“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.” – John Muir

The trophic cascade: a miracle of nature

This four-and-a-half-minute video, narrated by author George Monbiot, powerfully portrays the phenomenon called the trophic cascade: “an ecological process that starts at the top of the food chain and tumbles all the way down to the bottom.” It shows the remarkable effect of the reintroduction of wolves in 1995 to Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming after 70 years. It was predicted that as a natural predator, wolves would decrease the deer population. What has thrilled scientists and ecologists is to find they have brought life to so many other populations and ecosystems. Their impact has, in fact, changed the course of the river!

This story demonstrates something I feel spiritually and viscerally: that our natural world is a miraculous web of interconnectedness, and artificial disruption can have enormous unintended consequences. This is an example of just one small move towards restoration of an ecosystem that created a positive ripple effect — a trophic cascade — in an amazingly short period of time.

Don't read politics into this. Just enjoy it for the beautiful portrayal it is.

This video is excerpted from a longer TED talk given by Mr. Monbiot and posted to TED.com in July, 2013: Watch the full talk, here: http://new.ted.com/talks/george_monbiot_for_more_wonder_rewild_the_world

Credits cited on YouTube

B-Roll Credits:
“Greater Yellowstone Coalition – Wolves” (http://bit.ly/1lK4LaT)
“Wolf Mountain” (http://bit.ly/1hgi6JE)
“Primodial – Yellowstone” (https://vimeo.com/77097538)
“Timelapse: Yellowstone National Park” (http://bit.ly/1kF5axc)
“Yellowstone” (http://bit.ly/1bPI6DM)
“Howling Wolves – Heulende Wölfe” (http://bit.ly/1c2Oidv)
“Fooled by Nature: Beaver Dams” (http://bit.ly/NGgQSU)

Music Credits:
“Unfoldment, Revealment, Evolution, Exposition, Integration, Arson” by Chris Zabriskie (http://bit.ly/1c2uckW)

FAIR USE NOTICE: This video may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes only. This constitutes a ‘fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 106A-117 of the US Copyright Law.

Photo credit for blog post: “Grey Wolf (Canis Lupus) stands next to birch tree” by “hkuchera” via BigStock, my favorite source for stock photography.
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