With gray wolves restored to Yellowstone National Park, this ecosystem once again supports the full native array of large ungulates and their attendant large carnivores. We consider the possible ecological implications of wolf restoration in the context of another national park, Isle Royale, where wolves restored themselves a half-century ago. At Isle Royale, where resident mammals are relatively few, wolves completely eliminated coyotes and went on to influence moose population dynamics, which had implications for forest growth and composition. At Yellowstone, we predict that wolf restoration will have similar effects to a degree, reducing elk and coyote density. As at Isle Royale, Yellowstone plant communities will be affected, as will mesocarnivores, but to what degree is as yet undetermined. At Yellowstone, ecosystem response to the arrival of the wolf will take decades to unfold, and we argue that comprehensive ecological research and monitoring should be an essential long-term component of the management of Yellowstone National Park.
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Vol. 53 • No. 4