How Do Volcanoes Affect Plants & Animals?

Plant life can survive around volcanoes.
Plant life can survive around volcanoes. (Image: Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images)

The term “biome” refers to an area defined by specific plant life or a climate. Volcanic activity can definitely change a biome so that it becomes inhospitable to native plants and animals.

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Volcanic activity can drastically raise the temperature in an area, which may directly affect the ability of a plant to survive, especially if the plants are located near the path of lava flow. Pyroclastic materials can reach up to 1,500 degrees, according to the National Park Service.


Some volcanoes spout lava, while others release ash. Both can be immediately detrimental to plant life by covering and burning the plants. Additionally, plants covered in ash will be unable to perform photosynthesis and respiration, points out the National Park Service.


Animals may also be disturbed by the change in their daily routine, as ash cover could make it look like evening, and breathing may be more difficult. Animals not scared away from the noise and temperature change may leave the area to seek food or uncontaminated water sources.


Although plants and wildlife may be immediately affected by volcanic activity, Mount St. Helen's is the perfect example of how resilient life is. Just a few years after the mountain was covered in ash trees, plants started to grow again.


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