Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Are Wolves The Pronghorn's Best Friend?

Date:
March 4, 2008
Source:
Wildlife Conservation Society
Summary:
As western states debate removing the gray wolf from protection under the Endangered Species Act, a new study cautions that doing so may result in an unintended decline in another species: the pronghorn, a uniquely North American animal that resembles an African antelope.

Yellowstone pronghorn populations directly benefit from the presence of wolves, a new Wildlife Conservation Society study says.
Credit: Julie Larsen Maher/Wildlife Conservation Society

As western states debate removing the gray wolf from protection under the Endangered Species Act, a new study by the Wildlife Conservation Society cautions that doing so may result in an unintended decline in another species: the pronghorn, a uniquely North American animal that resembles an African antelope.

The study, appearing in the latest issue of the journal Ecology, says that fewer wolves mean more coyotes, which can prey heavily on pronghorn fawns if the delicate balance between predators and their prey is altered. According to the study, healthy wolf packs keep coyote numbers in check, while rarely feeding on pronghorn fawns themselves. As a result, fawns have higher survival rates when wolves are present in an ecosystem.

"People tend to think that more wolves always mean fewer prey," said WCS researcher Dr. Kim Berger, lead author of the study. "But in this case, wolves are so much bigger than coyotes that it doesn't make sense for them to waste time searching for pronghorn fawns. It would be like trying to feed an entire family on a single Big Mac."

Over a three-year period, researchers radio-collared more than 100 fawns in wolf-free and wolf-abundant areas of Grand Teton National Park and monitored their survival throughout the summer. The results showed that only 10 percent of fawns survived in areas lacking wolves, but where coyote densities were higher. In areas where wolves were abundant, 34 percent of pronghorn fawns survived. Wolves reduce coyote numbers by killing them outright or by causing them to shift to safer areas of the Park not utilized by wolves.

While pronghorn are not endangered, the population that summers in Grand Teton National Park, part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, had been reduced to fewer than 200 animals in recent years. Since wolves were reintroduced in 1995, the pronghorn population in Grand Teton has increased by approximately 50 percent. These pronghorn have the longest migration -- more than 200 miles roundtrip -- of any land mammal in the lower 48 states. The Wildlife Conservation Society has called for permanent protection of their migration corridor, known as "Path of the Pronghorn," to prevent the animals from going extinct in the Park. Representatives from the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and U.S. Forest Service recently pledged support for protecting the corridor.

If delisting occurs, Wyoming and Idaho have announced their intention to reduce wolf number by 50percent and 80 percent, respectively. At present, there are an estimated 300 wolves in Wyoming and 700 in Idaho.

"This study shows just how complex relationships between predators and their prey can be," said Berger. "It's an important reminder that we often don't understand ecosystems nearly as well as we think we do, and that our efforts to manipulate them can have unexpected consequences."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wildlife Conservation Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Wildlife Conservation Society. "Are Wolves The Pronghorn's Best Friend?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 March 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080303145300.htm>.
Wildlife Conservation Society. (2008, March 4). Are Wolves The Pronghorn's Best Friend?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080303145300.htm
Wildlife Conservation Society. "Are Wolves The Pronghorn's Best Friend?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080303145300.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Newsy (July 28, 2014) The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs struck at the worst time for them. A new study says that if it hit earlier or later, they might've survived. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

AP (July 27, 2014) A live-streaming webcam catches loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings emerging from a nest in the Florida Keys. (July 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Newsy (July 27, 2014) The satellite is back under ground control after a tense few days, but with a gecko sex experiment on board, the media just couldn't help themselves. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins