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The Wolf Effect

Recent research into the effect of the wolf pack reintroductions in Yellowstone Park are pretty amazing. It seems that wolves role as a regulator in the ecosystem has cut the elk population in half in 10 years, and has reduced coyote numbers even more sharply. But beyond that, the presence of wolves seems to have changed the growth of plants in the park, especially willows, aspen, and cottonwoods frequently browsed by elk. Beyond that, the return of wolves seems to have improved habitat for beaver, grizzly, eagles, fox, ravens, songbirds, and other species. The Scientific American discussion of top predator roles is based on a fair bit of ecological research, and its long, but it's fascinating. The way plants have been restored to areas that elk don't consider safe is especially interesting, driven by what some of the researchers call an "ecology of fear."

There's some discussion about the broadest claims of the Wolf Effect, but it's clear that wolf predation does cast a wider web of influence over the ecosystem than anyone suspected. Ain't nature grand?

Comments

( 2 sutras — Your wisdom )
scarlettina
Jun. 9th, 2004 09:10 pm (UTC)
I've read about this before, and it just goes to show you that our ecology really is a game of toppling dominoes, which I've always believed. And yes, it's very grand indeed.
lambchops79
Jun. 9th, 2004 11:30 pm (UTC)
Another examle of people who arn't qualified to make decisions, being the ones who make em. Im nto saying i know how to remove an organisim form an ecosustem and still ahve it function, but obviously the people who do mkae these decision dont either. Its like the radiator out fo your car cause it smells funny.

In additon wasnt the reason for removing them, because campers were afraid? Isnt that whats cmaping is all about?
( 2 sutras — Your wisdom )

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