STUDY: "Wolves alter wetland creation and recolonization by killing ecosystem [beaver] engineers"

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STUDY: "Wolves alter wetland creation and recolonization by killing ecosystem [beaver] engineers"

Post by Koa » Wed Nov 25, 2020 3:22 am

"Outsized effect of predation: Wolves alter wetland creation and recolonization by killing ecosystem engineers"
By Thomas D. Gable1, Sean M. Johnson-Bice2, Austin T. Homkes1, Steve K. Windels and Joseph K. Bump, Science Advances, Nov. 13
Gray wolves are a premier example of how predators can transform ecosystems through trophic cascades. However, whether wolves change ecosystems as drastically as previously suggested has been increasingly questioned. We demonstrate how wolves alter wetland creation and recolonization by killing dispersing beavers. Beavers are ecosystem engineers that generate most wetland creation throughout boreal ecosystems. By studying beaver pond creation and recolonization patterns coupled with wolf predation on beavers, we determined that 84% of newly created and recolonized beaver ponds remained occupied until the fall, whereas 0% of newly created and recolonized ponds remained active after a wolf killed the dispersing beaver that colonized that pond. By affecting where and when beavers engineer ecosystems, wolves alter all of the ecological processes (e.g., water storage, nutrient cycling, and forest succession) that occur due to beaver-created impoundments. Our study demonstrates how predators have an outsized effect on ecosystems when they kill ecosystem engineers.
Read the full study here: https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/6/46/eabc5439

This study was done in accordance with the Voyageurs Wolf Project. They posted a video here.
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