Grant: $449,499 - National Science Foundation - Jul. 23, 2009
0% voted satisfied - 100% voted not satisfied - 5 vote(s) cast
Award Description: The wolves and moose of Isle Royale National Park, Michigan, have been studied for 50 years and represent the longest predator-prey study in the world. The project's objectives address three of the most fundamental questions in all of ecology: (i) how and why do animal populations (in this case populations of wolves and moose) fluctuate the way they do?, (ii) how do predators affect their prey?, and (iii) how does climate affect population fluctuations? The essential methods of the project include quantifying the abundance of wolves and moose and the rate at which wolves kill moose each winter by sampling from a fixed-wing aircraft. The moose are further analyzed by collecting skeletal remains of ~35% of all the moose that die on Isle Royale. The project also samples food conditions of moose and relevant climatic conditions. The Isle Royale project uses diverse and very creative ways to teach the general public about ecology, population cycles and species interactions, as wolves and moose easily capture the public's imagination. In the past 5 years, the project reached over 100 people though their participation in week-long Earthwatch research expeditions, more than 15,000 individuals through presentations by the PIs; over 3,000 individuals through presentations by the project's research associates; thousands through a feature-length documentary film, museum exhibits, and art; tens of thousands through a webpage; and hundreds of thousands of people through professional journalism and popular books. The broader impacts of this project are outstanding, as they also include informing management and conservation decisions.
Project Description: Project Summary: The wolves & moose of Isle Royale have been studied for 50 years (1959-2009). This is the longest predator-prey study of such intensity in the world. Isle Royale’s biogeography and management add to the project’s distinctiveness. For 5 decades, the objective has been to explain the predator-prey dynamics on Isle Royale. Each year the wolf population is counted and moose abundance estimated from an aircraft. Moose abundance & age structure are also estimated by cohort analysis based on field necropsies. Dendrochronology has provided an index of annual growth for balsam fir, important winter moose forage. Other data collected annually: wolf kill rate & social structure; abundance of moose ticks; genetic diversity of wolves & moose; winter diet, pregnancy rate, & nutritional status of moose; aspects of summer moose forage. The following work has been accomplished during the most recent quarter: • Summer necropsy & bone collection of wolf-killed moose. • 2 groups of volunteers from the public participated in summer field work. • Denrdochronolgy field sites were surveyed & protocols updated. • Hundreds of visitors to base camp at Bangsund Cabin learned about the research. • Public talks were given at NPS visitors’ center & campgrounds. • Genetic analysis of Isle Royale wolf samples to assess inbreeding. • Genotype – phenotype analysis of Isle Royale moose for relationships associated with disease & senescence. • Wolf blood collected in spring has been analyzed for disease. • Wolf scats from kill sites have been analyzed for parasites. • Winter moose pellets are being analyzed for pregnancy. • Papers in print: o Bump, J, R Peterson, J Vucetich, C Webster. 2009. Ungulate carcasses perforate ecological filters & create biogeochemical hotspots in forest herbaceous layers allowing trees a competitive advantage. Ecosystems. (Sept 2009)
Infrastructure Description: N/A
Jobs Summary: The types of jobs that were created/retained are Graduate Research Assistant and Undergraduate Research Assistant. (Total jobs reported: 0)
Project Status: Less Than 50% Completed
This award's data was last updated on Jul. 23, 2009. Help expand these official descriptions using the wiki below.