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Cougars As Ecosystem Engineers


By now, plenty of people have heard of the effect reintroducing wolves had on the ecosystem in Yellowstone National Park: more wolves means fewer elk and deer hanging out by streams, so plants like willows grow taller.  Wolves get credit as ecosystem engineers. 

A recent studyshows that cougars may have a similar effect in the same area.  And it gets even more interesting, because cougars leaving meals behind (dead deer) has allowed for growth in beetle populations. 

Joshua Barry and Mark Elbroch were members of the research team for Panthera, the wild cat conservation organization.  They visit to help us understand the study. 

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The Jefferson Exchange is Jefferson Public Radio's daily news program focused on issues, people and events across Southern Oregon and Northern California. Angela Decker is the program's senior producer, Charlie Zimmermann is the assistant producer, and Geoffrey Riley hosts the show.