Species Recovery

We work with state and federal agencies in the United States to facilitate species persistence across a variety of habitats.

Wolves on Isle Royale National Park

As apex predators, wolves play a critical role on the main island of Isle Royale National Park by affecting the abundance and spatial distribution of moose, and by extension, the abundance, distribution, and type of vegetation on the island. Wolf-moose relationships have been studied on Isle Royale for over 50 years, providing one of the longest ecological studies of predator-prey dynamics in the world. In 2018 National Park Service (NPS) made the decision and began planning to introduce wolves to Isle Royale. Nineteen wolves captured in Michigan, Minnesota, and Ontario during September 2018–2019 were translocated to Isle Royale. We have partnered with NPS, to characterize the social organization and pack formation of wolves introduced to the island, document and quantify predator-prey relationships as wolves re-establish themselves on the island, and evaluate the success of wolf introduction efforts on Isle Royale.

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©Phyllis Green/NPS

Identifying corridors

Identifying and preserving landscape connectivity as well as planning for conflict mitigation are key for facilitating species persistence, especially in increasingly human-dominated landscapes outside of protected areas. Black bears have lost more than a third of their former range throughout North America, but are currently recovering and recolonizing numerous human-modified landscapes. We evaluated if differences between females and males could influence their large-scale conservation planning by characterizing landscape use and connectivity for a recolonizing population in Missouri.

Recolonizing cougars in the Great Lakes region, USA

Around the world, large carnivores have lost massive portions of their historical ranges because of habitat loss, decreasing prey populations, persecution by humans, and overharvest. However, these declines can be reversed, and as a consequence of recent management, a number of populations are recovering. Cougars (Puma concolor) have lost over 35% of their historical range throughout North America. The only currently documented breeding population of cougars in the eastern United States is in Florida. In contrast, cougar range in the western United States has expanded since the 1960s, and populations have reestablished in states where they occurred historically. Recently reestablished populations on the eastern edge of western cougar range, such as in North Dakota and South Dakota, can act as potential sources of further cougar dispersal. Specifically, the Great Lakes region will likely be an important area for cougar range expansion into the Midwest and Eastern USA. We used verified cougar sighting locations to model and predict large-scale landscape suitability and connectivity in the Great Lakes region. We compiled all state natural resource agency confirmed sighting reports of cougars from Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin from 2010-2020. We used these reports to develop a model of landscape suitability for cougars throughout this region.