Recovering Riparian Plant Communities with Wolves in Northern Yellowstone
Beschta, RL; Ripple, WJ Recovering Riparian Plant Communities with Wolves in Northern Yellowstone, USA. RESTORATION ECOLOGY, 18 (3): 380-389 MAY 2010
This article discusses the implications of studies concerning the inter-relationships of wolves, elk, and riparian plants in the northern parts of Yellowstone National Park. The authors correlate the removal and re-introduction of wolves from and to the park with losses and gains in the growth of woody riparian plants. They observe that the wolves' predatory suppression of elk populations in these areas benefits recovery of degraded riparian areas.
The main point of this article is that the re-introduction of apex predators into an ecosystem may provide ecological benefits beyond limiting overpopulation of the predator's main prey; it may also benefit other important functions in the ecosystem, and help push a system toward recovery.
The article adds narrow but specific evidence to a body of knowledge that recognizes the complexity of species interaction in restoration efforts.