Inbred Isle Royale wolves to get company, rebooting the world’s longest running ecological experiment

Science | AAAS | 9/21/2018 | Staff
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In the next 6 weeks, the U.S. National Park Service (NPS) will airlift six wolves from the U.S. mainland to nearby Isle Royale in Michigan to help restore the predator-prey system on the island, park superintendent Phyllis Green announced in a press conference today in Houghton, Michigan. The operation is to be completed by 31 October.

The airlift will drastically change the classic study of the island’s predator-prey dynamics, found in every ecology textbook.

Wolves - Isle - Royale - Population - Moose

Just two inbred wolves remain of the Isle Royale population that has been preying on moose and studied for nearly 60 years. The new wolves are to be the first wave of several over the next 3 years, expected to result in a new population of 20 to 30 wolves. With this reboot of the predator-prey system, NPS is also seeking to engage more scientists to study the unique wilderness park. “How do we restart the science?” Green asks. “We know there are many aspects of the island we haven’t researched fully.”

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The original Isle Royale population was founded by two or three wolves, with occasional influxes of new genes from mainland wolves wandering over the ice in cold winters. With ice bridges diminishing, planners have considered genetic diversity of the wolves along with an equal ratio of males to females. The mainland wolves will also be collared and screened for diseases. Two wolves are to come from the Upper Peninsula in Michigan and two...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Science | AAAS
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