Wolves ‘aiding bears’ in Yellowstone

July 29, 2013
By

Wolves chase down elkWolves were re-introduced to the park in the 1990s in an effort to control elk numbers

The return of wolves to Yellowstone National Park may be leading to an improvement in the diet of grizzly bears, a study suggests.

When wolves were eradicated from Yellowstone in the early 20th Century, the elk population boomed, devastating berry-shrubs relied upon by bears.

Details are published in the Journal of Animal Ecology.

A team from Oregon and Washington links the reintroduction of predatory wolves with a fall in over-browsing by elk.

There is a consequent recovery in the availability of late-summer berries, the favoured pre-hibernation food of the grizzly bear.

The study indicates that the number of berries measured in bear droppings has doubled as elk numbers have decreased, following the wolves’ return in the 1990s.

The complex interactions of the Yellowstone ecosystem were revealed in data measured before and after the reintroduction of wolves.



Grey wolf

Please turn on JavaScript. Media requires JavaScript to play.

The BBC visits Wyoming and Montana to hear whether humans and wolves can co-exist

David Mattson, a US Geological Survey (USGS) wildlife biologist, commented previously on Yellowstone: “It’s a complex system and grizzly bears are a kind of consummate connector of all of the species in that system.”

The study shows that berry shrubs have increased since elk populations declined, and as shrubs recover from over-browsing the fruit consumption of bears has increased.

William Ripple, lead author, commented: “Wild fruit is typically an important part of grizzly bear diet, especially in late summer when they are trying to gain weight as rapidly as possible before winter hibernation”.

“Elk browsing reducing berry production is well known in Europe as well,” said Atle Mysterud, an ecologist from the University of Oslo.

“The study shows that new patches of berries have formed after the wolves were reintroduced. It is clear that berry production is very important for bears.”

But the reduction in elk may not be all good news. Yellowstone’s northern elk population hit 19,000 in 1988, but last winter the herd was estimated to number just 3,900 animals.

Yellowstone bear NPSDouble-edged sword: the bears feed on berries in late summer… and elk in spring

Elk calves are an important food source for grizzly bears in the spring and Arthur Middleton of Yale University suggests that the decline in elk may pose a threat to the grizzly bear rather than a benefit, since their other spring food source, cutthroat trout, is also in decline.

“This is an interesting paper and it is important that we understand the consequences of wolf recovery”, Dr Middleton added.

BerriesThe berry bushes also produce flowers of value to pollinators like butterflies and hummingbirds

“But wolf re-introduction is not the only change that has occurred in recent years in Yellowstone. Bears eat elk and bear numbers have increased three or four times during this period.

Bears eat about three times as many elk calves as wolves do and it may be that reduction in elk numbers and the increase in berry eating is feature of the increase in bear numbers.

“Unfortunately, as wildlife ecologists working in a vast landscape such as the greater Yellowstone ecosystem it is very difficult to unravel the complexity of the patterns.”

The latest results demonstrate that acknowledging the many inter-relationships between species and environments in these systems is key to understanding that complexity.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-23495074#sa-ns_mchannel=rss&ns_source=PublicRSS20-sa The feed :

Tags:

Sponsored By:

The Deeter Group

Deeter Electronics Ltd. | Deeter Electronics Inc | Deeter Group Asia | Deeter Group Germany | Deeter Group Corporate

Head & Registered Office:
Deeter Electronics Ltd.
Deeter House,
Valley Road,
Hughenden Valley,
Bucks. HP14 4LW

Tel: +44 (0) 1494 566 046
Fax: +44 (0) 1494 563 961
E-mail: [email protected]


The Deeter Group with products ranging from: , , , continuous , 4-20mA , , , , , , , a , wireless sensor and much more.

If you want a standard or a custom level switch, float switch, level sensor, or wireless sensor, contact us via email [email protected] or call us now on 01494 566 046.

Company Name: The Deeter Group

Location: Hughenden Valley, UK

Deeter Electronics USA
Deeter Electronics USA
Wireless sensor system | Radio telemetry | Level switches | Level sensors | Liquid level sensor | Float switches | Controllers & indicators | Industrial weighing equipment | Electronic circuit design & manufacture | Software design | Reed relays | Ultrasonic level flow sludge & proximity sensors | Proximity sensors & switches | Reed switches | Litz wire | Wago Terminals | Mechanical & magnetic floats | Boiler control |

Deeter Electronics UK
Wireless sensor system | Radio telemetry | Level switches | Level sensors | Liquid level sensor | Float switches | Controllers & indicators | Industrial weighing equipment | Electronic circuit design & manufacture | Software design | Reed relays | Ultrasonic level flow sludge & proximity sensors | Proximity sensors & switches | Reed switches | Litz wire | Wago Terminals | Mechanical & magnetic floats | Boiler control |

Deeter Electronics Europe
Wireless sensor system | Radio telemetry | Level switches | Level sensors | Liquid level sensor | Float switches | Controllers & indicators | Industrial weighing equipment | Electronic circuit design & manufacture | Software design | Ultrasonic level flow sludge & proximity sensors | Proximity sensors & switches | Reed switches | Litz wire | Wago Terminals | Mechanical & magnetic floats | Boiler control |

Sensor Magazine Websites
Explosion Proof Sensors UK | Explosion Proof Sensors | Water Level Measurement | Liquid Level Sensing | Liquid Level Measurement | Liquid Level Sensors UK | Liquid Level Sensors Europe | Wireless Sensors | Sensor Magazine | Industrial Sensors



Water use