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Bill RippleUsing Large Carnivores for Restoring Western Ecosystems

Bill Ripple, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR

Following the extirpation of large predators in the American West, increased ungulate herbivory appears to have profound effects on both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. I summarize the 20th century effects in five western national parks. In these parks, the loss of large predators allowed large herbivores to heavily impact riparian plant communities, thus leading to a loss of biodiversity. Only in Yellowstone National Park, where wolves (Canis lupus) have been reintroduced, it appears that impacts to plant communities are being reversed. The reintroduction of wolves in other areas of the west could initiate trophic cascades and ecosystem restoration.

 
 

Email: bill.ripple@oregonstate.edu

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