Wolves face off with cow elk in the Lamar Valley of Yellowstone National Park. While wolf reintroduction in the mid-1990s resulted in a drop in Yellowstone elk numbers, it didn't necessarily restore the ecosystem to historical conditions, according to new research. Image: Daniel Stahler
Reintroducing top predators: does it bring back historic ecosystems? - Biology short science news

While it is generally believed that reintroducing top predators such as wolves brings an ecosystem back to natural conditions, this might not be necessarily the case. Indeed, the reintroduction of wolves in Yellowstone National Park has decreased the numbers of elk, and improved vegetation, but has the Park returned to how it was before the wolves had disappeared in the 1920s?

Researchers are now beginning to address this question, and the first results indicate that it is hard to predict what will happen exactly when the top predators return. The only consistent effect they found is that the number of small predators increased.

Thus, more research is necessary to be able to predict how reintroduction programs of top predators will play out in an ecosystem.

Read the full story: University of Wyoming
Scientific publication: Biological Conservation