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Ultrashort optical pulse propagation in high-power Yb3+-doped fiber amplifiers (YDFA) is studied using a spectrally resolved nonlinear power equation for the coupled pulse components. The Yb3+ ions transitions are modeled using a rate equation. Examples for high-power YDFAs with normal dispersion show good qualitative agreement with experimental results. We analyze the effects of the incident pulse wavelength, pulse peak power, Yb3+ concentration, pump filling factor, fiber length, pumping configuration, pump power and nonlinear index, on the intensity distribution of short amplified pulses. We also demonstrate the spectral compression of an initially negative-chirped pulse.