There is balance in Nature. Life is a series of intertwined relationships that include all the biological creatures in an ecosystem as well as all the bodies of water, land and atmosphere they dwell in and on. An ecosystem’s balance depends on each creature’s role. Some members play critical roles that can greatly affect the balance of the entire system.
A trophic cascade is the name for the effect one species has on other species in its ecosystem if it is removed. If certain creatures are removed from an ecosystem, a multi-tiered cascade of impacts can occur. The presence of wolves obviously changes the behavior of the animals they prey on. If wolves are removed from a system, the behaviors of prey animals changes. Certain plants that were once off limits are now an option. The places they walk and how their reproductive drives impact the environment all begin to shift. This change in turn affects a number of other biological and physical systems. The prey animals might overpopulate. They might then eradicate certain plant forms and under harvest their former food sources which can then threaten or collapse their populations. For a great article on the topic of the need for predators in an ecosystem, Click here.
The reintroduction of wolves in Yellowstone is an excellent reminder of the way a key creature in an ecosystem can have a dramatic effect on many systems. We need to keep this in mind when we want to eradicate certain species from an area; it may unintentionally do more harm than good. The following video captures the essence of how important these predators are to the ecosystem in Yellowstone. Some of the best things in life take time. We need to treat the environment like we want it to be in future years, not necessarily what we might want right this moment.