Why are Wolves Important in an Ecosystem?
Keystone species play a unique and crucial role in the way an ecosystem functions. Without keystone species the ecosystem in which they live, would be dramatically different or cease to exist. Yellowstone Park is a good example of this. Wolves prey on injured, sick, old, young and genetically inferior elk, moose, and deer, allowing the healthy individuals to breed and continue their species. Wolves help feed other animals in the ecosystem. Carrion feeders and other scavengers like eagles, bears and crows eat the remains left by wolves. The remains of kills left by wolves often help many species survive hard winters.
Shaping the Environment
Wolves help improve riparian areas (the wetland areas adjacent to rivers and streams). Wolves help redistribute ungulate herds which allow vegetation to recover & grow along rivers & streams. In turn, this helps provide more food for beavers. Aquatic animals like frogs and fish & aquatic plants benefit from increased beaver ponds. Additionally, shade created by the trees cools the water, making the habitat better for many aquatic species.
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