An in-depth look at new research

Top predators such as wolves, lions, and jaguars play very important roles in the ecology. From control of mesopredators like coyotes and hyenas to control of ungulate populations and how they use the land.

Why top predators matter: an in-depth look at new research
Jeremy Hance
mongabay.com

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About The Author

Ken Cole

Ken Cole, Buffalo Field Campaign's Executive Director, is a 5th generation Idahoan, an avid fly fisherman, wildlife enthusiast, and photographer. He was formerly the Idaho Director for Western Watersheds Project.

25 Responses to Why top predators matter

  1. avatar gline says:

    “In some cases where dingoes are being killed, dingoes actually appear to be killing more livestock than when they were left alone. This is probably happening because few old dingoes are left, which in normal circumstances train young dogs how to hunt species such as kangaroos. So in effect what you’re left with is a bunch of rowdy, uninformed teenagers who go for the easiest target, which are often things like calves.”

    Whether you agree with this or not, it is just common sense.

  2. avatar Jon Way says:

    Very interesting (and long) article. It clearly shows the importance of top predators as most on this blog know already. I would disagree with one thing, however. In Yellowstone, coyotes are certainly mesocarnivores, where elk and bison are the main ungulates. However, in most of North America (esp. where deer are main prey) I would not call coyotes mesocarnivores. A number of studies in areas where wolves don’t live shows coyotes help control mesocarnivores (fox, cats) which greatly helps prey species incl. songbirds (1 study) and kangaroo rats (another study). I think overall coyotes would be top predator (esp in the east where they are coywolves) rather than mesocarnivore, esp. in today’s world – save the national parks and other areas where wolves live which is only 5% of the country. In best case scenarios it is doubtful that wolves will ever live in more than 25% of the country making animals like coyotes (and mt. lions out west) the areas top predator. And foxes and smaller animals as more appropriately termed meso-predators.
    But interesting article nonetheless…

  3. avatar nabeki says:

    Tracking science: Biologist’s findings show forest diversity, health influenced by wolves
    http://www.missoulian.com/lifestyles/territory/article_3ec9fc54-c01f-11de-bf16-001cc4c002e0.html

  4. avatar JB says:

    Jon:

    Would you mind providing the citation for the study that shows a relationship between coyotes, mesocarnivores, and songbirds? I would be very interested to take a look.

  5. avatar Virginia says:

    I wish the anti-wolf crowd would read this well-researched and documented article. But, of course, they do not want to be confused by the facts.

  6. avatar nabeki says:

    Wolves drive trophic cascade in Banff National Park
    http://www.cyberwest.com/cw24/wolf-ecology.shtml

  7. avatar Si'vet says:

    Virginia, I read and enjoyed the article. But it’s a study in a Park. The enviroment there is not the same as it is outside the park. Inside the parks the predator vs prey balance seems to work. Outside of the parks in the rest of world there are many other influences, I just don’t think it’s apples to apples.

  8. avatar izabelam says:

    Of course Virginia. Look at this link:
    http://www.ksl.com/?nid=148&sid=9550987 (not sure how to post it).
    Utah got closer to being ID,MT or WY.

  9. avatar izabelam says:

    Si’vet”Outside of the parks in the rest of world there are many other influences”
    Yes, like cry babies ranchers, hunters and ingnorant people who want to control and manage everything moving on 4 legs.

  10. avatar Si'vet says:

    Iz, and shopping malls, farms including organic farms, subdivisions, industrial areas, and how many human beings per square mile? So you agree, a good read, but not apples to apples?

  11. avatar Virginia says:

    Si’vet – you must have read a different article than I read. The article I read mentioned studies of the loss of top predators in diverse places such as Kenya, South America, Zion National Park, Yellowstone, Isle Royale National Park, Australia, Siberia, as well as the world’s oceans. I only mention the wolves based on the extensive studies we know about in Yellowstone. You must be aware of all of the effects of the loss of these other predators in other parts of the world, not just “the Park.” The wolf issue is obviously only one of the examples of the devastation of the loss of so many predators in ecosystems around the world.

  12. If ranchers kill 100 wolves only to then gain 400 coyotes who kill even more livestock, it seems like natural justice of a Darwinian sort.

    The stupid lose out.

  13. avatar Si'vet says:

    Virginia, I thought you were refering to Nabeki’s link on Glacier via the Missoulian, was there another link?

  14. avatar Si'vet says:

    Virginia, got it, the lead post. Will read.

  15. avatar Talks with Bears says:

    To all – has anyone worked with or have an opinion of Bob Fanning and or The Friends of the Northern Yellowstone Elk Herd?

  16. Talks with Bears,

    Bob Fanning comments here every once and a while, but my impression is the comments are pretty hostile and inaccurate.

  17. avatar Salle says:

    I think of him and his “friends” as wannabe graduates from the Sarah Palin school of “thought”, you betcha.

  18. avatar mikarooni says:

    I like to see Bob Fanning talking, posting, writing or whatever. He’s an environmental attorney’s dream opponent. If you poke at him a bit and get him going, he’ll just out and out spill the beans on everything his side is thinking and talking about behind closed doors. He’s wonderfully naive, overconfident, and, frankly, downright stupid. Talks with Bears, you’d like him; the two of you would have a lot in common.

  19. avatar Talks with Bears says:

    mikarooni – what exactly would Bob Fanning and I have in common, according to you?

  20. I don’t see any commonality between TWB and Fanning.

  21. avatar Jon Way says:

    JB,
    Just getting back to this post. Here are 3 reference (below) of positive effects of coyotes. In order, benefiting songbirds, rodents, and then ducks:

    Crooks, K. R., and M. E. Soule. 1999. Mesopredator release and avifaunal extinctions in a fragmented system. Nature 400:563-566.

    Henke, S. E., and F. C. Bryant. 1999. Effects of coyote removal on the faunal community in western Texas. Journal of Wildlife Management 63:1066-1081.

    Marsha A. Sovada, Alan B. Sargeant and James W. Grier. 1 (Jan., 1995), Differential Effects of Coyotes and Red Foxes on Duck Nest Success. The Journal of Wildlife Management, Vol. 59, No. pp. 1-9

  22. avatar JB says:

    Thanks, Jon!

  23. avatar gline says:

    Thanks Jon for the links.

  24. avatar Jon Way says:

    No problem guys. Maybe state and feds will one day realize the value of all creatures in any given system… coyotes and other predators included.

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‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

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