Wolf reintroduction reshapes Yellowstone ecology

Herbivores’ fear of predators influences vegetation growth, ecologists state

The 1995 reintroduction of wolves in the northern range of Yellowstone National Park has led to increased growth of willow and cottonwood in the park by causing fear responses in elk and other ungulates, according to William J. Ripple and Robert L. Beschta of Oregon State University in Corvallis. Ripple and Beschta, writing in the August 2004 issue of BioScience, argue that fear of predation when wolves are present changes grazing patterns, prompting grazers to avoid sites that deny them easy escape and to browse less thoroughly. The “terrain fear factor” consequently allows woody plants and trees to grow taller and thicker when wolves are present. This in turn has allowed beaver colonies to expand.

Ripple and Beschta base their conclusions on theory about feeding relationships between species, browsers’ risk of predation since the reintroduction of wolves into the park in 1995, and empirical research. In the view of Ripple and Beschta, extirpation of wolves in the early 20th century was “most likely the overriding cause of the precipitous decline and cessation in the recruitment of aspen, cottonwood and willow across the nothern range.”

The new theory thus brings a significant new factor into long-running, intense debates over the proper management of Yellowstone. Ripple and Beschta conclude that, for Yellowstone, “restoration goals should focus on the recovery of natural processes.” The identified fear factor might also be important in other regions, although the evidence is less well developed. Journalists may obtain copies of the article by contacting Donna Royston, AIBS communications representative.

Media Contact

Donna Royston EurekAlert!

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.aibs.org

Alle Nachrichten aus der Kategorie: Life Sciences

Articles and reports from the Life Sciences area deal with applied and basic research into modern biology, chemistry and human medicine.

Valuable information can be found on a range of life sciences fields including bacteriology, biochemistry, bionics, bioinformatics, biophysics, biotechnology, genetics, geobotany, human biology, marine biology, microbiology, molecular biology, cellular biology, zoology, bioinorganic chemistry, microchemistry and environmental chemistry.

Zurück zur Startseite

Kommentare (0)

Schreib Kommentar

Neueste Beiträge

Precious metal-free silicone curing

Sustainable processes could replace valuable metals in silicone crosslinking. Silicones are tried and tested in the private and professional domains. In many applications, however, expensive precious metals are required as…

All Scalpels to the OR, Please!

Fraunhofer IPK and Charité CFM Facility Management GmbH are developing an AI-based system to automatically check trays of surgical instruments for completeness. Everyday life in university hospitals: Surgical instruments are…

Plants on Aspirin

Researchers at IST Austria gain deeper knowledge of plant growth by treating seedlings with painkillers like Aspirin and the like. New study published in Cell Reports. For centuries humans were…

Partners

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.

Close