Help Save Wolves

  • by: Daphne Kusmer
  • recipient: Randy Paynter, President of orginization, Defenders of Wildlife
Wolves are dissapearing from our world. People for many reasons. We should continue to lead the fight for wolf protection and recovery. As carnivores at the top of the food chain, gray wolves help maintain the flow of energy from the top down. The abundance and diversity of wolves help keep populations of plant-eating animals under control, including elk, deer and moose, that are among the prey selected by wolves. These larger herbivores require huge quantities of woody stems, herbs and lichens to meet their energy requirements for growth and reproduction. They can quickly deplete a landscape of vegetation, the primary producer of energy in an ecosystem, and the major source of food for first order consumers, the herbivores. However, when wolves are the top carnivores – second order consumers– in an ecosystem, elk and deer numbers are kept in check, leaving enough vegetation for smaller herbivores. Without wolves and other top predators, ecosystems are simplified and ultimately show reduced biodiversity. The removal of top predators increases the number of herbivores and mid-level predators (mesopredators), causing overgrazing, decreases in ground-nesting bird and small mammal populations and, in general, ecosystem simplification, extinctions and decreased biodiversity.
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