Sample Research Paper -Ecological benefits of wolves

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The decline and reintroduction of wolves and the effects it had on ecosystems


Wolves are among the wild animals within the United States of America that have been considered helpful in enhancing economic balance. Wolves have a long history of both economic and ecological effects of various destinations. Wolves affect the ways in which different ecological progress can be enhanced. Yellowstone is among the destinations that have been used to formulate the study of a decline of wolves and the effects they had on the United States of America. The wolves help in maintaining landscapes as a way of enhancing growth of various aspects. Wolves have been beneficial since 1995 where different researches were founded. Wolves centrally assist in regulating the number of prey within the ecological systems (Callan, Nibbelink, Rooney, Wiedenhoeft, Wydeven, and Canham 2013). There has been a declining history in the number of wolves, which exist in USA. The decline has been followed by fast approach involving introduction to the number of wolves existing in the ecosystems. The ecosystems have suffered negative effects due to declining numbers wolves. The reintroduction of wolves has also increased several ecosystem benefits.

The decline of wolves and the effects it had on USA

Reasons for the declining number of wolves

There were alleged reasons for the decreasing number of wolves within the United States of America. Some factors give population density as the central cause of the decline in the numbers of wolves within USA. Population density pressure makes the wolves to compete and kill one another for food within their ecological settings. Some factors also include parasitic infection of the skin that affect the skin of wolves. Hunting of wolves was also a common practice during the early times of decline. This fact leads to death of the surviving wolves. These factors have been attributed to the low number of wolves within ecological systems of the United States of America. This fact has also led to the effect on the ecological systems of United States of America in positive ways.

The result of decline in number of wolves on elks and other wolves’ prey

The decline in the number of wolves has led to a raise in the number of elk within the ecological system (Cote, Rooney, Tremblay, Dussault, and Waller 2004). This aspect is one of the causes of ecological system imbalance experienced in the United States of America. The elks are among the largest groups of deer in the whole world. These animals have an   on the population of plants within the ecological setting. Elk species have been known for consumption of most important plants within the environment. Wolves have been resourceful in maintaining balance in the ecological systems by controlling the population of elks. The elks are essential prey to the population of wolves. This explanation implies that a decline in the number of wolves would increase the population of elks within the ecosystem. The increase in the number of elks in the ecosystem would also result to an increase in the levels of destruction on trees.

The relationship is such that wolves assist in the elimination of elks that have been established to be a threat to the ecological balance in case one of the participants reduces in number. The reduction in the number of wolves implies that there is a possibility in which elks would increase their population. No predator would exist to control the population of elks within ecological systems. Aspen trees were used to investigate this effect of wolves on ecological balance. The researchers wanted to look for reasons why the numbers of aspen trees were decreasing in number in 1995 within certain regions. The outcome of the experiments implied there is direct association between the declining number of wolves and that of aspen trees. The intermediary between the relationships was established to be the elks. Elks consumed many seeds of aspen plants within the environmental systems (Hebblewhite, Pletscher, and Paquet 2002). This scenario has resulted to the decreasing number of plants within the affected ecological fields.

Result on scavengers

The declining number of wolves also resulted to death of many scavengers within the environmental systems of United States of America. Scavengers are part of ecological systems since they facilitate decay and decomposition of already dead materials. The decline in the number of wolves would reduce the number of scavengers since wolves serve as the largest position of predators in most ecological systems that accommodate them (Meng and Omar 2011). A decline in wolves means that there would be little available source of foods and proteins to scavengers. The wolves make available a large amount of food for the scavengers like eagle and others by killing the prey that regulated the activities going on within the ecosystems. This explanation implies that the absence of wolves would limit the number of dead prey within environmental settings. This factor also reduces the balance that would be available in the ecosystem with most of the prey that wolves attempt to target dominating the ecological systems.

Effects on vegetation and overgrazing issues

Another of declining number of wolves in the ecosystem would pertain to overgrazing of animals. This result would destroy the existing landscapes in the United States of America. Overgrazing refers to excessive browsing on the existing vegetation within a given environment. This factor affects the landscape in many ways. The declining number of wolves within ecosystems of United States of America has led to overgrazing practices. Elks are among the animals that are known for browsing on the existing vegetation in an excessive manner (Millspaugh, Kunkel, Kochanny, Peterson, and Licht 2010). The increased levels of browsing on the vegetation imply an effect on the environmental systems. There would be no balance within the ecological systems since the number animals that wish to feed on the existing vegetation would be higher than the available vegetation to be fed on in the ecosystem. This influence causes a disturbance in the stability of the environment affected by elimination of wolves. The green vegetation serves as a food resource to elks and other possible prey.

The reintroduction of wolves and the effects on the ecological systems

Reasons for the reintroduction of wolves

The effects that decline of wolves had on the environmental system have necessitated the reintroduction of the wolves in various places. The introduction strategies were efforts pulled towards enhancing positive ecological balance with consideration of the factors involved in the effects. The reintroduction activities have led to positive outcomes towards ecological association. In an attempt to mitigate the effects on environmental balance the United States, ecological group researched on the essentiality of wolves towards balance and control of ecological factors. It was estimated that the best solution for reinstating environmental systems and balance in the United States of America is to involve reintroduction strategies as a method of bringing back the wolves to the environment. This strategy would influence positively on the ecological balance.

One of the direct impacts of reintroduction of wolves in the ecosystem is the development of vegetation. There has been an increase for vegetation, which serves to protect the ecological systems as a way of sustainability. The increased number of wolves has reduced the number elks in the affected environments. Elks are known for destroying the seed and plants that grow in a given environment. The lessening in the quantity of these animals would result to an increase in protection of the existing vegetation (Miller, Harlow, Harlow, Biggins, and Ripple 2012). The vegetation in the ecosystems is essential and major players of environmental conservation. An increase in this amount would insinuate that the environment is free from various effects. The reintroduction of wolves has ensured that the predators that seek to balance the population of elks exist within ecosystems. This result brings down the activities involved in enhancing positive activities.

The association between plants and environmental conservation and sustainability is clear. The plants enhance development in the climate levels and are a resource of habitat to most of the small animals within ecology. The reduction in the number of trees or destruction of such plants before maturity limits the balance of ecology. The reintroductions of wolves have led to increasing in the height of most important plants within an ecosystem. Elks and other herbivore animals always browse heavily in the absence of any threat within environmental systems (Miller, Harlow, Harlow, Biggins, and Ripple 2012). Wolves have served as threats to the heavy browsing behaviors of elks and other animals that may be a threat to the vegetation. As predators, the wolves have successfully supplemented the existing number of predators within the environmental systems. For example, coyotes were among the central predators mentioned taking care of the ever-increasing population of deer and elks in the environments. The reintroduction of wolves in ecosystems implied an increased number of existing predators to regulate the population of elks and other prey affecting ecological balance.

The introduction of wolves as a way of balancing the ecosystem has assisted in enhancing positive ways of balancing the activities of scavengers. The scavengers can obtain proteins easily due to existing dead materials that exist within the environment. Existence of wolves in the ecosystem implies that there are an increased number of predators, which exist in environmental settings. This element implies an increase for foods available for scavengers. This relationship has helped in establishing an ecological balance in most parts of USA. The wolves control the rising population of elks and deer as they provide food to scavengers (Miller, Harlow, Harlow, Biggins, and Ripple 2012). This factor follows the effects of natural play in the environment. One of the elements in the environment must always suffer so that there would be the survival of other groups of organisms. This idea also implies that the ecology would receive an appropriate balance as a way of sustaining continuous growth.

The reintroductions of wolves have completed the food chains in the environmental systems. There is no breakdown in the food chain relationships among the involved animals (Ripple, Beschta 2004). This fact has also increased the chances of growth among all groups involved in an ecological system. The animals hunted by wolves have become alert to the ways in which they move in the environments. They have become stronger and distributed towards many parts of existing environments. This factor has enhanced population distribution among the affected animals. This strategy has also enhanced development in the ways in which animals interact with the plants in the ecology. The grass and trees also have the chance to grow taller in the ecosystem. All these factors have led to balance in the ecological aspects of the environment. 

Reference list

Callan R, Nibbelink NP, Rooney TP, Wiedenhoeft JE, Wydeven AP, Canham C. 2013. Recolonizing wolves trigger a trophic cascade in Wisconsin (USA). J Ecol 101(4):837-45.

Cote SD, Rooney TP, Tremblay J, Dussault C, Waller DM. 2004. ECOLOGICAL IMPACTS OF DEER OVERABUNDANCE. Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematic 35:113-47

Hebblewhite M, Pletscher DH, Paquet PC. 2002. Elk population dynamics in areas with and without predation by recolonizing wolves in Banff National Park, Alberta. Can J Zool 80(5):789-99

Meng Q and Omar N. 2011. Grassland ecology: An analysis of wolf totem from an ecological perspective. Studies in Literature and Language 3(3):35-40

Miller BJ, Harlow HJ, Harlow TS, Biggins D, Ripple WJ. 2012. Trophic cascades linking wolves (Canis lupus), coyotes (Canis latrans), and small mammals. Can J Zool 90(1):70-8.

Millspaugh JJ, Kunkel KE, Kochanny CO, Peterson RO, Licht DS. 2010. Using small populations of wolves for ecosystem restoration and stewardship. Bioscience 60(2):147-53.

Ripple WJ, Beschta RL. 2004. Wolves, elk, willows, and trophic cascades in the upper Gallatin Range of southwestern Montana, USA. Forest Ecology and Management 200: 161-181

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