The Benefits of Natural Disasters

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Science  13 Sep 1996:
Vol. 273, Issue 5281, pp. 1518
DOI: 10.1126/science.273.5281.1518


Humans have worked hard to eliminate the negative effects of fires and floods. These efforts sometimes have unexpected consequences; for instance, the dikes along the Mississippi River eliminated the flood plain and thus exacerbated the flooding in 1993. As discussed in Tilman's Perspective, two reports in this week's issue [Leach and Givnish (p. 1555) and Wootton et al. (p. 1558)] show that interference with natural disasters can also affect the abundance of species.