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Ecological Responses to the Reintroduction of Wolves in Yellowstone National Park

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Patricia Kenig
Kristen Nearing

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Ever since the complete removal of gray wolves in Yellowstone National Park in 1926, the park’s ecosystem has seen drops in its diversity levels as well as its total abundance of its species. In the absence of the wolves, elk populations began to skyrocket, causing both flora and fauna species to plummet. Therefore, we must ask the question, how do wolves affect Yellowstone National Park’s ecosystem? To determine how exactly wolves affect the park’s ecosystem we used primary datasets to analyze the relationships between wolves and the number of elks, number of ravens, and amount of snowfall in the park itself. Data was analyzed by using JMP and examined by using linear regression as our choice of statistical analysis. By plotting the amount of wolves with the number of elks, the number of ravens, and average snowfall we were able to come up with three separate analyses. The findings of our study suggest that once wolves were reintroduced into the park, the park’s ecosystem began to change. Some aspects of the ecosystem began to wither, while other aspects began to flourish. It is important to keep in mind that not all aspects of the park’s ecosystem were able to be analyzed in this study, however. Overall, from the findings we obtained from our three analyses, our results suggest that wolves do play an important role in the park’s ecosystem and therefore should remain in the park.

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Ecological Responses to the Reintroduction of Wolves in Yellowstone National Park

Ever since the complete removal of gray wolves in Yellowstone National Park in 1926, the park’s ecosystem has seen drops in its diversity levels as well as its total abundance of its species. In the absence of the wolves, elk populations began to skyrocket, causing both flora and fauna species to plummet. Therefore, we must ask the question, how do wolves affect Yellowstone National Park’s ecosystem? To determine how exactly wolves affect the park’s ecosystem we used primary datasets to analyze the relationships between wolves and the number of elks, number of ravens, and amount of snowfall in the park itself. Data was analyzed by using JMP and examined by using linear regression as our choice of statistical analysis. By plotting the amount of wolves with the number of elks, the number of ravens, and average snowfall we were able to come up with three separate analyses. The findings of our study suggest that once wolves were reintroduced into the park, the park’s ecosystem began to change. Some aspects of the ecosystem began to wither, while other aspects began to flourish. It is important to keep in mind that not all aspects of the park’s ecosystem were able to be analyzed in this study, however. Overall, from the findings we obtained from our three analyses, our results suggest that wolves do play an important role in the park’s ecosystem and therefore should remain in the park.

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