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January 12, 2005

Wolves and the Ripple Effect

WolfThere's a great article on wolves in today's Seattle Times. The article describes the ecological changes in Yellowstone National Park that an Oregon State University researcher, Bill Ripple, has been documenting. Ripple's findings show that wolves have a, uh, ripple effect on their native ecosystems. Plants flourish, as do red foxes, beavers, and songbirds. Coyotes and elk fare less well. 

There are a couple of lessons we can draw. First, the return of the wolf to its native ecosystems means a return to a more natural state, a point we made in a post last week. Second, ecosystem dynamics are incredibly complex and we are only just beginning to understand the role that even a single species can play.

Wolves already inhabit two of Cascadia's four jurisdictions, British Columbia and Idaho. They'll likely soon be returning--if they have not already--to the more remote areas of Oregon and Washington. Let's hope Cascadians welcome them back as the agents of ecological restoration that they are.

Posted by Eric de Place | Permalink