Long reviled as beasts of waste and desolation, wolves — along with other keystone predators — actually bring ecological stability to the habitats in which they live.
PHOTO: MINDEN PICTURES
Bears delay, or even forego, total hibernation when they can scavenge deer, elk and moose carcasses left by wolves.
MINDEN PICTURES/MATTHIAS BREITER
Cougars in Yellowstone National Park, in the absence of wolves, had expanded their hunting range beyond its natural boundaries.
MINDEN PICTURES/YVA MOMATIUK & JOHN EASTCOTT
The reclusive wolverine climbs trees and towering mountain walls with equal agility.
MINDEN PICTURES/KONRAD WOTHE
Reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone thinned the excessive population of elk, enabling much-needed regrowth of willow, aspen and cottonwood trees.
MINDEN PICTURES/DONALD M. JONES
Attracted by the regrowth of trees and other woody plants, beavers built dams that created pond and marsh habitats for moose.
Elephants so profoundly affect their habitat that they’re known as “ecosystem engineers.”
Aspen trees in Yellowstone once again flourish because wolves keep the elk population in check.