Restoring An Island Ecosystem
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In this exhilarating installment of the award-winning Scientists in the Field series, journey to the isolated islands of Isle Royale National Park where the longest predator/prey study in the world is being conducted along with a controversial genetic rescue to save not only the wolves and moose, but the entire island ecosystem.
On Isle Royale, a unique national park more than fifty miles from the Michigan shore and about fifteen miles from Minnesota, a thrilling drama is unfolding between wolves and moose, the island’s ultimate predator and prey. For over sixty years, in what has been known as the longest study of predator and prey in the world, scientists have studied the wolves and moose of Isle Royale and the island’s ecology to observe and investigate wildlife populations. But due to illness and underlying factors, the population of wolves on the island has dropped while the number of moose has increased, putting the Isle Royale ecosystem in jeopardy.
Now, for the first time ever, scientists are intervening. Join celebrated author Nancy Castaldo in this exciting journey to Isle Royale to document the genetic rescue experiment scientists there are embarking on. If they can successfully relocate twenty to thirty wolves from the mainland to Isle Royale, scientists can potentially restore the balance among wolves, moose, and trees of the island’s ecosystem. Now the living laboratory experiment begins.
Honors and Awards:
- Junior Library Guild Gold Selection
- Three Lessons for Writers on the Archimedes Notebook blog
Behind the Book:
Who knew when I was sitting in my college ecology class learning about the vital predator/prey study on Isle Royale, led by Rolf Peterson, that years later I would be standing with Rolf on the island interviewing him for this book? Not me. So often, seeds of books begin years before they germinate into a book. This was one of them. Having written about wolves for BACK FROM THE BRINK brought me even closer to this subject. You’ll read in the book about the trip itself, and you’ll get an understanding of this amazing island. But being there was so much more. Getting up before dawn to hike the trails with Morgan Heim and falling to sleep with the sound of loons outside the window were my favorite moments. And although we hiked and hiked, we never were able to spot a moose on our trip. It was discouraging but understandable. The national park is not a zoo. The animals are not on display. It reminded me of Jane Yolen’s beautiful picture book, Owl Moon– sometimes you see an owl, and sometimes you don’t. Fortunately, I have seen moose before. In fact, I actually saw a bull moose walk down my street in the middle of the road. It was unexpected. That’s how it is with wildlife.
Castaldo “offers an evenhanded view of a controversial recent project: After the wolf population nearly went extinct, in an attempt to restore the predator-prey balance artificially, scientists imported wolves from outside in the hopes they would breed. Castaldo leaves it for reflective readers to decide whether that is responsible conservation or unscientific meddling with natural patterns…Stimulating reading for young naturalists and eco-activists.” – Kirkus