Originally Posted by sourdough44
I'm with Speedo. Why do folks say/think that before man settle in larger numbers there was equilibrium between predators & prey? I'd expect an ebb & flow, up & down relationship. That's what the wolf-moose studies on Ilse Royal suggest. Predators eat well & expand when food is abundant & numbers contract during lean times.
I am sure there was cycles and ebbs and flows however, IMHO, anything we see will be much more pronounced in the degree of the swing due to the influence of humans. One cannot compare the presence of a few thousand Indians in the entire West, to the millions of people permanently modifying the majority of the landscape.
Isle Royale, with which I am very familiar having spent much time there and being a biology graduate of the university which did the studies, is a poor example in many ways yet apt in others. It is a poor example if the comparison is to the old West; Isle Royale is a closed system where neither predator nor prey can move on to a new area. In the old West, both populations were free to move in response to the presence or absence of the other.
In the new West, the presence of large human populations and a modified landscape inhibits prey from having the flexibility they used to in fleeing from predators. In this way it is much like Isle Royale. On Isle Royale, the swing in prey populations can be quite extreme. I don't think that's something we should want to emulate when we can avoid it.