The Ecology of Large Mammals in Central Yellowstone

The Ecology of Large Mammals in Central Yellowstone

Sixteen Years of Integrated Field Studies

1st Edition - July 1, 2008

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  • Editors: Robert Garrott, Patrick White, Fred Watson
  • eBook ISBN: 9780080921051
  • Hardcover ISBN: 9780123741745

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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

    Chapter 1 Integrated science in the central Yellowstone ecosystem
    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
    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?
    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?
    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: strong top-down regulation?
    Chapter 21 Alternative models of wolf-ungulate dynamics
    Chapter 22 Comparison of wolf effects on ungulates in the Greater Yellowstone Area
    Chapter 23 The winter recreation controversy
    Chapter 24 Wildlife responses to park visitors in winter
    Chapter 25 Bison winter road travel: facilitated by road grooming or a manifestation of natural trends?
    Chapter 26 Aggregate effects of topography, habitat, snowpack, and roads on bison travel patterns
    Chapter 27 Resolution of the winter recreation issue
    Chapter 28 Communicating ecological knowledge to students and the public
    Chapter 29 Science in National Parks: expectations, limitations, and contributions

Product details

  • No. of pages: 712
  • Language: English
  • Copyright: © Academic Press 2008
  • Published: July 1, 2008
  • Imprint: Academic Press
  • eBook ISBN: 9780080921051
  • Hardcover ISBN: 9780123741745

About the Editors

Robert Garrott

Affiliations and Expertise

Fish and Wildlife Management Program, Ecology Department, Montana State University Bozeman, USA

Patrick White

Affiliations and Expertise

National Park Service

Fred Watson

Affiliations and Expertise

California State University, Monterey Bay, USA

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