New research raises questions whether the reintroduction of apex predators, such as wolves for example, restores ecosystems to how they were before predators were removed.
“We need more studies. More tests of this ‘assumption of reciprocity,’ as we call it — particularly via rigorous experimental studies — would be really helpful. This is hard data to get, but we really do need it before we can credibly claim that large carnivores restore ecosystems. They might not,” Jesse Alston, lead researcher, told Science Daily. “Large carnivores are great, but using their effects on ecosystems to justify reintroduction might not hold up to scrutiny and could be counterproductive in the long term.”
Researchers claim the reintroduction of large carnivores may not affect ecosystems at all, thus dispelling the assumption of trophic cascade. They say other factors include invasive species, climate change and whether systems take off in a new, unpredictable direction after such reintroductions. (Note: an earlier study disputes trophic cascade.)
Scientists from the University of Wyoming, Yale University and the University of British Columbia-Okanagan published the research in the journal Biological Conservation.
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