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Study says that with more wolves and fewer elk, trees rebounding in portions of Yellowstone

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The return of gray wolves has dramatically altered the landscape in portions of Yellowstone National Park, as new trees take root in areas where the predators have curbed the size of foraging elk herds, according to scientists in a new study.Stands of aspen, willow and cottonwood are expanding in areas where for decades dense elk populations prevented new growth, said study author William Ripple from Oregon State University.

While other factors may play a role, from a changing climate to wildfires, more than a decade of research has confirmed earlier assertions that the return of Yellowstone’s elk-hungry wolves has spurred new plant growth, he said.

The findings from Ripple and co-author Robert Beschta will be published in the scientific journal Biological Conservation. The study already has been released online…

Read the entire article on chicagotribune.com: Study says that with more wolves and fewer elk, trees rebounding in portions of Yellowstone

More:

BBC Interview with Dr. Ripple

Study: “Trophic cascades in Yellowstone: The first 15 years after wolf reintroduction” (PDF)

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