|| JOURNAL OF CREATION 32( 1) 2018 OVERVIEWS
Principles from Mount St Helens
The concept of biological legacies, 21 developed at Mount
St Helens, probably applies to most, if not all, disturbances.
Arthropod legacies in Noah’s Flood likely included aquatic
insects in the floodwaters, terrestrial arthropods within huge
floating vegetation mats (including inside coarse woody
debris), 64 flying insects, passively dispersing arthropods lofted
into the atmosphere, and arthropods as incidental passengers
on the Ark. In addition, large floating pumice rafts produced
by undersea volcanic eruptions have been documented to
harbour marine organisms (coral, algae, crabs, anemones) and
transport them thousands of kilometres. 65 Probably, numerous
such rafts formed during the Flood and, in addition to marine
organisms, supported an aeolian community of terrestrial
insects and spiders acquired from atmospheric arthropod
fallout. Following the Flood, arthropod biological legacies
were immediately available to colonise suitable sites over
the entire earth.
Colonizing arthropod populations, derived from legacies,
would have expanded rapidly, perhaps, even explosively. 66
Food was abundant after the Flood, in the form of animal
carcasses, plant debris, newly emerging fungi and plants,
and arthropod fallout. Initially, checks and balances on
these arthropod populations would not have had sufficient
time to establish. For example, insectivorous vertebrates
(lizards, bats, rodents, swallows, and many others) on the
Ark would have required weeks, months, or years to disperse
globally. Also, early in recovery, there would have been few
competitor organisms. One control over burgeoning arthropod
populations during this time most likely was ‘insecticide
ash’ from erupting post-Flood volcanoes, producing effects
similar to those observed at Mount St Helens. 16
As the floodwaters subsided, massive floating vegetation
mats, composed of plant and animal legacies, grounded,
producing large, expanding ‘hotspots’ of biological activity.
These oases likely functioned as source areas for organisms,
including arthropods, which dispersed into nearby ‘coldspots’
(areas with few or no biological legacies). Dispersing
arthropods would have used methods observed at Mount
St Helens, including pedestrian travel and aerial dispersal,
such as ballooning of spiders. For example, scavenging
and predatory beetles (or other species) from the arthropod
fallout likely initiated primary succession by forming aeolian
communities on sterile lava flows and pyroclastic deposits
produced by erupting post-Flood volcanoes. Arthropod
fallout would also have provided an important initial and
ongoing influx of nutrients, facilitating soil development
and plant establishment.
Colonisation of recovering sites by herbivorous insects
probably limited growth and spread of specific host plant
species. This would have altered successional trajectories
and produced large population swings as observed with
prairie lupine and other plant species on the Pumice Plain at
Mount St Helens. 40, 48
Terrestrial vertebrates, dispersing from the Ark following
Noah’s Flood (Genesis 8: 19), repopulated the earth more
slowly than organisms distributed worldwide by receding
floodwaters. This would allow time for significant
development of microbial, fungal, plant, and invertebrate
communities prior to the arrival of dispersing birds, mammals
and, eventually, humans. 67 Arthropods, therefore, likely
provided an immediate global food supply for dispersing
insectivorous vertebrates. 66
The overarching recovery theme at Mount St Helens is that
of great resilience. Ecosystems appear to have been designed
with the ability to effectively respond to major disturbance.
This observation lends credibility to global recovery, within
a biblical timeframe, following the ecological cataclysm of
Noah’s Flood. Arthropods certainly played an important role
in that response.
1. Dale, V.H., Swanson, F.J., and Crisafulli, C.M., Disturbance, survival, and
succession: Understanding ecological responses to the 1980 eruption of Mount
St Helens; in: Dale, V.H., Swanson, F.J. and Crisafulli, C. M. (Eds.), Ecological
Responses to the 1980 Eruption of Mount St Helens, Springer, New York,
p. 3, 2005.
2. Mazza, R., Volcano Ecology: Flourishing on the flanks of Mount St Helens,
Science Findings, Issue 190, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service,
Pacific Northwest Research Station, Portland, OR, pp. 1–5, 2016.
3. Arthropods are invertebrate animals of the phylum Arthropoda, having a
segmented body, jointed limbs, and a chitinous exoskeleton that undergoes
moltings, including insects, arachnids, myriapods, and crustaceans.
4. Swanson, F.J., Crisafulli, C.M., and Yamaguchi, D.K., Geological and ecological
settings and settings of Mount St Helens before May 18, 1980; in: Dale,
Swanson, and Crisafulli, ref. 1, pp. 13–26.
5. Swanson, Crisafulli and Yamaguchi, ref. 4, p. 23.
6. Parsons, G.L., Cassis, G., Moldenke, A.R., Lattin, J.D., Anderson, N. H., Miller,
J.C., Hammond, P., and Schowalter, T.D., Invertebrates of the H.J. Andrews
Experimental Forest, Western Cascade Range, Oregon, V: An Annotated List
of the Insects and Other Arthropods, PNW-GTR-290, USDA Forest Service,
Pacific Northwest Research Station, Portland, OR, 1991.
7. Swanson, F.J. and Major, J.J., Physical events, environments, and geological-ecological interactions at Mount St Helens: March 1980–2004; in: Dale,
Swanson, and Crisafulli, ref. 1, pp. 27–34.
8. Morris, J. and Austin, S.A., Footprints in the Ash, Master Books, Green Forest,
9. Swanson and Major, ref. 7, p. 30.
10. Dahm, C.N., Larson, D. W., Peterson, R.R., and Wissmar, R.C., Response and
recovery of lakes; in: Dale, Swanson, and Crisafulli, ref. 1, p. 258.
11. Swanson and Major, ref. 7, pp. 30–32.
12. Swanson and Major, ref. 7, p. 32.
13. Swanson and Major, ref. 7, pp. 32–33.
14. Swanson and Major, ref. 7, pp. 33–34.
15. Edwards, J.S. and Sugg, P.M., Arthropods as pioneers in the regeneration of life
on the pyroclastic-flow deposits of Mount St Helens; in: Dale, Swanson, and
Crisafulli, ref. 1, pp. 129–131.
16. Edwards, J.S. and Schwartz, L.M., Mount St Helens ash: A natural insecticide,
Canadian J. Zoology 59:714–715, 1981.
17. Dale, V.H., Swanson, F.J., and Crisafulli, C.M., Ecological perspectives on
management of the Mount St Helens landscape; in: Dale, Swanson, and
Crisafulli, ref. 1, p. 282.