Impacts of elk management and riparian condition on songbirds in Rocky Mountain National Park
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The widespread loss of apex predators from the western U.S. is having cascading effects on ecosystems. As in other western parks, riparian willow (Salix spp.) communities in Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) are declining as a result of a trophic cascade involving the local extinction of wolves (Canis lupus) and an exponential increase in elk (Cervus elaphus). In 2008, RMNP began installing elk exclosures to protect and restore willow communities and the diverse taxa that depend on riparian ecosystems from heavy browsing. Using point counts, I evaluated the effect of elk exclosures and riparian ...