Consequences of Recovering Riparian Vegetation for Stream Ecosystems in Yellowstone’s Northern Range

Over the past decade, riparian vegetation cover (predominantly willow) has increased substantially along a number of streams in the ‘Northern Range’ of Yellowstone National Park (~153,000 ha area near the northern boundary of the park). The causes of this change are multi-faceted (e.g., climate, floods, wolf reintroduction and reduced elk browsing, etc.) and debated among scientists, resource managers and the like. However, the consequences of these changes for stream ecosystems have received very little attention. Our current research is aimed at understanding how gradients of willow cover influence stream food web structure, productivity, trophic support, and ecosystem metabolism.