Hypotheses of the Effects of
December 1st, 1995
Abstract: This paper discusses four hypotheses to explain the effects of wolf predation on prey populations of large ungulates.
The four proposed hypotheses examined are the predation limiting hypothesis, the predation regulating hypothesis, the predator
pit hypothesis, and the stable limit cycle hypothesis. There is much research literature that discusses how these hypotheses can
be used to interpret various data sets obtained from field studies. It was concluded that the predation limiting hypothesis fit
most study cases, but that more research is necessary to account for multiple predator - multiple prey relationships.
The effects of predation can have an enormous impact on the ecological organization and structure of communities. The
processes of predation affect virtually every species to some degree or another. Predation can be defined as when members of
one species eat (and/or kill) those of another species.
The specific type of predation between wolves and large ungulates
involves carnivores preying on herbivores. Predation can have many possible effects on the interrelations of populations. To
draw any correlations between the effects of these predator-prey interactions requires studies of a long duration, and statistical
analysis of large data sets representative of the populations as a whole. Predation could limit the prey distribution and decrease
abundance. Such limitation may be desirable in the case of pest species, or undesirable to some individuals as with game
animals or endangered species. Predation may also act as a major selective force. The effects of predator prey coevolution can
explain many evolutionary adaptations in both predator and prey species.
The effects of wolf predation on species of large ungulates have proven to be controversial and elusive. There have been many
different models proposed to describe the processes operating on populations influenced by wolf...