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Mysterious cave in Yellowstone at center of legal dispute

A cave found along the boundary of Yellowstone National Park was revealed after a shift in basalt columns similar to those found in the park's northern range.

Court filings made public on Monday reference a treasure trove of one-of-a-kind artifacts described as an "American Pompeii" at the center of a legal dispute between the federal government and a Montana rancher, lifting the veil on a long-secret research project at the edge of Yellowstone National Park. At stake is ownership of hundreds or perhaps thousands of well-preserved animal remains, including fossils of long-extinct mammals, as well as what researchers believe are among the earliest tools and ceremonial objects ever found in the region. Human remains may also be present at the site, based on motions filed on behalf of tribal interests. Continue Reading →

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Thermal imaging offers high-tech look at disease among Yellowstone wolves

Thermal imaging reveals a bright blue patch near the shoulder of a captive wolf, whose fur was shaved to simulate the effects of sarcoptic mange.

A high-tech method for detecting disease in domestic cattle is helping researchers in Yellowstone National Park learn more about how sarcoptic mange effects gray wolf survival and behavior during the park's long, cold winters. For Paul Cross, a wildlife biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, a moment of insight came when he learned how thermal imaging was used in the cattle industry to detect cows infected with foot-and-mouth disease. The heat-sensitive cameras can pick up on the heat caused by related inflammation in a cow's hoof within a day or two of contracting the disease. Heat-sensing videocameras could help show the metabolic costs of mange in specific wolves, Ross realized. Continue Reading →

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Yellowstone science efforts to include greater focus on public opinion

Yellowstone National Park's departing top scientist says his staff has long conducted "world-class" research on animals like gray wolves and grizzly bears, but that there is room for improvement in learning more about public opinion on key issues. David Hallac, who has spent the past three years as division chief of the Yellowstone Center for Resources, said it is important for park managers to continue to work closely with state wildlife experts, and to develop more hard data about public perceptions of wildlife and park policies. Continue Reading →

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Study: Ranger interaction key to bear safety for Yellowstone visitors

Yellowstone National Park managers are looking for ways to more effectively deliver safety messages about watching bears, wolves and other wildlife at roadside traffic jams.

Most visitors to Yellowstone National Park rank the chance to see a grizzly bear at or near the top of their vacation wish lists. But park managers struggle with how to best keep humans and bruins safe when crowds gather to view wildlife along the roadside. When it comes to educating visitors about the risks and rules of watching bears, it turns out the most effective communication method is the one used least often. Visitors who received an oral explanation from a park ranger were "much more likely" to correctly remember safety advice and regulations than those who got information from any other means. Yet that was the method of communication encountered by the fewest respondents. Continue Reading →

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Yellowstone among 60 sites proposed for major long-term climate change study

An image from a promotional video by the National Ecological Observatory Network shows what a sample monitoring station might look like. Yellowstone National Park has been selected as one of 60 proposed NEON sites.

A site in Yellowstone National Park has been proposed as one of 60 key monitoring stations in what is shaping up to be the largest long-term study of climate change in North America. Funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Ecological Observatory Network will gather a wide range of data at sites spread among 20 distinct eco-climatic domains across the United States. The project, budgeted at $60 million for the 2013 fiscal year, is designed to run for 30 years or longer in an effort to help researchers track the long-term effects of climate change across the entire continent. Continue Reading →

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Study: grizzly bears can adapt diet to changing climate

A grizzly bear digs in wet dirt near Cub Creek in Yellowstone Na

For years, many conservationists have worried what grizzly bears in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem will eat as changing climate and habitat conditions bring fewer whitebark pine nuts, cutthroat trout and other prime food sources. A recent study offers an answer: almost anything else. Research by several state and federal wildlife biologists found that grizzlies across the Yellowstone area eat a total of 266 different species of plants and animals, and display an amazingly adaptable diet that ranges from moths to algae. Continue Reading →

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New report offers look at Grand Teton ‘Vital Signs’

A new report offers insight into the "vital signs" of Grand Teton National Park.

A comprehensive report on the status of the natural and cultural resources of Grand Teton National Park and the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway is available for public review. The report, "Vital Signs," provides information on the state of key resources that helps guide decisions made for their long-term management. Continue Reading →

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Yellowstone Science Conference looks beyond boundaries for answers

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The 12th Biennial Scientific Conference on the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is being held over three days this week at Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel, centered on a theme of "Crossing Boundaries." But judging from some of the comments during Tuesday's panel discussions and coffee breaks, it seemed like the conference itself had at times crossed a boundary from the world of esoteric hypotheses posed by cautious researchers into a realm of eager discovery and engaged debate by journalists, advocates and members of the general public. Continue Reading →

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Busy year for Yellowstone supervolcano rumors

Steam rises from Excelsior Geyser Crater and Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park.

Have you heard about what's happening with the Yellowstone supervolcano? The biggest earthquake in more than 30 years hit Yellowstone National Park in March. Bison were seen this winter pushing outside the park's boundaries. Extremely high levels of helium are rushing out of hot springs and fumaroles. Seismic detection gear has gone haywire. The roads are melting! All of this can only mean one thing: an eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano is imminent, right? Continue Reading →

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Yellowstone manages people instead of grizzlies during bear jams

In Grand Teton National Park just south of Yellowstone, a volunteer wildlife brigade is trained each year to help manage people at bear jams. Both parks' programs run up consideral expense, but a study says roadside bears in Yellowstone bring more than $10 million annually to the regional economy.

Yellowstone visitors would pay an additional $41 to ensure seeing roadside grizzlies, a study shows, and the attraction creates 155 jobs and more than $10 million a year for the regional economy. The $41 visitors would pay is on top of the $25-per-vehicle entrance fee. If Yellowstone no longer allowed grizzly bears to use roadside habitat — and instead chased, moved or killed them — the regional economy would lose more than $10 million a year and 155 jobs according to the paper “The economics of roadside bear viewing.” Continue Reading →

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