Since their introduction in 1995 and 1996, wolves have had effects on Yellowstone that ripple across the entire structure of the food web that defines biodiversity in the Northern Rockies ecosystem. Ecological interpretations of the wolves have generated a significant amount of debate about the relative strength of top-down versus bottom-up forces in determining herbivore and vegetation abundance in Yellowstone. Debates such as this are central to the resolution of broader debates about the role of natural enemies and climate as forces that structure food webs and modify ecosystem function. Ecologists need to significantly raise the profile of these discussions; understanding the forces that structure food webs and determine species abundance and the supply of ecosystem services is one of the central scientific questions for this century; its complexity will require new minds, new mathematics, and significant, consistent funding.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
- General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
- General Immunology and Microbiology
- General Neuroscience