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Large Predators Limit Herbivore Densities in Northern Forest Ecosystems

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dc.creator Ripple, William J.
dc.creator Beschta, Robert L.
dc.date.accessioned 2012-03-28T16:17:14Z
dc.date.available 2012-03-28T16:17:14Z
dc.date.issued 2012
dc.identifier.citation Ripple, W. J., & Beschta, R. L. (2012). Large predators limit herbivore densities in northern forest ecosystems. European Journal of Wildlife Research. doi:10.1007/s10344-012-0623-5 en_US
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/1957/28411
dc.description This is the author's peer-reviewed accepted manuscript. The original publication is copyrighted and published by Springer and is available at www.springerlink.com. NEWS COVERAGE: A news release based on this journal publication, which is written for a lay audience and has been approved by an author of the study, is available online: http://bit.ly/HscXfe en_US
dc.description.abstract There is a lack of scientific consensus about how top-down and bottom-up forces interact to structure terrestrial ecosystems. This is especially true for systems with large carnivore and herbivore species where the effects of predation versus food limitation on herbivores are controversial. Uncertainty exists whether top-down forces driven by large carnivores are common, and if so, how their influences vary with predator guild composition and primary productivity. Based on data and information in 42 published studies from over a 50-year time span, we analyzed the composition of large predator guilds and prey densities across a productivity gradient in boreal and temperate forests of North America and Eurasia. We found that predation by large mammalian carnivores, especially sympatric gray wolves (Canis lupus) and bears (Ursus spp.), apparently limits densities of large mammalian herbivores. We found that cervid densities, measured in deer equivalents, averaged nearly six times greater in areas without wolves compared to areas with wolves. In areas with wolves, herbivore density increased only slightly with increasing productivity. These predator effects are consistent with the exploitation ecosystems hypothesis and appear to occur across a broad range of net primary productivities. Results are also consistent with theory on trophic cascades suggesting widespread and top-down forcing by large carnivores on large herbivores in forest biomes across the northern hemisphere. These findings have important conservation implications involving not only the management of large carnivores, but also that of large herbivores and plant communities. en_US
dc.language.iso en_US en_US
dc.publisher Springer en_US
dc.relation.ispartofseries European Journal of Wildlife Research en_US
dc.subject large carnivores en_US
dc.subject wolves en_US
dc.subject bears en_US
dc.subject cervids en_US
dc.subject predators en_US
dc.subject trophic cascades en_US
dc.subject herbivory en_US
dc.title Large Predators Limit Herbivore Densities in Northern Forest Ecosystems en_US
dc.type Article en_US
dc.identifier.doi 10.1007/s10344-012-0623-5

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