UW Researchers Find That Bison Have Major Ecosystem Effects
Hooved animals, known as ungulates, are known to “surf the green wave” and follow the nutritious spring growth as they migrate. But researchers have found that bison in Yellowstone National Park are not only surfing the green wave, they’re also creating their own nutritious lawns and reducing their reliance on the wave.
“We know many animals in Wyoming make long distance movement following the wave of spring when the landscape turns from white to green. And we figured bison track spring green up like other ungulates,” bison biologist Chris Geremia said. “So we set out tracking bison migrations, and we found that they did at first, but they stopped tracking spring about halfway to two thirds of the way along their migration.”
When the bison stop, they congregate in herds of several hundred to more than a thousand. This congregation creates a large lawn that can even be seen from space.