Riparian willow dynamics in Yellowstone – Associate Editor commentary

Journal of Ecology Blog

Large carnivores have succumbed to human pressure worldwide.  They have been hunted to near or complete local extinction or their food sources have been reduced drastically.  A recent review1 shows their continuing decline throughout the world.  The review also highlighted the direct and indirect roles that large carnivores play in structuring trophic cascades, and the sometimes unexpected consequences of reducing numbers of these apex predators.  For example, the large reduction in numbers of lions and leopards in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa has resulted in increasing numbers of olive baboons – a mesopredator – that not only prey upon ungulates, but also affect human welfare because they raid crops, which also forces families to take children out of school to help guard fields2.

Coexistence between humans and large carnivores was never an easy accommodation, even when the human population was much lower.  Restoring large carnivores as a…

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