Aldo Leopold, perhaps best known for his revolutionary and poignant essays about nature, was also an eloquent advocate during the 1930s and 1940s of the need to maintain wolves and other large carnivores in forest and range ecosystems. He indicated that their loss set the stage for ungulate irruptions and ecosystem damage throughout many parts of the United States. We have synthesized the historical record on the potential effects of wolf extirpation in the context of recent research. Leopold's work of decades ago provides an important perspective for understanding the influence of large carnivores, via trophic cascades, on the status and functioning of forest and range plant communities. Leopold's personal experiences during an era of extensive biotic changes add richness, credibility, and even intrigue to the view that present-day interactions between ungulates and plants in the United States have been driven to a large degree by the extirpation of wolves and other large carnivores.
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Vol. 55 • No. 7