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Fascinating Ecology Lesson in ‘How Wolves Change Rivers’ Video

When wolves were reintroduced into Yellowstone National Park after a 70-year absence, a remarkable series of events was set in place. The idea was for the wolves to bring down the population of elk. But the actual effect of the wolves on the entire ecosystem was greater than anyone expected.

Watch ‘How Wolves Change Rivers’ below for a truly amazing look at the interconnectivity of nature.

The effect of the Yellowstone wolves is an example of a trophic cascade, which occurs when a top predator in a food web decreases the population of their prey, resulting in an increase in the food eaten by the prey.

In this case, the wolves brought down the population of the deer and elk, which meant an increase in the plants and trees they ate, resulting in some profound changes in the rest of ecosystem.

Play the activity below to learn more about the food web. Click on a predator, then click on its food source to form the web. How would the web change if a top predator, such as a wolf, was introduced?


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Ashley MacQuarrie

Ashley MacQuarrie began writing professionally more than ten years ago and has covered education, technology, current events, pop culture, and other topics. A former homeschooler, she studied English and Film & New Media, graduating with a bachelor's degree from San Diego State University. Ashley has classroom experience working with children who have autism and other special needs. She has also tutored students from kindergarten through college and taught English to teens and adults at a language school in London.

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