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Faunal isotope records reveal trophic and nutrient dynamics in twentieth century Yellowstone grasslands
Abstract and Figures
Population sizes and movement patterns of ungulate grazers and their predators have fluctuated dramatically over the past few centuries, largely owing to overharvesting, land-use change and historic management. We used δ(13)C and δ(15)N values measured from bone collagen of historic and recent gray wolves and their potential primary prey from Yellowstone National Park to gain insight into the trophic dynamics and nutrient conditions of historic and modern grasslands. The diet of reintroduced wolves closely parallels that of the historic population. We suggest that a significant shift in faunal δ(15)N values over the past century reflects impacts of anthropogenic environmental changes on grassland ecosystems, including grazer-mediated shifts in grassland nitrogen cycle processes.
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