How wolves can change the course of rivers



Wolves have been much on our minds here at Cosmos recently.  One of our writers is working on a review of Brenda Peterson’s excellent book Wolf Nation, that is due to be published in early May. It is the remarkable story of the 300-year history of wild wolves in America and their relationship to humans over that time. We won’t spoil that, you can read it in our next print edition out in early April and online shortly after that.

But in the meantime, we came across this fascinating short film, narrated by George Monbiot, about the extraordinary effect the re-introduction of wolves into Yellowstone National Park has had on the ecology there. Over a short period of time they have set off what is known to scientists as a “trophic cascade”, an ecological process that begins at the top of the food chain and tumbles all the way through to the very bottom.

By preying on deer, which had dangerously overpopulated the park, the wolves sparked a remarkable chain of events that led to a boom in new life and vibrancy that even saw a change in the flow of the rivers. It’s a remarkable story and one that reminds us just how interconnected everything is – and perhaps an overdue shot of feel-good in these gloomy times.

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