Zoology Gray wolves maintain the food chain in winter

Discussion in 'Zoology' started by mscbkc070904, Mar 15, 2005.

  1. mscbkc070904

    mscbkc070904 Premium Member

    Climate change has already had dramatic effects on individual species, with disruptions in range, reproductive success, and seasonal phenomena like migration. But, in a new study from the open-access online journal PLoS Biology (www.plosbiology.org), Christopher Wilmers and Wayne Getz show that the impact of climate change on many different species in Yellowstone Park can be buffered by a top predator - the reintroduced gray wolf (Canis lupus).

    Gray wolves inhabited most of North America until US extirpation campaigns nearly eradicated them by the 1930s. In 1995, the US Fish and Wildlife Service reintroduced the persecuted predator into Yellowstone. Wilmers and Getz used data from the past 50 years to establish winter trends and model wolves' impact on the fate of resident scavengers faced with a changing climate. Their models show that wolf kills temper the potentially devastating effects of climate-related carrion shortages on scavengers. Unlike mountain lions and grizzly bears, wolves abandon their prey (usually elk or moose) once sated, leaving much-coveted leftovers for ravens, eagles, coyotes, bears, and other scavengers. Altogether, their modeling studies show that shorter winters without wolves will create intermittent food supplies that no longer track the needs of local scavengers. With or without wolves, late-winter carrion abundance will decline with shorter winters. But wolf kills buffer these shortages, providing meals that could determine whether scavengers will be able to survive and reproduce.

    It seems clear that wolves have the potential to provide a safety net for scavengers, extending the time they need to adapt to a changing environment. Thanks to a rebounding wolf population, field researchers can measure the magnitude of this predicted buffer effect. The models described here can guide their efforts and help species adjust to major environmental shifts like climate change. Crucially, Wilmers and Getz's study shows that a robust food chain - including this still embattled top predator - may be even more important as ecological conditions deteriorate.
     
  2. mscbkc070904

    mscbkc070904 Premium Member

    BTW the Gray Wolf, well was on its way to the endangered species list, due to the fact that overdevelopment pushed these wolves out of the natural habitat where they started attacking farms to survive. And of course, farmers killed them...and the numbers dwindled quickly over the last 50 yrs. But now preservation of this great wolf is bouncing back and soon tey will balance out the ecological and bio system.

    I say Kudos to this and glad to see that they are being protected and making a difference into the world today. BTW the info I provided was from a Animal Reservation tour I took last summer and the Gray Wolf, considered the most fearsome of wolves in North America was the spotlight. They are very beautiful, sleek, and cunning and huge.