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New book covers 16 years of MSU research in Yellowstone
Date:10/20/2008

BOZEMAN, Mont. -- A multitude of findings about life in the heart of Yellowstone National Park are described in a new book covering 16 years of Montana State University research.

The book titled "The Ecology of Large Mammals in Central Yellowstone: Sixteen Years of Integrated Field Studies" covers many of the large charismatic animals that receive national and international attention, said editor and MSU ecologist Robert A. Garrott. It also deals with ecological processes that interest the general public, scientists, policy makers and park managers.

Wolves were reintroduced halfway through the study, so the researchers were able to document their effect on the behavior and population dynamics of elk and bison, Garrott said. As the park's winter recreation policy became controversial, the scientists also became involved in studying wildlife responses to snowmobiles and snowcoaches and the potential effects of grooming the roads in winter on bison migration and movement patterns.

The purpose of the book is to provide readers a synthesis of a diverse body of research, Garrott said. He added that the effort was unique in its length and breadth.

Initial chapters describe characteristics of the landscape, climate, precipitation and snow pack dynamics. The core of the book presents several studies on elk, bison and wolf ecology and the interactions among them. The authors conclude with an introspective discussion of the strengths and limitations of science to contribute to the contentious debates about wildlife and natural resource management in Yellowstone.

"My hope is that lots of people can pick up the book and understand everything we did, what we learned, what we didn't learn, the surprises and the uncertainties about where the system is going in the future," Garrott said. "The themes are ecological processes that are pervasive in all ecosystems and communities throughout the world."

Garrott edited the book w
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Contact: Evelyn Boswell
evelynb@montana.edu
406-994-5135
Montana State University
Source:Eurekalert

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