The relationship between wolves and moose on Isle Royale has been studied for over fifty years, but mostly from a perspective of how predators and prey interact in an isolated environment. A new study that looked at overall biodiversity near sites of wolf kills found an increase in soil microbes and fungus as well as increased plant growth, showing that there are biological advantages to having a top predator in a forest ecosystem.
From Science Daily
wildlife biologists from Michigan Technological University. Joseph Bump, Rolf Peterson and John Vucetich report in the November 2009 issue of the journal Ecology that the carcasses of moose killed by wolves at Isle Royale National Park enrich the soil in "hot spots" of forest fertility around the kills, causing rapid microbial and fungal growth that provide increased nutrients for plants in the area.
"This study demonstrates an unforeseen link between the hunting behavior of a top predator -- the wolf -- and biochemical hot spots on the landscape," said Bump, an assistant professor in Michigan Tech's School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science and first author of the research paper. "It's important because it illuminates another contribution large predators make to the ecosystem they live in and illustrates what can be protected or lost when predators are preserved or exterminated."