Reblogged from The New York Times.
“Can you say trophic cascade? A recent video story narrated by British writer George Monbiot on how wolves transformed the Yellowstone National Park landscape has gone viral of late. The question of how accurate the touching story actually is has been posed in this New York Times editorial. It demonstrates an unfortunate dynamic of some folks being too quick to believe good story telling, rather than questioning motivations and leveling a critical eye to uncover the truth. Arthur Middleton gives a different account; not the final word, but reason for caution when jumping to emotionally driven conservation conclusions.” ~ Andrew Wyatt
By ARTHUR MIDDLETON | March 9, 2014
Excerpted from The New York Times:
“This story — that wolves fixed a broken Yellowstone by killing and frightening elk — is one of ecology’s most famous. It’s the classic example of what’s called a “trophic cascade,” and has appeared in textbooks, on National Geographic centerfolds and in this newspaper. Americans may know this story better than any other from ecology, and its grip on our imagination is one of the field’s proudest contributions to wildlife conservation. But there is a problem with the story: It’s not true.
We now know that elk are tougher, and Yellowstone more complex, than we gave them credit for. By retelling the same old story about Yellowstone wolves, we distract attention from bigger problems, mislead ourselves about the true challenges of managing ecosystems, and add to the mythology surrounding wolves at the expense of scientific understanding…”