Title: Nothing to Fear: Environmental Change in the Absence of Large Carnivores.
While often treated as more of an aesthetic or ethical issue, widespread reductions or eradications of large carnivores have led to substantial environmental change in many systems. While we tend to focus on the obvious effects of reduced prey mortality, the reality is the much greater impact may be the loss of fear. Fear alters several aspects of animal behavior which can impact ecological interactions and community structure. In this talk, I will summarize the results from our long-term research on gray wolf impacts in the Great Lakes region, where fear appears to play an equal if not greater role in the formation of trophic cascades. I will also preview the early pilot results of our work looking into which cues may generate these fear responses in white-tailed deer.