In the northern boreal lakes of Minnesota's Voyageurs National Park
, beavers are a large part of wolf diets during the summer months. However, the predator-prey dynamic between wolves and beavers is relatively unstudied, since recorded observations of wolves hunting beavers are notably scarce.
So, following a successful Experiment campaign, graduate researcher Thomas Gable conducted a detailed forensic analysis of 22 wolf-beaver kill sites to try and illuminate this predator-prey dynamic. After fitting wolves with GPS collars and tracking their movements in the park, he observed clustered areas of activity where wolves were hunting and killing beavers near streams and dams.
The data illustrate how wolves often choose to hide downstream of a beaver dam for an ambush, and occasionally will even chase beavers out of the water. These results (published in PLoS ONE
) can be a valuable tool for other ecologists studying wolf-beaver relationships, like in Yellowstone where wolf reintroduction famously brought back beavers.