Two Oregon State University biologists did a meta-analysis of 42 published studies and found that large predators play a huge role in keeping ecosystems in balance. The analysis spanned North America and Eurasia, which may be why the study was published in the European Journal of Wildlife Research.
But it’s not a single predator alone that keeps the herbivores at levels that allow for a healthy mix of plants to grow, the paper also says. When an ecosystem hosts at least two large predators — such as wolves and bears, or wolves and lynx — each predator has an impact on a different part of its prey’s life cycle, reducing the population more than one alone.
Photo: Yellowstone wolf, courtesy of Oregon State University