Biodiversity and trophic cascades

The life on Earth is a complex system of connections and inter-dependencies. Everyone has heard about the circle of life, if not in biology lessons than at least in the Lion King. Simplifying: predators from the top of the food chain eat herbivores, who in turn eat plants, which also produce oxygen in the process of photosynthesis. But does it mean that if we reduced the number of predators we would have an abundance of vegetation? It might seem so, but that’s actually incorrect thinking. Why? Watch this very interesting movie about reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park and learn how “wolves have changed the rivers”.

The phenomena called “trophic cascades” illustrates the influence that predators can have for whole ecosystems. Again simplifying, bringing wolves back to the park has diminished the number of deers, which in turn let the vegetation grow back, which made smaller herbivores move back as well. The trees have started growing and again birds came back. The now thriving vegetation has helped with soil erosion and regulated river flows. All of that because predators came back to the area, which shows that nature indeed knows how to take care of its ecosystems. Isn’t that amazing?

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Biodiversity and trophic cascades
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