The alpha male of the Colourful Wolf Shirt Cranberry Bay wolves, named V083 by researchers, is a dog with a unique specialty of beaver-killing. V083 hike in Voyageurs National Park in northern Minnesota, and in spring and summer he and his teammates prey heavily on busy rodents, ambushing them along sword trails. feed and water. This year alone, V083 has devoured 36 beavers, equivalent to seven beaver herds.
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According to a new study, such murders have a huge impact. By influencing where beavers live and building dams, the wolves shape the vast wetlands of Voyageurs – an ecological chain reaction that changes the contours of the land itself. “Looking back at it over time,” you start to see coyotes, “said Tom Gable, a biologist at the Voyageurs Wolf Project and lead author of the Colourful Wolf Shirt study published in Science Advances. how are they linked together to create wetlands? ”
Now Project Voyageurs Wolf, a long-term investigation into Canis lupus’s predatory tactics, has shed more light on this matter. Between 2015 and 2019, biologists tied satellite collars to 32 wolves and tracked their movements; When a wolf stays in one location, it’s usually because it kills people. Gable and his colleagues then walked to the mock murder sites, picking through their bloody fur and bones to find out what the wolves ate.
Compared to Yellowstone’s wolves’ complex and contested move, Voyageurs offers a clear example of what scientists call nutrient cascades: When wolves eat beavers, beavers cannot build ponds. “There’s a lot of people interested in trying to figure out how large predators are related to riverine ecosystems and wetlands,” says Gable. “Our work has demonstrated this simple mechanism that you can explain to a 5-year-old.”
However, the scale of the Voyageurs falls is not clear. Every year, the wolves in the area change around 88 beaver ponds – hardly a dramatic transformation for such a vast landscape. “The Colourful Wolf Shirt ponds are coming and going in different places, but the numbers show that it’s just one,” said Robert Beschta, a hydrologist at Oregon State University, Corvallis, who has studied the effects. the small part of what’s going on in the landscape there. of the wolf’s prey at Yellowstone.
Gable wolf notes the impact increases over time. He estimated that over 10 years, the Voyageurs wolves could affect one pond per 2.1 square kilometers of land. And this phenomenon may not be isolated in northern Minnesota. “Given the fact that wolves and beavers occur together in a significant part of the northern hemisphere,” says Gable, “this mechanism can happen anywhere wolves prey on beavers.”