The benefit of wolves

The wolves are back and the trees are growing. Trees are growing?

For the first time in more than 50 years, young aspen trees are growing again in the northern range of Yellowstone National Park.

Wolves help the aspen in YellowstoneA study published in Biological Conservation show a process called “the ecology of fear” is again at work.

Aspen trees are surviving elk browsing for the first time in decades.

“We’ve seen some recovery of willows and cottonwood, but this is the first time we can document significant aspen growth, a tree species in decline all over the West. We’ve waited a long time to see this, but now we’re optimistic that things may be on the right track.” via Gary Jones

The Utah State Forestry Extension study by Bill Ripple found additional benefits of wolves:

Wolves may be beneficial to numerous species of vertebrates and invertebrates such as fish, birds, beaver, and butterflies, as well as many other species of wildlife.

…the numerous benefits to ecosystem processes will include stream channel stabilization, flood plain restoration, and higher water tables.