A scientist studying wolves near Kirland Lake notices a steady decline in the population of wolves over a four-year period of time.Explain how changes in the wolf population would affect the...

A scientist studying wolves near Kirland Lake notices a steady decline in the population of wolves over a four-year period of time.

Explain how changes in the wolf population would affect the plant community surrounding Kirland Lake.

Expert Answers
marbar57 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The food chain is a predator-prey relationship in an ecosystem or habitat that maintains a healthy checks and balances situation within the habitat. 

Every known food chain has a base made of autotrophs, or organisms able to manufacture their own food (i.e. plants).  In and around a lake, herbivores (mice, deer, moose, elk, etc.) feed upon the plants.  Then carnivores (wolves, bear, mountain lions, etc.) eat the herbivores.  

In a wetlands or forest habitat like Kirland Lake, wolves are at the top of the food chain.   If the wolf population started declining, there would be more herbivores to dine upon the plant population.  An overabundance of these animals could actually cause the plants to be overgrazed, even to the point of being entirely wiped out!  Then, because there aren't sufficient plants to eat, the herbivore population could start to decline.  Eventually, nature's checks and balances would thin out the herbivore population to a reasonable level.  With the absence of animals, the plant population would eventually be restored.  But, this cycle could take years!

In summary, any changes in a food chain adversely affect all levels within that food chain. 

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The decline in the wolf population will have an indirect impact on the plant community surrounding the lake.  Specifically, it will hurt the plant population.

This will happen because wolves are predators that kill deer and moose.  These two kinds of deer are herbivores that graze on the plant life in and around the lake.  As the wolf population goes down, more deer and moose will live because they are not getting killed by wolves.  This will mean more plants are being eaten and the plant population will most likely decrease.