Wildlife Wonders Wilderness Icon 2014

Wildlife, Wonders & Wilderness

The Yellowstone Park Foundation supports projects relating to wildlife, geology, science, ecosystem, and education to preserve Yellowstone's natural resources. 

Peregrine Falcon and Trumpeter Swan Monitoring

Peregrine Falcon and Trumpeter Swan Monitoring

Yellowstone plays an important role in the conservation of peregrine falcons and trumpeter swans. Both species faced extinction during the last century, and conservation efforts focused on small populations that remained in the Park. In recent years, Yellowstone's peregrine falcon population has flourished, while its trumpeter swan population has dwindled. Wildlife managers have not had enough information to determine why one bird species recovered, while the other faces a graver situation. Funding for a three-year research project was used to monitor the Park's populations of both birds and map nesting sites. Bird experts gathered comprehensive data on the birds' habitat and analyzed feather samples for potential environmental contaminants.

Read more about falcons, trumpeter swans, and this important study.

 

Grizzly Bear-Moth Study

Grizzly Bear-Moth Study

Habitat and seasonal food availability are key to grizzly bear conservation in Yellowstone’s ecosystem. During summer and fall, army cutworm moths are the highest source of digestible energy available to grizzlies, providing up to 47 percent of its annual energy budget in a 30-day period. However, pesticides and loss of agricultural lands on which the army cutworm moths feed may greatly reduce the number of moths. Research shows that lower grizzly bear mortality and reduced grizzly/human encounters occur during years of abundant fall food sources. To draw a significant correlation, the Yellowstone Park Foundation funded a Park project to help predict the availability of army cutworm moths. The data informs programs to reduce conflicts between bears and humans and reduce grizzly bear mortality.

Learn more about bears in Yellowstone

 

MATBI Study

MATBI Study

Most visitors to Yellowstone have seen at least one geyser, but most have never seen the hundreds of hydrothermal features below the surface of Yellowstone Lake. One of the largest scientific expeditions ever mounted in Yellowstone explored Yellowstone Lake and its geothermal vents, seeking a better understanding of how this lake works, and how the Yellowstone Volcano influences biodiversity. This multi-disciplinary team is particularly interested in examining how the vent emissions influence the lake’s food chain, including newly discovered microorganisms, and the MATBI (Molecular All-Taxa Biodiversity Inventory) study has yielded some startling discoveries.

Learn more about this cutting-edge study

 

Wolverine Conservation Study

Wolverine Conservation Study

Until recently, very little has been known throughout the Rocky Mountains about wolverines. Specifically, wildlife biologists and land managers did not have a clear understanding of the species' habitat needs, behavior, or population numbers. However, they do believe that the wolverine may soon receive special conservation status. Funds raised for this project supported a five-year field study focused on evaluating wolverine status, ecology, and behavior in the Absaroka Mountain Range. Through this project, study collaboration will continue between multiple government agencies and conservation organizations. Public education regarding wolverine conservation will continue through Park outreach and publications.

Learn more about the study of wolverines in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem (PDF)

 

Monitoring for White-Nose Syndrome in Yellowstone Bats

Monitoring for White-Nose Syndrome in Yellowstone Bats

White-nose syndrome (WNS) is responsible for an alarming mortality rate in hibernating bats in the eastern U.S., and is moving westward. Since its discovery in 2007, WNS has decimated the bat populations in the East. A 2004 survey identified 10 species of bats in Yellowstone susceptible to WNS. Besides being a fascinating animal, bats serve as both integral predators and prey in the Yellowstone ecosystem. The Yellowstone Park Foundation has contributed $15,000 to help establish a two-year monitoring program in 2011 focused on the early detection of WNS in Yellowstone. Without it, the impact of WNS on Yellowstone bats would most likely go unnoticed until too late.

Learn more about white-nose syndrome in bats.