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Wildlife Ecology Professor Co-Authors Most Read Paper of 2013

Apr 08, 2014

Au Sable Wildlife Ecology Professor, Dr. Tim Van Deelen, has co-authored the most read paper of 2013 in the Canadian Journal of Zoology. Van Deelen is Associate Professor of Forest and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and teaches Wildlife Ecology during Au Sable's Summer Session II. Van Deelen is also an Au Sable alum, studying at the Institute during his undergraduate studies at Calvin College. The paper is titled, 'Variation in cougar (Puma concolor) predation habits during wolf (Canis lupus) recovery in the southern Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.'

The paper is a timely study on how wolf recolonization impacts cougar niche space. With the extirpation of wolves from the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem in the 20th century, other predators, like cougars, had opportunity to broaden their niches. Van Deelen's paper examines how cougar predation sites have changed from 2001 to 2009 as a result of wolf reintroduction. It finds that cougars and wolves are hunting closer together, cougars are hunting at higher elevations during summer, and in more rugged areas during winter. These findings reflect predation style differences between wolves and cougars. Cougars are ambush predators, which are better for rugged and high elevation areas, whereas wolves are coursing predators, which rely on open areas where they can run and hunt.

With wolf reintroduction or recolognization taking place throughout the northern United States, this paper helps wildlife ecologists anticipate the effect of growing wolf populations on other predators throughout the ecosystems they inhabit.