Yellowstone wolves take a blow to their rep
Mar11

Yellowstone wolves take a blow to their rep

A well-publicized depiction of wolves revitalizing Yellowstone’s ecosystem is a myth, said writers for the NY Times‘ op-ed page and a Nature news feature last week. This is the story: For thousands of years, wolves shaped the ecology of Yellowstone. That changed in the twentieth century, when people succeeded in eradicating a competitor and perceived threat from the lower 48. In the predators’ absence, elk and deer overran the...

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Declining fortunes of Yellowstone’s migratory elk
Jun26

Declining fortunes of Yellowstone’s migratory elk

Are human choices redefining the fitness of an ancient survival strategy? Eighteen ecologists weigh in on new data in a forum in Ecology. By Liza Lester, ESA communications officer In the late spring, the roughly 4000 elk of the Clarks Fork herd leave crowded winter grounds near Cody, Wyoming, following the greening grass into the highlands of the Absaroka Mountains, where they spend the summer growing fat on vegetation fed by...

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Elk bones tell stories of life, death, and habitat use at Yellowstone National Park
Dec10

Elk bones tell stories of life, death, and habitat use at Yellowstone National Park

Josh Miller is one among a small cadre of ecologists looking at living ecosystems through the relics of their dead. by Liza Lester, ESA communications officer Flags mark bone locations as field assistant Jared Singer maps a carcass near a lake in Yellowstone National Park. Credit, Joshua Miller. ________________ JOSH Miller likes to call himself a conservation paleobiologist. It’s a label that makes sense when he explains how he uses...

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Fear as an ecosystem engineer

This post contributed by Cristina Eisenberg, conservation biologist at Oregon State University Over the past three years I have conducted thirteen hundred focal animal observations on elk in the northern and southern Rocky Mountains. This involves patiently watching one animal at a time for up to twenty minutes and recording its wariness–that is, the amount of time it spends with its head down feeding versus head up, scanning...

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Ecosystem snapshot: reassessing the role of wolves in Yellowstone

Just off the road at sunrise between Old Faithful and Madison Junction. Yellowstone’s Old Faithful Geyser at night. The trunks of adult quaking aspens. Bulging elk in Yellowstone taken in 1927 by S.T. Woodring. Wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone in 1995 and 1996. Photo taken in January 2008. According to a recent study, many aspen groves in Yellowstone National Park are failing to regenerate. Healthy quaking aspens in Salt...

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