy  

The past 3 years our team has been working under an NSF EAGER grant to Dr. LeRoy which allows undergraduates at The Evergreen State College to gain amazing field experiences and research opportunities. 

Our team is composed of undergraduates, SURF students, research assistants, faculty, and many wonderful collaborators (stay turned to learn more about our collaborative work) that dedicate their summers to exploring the landscape of Mount St. Helens (MSH). 

MSH is an exemplary ecosystem for our team to study how the flora and fauna are responding to large, intense disturbances as well as their processes of early succession.

We hike in all kinds of weather!  Hiking along the Truman Trail at Mount St. Helens to field sites on the Pumice Plain. Photo by Carri LeRoy  
Over 20 undergraduate students at Evergreen have been able to collaborate on this project! Three students at left with collaborator Joy Ramstack Hobbs from the Science Museum of Minnesota at right. Photo by Carri LeRoy  

Approaching Mount St. Helens 40th Anniversary..

Hello Ecology Enthusiasts! 

To honor the 40th anniversary of the Mount St. Helens eruption our team will be hosting a glimpse into the amazing work and research we’ve been able to be a part of on the beautiful landscape of MSH. Join us in our daily postings to learn more about what our team has been up to! 

The Prairie Lupine 

After the devastating event of the May 18, 1980 eruption, the mountain was laid bare. Just two years following the eruption, scientists found the first plant to colonize the Pumice Plain, the Prairie lupine (Lupinus lepidus)These beautiful purple flowers sparked excitement in the world of ecology and studies on early succession in areas following disturbance. 

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s content and dive deeper into our field work at Mount St. Helens!