Predators shape river world top-down

5:49pm, February 24, 2003

From Missoula, Mont., at the annual meeting of the Society for Conservation Biology

In an anti-intuitive tale of predators and prey, riverside birds are prospering more outside a national park designed to protect them than inside the park, say wildlife biologists.

Strips of land cradling waterways, or riparian zones, that are outside the boundaries of Grand Teton National Park have more-diverse bird populations, says Peter B. Stacey of the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. He and Joel Berger of the University of Nevada atReno report that these unprotected zones also have higher numbers of certain species than comparable spots inside the park.

The researchers argue that this apparent quirk makes sense in terms of a much-debated view that predators at the top of a food chain influence its character more than their prey do.

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