Why the Beaver Should Thank the Wolf

This article is about how many Americans understand the risk of extinction of species, many fail to grasp the collateral effects of species on the top of the food chain, like wolves. Wolves have significant effects on the well-being of the ecosystem which they are part of, including the preservation of trees, riverbank vegetation as well as their own prey. This articles gives the example of the inter-related relationship between the wolves and the aspen, a native vegetation that at one point in time was considered extinct as a result of overgrazing, which has return to growing up along the back of the Wyoming’s Yellowstone National Park. The likely reason for the restoration of the aspen is the result of the behavior of the elk and other gazing animals when wolves are in their presence. Instead of eating the greenery peacefully, the elk and other grazing animals only take a bite or two since they are always looking around for the treat that the wolves present. The resulting effect is that the greenery can grow tall enough to reproduce. Furthermore, the beavers, although are the wolves’ prey, also benefit from their presence. The behavior of the elk and other native grazing animals provide shelter to beavers. Beavers in turn create dams that help keep rivers clean while at the same time diminish the threats of drought. The dams in turn bring about the proper habitat for bugs, amphibians, fish, birds and small mammals. This interaction helps maintain healthy soil that is able to absurd carbon which help maintain a healthy ecosystem. This article concludes that wolves are connected to climate change. Without wolves, the earth is more vulnerable to the effects of catasthropic weather events that are likely to increase as the planet gets warmer. Scientists call this sequence of impacts down the food chain the “tropic cascade”. The wolf is connected to the elk, which is connected to the aspen, which is connected to the beaver. Keeping these connections alice ensures the proper functioning of the ecosystems, which in turn support human life. 

-Sofia Guerra

Topic and category: Tragedy of the Commons (overgrazing)

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/29/opinion/the-world-needs-wolves.html?_r=0

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