Wolf, deer study explores predators’ impact on plant life

Jun 21, 2016

A study conducted in a remote area connecting Michigan and Wisconsin is shedding light on connections between the animal and plant worlds.

Researchers from Notre Dame University and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources just released findings from a study involving something they call “trophic cascades.”  

The mysterious phrase refers to the impacts predators --in this case, wolves--have on deer, their natural prey.  That in turn has an impact on plant life.

In simplest terms, the study suggests that deer tend to avoid areas where wolves are prevalent, thereby enabling the plants the deer eat to thrive.

Trophic cascades refers to the impact animals have on plant life.
Credit WKAR File Photo

Dr. Gary Belovsky co-authored the studio.  He specializes in conservation and population biology at the University of  Notre Dame.