Navigation Links
Wolves find happy hunting grounds in Yellowstone National Park
Date:8/30/2007

If Mark Boyce could converse with elk, he might give them a word of advice: avoid open, flat, snowy areas near rivers and roads.

A biological scientist at the University of Alberta, Boyce analyzed 774 wolf-elk kill sites and concluded that spatial patterns of predation between wolves and elk are more strongly influenced by landscape features than by wolf distribution.

"We found that even though wolf and elk populations overlapped in many areas of our study, the kill sites did not correlate with the areas of overlap as much as they were consistent with certain landscape features, such as proximity to roads," Boyce said.

The research results were published recently in the academic journal Ecology Letters.

Boyce and his colleagues studied the wolf-elk interactions over a period of 10 consecutive winters in a northern range of the Yellowstone National Park in the U.S.

The area has been of special interest to researchers since 14 wolves from the Canadian Rockies were introduced to the park in 1995. Wolves had been extirpated from Yellowstone in the 1930s, and some people speculated the re-introduced wolves would doom the park's elk population. However, while the number of wolves on Yellowstone's northern range has since grown to 84, the number of elk has not declined appreciably.

"We've found that the availability of refuge areas for elk, and their ease of accessing them, should buffer the elk population in the park from extreme levels of predation," Boyce said.

Boyce added that wolves are inefficient predators, with low rates of hunting successusually around 20 per centwhich is due, in part, to the large size and defensive capabilities of elk, their main prey. Prime-age adult elk are largely invulnerable to predation from wolves, which are highly selective and target the young, old or weak.

"Our findings suggest that landscape features may often 'tip the balance' in predator-prey outcomes, thus influencing post-encounter outcomes," Boyce said.

Boyce and colleagues noted that "browse communites"foraging areas in open, flat landscape near roads or rivers (which can cut off escape routes)offer the greatest risk of wolf predation for elk. Also, deep snowy areas, which are much harder for the heavy, hoof-legged elk to move through than the lighter, wide-pawed wolves, are also dangerous.

The great challenge for the elk, however, is that the risky foraging areas provide sustenance during the critical winter months, when the elk experience shrinking fat reserves.

"Our study makes clear that elk in winter face a clear trade-off between forage quality and predation risk. How elk perceive and manage the trade-off between food and safety will ultimately determine if they will survive," Boyce said.


'/>"/>
Contact: Ryan Smith
ryan.smith@ualberta.ca
780-492-0436
University of Alberta
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Gray wolves maintain the food chain in winter
2. Wolves top-down effect
3. Wolves are suffering less from inbreeding than expected
4. Ice Age extinction claimed highly carnivorous Alaskan wolves
5. Recreating Flowers for Algernon with a happy ending
6. Ever-happy mice may hold key to new treatment of depression
7. Symbiotic bacteria protect hunting wasps from fungal infestation
8. U. Iowa researchers improve Huntingtons disease symptoms in mice
9. New insights into how Huntingtons disease attacks the brain
10. Huntingtons cure in flies lays groundwork for broader treatment approaches
11. Molecular trigger for Huntingtons disease found
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/1/2016)... June 1, 2016 Favorable Government ... Administration and Criminal Identification to Boost Global Biometrics System ... released TechSci Research report, " Global Biometrics Market ... Forecast and Opportunities, 2011 - 2021", the global biometrics ... 2021, on account of growing security concerns across various ...
(Date:5/16/2016)... --  EyeLock LLC , a market leader of iris-based ... IoT Center of Excellence in Austin, Texas ... embedded iris biometric applications. EyeLock,s iris authentication ... with unmatched biometric accuracy, making it the most proven ... platform uses video technology to deliver a fast and ...
(Date:5/3/2016)... , May 3, 2016  Neurotechnology, a provider ... MegaMatcher Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS) , ... multi-biometric projects. MegaMatcher ABIS can process multiple complex ... any combination of fingerprint, face or iris biometrics. ... SDK and MegaMatcher Accelerator , which ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... Regulatory ... technical consulting, provides a free webinar on Performing Quality Investigations: Getting ... at 12pm CT at no charge. , Incomplete investigations are still a major ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 22, 2016  Amgen (NASDAQ: AMGN ) ... QB3@953 life sciences incubator to accelerate the development ... laboratory space at QB3@953 was created to help high-potential ... for many early stage organizations - access to laboratory ... Amgen launched two "Amgen Golden Ticket" awards, providing each ...
(Date:6/22/2016)... , June 22, 2016 Cell ... will allow them to produce up to one ... one lot within one week. These high-quality, consistent ... laboriously preparing cells and spend more time doing ... through a proprietary, high-volume manufacturing process that produces ...
(Date:6/22/2016)... , June 22, 2016  According to Kalorama ... generation sequencing (NGS) market include significant efforts in ... sequencers.  More accessible and affordable sequencers, say the ... demand for consumables including sample prep materials.  The ... for Sample Preparation for Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) ...
Breaking Biology Technology: