05 February 2016
Great Lakes Wolf Recovery Causes Changes to Ecosystem
Since wolf reintroduction began, researching the effects of wolves on the environment has been a hot area of scientific inquiry. In several regions, research has demonstrated that wolves, in conjunction with other factors like climate and landscape conditions, have a distinct positive impact on the local environment. For example, in Yellowstone National Park, wolves helped reduce the intensity of elk grazing on berry-producing shrubs, which provided additional food for grizzly bears. Now a new study examines the impact of wolf recovery in the Great Lakes, showing that the forest ecosystem in northern Wisconsin has indeed changed because of wolves’ presence. The study shows that wolf reintroduction decreased local white tail deer populations, which led to an increased diversity of plant and shrub species in areas where wolves were present. This study contributes to the growing body of literature that documents the ways in which wolves contribute to the environmental health of the areas they inhabit.
Melanie Gade, Communications SpecialistMelanie handles press coverage for wildlife in the Pacific Northwest and Rockies and Plains, as well as Defenders' national work on the Endangered Species Act.