Wolf Predations. This Paper Discusses Four Hypotheses To Explain The Effects Of Wolf Predation On Prey Populations Of Large Ungulates.

1731 words - 7 pages

Hypotheses of the Effects ofWolf PredationJohn FeldersnatchDecember 1st, 1995Abstract: This paper discusses four hypotheses to explain the effects of wolf predation on prey populations of large ungulates.The four proposed hypotheses examined are the predation limiting hypothesis, the predation regulating hypothesis, the predatorpit hypothesis, and the stable limit cycle hypothesis. There is much research literature that discusses how these hypotheses canbe used to interpret various data sets obtained from field studies. It was concluded that the predation limiting hypothesis fitmost study cases, but that more research is necessary to account for multiple predator - multiple prey relationships.The effects of predation can have an enormous impact on the ecological organization and structure of communities. Theprocesses of predation affect virtually every species to some degree or another. Predation can be defined as when members ofone species eat (and/or kill) those of another species. The specific type of predation between wolves and large ungulatesinvolves carnivores preying on herbivores. Predation can have many possible effects on the interrelations of populations. Todraw any correlations between the effects of these predator-prey interactions requires studies of a long duration, and statisticalanalysis of large data sets representative of the populations as a whole. Predation could limit the prey distribution and decreaseabundance. Such limitation may be desirable in the case of pest species, or undesirable to some individuals as with gameanimals or endangered species. Predation may also act as a major selective force. The effects of predator prey coevolution canexplain many evolutionary adaptations in both predator and prey species.The effects of wolf predation on species of large ungulates have proven to be controversial and elusive. There have been manydifferent models proposed to describe the processes operating on populations influenced by wolf predation. Some of theproposed mechanisms include the predation limiting hypothesis, the predation regulating hypothesis, the predator pithypothesis, and the stable limit cycle hypothesis (Boutin 1992). The purpose of this paper is to assess the empirical data onpopulation dynamics and attempt to determine if one of the four hypotheses is a better model of the effects of wolf predationon ungulate population densities.The predation limiting hypothesis proposes that predation is the primary factor that limits prey density. In this non- equilibriummodel recurrent fluctuations occur in the prey population. This implies that the prey population does not return to someparticular equilibrium after deviation. The predation limiting hypothesis involves a density independent mechanism. Themechanism might apply to one prey - one predator systems (Boutin 1992). This hypothesis predicts that losses of prey due topredation will be large enough to halt prey population increase.Many studies support the hypothesis...

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