facebook
twitter
rss
account
search
search
 

Study: Loss of predators affects ecosystem

April 10, 2012 at 2:53 PM   |   Comments

CORVALLIS, Ore., April 10 (UPI) -- The loss of large predators like wolves and a resulting rise in populations of moose, deer and other herbivores is disrupting ecosystems, U.S. researchers say.

Scientists from Oregon State University said the loss of major predators in Northern Hemisphere forest ecosystems has allowed game animal populations to explode, hampering the growth of young trees and reducing biodiversity.

This also contributes to deforestation and results in less carbon sequestration, a potential concern with climate change, they said.

"These issues do not just affect the United States and a few national parks," William Ripple, a professor of forestry and lead author of the study, said in an OSU release.

"The data from Canada, Alaska, the Yukon, Northern Europe and Asia are all showing similar results. There's consistent evidence that large predators help keep populations of large herbivores in check, with positive effects on ecosystem health."

Numbers of mammalian herbivores were six times greater in areas without wolves compared to those in which wolves were present, the researchers said.

"In systems where large predators remain, they appear to have a major role in sustaining the diversity and productivity of native plant communities, thus maintaining healthy ecosystems," study co-author Robert Beschta said.

"When the role of major predators is more fully appreciated, it may allow managers to reconsider some of their assumptions about the management of wildlife."

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
Most Popular
1
Massive sunspot sending violent flares toward Earth Massive sunspot sending violent flares toward Earth
2
Google exec breaks skydive record with dive from near-space Google exec breaks skydive record with dive from near-space
3
Powerful new microscope sees cell division in real time Powerful new microscope sees cell division in real time
4
Astronomers discover worst-smelling comet in space Astronomers discover worst-smelling comet in space
5
Stone tools reveal Ice Age settlement in the Andes Stone tools reveal Ice Age settlement in the Andes
Trending News
Around the Web
x
Feedback