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Yellowstone's Destabilized EcosystemElk Effects, Science, and Policy Conflict$
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Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195148213

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195148213.001.0001

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The 132-Year Population Trajectory and Associated Synthesis Design

The 132-Year Population Trajectory and Associated Synthesis Design

(p.48) 5 The 132-Year Population Trajectory and Associated Synthesis Design
Yellowstone's Destabilized Ecosystem

Frederic H. Wagner

Oxford University Press

The reconstruction of the northern-herd population trajectory places the herd at a hypothetical 5,000-6,000 before 1872; rising to a censused 27,800 in 1914; declining to a censused 3,172 in 1968; increasing during natural-regulation policy to a censused 12,859-19,045 and estimated 21,071-25,920 in the 1980s-1990s; and declining in the early 2000s. Major forces driving population trend were (hypothetically) aboriginal hunting and large carnivores maintaining low numbers prior to park establishment; park protection from 1872-1920s allowing a major increase; park control and outside hunting from 1920s-1968 reducing herd size; natural-regulation policy (no park control) from 1969-present, again permitting increase. Synthesis of elk effects on the northern-range ecosystem in the following chapters examines all the evidence for a three-way, quasi-experiment: (1) condition and trend of ecosystem components and processes during two periods with the herd below 6,000 (pre-1872-1884 and 1959-1970) and two periods with numbers above 6,000 (1885-1958 and 1971-present); (2) condition and trend of system inside and outside eight 2.1 ha exclosures built in 1957 and 1962; (3) condition and trend of system inside and outside park boundaries.

Keywords:   population-trend forces, three-way quasi-experiment, ecosystem, components, processes, synthesis, exclosures

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