On November 12, 2020, the Wolf Conservation Center hosted Dr. Tom Gable of the Voyageurs Wolf Project for a look at how wolves are connected to wetland creation but, more importantly, how wolves are connected to all of the valuable ecological processes that occur from beaver-created wetlands (e.g., nutrient cycling, water storage, habitat for wildlife).
Wolves are considered a premier example of how large predators can transform ecosystems, with some suggesting that wolves, through the process of trophic cascades, can literally change the course of rivers and streams. However, whether wolves change ecosystems as drastically as suggested has been increasingly questioned and criticized. In many boreal ecosystems, beavers dam up rivers and streams to create ponds and wetlands, and wolves frequently prey on these dam-building, pond-creating rodents. By studying wolf-beaver interactions in northern Minnesota, Tom Gable and the Voyageurs Wolf Project have demonstrated how wolves, by preying on beavers, alter wetland creation, and in turn, impact streams and rivers.
ABOUT THE SPEAKER
Tom is the project lead for the Voyageurs Wolf Project and he recently completed his Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota. Tom has been studying wolves in the Greater Voyageurs Ecosystem since 2014 when he started his Master's at Northern Michigan University. Tom runs the Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts for the Voyageurs Wolf Project where he enjoys sharing the project’s research and answering questions about the work the project does. He is particularly fascinated by wolf-beaver interactions and much of his graduate work to date has focused on understanding how wolves hunt and kill beavers, and conversely how beavers avoid fatal encounters with wolves.