The Ecology of Large Mammals in Central Yellowstone, Volume 3

1st Edition

Sixteen Years of Integrated Field Studies

Print ISBN: 9781493301096
eBook ISBN: 9780080921051
Imprint: Academic Press
Published Date: 25th November 2008
Page Count: 712
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This book is an authoritative work on the ecology of some of America’s most iconic large mammals in a natural environment - and of the interplay between climate, landscape, and animals in the interior of the world’s first and most famous national park.

Central Yellowstone includes the range of one of the largest migratory populations of bison in North America as well as a unique elk herd that remains in the park year round. These populations live in a varied landscape with seasonal and often extreme patterns of climate and food abundance. The reintroduction of wolves into the park a decade ago resulted in scientific and public controversy about the effect of large predators on their prey, a debate closely examined in the book.

Introductory chapters describe the geography, geology and vegetation of the ecosystem. The elk and bison are then introduced and their population ecology described both pre- and post– wolf introduction, enabling valuable insights into the demographic and behavioral consequences for their ungulate prey. Subsequent chapters describe the wildlife-human interactions and show how scientific research can inform the debate and policy issues surrounding winter recreation in Yellowstone. The book closes with a discussion of how this ecological knowledge can be used to educate the public, both about Yellowstone itself and about science, ecology and the environment in general.

Yellowstone National Park exemplifies some of the currently most hotly debated and high-profile ecological, wildlife management, and environmental policy issues and this book will have broad appeal not only to academic ecologists, but also to natural resource students, managers, biologists, policy makers, administrators and the general public.

Key Features

  • Unrivalled descriptions of ecological processes in a world famous ecosystem, based on information from 16 years of painstaking field work and collaborations among 66 scientists and technical experts and 15 graduate studies.

  • Detailed studies of two charismatic North American herbivore species – elk and bison

  • Description of the restoration of wolves into central Yellowstone and their ecological interactions with their elk and bison prey

  • Illustrated with numerous evocative colour photographs and stunning maps


Research and advanced students in ecology, wildlife and habitat management, and conservation biology. Wildlife and Habitat managers in Yellowstone and elswhere. Wildlife policy agencies. Technically interested laypersons, press and media.

Table of Contents

INTRODUCTION Chapter 1 Integrated science in the central Yellowstone ecosystem LANDSCAPE AND CLIMATE Chapter 2 The central Yellowstone landscape: geology, terrain, vegetation Chapter 3 Climate: good years, bad years, and long-term change Chapter 4 Quantifying and mapping Yellowstone's unique geothermal landscape Chapter 5 Snowpack dynamics: processes and models Chapter 6 Meadow dynamics: a remote sensing approach UNGULATE SPATIAL AND POPULATION DYNAMICS PRIOR TO WOLVES Chapter 7 Elk population dynamics before wolves: A bottom-up system Chapter 8 Elk spatial dynamics and resource use patterns: adaptation to a unique environment Chapter 9 The Recovery of Yellowstone's Bison: a Century of Population Dynamics Chapter 10 Bison range expansion: affected by the same mechanisms influencing migratory behavior? WOLVES REESTABLISHMENT AND PREDATION Chapter 11 Recolonization dynamics of a new wolf population Chapter 12 Wolf movement patterns in relation to prey and kill sites Chapter 13 Wolf prey selection in an elk-bison system: choice or circumstance? Chapter 14 Estimation of predator kill rates using imperfect data Chapter 15 Factors driving wolf predation rates: predictably variable? WOLF-UNGULATE DYNAMICS Chapter 16 Alterations in elk group size to varying temporal and spatial wolf predation risks Chapter 17 Alterations in elk winter foraging time: consequences of living in a risky environment Chapter 18 Elk landscape use and winter movements: influenced by the environment or driven by fear? Chapter 19 Characterizing elk resource selection responses to wolf predation risks Chapter 20 Post-wolf elk population dynamics: stro


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"A comprehensive synthesis of extensive and interrelated research conducted to understand the influences of climate and landscape on the dynamics of the mammals in the interior of the world’s first and most famous national park…. Contributing authors include detailed descriptions of the central Yellowstone environment and present results of intensive field sampling, remote sensing, and modeling of important ecosystem components… These results are merged with extensive demographic, spatial, and behavioral databases from the resident elk, migratory bison, and reintroduced wolf populations to address population-level ecological process."--Yellowstone Science