Wolves, elk, and willows : alternate states and transition thresholds on Yellowstone's northern range
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The detection and prediction of alternate states of ecosystem configuration is of increasing importance in our changing world. Ecosystems may be perturbed by shifts in climate, or by human activity. Many perturbations to ecosystems can be reversed by reducing the initiating stressor. Sometimes shifts in ecosystem states are irreversible, and alternate configurations persist long after the initiating stressor is reduced. The reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park 17 years ago provided a rare opportunity to study whether the effects of predation could restore an ecosystem degraded ...