Predation can act as a driving force in shaping many ecological communities. The magnitude of this force can vary broadly and depends on a suite of predator, prey, and landscape characteristics. In some cases, predators can exert a strong control over prey populations, resulting in top-down cascading effects throughout an ecosystem. In Yellowstone National Park, extensive research has been conducted into studying the impacts of wolf predation on northern range elk population dynamics. However, less is known about the combined impacts of all carnivores, including humans, on this important elk herd.
My research interests involve taking a community ecology approach to studying predator-prey dynamics. Specifically, how Yellowstone’s carnivore guild (including wolves, cougars, grizzly bears, black bears, coyotes and humans) affect the northern range elk herd through predation and harvest.