wolves to the rescue

Balanced at the apex of an arch, the keystone locks all the other stones in place. Remove it and the arch collapses.

Keystone predators, such as wolves, are structurally similar, holding ecosystems together from the top down in food web relationships called trophic cascades.

Keystone predators control elk numbers and behavior. On the lookout for wolves, wary elk eat more sparingly. This releases shrubs and saplings from browsing pressure, improves habitat for other species, and increases biodiversity.

These cascading effects, termed the ecology of fear, are based on powerful evolutionary relationships that were in place until we eliminated large predators in the early part of the twentieth century.

While wolves won’t slow climate change, they certainly can help create ecosystems better able to withstand it. However, trophic cascades have yet to make it into the lexicon of climate change solutions.

Could this be because combating climate change with wolves is too implausible or costly?

Island Press 10 Sep 2010