The negative impacts of herbivore consumption on plants are well known, but impacts on ecosystem processes are not. Herbivores can alter soil nutrient availability through herbivory and waste deposition. If predators significantly reduce herbivory, they may impact some soil ecosystem processes. Gray wolves may regulate white-tailed deer herbivory in Great Lakes forests, and this may impact soil nitrogen availability. Deer exclosure/control plots in high- and low-wolf use forest patches were employed to determine whether wolves and/or deer affect nitrogen availability. Despite evidence for deer affecting soil nitrogen availability in other forests and wolves affecting it in grasslands, we found no such effects in this forest. Given the context dependence of top-down impacts on nutrient dynamics, we encourage further inquiry.
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Vol. 176 • No. 1