Researchers Explore Climate, Human and Wildlife Interactions on Rangeland


Researchers in the West are exploring the combined effect of wolves and drought, humans, plants and animals on rangeland in Idaho and Oregon. The University of Idaho is leading the five-year effort. Funded by a $1.6 million National Science Foundation grant, researchers will monitor six sites to learn how drought could affect vegetation in the region and how resulting changes impact elk, deer and livestock, as well as their interactions with predators. Scientists will also explore on a broad scale what effect wolves and drought jointly have on ranching communities. Researcher Sophie Gilbert states, “We’ll look at the interactions between wolves and drought and how those affect wild ungulate populations, as well as livestock and the people who live there.” The research also seeks to determine how decision-makers respond to these multiple sources of stress, and how wildlife and plant forecasting tools resulting from the project, are received and used by ranchers and wildlife managers.