Literature Review: Isle Royale Update

by Carl Strang

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, there were plenty of wolves and moose on Isle Royale when I visited there in 1996. That is one of the better monitored ecological systems, and I was interested in an update based on the 2011 winter count, as reported in ScienceDaily.

View from a fire tower on the central ridge of Isle Royale.

The year after my trip there, a new male wolf immigrated to the island from the Canadian mainland. For a time the wolves benefited from this boost in genetic diversity, but that influence has begun to decline with a resumption of inbreeding, and the island’s wolves are down to a single pack of 16 individuals.

At the same time, reduced moose numbers have allowed a rebound of vegetation and they are on the verge of an increase. One of the side benefits of travel is a personal connection that lends interest to such stories.

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