photo by Callum Snape
Canadian Rockies' Banff National Park is Canada’s oldest and most beloved National Park. The park is comprised of 2,564 square miles of wilderness, varying from ancient glaciers, to moss-laden coniferous forests and sweeping alpine valleys well known for their spring wildflower blooms, and charismatic mammals like wolves, wolverines, caribou, elk and the high alpine’s very own pika. If the grandeur and sheer scale of the landscape doesn't stop you in your tracks, the diversity of wildlife and plant life certainly will. Banff National Park has long been a hub for scientific research, and in 2005, a landmark study documented the effects of returning wolves to parts of the park. As you might expect, a cascade effect ensued. With the introduction of wolves, comes a drop in numbers of elk and a shift in grazing tendencies. Grazing pressure on aspen groves is also reduced, beaver abundances are increased and riparian songbirds become more abundant as the aspen groves thicken. This is called a 'trophic cascade'. There is heaps of literature on the topic if you’re interested in delving deeper. I’ll leave you with a parting thought by John Muir, “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe."