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Iconic Predator-Prey Study In Peril

Unknown Lamer posted about 6 months ago | from the moose-vs-trees-vs-wolves dept.

Canada 84

An anonymous reader writes "Scientists have charted the ebb and flow of moose and wolf populations on Isle Royale in Lake Superior for nearly 50 years. Ice bridges to Canada regularly supplied the genetic stocks for much of that time, but have been rare in recent years leading to inbreeding, dwindling populations and developmental deformity for the wolves that inhabit the island. Now, with the first solid freeze in six years, new wolves could join the mix ... or the remaining island dwellers could leave." If new wolves do not appear, or all of the current wolves leave, the moose would end up destroying the native Fir population. The wildlife service is considering introducing new wolves as part of a genetic rescue, or reintroducing wolves should the population reach zero on its own.

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Iconic Beta Study In Peril (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46228221)

All the study subjects left because beta was too awful.

Editing (1)

sanosuke001 (640243) | about 6 months ago | (#46228259)

That last statement could be considered non-English...

Re:Editing (2)

1_brown_mouse (160511) | about 6 months ago | (#46228285)

Maybe they outsourced it to a non-English speaking country?

Re:Editing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46228429)

haha, actually thats interesting because 2% of the English-speaking population of the united states are........ comparable to isolated elves and wolves?
If the 2% actually DOMINATE the financial institutions (Yellen Bernanke), both political parties, the press, and perhaps the IT-big-guns, them poor coyotes (98% of Gentilemen and women in the melting-pot) do not stand a chance.

-Lactose Intolerant

Re:Editing (1)

drainbramage (588291) | about 6 months ago | (#46228721)

Canada, eh?

It means .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46228361)

They have to reintroduce the wolves because everyone keeps forgetting their names.

Then there's that jackass who introduces himself as "Wile E. Coyote"

Re:Editing (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46228373)

The summary title isn't so great either. Is the iconic study in peril or is the iconic study population in peril?

Re:Editing (1)

thaylin (555395) | about 6 months ago | (#46228631)

Both. If the population leaves then there is no more study......

Re:Editing (2)

dreamchaser (49529) | about 6 months ago | (#46228937)

Wrong. If they population leaves the study is concluded, and the fact that the population is gone is in and of itself meaningful data for said conclusion. It doesn't just end nor is it in peril, and artificially intervening as suggested makes any such study invalid.

Re:Editing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46230721)

Intervening does not invalidate the study, as what is being looked at is not just how many wolves and moose are present in a given location, but the cyclic nature of a predator-prey system. It is like a big version of a petri dish, and like many other biological experiments, it works fine when you take note of needing to add something. What doesn't work so well is sneezing into your petri dish and killing off something by accident you were trying to study, which in this case is what happened with visitors to the park bringing dogs causing a spread of disease to the wolves reducing their numbers for reasons other than the predator-prey cycle. If they introduce more wolves at a point when it becomes clear the population was going to die off, they would still get the results you are talking about, i.e. something causing the end of a cycle, without having to let the last couple wolves actually die off. But then they can continue with studies of the next cycle.

Re:Editing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46229039)

A predator-prey study where the long-term dominant predators drop out and are then replaced by something new would be a very exciting study.

If these scientists truly think the loss of the local wolf population will threaten their study, they need to rethink what they are studying.

Replace Wolves with Badenovs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46232873)

The wolves could be replaced with Boris Badenovs. They would take care of troublesome moose (and squirrel).

Re:Editing (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46228385)

What do you mean that's not English - it made perfect sense to me. Let me offer a translation:

Hi omnes lingua, institutis, legibus inter se differunt. Cum sociis natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient. Mercedem aut nummos unde unde extricat, amaras.

Re:Editing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46228417)

Would you care to be more specific?

WTF???? (4, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about 6 months ago | (#46228303)

If new wolves to not appear, or all of the current wolves lead

Wow, have we given up all semblance of trying to be editors and know the English language? Or are we just throwing words at it?

I can only assume that should say If new wolves do not appear, or all of the current wolves leave

.

Pretty sad, guys.

Re:WTF???? (2)

samkass (174571) | about 6 months ago | (#46228493)

Maybe the author had a cold.

Re:WTF???? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46231265)

Give them a break, they're busy not fixing the beta.

Proofreading is in peril (1)

geogob (569250) | about 6 months ago | (#46228329)

If new wolves to not appear, or all of the current wolves lead, the moose would end up destroying the native Fir population. The wildlife service is considering introducing new wolves as part of a genetic rescue, or reintroducing wolves should the population reach zero on its own.

Quite honestly, my English is awful. But given that it is my third language, I do not feel bad about it. I would neverthless feel very bad about it if I was an Editor on a supposedly reputable site like Slashdot.

Re:Proofreading is in peril (1)

NiteTrip (694597) | about 6 months ago | (#46228377)

Signs of things to come. Who has time to read a simple 100 word submission twice?

Re:Proofreading is in peril (1)

Xinef Jyinaer (1044268) | about 6 months ago | (#46228423)

Apparently they didn't even have time to read it once.

Re:Proofreading is in peril (2)

killkillkill (884238) | about 6 months ago | (#46228595)

Don't act like this is something new. Incomprehensible summaries have been part of slashdot since the beginning.

Re:Proofreading is in peril (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46229397)

Don't act like this is something new. Incomprehensible summaries have been part of slashdot since the beginning.

If slashdot suddenly start providing coherent summaries, the user base might revolt and launch a massive protest over the loss of cherished tradition.

Re:Proofreading is in peril (1)

geogob (569250) | about 6 months ago | (#46230405)

On the other hand, perhaps the users would start to read TFA submitted.

Useless redesign vs Proper editing ? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46228443)

We don't want a new "slick and modern" website redesign, we want properly edited articles.

Morons (2)

argStyopa (232550) | about 6 months ago | (#46228455)

So....natural processes occurring pretty much exactly as they have for thousands, if not millions of years. And humans, feeling they know how things "should" be, are going to interfere. Brilliant!

Prediction: we'll cock it up.

Re:Morons (1, Troll)

sjbe (173966) | about 6 months ago | (#46228663)

So....natural processes occurring pretty much exactly as they have for thousands, if not millions of years. And humans, feeling they know how things "should" be, are going to interfere. Brilliant!

It's worse than you think. I live in Michigan. We're worried about the Isle Royal wolves but the legislature authorized a wolf hunt this year to combat the nearly non-existent depredation [discoverycenter.net] "problems" from wolves. (181 total incidents over 15 years, most related to cattle and about a third of those are suspect claims from a single farm) Total economic impact most years is around $5000 for the entire state. This despite the fact that wolves account for a minuscule fraction livestock deaths. You also hear a bunch of idiots thinking that wolves are going to go after their children. There was even a made up story about wolves lurking around a school yard that was floated around for quite a while before being debunked.

Basically a bunch of hunters and farmers wanted to kill a bunch of wolves for no demonstrable reason aside from fear and blood lust.

Prediction: we'll cock it up.

More than likely...

Re: Morons (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46229853)

I've camped on Isle Royale twice, a week each time, hiking from one the other.

I've seen a moose, heard a wolf, and have have a moose come into the camping area overnight (the sound it made going through our stuff/a weird sixth sense woke me up). That being said, I have never seen a wolf or been in close proximity to one.

As I understand it (and some of the park Rangers), over time, the moose population has become "less afraid" of people, and it seems that they tend to hang closer to occupied campsites at night as a safety measure to distance themselves from wolves, who are apparently very wary of humans.

Of course new wolves my not be so fearful, and should they leave, bringing hunting (even if it had a purpose) back to Isle Royale to keep the moose population down wouldn't work out IMO. I feel that as soon as hunters killed some around the water-accessible camps (the most accessible), the hunters would be less inclined to hunt farther inland.

Monetary rewards for the hunting may work, but introducing a new/rejuvenating pack my be a better, long term solution.

Re:Morons (2)

timeOday (582209) | about 6 months ago | (#46228813)

No, because the disappearance of the ice bridges in recent years is due to human disruption of the ecosystem in the first place. With this many people having this much impact on the planet the idea of "letting nature do its thing" is, unfortunately, out the window at this point. We are the cause of, and now living in, a mass extinction of a scale that has only occurred a couple times during the earth's existence. At this point the question is whether to mitigate our impact at least a little, or continue to do it unwittingly.

Re:Morons (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | about 6 months ago | (#46228967)

There have been several significant non-human caused icy climate events in the past - most of them less pleasant than some ice-bridge melting.

The presumed difference between now and then is that we have some concept that our actions affect the future course of the climate, and maybe we should be doing something to keep the climate in a good state for us.

But, who really knows? Maybe there was some planet-wide communication among the dinosaurs, and some of them saw the problems coming and a way to avert them, but ultimately they failed to control the situation for their benefit.

Re:Morons (1)

timeOday (582209) | about 6 months ago | (#46229683)

To date, global warming isn't the biggest factor how humans have impacted wildlife. The bigger impact so far is simply the fact that we're everywhere, hunting big game to extinction and devouring all habitat, to the point where we pat ourselves on the back if we preserve one plot of land that is suitable for some particular species.

Re:Morons (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 6 months ago | (#46231685)

The bigger impact so far is simply the fact that we're everywhere, hunting big game to extinction

If that were true moose could not overrun the island.

Re:Morons (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46242871)

Maybe you should ask the caribou on the island why they let the moose in...

Re:Morons (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46229891)

The presumed difference between now and then is that we have some concept that our actions affect the future course of the climate, and maybe we should be doing something to keep the climate in a good state for ---us---.

That ----us--- part sums it up, not yelling at you or singling you out by no means, but that is what it is about anymore saving ourselves [human race] and the hell with what we may or may not have done to affect climate change, or the impending fall out of wildlife, animals plants, ect.. that keeps the check and balances of the planet and each other.

As long as we humans survive it its OKAY.

Re:Morons (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | about 6 months ago | (#46231033)

I think that "us" evolved out of the ecosystem that was in-place roughly 50,000 to 5,000 years ago, and "us" would be best served by keeping that ecosystem more or less in-tact. I don't seem to have a lot of people who agree with me, but I'm trying:

http://5050by2150.wordpress.co... [wordpress.com]

Re:Morons (1)

argStyopa (232550) | about 6 months ago | (#46233127)

Considering that only mass genocide would return us to the ecological balance we enjoyed* 5k-50k years ago, probably the people who agree with you would be Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot....so no, I'm pretty glad I'm not "with you" on that.

*by "enjoyed" I mean live in starvation/terror most of the time, desperately scrabbling to survive, reproduce fast enough to outpace the constant stream of child deaths, only to die in our mid-30s from some trivial disease or infection. But, it was "better".

Re:Morons (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | about 6 months ago | (#46233703)

If you want to go for genocidal villains, I prefer Hugo Drax...

I'm not saying that the Human condition was ideal during that time period, but the ecosystem is one that supported us and kept us relatively healthy - those of us that weren't struck down by disease, starvation, predators, etc. Starting about 5000 years ago, Homo Sapiens biggest problems mostly came from Homo Sapiens...

So, assuming that we first can "just all get along" - and second are going to steer the global eco-system toward some "ideal" - that ideal ecology probably should resemble 3000 BCE more than 2000 AD - minus the uncontrolled disease, starvation, predation, and other recognizable problems in both times.

Re:Morons (1)

kaliann (1316559) | about 6 months ago | (#46230853)

The ice bridges aren't the sole human-related reason for decline of the population.
Disease from domestic dogs and human-created changes to the environment have also directly diminished the number of wolves.

From TFA:
"Many scientists familiar with Isle Royale support genetic rescue, especially because human activity has contributed to the current population crash. Climate change has led to the decreasing frequency of ice bridges. Canine parvovirus, probably caught from a domestic dog, caused the wolf population to fall from around 50 to 14 in the early 1980s. And in 2012, three wolves were found dead in an abandoned mining pit. Given this history of human influence, the argument that leaving the wolves alone would be allowing nature to take its course does not sway most ecologists."

(Bolding is mine.)

Re:Morons (1)

Algae_94 (2017070) | about 6 months ago | (#46231463)

Ok. I'll go with your explanation of why humans feel they need to correct the issue should the wolves disappear.

The process of correcting the problem seems ridiculous. Wolves have a hard time surviving in an environment because humans have altered the climate and it is less than hospitable for them. Those wolves die off or leave. Then people just dump more wolves in the same place they had a hard time surviving? What kind of sense does that make?

If you think human caused climate change is hurting this wolf population, work on the human caused climate change rather than just dumping more wolves there.

Re:Morons (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46233209)

Then people just dump more wolves in the same place they had a hard time surviving? What kind of sense does that make?

Maybe this time we won't let a virus via pet dogs onto the island that kills three quarters of the population?

Re:Morons (1)

Xest (935314) | about 6 months ago | (#46244329)

I don't think so. I think that even if all the wolves leave with this ice bridge that the moose population will boom, but then when the next ice bridge comes it means the wolves will move back there en-masse due to the utter abundance of prey.

Nature is pretty good at dealing with these sorts of scenarios, each time we interfere we just fuck it up completely. We just need to get past our short term view of "OMG THEY'RE ALL GOING TO LEAVE!" - I'd wager it's not the first time wolf populations have left such an island only to return sometime later.

Re:Morons (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46228949)

The current ecology there is already screwed up, due to humans killing off caribou and lynx populations, which is what lead to there being a moose and wolf population instead. The island is not as it was hundreds of years ago, let alone further in the past. The use of the island as a park and nature refuge in its current state means they don't want to lose any more wildlife populations.

Re:Morons (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46232411)

"So....natural processes occurring pretty much exactly as they have for thousands, if not millions of years. And humans, feeling they know how things "should" be, are going to interfere. Brilliant!"

Ah yes, more faith in the "free market". Any academic intellectual will tell you that there must always be a set, balanced percentage of things, and if there isnt, this is a "market failure". Of course we humans know how things "should be" - as we know from philosophy, reality only exists because we are here to perceive it.

If either the wolf or moose populations decline too much, this is a market failure and must be rectified. There is no "free market", its only a myth.

Re:Morons (1)

jafac (1449) | about 6 months ago | (#46235659)

You mean. . . dinosaurs?

Blame Global Warming (1)

terraformer (617565) | about 6 months ago | (#46228465)

This will just be spun into an example of how Global Warming is to blame. Despite the wolf population doesn't predate the 1940s...

Re:Blame Global Warming (1)

thaylin (555395) | about 6 months ago | (#46228661)

Sooo, because some thing was not introduced until X moment in time you cannot blame a problem with it later on Y which correlates to the time when the thing is having a problem?

Post hoc ergo propter hoc (1)

sjbe (173966) | about 6 months ago | (#46228729)

Sooo, because some thing was not introduced until X moment in time you cannot blame a problem with it later on Y which correlates to the time when the thing is having a problem?

The term you are looking for is post hoc ergo propter hoc [wikipedia.org] .

However it is possible, though unproven, that humans indirectly have caused this particular population imbalance through climate and/or habitat change. It think it will be extremely difficult to prove or to rule out. The only real question is whether we should get involved in supporting the wolf population on Isle Royal or not.

not that simple (5, Insightful)

tverbeek (457094) | about 6 months ago | (#46228869)

Global warming isn't "to blame" for this situation, but it is a factor: the infrequency of ice bridges between the mainland and the island has grown because of it. The real "blame" is more general human interference.

The summary is misleading in suggesting that new wolves have come to Isle Royale fairly often. They haven't (I think there were only two documented migrations) which is why this ongoing study has been so scientifically useful: the island has been a (mostly) closed system for decades, allowing scientists such as Rolf Peterson to track the system without too many external variables. Before the wolves arrived over the ice, Isle Royale was being deforested by its moose population (which can swim to the island). Prior to that, the apex predators on the island were humans, during the island's period as a mining, logging, and resort area. After the island was made a national park, humans left that role, which created a boom in the moose population, which led to overgrazing, which led to starvation of the moose, etc. The wolves have stabilized that system.

Before humans became a major influence on the island, it had a different predator/prey system, based on coyotes and caribou. But both of those populations have died out, and humans almost certainly played a part in that. Isle Royale is being preserved today as a wilderness, but it isn't an "untainted" one, and hasn't been for a couple hundred years. It is what it is because of human activities. Humans didn't introduce the wolves to Isle Royale, but in a very real sense, we made them necessary. Which is why I support the idea of restocking the island's wolf population, in much the same way that we restocked many of the rivers of the Great Lakes region after destroying their fish populations.

Re:not that simple (1)

zmooc (33175) | about 6 months ago | (#46232191)

Isle Royale is being preserved today as a wilderness, but it isn't an "untainted" one, and hasn't been for a couple hundred years. It is what it is because of human activities.

As long as those human activities are merely that: human activities, I would still consider the island untainted in a way; there's nothing especially unnatural about most human actions, even if those actions often bear effects that might be described as a plague. This changes, however, when those human activities start involving actively trying to "shape" "nature", as is proposed by the ecologists this article is about. In my opinion this would instantly change the situation on this island from "nature trying to find a new balance after a small infection with humans" to "not nature anymore".

Through some strange feelings of guilt about the way it has affected nature in the past, mankind has somehow developed the idiot idea to try to keep the few occurrences of nature that we have left exactly like they are now. By doing that, we're slowly turning nature into a museum. Instead of doing that, we should have the decency to let nature be nature, even (or especially) when it changes in a way that we don't like.

This may (will..) probably mean die offs and those obviously aren't a good thing. According to humans, that is, mostly because of their somewhat irrational love for big mammals, cool trees and fear of change. But nature doesn't give a fuck, it doesn't consider humans special. The place will look totally different in 10, 100 or a few 1000 years anyway. Just let nature be and it will find a new balance. Maybe not on a timescale meaningful for the average human, but it will. Because that's what nature does.

Micro vs. Macro (3, Interesting)

Ex-MislTech (557759) | about 6 months ago | (#46228469)

The island is too small to represent the rest of the habitat.

To be honest I see this as a microcosm vs. a macrocosm.

I think time and money could be better used elsewhere.

Re:Micro vs. Macro (1)

drainbramage (588291) | about 6 months ago | (#46228799)

Which would result in this iconic group of researchers loosing funding.
Oh, the humanity, would they prey for redemption from this peril?
The world (like my ex) is a cruel mistress.

Literacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46230505)

Loosing funding? Loosing funding? Loose the Kraken!

Re:Literacy (1)

drainbramage (588291) | about 6 months ago | (#46233481)

No, no, no, lose the kraken.
the sun was in my eyes.
Or was it the son?

Wrong view (1)

Anubis350 (772791) | about 6 months ago | (#46230219)

It is a good place to observe things like pack dynamics for one thing, in an easily controlled, relatively closed but still natural environment. The same with the pred/prey dynamics. Just because not everything observed is generalizable doesn't mean none of the data are.

Re:Micro vs. Macro (1)

quantaman (517394) | about 6 months ago | (#46234635)

That doesn't mean it's not useful. For one we've seen a lot of evidence that population levels on the island are too small to offer positive selective pressure. This is pretty important when designing parks or wildlife habitats, you need a large competitive population to maintain the genetic fitness of the population. That's some critically important information if we want to keep our ecosystems functional. And if we see another ecosystem showing similar issues we might know to look for some kind of island effect.

Particularly look at urban parks, say the raccoons in Central Park in New York aren't doing well. Is that from stress from human visitors? Pollution? Something else? This experiment might suggest the population is just too small to sustain the gene pool, you import a few outside raccoons and suddenly the population is doing fine.

They already know what will happen (3, Insightful)

Velox_SwiftFox (57902) | about 6 months ago | (#46228605)

Whether the wolves leave or a few arrive, what is going to happen is that in three or so years the excessive moose population will indeed overrun its browse, and die off from starvation.

Again. Exactly as happened the last time the moose population reached this point, and shortly popped up to over 2500 with no apparent wolf effects, from considerably more wolves.

If the moose damage is to be avoided, either NPS-hired sharpshooters or human hunters will have to cull the moose, period.

Re:They already know what will happen (1)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | about 6 months ago | (#46230871)

Maybe they could transplant some of the excess moose to Minnesota since the ones on the island appear to be thriving while the ones up in the arrowhead are dying off.

Re:They already know what will happen (1)

Velox_SwiftFox (57902) | about 6 months ago | (#46232821)

That could lower the population, if there was much money available per moose for the moving expenses. But it probably wouldn't change the ticks or deer parasites or summer heat stress killing off the moose. They would probably be transplanted to Michigan's UP where the moose population is also languishing, if not suffering the same losses as in MN.

Re:They already know what will happen (1)

lazy genes (741633) | about 6 months ago | (#46233843)

i live on the north shore, not far from the island. Everything here seems to be dying. It could be several causes like forest mismanagement, climate change, invasive species. There are more forest fires and they are increasing in size.

Re:They already know what will happen (1)

Velox_SwiftFox (57902) | about 6 months ago | (#46235565)

It will be interesting to see if the moose benefit from this winter killing ticks.

Or other effects, moose seem to like cold.

Space-time effects of wolves (1)

as.kdjrfh sxcjvs (2872465) | about 6 months ago | (#46234955)

You're missing one of the only-obvious-in-hindsight things we learned from Isle Royale in the first place. Wolves keep the forests alive not principally by controlling how many moose there are, but by controlling where the moose are willing to linger (and browse out young tree seedlings). As the forests grow, exactly where those spaces are change, but that's fine; excellent, even; keeps species and nutrients circulating through the system at a very long period.

It only takes an occasional wolf lurking in a copse to make the moose cautious, and it only takes a few mature trees in any decade to drop a lot of seeds. So a very few wolves can make the forest, and therefore the whole system, resilient to moose boom-bust cycles.

Pretty neat, I think!

Re:Space-time effects of wolves (1)

Velox_SwiftFox (57902) | about 6 months ago | (#46235551)

Neat, yes, I wasn't aware of that effect.

I assume it will have a lesser effect with so many fewer wolves around this time, unless some are added. So the last boom/bust would have benefited more, this one likely worse.

There seems no record of wolves tolerant enough of each other for them to catch up at this point (1000 moose last winter, IIRC. With about a one-third increase a year on Isle Royale, recently.

it comes down to money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46228639)

I work for the island, my heart says let nature take its course but at the same time without the money that comes in due to this wolf study there would be no isle royale. We run on a hair string budget as it is and if the wolves go away the island loses what draws the small amount of people we get in the open season.

Re:it comes down to money (1)

tverbeek (457094) | about 6 months ago | (#46232095)

There's a lot more than the wolves that draws people to Isle Royale. (Most people who visit the island never even see a wolf. I consider myself lucky to have glimpsed one briefly, as it tracked a moose and her calf.) Visitors come for the trails, the moose, the fishing, the scenery, and the relatively solitude. Losing the wolves would mean that the island would lose a little mystique, but far more important would be the long-term repercussions on the island's ecosystem.

Why should we care? (2)

scorp1us (235526) | about 6 months ago | (#46228653)

For once we did not screw this one up. This is just nature playing the course.

And if we already know what will happen, what good is conducting the study? How is science being done if the outcome is known?
What value does maintaining the local fir population have? To who?

My thoughts are something will find a way to keep the moose population in check, even if it is starvation from a population so dense that all reachable vegetation is consumed.

Re:Why should we care? (1)

Kvasio (127200) | about 6 months ago | (#46229239)

Perhaps a few years ago they've named some cubs Jaime and Cersei and they wanna watch sibling breeding

Re:Why should we care? (1)

Vegan Cyclist (1650427) | about 6 months ago | (#46229765)

Not quite....i suspect the lack of ice might be due to climate change.

Re:Why should we care? (1)

scorp1us (235526) | about 6 months ago | (#46229941)

Well, that remains to be proven. Not the temperature trend as such, but the attribution thereof. I don't want to get into a whole global warming debate ending in a flame war over attribution. Your suspicions would need to be proven not globally, just locally since we're only talking about a 13 mile ice bridge, whose thickness for wolves would only need to be about 3"

So what? (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 6 months ago | (#46231703)

The climate has been warmer in the past, it would be at some point if we were there or not (and in fact it's back this year). Eventually the wolves/moose are going to have to deal with a long period of no ice bridges, so we are just delaying the inevitable trying to maintain a status quo. Nature hates status quo...

Re:Why should we care? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46229785)

For once we did not screw this one up. This is just nature playing the course.

I'm sure it was the global warming man. And pollution. And oil companies. Mostly oil companies. Oh, and bankers! Democrats! Republicans!

Re:Why should we care? (1)

tverbeek (457094) | about 6 months ago | (#46232181)

This is not just nature. Isle Royale's ecosystem was disrupted when Europeans came to the region and started trying to strip it of mineral, forest, and animal resources. In the early 20th century we turned most of it back over to nature, but by then the some of the major indigenous species (and the peoples who hunted them on a small scale) had been wiped out. Most importantly, the coyotes are gone, and moose have moved in to replace the caribou. The wolves (and the foxes that remain) have filled the coyotes' niche as predators, but because of the increasing difficulty of reaching the island from the mainland, they've had difficulty establishing a viable population. This is something "we" screwed up.

RE: Iconic Predator-Prey Study In Peril (1)

grunfeld (913835) | about 6 months ago | (#46228885)

Kind of ironic, that the experts want to get involved.... yet again ... Why.... because they can, so, they can generate yet another useless study, that the poor tax payer has to fund somewhere along the line. Mankind hasn't learned yet that mother nature will balance where she sees fit. No need for mankind to intervene Then again mankind usually does intervene and messes things up and throws all into a tail spin....

Re: Iconic Predator-Prey Study In Peril (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46229263)

Yes, nature always finds a balance, which in this case would involve a balance missing animals and plants that people visiting the park value. If you don't care what particular balance nature finds, and want to just minimize the cost to the government, all national parks should just be sold off for commercial development and let nature find a balance that involves a lot of squirrels and not much else.

Taking it too far (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about 6 months ago | (#46229143)

This microsystem is an anomaly. Let it collapse as it eventually will. This kind of thing happens all the time in nature. I watched a neat documentary of a small ecosystem along a desert shore line with mainly a plant, a beetle, and chameleons in a food chain thriving off morning dew. The animals blew in/drifted in by chance and found a niche and any fluke weather pattern could collapse it. Just part of the roll of the dice.

Re:Taking it too far (1)

Trax3001BBS (2368736) | about 6 months ago | (#46229387)

This microsystem is an anomaly. Let it collapse as it eventually will. This kind of thing happens all the time in nature.

Same thing I thought, I'm so glad were there to intervene. The Moose have been their for mayhaps thousands of years, as have the wolfs; it's taken care of itself quite well with no help from any body, just nature.. I'm glad we can interfere to cause problems in other unforeseen areas.

Kinda like putting out every fire you see until the under brush is extensive enough for an inferno to wreak havoc over a vast area... like oh say the Yellowstone fires of 1988. .

Re:Taking it too far (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46230755)

The Moose have been their for mayhaps thousands of years, as have the wolfs; it's taken care of itself quite well with no help from any body, just nature.

Except for how they haven't been there in larger numbers for the last thousands of years, only after humans killed off the lynx, coyotes, and caribou on the island.

Re:Taking it too far (1)

Algae_94 (2017070) | about 6 months ago | (#46231563)

Kinda like putting out every fire you see until the under brush is extensive enough for an inferno to wreak havoc over a vast area... like oh say the Yellowstone fires of 1988. .

You don't have to look back 26 years to find a massive forest fire from the forest management policies we practice. I think you could find some examples from last summer. Most every year now there have been massive fires somewhere in the American West.

Re:Taking it too far (1)

Trax3001BBS (2368736) | about 6 months ago | (#46234663)

Kinda like putting out every fire you see until the under brush is extensive enough for an inferno to wreak havoc over a vast area... like oh say the Yellowstone fires of 1988. .

You don't have to look back 26 years to find a massive forest fire from the forest management policies we practice. I think you could find some examples from last summer. Most every year now there have been massive fires somewhere in the American West.

"The Yellowstone fire of 1988 was when the error of practiced policy was first realized." What I was told and thought to be the truth, till today.

It was posting a reply to you I found it was just bad conclusion I was led to believe by the media at the time, who were blaming it on undergrowth left unattended, (among other causes) This wikipedia entry - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Y... [wikipedia.org]
pretty much claims it was just bad situations coming together at the same time.

The media even got it's own section starting out : "Lack of understanding of wildfire management by the media led to some sensationalist reporting and inaccuracies."
(vindication :} )

Re:Taking it too far (1)

warm_warmer (3029441) | about 6 months ago | (#46229505)

Can you imagine what would happen to the Earth if humans weren't here to ensure that nothing changes, ever, from exactly the way things are now (or whenever some system was initially measured)?

From reading some of these pieces, you might think that the Earth is an extremely fragile place where the slightest human touch (direct, or indirect) ruins ecosystems from their pristine states. Granted, humans do mess up quite a few ecosystems, but the Earth has been, and will continue to be, an ever-changing, destructive place for life.

Pieces like this stroke our enormous collective egos (everything Earth does differently is because of something WE did!), and a select few are able make their living from finding "problems," proposing solutions, then "solving" the problems.

Humans playing god again (1)

Hamsterdan (815291) | about 6 months ago | (#46229307)

What about letting nature run its course and study that? I'm pretty sure no one was around to save all the species that went extinct a loooong time ago. In fact, the most dangerous predator has already been introduced to nature, humans...

Did anyone else read this as Iconic Study In Perl? (1)

z4ce (67861) | about 6 months ago | (#46229725)

$moose = Moose->new()
$wolf = Wolf->new()

($mutant_moose1, $mutant_moose2) = Land::split($wolf);
($mutant_wolf1, $mutant_wolf2) = Land::split($wolf);

Job for Rocket J Squirrel (1)

hax4bux (209237) | about 6 months ago | (#46229863)

Or is Isle Royale far away from Frostbite Falls?

I Read this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46230075)

I read this as "Ironic".

Makes more sense that way.

Moose, wolves, and filters. (1)

ChrisMaple (607946) | about 6 months ago | (#46230969)

If new wolves do not appear, or all of the current wolves leave, the moose would end up destroying the native Fir population.

Somehow I don't think wolves are essential to Finite Impulse Response filters.

nerd habitat in peril (1)

epine (68316) | about 6 months ago | (#46231895)

Iconic Predator-Prey Study In Peril

This is not a possible headline on a site that boasts of "news for nerds". The subject of that sentence is "study" and the verb cluster (elided in terse journalistic bravado) is "is now in" and the copular completion is "peril".

A failed study is a study that fails to replicate. A failed meme is a meme that fails to replicate. Perhaps we should also protest ALPHA, our seemingly self-inflicted wound.

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