Research about wolves that began in Yellowstone National Park has been replicated in an adjacent area, and a growing body of evidence leads scientists to conclude that this historic predator may have an ecological impact far more important than realized in the American West.
A withering stand of aspen in Yellowstone National Park reflect a phenomenon that researchers from Oregon State University believe is now far more widespread - the loss of wolves in the American West leading to the decline of tree and stream ecosystems.
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The near extinction of the gray wolf across most of the West in the past century now appears to have removed the natural element of "fear" from these ecosystems. It has triggered a cascade of ecological effects on everything from elk populations to beaver, birds, fish, and even stream systems - and helped lead directly to the collapsing health of aspen and some other tree species and vegetation.
Robert Beschta | EurekAlert!
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